Tied at the top
“I'm interested to see how mixed up the results will be,” were the words of Cameron Appleton before the fleet racing kicked off at the RC44 Cagliari Cup today. With 15 teams now competing and no discards allowed every point counts and there is no room for mistakes.
After yesterday’s gentle start to the event the forecasters got it spot on for today’s racing: A building breeze throughout the day that could turn into a mini Mistral by the afternoon. As the fleet set off out of Cagliari Harbour this morning the winds were around 15 knots. They sailed their first race in 16-18 knots. By the time the gun went for the second race of the day it was 17-20 knots. But as the fleet approached the finishing line, the wind instruments were measuring gusts up to 32 knots.
The breeze was unusually shifty for its strength. In race one, series leaders Oracle Racing wanted the left, they won the pin end of the line, but rounded the first windward mark in 11th place. It was Islas Canarias Puerto Calero who got it right as tactician Jose Maria Ponce (ESP) explained. “In the first race we went right which was a good side, helped by good team work, new sails that are working very well in the strong wind.”
But near disaster struck the Spanish team as they neared the leeward gate, a ripped spinnaker left them sailing with just their jib, letting Team Aqua (GBR) and Katusha (RUS) through. The top three places didn’t change from then on and it was Chris Bake on Team Aqua that took the gun followed by Gennadi Timchenko on Katusha, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero relieved to keep third. Oracle Racing fought to get back in the pack, gaining three places to finish eight.
With the wind increasing the call was made by the race committee to go for small kites in race two. On the start line Katusha fought for the committee, boat nailing it and starting at pace, Team Aqua opted for the middle, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and Oracle at the pin end.
This time the left paid with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero relishing the conditions they are used to back at home in Lanzarote as they rounded the windward mark first again with. A great downwind leg by the Howe/Coutts pairing saw Oracle Racing saw them take the lead and then extend away from the fleet; making amends for their eighth place in race one.
But behind the leader the fleet had it all on; with the breeze increasing it was John Bassadone (GBR) and his Spanish team on Peninsula Petroluem who had pulled up from fourth to second, closely followed by Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, Artemis and Team Aqua. But within sight of the finish line Peninsula Petroleum broached in one of the monster gusts dropping them to fifth.
The unluckiest boat on the course had to be David Murphy’s Ironbound (USA), which broke hersteering gear on the final leg of race two, sending the boat into an uncontrollable but spectacular broach as the owner explained after racing. “We broached, it was a crew mistake and we threw a chain off one of our gears, so lost all steering.”
Murphy contined: "We had quite a day out there today, the Mistral that came in over night was blowing about 15 to 25 depending where you are on the course. The boats that kept themselves up right today did pretty well. It was a very tricky day, we struggled with the boat handling today we got ourselves in a couple of bad situations and paid the price for it, we didn't have a great day. We only had two races today and hopefully we will have three or four in the next few days that will let us get back up the table. It really is exciting sailing, some of the most exciting I have had since I've sailed with the fleet. There were defiantly a couple of points at the top mark where we all came in to the mark bunched up and it got pretty hairy."
So Team Aqua tops the standings with two races sailed, on equal points with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. Asked what set them apart today, Chris Bake put it down to -“Defiantly making it round safely. We’re doing well and I think what it comes down to is everyone onboard knowing what they are doing and going steadily through manoeuvres. It was great sailing though, really exhilarating.”
The Swedish entry Artemis Racing, with Torbjorn Tornqvist at the helm, slotted in a consistent fourth and third place to sit two points off the leaders in third place.
The winds are forecast to stay fresh tomorrow as racing continues in the RC44 Cagliari Cup through to 3 July.
1 Team Aqua (GBR) - 1, 4 - 5
2 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) - 3, 2 - 5
3 Artemis Racing (SWE) - 4, 3 - 7
4 Katusha (RUS) - 2, 6 - 8
5 ORACLE Racing (USA) - 8, 1 - 9
6 RC44 Team Ceeref (SLO) - 5, 7 - 12
7 Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team (GBR) - 9, 5 - 14
8 Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) - 7,10 - 17
9 No Way Back (NED) - 6, 14 - 20
10 RUS-7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyDayAnyWay.com - 12, 9 - 21
11 MAG Racing - 11, 11 - 22
12 AEZ RC44 Sailing Team (AUS) - 16, 8 - 24
13 Ironbound (USA) - 10, 16 - 26
14 Aleph Sailing Team (FRA) - 16, 12 - 28
15 Team Nika (RUS) - 16, 13 - 29