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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Team Aqua Take Match Racing Lead at RC44s - Sotogrande, Spain

Sotogrande, the new Spanish venue for the 2014 RC44 Championship Tour, laid on idyllic conditions with flat water and breeze gusting at times to 20 plus knots, for the match racing on the opening day of the RC44 Puerto Sotogrande Cup.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
New faces also appeared in the results today with Bronenosec the top scoring boat, unbeaten in all five matches. Chris Bake’s Team Aqua may have lost the overall fleet racing championship lead, but today she managed to claim first place overall in the cumulative match race ranking after three events, displacing Valentin Zavadnikov and Leonid Lebedev’s Synergy Russian Sailing Team.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
This week Slovenian RC44 veteran and former Team CEEREF owner Igor Lah is standing in as helm of Bronenosec in place of St Petersburg Yacht Club Commodore Vladimir Liubomirov, who is tied up with another event.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Lah seems to have lost none of his magic, as explains Bronenosec’s Italian tactician Michele Ivaldi, who previously sailed with Lah on Team CEEREF for six seasons: “Normally this is a training day for our fleet racing, but as we went on it got better and better and we knew we were fighting for the day. Igor has been sailing these boats for a long time and has a good feeling for them.”
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
One of the most drama filled matches of the day was between Bronenosec and Team Aqua, when Chris Bake’s team made an unforced error, entering the pre-start from the wrong side of the line with the wrong flag on. Picking up two penalties from the start, they immediately got rid of one and then fought back to overhaul the Russians. However they then tried and failed to carry out their second penalty at the finish line, handing the win to Bronenosec.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Of all the boats, Bronenosec seemed most diligent today in covering her opponents. As Ivaldi explained: “You can’t leave anyone by themselves here. We were expecting this kind of behaviour from the wind: You have to stay in the same piece of water, because the wind is so unpredictable and the shifts are way too big to give leverage to the other guy.”
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Team Aqua also scored five wins today, elevating her up the leaderboard, but this was from six rather than five races.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Aleph Racing would have been the second highest performer of the day had it not been for her part in a pre-start collision with Artemis Racing. For this incident the French team was docked one point, while Artemis was penalised two, one for the hard contact, the second for being in the wrong.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
With a 4-1 score today, Aleph Racing was also the only one to claim a point off another star performer, Team Nika. “It was very close,” said helmsman and French match racing ace, Mathieu Richard of this match. “We were behind them for the first lap and managed to overtake them on the second beat, but then they came back and overtook us.” At the time Nika was a penalty down due to have been washed down on to the top mark by the current during their second rounding, causing her boom to touch it. The crew tried to shed its final penalty on the finish line.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
“Funnily enough I was only this morning reading how to recover from this situation. The idea was to make him tack with me, allowing me to do a penalty turn and to try to push them out. I succeeded in rolling them and got below, but it wasn’t well adjusted. I should have been much closer to catch Aleph and I wasn’t,” said Team Nika skipper Vladimir Prosikhin.
Russell Coutts (left) Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Aside from her race with Aleph, Team Nika had more comfortable victories in her other four matches, no doubt thanks to circuit founder Russell Coutts standing in for American Terry Hutchinson as tactician.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
“He is a great sailor, there is no doubt about it and it is a bit more relaxing. He has very high standards and goals and he really pushes you. He is a very strong presence, but he is also gentle, so you can enjoy life and work less hard. But of course I was helming and motivated to work hard,” Prosikhin said.
Photo: © MartinezStudio.es/RC44 Class
Racing will continue tomorrow with four days of fleet racing, with the first warning signal at 11.00CET.

RC44 Championship Tour Overall Match Race Ranking - After three events

1. Team Aqua – 15
2. Synergy Russian Sailing Team – 14
3. Aleph Racing – 13
4. Team Nika – 10
5. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team – 9
6. Katusha – 8
7. Bronenosec Sailing Team – 8
8. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge – 5
9. MAG Racing – 2
10. Bombarda Racing – 2
11. Artemis Racing – 1

RC44 Media 

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