Friday, February 26, 2010

Artemis masters the wind of the desert and closes in on Team Aqua

Photo: Copyright Nico Martinez / RC 44 – A great start for Artemis during today’s last regatta, whilst team Aqua struggles at the Committee end of the line.
Chris Bake and his Team Aqua still lead the fleet race ranking of the Al Maktoum Sailing Trophy RC 44; however Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis is now only two points behind ahead of the last day. Igor Lah’s Ceeref isn’t far either, currently third overall and eight points behind. The last day will be intense!

February 26, 2010 – It was another very interesting day off Dubai, with a very hot wind blowing up to 25 knots and the sky covered with sand and dust from the desert. Torbjorn Tornqvist and his team enjoyed those tough conditions: they got the best results today with a second, a third and a first place and are now only two points away from the leader Team Aqua.

The first regatta of the day was the closest one, with the top five boats crossing the arrival line in less than fifteen seconds. Leading during most of the regatta, Team Aqua had to avoid Katusha – who broached brutally in front of them – at the windward mark, by crash-tacking and heading to the less favoured right hand side of the course. Ceeref, Artemis and No Way Back benefited from this incident to take the lead and cross the arrival line in this order. “We were not far from seeing two RC 44’s sink", explained Chris Bake at the end of the day. “It was a really close one and we were all quite shaked by this incident!"

Team Aqua recovered well during the second regatta of the day, sailing to the left of the course before tacking at the first big left shift and extending its lead throughout the race. The second beat saw a different – and rare – scenario, with Team Sea Dubai recovering from a fairly big deficit by sailing on their own to the right and climbing up to the second place, just ahead of Artemis.

The third race gave Torbjorn Tornqvist the opportunity to close in on Team Aqua. Artemis took an excellent start whilst his main opponent struggled at the Race Committee end of the line, suffering during the beat as the wind was slowly shifting left. The boats then started heading for the windward mark, tacking one after the other over Team Aqua. “That’s the game", commented Bake. “I would have done the same." As a consequence, Artemis, Katusha and Team Austria started extending their lead, finally crossing the arrival line in this order after a fabulous fight. “I just can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed today", said Torbjorn Tornqvist a few minutes later. “Those boats are really something special in those conditions. It’s just fantastic."

Three to four more races are scheduled tomorrow weather permitting it. A bad storm is announced over Dubai tonight, and even rain is expected. A rarity in Dubai!

The results so far show that all the teams have managed to finish races in the top five whilst seven of them have achieved top threes. As for the leaders, their worse result is a sixth for Team Aqua and a fifth for Artemis. Last but not least, four different teams have managed to win races. The consistency in the top five definitely seems to be the key to victory!

They said:

Torbjorn Tornqvist, helmsman, Artemis: “The wind was strong but we were within the limits of this boat and I never worried. We had no failures and could concentrate entirely on our racing."

Chris Bake, helmsman, Team Aqua: “We had a very good day and we sailed well. However, there were some little details that cost us a lot."

Bob Little, helmsman, Katusha: “The level is very high and it is tough for me. I have made several mistakes that have cost us a lot. But it got better in our last race. It’s the first time I steer this boat with so much wind, so I need to adapt. Luckily the team was great and they helped me a lot."

Raimondo Tonelli, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “I usually steer foiling Moths and I am a bowman on bigger boats, so it isn’t easy for me here, especially with this wind: the competition is very tough. But it is great and I enjoy it a lot. I am impressed how precise and sensitive the helm is."

Fleet race, provisional results after seven races:

(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)

1) Team Aqua (Chris Bake), 1, 2, 1, 2, 4, 1, 6 – 17 points
2) Artemis (Torbjorn Tornqvist), 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 1 - 19 points
3) CEEREF (Igor Lah), 2, 7, 3, 3, 1, 5, 4 - 25 points
4) Team No Way Back (Pieter Heerema), 4, 1, 7, 7, 3, 4, 5 - 31 points
5) Katusha (Bob Little), 5, 5, 2, 8, 8, 7, 2 - 37 points
6) Team Sea Dubai (Raimondo Tonelli), 6, 6, 8, 4, 6, 2, 7 - 39 points
7) Team Austria (René Mangold), 8, 3, 9, 5, 9, 8, 3 - 45 points
8) Team Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (Daniel Calero), 7, 8, 4, 9, 5, 6, 9 - 50 points
9) BMW ORACLE Racing (Mike Perris), 9, 9, 6, 6, 7, 9, 8 - 52 points