Coutts v Cayard

Team Aqua takes the lead on the first day of the RC 44's Lugano Yacht Club Cup in Switzerland

Thursday June 21st 2007, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Italy
The idyllic setting of Lugano provided a spectacular backdrop for the first ever RC44 event in Switzerland, the Lugano Yacht Club Cup, the fourth event in the Class Championship Tour.

The thermal mountain breeze began to build shortly after 14:00 and the teams enjoyed three fiercely competitive fleet races. Spectators lined the shore of Lake Lugano to watch the impressive, high performance RC44s manoeuvre, tackling and accelerating in the shifty conditions with ease. Having arrived just days before from Lisbon in their custom containers, the RC 44s proved their adaptability as they mastered the challenging lake conditions.

Team Omega, with guest helmsman Ronnie Pieper, VP of the Swiss Sailing Federation and a 5.5m World Champion, smoothly dominated the first of the three fleet races. Team Omega, with Russell Coutts calling tactics, swiftly passed Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, on the first windward leg and led the fleet around the course. Team Aqua, with owner Chris Bake driving and tactician Cameron Appleton, quickly moved into second place, leaving Mascalzone Latino to finish third.

As the afternoon went on and the breeze became shiftier, the RC44s showed their true versatility and ability to accelerate in light conditions.

In the second race it was Team Aqua and Light Bay that selected the favoured right side of the course from the start. While Mascalzone Latino and Team Omega, with their world-renowned tacticians Paul Cayard and Russell Coutts on board went left, the other RC44 owners proved that the traditionally favoured right side of the lake would pay off. Team Aqua, the current leaders of the fleet, finished first, followed by Team Light Bay and Team Omega.

Mascalzone Latino’s America’s Cup helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen took the opportunity to step on board with Onorato’s team as a guest for the third race. In this there was a close start with the entire fleet on starboard, they then tacked swiftly back towards the right side of the lake, with the exception of Omega who remained in the middle of the course. This was to pay off for Coutts’s team as the wind dropped and the Race Committee shortened the course. A win for Mascalzone Latino was the perfect end to owner Vincenzo Onorato’s first day of racing on board his RC 44.

"It was a beautiful first day of racing on the RC44," Vincenzo Onorato, skipper of Mascalzone Latino: "We were fortunate to have Paul Cayard on board. The boats are extremely fast; they are much more fun to sail than the America’s Cup boats, which are dinosaurs in comparison! The RC44s are ten years ahead of their time.”

Cayard added: "The boats power-up easily which makes for good racing, even when there is not much wind. In the America’s Cup they wouldn’t even race in these conditions, but with the RC44 it’s all possible."

Unfortunately, the much anticipated match race between Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard could not take place due to the lack of wind. The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-10 knots with mixed weather conditions.

Lugano Yacht Club Cup - Day 1 Provisional Results – no discard

1) Team Aqua, (2,1,3) 6 points
2) Team Omega, (1,3,2) 6 points
3) Mascalzone Latino (3,4,1) 8 points
4) Team Light Bay (Magia), (4, 2, 4) 10 points

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