May 30 2012
Synergy stay on top
Best tactics for sailing on a lake surrounded by snow topped mountains “follow Markus Weiser” was Synergy’s tactician Ed Baird’s answer in this morning’s press conference. However there was no following to be done by the Russian team who lost just one race to No Way Back, and that was down to a ripped spinnaker.
It is the fifth year the RC44 class have visited Lake Traunsee. The fleet seem to relish the challenge of conquering the lake, and today was certainly a challenge as the wind shifted 90 degrees, changing in velocity from 5-12 knots regularly. But on the one day of match racing at the RC44 Austria Cup, it was not only your opponent you needed to look out for as Ed Baird (USA) explained. “The competition is fantastic but here there is another competitor and that is the lake, the lake really decides a lot of what happens in the matches, you can get very far ahead, sail out of the wind and then it fills from the other side and they can pass you. You’re not just fighting the other boats, it’s a tricky lake.”
No one managed to finished the day undefeated, the French Aleph Sailing Team with Mathieu Richard at the helm came closest, winning their first four flights – including a crucial win against Team Aqua – only to lose the final match of the day to Peninsula Petroleum.
It was enough to move Aleph up to second in the overall match race ranking after three events. Mathieu Richard enjoyed his second visit to Lake Traunsee. “It was a very good day for us beating some strong teams like Artemis and Team Aqua. It very tricky sailing, sometimes you have a consistent wind but it doesn’t stay for long, maybe only five minutes and then it changes, so it means you need some luck on your side for sure and have to look everywhere to catch the good wind shifts, it’s very tough racing.”
Team Aqua (GBR) and Artemis Racing (SWE) were the other two teams to lose just one race, moving them both up the overall RC44 match race rankings. Although the conditions were tough, Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton (NZL) wasn’t attributing anything to a unlucky shift. “At the end of the day there was still the match racing fundamentals that came into play today, the difference between one extra win for us was a bad start, Mathieu (Aleph) managed to time it perfectly and we didn’t so and they were able to extend the lead but overall we are happy, the guys did a great job, we sailed well and achieved our goals.”
Second overall coming into Austria, just two points off the leader, was Team Katusha (RUS). Brad Butterworth was back on-board swapping with his old sailing partner Russell Coutts. Their day didn’t go exactly to plan, losing to Team Aqua, No Way Back and CEEREF. They drop back to fourth in the overall match race rankings.
Thursday see’s the start of the fleet racing phase of the as the RC44 Championship as the Tour enters its halfway stage. Oracle Racing took the win last year in Lake Traunsee, Austria, Team Aqua were second in their newly christened boat and Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby helped Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back into third. Follow the action to see who will come put on top in 2012 on the live blog at www.rc44.com , racing continues through to Sunday 3rd Jun
May 31, 2012
Three seasons in one day
Lake Traunsee, Austria threw everything at the RC44 fleet today for the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Austria Cup. The day started with a glassy lake that delayed proceeding. A light westerly breeze emerged and the 12 competing boats were sent afloat, only for the breeze to shut off just as the fleet arrived. After a drift in the sun the skies suddenly darkened and 25 knots of breeze filled the lake with white horses.
Just after 14:00 the first race got underway in a perfect 13-15 knots. Everyone seemed to want to head into the shoreline, it was Katusha (RUS) who won the pin-end of the line and seemed to get the longest lift ever before having to call for water on CEEREF and the fleet packed above. Only Aleph (FRA) and Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) had headed right into the lake, and at the first top mark it was Steve Howe steering Katusha with Brad Butterworth calling the shots who rounding just ahead of the Slovenian Team CEEREF.
Katusha hugged the coast line again down the first run to maintain their lead at the leeward gate, but there was more wind in the middle of the lake and out nowhere came the Dutch No Way Back, who finished third in Lake Traunsee last year, and the new Italian team AFX Capital who rounded third and fourth respectively.
Katusha headed back inshore, but it was No Way Back and Synergy who seemed to get the best from the lake, both gaining places on each leg to finish first and second in race one.
Race two swiftly followed, Katusha were on a charge once again picking a nice lane in the middle of the pack. They rounded the windward mark ahead again and maintained their lead until the last gybe into the leeward gate when their spinnaker spectacularly exploded.
It was Vladimir Prosikhin’s turn to take charge; the team from Russia rounded the leeward gate and looked in control before the wind did a 180 shift on the final beat. AFX Capital had to hoist their kite to make the mark, but it was the home team, AEZ, who made it round the top mark first and continued to beat to the finish line. The Austrian team finished just ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist and the Swedish Artemis Racing with Igor Lah’s CEEREF taking third.
As the thunder and lightning struck and the rain poured, the fleet headed ashore. The home team were sitting at the top of the leaderboard, one-point ahead of the Slovenian Team CEEREF.
For AEZ’s owner and helmsman Rene Mangold it was an excellent end to a very tricky day. “The second race was tough; the wind kept changing on the last leg. You always have to watch the clouds here to try and predict what’s going to happen. We saw it coming on the last upwind under the big black clouds. The two boats ahead hoisted their kites and we saw that the breeze coming was good for us rather than them. The feeling on-board when we rounded the mark in front of everyone was very good, I was very nervous it was a lot of pressure to stay ahead. I hope we can continue.”
What the lake will throw at the fleet tomorrow is anyone’s guess but the last word has to go to race officer Peter Reggio who’s analysis of the day was “For years I felt this lake was trying to kill me but today it was just trying to make me look really stupid.”
Racing continues Friday at 11.30 (CET) through to Sunday 3rd June. Following the racing on the live blog at www.rc44.com
Quotes from the day
Markus Wieser (GER) tactician, AEZ RC44 Team (AUT)
For the guys on the boat it’s a big deal to do well here, we came out and sailed well, we were lucky in the second race with the big wind shift, but we were in the top of the fleet the whole race, we just had to play the wind shifts to get a good results. We had a lot of luck today too but we sailed well, much better than yesterday.
There was a big thunderstorm come through at lunchtime and the breeze went up to nearly thirty knots so we had a delay until it passed and went down to under twenty knots and Peter was able to start the racing. We had a really nice first race between 13-15 knots and in the second race it dropped down to 10 – 14 knots until the rain came through were the breeze turned 180° and after that the wind was a messy 5 knots and tailing off.
Michele Ivaldi (ITA) tactician, Team CEEREF (SLO)
It was a very tricky day, on the edge of being unpredictable especially in the last race when the wind basically shut down and filled in from the other side. We just had to race head down and work hard with what we had to get the most out of the boat. All the guys onboard did a fantastic job they kept the boat going fast all around the track and we were spot on in all of the manoeuvres, with a bit of luck today was our day.
Brad Butterworth (NZL) tactician, Katusha
Today was the same for everybody, its vey random and there’s a lot of luck involved with sailing here. It makes it difficult but i think we sailed very well today, Steve is helming the boat and so he’s been a pleasure to sail with, he steers the boat incredibly well and got two brilliant starts to lead around both top marks and then were a little bit unfortunate, we broke a shoot in the second race as we were going for the lead at the bottom mark, most of the fleet went around us there and we got a penalty which just compounded on it, then the beat turned in to a run and the run turned in to a beat so we got everything.
Last edited by mpowlison; 06-01-2012 at 03:42 PM.
Artemis soars into the lead
If yesterday the RC44 Austria Cup’s star performer was the local crew on Rene Mangold’s AEZ RC 44 Team, today’s second round of fleet racing belonged to Torbjorn Tornqvist and the crew of Artemis.
Racing started on time at 1130 local, with 8-10 knots funnelling up snowy peak-lined Lake Traunsee from the south. This held long enough for Principle Race Officer Peter Reggio to bang off three races, before a giant wind shift established the wind in the west. A fourth race was later started but stopped half way up the first beat as the wind disappeared.
In race one today, Massimo Barranco’s Italian team on AFX Capital Racing Team led around the top mark, but on the first run there was a dramatic turnaround as Artemis split from the leaders choosing a course nearer the shore and, benefitting from both improved shift and pressure, soared from seventh place into first, rounding the leeward gate 10 boat lengths ahead of second placed AFX. From here, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s team extended leaving Vladimir Prosikhin’s Nika, John Bassadone’s Gibraltar team on Peninsula Petroleum and AFX, to fight it out for second, eventually finishing in that order.
Artemis tactician Morgan Larsen admitted that they had got a little lucky. “It came and went – the deciding part was when we took a little risk and got away from the group. The shift went our way, but it was a 50-50 toss-up – it just seemed that getting away from the other boats was valuable.”
In race two, Artemis’ victory was decidedly less clear-cut. She didn’t get the best start and at the first weather mark rounding, Nika was first, ahead of Hughes Lepic’s Aleph Sailing Team and Igor Lah’s Ceeref, the Swedish team again in the fleet’s bottom half. The Italians on AFX made the best of the run to take the lead ahead of Ceeref and Nika. Artemis picked up places on the second beat and was in third at the second top mark rounding, but it was close. The final run was a dramatic surf-fest, the boats on the edge and flying.
As tactician Morgan Larsen described it: “Just at the finish we got one little right shift and Torbjorn [Tornqvist] got the boat on the plane, when it was marginal planing conditions, and we got an extra 3 knots of speed.” Artemis nosed ahead of AFX to take her second consecutive victory.
Tornqvist later paid tribute to his tactician: “Morgan did a fantastic job calling the wind shifts which were quite substantial. With the big shifts it was about positioning and he is very good at that and it paid off today.”
In the third race, Nika got off to a perfect start at the pin and then led the boats short tacking up the shore line to round the top mark with a three to four boatlength advantage over the Steve Howe-helmed Katusha, making it a Russian 1-2. Vladimar Prosikhin’s team extended down the run, but were caught on the next beat by Katusha, the two boats holding a huge margin over those chasing. On this occasion, Prosikhin and his crew were more fortunate than their Italian rivals had been in the previous race and fended off Katusha to take the win.
“We are very happy about that,” said Prosikhin, who is marking his first anniversary in the RC44 class at this regatta. “After Katusha caught us it was just a game to stay ahead and be patient and not to make any sharp moves. Thankfully it was okay and we succeeded. Here you can lose, because if the wind dies the boats behind can pass you. This year the weather is completely crazy. Still the better boats go well.”
As opposed to their performance yesterday, Prosikhin, who heralds from St Petersburg, Russia, said in today’s third race they made “virtually no mistakes”.
Having led overall at the end of racing yesterday, the local heroes on the Austrian AEZ RC44 Team have dropped to sixth after a disappointing 10-7-7 today, not helped by their first race when they were over early and then penalised at the top mark rounding for deploying their bowsprit too early. Skipper René Mangold explained: “The wind was shifting a lot and sometimes we had luck and sometimes not and in the end we were in the middle of the fleet. Every day starts from zero. Yesterday we had a good day and today it was Artemis’ turn and tomorrow maybe it will be another team.”
Despite their results, there were huge cheers from the AEZ team’s fans on the spectator craft whenever they crossed the finish line.
After a strong start to the day, pulling up to fourth after today’s second race, John Bassadore’s crew on Peninsula Petroleum have dropped to eighth after coming home 10th in the final race.
Tactician Vasco Vascotto explained: “The last race of yesterday and the last race of today were a nightmare for us because we were in very good shape – in fourth and fourth – and then we finished ninth and tenth just when the rain came on to the course. It is a little frustrating, but we need to realise that this is a lake and maybe in the future maybe we’ll be a little more lucky.”
Tomorrow the organisers are once again trying to get three races in with the first warning signal scheduled for 11.30 local time (09.30 UTC).
Follow the action as it unfolds tomorrow on the live blog at www.rc44.com. Racing continues until Sunday 3rd June.
June 3, 2012
Local heroes claim final day, but Artemis wins outright
There was a complete change of season on Lake Traunsee today for the final race of the RC44 Austria Cup, the intermittent rain and unseasonal cold giving way to sunshine. But this came at the expense of wind. After a long wait, finally a sea breeze filled in from the north (opposite of the last two days), allowing the RC44s to rally on the start line for a gun at 1500 (local), the latest allowed under the Sailing Instructions.
Keen to please the home crowd, René Mangold’s AEZ RC44 Team was first out on to the water as spectator craft swarmed around the Austrian boat with her alloy car wheel manufacturer sponsor. Clearly this time on the water helped the home team. They pulled into the lead up the first beat and despite many opportunities to lose it, clung on to take their second win of the event much to the delight of local fans.
Markus Weiser, the Austrian team’s German tactician and a renowned lake specialist, explained: “We had a really good start at the committee boat and had a clear lane to take us to the shore on the right. We just played the first upwind well and had a nice lead of seven boat lengths at the first upwind mark.” Downwind Weiser said it was a case of playing the shifts. “Today we just caught the shifts right – it’s much easier when you’re ahead.”
With Chris Bake’s Team Aqua finishing third, today’s win was enough to propel AEZ RC44 Team up to third place overall: a proud moment for skipper/owner René Mangold, being the first time he has reached on the podium during his long tenure in the RC44 class, and happening in front of a home crowd.
“It’s a really good feeling – we’re so satisfied,” Mangold said. “Our project started when the first event started here. It’s great to have all the other teams here, but it is more important for us to have a home team and with this success – leading on the first day, then a crash on the second and then to win the last race – it’s a great moment. In the five years we have been here, three times we have been last, one year we were second from last and now we are on the podium! It’s really good.”
Today the tacticians were put to the test more than ever. While the Austrians did well by the shore, the French Aleph Sailing Team, with leading match racer Mathieu Richard calling the shots, put in their strongest start of the regatta and did well on the left side, falling into second place as she converged with those on the starboard layline into the top mark. Unfortunately this was not to last. The decision to gybe set after rounding the top mark, taking them into the shore, proved costly and from second they plummeted to second last at the leeward gate. Meanwhile the opposite was true for the Italians on Massimo Barranco’s AFX Capital Racing Team who rounded the top mark second last pulling up to fifth on the run by staying offshore.
Meanwhile Artemis sailed a very different race. Starting today with a commanding 11 point lead, they had the RC44’s Austria Cup almost sealed, but not quite. For Torbjorn Tornqvist’s team, it was a case of keeping their noses clean.
“We knew there was only going to be one race and as long as we weren’t last and didn’t foul someone and get a contact penalty point, we were going to be fine,” explained Artemis tactician Morgan Larson. “But then Luigi [PRO Peter Reggio] put the black flag up which threw another curved ball in there, because an OCS with a black flag is 13 points and we were 11 points clear…”
Coming home eighth was enough to secure the Swedish team overall victory at the RC44 Austria Cup by nine points. Although they won the RC44 World Championship in 2011, this was Artemis’ first circuit event win since 2009.
“It was practically impossible to lose it today, so maybe we were a little bit unfocused – we were just being very careful not to be over the line and we were a bit too courteous perhaps!” said an elated Tornqvist. “I think we were quite lucky to win by such a large margin – it feels good. Traunsee is not somewhere you just come and do well, you have to sail here a couple of times to know how the shifts work so I think Morgan’s experience and knowledge of the lake, coming back this year, has really helped. We have good team work and good boat speed.”
In the overall season championship after three events , Chris Bake’s Team Aqua continues to lead having ended up fourth here in Austria, while Artemis is now three points astern in second.
“It has been real challenging,” said Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton. “The guys have been doing a great job, but on the tactical/positioning side it has been super hard. One puff here and there can be the difference between if you make a cross or you don’t. After that your race will unfold.”
Valentin Zavadnikov, co-owner of Synergy Russian Sailing Team, was pleased that they remain in the lead of the match racing, assisted by their America’s Cup winning, former Match Racing World Champion tactician, Ed Baird. “It is a nice place first of all here and a nice place for us. We started very well with the match racing and we know this place, we were here last year, although it is a bit colder here this year. Three days ago I had ALL my clothes on! But first place in the match race is a great result for us. We did three weeks of training in the Canary Islands – and now we are first. It is not too bad.”
Next up for the RC44s, over 18-22 July, is the event in Marstrand, Sweden on Torbjorn Tornqvist’s home waters. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “This year we will visit at the height of the season, so I think it will be spectacular, with thousands of people watching.”
Russian's Rule in Sweden
Marstrand, Sweden 18th July 2012 – The penultimate event of the RC44 Championship Tour kicked off in Marstrand, Sweden under blue skies for the match racing phase of the RC44 Sweden Cup.
With the south entrance to Marstand pretty lumpy, the fleet headed north for some flatter water. The day started in 16-17 knots from the north-west. Some pretty big shifts came through in the first four flights before the wind started to drop slightly and with it the fleet switched to their big jibs to have some punch through the choppy sea.
The day belonged to two of the four Russian team’s competing in this year’s Tour. Synergy Russian Sailing Team has been sat at the top of the match race rankings since the second event in Cascais. Team Nika’s fortunes have been mixed this season, in Austria they failed to win a match, but in Sweden they shone, both teams finishing the day with five wins and two losses.
Synergy had started the day with a two-point lead over the French Aleph Sailing Team in the overall Tour match race standings. They won their first three matches against Katusha with Andy Horton at the helm, then Peninsula Petroleum, Russell Coutts back in the RC44 fleet calling the shots for owner John Bassadone and Italy’s AFX Capital, still in their first RC44 season and owner Massimo Barranco at the helm.
Next up to take on the mighty Synergy was Aleph Sailing Team. With Mathieu Richard at the wheel, the French team started to windward, held their lane and picked a long layline into the windward mark. Synergy was forced to follow them in and the French team were in control, a position they maintained it to the finish.
Ed Baird explained their day: “Every time I looked around it seemed that there was a different team excelling. It was pretty tricky, early on the wind was really solid and then it started to come down and get a little flaky, so choosing which side was going to be best was not easy. We just tried to get strong starts go as fast as we could and hope that it didn’t matter where we went. Obviously we lost a couple, Nika and the Aleph guys were on the right side of the first shift and that was that.”
Team Nika have shown some great promise since joining the Tour a year ago, but never seem to quite nail a whole series. Owner Vladimir Prosikhin handed the helm over to Tomislav Basic for the day and they finished the day with 5 wins and just 2 losses.
Prosikhin, who is very vocal about his love affair with the RC44 class, was elated as they were greeted with champagne on the dock for being the best performing boat of the day. “We’re really happy to win the day and we want to come back and match race here again. "We got zero points in the match racing in Austria, our lowest points, but now we’re climbing back up and we want to stay at the top.”
Going for near total Russian dominance, RUS 7 Sail Racing Team powered by anywayanyday.com were the giant killers of the day. After a slow start and losing their first three matches, they suddenly kicked into form in the fourth flight of the day beating Team Aqua, with Cameron Appleton at the wheel. They followed by taking the scalp of Peninsula Petroleum and then AFX Capital. They so nearly made it four in their match against Aleph, but the French team, who had had an inconsistent day, pulled back to take the win.
Vitaly Rozhkov (RUS), Mainsail Trimmer on RUS-7 was happy with the team’s performance, but feels they have more to show. “We’re quite happy with today but I feel the team has big potential, we are far from perfect and far from what we can be. All we need is a little more practice to be up there with the other teams. It’s good to beat Russell (Coutts) and Cameron (Appleton), but we prefer to sail focused on the other boat rather than who’s on-board, that way we don’t feel any pressure. Any team can win here. You have to be very careful, it’s very hard to win and very easy to lose."
Mixing it amongst the big names steering today was No Way Back’s owner driver Pieter Heerema. The team showed great boat speed and some punchy moves. Heerema started the day by beating Team Aqua. A penalty for a port/starboard incident in their match against Team Nika meant they just lost on the line. They bounced back to beat the home team, Artemis Racing, then Aleph. Peninsula Petroleum were next up, a close first beat saw the pair converge at the top mark, Heerema tried to squeeze in on the port layline, a move the umpires penalised by showing the team the red flag and them having to take a penalty immediately.
Owner Pieter Heerema was pragmatic about their first day of racing in Marstrand: “We took a few big risks that we didn’t really need to which cost us some penalties but overall we had a very good day. It’s always fun to beat the pros but it’s not just the helmsman it’s really more the team all together, there are eight guys on the boat and the team was just fantastic.”
The overall match racing standings remain unchanged after four events. There is just one more day of match racing in the 2012 Tour before the match racing champion is crowned. Synergy have 20 points, three points ahead of Aleph, who are just holding off Team Aqua in third.
Four days of fleet racing for the RC44 Sweden Cup starts on Thursday 18th July. With three team’s each winning an event so far this year, the 2012 Championship title is still wide open, but Team Aqua are still the team to beat. Follow the racing on the live blog or tracking on www.rc44.com.