Monday, July 26, 2010

RC 44 Season Championship resumes tomorrow off Valencia

11 boats set to contest match and fleet racing events
VALENCIA, Spain (26 July 2010) – Featuring 11 crews ready to battle in match and fleet race disciplines, the RC 44 2010 Season Championship resumes here tomorrow on the Mediterranean Sea.

Pieter Heerema of The Netherlands leads his No Way Back crew into action atop the season standings. Last year’s season champs have amassed the low score of 8 points on finishes of 3-3-2, but Heerema sees trouble on the horizon.

“We’ve been consistent, but this isn’t the moment to talk about the standings,” said Heerema, a veteran sailor of dinghies and keelboats. “After this regatta each team gets to discard its worst finish, so the standings will change.”

Three points in arrears is the Russell Coutts-led BMW ORACLE Racing crew aboard Deal Breaker. Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis holds third place with 12 points, followed by Chris Bake’s Team Aqua with 14 points and Harm Mueller-Speer’s Team Sea Dubai in fifth place with 16 points.

“They’ve been very consistent,” said Team Aqua professional helmsman Cameron Appleton of New Zealand. “Pieter has put in a lot of time and effort and it’s paid off. They’re a strong unit.”

Other competitors in the event include Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref of Slovenia, BMW ORACLE Racing’s Boat 17 led by skipper James Spithill, Guennadi Timtchenko’s Katusha of Russia, Daniel Calero’s Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and René Mangold’s AEZ RC44 Sailing Team of Austria.

The class is also pleased to welcome back Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. One of the original boats in the class, Mascalzone Latino will be racing its first event of the season.

“It’s an exciting boat and concept,” said Heerema. “For the high-tech level, it’s not an expensive boat.”

Typical of RC44 events, the Valencia Cup is structured in two parts. The first part on Tuesday and Wednesday features match racing where the pro sailors are on the helm. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are scheduled fleet race days where the amateur owner-drivers are on the helm.

The conditions are promising for a lively regatta. Valencia’s hot summer, with temperatures averaging around 90 degrees, help a strong east/southeasterly sea breeze up to 15 knots develop by mid-afternoon, challenging both pro and amateur sailors alike.

“The class has a high but social level,” said Cameron Appleton, the match-race helmsman for Team Aqua. “The level of sailing is very high, but the umpires help leave it all on the water. There are no protests when we get ashore, and everyone can share a drink and talk about the day.”

“This class is the best thing going,” said Jeff Brock, a crew member aboard Team Aqua who has raced professionally for nearly 20 years. “Every time I step on these boats I think this is the way it’s supposed to be. They’re responsive to subtle changes, and as a crew you can throw them around the race track.”

(After three of six regattas)

1. No Way Back/Pieter Heerema (NED) 3-3-2 – 8 points
2. BMW ORACLE Racing/Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts (USA) 9-1-1 – 11
3. Artemis/Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) 2-7-3 – 12
4. Team Aqua/Chris Bake (UAE) 1-9-4 – 14
5. Team Sea Dubai/Harm Mueller-Speer (UAE) 5-4-7 – 16
6. Ceeref/Igor Lah (SLO) 4-5-8 – 17
7. 17/James Spithill (USA) 11-2-5 – 18
8. Katusha/Guennadi Timtchenko (RUS) 6-8-6 – 20
9. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero/Daniel Calero (ESP) 8-6-9 – 23
10. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team/René Mangold (AUT) 7-10-10 – 27

Photo: Copyright Ignacio Baixauli / RC44 Class - BMW ORACLE Racing sails into the Darsena in Valencia this afternoon.