Col and Giulietti take fleet racing
The first race took place in a light sea breeze. Team Hiroshi, BMW Oracle Racing and Banco Espirito Santo went straight for the left of the course while Team Sea Dubai (third overall until then) opted for the right. Every point was crucial and all the leading teams were impatiently waiting for the first crossing to see who was right or wrong. Well, both options seemed to pay. Hiroshi rounded the windward mark in first, just ahead of Team Sea Dubai and BMW Oracle Racing. The same scenario took place downwind, all the leading teams going to the right except Team Sea Dubai who went to the left. The tension was seriously rising as they neared the leeward gate, which they rounded in the same position once again. The only change within the leading boats finally took place on the last downwind leg, when BMW Oracle Racing overtook Team Sea Dubai; a point that was going to cost them the podium. Team Aqua, who was also looking for a place on the podium, finished seventh whilst Banco Espirito Santo - second overall till then - dropped down the ranking because of an eighth place in this race.
At this stage, Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano could not lose the event any more. Team Sea Dubai was only two points ahead of BMW Oracle Racing and two more ahead of Banco Espirito Santo: all but a comfortable advantage against Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslie.
Well advised, Larry Ellison got a perfect start on the pin end of the line. Also well in the game, and more central on the course, Team Sea Dubai and Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano managed to reach the windward mark a few boat lengths ahead of Oracle. The hunt for the last remaining points was on, and fascinating, with Banco Espirito Santo sailing precisely and smoothly to try to catch up on the leaders. Was it the pressure, bad luck? Team Sea Dubai went from first to third, then sixth and finally seventh over the arrival line, to the despair of their crewmembers. On the other hand, the experienced Ben Ainslie managed to lead Patrick de Barros to the third spot, grabbing the last place available on the podium behind Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano and BMW Oracle Racing.
Sixth of the last race, Team Aqua ends up fifth overall whilst Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref is seventh, ahead of Beecom, Cro-A-sail and Mascalzone Latino.
Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano increases its lead in the 2008 Championship Tour, ahead of Patrick de Barros and Igor Lah. Armando Giulietti will carry on sailing with the Championship Tour leader’s gold wheels in the next event, the Austria Cup (28 May- 1 June).
“This is a great conclusion to a nice week," said Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano'sArmando Giulietti. "I think that this is a decisive stage for the RC 44 Class. Indeed, it is growing and attracting more and more top names. It is tough to sail against all these teams but it is great when you manage to beat them.”
His tactician/helm Sébastien Col added: “Our goal is clearly the fleet racing event, so we are very happy with our week. We are using the match-race to test new sails; this worked well and allowed us to make the right decisions in the fleet race. Our speed was excellent and we managed to sail in the right spot most of the times.”
Fleet race, final results after eight races (no discard):
1) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 1, 2, 6, 4, 1, 3, 1, 1 – 19 points
2) BMW Oracle Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 1, 5, 2, 8, 6, 2, 2 – 32 points
3) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 4, 5, 8, 3, 3, 1, 8, 3 - 35 points
4) Sea Dubai, Joki Hellmich, 3, 4, 1, 7, 5, 5, 3, 7 – 35 points
5) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 9, 3, 7, 1, 2, 4, 7, 6 – 39 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 7, 6, 2, 6, 4, 9, 4, 4 – 42 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Nawrocki, 5, 8, 3, 9, 7, 2, 6, 8 – 48 points
8) Beecom, Isao Mita, 2, 7, 9, 8, 6, 8, 5, 5 – 50 points
9) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, 8, 9, 4, 5, 10, DNF, 9, DNF – 67 points
10) Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, DNS, 10, 10, 10, 9, 7, 10, 9 – 76 points
RC 44 Championship Tour 2008 (after 2 events):
1) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, 40 points
2) Team Banco Espirito Santo, 75 points
3) Ceeref, 78 points
4) Sea Dubai, 81 points
5) Team Aqua, 84 points
6) Cro-A-Sail, 112 points
7) BMW Oracle Racing, 120 points
8) Team Organika, 136 points
9) Beecom, 138 points
10) Mascalzone Latino, 164 points
11) Magia Alike, 184 points
11) Ekipa 44, 184 points
11) Jelik, 184 points
11) Jelik, 184 points
More photos on page 2...