Flat water, blue skies and 6-12 knots of wind welcomed the 14 teams competing at the first day of the Adris RC44 Cup in Rovinj, Croatia. The penultimate event of the RC44 Championship Tour kicked off as ever with a day of match racing, a chance for the pro’s to steer or the owners to pit themselves against some of sailing’s top match racers.
Although on the surface the conditions looked serene, the low gradient fighting the sea breeze, made for very shifty tricky conditions and a race course where you really didn’t want to split from your opponents.
At this morning’s press conference Coutts was quoted as saying “The best thing about the class is the sailors and the owners are having fun, but it’s more fun if you’re up the front!” After eight flights today Russell Coutts and Stuart Hebb on Oracle Racing (USA) were the team who had the best day on the water. They finished with five wins and just one loss to series leaders Team Aqua (GBR).
The only other team to finish the day with five wins was Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika (RUS) with Croatia’s Tomislav Basic at the helm. When they stepped ashore they were pleased with their performance, suffering just one loss to ORACLE Racing, however the team were later docked 1.5 points for incidents with ORACLE Racing and Katusha.
Finishing the day with four wins and two two losses were Team Aqua, Team CEEREF and France’s Aleph Sailing Team. Paul Cayard and the Katusha crew (RUS) also came off the water having won four races, only to also be given a penalty point for the incident with Nika.
One team whose results didn’t show the performance they had put in today was Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, who was dogged with bad luck. Whilst leading both their matches with ORACLE Racing and Katusha they spectacularly shredded two spinnakers!
Two new professional skippers joined the RC44 Championship Tour in Croatia and faced their RC44 match race initiation. Italy’s Paolo Cian stepped onto Peninsula Petroleum, calling the shots for owner John Bassadone. Cian is a man with match racing credentials that are too long to list, but his experience helped Peninsula Petroleum finish the day with three wins and two losses.
The sole female professional skipper in the RC44 fleet is Ekaterina Skudina has joined the RUS 7 Sail Racing Team as the tactician for Croatia, taking time out of her Olympic campaign. Ekaterina has represented Russia at the past two Olympic Games in the Yngling. She is currently campaigning in the Elliot 6.5m for next year’s London 2012 Olympics and is ranked number six in the world women's match race rankings.
On the overall match race standings with just one event to go, Team Aqua still top the leader-board with 19 wins so far this season. ORACLE Racing move ahead of Team CEEREF, both with 16 wins apiece. The 2011 RC44 Match Race Champion will be decided in at the final Tour event of the year in Lanzarote.
Thursday 28th September marks the start of the fleet racing phase of the Adris RC44 Cup. Four days of fleet racing kicks off at 11.30 CET.
Quotes of the day:
Ekaterina Skudina – Tactician, RUS 7 Sail Racing Team
This is my first race on the RC44, but also it is my first race on a boat this big! It was really exciting the manoeuvres are a lot slower than I'm used to so it took a while this morning for me to get used to the feeling for the boat and when to tack, but for me it is a really good experience and it will help me for my Olympic preparation. Being the only girl is not so easy but in Russia the RC44's are very popular and they have a future there so I'm going to have to learn pretty quickly I think!
Cameron Appleton- match race helm and tactician, Team Aqua
It was quite challenging today, it was quite tricky out there and the guys did a great job. We tried to pick every opportunity we could and we just let ourselves down on a couple of occasions, but we had a great last race with Russell and managed to give him a penalty on the beat and with one lap he couldn't shake it.
Chris (Bake)hasn't been here this week so it’s going to be really challenging for him but what it proved today is that it’s going to be a tough week fleet racing. Today we only had to worry about one other boat and now we have to worry about 13 so I don't know how it’s going to unfold but I think it’s going to be a challenging week.
Russell Coutts - match race helm and tactician, ORACLE Racing
Today went well but in the last race against Aqua we were basically just a bit out of practice, we should have drove them down a bit more and it would have been race over. I'm looking forward to the fleet racing tomorrow and getting all the other boats involved.
John Bassadone - Owner – Peninsula Petroleum
I missed the last event (due to the birth of his daughter) but I arrived this morning jumped on the boat and it feels good to be back here. The experience we have had with Paolo has literally just been three hours long as his place was only confirmed quite recently and its worked out very well. You can already see in today’s results that we had a positive day and were all looking forward to racing tomorrow in the fleet.
Vladimir Prosikhin- Owner – Team Nika
It was a great day and a very good feeling, unfortunately we were penalised, the first race we got half a point because we touched the boat and then we made one painful mistake with ORACLE when we could have won. The guys needed some confidence and of course Tomislav is a great match racer. We are becoming a good fast boat so hopefully we can win some fleet races.
Paul Cayard - match race helm and tactician, Katusha
We had a mixed day today; we had some good races where we beating Aqua notably, unfortunately we lost out to ORACLE on the last run. This morning we had a bad situation with Nika which we were penalised for and really didn't feel that it was appropriate so it could have been better.
It’s really nice for me to be back here in Rovinj as I raced here in two events in 89 and 90 and I haven't been here since then, the town is still really beautiful and the little fish restaurants are charming and the hotels are lovely so I'm happy to be here and looking forward to the next few days.