New teams into the fray

Eight boats contesting the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup

Thursday February 26th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The RC 44 Championship Tour 2009 started today in Puerto Calero with the first matches of Round Robin one. It was also a baptism of fire for Pieter Heerema’s Team No Way Back and Carlos Morales’ Team Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, both sailing their first races. The Dutch boat had an excellent day, with two victories over the two Spanish boats. The local entries didn’t have such a good day, suffering respectively from a trim tab failure and a broken crash box following… a crash.

Many top sailors also discovered the RC44 today, including Olympic champions Martin Kirketerp and Luis Doreste and veteran America’s Cup sailors Yann Gouniot and Christian Scherrer. The conditions made it none too difficult an initiation, although the breeze’s lack of consistency made Race Officer Peter Reggio’s life difficult. At the end of the day, just two and a half flights were completed, finishing the event organiser’s desire to complete two round robins in two days.

Winner of last year’s match race ranking, Igor Lah’s Ceeref proved it is still the team to beat, with three victories in as many matches today. Sébastien Col is Ceeref’s substitute driver in James Spithill’s absence. He did a great job, particularly during a fantastic race against Organika, who were sailing for the first time with their new match race helmsman Karol Jablonski. Leading the race by half a boat length, Organika couldn’t halt Ceeref’s come back, until the Slovenian spinnaker touched the Polish boat’s runners. With a penalty to complete, Séb Col and his team had to attack, which they did in style, taking the lead and increasing it just enough to complete their penalty turn before crossing the arrival line.

Pieter Heerema and Philippe Presti’s team No Way Back and Russell Coutts’ BMW Oracle Racing are also unbeaten so far, however with one less match under their belt. Team Aqua and Cameron Appleton had an excellent match against Artemis, inflicting a penalty to their opponent at the start and winning the race, before losing an important match against Ceeref. Finally, Dean Barker’s Artemis won two matches against Organika and Jose Maria Ponce’s Team Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1.

Organised by Puerto Calero, the development on Lanzarote's seafront, the RC44 Cup consists in two days of match racing followed by three days of fleet racing. The DHL coastal race will take place on Sunday; it will count for double points.

José Juan Calero, Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 1 commented: “We are very, very happy. Our two matches were extremely close. May be I steered a little bit too aggressively against Team No way Back, and we hit them and broke our crash box. But the other match, against BMW Oracle Racing, was fantastic. We were in contact all along, and finished just behind them. It proves that we are well in the game. Tomorrow, we will be on the starting line with all our energy.”

Igor Lah, owner, Ceeref added: “The match against Organika was fantastic and very strange at the same time; I have never seen such a situation. It was very nice to see two masters (Sébastien Col and Karol Jablonski) playing with the boats.”

Don Cowie, crewmember on Artemisadded: “The wind was very light but that’s what’s great with these boats: they are interesting to sail even with light winds and they are almost fully powered with six knots of wind. We were a bit frustrated by the penalty incurred against Aqua. We led most of the race, but didn’t have enough space to complete our penalty. It’s only the third regatta we sail with this team and we are still learning a lot.”

Match-racing - provisional results after 2 ½ flights:

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

1) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 3/0 - 3 points
2) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 2/0 - 2 points
2) No Way Back, Philippe Presti, 2/0 – 2 points
4) Artemis, Dean Barker, 2/1 – 2 points
5) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 1/1 - 1 point
6) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 0/2 – 0 point
7) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, Carlos Morales, 0/3 – 0 point
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Juan Calero, 0/3 -1 point (incl. one penalty)

More photos on page 2....

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