Team Aqua was the team to beat going into the final day, they held a slim three point lead with no discard allowed. To win the RC44 Cagliari Cup they had to fend off the challenge of the Spanish and the Swedes; Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and Artemis Racing.
As the teams were released from the dock the wind was still north-westerly, but due to fade and be replaced by a southerly sea breeze at some point in the day, the problem was no-one knew when.
The first race started in eight knots, but as the fleet were half way up the first beat the wind started to shift to the right, Team Aqua (GBR) were on the left hand side of the track and rounded the windward mark in 10th place, their main opposition Artemis Racing (SWE) and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) rounding second and fifth respectively.
Places didn’t change much as the course was shortened and presented limited passing lanes. Oracle Racing made up for their disappointing day yesterday, taking the first win of the day. Team Aqua could only finish ninth, handing over the overall lead to the Spaniards.
But Chris Bake and Cameron Appleton have competed on the RC44 Circuit since it was first created in 2007; they are an experienced and well polished team and were not going to see the title snatched away at the last hurdle, as Bake explained. 'We knew we had picked the wrong side of the course but we buckled down and everyone stayed focused.'
As the sea breeze kicked in, Cagliari produced some stunning sailing conditions, 12-14 knots and beautiful blue sea and skies. Team Aqua were never worst than second in the penultimate race of the series, passing Ceeref (SLO) on the second beat to take the win. It was then Islas Canarias Puerto Calero’s turn to struggle, their 12th place put them down to third overall, one point behind Artemis Racing.
Katusha had also picked themselves up from their disappointing day yesterday, adding just seven points to their score-line from the three races sailed. A great move at the windward mark saw the team sail Ceeref and Aleph high of the mark before Katusha tacked, ducked around the mark and never looked back, taking a convincing victory.
But it was the places behind that mattered for the overall title. Artemis Racing’s owner Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) and tactician Morgan Larson (USA) were on a charge. A third place in the final race cemented their second place. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero could only manage a ninth place, enough to keep them third. with owner Daniel Calero unable to attend Cagliari due to business commitments, Alfredo Morales was the man that stood in for him.
Owner of second placed Artemis Racing Torbjorn Tornqvist was pleased with the result, but still think they can do better. 'I’m very proud of the team we had a bit of a disappointing last regatta so it’s great to bounce back like this. We had a solid performance, it wasn't outstanding and I think we have more to give but of course I am very happy with the result and the way things went.'
The win in Sardinia moves Team Aqua to the top of the 2011 RC44 Championship Tour leader board. Adding to their win here, they also count a third from San Diego and second on Lake Traunsee, Austria. They sit one point ahead of Team Oracle who finished second from San Diego and first in Austria but fourth here in Cagliari.
With Katusha winning the opening event of the season in San Diego, there have been three different winners at each of the RC44 venues this year, indicative of the different sailing conditions each have produced.
The Yacht Club Cagliari has hosted a tremendous event for the RC44 class. The weather threw everything at the 15 teams, a gentle start to the event for the opening match race day along with two full on days of racing when the mistral showed up.
Having just completed his first event in the RC44 class Krzysztof Krempec (POL) from Mag Racing is looking forward to the challenge ahead, starting in Marstrand 'The plan is to be in the class for a minimum of three years, this year we are just learning were not trying to win every race we just want to learn and watch the guys close to us and then every regatta we will get higher and higher.'
The fourth event of 2011 RC44 Championship Tour will be held in Marstrand, Sweden from 17-21st August where the teams will race for the RC44 Sweden Cup, a venue the class have never visited before. The competition for who will be crowned 2011 RC44 Champions is hotting up.
Chris Bake (CAN) – owner and helmsman – Team Aqua (GBR): 'It’s been a great regatta we've been very consistent, had a few blips along the way. We were a little nervous after the first race waiting for the sea breeze but it was great and the team have done a phenomenal job so I'm really thrilled and very excited for them and for me. Looking forward to Sweden and hopefully we can stay on a roll.'
Russell Coutts (NZL) – tactician – Oracle Racing (USA): 'We had fantastic race conditions here in Cagliari, it was really good close racing and the speeds between the boats are getting closer and closer. Marstrand will be interesting it’s a different place and none of us have sailed these boats there, each time we go to a different venue we have a different winner, we've have three different winners at three different venues which is also indicative of the different sailing conditions.'
Krzysztof Krempec (POL)– owner and tactician – Mag Racing: 'The class is very exciting and interesting, it was a fantastic four days for me and my team, we started off not so good in last position but we've been getting better and better. We've started to get a feel for the boat now, especially me as this is my first big boat but I’m very happy with the racing.
'We started to get competitive after three days when we found the speed in the boat and today we feel like the boat is going fast and we can be close and sometimes in front of the fleet.'
Jose Maria Ponce (ESP) - tactician – Islas Canarias Puerto Calero: 'It was a very exciting day, after the first race we were leading overall but Team Aqua took it back. We are very happy and sailed very well all week; Artemis and Aqua have sailed better than us all week so they deserve the place.'
2011 RC44 Championship Tour Ranking (After three events)
1 - Team Aqua - 6 2 - ORACLE Racing - 7 3 - Katusha - 13 4 - RC44 Team CEEREF - 14 5 - Artemis Racing - 17 6 - Islas Canarias Puerto Calero - 18 7 - No Way Back - 21 8 - Ironbound - 25 9 - Peninsula Petroleum - 26 10 - Synergy Russian Sailing Team - 28 11 - Aleph Sailing Team - 33 12 - AEZ RC44 Sailing Team - 33 13 - Team Nika - 36 14 - RUS-7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyWayAnyDay.com - 40 15 - MAG Racing - 42