Three separate teams each took race wins on the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Trapani Cup in Sicily. But the team at the top of the overnight leader-board didn’t win a race, instead it was consistency across all four races that was the key to the Slovenian Team Ceeref's success today.
Racing started in a moderate northeasterly sea breeze. Series leader Katusha (RUS) got off the blocks well, to lead at the top mark from Team Ceeref and Team Aqua. The top three held their positions until the final gun - round one to the Russian team, with Steve Howe at the helm.
Valentin Zavadnikov’s Synergy Russian Sailing Team like banging a corner or two in the RC44 fleet. In race two they were quick to tack off the start line and head right into the Sicilian shoreline, a move that proved very valuable as they led the fleet into the windward mark. Poland’s MAG Racing rounded in second with the home town heroes Team Italia third. Once again the top three positions didn’t change to the finish, although Team Ceeref moved up to fifth by the finish, with Katusha two places behind in seventh.
Synergy may have been spurred on by having a double Olympic Champion and CNN Mainsail presenter Shirley Robertson as their ninth man in race two, but their form carried onto the next race. With the fleet favouring the committee boat end, twelve RC44s were crammed into one very small space. Synergy however bucked the trend and started in space at the pin end with no other boat even close to them. The Russian’s led from start to finish for their second win of the day. Katusha gained places throughout to finish second, and Team Ceeref continued their consistent form slotting in a third.
Tactician Ed Baird explained the tactics on-Synergy for their two race wins: “The second race today just seemed like the left was getting lighter and the little pressure that was remaining on the race course was out to the right. It felt that way all day but in that start in particular I just wanted to be up there on the right hand side, be early to tack and stay on the shore which turned out to be more valuable than I expected. All three boats that started up at the committee boat end and tacked early were the three boats that lead at the top mark by quite a long way.
"In the third race the fleet thought they had better head to the right but you could kind of see the breeze had filled in more and actually on the last run of the previous race we felt we were getting headers on starboard gybe downwind so when I saw the pin was a little favoured and all the boats were at the committee boat we separated, got down to the left and there was just a little bit more pressure of the line there and no one in our face so we could cross the fleet from there.”
In the final race of the day it was Chris Bake’s Team Aqua which picked the right end of the line, got a clean start and stayed ahead of the fleet. Team Aegir was her closest rival as she rounded the windward mark, but it was Team Ceeref which was again making the move through the fleet. Their second place in the final race left the Slovenians with a 2,5,3,2 score-line and a six-point overnight lead over Synergy. Team Aqua sits in third, two points ahead of Katusha in fourth.
Team Ceeref’s owner Igor Lah (SLO) was pleased with their day on the water. “Everything was working in our favour today, Michele (Ivaldi) was choosing all the right sides, the team did a great job downwind, the wind was pretty stable, everything just worked. It’s amazing how hard the competition is now within the fleet.”
Results (after four races)
1 Team Ceeref – 2 5 3 2 – 12
2 Synergy Russian Sailing Team – 10 1 1 6 – 18
3 Team Aqua – 3 8 8 1 – 20
4 Katusha – 1 7 2 12 – 22
5 Ironbound – 5 9 4 4 – 22
6 Team Nika – 6 10 5 3 – 24
7 Artemis Racing – 4 6 7 8 – 25
8 Team Italia – 9 3 11 7 – 30
9 Aegir Racing – 7 13 9 5 – 34
10 MAG Racing – 11 2 12 13 – 38
11 RUS7 Sail Racing Team – 12 4 13 10 – 39
12 Aleph Racing – 13 12 6 9 – 40
13 Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team – 8 11 10 11 (1) – 41