Katusha on fire
Muscat produced some perfect sailing conditions for the start of fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup. The sea breeze clocked in at noon and continued to build from 9 to 15 knots throughout the afternoon bringing with it a big rolling swell. The conditions however couldn’t separate the fleet of thirteen RC44s who seemed to arrive at the windward mark in unison, causing difficult mark rounding’s that kept the umpires very busy.
Katusha (RUS) was on fire and dominated the day winning the first two races and making a great recovery in the last to finish third, even after picking the un-favoured left side up the first beat and being buried at the top mark.
Steve Howe is on the helm of Katusha this week, standing in for owner Gennadi Timchenko. He put their day into perspective: “Yesterday was a good day and we tried to keep the same plan for the fleet racing today, get a good clean start, sail the shifts and get around the race course ahead of the fleet. It’s one design sailing at its best, you have your good days, your bad days and it’s going to happen when you have a bad race like we almost had in race three, but you just have to focus and minimise the risk.”
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua (GBR) was hot on Katusha’s tail, finishing second in both the opening two races and sixth in the third. But a collision in the final race resulted in a dramatic end, seeing the American team’s scoop rip away from the hull. A protest was lodged by Ironbound’s new tactician Paul Goodison and after much debate in the protest room, Team Aqua was disqualified from race three and given three additional penalty points, dropping them from second to sixth overall. Ironbound was awarded redress leaving them third in the overnight standings.
Artemis Racing won the final race of the day after what had been an indifferent start for Swedish team. She had picked up a penalty in the first race for missing the offset mark and again in the second for trying to squeeze inside MAG Racing at the leeward gate. Owner Torbjorn Tornqvist who arrived in Oman this morning was pleased to end the day on a high note. “The third race finally went really well. We hope that the good results will stay for the rest of the regatta but you never know. There are so many good boats here, from year to year all the teams are getting better, the new teams learn from the established teams and they obviously improve which is good to see. Some you win and some you lose but we are happy with the way we are sailing at the moment, we have good boat speed, good handling, no issues.”
Sitting in second place overall after Aqua’s disqualification is Brian Benjamin’s Aegir Racing. The British team came 13th in Croatia last October and are clearly enjoying the valuable input of their guest tactician, Russell Coutts, this week.
In a further incident between Team Italia and RUS 7 the Russian team were given three penalty points for damage.
Racing at the RC44 Oman Cup presented by Oman Shipping Company continues through to Sunday 3 February with the first warning signal on Friday at 12.30 (GST).