by Jessica Gray
Following another high scoring day at the Adris RC44 World Championship, crews must be questioning the lack of discards at this event. With six races now sailed, each race has had a different winner and no boat is without at least one double digit race score.
Adris RC44 World Championships 2012: Fleet racing day 2
Today’s three races, held off Rovinj on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula, were in similarly light southerly breeze as the first two days. Then after a wait when the expected sea breeze failed to fill in by mid-afternoon, the 15-strong fleet was sent home.
One of the greatest surprises came when the Italian team AFX Capital Racing, started the day last overall but turned this around, coming home first in today’s opener, their first ever race win since joining the RC44 class at the beginning of the year.
For this regatta, Massimo Barranco’s team has brought in former America’s Cup helmsman Flavio Flavini to join Gabriele Bruni in the afterguard.
Barranco said that apart from picking the right side of the course today, their prospects were helped by changing how they sailed the boat downwind. 'We are a new team and everyone said we would gain experience in the first year and then start getting results.'
Barranco, a grain trader from Gela in Sicily, today praised his crew. He comes from the X-41 class, but is impressed with the RC44. 'You are competing with the best sailors in the world and the formula of owner driving is exciting. I am a fan of the old America’s Cup boats and this boat looks so much like them…'
Surprisingly this regatta is also Italian veteran Flavio Flavini’s first taste of the RC44. 'It is tough – a very high level and it is a very nice boat,' he said. 'I really enjoy the boat because we can sail in this light air.' In many other classes the winds this week would have been too light to race.
Since finishing second overall in Wednesday’s conclusion of the 2012 RC44 match racing series, Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing Team has been suffering in the fleet races, to the extent that after today’s first race they were lying second last overall. Yet in today’s second race, like AFX Capital before them, they too defied past form and were first across the finish line.
Race two today also proved costly to some of the top teams with series leader, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, coming home a near devastating 14th, while John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum finished a lacklustre 10th. As a result this race concluded leaving three teams on equal points in second, with Team Aqua clinging on to her lead, just one point ahead.
Team Aqua tactician, Cameron Appleton, admitted they chose the wrong side on the first beat. Then salt was rubbed in the wound when, despite Aqua having an overlap, RUS-7 luffed them the wrong side of the spreader mark at the start of the downwind.
'We had to drop our kite to go back around but thankfully the umpires kept penalising them [RUS-7] until we had passed. Nothing changed in terms of our places, but it didn’t feel good and it cost us quite a bit.'
The third victory of the day, despite breaking their instruments in race two, went to Vladimir Prosikhin and Team Nika, one of four Russian boats competing. Nika is the favourite of the locals as two of her crew are Croats, including tactician Tomislav Basic.
'We chose the left side from the beginning and we were fighting at the start for that side,' said Basic. 'And later it paid off – we crossed all the boats and then it was a case of conservative tactics with good boat speed.' The second beat got tricky when some clouds came over causing the wind to get shifty but they managed to stay ahead to the finish.
'It is so easy to have a double digit finish or even come last,' Basic continued. 'But you can’t sail conservatively. On the start if you are conservative you lose, so you have to take a risk at the start and then your race is open.'
The penultimate day of racing at the Adris RC44 World Championship starts at 11:30 CET tomorrow with another four races scheduled. The field is completely open after two days of fleet racing. Team Aqua is known for slow starts to regattas, only to become stronger as each day passes, but with no discards, there is still all to play for in this World Championship and 2012 Tour Championship.