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Friday, November 21, 2014

A Challenging Day For RC44 Fleet in Oman

The Oman RC44 Cup delivered another challenging sailing day for the fleet competing in the final event of the 2014 Championship Tour. Consistency was hard to come by and no team managed to stay in the top half of the fleet in all three races. Team Aqua was the most consistent team of the day picking up 11-points, Nika and Charisma both added 12-points to their overall score.
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
Similar conditions to yesterday greeted the RC44 fleet, 7-11 knots from the NNE and flat water. The fleet remained concertinaed throughout the day; tricky shifts meant no boat was safe from the game of snakes and ladders that was playing out on the Gulf of Oman.
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
The three boats that started in the middle of the line in race one popped out at the windward mark as the leading bunch. A shifty first beat saw Artemis Racing lead round the top mark with Team Aqua chasing – Bronenosec in third.
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
The positions stayed the same to the finish, but behind them small mistakes were punished. One of the contenders for the 2014 overall title, Peninsula Petroleum, tried to find space coming in on the port layline in the middle of the pack, they tacked under the fleet trying to slot in to a space that really wasn’t there, after getting unstuck from the mark, a penalty turn put them to the back of the fleet.
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
Artemis Racing’s owner/driver Torbjorn Tornqvist described how close the racing between the 10-boat fleet was. “Consistency is hard, it is shifty the fleet is good, there is very little between the boats. In a couple of races we beat teams within a boat length; it’s all very close, which is as it should be.”
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
Charisma started at the pin, Nika next to them in race two, at the other end of the line, Katusha were first to tack away and head right. Katusha led Charisma and Nika at the top mark and started to extend away from the fleet downwind. At the leeward gate the leading pair split, Charisma headed right and made a massive gain. The Monaco domiciled team went on to take their second win of the event, Nika second and Katusha just managing to hold off Artemis for third.
Photo: MartinezStudio.es
“Today started very poorly, we were mid fleet and in with the top group but slowly slipped back. I made a mistake, I thought we were going to cross a boat but we didn’t and had to do a penalty turn, dropping from about sixth to ninth," said Tom Slingsby calling the shots for Nico Poon’s Charisma.

"We won the second race by a long way and had a second in the third race. It’s really hard to get consistency, if you can make the top mark in good shape ahead of the pack you’re going to have a good race but if you’re battling away amongst the fleet things go wrong, like our penalty, and you can so easily drop five places.” he added.

In the final race of the day the fleet were fighting to start at the committee boat. Team Aqua opted for the pin end and headed left for more breeze. The move paid, Team Aqua tacked and crossed the fleet with room to spare. Never challenged Aqua went onto take the win from Charisma in second and Synergy in third.

“We felt there was better pressure on the left, when we started we were in a right hand direction but it’s always hard when the whole fleet goes right to branch out, do you put all the money in the bag and keep going or do you play more conservatively. We went for it and it worked out, we held our left hand pressure all the way across. The moment you get out in front it is so much easier, so to make that first cross it becomes a much easier race,” said Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton (NZL). 

Overall Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika have a five-point lead over Charisma in second, with Team Aqua moving up into third.

RC44 Oman Cup Overall Ranking (after six races)

1. Team Nika
3 1 2 6 2 4 – 18
2. Charisma
1 5 5 9 1 2 – 23
3. Team Aqua
4 3 7 2 8 1 – 25
4. Katusha
2 6 4 5 3 6 – 26
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team
9 2 3 4 7 3 – 28
6. Artemis Racing
5 4 8 1 4 7 – 29
7. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge
7 8 6 8 5 9 – 43
8. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team
10 9 1 10 6 8 – 44
9. Aleph Racing
8 7 10 7 9 5 – 46
10. Bronenosec Sailing Team
6 10 9 3 10 10 – 48

RC44 Media

Day 1 Fleet Racing Highlights - RC44 Oman Cup 2014

Team Nika On Fire In Oman - RC44 Oman Cup

It was a tough day on the water for the start of the fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup, with many teams struggling for consistency; but Vladimir Prosikhin and Terry Hutchinson quickly mastered the conditions, picking up just six points from three races to take Team Nika to the top of the overnight leaderboard.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
The final event of the tour cannot be discarded; all points scored in Oman will be added to the year’s overall standings, leaving the top four boats all in with a shot at the title.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua lead this season’s Championship Tour with six-points from four events, BVI’s, Cascais, Sotogrande and Marstrand. John Bassadone and his Gibraltar based Peninsula Petroleum are one-point behind on seven, Bronenosec third counting 9-points and new-boys Charisma are still in with a shot at the title on 14-points.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
Racing got off on time, in an eight-knot breeze from the north west. Nico Poon’s Charisma (MON) took the first race win of the day, with Olympic gold medallist and 2013 America’s Cup winning strategist Tom Slingsby calling the shots. They played the shifts up the first beat, rounded the windward mark ahead of Katusha and then proceeded to sail away from the fleet for an emphatic victory, Katusha finished second and Team Nika third.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
It was Team Nika’s turn to shine in race two, reading the shifts well up the first beat to lead at the windward mark and control the race from there on in. Synergy Russian Sailing Team took second and defending champions, Team Aqua third.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
The final race of the day looked to be a repeat win for Team Nika, right until the final gybe heading into the finish line, a mistake from Nika gave Peninsula Petroleum the final win of the day, after a disappointing opening two races in Oman from John Bassadone’s men.
Photo: © Martinez Studio.es
Katusha’s helmsman Robert Filimonov has only been sailing for 13 day’s in his life. The team’s goal was to rack up less-points than days Robert had ever sailed. The team scored 12-points from the three races, and sit third overall – result!

Team Nika’s owner driver Vladimir Prosikhin summed up the day: “It’s a great day indeed for us, it wasn’t easy, a close fight with tricky wind. It was really tricky for me in particular; we had good starts today thanks to Terry (Hutchinson) and our new bowman Phil Jameson, who are working very well with the core team.”

Tactician Terry Hutchinson has been with the team since the second event of the season. On the dock after racing, Hutchinson explained the owner/tactician relationship on Team Nika. “Vladimir works very hard on-board, he is intense and focused. I would suspect we are very like-minded in certain ways which sometimes works for us – sometimes against. All in all he always puts his best foot forward which is good to work with.”

Charisma pulled themselves right back into the pack on the final race after being OCS at the start, their day’s scorecard reading 1,5,5, and sit second overall, five-points off the lead.

The RC44 Oman Cup supported by Mercedes Benz Oman and United Engineering Services (UMS) continues through to 23 November. Day two of fleet championships will get underway on Friday 20th November, 12.00 GST, 08:00 GMT.

RC44 Oman Cup Overall Ranking (after three races)

1. Team Nika 3 1 2 – 6
2. Charisma 1 5 5 – 11
3. Katusha 2 6 4 – 12
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team 9 2 3 – 14
5. Team Aqua 4 3 7 – 14
6. Artemis Racing 5 4 8 – 17
7. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team 10 9 1 – 20
8. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge 7 8 6 – 21
9. Bronenosec Sailing Team 6 10 9 – 25
10. Aleph Racing 8 7 10 – 25

RC44 Media

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Match Racing Highlights - RC44 Oman Cup 2014

Synergy Takes RC44 Match Race Crown in Oman

The RC44 Oman Cup opened with the season’s final day of match racing. Defending champions Team Aqua held a slim one-point lead over Synergy Russian Sailing Team who were fighting for the trophy they last won in 2012. Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika started the day in third, with Hugues Lepic just two-points adrift in fourth and keen to get the French flag onto the podium.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
Racing was delayed before a light 5-7 knot north-easterly breeze filled in. Flat water made for easy boat handling conditions, the 30-degree shifts made the tactician’s life difficult amongst the 10 boats.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
Although Synergy was one point behind Team Aqua heading into the final event, the Russian team had one outstanding match from Sweden to complete. As the rest of the team’s headed out to the race course, Ed Baird at the helm of Synergy sailed a clean race to take the point against Charisma, now the points were equal, heading into the final six flights of the season.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
Chris Bake arrived in Oman just hours ahead of racing to take the helm of Team Aqua, the defending match race champions won their first match; their next opponent was Synergy. An unforced error by Team Aqua, saw the experienced team enter the starting area early, and were punished by the umpires with their first penalty of the day. A close match endured, but it was Synergy, with America’s Cup veteran Ed Baird at the wheel, who took the win. It was to be the decider.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
Synergy, jointly owned by Valentin Zavadnikov and Leonid Lebedev, stayed unbeaten for the rest of the day and were crowned 2014 RC44 Match Race Champions; taking back the title they lost to Team Aqua in 2013.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
"What a difficult day to finish the season on, it was light air shifty but the guys did a great job. We came from behind in a couple of races and the team really worked hard for it, they deserve it. It’s been a fantastic season, having four boats that could win going into the final regatta is really exciting, it gives you a nice feeling at the end of the year to be in that position, but more importantly we were able to close the season on that feeling," Ed Baird said.
Photo: © Martinezstudio.es
The competition for third place was equally as hard fought. Team Aleph won their first three races of the day to close the gap on Team Nika, but the Russian team steered by owner Vladimir Prosikhin, did enough to take the final podium position.

“It’s a fantastic position to finish in, I wanted to do better honestly, but it was great. In the second pre-start I got hit in the head by the boom and lost control and lost the race, I made a few mistakes where we were twice over (the line), once we recovered and once we lost to Synergy, so it was a difficult day. I enjoy the match racing more than the fleet racing, I believe it makes you a better sailor, it’s energetic, the boat handling is more important and it holds a huge value for me,” Prosikhin said.

The other stand out performance of the day was Nico Poons’ Charisma, who won five out of their seven races. The team joined the circuit in 2014 and will be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Team Aqua head into the final four-days of fleet racing with a one-point lead over second placed Peninsula Petroleum. Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec is a further two-point adrift. The final event of the season cannot be discarded, and the Championship is expected to go down to the wire, as Chris Bake explained "Tomorrow will be competitive we need to keep out head down, sail clean and have fun. "

The RC44 Oman Cup in Muscat continues through to 23 November, with the fleet championships kicking off on Thursday 20th November, 11.30 GST – 07.30 GMT.

2014 RC44 Championship Tour Overall Match Race Ranking (After five events)

1. Synergy Russian Sailing Team – 23
2. Team Aqua – 21
3. Team Nika – 18
4. Aleph Racing – 16
5. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team – 12
6. Bronenosec Sailing Team – 11
7. Katusha – 11
8. Charisma – 10
9. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge – 10
10. Artemis Racing – 8
11. Bombarda Racing – 4
12. MAG Racing – 2
13. Artemis Racing Youth – 1

RC44 Media

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Team Brunel Blasts Out Of Cape Town - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Skippers of the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which set out for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, left with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.
Photo: Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race
Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles. There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.
Photo: Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race
From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves. It was a question of 'don't break your boat' as most opted for conservative sail choices, while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.

For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel led the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and then Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) who were well in the hunt.

The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions, which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’.

“I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours earlier. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

Favourites for the leg are Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move since setting out from Alicante on October 11. They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.

When asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing, Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew's feet on the ground - as well as his own.

“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”

Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a choir on board their support boat burst into song just prior to the start. Their message was loud and clear: 'There's an even more important race we must win - to save the environment'.

Leg 2 is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.

Volvo Ocean Race