The RC 44 Championship Tour 2009 started today in Puerto Calero with the first matches of Round Robin one. It was also the baptism of fire for Pieter Heerema’s Team No Way Back and Carlos Morales’ Team Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2.
The Dutch boat had an excellent day, with two victories over the two Spanish boats. On the contrary, the local entries didn’t have such a good day, suffering respectively from a trim tab failure and a broken crash box following… a crash.
Many top sailors also discovered the Class today, including Olympic champions Martin Kirketerp or Luis Doreste and veteran America’s Cup sailors Yann Gouniot and Christian Scherrer. The conditions weren’t too difficult for an initiation, although the breeze’s lack of consistency made Race Officer Peter Regio’s life difficult. At the end of the day, two and a half flight could be completed, most probably putting an end to the event organiser’s desire to complete two round robins in two days.
Winner of last year’s match race ranking, Igor Lah’s Ceeref is still the team to beat, with three victories in as many matches today. Sébastien Col is Ceeref’s substitute driver in James Spithill’s absence. Needless to say that he did a great job, particularly during a fantastic regatta against Organika, who were sailing for the first time with their new match race helmsman Karol Jablonski. Leading the race by half a boat length, Organika couldn’t stop Ceeref’s come back, until the Slovenian spinnaker touched the Polish boat’s runners. With a penalty to complete, Séb Col and his team had to attack, which they did in style, taking the lead and increasing it just enough to complete their penalty turn before crossing the arrival line.
Pieter Heerema and Philippe Presti’s team No Way Back and Russell Coutts’ BMW Oracle Racing are also unbeaten so far, however with one less match under their belt. Team Aqua and Cameron Appleton had an excellent match against Artemis, inflicting a penalty to their opponent at the start and winning the race, before loosing an important match against Ceeref. Finally, Dean Barker’s Artemis won two matches against Organika and Jose Maria Ponce’s Team Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1.
Organised by Puerto Calero, a superb real estate development on Lanzarote's seafront, the RC 44 Cup consists in two days of match racing followed by three days of fleet racing. The DHL coastal race will take place on Sunday; it will count for double points. José Juan Calero, Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 1:
'We are very, very happy. Our two matches were extremely close. May be I steered a little bit too aggressively against Team No way Back, and we hit them and broke our crash box. But the other match, against BMW ORACLE Racing, was fantastic. We were in contact all along, and finished just behind them. It proves that we are well in the game. Tomorrow, we will be on the starting line with all our energy.' Igor Lah, owner, Ceeref:
'The match against Organika was fantastic and very strange at the same time; I have never seen such a situation. It was very nice to see two masters (Sébastien Col and Karol Jablonski) playing with the boats.' Don Cowie, crewmember, Artemis:
'The wind was very light but that’s what’s great with these boats: they are interesting to sail even with light winds and they are almost fully powered with six knots of wind. We were a bit frustrated by the penalty incurred against Aqua. We led most of the race, but didn’t have enough space to complete our penalty. It’s only the third regatta we sail with this team and we are still learning a lot.' Match-race, provisional results after 2 ½ flights:
(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)
1) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 3/0 - 3 points
2) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 2/0 - 2 points
2) No Way Back, Philippe Presti, 2/0 – 2 points
4) Artemis, Dean Barker, 2/1 – 2 points
5) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 1/1 - 1 point
6) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 0/2 – 0 point
7) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, Carlos Morales, 0/3 – 0 point
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Juan Calero, 0/3 -1 point (incl. one penalty)