RC44s ready to roll in Miami
In style befitting a class brimming with talent, the 2010 championship of the RC 44 Class will be decided this week at the season’s final event, the Oracle RC 44 Cup Miami.
Leading the fleet after the first five events is Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts' BMW Oracle Racing. The crew has the low score of 8 points and leads Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back, last season’s champions, by 2 points.
Two crews - James Spithill’s 17 and Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing - are tied for third, while Chris Bake’s Team Aqua holds fifth with 13 points.
With such a tight grouping and a windy forecast over the next few days the standings could well see a shuffle. A cold front that has pushed across the South Florida region brought with it cooler temperatures and strong northwesterly winds.
“We haven’t changed our setup since the previous event in the Canary Islands,” said BMW Oracle Racing mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder of the regatta where his team placed second overall. “We have used all our sail cards and are ready to slide back into action.”
Ray Davies, the pro helmsman and tactician on No Way Back, sees many opportunities to overtake the leader. The race course will be to the north of Government Cut instead of the south, which will make the predicted offshore breeze shiftier.
“It’s good that it’s all come down to the wire, it’s all on,” said Davies. “And with a few more boats in the class there’ll be plenty of opportunities to make up the two points we’re behind.”
The Oracle RC 44 Cup Miami represents the class’s first foray into US waters. The fleet also is the largest ever for an RC 44 event with 14 boats on the entry list including newcomer David Murphy and Ironbound.
“We have entered this fleet because it represents the highest level of competition in sailing today,” said Murphy, who has attracted an all-star crew including pro helmsman and match racer Ian Williams and tactician Kevin Burnham the US 470 gold medallist in Athens.
Another American, William 'Doug' Douglass, is set to helm the yacht 17 in the fleet racing portion of the regatta, which requires amateur helmsman as classified by ISAF.
Led by James Spithill, 17 won the RC 44 World Championship in October and now Douglass, a veteran campaigner in the Farr 40 and Melges 32 one-design classes with his Goombay Smash series of yachts, will try his hand later this week.
“We’re looking forward to working him in the crew,” said Spithill, the skipper of 17. “The fleet is loaded.”
Oracle RC 44 Cup Miami Entry List
(Based on overall season standings)
1. BMW Oracle Racing (USA) Larry Ellison/Russell Coutts – 8 points
2. No Way Back (NED) Pieter Heerema/Ray Davies – 10 points
3. 17 (USA) William Douglass/Jimmy Spithill – 12 points
3. Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist/Terry Hutchinson – 12 points
5. Team Aqua (UAE) Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton – 13 points
6. Team Sea Dubai (UAE) Harm Müller-Spreer/Markus Wieser – 19 points
7. Katusha (RUS) Bob Little/Paul Cayard – 21 points
8. Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah/Rod Davis – 26 points
9. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero/Jose Maria Ponce – 34 points
10. AEZ RC 44 Sailing Team (AUT) René Mangold/Christian Binder – 38 points
11. Mascalzone Latino (ITA) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni – 43 points
12. Peninsula Petroleum (ESP) John Bassadone/Inaki Castaner – 47 points
13. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Maxim Logutenko/Evgeniy Neugodnikov – 48 points
Debutante: Ironbound (USA) David Murphy/Ian Williams