Closer and closer

Upsets among the RC 44s during their Croatia Boat Show Cup

Thursday April 19th 2007, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Mediterranean
It took some time for the wind to build up today, but it was worth waiting as the RC 44s managed to sail four match race fleets in 6-10 knots)

The racing started with two little events. First of all, Team Aqua, from Dubai, got beaten for the first time in match racing this season, losing clearly against Russell Coutts’ Team Omega. Much more unexpected was Team Ekipa’s win against the local favourites Cro-A-Sail. This dual between the Slovenian and Croatian teams had a particular colour in the local context and was avidly followed by the local media. "Our day started badly," Tomislav Basic, Team Cro-A-Sail. "I wasn’t aggressive enough on the starting line and my timings were bad. But then it got better and we managed to beat Russell. The racing course is very interesting. The wind is irregular and there is a lot of current. We really need to observe permanently and focus throughout the race."

Finally, after a disastrous performance in yesterday’s fleet race, Beecom (JPN) regained some credibility by beating Magia Alikè.

The rest of the day confirmed the fact that the RC 44 teams are getting much more evenly matched and aggressive on the starting line. Nothing seems impossible anymore, and the less experienced teams have definitely reached a level that allows them to beat the teams considered until now as favourites. Indeed, Team Beecom managed to take a precious point against Team Aqua in the last race of the day, to share the lead with Team Omega and Cro-A-Sail (theoretical leader thanks to their direct victories against Team Omega and Beecom).

"The level of the fleet is increasing and we can’t afford to make mistakes," said Cameron Appleton, Team Aqua. "We didn’t sail very well today. In match racing, it is perfectly normal to win and loose some races. If you loose after sailing cleanly, it’s OK. But we lost through mistakes, so I’m not overly happy."

Other races proved to be extremely close and exciting. During the fourth fleet, for example, Team Ekipa managed to dominate Team Omega during the pre-start and take a five boat length from the very beginning of the race - only to be overtaken after completing a well deserved penalty!

Before the official racing started, the teams enjoyed some brilliant time on the water with diabetic children. Organised by Miroslav Reljanovic, head of Cro-A-Sail, and the foundation Mirno More (an Austrian humanitarian organisation), this morning’s charity race allowed fifteen diabetic children to sail with some of their heroes. Among them Russell Coutts of course, but also Ante Rukavina, a local superstar from the football club Hjaduk or Ivan Sola, the Croatian representative in the Olympic Games in bobsleigh.

Tomorrow, the RC 44s will conclude the only Round Robin planned for the match race event, before carrying on the fleet race. The winner of the Croatia Boat Show Cup will be the boat with the best combination of points between the fleet and the match race.

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