The penultimate event of the RC44 Championship Tour kicked off as ever with a day of match racing, a chance for the pro’s to steer or the owners to pit themselves against some of sailing’s top match racers.
Although on the surface the conditions looked serene, the low gradient fighting the sea breeze, made for very shifty tricky conditions and a race course where you really didn’t want to split from your opponents.
This morning Russell Coutts said: “The best thing about the class is the sailors and the owners are having fun, but it’s more fun if you’re up the front!” After eight flights today Russell Coutts and Stuart Hebb on Oracle Racing (USA) were the team who had the best day on the water. They finished with five wins and just one loss to series leaders Team Aqua (GBR).
The only other team to finish the day with five wins was Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika (RUS) with Croatia’s Tomislav Basic at the helm. When they stepped ashore they were pleased with their performance, suffering just one loss to Oracle Racing, however the team were later docked 1.5 points for incidents with Oracle Racing and Katusha.
Finishing the day with four wins and two two losses were Team Aqua, Team Ceeref and France’s Aleph Sailing Team. Paul Cayard and the Katusha crew (RUS) also came off the water having won four races, only to also be given a penalty point for the incident with Nika.
One team whose results didn’t show the performance they had put in today was Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, who was dogged with bad luck. While leading both their matches with Oracle Racing and Katusha they spectacularly shredded two spinnakers!
Two new professional skippers joined the RC44 Championship Tour in Croatia and faced their RC44 match race initiation. Italy’s Paolo Cian stepped onto Peninsula Petroleum, calling the shots for owner John Bassadone. Cian is a man with match racing credentials that are too long to list, but his experience helped Peninsula Petroleum finish the day with three wins and two losses.
The sole female professional skipper in the RC44 fleet is Ekaterina Skudina has joined the RUS 7 Sail Racing Team as the tactician for Croatia, taking time out of her Olympic campaign. Skudina has represented Russia at the past two Olympic Games in the Yngling. She is currently campaigning in the Elliot 6.5m for next year’s London 2012 Olympics and is ranked number six in the world women’s match race rankings.
On the overall match race standings with just one event to go, Team Aqua still top the leaderboard with 19 wins so far this season. Oracle Racing move ahead of Team Ceeref, both with 16 wins apiece. The 2011 RC44 Match Race Champion will be decided in at the final Tour event of the year in Lanzarote.
Thursday 28 September marks the start of the fleet racing phase of the Adris RC44 Cup. Four days of fleet racing kicks off at 11.30 CET.