Team Aqua and Artemis ahead
The RC 44 class made its debut in American waters today in conditions that make Miami a renowned racing venue: a northwesterly breeze gusting over 20 knots and the boats planing around the racecourse north of Government Cut at speeds of 17 to 20 knots. The 14-boat fleet was split into two groups of seven for preliminary match racing. If time permits by mid-Thursday, semi-finals and a final will be held for the top two from each group.
Wintertime racing off the southeast coast of Florida has long been a sailor’s playground. The sun is brilliant, the water is warm and the conditions usually challenge the best of crews.
Although the Northern Hemisphere winter is still officially two weeks away, chilly temperatures this morning had the sailors thinking it came early. The passing of a cold front helped stir up the strong northwesterlies, and the fleet completed eight flights of five matches for 40 races in total.
In Group Alpha, Cameron Appleton has Chris Bake’s Team Aqua leading their group with a 5-1 scoreline, followed by Harm Müller-Spreer and Markus Wieser in Team Sea Dubai. Sea Dubai actually posted a 6-0 record, but had penalty points applied by the umpires.
Appleton said: “We came off the water with one loss and that was good on a day like today. It was very shifty. Wind started out with puffs up to 28 knots or more, we saw the first rig come down in the class, and everyone seemed to be handling the conditions in different ways. It was a good test for the crews. A really good crew was rewarded today by sailing the boats well. Today was tricky because of a little cross swell and change in pressure. It kept us all on our toes."
Terry Hutchinson added: “It was an incredibly difficult day. Our guys sailed very well. This was our first regatta since Dubai where we had any training prior to the first day of racing and it showed. Sailing north of Government Cut (the channel leading to Miami Harbor) was pretty good. The course gave options for both sides to work."
In Group Bravo, Terry Hutchinson guided Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis to the top of the group ending the day on 5-1. Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino enjoyed her best day since returning to the class and lies second on 4-1 with one flight left to sail.
The Italian team's tactician Francesco Bruni reported: “We’re very happy, obviously. We had four good starts. We’re making big progress from Valencia to here and are now starting to win some races. We’re learning the boat more and more. It’s normal to struggle in the beginning, but now we’re learning again. We had 20 knots, sunny and breezy. It was puffy, shifty, a very nice challenge. It was just a bit too cold, but everything else was brilliant."
BMW Oracle Racing, with Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, is third at 4-2.
The conditions taxed many of the crews, who came ashore sore from being thrown about the light-displacement yachts, but none other than Daniel Calero’s crew aboard Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. The Spanish crew from the Canary Islands was forced out of action with a broken mast before morning had turned to afternoon.
Islas Canarias had just completed a gybe in its Flight 1 race when the mast broke about five feet above the gooseneck, where the boom attaches to the mast, and the spar went over the port side.
“We had just completed our gybe when we heard a big crunch," said Calero. “There wasn’t much we could do to save the mast."
Crewman Carlos Hernandez jumped into the warm Atlantic Ocean to help the crew recover some of the sails and disassemble the rigging so the mast could be brought back aboard the yacht for the motor back to harbour. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero returned to shore where the crew began stepping a spare mast that the RC 44 Class Association has available at each regatta for just such an incident.
“This is the good side of this class, there’s a mast ready to go and we’ll be ready to race tomorrow," said Calero. “We were enjoying the great conditions today and can’t wait to get back out tomorrow."
Oracle RC44 Cup Miami Provisional Results
(after eight flights)
1. Team Aqua (UAE) Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton – 5-1, 5 points
2. Team Sea Dubai (UAE) Harm Müller-Spreer/Markus Wieser – 6-0, 4 points*
3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Maxim Logutenko/Evgeniy Neugodnikov – 2-3, 2 points
3. No Way Back (NED) Pieter Heerema/Ray Davies – 4-2, 2 points*
3. Katusha (RUS) Guennadi Timtchenko/Paul Cayard – 2-4, 2 points
6. Peninsula Petroleum (ESP) John Bassadone/Inaki Castaner – 1-4, 1 point
7. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero/Jose Maria Ponce – 0-6, 0 points
(* penalty points applied)
1. Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist/Terry Hutchinson – 5-1
2. Mascalzone Latino (ITA) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni – 4-1
3. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) Larry Ellison/Russell Coutts – 4-2
4. 17 (USA) William Douglass/Jimmy Spithill – 4-2
5. Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah/Rod Davis – 2-4
6. Ironbound (USA) David Murphy/Ian Williams – 1-4
7. AEZ RC 44 Sailing Team (AUT) René Mangold/Christian Binder – 0-6