Fairly strong winds and big waves: the conditions could not have been better for the first day of the fleet racing event of the Dubai RC 44 Cup. Already a brilliant second of the match racing event, Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano leads the fleet race after four regattas.
With two bullets, a second and a fourth place, Armando Giulietti, the owner of Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, can be satisfied: he did even better than his brilliant pro skipper Sébastien Col earlier in the week during the match-race event!
Held in 15-18 knots of wind, under a blazing sunshine and on big waves, the first day of the fleet-racing event will stay in the short RC 44 Class history as the funniest and best racing day to date.
Even before the start of the first race, as the teams were warming up under jib & main sail, speeds of up to 20 knots were reached whilst surfing the swell.
Those conditions didn’t in any way prompt the teams to start on the back foot. On the contrary, they were hot on the line, aggressive and pushing hard. Team Sea Dubai even pushed so hard that it closed the door on Team Aqua, who had no other option but to crash badly on the Committee boat, unfortunately pursuing its series of bad luck in this event. Luckily, thanks to the bow crash box, Team Aqua’s crewmembers could repair the damage quickly and join the fleet back for the third race.
Sailing fast and very well, Team Hiroshi-Città di Milano took the lead away from Sea Dubai on the first downwind leg, winning the race despite Patrick De Barros’s numerous attacks.
The scenario was similar on race two: Team Sea Dubai took a good start, sailed very well to the windward mark before being overtaken by Armando Giulietti on the run. As for Patrick De Barros’s Team ES Bankers Dubai, it suffered a jib tackle breakage during the first beat. The crew’s reaction was quick, allowing the team to finish fourth; a few points in the pocket that could well prove crucial at the end of the week considering how close the racing is.
With Russell Coutts’ advice, Patrick De Barros climbed back to the lead in races 3 and 4, winning respectively against Team Hiroshi – Citta di Milano and Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref. Sailing for the first time in these conditions, Lah improved throughout the day, going from fifth to second. His opponents will have to watch him tomorrow: the same conditions are forecast and the man learns fast!
Two more days of fleet racing are scheduled, including the DHL Trophy – a long distance course in Dubai’s Palm – on Friday. They said:
Armando Giulietti, owner, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano (1st):
“Our winter training gave us the results we wanted today. We were very well prepared and the crew did a fantastic job. It was very hard for them today… I enjoyed it a lot, particularly downwind as we were surfing the waves, it was great fun.” Patrick de Barros, owner, Team ES Bankers Dubai (2nd):
“I am very pleased that we won two races but upset because of our gear failure. The conditions were just great. They reminded me of Cascais, where it is like this every day. It is very hard when we sail upwind, but great downwind. We were regularly sailing at around 17-18 knots.” Andy Plettner, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai (3rd):
“It is the first time I sailed this boat in such conditions and it was quite hard, particularly downwind. I am not used to asymmetrical spinnakers, the angles are completely different and I have to learn this. Normally, I sail on 470s, FDs and Asso 99s. But I am very happy, it was great and we were fast upwind.” Fleet-racing, provisional results (no discards)
1) Team Hiroshi (1, 1, 2, 4) 8 points
2) Team ES Bankers Dubai (3, 4, 1, 1) 9 points
3) Team Sea Dubai, (2, 2, 6, 3) 13 points
4) Team Ceeref (5, 3, 5, 2) 15 points
5) Cro-A-Sail (4, 5, 4, 5) 18 points
6) Team Aqua (DNF, DNF, 3, 6) 23 points