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BMW Oracle wins RC44 Malcesine Slam Cup Match race

by Bernard Schopfer on 11 Jul 2008
BMW ORACLE Racing, Continental Champions of the RC 44 Class - RC44 Malcesine Slam Cup © Gilles Martin-Raget http://www.martin-raget.com/

The second and last day of the match racing event of the RC 44 Malcesine SLAM Cup has been rich in surprises and upsets. Indeed, many teams who struggled yesterday managed to get convincing victories today against top teams, proving once again that everybody can win races in this Class.

Sailing against the provisional leader Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Philippe Presti and his team on board Organika got the first bullet of the day. After dominating the start in great style, Presti struggled to counter Col’s come back – until Hiroshi’s spinnaker blew during the last run.

At the same time, the Japanese team Beecom sailed perfectly against James Spithill’s Ceeref, obtaining its first victory in the event. Team Aqua, who had a bye on the first race, couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome before its race against Ceeref, scheduled just afterwards. However, the team from the UAE didn’t make the best of it. After a good start and a very close beat, both Ceeref and Aqua reached the windward mark at the same time; Aqua tried to dunk Ceeref but its bow crashed into Ceeref’s transom. Consequence: a penalty, a loss and a broken bow, luckily replaceable in 10 minutes thanks to the wise crash box system established on all boats.

Carbon Affairs, with Michel Vaucher at the helm, had their moment of glory, dominating BMW ORACLE Racing on the starting line and during the first half of the beat; however, the Swiss entry could not keep up with the American boat speed and logically lost the race. Finally, Organika - definitely on great form today - managed to dominate Dean Barker’s Banco Espirito Santo in the starting sequence and the first half of the beat, until they got (or self-inflicted) a penalty in a classic port-starboard situation that would cost them the race.

At this stage, and before the last flight of the event, four teams were sharing the lead – and they were all going to sail against each other, putting a great pressure on all the teams involved!

James Spithill and Ceeref, winner of two match race events this season (Dubai and Traunsee) were not scared by the pressure. They clearly dominated Hiroshi on the starting line and during the entire regatta, taking the provisional lead of the event until completion of the next races.

At this stage, all Larry Ellison and his team on board BMW ORACLE Racing had to do was win the race to win the event. However, their opponent was no other than Banco Espirito Santo, with a certain Dean Barker at the helm. This was definitely going to be the match of the day!

The two teams started the first beat on split tacks, Barker choosing the usually favoured left hand side of the course, just a few meters away from the shore. Despite the different tactics, only two boat lengths separated the opponents at the windward mark. Larry Ellison immediately started attacking the leading boat, putting a huge pressure on the crew. The fight carried on until BMW ORACLE Racing managed to squeeze in at the second windward mark, inflicting a penalty to Banco Espirito Santo and taking the lead to win the race.

Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts and their team on board BMW ORACLE Racing are crowned Continental champions of the RC 44 Class, ahead of James Spithill and Igor Lah’s Ceeref and Sébastien Col and Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano.

The fleet racing event starts tomorrow. It will last until Sunday, with up to three races per day.

They said :

Larry Ellison, helmsman, BMW ORACLE Racing: 'After a very tough day yesterday, we won all our races today and we won the regatta so we’re very happy. This is the most beautiful place I have ever sailed in. The sailing is just fantastic and the venue is great.'

Ross Halcrow, crewmember, BMW ORACLE Racing: 'Our last race yesterday, against Ceeref, was definitely the turning point for us. There are many of our team members on this boat, and it was good to beat them. It was the same in the final race today, against Banco Espirito Santo: we knew it would be hard, and we wanted to beat our team mates who were on board. We are very happy we did!'

James Spithill, helmsman, Team Ceeref: 'It’s interesting to note that we have lost our two races against the two owners steering in the match: Isao Mita and Larry Ellison. Both have done a fantastic job, and particularly Larry, who has improved a lot today. It’s amazing to see that four boats could win before the last race. It shows how close the fleet is.'

Chris Bake, owner, Team Aqua: 'Obviously, we knew how important our match against Ceeref was. But I don’t think it added extra pressure. We were very positive about it. Of course, we knew we had to push. At the windward mark, we tried to dunk them and we hit their transom. It cost us the race.'

Dean Barker, Team Banco Espirito Santo: 'We are obviously sad to have lost our last race, but it was a great event. The boats are difficult to sail, and you need a lot of time to improve. This is my third RC 44 event and I feel like I am improving.'

Match-race, final results after nine flights:
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)

1) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 6/2 - 6 points
2) Team Ceeref, James Spithill, 6/2 - 6 points
3) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Sébastien Col 5/3 - 5 points
4) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Dean Barker, 5/3 – 5 points
5) Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser 4/4 – 4 points
6) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 5/3 - 4 points (1 penalty)
7) Team Organika, Philippe Presti 3/5 – 3 points
8) Team Beecom, Isao Mita 2/6 – 2 points
9) Team Carbon Affairs, Michel Vaucher, 0/8 - 0 point
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