Danish helmsman pulls ahead

17 takes the lead as fleet racing gets underway at the RC44 Valencia Cup

Friday July 30th 2010, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Spain

After wishing for more boat speed during the match racing part of the RC 44 Valencia Cup, Anders Myralf from Denmark helmed James Spithill and the 17 crew to three first place finishes today to wrest control of the fleet racing portion of the regatta.

The 17 crew won the first, third and fourth races, and placed fourth in Race 2. Their score, however, is 8 points due to a 1 point penalty imposed by the International Jury.

Second place is held by Chris Bake and Team Aqua, winners of the match racing part of this week-long event, with 14 points and a 2-3-5-4 scoreline.

Third place is held by Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis on 20 points (5-7-2-6).

“It’s incredible to come down here from Copenhagen and jump into a boat that is so organized and well sailed,” said Myralf, an amateur sailor who races aboard the Farr 40 Nanoq with the Crown Prince Henrick of Denmark. “I’ve never seen such a good crew. I’ve got the easiest job on the boat.”

The southeasterly sea breeze that marked the match racing didn’t materialize today until the fourth race, but it lacked its typical punch. Instead, the fleet sailed in mostly an easterly wind between 8 and 10 knots. Only in Race 4 did it shift to the southeast and increase to 12 knots.

The new conditions made consistency hard to achieve. Instead of trusting the right side of the racecourse, some found the left side of the course favorable. Aside from the top two, the rest of the fleet had at least one, if not two finishes out of the top five.

“We were able to stay in the top five, and in this fleet that’s saying something,” said Team Aqua's Chris Bake. “The field was fairly mixed up.”

Another marked difference from the match racing portion are the amateur helmsmen, as required by class rules. In most cases that is the owner driving the light-displacement yacht.

Completing the top five are a pair of Russians: Guennadi Timtchenko and Katusha, placed fourth with 20 points (9-1-8-3), followed by Maxim Logutenko aboard BMW Oracle Racing with Russell Coutts on 22 points (10-6-4-2).

For Timtchenko, this is just his third regatta. Ever. He’d never raced before joining the RC 44 Class, but got into it due to Tornqvist, a friend and business associate. “I raced with Torbjorn aboard one of his boats,” said the 57-year-old. “The RC 44 is the right class for me. It’s an interesting boat, fast and manoeuvrable. I make a lot of mistakes, but my crew gets me out of trouble.”

Marring an otherwise great day, 17 was penalised 1 point by the jury after a protest from Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and owner Daniel Calero.

At the start of Race 4, Puerto Calero was the windward yacht with 17 overlapped to leeward. Puerto Calero alleged that Spithill, the professional helmsman, took the helm to help push them over the line early. Puerto Calero was OCS at the start. Class rules state that the professional may take the helm only on safety grounds.

According to International Jury chairman Bill Edgerton, Spithill said in the protest hearing that he had a hand on the wheel, but only to help turn the yacht down to avoid potentially hitting Puerto Calero. “We didn’t want to have them disqualified, but we wanted to raise the issue that it is against the rules,” said Daniel Calero.

Racing resumes tomorrow with four races scheduled beginning at 1:00 pm.

RC 44 Valencia Cup
(Fleet racing provisional results)

1. 17 / Anders Myralf (USA) 1-4-1-1, 8 points*
2. Team Aqua / Chris Bake (UAE) 2-3-5-4, 14 points
3. Artemis / Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) 5-7-2-6, 20 points
4. Katusha / Guennadi Timtchenko (RUS) 9-1-8-3, 21 points
5. BMW ORACLE Racing / Maxim Logutenko (USA) 10-6-4-2, 22 points
6. No Way Back / Pieter Heerema (NED) 8-2-7-5, 22 points
7. Ceeref / Igor Lah (SLO) 6-11-3-7, 27 points
8. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero / Daniel Calero (ESP) 3-9-9-10, 31 points
9. AEZ RC44 Sailing Team / Rene Mangold (AUT) 4-10-10-8, 32 points
10. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team / Vincenzo Onorato (ITA) 11-5-6-11, 33 points
11. Team Sea Dubai / Harm Mueller-Speer (UAE) 7-8-11-9, 35 points
(* includes 1 point penalty by International Jury)

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