Early lead to Team Sea Dubai

Fleet racing gets underway at the RC44's Malcesine Cup

Friday July 10th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
Fleet racing at the RC 44's Malcesine Cup started this afternoon. As announced by PredictWind, the thermal breeze was blowing nicely after lunch time, allowing Chief Race Officer Peter Reggio to start on time.

Both Igor Lah ( Ceeref) and Chris Bake ( Team Aqua) crossed the starting line at full speed at the pin, while Pieter Heerema ( No Way Back) chose the committee boat end of the line. Usually in Garda, the recipe for success is to sail as fast as possible towards the shore in order to benefit from a good lift before tacking to port: Easy to do when you are ahead, but much harder when there are other boats arriving at full speed on starboard tack, yelling loudly to make sure they are seen.

Torbjorn Tornqvist ( Artemis) proved to be the best at this game. After taking an excellent miid-line start, Artemis managed to cross ahead of the pack and reach the top mark in first. From then on it was plain sailing for the Swedish boat, thanks to an excellent control of their pursuers. Tornqvist had already been steering during a good part of yesterday’s match races and was clearly on good form!

Chris Bake and his Team Aqua, in second, increased their lead over Ceeref and Organika throughout the race while Team Sea Dubai were the come-back kids of the day after incurring a penalty against Organika at the top mark, going from tenth to fifth during the second half of the race. The rain unfortunately started to fall during the last run, resulting in a temperature drop and the thermal breeze going from 15-18 knots at the start to 6-8 knots by the end of the regatta.

Fearing a further drop, Peter Reggio launched the next regatta immediately after the finish of the first, in a fairly light breeze. The sun briefly came back, but big black clouds were building up over the nearby mountains while thunder could be heard. BMW ORACLE Racing, No Way Back, Jelik and Team Austria decided to carry on with their no1 jibs while all the other teams quickly changed to genoas.

Starting perfectly at the pin end of the line, Team Sea Dubai grabbed an early lead ahead of BMW Oracle Racing and Ceeref. The configuration was different for this race, with most teams sailing further towards the middle of the lake than in the previous one. Artemis, who was struggling to recoever after a bad start, got penalised at the windward mark for tacking too close to Organika and ended up closing the fleet.

Despite BMW Oracle Racing’s pressure, Team Sea Dubai managed to keep the lead until the arrival line, dropping its kite on time as the wind suddenly switched by 100 degrees as the rainsquall was arriving. The American team finished second, ahead of No Way Back, Ceeref and Team Aqua.

Yousef Lahej, helmsman on Team Sea Dubai commented: “We made an excellent start at the pin end in the second race and this was the decisive moment for us in this regatta. BMW Oracle Racing was pushing hard from behind, but it is always good to have a strong team behind: it forces you to do your best and we certainly did.”

Pieter Heerema, owner of No Way Back observed: “We had a reminder today that fleet racing can be very intense, particularly when you arrive by the shore and have to tack to port whilst many boats arrive on starboard tack… I think that the key here is to take excellent starts. If you are not in the lead during the first crossing, you can finish anything between second and tenth.”

René Mangold, owner of Team Austria added: “We are not unhappy with our results today (8 and 6). I have the feeling that we are getting closer. It is still tough for us when the conditions are changing and we need to adapt our trimming. I really look forward to tomorrow’s DHL Trophy, hopefully screaming downwind with 25 knots of wind.”

The DHL Trophy coastal race will take place tomorrow morning at 8:30am, hopefully with the same strong northerly breeze that has been blowing over the past days.

Fleet race, provisional results after two races (no discard):
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)

1) Team Sea Dubai, Yousef Lahej, 5, 1 - 6 points
2) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 3, 4 – 7 points
2) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 2, 5 - 7 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 2 - 8 points
5) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1, 9 – 10 points
5) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 7, 3 - 10 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 4, 8 - 12 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 8, 6 - 14 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 9, 7 - 16 points
10) Jelik, Frank Pong, 10, 10 – 20 points

Match-race, final results after 7 flights
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)

1) Artemis, Dean Barker, 5/0, 5 points
2) No Way Back, Ray Davies, 5/0, 5 points
3) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 5/1, 5 points
4) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 4/2, 4 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 3/3, 3 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 2/4, 2 points
7) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 2/4, 2 points
8) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 2/3 – 1 penalty, 1 point
9) Team Jelik, Frank Pong, 0/5, 0 point
9) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/6, 0 point

More photos on page 2....

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