No Way Back leads the charge

Following a complete day of fleet racing and the DHL Trophy at the RC44 Gold Cup in Dubai

Saturday November 28th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The sea breeze is slowly establishing itself in Dubai, and today allowed three good races including the coastal race DHL Trophy to take place.

On great form, Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back hasmanaged to remain in the top four since the beginning of the event - a feat that no other team has managed to achieve. This places them in a good position going into the last day, leading, 11 points clear of Artemis and 16 over third placed Team Aqua.

The first race of the day saw the long expected come back of Ceeref, which has had a very unfortunate run since the beginning of the event. More at ease in today’s stronger breeze, Igor Lah managed to overtake both No Way Back and Artemis, winning the race and putting an end to a series of below average results.

"Our confidence is slowly back but we have had a very difficult time," said Lah. "Our results were just getting worse and worse throughout the season and I was starting to wonder if I could still make it. Then we got those two excellent races and it is the proof that the answer is yes. I think that the other teams have been improving a lot whilst we haven’t. But we finish the day on a positive note."

The breeze increased to ten knots for the second race, prompting some of the teams to switch to smaller jibs. René Mangold’s Team Austria and several others however kept their genoas and they were right: the wind soon dropped back to eight knots, giving them a little edge over the rest of the fleet. Ceeref and Katusha, which were leading the race alongside the Austrians, were involved in an incident at the leeward mark, costing Paul Cayard’s team a penalty turn and helped Team Austria to sail away and score their second victory in two days - a fantastic achievement for this team of amateur sailors.

René Mangold, helmsman on Team Austria later commented: "Our victory today proves that the success we already obtained yesterday was not an accident. We are obviously thrilled by this. The spirit on boars is absolutely excellent. This new victory is great for our crew, because we are all involved; it really is a team effort. It is also great for us in Austria. A lot of people follow the race, the newspapers talk about it. As soon as we win a race the phone starts beeping."

Chief Race Officer Peter Reggio then changed the race course and sent the ten strong RC 44 fleet towards the famous Atlantis hotel, off the Dubai Palm, for the DHL long distance race.

Neville Crichton and his team on board BMW Oracle Racing made an excellent start at the pin end and managed to tack and cross ahead of the pack. Heading towards the Palm, the team suddenly slowed down and needed a little while to realise that a plastic bag was stuck in their rudder. Both No Way Back and Team Aqua benefitted from this incident and sailed past the American boat. The event then turned into a drag race, with no passing opportunities, the distance between the boats increasing throughout the day.

A fifth place in this race, cost Artemis the DHL Trophy championship title, ending up fourth overall behind the winner No Way Back, Team Aqua and BMW Oracle Racing. This week has definitely been a horrible one for Dean Barker and his team after their disappointing result in the match race.

"We knew that the start of the DHL Trophy would be very important, because there were few passing opportunities afterwards," said No Way Back's tactician, Ray Davies. "We came out great and then increased our lead throughout the race. I think that one of our advantages is that we are an underdog and we didn’t really have much pressure. On the other hand, some teams have been very unlucky. They are also the ones that had most pressure on them."

Neville Crichton, who this week is helming BMW Oracle Racing added: "It has taken me a little while to get the feeling of this boat but I am getting there and I am enjoying the experience. I usually sail on bigger boats where the speed makes a huge difference. Here it is different because all the boats are identical and every single mistake costs a lot."

The fleet race event will conclude tomorrow with four more races. The overall championship title is still open and everything remains possible.

Fleet racing, provisional results after four races:

Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results (DHL Trophy double points regatta in bold), total number of points

1) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 3, 3, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2 - 19 points
2) Artemis, Tim Snedden, 5, 2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 10 - 30 points
3) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 9, 7, 2, 2, 8, 3, 4 - 35 points
4) Team Katusha, Bob Little, 4, 9, 5, 6, 3, 7, 8 - 42 points
5) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 8, 8, 7, 7, 1, 2, 12 - 45 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Neville Crichton, 10, 6, 6, 8, 5, 6, 6 - 47 points
7) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 6, 1, 10, 9, 7, 1, 14 - 48 points
8) Team Sea Dubai, Yousef Lahej, 1, 5, 3, 10, 6, 9, 20 - 54 points
9) Organika, Maciej Nawrocki, 7, 4, 9, 5, 8, 8, 16 - 57 points
10) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 2, 10, 8, 4, 9, 10, 18 - 61 points

DHL Trophy annual ranking

Ranking, name of team, points
1) No Way Back, 10 points
2) Team Aqua, 12 points
3) BMW ORACLE Racing 15 points
4) Artemis, 16 points
5) Ceeref, 26 points
6) Organika, 32 points
7) Team Austria, 32 points
8) Team Katusha, 32 points
9) Team Sea Dubai, 39 points
10) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, 40 points
11) Jelik, 55 points

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