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Banco Espirito Santo wins DHL Trophy - RC 44 Cup

by Bernard Schopfer on 13 Jul 2008
Start of the DHL Trophy regatta in front of Fraglia Vela di Malcesine, the local club - RC 44 Championship Tour – © Gilles Martin-Raget http://www.martin-raget.com/
The weather was looking promising at the start of the long distance DHL Trophy, with a lovely 12 knots thermal breeze blowing despite the big clouds surrounding the top of the nearby mountains. Unfortunately, the hopes of a fast race didn’t last long, and the wind started dropping as the boats sailed up the course.

Igor Lah and James Spithill’s Ceeref were the first team to grab the lead, thanks to their lovely start at the pin end of the line and excellent early tactics on the beat towards Malcesine. Soon before the first mark, the japanese entry Beecom, with Isao Mita at the helm, benefited from an appropriate right shift and managed to grab the lead.

After rounding the mark, the nine RC 44’s had to cross the lake towards Campione, usually well known for the strong gusts that blow along the impressive cliffs; however this time it was all down to delicate trimming, crew positioning and fine steering in order to make the best of the light puffs of wind.

Five teams proved to master the exercise better than the rest of the fleet: Banco Espirito Santo, who rounded the windward mark in the lead, ahead of Ceeref, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Team Sea Dubai and Beecom. BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Aqua followed a few hundreds meters behind, whilst team Organika and Carbon Affairs had clearly lost any hope to come back at this stage.

The run towards Malcesine proved eventless. Patrick de Barros and Russell Coutts were easily controlling their opponents and all the teams were struggling to keep their spinnakers flying. The only event took place soon after the windward mark, when Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano managed to overtake Ceeref; needless to say that it wasn’t a breathtaking move.

Thanks to their second place, Armando Giulietti and his team now sit alone at the top of the leader board, one point ahead of Patrick de Barros’ Banco Espirito Santo and two points ahead of Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref and Markus Wieser’s Team Sea Dubai.

Patrick de Barros, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo: 'I am very happy with this victory. It was a race of patience. We had a very hard time at the start, and then took the right decisions. We rounded the top mark in the lead and then controlled our opponents until the arrival.'

Armando Giulietti, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano: 'It was a very tough day despite the light winds. Sebastien did a great job, and helped us recover from behind. During the beat, we were sometimes fifth, or sixth, it was hard. Our speed downwind is excellent and we managed to overtake Ceeref. It was a long concentration game.'

Andrej Justin, RC 44 co-designer: 'Obviously, it is more fun to sail in more wind. But the RC 44 proved once again today that it can race correctly in light winds. I guess the lower limit for a decent race is 4 knots. At the other end of the range, we sailed in Cagliari with a steady 24 knots and gusts of up to 28 knots and we haven’t broken anything, it was just fine.'

DHL Trophy:

1) Team Banco Espirito Santo
2) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano
3) Team Ceeref
4), Sea Dubai
5) Team Beecom
6) BMW ORACLE Racing
7) Team Organika
8) Team Aqua (DNF)
9) Team Carbon Affairs (DNF)

Fleet-race, provisional results after 4 races:

1) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti – 6, 1, 2, 2 - 11 points
2) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros – 3, 2, 6, 1 – 12 points
3) Team Ceeref, Igor Lah – 4, 5, 1, 3 - 13 points
4) Sea Dubai, Joki Hellmich - 1, 3, 5, 4 – 13 points
5) Team Beecom, Isao Mita – 5, 4, 8, 5 – 22 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 2, 7, 9, 6 - 24 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki – 8, 8, 3, 7 – 26 points
8) Team Aqua, Chris Bake – 7, 6, 4, DNF - 27 points
9) Team Carbon Affairs, Nicolas Verwilghen – 9, 9, 7, DNF - 35 point
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