Team Sea Dubai takes the lead on day one of the Dubai RC 44 Cup
[Source: RC44] After a complete round robin, the new team from the UAE, with Marcus Wieser at the helm, shares the lead with Team ES Bankers Dubai (Russell Coutts), Team Ceeref (James Spithill) and Hiroshi – Città di Milano (Sébastien Col). He is however the day’s winner thanks to the matches against his direct opponents.
Dubai, March 3, 2008 – The day couldn’t have started better for the local team Sea Dubai, representing the organising club Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC). Indeed, Sea Dubai dominated its match against Team Ceeref - with no less than James Spithill at the helm – to take a first victory that was going to be followed by two more and result in victory in the first round robin.
A former Flying Dutchman and Dragon sailor (amongst others), Marcus Wiser, the team’s helmsman, was obviously satisfied with his debuts in the RC 44 Class. “We were helped by the light winds”, he explains modestly. “But we are obviously very happy. A lot of credit goes to our tactician Michael Hestbek, who was strategist on board the German entry during the last America’s Cup.”
Russell Coutts at the helm of Team ES Bankers Dubai. Dubai, 3 March 2008. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez
The light (6 to 8 kts of wind) but fairly stable conditions allowed for fifteen matches to be sailed today, under a nice sunshine and on flat water. Most races were very close, and the overall results confirm that the teams are becoming closer from each other by the day, generating one fascinating match after the next.
Indeed, four teams share the lead with three victories out of five matches each. Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, with Sebastien Col at the helm, sailed up to the expectations after their very good 2007 end-season, with victories over Team Aqua (Cameron Appleton), Team ES Bankers (Russell Coutts) and Cro-A-Sail (Morten Henrikson). Russell Coutts’ Team ES Bankers confirms that it is at the top but defeats against Team Ceeref and Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano confirm that nothing’s ever acquired in this challenging Class. Finally, Team Ceeref also sits on top of the ranking; however, during last year’s Dubai Gold Cup, James Spithill was alone at this enviable position, unbeaten at the end of the round robin. Today, he needs to share the spot with three teams!
The level has definitely gone up a step and tomorrow’s second round robin will certainly be interesting.
The Dubai RC 44 Cup is the first event of the 2008 RC 44 Championship Tour. The weather forecast for tomorrow is good, with moderate winds and sunshine. The weather should deteriorate by Wednesday, with westerly winds of up to 25 kts expected. The match racing event will be concluded tomorrow Tuesday; it will be followed by three days of fleet racing, with the owners back at the helm.
James Spithill at the helm of Team Ceeref. Dubai, 3 March 2008. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez
Marcus Wieser, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “We had a couple of days training last week, and Russell, came with us on Saturday to show us some tricks. But today was our first real sailing day in race conditions. I am very pleased because we have a good speed and we made the right decisions.”
Russell Coutts, Team ES Bankers Dubai: “I always sail with the new teams before they start racing, but may be I will have to stop this… These guys (Team Sea Dubai) are obviously much better than we could have thought. It’s great for the Class, and we are happy to welcome a new very competitive team. Our day was OK, but it’s tough. The level is really high and there is good homogeneity within the teams. You just need to look at Team Aqua: they were clearly dominating last year but now it is harder. It’s a real challenge, for me and for everyone.”
Jaro Furlani, pitman, Team Ceeref: “The wind was fairly unstable and shifty, but we had a good day with three wins. All the matches were very close, so it was great. It is very interesting to sail with James Spithill, and other America’s Cup sailors. They bring us a lot and help us to improve our level of sailing.”
Match-racing, round robin 1
Ranking, number of victories/losses, points
1) Team Sea Dubai, (3/2) 5 points
2) Team Ceeref (3/2) 5 points
3) Team Hiroshi (3/2) 5 points
4) Team ES Bankers Dubai (3/2) 5 points
5) Team Aqua (1 -incl 1 penalty /3) 1 point
6) Cro-A-Sail (1/4) 1 point
Team Sea Dubai and Team Hirsohi - Città di Milano with Sébastien Col a the helm. Dubai, 3 March 2008. Photo copyright Thierry Martinez