A win for the Italians and Sebastien Col

A shifty wind and a final race to The Palm concludes the Dubai RC44 Cup

Friday March 7th 2008, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The wind had shifted to the left for today’s last races, and the chop made it a significantly different race course than the one experienced during the previous days. This novelty didn’t disturb Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano, with Armando Giulietti at the helm and Sébastien Col at the tactics. Indeed, the Italian team clearly dominated the fleet today, making excellent starts, sailing fast and getting the right shifts to win the Dubai RC 44 Cup by a massive 15 points margin over Team Ceeref and Team ES Bankers Dubai.

Giulietti commented: “We didn’t have too much pressure today as we were comfortably in the lead. It helped us to sail well and be relaxed about it. Somehow, it felt easy but there is a lot of work behind it. We always go out early on the water to practice. For us, preparation is the key to success.”

Col added: “We spent five days training with James Spithill before this event and this is the key to our success. We are still new to the Class, and we are not yet sure how to trim the boat in various conditions. We have definitely improved a lot.”

Also on great form, Team Ceeref’s Igor Lah climbed up the results to end up in second place. Already winner of the match race event earlier in the week (with James Spithill at the helm), Team Ceeref concludes the Dubai RC 44 Cup with the best overall result although the RC 44 Class has decided to drop the combined match & fleet ranking.

“I am very happy and lucky to sail with such a good team. They are great and we work well together," said Lah. "We don’t talk much on board. It is quiet and relax. Everybody knows what they have to do and they make it as well as they can. I started sailing one year ago and now, I can really say that I love it. If anybody wants to join the club, I can only encourage them: it is great.”

James Spithill was most complimentary about his owner: “When I found out about Igor’s sailing background a year ago, I got a bit concerned… Now I just find it amazing. It also shows how good our entire team is. It’s not down to me but to the entire team. On these boats, everyone has to rely on everyone. The boat is also very well prepared, which is key.”

Team ES Bankers Dubai, with Patrick de Barros at the helm and Russell Coutts calling the shots, didn’t have the day it expected. Indeed, its bow crash box broke during the first beat, slowing down the boat in a very frustrating way and resulting in a disappointing 6th and two 5th places today, with a third rank overall.

Team Aqua confirmed that it was back on form, sailing consistently with a 4th, a 3rd and a 2nd place to end up fourth overall – a satisfying result considering its difficult start in the event.

Finally, Cro-A-Sail ends up with the same number of points as Team Aqua but finishes fifth of the fleet race ranking, ahead of Team Sea Dubai. Sailing very well for their first appearance in the RC 44 Championship Tour, the boat owned by Dubai International Marine Club proved that it could beat all the teams with some more training and got a very promising fourth place in the match race event.

Today's last race was the coastal DHL Trophy. It took the six strong RC 44 fleet into Dubai’s spectacular The Palm construction, reaching alongside the Meridien Hotel beach and beating alongside the massive construction site. This very enjoyable ride that saw once again Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano lead the fleet, ahead of Team Aqua and Cro-A-Sail.

Interestingly, the two leading teams of this event have been training together during five days before the start of the competition. Team Hiroshi also worked with Ian Ainslie as a coach on this event, well known as Shosholoza’s strategist in the last America’s Cup. The team worked hard at bettering its speed thanks to the use of video, photos and daily de-briefings. There is no secret to victory, but a simple method and a lot of hard work.

Fleet-racing, final results (no discard)

1) Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano (1, 1, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1) 21 points
2) Team Ceeref (5, 3, 5, 2, 5, 1, 5, 2, 3, 1, 4) 36 points
3) Team ES Bankers Dubai (3, 4, 1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 6, 5, 5) 40 points
4) Team Aqua (DNF, DNF, 3, 6, 6, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 2) 45 points
5) Cro-A-Sail (4, 5, 4, 5, 1, 5, 6, 4, 2, 6, 3) 45 points
6) Team Sea Dubai, (2, 2, 6, 3, 4, 6, 2, 6, 5, 4, 6) 46 points

DHL Trophy:

1) Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano
2) Team Aqua
3) Cro-A-Sail
4) Team Ceeref
5) Team ES Bankers Dubai
6)Team Sea Dubai

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