The fleet race event of the RC 44 Malcesine SLAM Cup started this afternoon on Lake Garda. As requested by the rules, the team owners were back at the helm today, with their pro skippers whispering advice in their ears. The tandems Markus Wieser / Joki Hellmich and Armando Giulietti / Sébastien Col got the best combination today, with a race victory and two good results for both teams: an achievement in the difficult conditions encountered today on Lake Garda. Team Sea Dubai and Hiroshi – Città di Milano lead the provisional ranking with nine points, one point ahead of Igor Lah’s Ceeref and two points ahead of Patrick de Barros’ Banco Espirito Santo.
RC44 Malcesine Slam Cup
The first race started soon after lunch, at a time when the local southerly thermal breeze – called Ora - was not well established yet. Both Team Ceeref and Team Sea Dubai started at the pin end of the line, opting for the left of the course; clearly the side that had proved to be favoured most of the time since the beginning of the event. On the other hand, Team Organika and Team Aqua immediately tacked and sailed straight in a windless area where they remained entangled for way too long to hope for a come back.
Ceeref rounded the windward mark in the lead, comfortably ahead of Team Sea Dubai. However, the Slovenian team suffered from a technical failure at the leeward mark, letting Sea Dubai, BMW ORACLE Racing and Banco Espirito Santo sail past before managing to hoist their genoa. There were no surprises during the second beat and run, Markus Wieser’s Team Sea Dubai claiming their second victory on the circuit after the one obtained in Cagliari.
The wind reached 12-15 knots for the start of race two, allowing a more regular race to be completed. The fight for the pin end was much harder this time, Ceeref making the best of it whilst BMW ORACLE Racing, Hiroshi – Città di Milano and Banco Espirito Santo chose the right of the course. Benefiting from a steadier wind, the fleet remained compact throughout the race, Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano winning ahead of Patrick de Barros’ Banco Espirito Santo and Team Sea Dubai, all separated by a few boat lengths on the arrival line.
The pressure was on the helmsmen for the start of race three, with Team Sea Dubai and Banco Espirito Santo sharing the provisional lead. The set up was once again different, with a lighter and less regular breeze, certainly disturbed by the big clouds that were surrounding the top of the mountains. Maciej Navrocki and his crew on board Team Organika had a fantastic race, sailing ahead of the fleet with a comfortable margin ahead of Ceeref until they failed to hoist their spinnaker at the last windward mark, letting Ceeref sail alone to victory. The most intense opposed Team Sea Dubai and Banco Espirito Santo, who controlled each other during the first run as if they were in the final race of the event. Hiroshi benefited from this to grab the third place and jump to the lead in the provisional ranking, tied with Sea Dubai.
Markus Wieser, tactician, Team Sea Dubai: 'We had a new crew combination today, so it wasn’t that easy. But we are definitely improving a lot. Our strategy was good, and Joki Hellmich did a great job at the helm. Our goal here is to make it to the top four, so obviously we are very happy to be in the lead after three races.'
Philippe Presti, tactician, Team Organika: 'We were out of tune in the first two races but we got our act together in the last. We took a good start and chose the right strategy. We had a big lead until we failed to hoist our spinnaker. The team did a good job today. This is all new to me. I am discovering this Class and I am enjoying it a lot. It’s a great boat, very well thought. It’s hugely fun, it’s fast, I am enjoying it a lot.'
Patrick de Barros, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo: 'The three races were very different from each other. There were enormous wind shifts, up to 40 degrees. It was unusual for Lake Garda. There are now four boats within two points so it’s all open and the next races will be very interesting.'
Isao Mita, helmsman, Beecom: 'It was very good fun and exciting today. We sometimes have difficulties finding the right angle downwind, but we are improving. The Class is very nice, the people are great and the level is improving constantly.'
Nicolas Verwilghen, Carbon Affairs: 'We didn’t take very good starts but we always managed to get back in the game. Our biggest problem is speed and manoeuvres. This is a fascinating project. The level has increased a lot and a new team needs some time to get in tune. It’s a matter of time more than money.'
Fleet-race, provisional results after 3 races:
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)
1) Sea Dubai, Joki Hellmich - 1, 3, 5 – 9 points
2) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti – 6, 1, 2 - 9 points
3) Team Ceeref, Igor Lah – 4, 5, 1 - 10 points
4) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros – 3, 2, 6 – 11 points
5) Team Beecom, Isao Mita – 5, 4, 8 – 17 points
6) Team Aqua, Chris Bake – 7, 6, 4 - 17 points
7) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 2, 7, 9 - 18 points
8) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki – 8, 8, 3 – 19 points
9) Team Carbon Affairs, Nicolas Verwilghen – 9, 9, 7 - 25 point