Oracle on fire
On a day that started with blue skies and light winds, and ended with the fleet of RC44s sheltering in a corner of Lake Traunsee on storm moorings, it was a day for calm nerves. With a light 6-8 knot breeze blowing along the lake, shifts of 40 degrees were not uncommon. Some new names won races, but it was all about consistency – something Oracle Racing proved masters of.
With owner Larry Ellison absent, American Steve Howe stepped onto the helm today for the start of four days of fleet racing at the RC44 Austria Cup. With Russell Coutts calling the shots, Oracle Racing finished the day with a six point lead over second-placed Katusha.
Paul Cayard, tactician on the Russian Katusha was not expecting an easy ride today. “It requires a different strategy and tactics to an ocean course that will be the test for me, to keep calm and realise that when we’re ahead and go in to a spot with no wind, that happens, and you need to keep fighting.” They kept fighting today, with a consistent 3, 4, 6 score line.
It was a day for new faces to be pushing onto the podium. The Dutch team No Way Back had a tough first regatta in San Diego, finishing last. A change of tactician to a young sailor, better known for his performances in a dinghy, Australian Laser sailor Tom Slingsby, has helped the team climb the leaderboard. They finished the day in third overall, winning the first race of the day, leading the second at the final mark, only to drop back to third after being caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift, and finishing the day with a disappointing 12th place.
No Way Back’s owner Pieter Heerema is full of praise for his new tactician. “We had a great day, it’s a bit of a shame to end on our worst race but the feeling on the boat is good, the speed is good, the communication and co-ordination of the crew is great! We came from a difficult situation in San Diego where we were last and everyone was looking at each over thinking what went wrong, so we changed our tactician to Tom, very young guy, super talented but also such a nice person and were having fun on the water.”
Another race winner was Chris Bake at the helm of his brand new Team Aqua.”The team has set the boat up really well and it feels right, it seems to have good boat speed, when I sailed it well, but that was hard today with lots of shifty wind it took me a while to get in the zone, but when we did it right we did well and when we did it badly we ended up eighth.” With a score-line of 8, 1, 8 Team Aqua are in fifth overall, tied on points with Peninsula Petroleum.
New boy Vladimir Prosikhin (RUS) surprised even himself with a race win in the third and final race of the day with his team aboard Team Nika. “I run a successful company in Russia, I am used to being the boss and giving the orders, today I kept very quiet and listened to the team onboard and we won the race! Really great day for us as a novice team, we are very happy.”
With the storm due to blow through, racing in the RC44 Austria Cup will resume tomorrow through to Sunday 15 May.
Results - RC44 Austria Cup - Fleet Race (after 3 races)
1 ORACLE Racing (USA) Steve Howe / Russell Coutts - 2, 2, 3 - 7
2 Katusha (RUS) Gennady Timchenko / Paul Cayard - 3, 4, 6 - 13
3 No Way Back (NED) Peiter Heerema /Tom Slingsby - 1, 3, 12 - 16
4 Team Nika (RUS) Vladimir Prosikhin / Tomislav Basic - 10, 5, 1 - 16
5 Team Aqua (GBR) Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton - 8, 1, 8 - 17
6 Peninsula Petroluem (GBR) John Bassadone / Inaki Castaner- 9, 6, 2 - 17
7 Ironbound (USA) David Murphy / Peter Evans - 6, 8, 4 - 18
8 Team Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah / Michelle Ivaldi - 7, 7, 11 - 25
9 Synergy (RUS) Zavadnikov Valentin / Peter Holmberg - 5, 11, 10 - 26
10 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero /Jose Ponce - 4, 10, 13 - 27
11 Aleph Sailing Team (FRA) Hugues Lepic / Mathieu Richard - 11, 13, 5 - 29
12 Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist / Morgan Larson - 13, 9, 7 - 29
13 AEZ (AUS) Rene Mangold / Christian Binder - 12, 12, 9 - 35