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Banco Espirito Santo wins DHL Trophy at RC 44 Cup

by Bernard Schopfer on 27 Apr 2008
Banco Espirito Santo, with Patrick de Barros at the helm and Ben Ainslie at the tactics, sails to victory in the DHL Trophy. Coypright Francesco Nonnoi, Yacht Club Cagliari. - RC 44 Cup RC44.com
After another stunning day off the coast of Cagliari, Sardinia, the boat that sails with the RC 44 championship leader’s gold wheel is back at the top of the ranking. With tactician Sébastien Col and Armando Giulietti at the helm, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano had three good races today (4, 1, 3), giving it a fairly comfortable lead before the last racing day.

The first race of the day (the fourth altogether) took place in a light and raising sea breeze. Igor Lah’s Ceeref crossed the line a few seconds too early and had to re-cross it, whilst Banco Espirito Santo, with Patrick de Barros at the helm and Ben Ainslie calling the shots, took the best start alongside Team Aqua and BMW Oracle Racing.

These three boats rapidly increased their lead over the rest of the fleet and initiated a race on their own despite Team Hiroshi’s constant pressure a few boat lengths behind. During the last downwind leg, Banco Espirito Santo – who had made no mistake until then – jibed too late towards the finishing line. Cameron Appleton (Team Aqua) and Larry Ellison (BMW Oracle Racing) benefited from this mistake to get the first two spots of the race behind a disappointed de Barros, who had just missed a great opportunity.

The wind increased to ten knots for race two, allowing a superb fight between the ten one-designs. Both Banco Espirito Santo and Cro-A-Sail were over the line; however only the Portuguese boat got recalled. Unlike during race 1, this time it is the right side of the course that proved to be favourable. The recent Farr 40 world champions on board Mascalzone Latino used the right shift (30 ° over the entire race) to their advantage to reach the first mark in the lead. Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano didn’t take long to overtake them and build a huge gap, sailing to victory without being threatened.

At this stage, Banco Espirito Santo was already back in fourth whilst the early leader Cro-A-Sail was trailing the fleet, following a bad tactical decision to choose the left side of the course. Banco Espirito Santo and Team Aqua showed once again that they were on great form, overtaking one opponent after the next to finish second and third.

The last race of the day was also the long distance DHL Trophy. The wind had by then increased to a lovely 15 knots, making it even more exciting than the previous races. Team Organika, with Star world champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz, played the shifts better than the other teams, remaining in the centre of the course and sailing with a jib whilst all other teams had a genoa. Organika reached the windward mark in the top position, just ahead of Banco Espirito Santo and Sea Dubai, once again excellent in the first part of the race.

After a long downwind leg, the ten RC 44s reached along the stunning coast line of Cape Elia, heading for the arrival line. Banco Espirito Santo was by then in the lead, a few boat lengths ahead of Team Organika and Hiroshi – Città di Milano. With no passing options, the boats crossed the line in this order to the delight of the Polish team who is getting better by the day.

Three more fleet races will be sailed tomorrow, in conclusion to an extraordinary sailing week in Cagliari.

Armando Giulietti, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano: 'Our strategy was to try to get good rankings and avoid any risks. We played it safe and it paid off, despite everyone tacking on us as soon as they had an opportunity. I am very happy; our boat is perfectly prepared and we hardly ever have technical problems. However, the pressure is on and tomorrow will be a tough day.'

Larry Ellison, BMW Oracle Racing: 'It was very shifty and tricky, and it is really tough out there. I think that this place is really great for sailing, because we’ve had everything from fairly strong breeze to light winds. You really get all the possible conditions.'

Patrick de Barros, Banco Espirito Santo: 'We are getting there… We still need to improve our downwind speed but we are definitely improving. It’s great to sail with Ben Ainslie, he is a real asset. His personality is very different to Russel Coutts’, who is normally my tactician for the fleet races. But they are both great sailors and entirely focused on their work.'

Volker Miller, DHL, RC 44 Official logistics supplier: 'It was a first experience for me to be sitting on a boat during a race. It was fantastic. I saw some similarities with our work in logistics, because a strong team spirit is required in both fields. This is a great partnership for us, because it is not just about sponsoring an event. It is a real exchange: our experience and involvement is useful to all the teams involved.'

Fleet race, provisional results after six races (no discard):

1) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 1, 2, 6, 4, 1, 3 – 17 points
2) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 4, 5, 8, 3, 3, 1 - 24 points
3) Sea Dubai, Joki Hellmich, 3, 4, 1, 7, 5, 5 – 25 points
4) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 9, 3, 7, 1, 2, 4 – 26 points
5) BMW Oracle Racing, Larry Ellison, 6, 1, 5, 2, 8, 6 – 28 points
6) Team Organika, Maciej Nawrocki, 5, 8, 3, 9, 7, 2 – 34 points
7) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 7, 6, 2, 6, 4, 9 – 34 points
8) Beecom, Isao Mita, 2, 7, 9, 8, 6, 8 – 40 points
9) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, 8, 9, 4, 5, 10, DNF – 47 points
10) Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, DNS, 10, 10, 10, 9, 7 – 57 points

Winner of the DHL Trophy: Banco Espirito Santo
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