Team Aqua takes DHL Trophy

Chris Bake's crew win coastal race at the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup

Saturday February 28th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
It was another challenging day of racing off Puerto Calero, with changable weather and shifty wind that put gray hairs on some of the tacticians. On great form, Chris Bake and his tactician Cameron Appleton got it all right, winning two races (including the DHL Trophy coastal race) and adding a second and a third to conclude the day with a small lead over Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis.

The wind was blowing from the shore at 5-7 knots when Race Officer Peter Reggio launched the first race of the day, allowing the RC 44’s to glide on flat water. Starting in the middle of the line at full speed, Team Aqua rapidly took the lead, ahead of the local team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 2. Just behind them, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis kept pushing hard, making no mistakes whatsoever and getting closer to the Canaries crew after each manoeuvre before finally overtaking them during the second beat.

Penalised by a premature start, BMW Oracle Racing and Ceeref slowly improved their positions, reaching the fifth and sixth spot respectively while newcomers Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back and Maciej Nawrocki’s Organika regularly lost ground to close the fleet.

Having dominated proceedings throughout the race, Chris Bake nearly let victory slip from his grasp when Artemis made the best of the shifts during the last downwind leg, to finish just a couple of meters behind Team Aqua. The two Spanish teams took the third and fourth spots, repeating their good results from the previous day.

The second race coincided with a change of weather that would influence the rest of the day. Big black clouds were starting to grow on the north of the Island, causing the wind to increase, inciting most teams - with the exception of Ceeref and Artemis - to opt for a no 2 jib .

Recalled at the start, Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back tried to find some clear air on the right of the course and benefited from favourable wind strength to reach the windward mark in the lead, just ahead of the two Spanish boats. ESP 1 even briefly took the lead at the leeward mark, but got penalised for not respecting the two boats length priority rule and letting enough space to Artemis. A massive shift to the right then completely reshuffled the cards. Failing to anticipate it, Russell Coutts and Karol Jablonski ended up trailing on the left of the course whilst the rest of the fleet was reaching at full speed towards the windward mark. Team Aqua even raised its spinnaker briefly, jibing the mark and heading for the arrival line behind No Way Back and Artemis, who remained untouchable.

The configuration of race three was completely different, with the teams beating alongside the rugged coastline of Lanzarote, hesitating between potential land effects and a stronger offshore breeze. Choosing the latter option, team Organika reached the windward mark in front of Team Ceeref and Aqua, who had decided to follow the coast for as long as possible. The Polish team hang on to its lead throughout the race, resisting to Team Aqua’s come back to win its first regatta in the RC 44 Championship Tour, ahead of Team Aqua and Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, often inspired today thanks to Luis Doreste’s calls.

Rain jackets were out for the DHL long distance trophy, which consisted in three windward - leeward legs followed by a beat to the entrance of the harbour. The wind shifted to the right seconds before the start, pushing the boats over the line and leading to a general recall. The DHL regatta counts for double points and nobody wanted to be late on the line…

The second attempt proved to be the right one. Sailing a beautiful beat, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua led handsomely around the windward mark, ahead of Ceeref and Organika, definitely on great form. The Polish team then managed to overtake Ceeref, and to threaten Aqua until the last beat. But the team from the UAE remained untouchable, winning with a comfortable margin ahead of Organika. Sailing slightly over the lay line, BMW Oracle Racing let Artemis slip below them, to grab the third place by no more than a few centimetres.

Helmsman and owner of Team Aqua, Chris Bake said: “This is a good day; the team is on great form and we have managed to deal with some issues very well. We took excellent starts in all races, and tried to sail fast & smart. It was difficult to read the course. But our positioning and good speed made it easier.”

With one more day of fleet racing ahead, Team Aqua leads the overall ranking with 15 points, ahead of Artemis (18) and Ceeref (29).

Fleet-race, provisional results after 6 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 - 15 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 4, 2, 2, 2, 4, 3 – 18 points
3) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2,3, 6, 4, 6, 5 - 29 points
4) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 8, 5, 7, 7, 1, 2 – 30 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, Daniel Calero, 1, 4, 5, 8, 7, 4 – 31 points
6) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1, José Juan Calero, 5, 1,4, 5, 8, 6 – 33 points
7) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, Carlo Morales, 6, 8, 3, 6, 3, 7 – 37 points
8) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 7, 7, 8, 1, 5, 8 – 42 points

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