Team Aqua eases ahead
Three races saw three separate race winners, in a day where consistency was hard to come by. It was Team Aqua, who managed stay out of trouble and jump to the top of the leader-board at the halfway point of the regatta.
As racing got underway in a stable 12-13 knot breeze, overnight leader Team Ceeref (Igor Lah/ Michele Ivaldi) were one of two boats to be called over the line. As half the fleet tacked off the line and headed straight into the Sicily shoreline, Aleph Racing (Hugues Lepic/Mathieu Richard) started in the middle, picked the first shift perfectly and led Ironbound at the top mark by 23 seconds. By the final gun they had extended their lead to over a minute, leaving the chaos behind them.
As the chasing pack approached the line, Artemis Racing (Torbjorn Tornqvist/Paul Cayard) luffed Ironbound (David Murphy/Paul Goodison) who in turn luffed Team Aqua (Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton). In the final metres to the finish, Ironbound was penalised for failing to give enough room to Aqua on the finish mark, as their spinnakers touched. The incident allowed Team Italia to sneak through into second, Aqua claimed third with Artemis fourth, Ironbound dropped from second to 13th after completing their penalty turn.
Team Italia was next to take a race win, leading from start to finish. They won the committee boat end of the line, tacked straight off to the right, came back on the perfect layline. Team Aqua couldn’t cross and tacked underneath, but didn’t quite make the lay, putting in a double tack just before the mark giving Team Italia the space to get a jump on the fleet. Katusha (Steve Howe/Andy Horton) challenged the Italians down the final run, but it was an emphatic win for home team. Aqua slotted in another third.
Owner Massimo Barranco has Francesco Bruni calling the shots this week, straight from Naples where he skippered the Prada team to victory in the final round of the America’s Cup World Series. Barranco had the biggest smile when he stepped on the dock and sprayed the obligatory race winner champagne. “We are very, very happy with today. For me it was a big satisfaction to get a win in front of fans in my country, to win the racing is very exciting.”
In the final race of the day it was the turn of Peninsula Petroleum (John Bassadone /Vasco Vascotto) to dominate. Showing great speed and a perfect layline call on the top mark, they rounded with speed and sailed away from the fleet, in a race that saw the wind finally drop off and some major shifts come through.
The prize for biggest gain of the day went to Team Aqua. Slow off the start in the final race, they tacked away from the fleet and hit the left hand corner in search of some air, but rounded the windward mark last. A remarkable comeback saw Team Aqua finish second and take the overall lead at the halfway mark. Team Ceeref did enough to stay in second just two-points off Chris Bake's team.
Bake made the race seem easy in his analysis: “We had a lousy start in the final race, we were slow off the start and got rolled by a bunch of boats so broke out left to get some clean air. We were last around the windward mark, but there was quite a tight fleet going around the windward mark and a couple of boats got penalty points, which got in the way of other boats, but we were able to sail around that and pick up some positions to pick the right leeward mark, had a good windward leg and clawed back a few more places to second.”
Artemis Racing also posted a very consistent score-line finishing fourth in each of their races to move up the leaderboard from seventh to third. Tactician Paul Cayard commented: “The truth is we weren’t really that consistent out there, we were just consistent at the finish line but we were all over the place during racing. We were going pretty fast, had good boat speed and made the right decisions with the traffic. It can be really difficult to get around the boats so we probably got lucky a little bit too.”
Katusha had an up and down day their 11,2,3 score-line enough to keep them in fourth overall 10 points off the lead.
Fleet results (after seven races)
1 Team Aqua – 3 8 8 1 3 3 2 – 28
2 Team Ceeref – 2 5 3 2 7 5 6 – 30
3 Artemis Racing – 4 6 7 8 4 4 4 – 37
4 Katusha – 1 7 2 12 11 2 3 – 38
5 Team Italia – 9 3 11 7 2 1 10 – 43
6 Synergy Russian Sailing Team – 10 1 1 6 6 13 8 – 45
7 Team Nika – 6 10 5 3 8 8 5 – 45
8 Ironbound – 5 9 4 4 13 11 12 – 58
9 Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team – 8 11 10 11 5 12 1 (1) – 59
10 Aleph Racing – 13 12 6 9 1 7 11 – 59
11 Aegir Racing – 7 13 9 5 9 9 9 – 61
12 RUS7 Sail Racing Team – 12 4 13 10 12 10 7 – 68
13 MAG Racing – 11 2 12 13 10 6 13 (2) – 69