Dubai into the lead

Markus Wieser shows the way during day one of the fleet racing for the RC44s in Cagliari

Friday April 25th 2008, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
Team Sea Dubai is the new and unexpected leader after the first three fleet races of the Cagliari RC 44 Cup. After a very good start in Dubai last month, this new team proves once again that it will be a serious opponent this season, thanks to a well managed program under the supervision of Markus Wieser.

The strong Mistral that was blowing during the match race event made space to a fairly shifty sea breeze today. Indeed, the first fleet race took place in 8 knots of wind, under a blue sunshine. Children from the Yacht Club Cagliari, one of the event’s partners, were invited on board each of the boats and they had the ride of their life.

Armand Giulietti’ s Team Hiroshi Città di Milano didn’t have the start it wanted. The Italian boat was forced to tack a few seconds after the start, in an uncomfortable position; it went for the right side of the course and soon realised that this wasn’t such a bad thing: thanks to a great boat speed and a nice little shift, Hiroshi soon took the lead and sailed away, increasing its lead over Beecom. Both Team Sea Dubai and Team Organika, who had been struggling at the back of the fleet, made superb come-backs and finished respectively third and fifth.

The three leaders of this first race were ranked in the bottom half of the match-race event earlier in the week, proving how tight the fleet is and illustrating the fact that any boat can win any race thanks to the strict one-design characteristic of the RC 44.

The second race saw Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing’s come back at the top after a sixth rank in the first race. Sailing fast and at the right place, in a lovely 15 knots breeze, Ellison made the best of the first downwind leg to take the lead over from Team Sea Dubai and Team Aqua. Despite a poor first leg, Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano managed to catch up with the leader, finishing in BMW Oracle’s wake. The wind dropped dramatically during the last leg, and Russell Coutts’ perfect positioning allowed his team to save its lead despite the come back of both Hiroshi and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, who finished third after a solid race.

The wind then dropped completely for a while, before settling in again in a new direction. Peter Reggio was once again wise, having asked the fleet to wait until the wind was well settled to launch the start procedure. The breeze was light but there was still a lot of chop from the earlier breeze, making the helmsmen’s and trimmer’s life difficult. Team Sea Dubai handled those conditions perfectly, taking a good start and going for the favoured right side of the course to take the lead. The team from Dubai International Marine Club sailed away whilst a strong fight took place behind, between Igor Lah’s Ceeref and Team Organika, with Star world champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz calling the shots. The boats finished in this order, Team Sea Dubai benefiting from Hiroshi-Città di Milano’s sixth place to take the overall lead.

"We have improved a lot although we were already quite fast last month in Dubai," commented Team Sea Dubai's Markus Wieser. "We have new spinnakers, so now we can maintain our good position downwind too. We are a new team, and we still have difficulties, but it is easier in light winds. I think that we sailed quite smartly today, we didn’t take risks and we were fast upwind.”

Armando Giulietti of Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano added: “We had a good day, except for the third race were everybody tacked on us. We have a very good speed. Our trimming is excellent but we have also been working a lot on our sails, with North Sails Italy (Cassinari). We are quite happy with our results, but it is tough. The level is incredible.”

Maciej Nawrocki of Team Organika gave his view on today's racing: "We have a great team and obviously, this helped a lot. Mateusz’s strategy was great and our team work has improved a lot. This was our problem until now, but the coordination is better and we are improving every day. This is also a new game for me, and I still have a lot to learn.”

The races have been followed by a big crowd, both on and off the water. An impressive public cheered the teams as they arrived at the pontoons. Thousands of people are here to celebrate the Fiera Internazionale della Sardinia, a great cultural event that takes place in Cagliari between April 24 and May 5.

Six more fleet races are scheduled over the next two days. With only eleven points between the top eight boats, the game remains very open.

Fleet race, provisional results after three races (no discard):

1) Sea Dubai, Joki Hellmich, 3, 4, 1 – 8 points
2) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 1, 2, 6 – 9 points
3) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 1, 5 – 12 points
4) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 7, 6, 2 – 15 points
5) Team Organika, Maciej Nawrocki, 5, 8, 3 – 16 points
6) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 4, 5, 8 - 17 points
7) Beecom, Isao Mita, 2, 7, 9 – 18 points
8) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 9, 3, 7 – 19 points
9) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, 8, 9, 4 – 21 points
10) Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, DNS, 10, 10 – 31 points

More pics on page 2...

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