Team Aqua comes out on top

Three way fight to the finish in the RC 44's Austria Cup

Monday June 1st 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The sun was finally shining today and the wind blowing like it should for a sailboat race, allowing the Race Committee to hold four races and reshuffle the cards in the overall results in the RC 44 Austria Cup.

After a last race sailed this morning in this week’s typical gray, cold and unstable weather, the sun and the breeze came back for the final showdown, allowing the Race Committee to run three fantastic races in Ebensee, at the other end of the lake.

Pieter Heerema and his team No Way Back were looking good at this stage thanks to their victory in the day’s first race. But the racing in Ebensee is very different, with the boats sailing close to the cliffs in order to benefit from the land effect.

Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis was the best at adapting to these new circumstances, starting race six at the pin end of the line, going as closely as possible to the land in order to benefit from a good lift and tack ahead of the pack to take the lead. Alternating the worse and the best throughout the week, Team Sea Dubai also had an excellent regatta, just a couple of seconds behind Artemis after a fantastic dual. Other teams had ups and downs, with BMW Oracle Racing finishing third despite sailing without their bowsprit, while Team Austria ripped a spinnaker and Organika incurred a penalty at the windward mark. Team Aqua finished fourth and No Way Back seventh, closing the gap dramatically at the top of the leaderboard before the last races.

The next race turned out to be the most exciting one of the week, with a pre-start collision between Team Sea Dubai and Ceeref and further penalties for Ceeref as well as Organika and Team Austria after an all-too-close leeward mark rounding. Team Aqua benefited from this chaos to grab the lead and won ahead of No way Back and Organika.
The scenario couldn’t have been any better before the start of the final race of the event, with No Way Back sitting just two points ahead of Team Aqua and Artemis. The three crews were aware of this situation, and said after the regatta that they sailed “their own race”, without looking too much at the others.

No Way Back twisted a sheet in a winch one minute before the gun and was forced to start at the Committee end of the line when the middle and pin were clearly favoured. Artemis started as usual at the pin end, but a touch too late. As for Team Aqua, she made an average start in the middle of the line, momentarily taking the lead of the “race within the race” despite sailing in BMW Oracle Racing and Team Sea Dubai’s wake. The Team from the UAE seemed to have the regatta under control until Artemis - on great form today - made the best of the land effect to grab third place temporarily, just ahead of Team Aqua and No Way Back. The three teams sailed the last run in each other’s wake, trying to make gains ahead without taking too much risk against those behind. In the end BMW Oracle Racing’s beautiful win and Team Sea Dubai’s second place were anecdotic compared to this fight for the overall victory. Artemis finally crossed third, Team Aqua fourth and No Way Back - threatened until the last metres by the brave Austrians - in fifth, grabbing the fleet race ranking title on a tie with Artemis. Team Aqua concluded the fleet racing in third but grabbed the RC 44 Austria Cup title overall, ahead of Artemis and No Way Back, and increases her lead in the Championship Tour.

“I am very proud of our result," said Cameron Appleton, tactician on Team Aqua. "We fought until the last race and it was amazing to see the top three boats sailing so close from each other in this last regatta. We had control over the situation half way through, but then I didn’t manage to prevent Artemis’ come back.”

Torbjorn Tornqvist, owner of Artemis added: “We deliberately chose to start all races at the pin end of the line because we thought it was favoured and it usually proved to be the case. Of course this sent us right to the mountainside with other boats just behind and to windward as we had to tack, but I wasn’t scared to sail so close from the cliffs; I am used to sail in the archipelago and we do this all the time. During the downwind legs we didn’t use the coastal effect enough and lost some ground. We should probably have protected our position better. All in all, it was a great and very interesting regatta.”

Giving an overview Russell Coutts said: ”This was a great event, and a huge success. We had our moments as a team, but I am quite happy with our fourth place. It wasn’t easy for our new helmsman to fit in, but he did a good job. It is great that No Way Back had such a good regatta; they worked very hard and sailed very consistently. It is interesting to note that the winning boat’s average place is approximately fourth and that five different teams have managed to win races. It says a lot about this Class.”

The next RC44 regatta will take place on 8-12 July in Malcesine, Lake Garda.

Fleet race, final results after nine races (no discard):

1) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 5, 3, 8, 2, 1, 1, 7, 2, 5 - 34 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1, 4, 2, 9, 7, 3, 1, 4, 3 – 34 points
3) Team Aqua, Chris Bake 8, 2, 6, 1, 4, 5, 4, 1, 4 - 35 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Ian Vickers, 6, 6, 4, 5, 9, 2, 3, 8, 1 - 44 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Stefan Linder, 11 (DNF), 11 (DNS), 0, 3, 5, 8, 2, 5, 2 - 47 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2, 1, 12, 4, 2, 9, 6, 6, 7 – 49 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki 3, 8, 10, 6, 3, 4, 8, 3, 8 - 53 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 4, 5, 14, 7, 6, 6, 5, 7, 6 - 60 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 7, 7, 16, 8, 8, 7, 9, 9, 9 - 80 points

RC 44 Austria Cup overall championship

1) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 1, 3 - 4 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 3, 2 – 5 points
3) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 6, 1 - 7 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 5, 4 - 9 points
5) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki 2, 7 – 9 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 4, 6 – 10 points
7) Team Sea Dubai, DIMC Markus Wieser, 7, 5 - 12 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 9, 8 – 17 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 8, 9 – 17 points

More photos on the following page...

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