Photo: GEPA / Ralph Martin Fisher / RC44 Class

BMW Oracle Racing win RC44's Austria Cup

Russell Coutts back in the boat and back on form

Tuesday May 4th 2010, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Austria

Going into the final race of the RC44's Austria Cup on Lake Traunsee, just three points separated the two BMW Oracle Racing teams - BMW ORACLE Racing and RC 44 Challenge .

“We didn’t think we were still in a position to win the race", confessed tactician John Kostecki at the end of the day. "The wind was quite shifty and it was difficult to control today: sometimes you take more risks if you try to cover another boat and I felt it was one of those situations. Having said this, if I had known that there were only three points between us and BMW ORACLE Racing in the last race, I would probably have done some things differently." Nevertheless, the Kostecki/Spithill duo and their amateur helmsman Ian Vickers couldn’t have done much better in this last race, winning by a comfortable margin.

The outcome of the fleet race unfolded behind, in a very tough battle between five teams competing for the remaining podium positions. BMW Oracle Racing started the last race in the middle of the line and struggled to find clear air. The team then spent the regatta swapping places with No Way Back, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and Ceeref, trying hard to keep as close as possible from the leader. BMW Oracle Racing eventually finished fourth, just a couple of metres ahead of the Spaniards after overtaking them on the last run.

Nicholas Verwilghen, helmsman on BMW Oracle Racing said: "I felt very bad when we finished the first race today in ninth… Then we won two races  and finally secured the title in the fourth, so I come out of it okay. I absolutely loved it today, it was great. I hadn’t steered an RC 44 for over a year so it took me a little while to get the right feeling. I also found that Russell was much more relaxed than when I sailed with him in the past. But he still shouted at me when I messed a tack…"

The fight for third place on the podium also proved superb, with four teams separated by one point going into the last race. Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back - despite an indicent earlier in the day when she got stuck in a fishing line requiring a crewmember to be sent into the freezing cold waters of Lake Traunsee to cut the line off – fought its way back up the rankings to finish third in the last race to claim third overall, ahead of Team Sea Dubai and Ceeref.

Harm Muller Spreer, helmsman of Team Sea Dubai commented: "I needed some time to feel comfortable at the helm and today I am very happy that it happened. It’s an incredible feeling for me to beat guys like Terry Hutchinson. It’s the beauty of one-designs: all the boats have similar performances and the teams make the difference. It’s just the best."

Both Artemis, Katusha and Team Aqua – used to being in the limelight – suffered today. Team Aqua and Artemis – the winners of the last event in Dubai – finished respectively 9th and 7th of the fleet regatta. As for Katusha, 8th overall, its situation is quite different: the boat owner - Guennadi Timtchenko – started sailing for the first time during this regatta. He did a great job, staying in touch throughout the event thanks to the help of his capable coach, Paul Cayard.

So winner of both the match and fleet race, BMW Oracle Racing dominated the RC 44 Austria Cup; with No Way Back second in the combined fleet and match raing results and RC 44 Challenge third.

Thanks to their third place overall in Dubai and Austria, No Way Back currently leads the RC 44 Championship Tour 2010 ahead of Artemis and Team Sea Dubai.

Fleet racing - final results after eight races:
Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points (no discard)

1) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison / Nicholas Verwilghen, 1, 2, 8, 2,9,1,1,4 – 28 points
2) RC 44 Challenge, Ian Vickers, 3, 5, 2, 3, 3, 5, 6, 1 – 28 points
3) Team No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 2, 1, 3, 8, 8, 9, 5, 3 – 39 points
4) Team Sea Dubai, Harm Muller Spreer, 6, 4, 10, 6, 1, 3, 2, 9 – 41 points
5) CEEREF, Igor Lah, 10, 3, 1, 1, 10, 6, 9, 2 – 42 points
6) Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, Daniel Calero, 5, 7, 5, 10, 7, 2, 3, 5 – 44 points
7) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 4, 9, 4, 5, 4, 4, 7, 7 – 44 points
8) Katusha, Guennadi Timtchenko, 8, 6, 9, 7, 2, 8, 10, 6 – 56 points
9) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 7, 10, 7, 4, 5, 10, 8, 8 – 59 points
10) AEZ RC44 Sailing Team, René Mangold, 9, 8, 6, 9, 6, 7, 4, 10 – 59 points

RC 44 Austria Cup - Ranking, team, match race, fleet race, points:

1) BMW ORACLE Racing, 1, 1 – 2 points
2) Team No Way Back, 4, 3 – 7 points
3) RC 44 Challenge, 6, 2 – 8 points
4) Team Sea Dubai, 5, 4 – 9 points
5) Katusha, 3, 8 – 11 points
6) Team Aqua, 2, 9 – 11 points
7) CEEREF, 8, 5 – 13 points
8) Artemis, 7, 7 – 14 points
9) Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, 9, 6 – 15 points
10) AEZ RC44 Sailing Team, 10, 10 – 20 points

From Nico Martinez/


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