Friday, December 14, 2007

James Spithill shows his match racing skills on day two of the Dubai Gold Cup

[Source: RC 44] The match-racing fans had what they wanted today in Dubai, with six hours of intense racing, six flights and eighteen matches on the menu! It goes without saying that the after-racing beer on the pontoon was more than welcome by some tired, sun burnt and happy faces!

The breeze was light and steady (8 kts), allowing the Race Committee to align the races without interruption. James Spithill (Team Ceeref) opened the show against Ray Davies, pro helmsman onboard the Japanese entry Beecom. There is no easy win, but the Slovenian team didn’t have to push it too hard to win.

James Spithill (Team CEEREF) and Russell Coutts (Team OMEGA) race during the second day of the the Dubai Gold Cup. Dubai, 14 December 2007. Photo copyright Jacques Vapillon

The second flight offered an interesting dual between Team Aqua (Cameron Appleton) and Team Ceeref (James Spithill), dominated by the kiwi sailor until the last downwind leg. “He got in a strong position, jibed and rolled us over”, explained a disappointed Cameron Appleton after the race.

The intensity increased throughout the matches, with innumerable exciting and close situations. The fourth flight proved to be particularly interesting, with a match between Dean Barker (on board Team ES Bankers Dubai) and James Spithill (note that at this stage Russell Coutts and his Team Omega were just entering in the competition). Both sailors were unbeaten: was this match going to be the decisive one? Spithill took the best start and controlled his opponent throughout the race, winning a well deserved point. The match was great to watch: Spithill-Barker, what more can you ask for?

Well, may be Russell Coutts is the answer. After clearly dominating Beecom, Team Omega won a second point against Dean Barker before meeting Spithill for another “possibly decisive” match; a match that lived up to its promises, close and intense from the beginning to the end. Once again, Spithill managed to take the best start and control the race. But the attacks were constant and there was no rest for the Slovenian crew, whose perfect manoeuvres certainly helped their talented helmsman to always remain in control. Unbeaten after competing against Appleton, Barker and Coutts, James Spithill will be difficult to overtake tomorrow during the last three flights scheduled.

Both Ceeref and Team ES Bankers Dubai have only one more race to sail whilst Team Omega and Team Aqua have three. It’s not over!

Ray Davies at the helm of BEECOM during the second day of the the Dubai Gold Cup. Dubai, 14 December 2007. Photo copyright Jacques Vapillon

Sébastien Col, helmsman, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano: “I took the helm for the first time this morning, so obviously it didn’t go the way I wanted. I got really surprised by the effect of the trim tab and lost three starts because of this. It’s very efficient and quite comparable to America’s Cup boats. I wasn’t expecting this as you don’t see it on any other boat. Having said this, our goal in Dubai is to see where we are at and establish a strategy for next year. We have many areas to improve, and particularly communication. For the moment, our on-board language is English but I am going to learn Italian over the winter.”

Julia Mazzotti, main sail trimmer, Team Ceeref (and former 420 World Champion): “It’s a great emotion for me to be sailing alongside James Spithill and such talents from the world of sailing. What impresses me most is that they are calm, professional, and precise. I also love the boat. It’s fast and exciting. Being the only woman on board is not a problem. One of my advantages is that I’m light.”

Mateusz Kusznierewicz, helmsman, Team Organika: “We loose too much on maneuvers. We are much too slow and can’t even get in a situation where we can fight. It’s quite frustrating. Our team is entirely Polish. We have two crewmembers with America’s Cup experience. Otherwise there are three beginners and the others are Olympic sailors. We need time to improve. But next year I’m doing the Olympics on Star, so 2009 is probably the time when we will be at the top.”

Dean Barker, helmsman, Team ES Bankers Dubai: “I definitely need more time to get used to this boat. The standard of racing is very high and the boat technical. But I have enjoyed today. It’s a good change from what we usually sail.”

They can't race in AC90's in Valencia so they race on RC44's in Dubai. James Spithill (Team CEEREF) races Dean Barker (Team ES Bankers) during the second day of the the Dubai Gold Cup. Dubai, 14 December 2007. Photo copyright Jacques Vapillon

Match-racing (provisional results)
Ranking, number of victories/losses, points

1) Team Ceeref (7/0) 7 points
2) Team Omega (3/1) 3 points
3) Team Aqua (2/2) 2 points
4) Team Hiroshi (2/4) 2 points
5) Beecom (2/4) 2 points
6) Team ES Bankers Dubai (2/4) 2 points
7) Team Cro-A-Sail (1/3) 1 point
8) Team Organika (0/6) 0 point



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