Sunday, November 30, 2014

Smeg Smokes The Fleet - 18ft Skiffs - Sydney Harbour

18ft Skiffs W.C ‘Trappy’ Duncan Memorial Trophy
Sunday, 30 November 2014, Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Strong wind specialists David Witt, Tom Clout and Matt Wark thrived on the conditions today to bring home their 18ft Skiff, Smeg, winner of the 18ft Skiffs W.C. ‘Trappy’ Duncan Memorial Trophy on Sydney Harbour.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The Smeg boys revelled 20+ knots north east wind to lead the fleet from the start and were untroubled to take the victory by a comfortable 1m14s from Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Stuart Wells).
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Mojo Wine, skippered by Australian 16 Footer champion Lee Knapton, and crewed by Ricky Bridge and Mike McKensey, was a further one minute and 16 seconds back in third place. The race began dramatically as one of the favoured contenders, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon), was recalled and lost more than one minute as the team returned and restarted.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Smeg was under early pressure from Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel, (Micah Lane) and Mojo Wine but withstood the challenges to lead clearly at the first set of windward buoys. The skiffs were spectacularly fast down the spinnaker run to Clark Island, after rounding the Shark Island mark, and Smeg held a 30s lead over Appliancesonline as they approached the bottom mark.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Smeg’s lead suddenly became more than one minute when Appliancesonline had to re-round the mark and allowed Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel through into second place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Despite a challenge by Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel over the final lap of the course, when the wind dropped by around 5 knots, the Smeg team was faultless with its crew work and was untroubled to win its first race of the season.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Appliancesonline recovered from her earlier misfortune to finish fourth, ahead of Gotta Love It 7 (Seve Jarvin), (Keagan York), Yandoo (John Winning) and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
First of the new skiffs Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) made her initial entry into the fleet but was forced out after an early capsize. Two more new skiffs, and Noakesailing (Sean Langman), are also due to join the fleet in the coming weeks.

Frank Quealey

Nicholson Speaks Out - Team Vestas Wind - Volvo Ocean Race Update

ALICANTE, Spain, November 30 – Australian skipper, Chris Nicholson, spoke on Sunday night of his immense pride at the way his Team Vestas Wind crew came through the ordeal of being grounded and being forced to abandon their boat in complete darkness on a remote Indian Ocean reef.
Photo: Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race
Nicholson, 45, said he had to make 'the number one toughest decision of my life' to leave the stricken Volvo Ocean 65 in the small hours of the morning after it was effectively beached on the reef on an archipelago of islands called St. Brandon, 430 north-east kilometres from Mauritius.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
He was interviewed by on Sunday night as he surveyed the idyllic, but remote, island of Íle du Sud, where he was transported with the rest of his crew to safety as day broke following a night of drama.

“It’s the most beautiful night I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And last night was one of the worst nights that I have ever seen.”

Nicholson, from Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, continued: “We’re kind of literally shipwrecked It’s a unique experience going through it.”

He said that the boat had run into the reef at around 19 knots and yet astonishingly, none of the nine on board suffered even minor injuries. He was also amazed that the boat survived the impact without breaking up immediately.

He said his plan had been to keep the crew on board until daybreak, before being rescued, but had practised a drill for abandoning the boat 15-20 times, ‘never with the intention of having to do it', he explained.

However, the ‘massive pounding’ of the waves eventually told and Nicholson decided he had no option but to abandon ship, the most dreaded words a skipper can utter.

He and his crew then waded across the reef in knee-deep water in their boots before finding a mercifully dry spot where they waited for a coastguard RIB to take them to Íle du Sud and safety.

Nicholson, who at times struggled with his emotions during the 20-minute long interview, said the spirit of his crew after such a blow had stunned him. “I always believed that we were a strong team.

“We made a mistake, which led to what happened last night, but I’ve been blown away by the way the guys dealt with the situation, trying to make things as right as possible today. They make me so proud.”

He now plans to meet up with shore crew chief Neil Cox (AUS) and assess the chances of salvaging the boat. “We have a pretty unique group of people to get as good an outcome as possible,” he said.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Team Vestas Wind Hits The Bricks - All Safe - Volvo Ocean Race Update

ALICANTE, Spain, November 30 – Team Vestas Wind crew were rescued in the small hours of Sunday morning after the Danish team's Volvo Ocean Race boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean, forcing them to abandon it.
Photo: Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race
All nine members of the team were uninjured in the drama, which unfolded from 1510 UTC on Saturday when their Volvo Ocean 65 hit the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius. For several hours, the crew stayed onboard their stricken vessel whose stern was being beaten badly by the waves as it was stuck fast in the reef with the bow facing the ocean.

The rudders were broken in the collision and the stern began taking on water although the stern compartment was locked tight.

Finally, around midnight, the team led by skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) abandoned the boat and then waded, knee-deep through the sea to a dry spot on the reef from where they could be rescued by a coastguard RIB at daybreak at around 0230 UTC.

They were transported to the tiny islet of Íle du Sud, part of Cargados Carajos Shoals, which is also known as St. Brandon and situated some 430 kilometres to the north-east of Mauritius.

Race organisers and Team Vestas Wind will now attempt to take them from there to the mainland. Race Control in Alicante, Spain kept the Maritime Rescue Co-Operation Centre (MRCC) informed throughout the incident.

Team Vestas Wind’s rival race crew, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), diverted to assist in a rescue mission if necessary but were eventually cleared to continue racing north after it was apparent that the Vestas crew were no longer in danger.

Navigator Will Oxley (AUS) sent this report from Team Alvimedica: “All is well on board, though it is fair to say we are all shattered and quite emotional about what happened."

The Danish team’s concern now will be a salvage mission for their boat but it was not immediately clear how much damage the incident had caused.

Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race CEO, said it was also not yet known why Nicholson’s crew had hit the reef, but this would be examined in due course.

“I’m extremely relieved that every one of the nine crew members now are safe and that nobody is injured,” he said. “That has always been our first priority since we first learned about the grounding.

“At the same time, I’m deeply saddened that this happened to Team Vestas Wind and Chris Nicholson and his team. It’s devastating for the team, for the race and for everyone involved. I really feel for Chris and the team right now and we will continue to support them all the way going forward.”

Team Vestas Wind was the last of the seven crews to announce their participation in the race with just six weeks to go before the event began in Alicante on October 4.

However, Nicholson, who was second on Camper and Puma in the last two editions, assembled an experienced crew backed by talented young sailors from Denmark.They were fifth when the boat was grounded and were fourth in the opening leg from Spain to Cape Town.

“The safety and wellbeing of the crew has been our only concern during these difficult hours,” said Morten Albaek, CEO of Vestas Wind Ocean Racing.

“We are extremely grateful to the team at Volvo Ocean Race and to Alvimedica for their support and outstanding professionalism during the rescue operations. The extent of the damage to the boat will be evaluated and dealt with from here on.”

Meanwhile, Leg 1 winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) took the second stage lead from Spanish rivals MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) by 0340 UTC on Sunday with Team Brunel in third. But this was not a day when lead changes seemed important at all.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gotta Love It 7 Rocks - 18ft Skiffs, Sydney Harbour

18ft Skiffs, Club Championship, Race 3
Cordukes Clubhouse Trophy
Sunday, 23 November 2014, Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The champion Gotta Love It 7 skiff continued her domination of the Australian 18 Footer League’s 2014-2015 Season with another brilliant victory in Race 3 of the Club Championship on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Usual skipper Seve Jarvin and for’ard hand Sam Newton were joined in the team by James Wierzbowski for today’s race and led from shortly after the to defeat defending champion Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon, Dave O’Connor, Dave Ewings) by 38s.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney, Mark Kennedy, Peter Harris) was a further 21s back in third place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Gotta Love It 7 leads the progress pointscore on three points, followed by Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel on 7, Thurlow Fisher Lawyers 17, (Keagan York) 18, Yandoo (John Winning) and Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) each on 21 points.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The rig selection prior to the race created much interest as Gotta Love It 7, Mojo Wine (Brett Van Munster) and Pure Blonde (Nick Daly) elected to go with smaller #2 rigs while the rest of the top liners went big in the 12-15k North East wind.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
At the start, Team 7 (pin end) seemed to be buried beneath a group of bigger rigged skiffs but when the fleet tacked off Bradleys Head the flying red machine was already in the lead. Shortly after, the breeze freshened and from that point Gotta Love It 7 was always in the lead, although Thurlow Fisher Lawyers made a desperate last leg attempt to bridge the gap when the breeze changed direction and strength three times within a few minutes.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
By the first windward mark, 7 led Thurlow Fisher Lawyers by 25s, followed by Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel and Smeg (David Witt). The three leading positions remained unchanged on the spinnaker run back to Clarke Island where Pure Blonde had shown the advantage of her #2 rig to move up into fourth place.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
On the following windward leg, Gotta Love It 7 and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers elected to sail vastly different courses as ‘7’ went to the RHS of the course while Thurlow went to the north side. It made little difference as the placings remained unchanged, then Gotta Love It 7 had an amazing spinnaker run back to the bottom mark where her lead had been extended to 1m20s.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
 Mojo Wine (Brett Van Munster) narrowly grabbed third place from ‘The Rag’ at the Clarke Island mark but a near capsize shortly after allowed the black Rag skiff back in to third as the pair headed back up the third windward leg to the Beashel Buoy.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
When 7’s lead was still 50s as the fleet headed for home it was going to be an easy victory but the wind changes over the final few minutes of the race gave spectators an exciting finish to the race.

Frank Quealey

Nika Takes Oman Cup and Team Aqua Wins 2014 RC44 Tour Title

The 2014 RC44 Championship Tour has seen the 13-strong fleet compete in five events across three continents, with the finale played out this week on the Gulf of Oman. With no team able to discard the last event of the season, the podium positions were by no means secure as last day of racing got underway at the RC44 Oman Cup, in a sedate seven-knot breeze.
Going into the final day Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika, with tactician Terry Hutchinson calling the shots, sat at the top of the leader board having shown an unmatched level of consistency throughout the four days of fleet racing in Muscat. Defending Champions Team Aqua looked to have the overall Championship Tour wrapped up, but didn’t get off to the best of starts on the final day, being called over the line in the opening race, rounding the windward mark last.
Out in front Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec, rounded the windward mark first. The Russian team were trying to get back onto the podium for the overall Tour after a disappointing first three days of racing in Oman. Tactician Michele Ivaldi called a perfect race; Bronenosec extended their lead throughout to take their first win of the event. Fellow countrymen Synergy finished second followed by Peninsula Petroleum with the RC44 Oman Cup overall leaders, Team Nika finishing fourth. Team Aqua could only recover to ninth place.
With the breeze increasing, Peninsula Petroleum looked like they would lead round the windward mark in the second race of the day. They went for the tack underneath Charisma, thought better of it, instead ducking the leading trio Charisma, Artemis and Bronenosec. Nico Poon’s extended his lead throughout to take Charisma’s third win in Oman, and jump into second overall ahead of Team Aqua, who by their high standards was having a bad day, finishing fifth and falling to third overall.
Team Nika had already secured the RC44 Oman Cup with a race to spare, the fight for the remaining podium positions was now on. Four-point separated Charisma in second from Aqua and Artemis, both tied on 52 point going into the final race. Nico Poon’s team didn’t start well, 10th at the top mark, but recovering to sixth by the leeward gate. Team Aqua, with Cameron Appleton calling the shots, dug deep moving up to second by the finish, Artemis one place behind. Charisma’s seventh dropped them down to third overall.
Team Nika joined the RC44 Tour in 2011, and today owner driver Vladimir Prosikhin enjoyed his first victory in the class. “It was a long journey, I wanted it badly and finally we’ve done it, it feels great. Somehow we sailed really well, everyone on board, we had great starts and everything just worked really well. It was a very enjoyable week, perfect conditions only once did we drop below the middle line which was our goal for the regatta, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Terry Hutchinson joined Team Nika half way through the 2014 season and has helped turn around the fortunes of the team: “This is the first regatta Nika has ever won; it’s awesome to be part of that. Vladimir is a really good man we’ve got a great team. We were so close in Cascais, so we weren’t going to let that happen again, the more you do this sport the more you realise everything just needs to fall in to place. Good starts, fast upwind and good boat speed we were reliable all week.”
Team Aqua successfully defended their RC44 Championship title for another year, the fourth time the team have lifted the trophy since joining the class in 2007. They didn’t make it easy for themselves though, as owner Chris Bake explained. “We certainly like making it difficult for ourselves! It went down to the last race of the last regatta, it just goes to show how competitive the fleet is and what good sailors, we were fighting pretty hard to hold on. It feels really good to win the title in this class when it is so competitive.”
John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum had struggled for consistency during the first two days in Oman, but found their form for the final half of the regatta to finish sixth, enough to be runners up for the 2014 Championship Tour.

New boys Charisma, with Tom Slingsby calling the shots, had their eye on a podium position after joining the Tour this season at the second event in Cascais, but in the end Russia’s Bronenosec had an amazing day to take the final podium position for 2014. Team Nika will be looking to make sure their feet are cemented to the podium next year, after a strong second half of the season pulled them up to fifth overall.

With the 2014 sealed all eyes are on next year. The 2015 RC44 Championship Tour will start in Valletta, Malta, City of the Knights, before making its debut in Porto Cervo, then heading back to a couple of the classes old favourites; Marstrand, Sweden and Cascais, Portugal. The finale for the year will see the class back in the Caribbean for some winter sun at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda.

RC44 Oman Cup Overall Ranking (after 12 races)

1. Team Nika
3 1 2 6 2 4 4 1 3 4 3 6 – 39
2. Team Aqua
4 3 7 2 8 1 3 6 1 9 6 2 (2)- 54
3. Charisma
1 5 5 9 1 2 6 3 7 8 1 7 – 55
4. Artemis Racing
5 4 8 1 4 7 7 2 5 5 4 3 – 55
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team
9 2 3 4 7 3 5 5 9 2 7 8 – 64
6.Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team
10 9 1 10 6 8 1 4 4 3 9 1 – 66
7. Katusha
2 6 4 5 3 6 2 9 6 7 10 9 – 69
8. Bronenosec Sailing Team
6 10 9 3 10 10 10 8 2 1 2 4 (2) – 77
9. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge
7 8 6 8 5 9 8 5RDG 11DNS 10 5 5 – 87
10. Aleph Racing
8 7 10 7 9 5 9 7 8 6 8 10 – 94

RC44 Media

Day 4 Fleet Racing Highlights - RC44 Oman Cup

World on Water Nov 23 14 Global Sailing News. It's Bermuda?, Volvo Leg 2...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Action Is Heating Up - RC44 Oman Cup

The 10 competing teams at the RC44 Oman Cup enjoyed a great sailing day on the Gulf of Oman for the penultimate day of the 2014 Championship Tour. Racing started in a seven-knot north-westerly breeze which built steadily throughout the day. Team Nika continued their great form, extending their lead in the overall standings, adding another race win to their scoreline, Team Aqua stay second with Charisma hanging onto third.
Photo: © Martinez
Peninsula Petroleum nailed the pin end of the line in the opening race of the day, stayed left and led at the first mark. Katusha made a safe start in the middle of the line, ducked Peninsula Petroleum coming into the top mark to round second, with Nika and Aqua just behind. A big left shift made the run a one way track, but Team Aqua soaked down and snuck past Nika at the leeward gate. John Bassadone’s team sailed a perfect race to take their second win.
Photo: © Martinez
With such tight racing collisions are not unusual in the RC44 fleet. Coming into the offset mark at top of the course, Bronenesec didn’t give enough water for Artemis Racing and Gazprom Youth, the result – a three boat collision. Artemis had to replace their bow between races. Damage to Gazprom Youth’s transom took them out of racing for the rest of the day. Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec were penalised, with two penalty points for the incident.
Photo: © Martinez
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua had made it up to second overall on equal points with Katusha after seven races and were eager to get started again. Both teams were called over the line in race eight, having to restart. Nika, Artemis and Peninsula Petroleum started at the pin end of the line and headed up the favoured left hand side of the course. The trio rounded the windward mark ahead of the fleet. Nika and Artemis held their places until the finish, Nico Poon’s Charisma pulling themselves up through the fleet to finish third, just ahead of Peninsula Petroleum.
Photo: © Martinez
The final race of the day gave some great sailing conditions as the wind increased to 14 knots. Aqua made a safe start in the middle of the line, played the shifts and led Bronenosec by the smallest of margin at the top mark. Peninsula Petroleum was up in the top three again.
Photo: © Martinez
Team Aqua kept out of trouble and sailed away from the fleet to take the win, Bronenosec second, with Team Nika third, owner Vladimir Prosikhin described the race; “The best race I’ve ever sailed, it was a very good recovery, very hard work and we did everything perfect,” to take third.
Photo: © Martinez
“Nika have had an unbelievable regatta, they¹ve been very constant and very strong all week, they should be proud of what they have done. We¹ve got our work cut out tomorrow to close the nine point gap, I¹m not sure if we can or not but we will give it our best shot,” Team Aqua owner Chris Bake said
Photo: © Martinez
In the overall standings, Team Nika has a nine-point lead over second placed Team Aqua. Charisma are four-points off Team Aqua, second to fifth split by just eight-points. With no discard and three races expected to be sailed tomorrow, there are no guaranteed spots on the podium as yet.
Photo: © Martinez
RC44 Oman Cup Overall Ranking (after nine races)

1. Team Nika
3 1 2 6 2 4 4 1 3 – 26
2. Team Aqua
4 3 7 2 8 1 3 6 1 – 35
3. Charisma
1 5 5 9 1 2 6 3 7 – 39
4. Artemis Racing
5 4 8 1 4 7 7 2 5 – 43
5. Katusha
2 6 4 5 3 6 2 9 6 – 43
6.Synergy Russian Sailing Team
9 2 3 4 7 3 5 5 9 – 47
7. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team
10 9 1 10 6 8 1 4 4 – 53
8. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge
7 8 6 8 5 9 8 5RDG 11DNS – 67
9. Bronenosec Sailing Team
6 10 9 3 10 10 10 8 2 (2) – 70
10. Aleph Racing
8 7 10 7 9 5 9 7 8 – 70

RC44 Media

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 2 Fleet Racing Highlights - RC44 Oman Cup 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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: ©
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: ©
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: ©
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: ©
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: ©
"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: ©
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