Day Three of the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego and the teams are starting to figure out this brand new RC44 race course in San Diego Bay.
The two boats that had it worked out best were Katusha and Team Aqua - the latter erasing the mistakes that marred day two to produce an almost flawless performance. Not bad when you consider how late Scott Young – normally doing real estate deals in Texas – stepped up to the plate to replace owner Chris Bake at the wheel of Team Aqua, the oldest boat in the fleet.
Scott Young explained, ‘Chris had commitments overseas that he just couldn't break away from, so he literally emailed me five days ago to see if I could come. I cleared it with the family, jumped on a plane and was thrown to the wolves yesterday, I was humbled - but I feel much better today.’
And so he should, Team Aqua’s scoreline for the day read; 1, 4, 1, 2. Now consider this from Young, ‘Yesterday was my first day to ever steer a sailboat with a wheel, I sail small boats, dinghies, things like that, so this is really new for me. I was like a deer in the headlights yesterday, just trying to keep from running in to people. Today I felt a little more confident, I felt like I could sail the boat better and we got some good starts free of the congestion... Once you figure out the wheel thing and the speed targets - things you don't really think about in a dinghy – it’s not too bad, it starts to make sense. And these guys are great sailors, they make it pretty easy.’
Although Team Aqua racked up a better scoreline for Day 3, the overnight lead belongs to Katusha after they posted a 3, 5, 2, 1. It puts them on 25 points, a two point advantage over Team Aqua. Bob Little was on the helm and he was also stepping in for the owner, but he’d had a bit more notice than Scott Young and a bit more practice. ‘I've sailed an event in Dubai and I did last year’s World Championships in Lanzarote, as well as the last event [of the 2010 season] in Miami.’
Young and Little both share a real estate and a dinghy sailing background. Little, a near-local Californian resident explained, ‘I've sailed in a lot of different types of dinghies and Olympic class boats, but that was up till I was about 30... Now I'm 44 and I'm doing some sailing like this, but I have a family and a regular job, so I don't sail like all these guys!’
Katusha’s tactician is the America’s Cup legend Paul Cayard and he was impressed with his helmsman’s performance, ‘Bob’s sailed with us in a lot of regattas now and we haven’t really ever lit it up, but here he’s doing a great job. He and I, we’ve got speed on our side... it seems to me that the boat is going really well. We’ve had three good days, every day has been good, and it smells to me like its more that the boat is going fast, rather than tactics or anything else is great - that’s usually a tell-tale sign of speed.’
Those were the boats that hit the groove on day three – for everyone else it came a little harder. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts struggled aboard ORACLE Racing after their day two blitz, posting a consistent but not quite good enough scoreline of; 5, 6, 5, 5. They dropped from first to third overall on 31 points. It could have been worse – most of those results represented a impressive struggle back from deeper positions.
Everyone seemed to have figured out the race track a little more though, and they were starting to wear a groove up the left hand side. Paul Cayard explained, ‘With the ebb tide for the first races of the day the left corner is pretty powerful upwind, and even downwind the pressure usually wins out and there’s more wind that side. It’s a bit of a one-way track, but the fleet’s so close you have to pick your moments, and if you pick the wrong moment coming out of the left and you can’t cross the guy... it’s tough... it’s still a very tricky race course and the racing is pretty tight.’
There was one more groove worn today, and that was down Broadway Pier to the bleachers, the concession stands and the stunning view of the action.
Bob Little commented, ‘San Diego is a great venue to sail, especially down here at the city front which is a lot better than I thought it would be. I've sailed in other areas of San Diego but never right here, and it’s been fantastic. San Diego's done a really great job with the venue.’ Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego Results
1st - Katusha 4,3,4,3,3,5,2,1 - 25
2nd - Team Aqua 3,5,3,8,1,4,1,2 - 27
3rd - ORACLE Racing 2,1,5,2,5,6,5,5 - 31
4th - Artemis Racing 1,10,1,4,4,3,4,8 - 35
5th - RC44 Team CEEREF 7,6,2,5,8,2,7,4 - 41
6th - Ironbound 10,2,11,1,10,1,8,6 - 51
7th - Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 5,11,8,9,2,7,3,7 - 52
8th - Synergy Russian Sailing Team 11,7,6,10,7,8,6,3 - 58
9th - AEZ RC44 Sailing Team 8,8,7,6,9,9,10,9 - 66
10th - Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team 6,4,9,7,11,11,9,10 - 67
11th - No Way Back 9,9,10,11,6,10,11,12 - 79 www.rc44.com