Friday, November 28, 2008

Countdown to the RC 44 Gold Cup in Puerto Calero

[Source: RC 44] The RC 44 Gold Cup will take place in Puerto Calero (Canary Islands, Spain), on December 10-14. This event is the last regatta in the RC 44 2008 Championship Tour. The season’s match, fleet race and long distance champions will be crowned. The pressure is rising: there is a lot at stake.

The season champions of the RC 44 Class will be crowned on December 14 in Puerto Calero, on the Island of Lanzarote (Canary Islands), at the end of the RC 44 Gold Cup.

The best RC 44 teams, including some of the world’s best sailors, will participate in the event: Team Aqua, Ceeref, BMW ORACLE Racing, Artemis, Banco Espirito Santo, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano and the new local Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero.

The Gold Cup is the season’s most important regatta and it promises to be intense. In the fleet race ranking, Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano benefits from a fairly comfortable margin although he will have to sail well to confirm his earlier results. Indeed, places are hot in his wake with three teams fighting for two spots left on the podium. Patrick de Barros’ team Banco Espirito Santo, Igor Lah’s Ceeref and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua are merely separated by 24 points and a reshuffle is possible.

The DHL Trophy ranking is even hotter, with the two leaders – Banco Espirito Santo and Hiroshi – separated by just one point. The DHL Trophy is the long distance contest of the Championship Tour; a regatta that allows teams to discover the surroundings of the race sites such as the Palm in Dubai or the upper part of Lake Traun in Austria. The Gold Cup long distance DHL regatta will remain a windward-leeward circuit, sailed alongside the stunning Island of Lanzarote.

The RC 44 match race contest is one of the toughest in the world, with three times America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts sailing against Team New Zealand's helmsman Dean Barker, James Spithill, Cameron Appleton, Sébastien Col and many more. James Spithill is in a good position to win the annual ranking although his boss at BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, will do his best to beat him for the third time in four races. Ellison didn’t compete in the first regatta of the season and can therefore only win the yearly ranking if he wins the Gold Cup whilst Ceeref finishes last. With 13 points on the scoreboard, Ellison will also have to seriously control the boats behind him: Banco Espirito Santo (14 points), Hiroshi – Città di Milano (16 points) and Team Aqua (17 points). No doubt this will be a fascinating contest!

Artemis will be helmed by Dean Barker in the Puerto Calero RC44 Gold Cup. Photo copyright Guilain Grenier / RC 44

A new team joins the RC 44 fleet for the Gold Cup: the local team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, sailing on board Beecom. José Maria Ponce will be at the helm; he is well known in Spain as the backup helmsman for the TP 52 Bribón. Most of the team is made up of members of Daniel Calero’s GP 42 campaign, whilst some members of Desafio - the Spanish entry for the America’s Cup - will reinforce the crew. Their local knowledge is a serious asset.

Organised by Puerto Calero, a superb real estate development on Lanzarote's seafront, the RC 44 Gold Cup will begin on Wednesday December 10 with the match racing event. After a full round robin held in two days, the team owners will take (or keep, depending on the cases) the helm for three days of fleet racing. The DHL Trophy regatta will take place on Sunday; the winner of this race will be awarded with the DHL Trophy, whilst the points of the regatta will be incorporated in the fleet race ranking.

The teams involved in the Gold Cup:

BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts
Ceeref, Igor Lah / James Spithill
Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti
Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros / Mark Mendelblatt
Team Aqua, Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton
Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist / Dean Barker
Islas Canarias Puerto Calero – José Calero / José Maria Ponce

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