Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ORACLE RC44 Cup Miami off to rollicking start

[Source: RC44 Class Association] The RC 44 class made its debut in American waters today in conditions that make Miami a renowned racing venue: a northwesterly breeze gusting over 20 knots and the boats planing around the racecourse north of Government Cut at speeds of 17 to 20 knots.

The ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami commenced today with the 14-boat fleet split into two groups of seven for preliminary match racing. If time permits by mid-Thursday, semifinals and a final will be held for the top two from each group.

Wintertime racing off the southeast coast of Florida has long been a sailor’s playground. The sun is brilliant, the water is warm and the conditions usually challenge the best of crews.

Although the Northern Hemisphere winter is still officially two weeks away, chilly temperatures this morning had the sailors thinking it came early. The passing of a cold front helped stir up the strong northwesterlies, and the fleet completed eight flights of five matches for 40 races in total.

In Group Alpha, Cameron Appleton has Chris Bake’s Team Aqua tops in the group with a 5-1 record, followed by Harm Müller-Spreer and Markus Wieser in Team Sea Dubai. Sea Dubai actually posted a 6-0 record, but had penalty points applied by the umpires.

Highlights from the opening day of the Oracle RC44 Miami Cup. Miami, 7 December 2010. Video copyright RC44 Class Association

In Group Bravo, Terry Hutchinson guided Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis to the top of the group with a 5-1 record. Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino enjoyed its best day since returning to the class and is second at 4-1 with one flight to complete the round. BMW ORACLE Racing, with Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, is third at 4-2.

The conditions taxed many of the crews, who were sore from being thrown about the light-displacement yachts, but none other than Daniel Calero’s crew aboard Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. The Spanish crew from the Canary Islands was forced out of action with a broken mast before morning had turned to afternoon.

Islas Canarias had just completed a jibe in its Flight 1 race when the mast broke about five feet above the gooseneck, where the boom attaches to the mast, and the spar went over the port side.

“We had just completed our jibe when we heard a big crunch," said Calero. “There wasn’t much we could do to save the mast."

Crewman Carlos Hernandez jumped into the warm Atlantic Ocean to help the crew recover some of the sails and disassemble the rigging so the mast could be brought back aboard the yacht for the motor to the harbor.

Islas Canarias Puerto Calero returned to shore where the crew began stepping a spare mast that the RC 44 Class Association has available at each regatta for just such an incident.

“This is the good side of this class, there’s a mast ready to go and we’ll be ready to race tomorrow," said Calero. “We were enjoying the great conditions today and can’t wait to get back out tomorrow."

ORACLE RC44 Cup Miami Day 1 Quotes

Cameron Appleton, Team Aqua: “We came off the water with one loss and that was good on a day like today. It was very shifty. Wind started out with puffs up to 28 knots or more, we saw the first rig come down in the class, and everyone seemed to be handling the conditions in different ways. It was a good test for the crews. A really good crew was rewarded today by sailing the boats well. Today was tricky because of a little cross swell and change in pressure. It kept us all on our toes.

Islas Canarias Puerto Calero dismamsts on the opening day of the Oracle RC44 Miami Cup. Miami, 7 December 2010. Photo copyright Nico Martinez

Francesco Bruni, Mascalzone Latino: “We’re very happy, obviously. We had four good starts. We’re making big progress from Valencia to here and are now starting to win some races. We’re learning the boat more and more. It’s normal to struggle in the beginning, but now we’re learning again. We had 20 knots, sunny and breezy. It was puffy, shifty, a very nice challenge. It was just a bit too cold, but everything else was brilliant."

Pieter Heerema, No Way Back: “Today was exciting, a beautiful wind but tough. Lots of people had problems in boathandling. That makes the sailing exciting. We had an up and down day. We sailed well, no problems with the boathandling, but we didn’t always grab the opportunities we created for ourselves. At a certain point you just have to nail it."

Terry Hutchinson, Artemis: “It was an incredibly difficult day. Our guys sailed very well. This was our first regatta since Dubai where we had any training prior to the first day of racing and it showed. Sailing north of Government Cut (the channel leading to Miami Harbor) was pretty good. The course gave options for both sides to work."

Harm Mueller-Spreer, Team Sea Dubai: “We had six wins, good boatspeed and very good starts. We had a bit of bad luck in the second to last race because we hit the Russians (Synergy Russian Sailing Team). But our boathandling is good, the maneuvering is good and the feeling for the pre-start is good. I feel very comfortable. First off we had not so much wind and then it increased to 25 knots or more and slowly decreased all afternoon."

Ian Williams, Ironbound: “The boat’s fantastic. The best thing is that you only have eight guys and lots to do. Everybody needs to pull their weight and be aware of what’s going on, doing right things at the right time. It makes it a great challenge as a team to do well."

ORACLE RC44 Cup Miami Provisional Results
(Through 8 flights)

Group Alpha
1. Team Aqua (UAE) Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton – 5-1, 5 points
2. Team Sea Dubai (UAE) Harm Müller-Spreer/Markus Wieser – 6-0, 4 points*
3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Maxim Logutenko/Evgeniy Neugodnikov – 2-3, 2 points
3. No Way Back (NED) Pieter Heerema/Ray Davies – 4-2, 2 points*
3. Katusha (RUS) Guennadi Timtchenko/Paul Cayard – 2-4, 2 points
6. Peninsula Petroleum (ESP) John Bassadone/Inaki Castaner – 1-4, 1 point
7. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero/Jose Maria Ponce – 0-6, 0 points
(* penalty points applied)

Group Bravo
1. Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist/Terry Hutchinson – 5-1
2. Mascalzone Latino (ITA) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni – 4-1
3. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) Larry Ellison/Russell Coutts – 4-2
4. 17 (USA) William Douglass/Jimmy Spithill – 4-2
5. Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah/Rod Davis – 2-4
6. Ironbound (USA) David Murphy/Ian Williams – 1-4
7. AEZ RC 44 Sailing Team (AUT) René Mangold/Christian Binder – 0-6



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