Winner of last years’ match race championship, the Slovenian team Ceeref started the 2009 championship in unknown – yet very reliable – hands with substitute driver Sébastien Col. The French match race champion proved to be the right person, leading his new team to victory and dominating the tournament by winning all of his matches.
The conditions were once again light and irregular today in Puerto Calero, and Race Officer Peter 'Luigi' Reggio did his very best to conclude the round robin before the night, changing the course constantly to match the wind direction changes.
The first flight of the day – the fourth altogether – finally started at 1:30 PM after numerous postponements. Both Team Aqua and No Way Back had fairly easy rides against BMW Oracle Racing (penalised by a premature start) and Organika. As for Artemis and Ceeref, they had to contain the attacks of the two Spanish entries, Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1 and 2, sailing aggressively and keeping in touch with the best. Led by Philippe Presti, team No Way Back was still unbeaten at this stage, which is a great achievement considering the fact that it is their first RC 44 regatta. The rest of the day proved however to be harder for them.
Ceeref made the break in the fifth flight after beating BMW Oracle Racing with a very comfortable margin and taking a two points lead over their closest opponents. The sky started to turn grey, looking as threatening as some of the manoeuvres attempted by the two Spanish teams – directly opposed to each other during the sixth flight. The outcome of this friendly – or was it? – dual was a victory by the Spanish match race champion José Maria Ponce on Olympic champion Luis Doreste, ESP 1 beating ESP 2.
At this stage, Ceeref could not be reached anymore and a fierce battle for the second and third podium positions started between Team Aqua, Artemis, No Way Back and BMW Oracle Racing. Very solid till then, Artemis – helmed by owner Torbjorn Tornqvist with Dean Barker’s advice – suffered in the end of the day, loosing to Ceeref and BMW Oracle Racing. Unlucky earlier in the day, Russell Coutts and his team got it right against Philippe Presti, Torben Tornqvist and Karol Jablonski, climbing back to third overall. As for Team Aqua, brilliant throughout the tournament, it finishes the event in the second spot, having only lost to Seb Col and Philippe Presti. A good season start! Sébastien Col, helmsman, Ceeref:
'I am very happy with the way we sailed this tournament. The team is great, and we were all very calm and concentrated throughout the event, even when we were making mistakes. Michele Ivaldi did a great job at the tactics, he has been great and I have learned a lot of things by sailing with him.' Dean Barker, coach, Artemis:
'It was very interesting to coach Torbjorn because it was his first match race event and it kind of forced me to think back about the essentials. It’s difficult, because there is always a little gap between what you would do and when it happens, because you have to say it first and it’s not easy to put your thoughts into words. You really need to anticipate a lot.' Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua:
'We have new guys on board, and Chris arrived throughout the event so we have grown as a team throughout the event. I think we sailed very well. Sometimes last year we were in a position to win but we just lacked that little winning spirit. We are now back up one step, and I am grateful to Chris for letting us put in place a great team & program.' José Maria Ponce, helmsman, Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 1:
'I am not very satisfied with the way we sailed; there are a few races we could have won. Obviously, we need more time to get the feel and reach the right level. But our team is great and very compact and I already look forward to Cagliari.' Russell Coutts, helmsman, BMW Oracle Racing:
'This was really a tough day wind wise. There wasn’t a clear favoured side, and we struggled to find the right strategy. Ceeref and Seb Col obviously sailed very well today.' Match-race, final results: (Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)
1) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 7/0 - 7 points
2) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton, 5/2 - 5 points
3) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 5/2 – 5 points
4) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 4/3 – 4 points
5) No Way Back, Philippe Presti, 4/3 – 4 points
6) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 2, Carlos Morales, 1/6 – 1 point
7) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 1/6 – 1 point
8) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias 1, José Maria Ponce, 1/6 -0 point (incl. one penalty)