Saturday, November 28, 2009

Team No Way Back conquers the DHL Trophy and takes a serious option in fleet race

[Source: RC44 Class Association] Pieter Heerema, his tactician Ray Davies and their team on board No Way Back scored a good third and fourth before winning the double points DHL Trophy today. They conquer the coastal race season title and look good in the fleet race ranking.

The sea breeze is slowly establishing itself in Dubai, allowing three good races including the coastal race DHL Trophy to take place today.

On great form, Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back managed to remain in the top four since the beginning of the event; a feat that no other team managed to achieve and that places them in a good position ahead of the last day, eleven points ahead of Artemis and sixteen over third placed Team Aqua.

The first race of the day saw the long expected come back of Ceeref, very unfortunate since the beginning of the event. More at ease in today’s stronger breeze, Igor Lah managed to overtake both No Way Back and Artemis, winning the regatta and putting an end to a long series of way below average results.

Highlights from the 4th day of the RC44 Sea Dubai Gold Cup. Dubai, 28 November 2009. Video copyright RC44 Class Association

The breeze increased to ten knots during the second regatta, prompting some of the teams to switch to smaller jibs. René Mangold’s Team Austria and several others kept their genoas and they were right: the wind soon dropped back to eight knots, giving them a little edge over the rest of the fleet. Ceeref and Katusha, who were leading the race alongside the Austrians, got involved in an incident at the leeward mark that cost Paul Cayard’s team a penalty turn and helped Team Austria to sail away and conquer their second victory in two days. A fantastic achievement for this team made of amateur sailors.

Chief race Officer Peter Reggio then changed the race course and sent the ten strong RC 44 fleet towards the famous Atlantis hotel, off the Dubai Palm, for the DHL long distance race.

Neville Crichton and his team BMW ORACLE Racing took an excellent start at the pin end of the line and managed to tack and cross ahead of the pack. Heading towards the Palm, the team suddenly slowed down and needed a little while to realise that a plastic bag was stuck in their rudder. Both No Way Back and Team Aqua benefited from this incident and sailed past the American boat. The event then turned into a drag race, with no passing opportunities and the distance between the boats increasing throughout the day.

The RC44 fleet during the DHL trophy. Dubai, 28 November 2009. Photo copyright Raffaello Bastiani / RC44 Class Association

Fifth of the regatta, Artemis loses the season title and ends up fourth of the overall ranking behind the winner No Way Back, Team Aqua and BMW ORACLE Racing. This week definitely turns out to be a horrible one for Dean Barker and his team after their disappointing result in the match race.

The fleet race event will see its conclusion tomorrow after up to four more races. The ranking is still open and everything remains possible.

They said:

Ray Davies, tactician, No Way Back: "We knew that the start of the DHL Trophy would be very important, because there were few passing opportunities afterwards. We came out great and then increased our lead throughout the race. I think that one of our advantages is that we are an underdog and we didn’t really have much pressure. On the other hand, some teams have been very unlucky. They are also the ones that had most pressure on them."

René Mangold, helmsman, Team Austria: "Our victory today proves that the success we already obtained yesterday was not an accident. We are obviously thrilled by this. The spirit on boars is absolutely excellent. This new victory is great for our crew, because we are all involved; it really is a team effort. It is also great for us in Austria. A lot of people follow the race, the newspapers talk about it. As soon as we win a race the phone starts beeping."

Islas Canarias Puerto Calero sailing in the DHL Trophy. Dubai, 28 November 2009. Photo copyright Nico Martinez

Igor Lah, helmsman, Ceeref: "Our confidence is slowly back but we have had a very difficult time. Our results were just getting worse and worse throughout the season and I was starting to wonder if I could still make it. Then we got those two excellent races and it is the proof that the answer is yes. I think that the other teams have been improving a lot whilst we haven’t. But we finish the day on a positive note."

Neville Crichton, helmsman, BMW ORACLE Racing: “It has taken me a little while to get the feeling of this boat but I am getting there and I am enjoying the experience. I usually sail on bigger boats where the speed makes a huge difference. Here it is different because all the boats are identical and every single mistake costs a lot."



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