Match race reshuffle
Sailing for the season title, Artemis, with Dean Barker at the helm, suffered from a steering failure during the pre-start of the first regatta against Team Sea Dubai. Markus Wieser, who was steering the local boat, immediately took advantage of the situation and planted a penalty on his opponent in the pre-start, going on to win the race - an important point although Barker and his team remained a serious threat until the finish line. However the steering position it was necessary for Barker to adopt - squatting in the cockpit for the entire race - holding the spare tiller - made a come back all but impossible.
The RC 44 technical team managed to repair the failure but the crew on board Artemis suffered throughout the day, sailing way below their usual level and finishing a disappointing ninth overall. A result Ceeref have grabbed the annual Championship Tour match race title.
Barker commented afterwards: "I am extremely disappointed. We had this steering failure during the first race and it affected our entire day. We just didn’t get back into it, and sailed very averagely. It is frustrating that we are loosing the title due to a gear failure."
The irony of the story is that Artemis’ main opponent today was no other than their own coach: Rod Davis, steering Ceeref exceptionally today as a substitute to their usual helmsman Sébastien Col, who was not available this week.
Davis was on fire, beating Team Aqua in the first flight after a fantastic match race lesson that included a dial up at the windward mark, fake gybes and many more of the 'dirty tricks' available in the match race arsenal. Ceeref then went on to beat Team Austria, Organika and BMW Oracle Racing, finishing the contest unbeaten.
Davis commented: "Ceeref is a very easy team to fit in. It is a slick and very well run operation. All I had to do is take the helm and concentrate on my steering: the manoeuvres were perfect and Michele Ivaldi was giving me great strategic advice. I had a big pressure because I am usually sitting on the coach boat: if I lose, people will say 'who are you to give advice…?' I focused on remaining calm and trying to identify the issues and find the right answers."
The situation was tighter in the second group, with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (José Maria Ponce) winning ahead of No Way Back (Ray Davies) to grab the second place overall.
Jose Maria Ponce, helmsman on Islas Canarias Puerto Calero said: "We knew in the morning that it would be a very difficult day, with a light breeze. Our first race against Paul Cayard went really well; we managed to give him a penalty before the start and won nicely. It gave the entire team a great boost of confidence and we carried on sailing very well. The mental is very important in those races, and when you start well it gives you a huge motivation."
No Way Back's Ray Davies added: "I am very happy with our day, especially the second part of it as we finished very strong. We should also have won the first race against the Spaniards but we were called back at the start and didn’t manage to get back. There was obviously a strong pressure today because it is the end of the season and the points become very important. We salvaged a good day."
There were many penalties today, and the overall results have been affected by the nervousness of some of the teams. Indeed, Team Aqua - third overall in the match race results before this regatta - finished the Gold Cup at an unbelievable last place to end up seventh in this this year's championship. Artemis, which was leading, is fourth overall… On the other hand, Ceeref is the season winner ahead of No Way Back and the Karol Jablonski steered Organika, still on great form after their performance last week in Nice.
The fleet racing regatta starts tomorrow. Here Artemis leads the season ranking, two points ahead of Team Aqua and five points ahead of BMW Oracle Racing and No Way Back. Artemis dominated last month’s event in Portoroz and is the favourite of this contest. However, as the match race event proved - nothing’s ever certain until the last race!
Sea Dubai RC 44 Gold Cup - Match-race final results:
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)
1) CEEREF, Rod Davis, 4 points
2) Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, José Maria Ponce, 3 points
3) Organika, Karol Jablonski, 3 points
4) No Way Back, Ray Davies, 2 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, Morgan Larson, 1,5 points (including 0,5 point penalty)
6) Team Katusha, Paul Cayard, 1 point (including 2 points penalty)
7) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 1 point
8) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 1 point
9) Artemis, Dean Barker, 1 point
10) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton, -2 points (including 3 points penalty)
RC 44 Championship Tour, Match-race final results 2009:
(Ranking, name of team, points)
1) CEEREF, 13 points
2) No Way Back, 20 points
3) Organika, 24 points
4) Artemis, 27 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, 28 points
6) Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, 29 points
7) Team Aqua, 32 points
8) Katusha, 45 points
9) Team Sea Dubai, 45 points
10) Team Austria, 51 points
11) Jelik, 65 points