William 'Doug' Douglass of New York is no stranger to competitive one-design racing, having campaigned a Swan 45, Farr 40 and Melges 32. Today he guided the RC 44 World Champion yacht 17 to another two bullets and leads the fleet with the low score of 14 points in six races.
“I’ve got a good crew and a great tactician in Jimmy Spithill,” said Douglass. “He’s putting me in the right place and the guys have the boat tuned great. It’s easy to go well when the boat’s fast.”
Douglass and the 17 crew have a 20-point lead on second-placed BMW Oracle Racing, led by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts. Ellison went 8-5 on the day to solidify his crew’s grasp on the 2010 RC 44 Season Championship.
Other contenders for the title include Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua.
While BMW Oracle Racing is well positioned to convert the win, the ease with which points accumulate make it far from a certainty.
“We’re not there yet,” said BMW Oracle Racing mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder. “There are a lot of boats out there and it’s easy to rack up the points. The key is to get a free lane. When you get near other boats you tend to slow down, so it’s almost worth it to sail extra distance and get a clear lane.”
Incredibly, a mere 11 points separate BMW Oracle Racing in second place from ninth-placed Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. The Spanish yacht from the Canary Islands scored 8 points on the day to move up the standings. As skipper Daniel Calero cautioned, significant points are easy to come by.
“Yesterday we went home really upset about our performance,” said Calero, whose mast broke on Day 1. “We committed many errors and in this class you pay a lot, every single error you pay. Today we tried to avoid the errors. Our starts weren’t great, but we were always able to climb up the fleet.”
Another crew climbing the leaderboard today was Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino. The Italians scored a 6-2 to move into third place in the fleet racing.
“We are improving and learning the boat better every day on the water,” said Onorato, who returned to the class in July. “This is our third regatta, so I’m happy. This is a beautiful boat and I’m enjoying my stay here.”
Douglass, too, is enjoying his stay. The New Yorker described the RC 44 as a, “big, powerful boat. There are a lot of good sailors out there. We have to keep plugging away, have good starts, get a good lane and take it from there.”
The 2010 season is set to conclude tomorrow with a warning signal scheduled for 12:00 pm.
Oracle RC 44 Cup Fleet Racing Provisional Standings (After 6 races)
1. 17 (USA) William Douglass/Jimmy Spithill – 3-5-3-1-1-1 – 14 points
2. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) Larry Ellison/Russell Coutts – 5-10-4-2-8-5 – 34 points
3. Mascalzone Latino (ITA) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni – 7-3-9-8-6-2 – 35 points
4. No Way Back (NED) Pieter Heerema/Ray Davies – 10-2-1-5-4-14 – 36 points
5. Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah/Rod Davis – 2-8-5-10-7-4 – 36 points
6. Artemis Racing (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist/Terry Hutchinson – 4-1-2-6-13-12 – 38 points
7. Katusha (RUS) Guennadi Timtchenko/Paul Cayard – 9-13-7-7-2-6 – 44 points
8. Team Aqua (UAE) Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton – 1-12-11-9-3-9 – 45 points
9. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero/Jose Maria Ponce – 8-7-8-14-5-3 – 45 points
10. Peninsula Petroleum (ESP) John Bassadone/Inaki Castaner – 11-4-6-11-10-13 – 55 points
11. Team Sea Dubai (UAE) Harm Müller-Spreer/Markus Wieser – 6-6-13-12-9-8 – 56 points (includes 2 point penalty)
12. Ironbound (USA) David Murphy/Ian Williams – 12-11-10-4-11-11 – 59 points
13. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Maxim Logutenko/Evgeniy Neugodnikov – 14-14-14-3-12-10 – 67 points
14. AEZ RC 44 Sailing Team (AUT) René Mangold/Christian Binder – 13-9-12-13-14-7 – 68 points
More photos from Nico Martinez: