by Jessica Gray
RC44 Championship Tour opened with a day of stadium sailing off Broadway Pier, San Diego.
Day 1 match racing - Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego
The match racing teams duked it out in the pre-starts, sweeping within feet of the crowds on Broadway Pier in an effort to wipe clear opponents off their tail. At the end of the six flights of racing for the eleven boats, five of them were tightly grouped on four wins, although with just a single defeat, Aqua, Artemis and Katusha hold a slight advantage over Oracle Racing and Ceeref, the latter pair having lost two races each.
The match racing will not continue until the second Tour event in Austria. So although there were no winners today, there were some important indicators to form and no shortage of action. Russell Coutts was on Ellison’s shoulder as tactician for an incident filled day aboard Oracle Racing, making crucial plays to grab two come-from-behind wins. ‘We seemed to do ok when we got behind, and we were behind in most of the races today,’ was Ellison’s comment afterwards.
One that they were definitely behind in was the race against Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis. Morgan Larson has taken over in the tactician’s role and Artemis came out all guns blazing, losing just the single race to Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. But against Oracle Racing they were strong from the start, as Ellison admitted afterwards, ‘We had a couple of races that weren’t too close, we could just barely see Morgan sailing away into the sunset.’
Another of the in-form teams was Chris Bake’s Aqua, with Cameron Appleton in the tactician’s role. Aqua won four from five, taking their only defeat against Paul Cayard on Katusha. Afterwards, Cayard was effusive on the topic of the stadium sailing format that the RC44 class was embracing. Asked to comment on returning to San Diego and looking back on the town’s America’s Cup years, Cayard said, 'To be back in San Diego is fun... The best America’s Cup sailing we had in San Diego was the [IACC] 1994 Worlds when we raced inside the bay. This is the perfect stadium for this size boat, like San Francisco is the perfect stadium for the America’s Cup, and it’s about time we figured out how to put these races inside a stadium close to the people, and I’m applauding San Diego for that.' Igor Lah’s Ceeref was the final boat on four points, but only just – they were one of the victims of Oracle Racing’s last gasp passing moves.
For the rest of the fleet it was a question of comparing results to goals. Rene Mangold’s thought on the single victory for Team Austria was, ‘We won one race, and that was one more than we expected.’ The fleet newcomers aboard David Murphy’s Ironbound will have every right to be less philosophical. They made a great start with two straight wins, but couldn’t keep it up, taking penalties and losing the next three on the bounce. Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham had come second in the 2010 ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds with Sally Barkow and Alana O’Reilly and was steering the starts for Ironbound. Asked about the comparisons, she said, 'I don’t think you can really compare the competition, the competition here is the best you are going to find anywhere.'
Racing continues from the third to the 6th March with four days of fleet racing.
2011 RC44 Championship Tour dates:
2 – 6 March- Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego, USA
11 – 15 May- RC44 Austria Cup Gmunden, Austria
29 June – 3 July- Italy / France
17 – 21 August- RC44 Marstrand Cup, Sweden
28 September–2 October -Spain
15 – 20 November- 2011 RC44 World Championships, Puerto Calero, Lanzarote
List of entrants – Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego
AEZ RC44 Sailing Team (AUT)
Owner – Rene Mangold (AUT)
Professional Skipper – Peter Evans (NZL)
Artemis Racing (SWE)
Owner - Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE)
Professional Skipper – Morgan Larson (USA)
Owner – David Murphy (USA)
Professional Skipper – Kevin Burnham (USA)
Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP)
Owner– Daniel Calero (ESP)
Professional Skipper - Jose Maria Ponce (ESP)
Professional Skipper – Paul Cayard (USA)
No Way Back (NED)
Owner – Pieter Heerema (NED)
Professional Skipper – Rod Dawson (NZL)
Oracle Racing (USA)
Owner – Larry Ellison (USA)
Professional Skipper – Russell Coutts (NZL)
Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team (GBR)
Owner – John Bassadone (GBR)
Professional Skipper - Iñaki Castañer (ESP)
RC44 Team CEEREF (SLO)
Owner – Igor Lah (SLO)
Professional Skipper –Michelle Ivaldi (ITA)
Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS)
Owner – Valentin Zavadnikov (RUS)
Professional Skipper – Evgeniy Neugodnikov (RUS)
Team Aqua (UAE)
Owner -Chris Bake (CAN)
Professional Skipper- Cameron Appleton (NZL)