Victory for Spithill and Lah

Slovenian Team Ceeref come out on top at the end of the fleet racing at the RC44's Austria Cup

Monday June 2nd 2008, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
Following the gala dinner organised last night in the beautiful Gmunden City Hall, the sailors at the RC44's Austria Cup needed a little bit of time to get back into racing mode this morning. Indeed, the first start was a general recall, with most of the fleet being over the line at the gun. On the second attempt the fleet got away cleanly.

Separated by just two points at this stage, Team Aqua and Team Ceeref both made perfect starts at the pin end and immediately started controlling each other’s moves. The tacking dual on the first beat cost a lot to Aqua, who reached the windward mark in fifth. However Ceeref had managed to take the lead, having already won two races on Friday. Chris Bakes’ Team Aqua fought its way back to third before the finish line, but the gap between the two teams was increasing. On good form, Patrick de Barros’ Team Banco Espirito Santo, with Russell Coutts calling the shots, finished second.

The second race took place in similar light wind conditions. However this time, unlike the first race, the right side of the course was favoured. This change James Spithill didn’t miss, tacking to port soon after the start together with Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano.The move paid off and the two teams grabbed the lead, with Armando Giulietti and Sébastien Col smartly controlling the rest of the competitors. The victory by Hiroshi - the first in this event - brought back a smile to Giulietti’s face. Sailing with the RC 44 Championship Tour leader’s gold wheels, Hiroshi is clearly not at ease with the lake conditions and Armando Giulietti confessed earlier on that their goal was to “limit the damage” - an objective well reached thanks to this victory, ahead of Ceeref and Beecom.

The third race saw the domination of the Japanese team Beecom. Controlling the situation throughout the race, owner and helmsman Isao Mita took his first victory in a RC 44 fleet race, ahead of Team Aqua and Ceeref - a well deserved achievement.

The last race of the event was also the DHL long distance trophy. During the morning, the RC 44s were sailing in the southern part of the lake, called Ebensee. The DHL Trophy took them back to Gmunden, with a long beat alongside cliffs and wild forests - stunning scenery.

Already guaranteed to win the fleet event, Team Ceeref made the wrong initial call (for the first time), sailing together with Beecom to head for the right side of the course when the left proved to be favoured. At the front of the fleet Team Aqua, Banco Espirito Santo and BMW Oracle Racing were battling hard for the lead, tacking along the coast to try to benefit from the land effect to gain a few meters. Banco Espirito Santo made it first in Gmunden, ahead of Team Aqua and Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano, grabbing the DHL Trophy and the third place overall.

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua finished second of the DHL Trophy and in the Austria Cup.
Bake commented: “Our boat is back in shape and our speed is good. It was very interesting to race here; it’s challenging to read the shifts and to manage the wind. I have enjoyed this very much and the scenery was fantastic.”

As for Team Ceeref, she crossed the finish line last but was the winner of the event, illustrating the fact that in this tough Class, everybody can win races but also lose some badly.

"James Spithill did a fantastic job today, and the crew was just perfect; they haven’t done a single mistake," commented Igor Lah, helmsman on Team Ceeref: "I enjoy lake sailing. It is very challenging but it is beautiful. This was really an excellent event, and I want to thank the organizers for a great job.”

Patrick de Barros, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo added: “This has been a fantastic event, with an outstanding organization. Of course, sometimes it was frustrating and we had to wait for the wind. But it is definitely worth it. I have enjoyed the scenery but Russell has given me a hard time. He doesn’t leave me half a second to look around. If I turn my head to look, I immediately get told off!”

His tactician and circuit organiser Russell Coutts added: “This was a fantastic event. For us sailors, it is really refreshing to sail in different locations, and to mix the conditions we sail in. It tests all our skills. And the consequence is that some people are better in some conditions and some in other. The hierarchy is not the same. That’s what’s great about sailing; nothing’s ever acquired. In this lake, you just need to keep looking out of the boat. And if you make a mistake, carry on looking for a solution instead of being frustrated. You must permanently look ahead and focus on the future.”

The next regatta of the RC 44 Championship Tour is the Malcesine Cup, on Lake Garda on 9-13 July .

Fleet racing - final results after seven races (no discard):

1) Team Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 9 - 19 points
2) Team Aqua, Chris Bake,1, 3, 2, 3, 7, 2, 2 - 20 points
3) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 4, 4, 4, 2, 6, 4, 1 - 25 points
4) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 5, 7, 6, 5, 1, 5, 3 - 32 points
5) Team Beecom, Isao Mita 7, 5, 5, 4, 3, 1, 8 – 33 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 3, 9, 3, 9, 5, 7, 4 - 40 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 8, 8, 7, 6, 4, 8, 5 – 46 points
8) Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser 6, 2, DSQ, 8, 9, 6, 6 – 47 points
9) Cro-Aut-Sail, Rene Mangold, 9, 6, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7 - 54 points

DHL Trophy winner: Team Banco Espirito Santo

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