Team Aqua wins match racing
Conditions today off Malvarrosa Beach were similar to yesterday’s 20-knot winds, but the match racing at the RC 44 Valencia Cup was even more boisterous.
New Zealander Cameron Appleton and Team Aqua ended up capturing the match racing portion of the weeklong regatta with a 9-1 record. They clinched the title with a victory over Russell Coutts and BMW Oracle Racing in flight 13.
Aqua is hull No. 3 in the fleet, but shows little sign of aging after four years of hard racing, as Appleton said: “She may be the oldest boat in the fleet, but I wouldn’t trade her. We had an all-around level day. Andrew Estcourt (main trimmer) and Jeff Brock (headsails) did a great job keeping us on the numbers, and the guys did a fantastic job handling the boat. Full credit to them.”
One loss behind Team Aqua, opening day leader Terry Hutchinson and Artemis finished on 8-2 and tied with BMW Oracle Racing for second place. Artemis won the tie-breaker by virtue of yesterday’s head-to-head win.
“Cam and Aqua have been in the fleet since its inception, so good on them,” said Hutchinson, who opened at 7-0. “We didn’t sail as well today as yesterday, but we’re still improving from event to event so that’s good for us.”
BMW Oracle Racing had a chance to win the match racing, but lost their match against Aqua. “We were a little slow off the start line against Aqua,” said main trimmer Dirk de Ridder. “Then we had a problem with the spinnaker takedown line during the set. It was caught on something down below and we’re still not sure what.”
Once again, planing speeds of 16 to 18 knots were easily achieved in the afternoon when the sea breeze piped up to 20 knots. The strong winds added to the excitement of the day, as at least three crews scored come from behind wins and some thrilling finish line action.
The Spanish boat, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero led by helmsman Jose Maria Ponce, scored its first two wins in the afternoon, looking much more settled than yesterday. “Today went a little better than yesterday for us,” said Ponce. “We have to improve our starts because that’s our weak point and in these boats, with such short races the starts are key.”
Paul Cayard and Katusha scored a big win against Artemis when they completed a penalty turn on the finish line.
Markus Wieser and Sea Dubai pulled off a similarly exciting win against Rod Davis and Ceeref. The Slovenian boat had rolled Sea Dubai on starboard gybe two-thirds of the way down the run to the finish, and then crossed ahead on port jibe just inside the committee boat end of the line to capture the point.
Team Aqua and Artemis also had a thrilling match. Artemis picked up a pre-start penalty when they gybed to starboard and the leech of the mainsail hit Aqua’s rigging as it sailed past to leeward on port. Artemis, however, led by about half a length beginning the run to the finish. Both boats opted to hold the spinnaker set. Artemis was trying to trap Aqua, while Aqua did everything it could to keep clear astern. Artemis still had a penalty turn to complete. The boats were at very slow speeds when Aqua became entangled in another match. Artemis saw an opportunity to complete its turn, but Aqua got free, rolled over the top and then set the spinnaker to capture the win.
“We had the sails fully sheeted on and were doing 5 knots boatspeed dead-downwind,” said Appleton. “I just had to stay clear astern. I’m trying to burn up time and get down the course, but Terry is trying to slow it up. It could’ve taken us a half hour to do that leg. We just wanted to win.”
Tomorrow is a scheduled practice day for the fleet racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup, which starts Friday. Three pre-starts are planned in the afternoon, followed by a practice race. Organizers hope to finish the race in the Darsena. 11 youth sailors between the ages of 15 and 17 years will be on hand as guest crewmen.
RC 44 Valencia Cup
(Match racing final results)
1. Team Aqua / Cameron Appleton (UAE) 9-1, 9 points
2. Artemis / Terry Hutchinson (SWE) 8-2, 8 points
3. BMW ORACLE Racing / Russell Coutts (USA) 8-2, 8 points
4. Team Sea Dubai / Markus Weiser (UAE) 6-4, 6 points
5. 17 / James Spithill (USA) 6-4, 6 points
6. Katusha / Paul Cayard (RUS) 5-5, 5 points
7. No Way Back / Ray Davies (NED) 5-5, 5 points
8. Ceeref / Rod Davis (SLO) 5-5, 3 points*
9. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero / José Maria Ponce (ESP) 2-8, 2 points
10. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team / Tommaso Chieffi (ITA) 1-9, 1 point
11. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team / Christian Binder (AUT) 0-10, 0 points
(* includes 2-point penalty deduction)