The RC44 Trapani Cup really did go down to the wire, with the eventual winner not decided until the final metres of the final race of the event. Team Aqua had laid the gauntlet down to Team CEEREF winning the opening two races of the day. Going into the final decider Aqua led by just one-point, CEEREF needed to put a boat between them and Aqua to win the regatta. CEEREF thought they had done enough down the final run with Katusha between the pair, but in the final 100 metres the long term partnership of Chris Bake and Cameron Appleton snatched victory.
Perfect sailing conditions greeted the 13 strong RC44 fleet as racing got underway an hour early. Fifteen knots and a big swell creating some great surfing conditions. Team CEEREF took the early advantage, the furthest boat left benefitted from the left shift, they rounded the top mark just ahead of main rival Team Aqua. Down the first run, Aqua managed to squeeze inside at the leeward gate and took control.
Up the next beat the leading pair seemed to have a magnetic force pulling them together, Chris Bake’s experienced team managed to avoid the traffic and stay out of trouble to take the first race in of the day, the Slovenian team finishing fourth, Team Nika and Aleph Racing squeezing between the leading pair. Aqua were now just two-points behind Igor Lah and Michele Ivaldi’s Team CEEREF with Katusha seven-points off second.
The breeze dropped off slightly for race two, Aqua started safely in the middle of the line, CEEREF two boats below. CEEREF were first to tack out, Aqua tacked underneath them. From then Aqua were in control leading from the top mark to the finish. A fourth for CEEREF gave Chris Bake’s team a slim one-point lead going into the final race. Behind them Katushas’ ninth place meant Steve Howe and Andy Horton were now fighting for third, with Artemis creeping into contention behind them.
The breeze increased ready for the final showdown. CEEREF needed to finish two places ahead of Aqua to lift the trophy. Neither team engaged pre-start, CEEREF starting towards the pin end of the line, Aqua six boats to windward. First blood went to Aqua, as CEEREF tacked across, Aqua responded tacking on top, forcing the Slovenian team back left. At the top mark Aqua were third, CEEREF seventh.
An early gybe from the Slovenian bought them right back into the game, they rounded the leeward gate in second. Throughout the second beat, Lah’s team defended, by the final windward mark, it was advantage CEEREF, with Katusha firmly positioned between the pair. It was looking as though the Slovenian team had done enough, Aqua rounded gybing straight off, CEEREF didn’t cover.
In the last 100 metres to the finish line, Aqua came storming in from the right to cross in front of Katusha for third place. With Peninsula Petroleum getting the gun, CEEREF in second, Team Aqua had snatched victory from the jaws of defeated, Team Aqua were crowned champions, on count back of most race wins, and handed the Vito Corte designed RC44 Trapani Cup trophy.
Chris Bake, owner/driver, Team Aqua was first to give his analysis of the thrilling finale. 'It was a great day of racing and CEEREF were the team to beat. We lined up with them at the start and were fairly even so I knew we had a chance to compete and sure enough we found ourselves there with them neck and neck for all three races. You can never assume you have it in the bag in this class, but it was a pretty strong statement coming out today and doing so well in the first two races. At the top mark (of the final race) we knew we had to beat Katusha to keep the lead so we were taking every wave we could, and keeping the boat going as fast as we could to just nip them to confirm the win.'
For Michele Ivaldi , tactician, Team CEEREF, they had enjoyed the battle. 'It was a great day of sailing, we had been close to each other all day and it was really good that it came down to the last leg of the very last race. On the first run we had a bit of traffic so we had to go out and try something to get clean air, we had a good lane coming back in putting us ahead. We knew that there was someone between us and Aqua so we went for the last run and felt pretty comfortable with where we were going, hoping that either Katusha or Artemis would cover us, but they were fighting their own battle for third place which is a pity, at the top mark we were winning the event and a the bottom mark we had just lost.'
Third place was equally as hard fought; Katusha did enough to take third place, two points ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing.
With two events completed in the 2013 RC44 Championship Tour, Team Aqua takes over the overall lead from Katusha, with Artemis Racing third and Team CEEREF fourth. The Tour now moves to Sweden for the RC44 Sweden Cup in Marstrand from 25 – 29 June 2013.
by Jo Grindley
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6:13 PM Sun 5 May 2013GMT
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