Monday, December 6, 2010

RC 44 class debuts in American waters off Miami Beach

Ellison, Coutts, BMW ORACLE Racing hope to secure season championship

MIAMI (6 December 2010) – In style befitting a class brimming with talent, the 2010 championship of the RC 44 Class will be decided this week at the season’s final event, the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami.

Leading the fleet after the first five events is BMW ORACLE Racing, led by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts. The crew has the low score of 8 points and leads Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back, last season’s champion, by 2 points.

Two crews are tied for third, James Spithill’s 17 and Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing, while Chris Bake’s Team Aqua holds fifth with 13 points.

With such a tight grouping and a windy forecast over the next few days the standings could well see a shuffle. A cold front that has pushed across the South Florida region brought with it cooler temperatures and strong northwesterly winds.

“We haven’t changed our setup since the previous event in the Canary Islands,” said BMW ORACLE Racing mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder of the regatta where BMW ORACLE Racing placed second overall. “We have used all our sail cards and are ready to slide back into action.”

Ray Davies, the pro helmsman and tactician for No Way Back, sees many opportunities to overtake the leader. The racecourse will be to the north of Government Cut instead of the south, which will make the predicted offshore breeze shiftier.

“It’s good that it’s all come down to the wire, it’s all on,” said Davies of New Zealand. “And with a few more boats in the class there’ll be plenty of opportunities to make up the 2 points we’re behind.”

The ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami represents the class’s first foray into U.S. waters. The fleet is the largest ever for an RC 44 event with 14 boats on the entry list including newcomer David Murphy and Ironbound.

“We have entered this fleet because it represents the highest level of competition in sailing today,” said Murphy, who has attracted an all-star crew including pro helmsman Ian Williams of Great Britain, a match racing specialist, and tactician Kevin Burnham of the U.S., a gold medalist at the 2004 Olympic Regatta in Greece.

Another American, William “Doug” Douglass, is set to helm the yacht 17 in the fleet racing portion of the regatta, which requires amateur helmsman as classified by ISAF, the world governing body for sailing.

Led by Spithill, 17 won the RC 44 World Championship in October and now Douglass, a veteran campaigner of the Farr 40 and Melges 32 one-design classes, will try his hand later this week.

“We’re looking forward to working him in the crew,” said Spithill, the skipper of 17. “The fleet is loaded.”

ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami Entry List
(Based on overall season standings)
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) Larry Ellison/Russell Coutts – 8 points
2. No Way Back (NED) Pieter Heerema/Ray Davies – 10 points
3. 17 (USA) William Douglass/Jimmy Spithill – 12 points
3. Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist/Terry Hutchinson – 12 points
5. Team Aqua (UAE) Chris Bake/Cameron Appleton – 13 points
6. Team Sea Dubai (UAE) Harm Müller-Spreer/Markus Wieser – 19 points
7. Katusha (RUS) Bob Little/Paul Cayard – 21 points
8. Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah/Rod Davis – 26 points
9. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero/Jose Maria Ponce – 34 points
10. AEZ RC 44 Sailing Team (AUT) René Mangold/Christian Binder – 38 points
11. Mascalzone Latino (ITA) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni – 43 points
12. Peninsula Petroleum (ESP) John Bassadone/Inaki Castaner – 47 points
13. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Maxim Logutenko/Evgeniy Neugodnikov – 48 points
Debutante: Ironbound (USA) David Murphy/Ian Williams
Note to media: The event's opening press conference will take place tomorrow at 5:00 PM in Miami Beach Marina, on the yacht Miami Lady