Barker off to a fighting start

Artemis is early lead at the RC 44's Malcesine Cup on Lake Garda

Thursday July 9th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
Can anyone stop Dean Barker in Malcesine? The Kiwi sailor is unbeaten after three matches sailed against Sébastien Col, Karol Jablonski and Larry Ellison. Four flights got completed today and eight more remain to be sailed tomorrow.

The Series got underway just after lunch, once the Ora (the local thermal breeze) had established itself with enough stability to allow fair matches. There was no time for warming up, or observing the opposition. Dean Barker and Artemis’ first race was scheduled against Sébastien Col’s Ceeref: a strong match. Col was just back from the Grade one match race event in Marstrand, and obviously didn’t lack practice! But nor did Artemis. The team had a good pre-race briefing with their coach Rod Davis and they arrived on the course fully prepared for what was to come. Barker dominated the pre-start, took the best start, controlled the race and won a first point, soon followed by two more.

“This was a good day for us and we had three good matches," commented Barker. "We knew that the first match against Ceeref would be a tough one but we were ready for it. I am pleased with our day but I am also happy to see that Ray Davies (helmsman onboard No Way Back) is doing very well. We work hard together and it is a great opportunity for us to sail against each other in this Class. It definitely helps us a lot and will be an asset for our America’s Cup sailing.”

Sébastien Col got his revenge in the next match, against the tandem Ellison/Coutts. BMW Oracle Racing wasn’t at its best today, winning a single match against Team Austria but losing two other important points against Artemis and Organika. This last match, sailed in the fourth flight of the day, took place in a dying and very shifty breeze. Organika managed to take the best start but lost the lead at the windward mark before regaining it during the second beat.

Many other great matches took place today, including a fantastic dual between Team Puerto Calero Islas Canarias and Team Aqua. The two teams remained very close throughout the race, and crossed the arrival line separated by one second!

It was also a very special day for Frank Pong and his team on board Jelik, who were sailing for the first time in the RC 44 Championship Tour. There is obviously a lot of work to do for this new team; tomorrow will provide a good opportunity with no less than eight flights on the menu. The racing will start at 8:30 AM, hopefully with the same strong northerly breeze as in the past days.

Pong commented: “This was my first regatta on an RC 44 and only the third match race in my life, so it is clear that I have a lot to learn. I am still in the “doing” stage of my sailing page, so I want to steer the boat. I would recommend to any owner to do the same. It is very intimidating at first but it is great.”

Match-race, provisional results after four flights:

(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)

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

More photos on page 2...

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