Tied at the top

Artemis and No Way Back jockey for the lead after the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Gold Cup

Friday November 27th 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
Four races took place today in a light and fairly unstable breeze, allowing four different teams to score victories. Artemis and Team Aqua, the two teams leading the overall Championship Tour, needed a couple of races to get back in a confident mode after their disappointing results in yesterday's match racing. They finally showed their usual leadership in the fleet regatta in the second part of the day.

The first regatta was dominated by Team Sea Dubai, with their local talent Yousef Lahej at the helm. Starting at full speed at the pin end, Team Sea Dubai managed to cross ahead of the pack and to extend its lead throughout the race, winning with a fairly comfortable margin ahead of Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and No Way Back. Respectively fifth and ninth, Artemis and Team Aqua were probably wondering at this stage if sort of spell had been placed upon them.

Artemis, with Tim Snedden at the helm, started its come back in the second race, sailing a good regatta she although unable to overtake the excellent Team Austria, with René Mangold at the helm, who won their first ever regatta in the Championship Tour.

“It feels very good to win a race," said Mangold later. "Everything is much easier when you are in the front, there are no turbulences, no waves, it’s clear ahead… We have done a lot of work last month, practicing on Sprintos on Lake Neusiedlersee and getting here four days ahead of the start of the event. We really try hard to have a program here, and to stick to it. Our goal is to replicate the same procedure in each situation. Sometimes it works well. We have definitely made huge progress."

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua was still struggling in the back of the fleet at this stage, but the cheers that could be heard from his family and local supporters started to take effect.

For Bake dominated most of the third race. This proved to be the best of the day, with an intense battle between No Way Back, Artemis, Katusha, Team Sea Dubai and Team Aqua. Artemis finally won the race ahead of Aqua and Sea Dubai, looking very fast throughout the day. As for No way Back, with Pieter Heerema at the helm, she finished a good fourth after two thirds, sailing consistently and well throughout the day despite the helmsman’s cracked ribs…

Chris Bake later commented: "It has been a very tough beginning in this event for us. And today we started badly too, with bad starts, a bad speed, bad positioning… Luckily it got better by the third race. We focused hard on the basics, and concentrated on the quality of our sailing. It finally started to pay off."

The last race of the day had to be shortened: the wind was dropping and the sun was about to dive in the ocean. No Way Back controlled the situation well, crossing the arrival line a few seconds ahead of Team Aqua and Artemis.

Ray Davies, tactician on No Way Back explained: “We have tried to be consistent, and to avoid high risks. It has worked well; we went the right way most of the time and our speed was good, especially downwind. Pieter is doing a great job at the helm. Full credit to him because he is suffering because of his broken rib."

No Way Back and Artemis lead the provisional results after the first four races. The event carries on until Sunday, with eight more fleet races including the double points DHL Trophy on Saturday.

Fleet race, provisional results after four races:
(Position, name of team, helmsman, results, points)

1) Artemis, Tim Snedden, 5, 2, 1, 3 - 11 points
2) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 3, 3, 4, 1 – 11 points
3) Team Sea Dubai, Yousef Lahej, 1, 5, 3, 10 – 19 points
4) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 9, 7, 2, 2 – 20 points
5) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 2, 10, 8, 4 - 24 points
6) Team Katusha, Bob Little, 4, 9, 5, 6 – 24 points
7) Organika, Maciej Nawrocki, 7, 4, 9, 5 - 25 points
8) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 6, 1, 10, 9 - 26 points
9) BMW ORACLE Racing, Neville Crichton, 10, 6, 6, 8 – 30 points
10) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 8, 8, 7, 7 – 30 points

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