Strong final day clinches it

Chris Bake's Team Aqua comes through to win the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup

Monday March 2nd 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The last day of the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup was a punch-up between Team Aqua and Artemis, the two separated by just four points going into the last three races of the event.

The conditions were once again light this morning, with 5 knots of breeze and a flat sea. At the helm of Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1, José Juan Calero took the best start of race one. Ideally positioned at the Committee boat, the Spaniard tacked rapidly, heading to the right of the course and benefitting from a nice shift to increase his team's lead. Sailing fast and well, Team Aqua reached the windward mark in second, while Artemis was struggling in the middle of the fleet. Involved in a fierce battle for third overall against Organika and ESP 1, Ceeref managed to reach the mark in third despite a disastrous start.

Following a procession during the downwind leg, the teams headed back up to the windward mark, with the Spaniards leading the show ahead of Aqua. The right of the course was once again favourable and most teams headed there. Not very inspired this week, BMW Oracle Racing chose the left and kept losing ground and positions, ending up last at the windward mark. The Spaniards soon after brilliantly won their second race of the event, just ahead of Team Aqua and Ceeref. Artemis crossed the line in fifth, losing precious ground to Bake’s team as the end of the event was nearing.

The seventh fleet race took place under grey clouds and the first drops of rain. Determined to maintain the pressure on Aqua, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s crew on Artemis sailed a beautiful beat to lead handsomely around the windward mark, ahead of Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back - this new team starting to show some potential. Struggling to make sense of the wind shifts, Team Aqua was way behind, rounding the mark in seventh position, on a virtual tie with Artemis… The suspense was on for the rest of the regatta. The team from the UAE sailed an excellent downwind leg and benefited from its competitors’ mistakes to climb back up to fourth – and overall leader again. Controlling the fleet, Artemis remained untouchable during the last lap. As for Bake, he gained one more places while Ceeref saved its provisional third place on the podium by going from last to fifth, maintaining a 1 point lead over Organika, fourth for the second time in a row.
The third and last race started soon after under a cold rain. Taking risks in order to try to win the championship, Artemis took a premature start and seemed to have lost all hopes to win the race. While the other seven boats tacked immediately to port, Torbjorn Tornqvist kept on driving out to the left of the course. When he finally tacked back to converge with the fleet, he was back in the game, trailing Aqua by a few boat lengths and keeping the suspense on. As for Igor Lah’s Ceeref, it was once again last, letting the lead - and virtual third overall - to an excellent Organika. That’s when the wind definitely collapsed, forcing Peter Reggio to cancel the race, confirming Team Aqua’s victory ahead of Artemis and Ceeref.

“We didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves this morning, and decided to sail like we had sailed all races this week, putting our focus on sailing a race rather than on one specific opponent," commented Team Aqua's Chris Bake. "We did very well, and managed to come back from difficult situations, for example when we were seventh of the first race and finally finished second. I am very pleased with the way the Class is growing. New teams have joined, others are expected and I think the Class is looking good.”

Dean Barker, tactician on Artemis added: “We weren’t too worried about them [ Aqua] this morning. We chose to race the conditions rather than them. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way in the first race, and then had a good second regatta. It’s still early days for our team. Torbjorn did a good job at the helm but he is still discovering the boats. The RC 44’s are very different to sail compared to a TP 52. They are much more lively and challenging.”

Six out of eight boats have won races this week, whilst both Team Aqua and the local team ESP 1 have managed to win two of them. Winner of the DHL Trophy, the fleet race ranking and second of the match race event, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua takes the lead of the Championship Tour 2009, ahead of Ceeref and Artemis.

“This has been a very successful Series and I am very happy with it although our final result is disappointing," said Russell Coutts, racing as tactician on BMW Oracle Racing. "The venue is absolutely fantastic and the Calero brothers have been great hosts. The racing was interesting. We have seen six out of eight boats win a race, which says a lot about the level of the competition. I am also pleased to see that the 'old' boats can win races; it proves a point. I believe that the life span of an RC 44 must be around ten years.”

Fleet-race, final results after 8 races including the DHL Trophy (double points):

(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)

1) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 3, 6, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3 - 20 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 4, 2, 2, 2, 4, 3, 5, 1 – 24 points
3) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2,3, 6, 4, 6, 5, 3, 5 - 37 points
4) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 8, 5, 7, 7, 1, 2, 4, 4 – 38 points
5) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1, José Juan Calero, 5, 1, 4, 5, 8, 6, 1, 6 – 40 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Daniel Calero, 1, 4, 5, 8, 7, 4, 8, 7 – 46 points
7) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 7, 7, 8, 1, 5, 8, 7, 2 – 51 points
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, Carlo Morales, 6, 8, 3, 6, 3, 7, 6, 8 – 53 points

More photos on page 2....

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