Team Aqua soars

Cameron Appleton's team now two points ahead after the second day of match racing at the RC44's Austria Cup

Friday May 29th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
When asked what the key to his success at the RC44's Austria Cup was, Team Aqua’s pro skipper Cameron Appleton was humble enough to answer “a huge amount of luck”. But luck doesn’t explain all and it is fair to say that on the second day of match racing Team Aqua sailed very well and that the team grabbed all the opportunities available - and there were many.

"We sailed very well in those races that we won fair and square," commented Appleton. "But I confess that we were lucky at times. I don’t know any other place that offers such opportunities to come back. The qualities that were necessary to win today are: patience, focus and belief.”

Following a successful race against Team No Way Back, Team Aqua won the match that would be the decisive one in Flight 8, against Paul Cayard and Ceeref. Despite losing the start and incurring a penalty, Team Aqua managed to come back during the first downwind leg, taking advantage of a massive right hand shift to grab the lead. Appleton and his team then perfectly executed their penalty on the arrival line, crossing a couple of seconds ahead of Ceeref.

Two teams were still in a position to beat Team Aqua at this stage: BMW Oracle Racing and Organika. The Americans blew their last opportunity during the pre-start of Flight 9 against Organika, incurring a penalty and crossing the line prematurely.

With one last race to go, Karol Jablonski’s Polish team was the only one still in a position to beat Team Aqua. In order to achieve this, Jablonski had to win its last race against No Way Back and it was necessary for Team Aqua to be beaten by BMW Oracle Racing. Cameron Appleton made it very clear in the pre-start sequence that the event was his, taking an early lead over the Americans and extending throughout to win the match and the event. No Way Back, with Ray Davies at the helm for the starting sequence and owner Pieter Heerema taking over for the rest of the race, managed to beat Organika 'for the honour', as the result had no influence on the final outcome. The two teams had an interesting windward mark rounding, carrying on for at least 200m after the mark, looking at each other like cat and dog and waiting for the opportunity to make the break: A fantastic match racing moment.

“It was complicated, exciting and intense," said Jablonski. "We’ve had lots of ups and downs throughout the day, but the crew has done a fantastic job and I am very happy. Rod Dawson, from New Zealand, is our new mainsail trimmer and he is doing a great job; it is very helpful. I didn’t know that we could have won the event when we started the last race. But it wouldn’t have changed anything.”

There were many other exciting matches today, including a superb dual between Team Sea Dubai and BMW Oracle Racing in the seventh flight. The team from the UAE had successfully inflicted a penalty to its opponent and dominated most of the match, but could not prevent one of those come backs that only Lake Traunsee seems to allow.

Not used to sail on a lake, the Spanish team Puerto Calero had some good moments too, beating Organika, BMW Oracle Racing and Team Austria, but this was not enough to finish any better than eighth overall.

As for Team Austria, still learning the subtleties of match racing, they had some very good and close matches but haven’t managed to win a race. A tough result that certainly doesn’t reflect their talent.

René Mangold, Team Austria's owner said: “I am not surprised by the result and we are not unhappy. These guys sail match races 200 days / year; it’s just normal that they beat us. But I have the feeling that we are getting closer and closer. Hopefully we will be able to win some races next time, in Malcesine.”

The fleet racing event starts tomorrow. The strict one-design concept of the RC 44 Class and the shifty weather will open up more opportunities to the less experienced teams. It will with no doubt be a very interesting regatta.

Match-race, final results after nine flights:

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

1) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 7/1, 7 points
2) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 5/3, 5 points
3) Artemis, Dean Barker, 5/3, 5 points
4) Ceeref, Paul Cayard, 5/3, 5 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, Rod Davis, 4/4, 4 points
6) No Way Back, Pieter heerema, 4/4, 4 points
7) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 3/5, 3 points
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 3/5, 3 points
9) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/8, 0 point

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