Sunday, May 02, 2010

Four teams on top of the RC 44 Austria Cup fleet race leaderboard

[Source: RC44 Class Association] The America’s Cup team BMW ORACLE Racing is on great form since the beginning of the year, and confirms it in the RC 44 Austria Cup. Indeed, USA 17 (Ian Vickers / John Kostecki) and USA 18 (Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts) share the lead at the end of day one of the fleet regatta, ahead of Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back and Igor Lah’s Ceeref.

The wind was blowing from the north-east this afternoon, between 5 and 12 knots. In most cases, the right of the course proved favourable and the RC 44’s had to head for the coast and stay as close as possible from the shore in order to benefit from land effects. However, the right proved favourable on rare occasions, allowing some spectacular come-backs.

BMW Oracle's two teams lead the RC44 fleet. Gmunden, 2 May 2010. Photo copyright Nico Martinez

It was definitely a tough day for the tacticians and the results show it clearly: except for RC 44 Challenge - who finished all the races in the top five – all the teams scored at least one counter performance, finishing 8th, 9th or even 10th. On the other hand, some well known teams such as Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis or Chris Bake’s Team Aqua didn’t manage to score a top three.

Igor Lah and his team onboard Ceeref started the day with a disastrous tenth place but finished with two consecutive wins. Katusha’s owner Guennadi Timtchenko also had an interesting time: today he discovered the sport of sailing, the RC 44 Class and yacht racing! Benefiting from Paul Cayard’s advice, Timichenko spent most of the day fighting in the middle of the pack, racing hard and discovering why this sport - and this particular Class – are such a passion for its members.

The RC 44 Class proposes for the first time a live GPS tracking and 3D visualization of the event, available on the Class website ( Today, no less than 2191 armchair sailors from all over the world followed the races. They will have the opportunity to analyse the world’s best sailors’ moves in the coming days. With four teams separated by three points and the top teams showing fairly high score averages, the fleet race remains totally open and the next days will with no doubt be interesting.

Gennady Timchenko, owner of Team Katusha, helms his RC44 yacht in his third day sailing ever!! Gmunden, 2 May 2010. Photo copyright Nico Martinez

They said:

Guennadi Timtchenko, owner, Katusha: “This is all new for me and I will remember this first regatta all my life! It is an absolute pleasure to sail on this lake with Paul and the other guys; the place is absolutely beautiful and the sport is very interesting. My only regret is to discover it so late!”

Pieter Heerema, owner, No Way Back: “You are never safe on this lake and the sailing is really difficult, but I enjoy it immensely. This lake is less predictable than the sea and there is a portion of luck, good or bad. You just need to accept it and to be patient. The organisers of this event are doing a tremendous job. Nobody knows anything about sailing here but there is a huge crowd; people are passionate and very friendly. The atmosphere is great.”

Chris Bake, owner, Team Aqua: “I was asleep during the first race; we got stuck in a tree in the second, took a premature start in the third and started sailing decently in the last race. This summarises our day pretty well.”

Harm Muller Spreer, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “The boat is very nice and I enjoy it very much; the concept of the Class is also great. But there is still a long way to go for me to be competitive.”

Igor Lah, owner, Ceeref: “We did a good job after an embarrassing first regatta. The racing here is very interesting; we really need to sail close to the shore in order to catch the lifts, it’s very exciting.”

James Spithill, grinder, RC 44 Challenge: “I find it awesome to sail on this lake, it is beautiful but also very interesting. The strategy is very different, we need to play with the land effects and John Kostecki did a good job at putting us in the right place.”

Fleet race, provisional results after four races:

1) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 1, 2, 8, 2 – 13 points
2) RC 44 Challenge, Ian Vickers 3, 5, 2, 3 – 13 points
3) Team No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 2, 1, 3, 8 – 14 points
4) CEEREF, Igor Lah, 10, 3, 1, 1 – 15 points
5) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 4, 9, 4, 5 – 22 points
6) Team Sea Dubai, Harm Muller Spreer, 6, 4, 10, 6 – 26 points
7) Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, Daniel Calero, 5, 7, 5, 10 – 27 points
8) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 7, 10, 7, 4 – 28 points
9) Katusha, Guennadi Timtchenko, 8, 6, 9, 7 – 30 points
10) Team Austria, René Mangold, 9, 8, 6, 9 – 32 points

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