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Oracle Racing hangs in there

But Team Aqua is on the charge at the RC44's Austria Cup

Saturday May 14th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Austria

Team Aqua closed the gap on Oracle Racing today with another great show of consistent sailing from Chris Bake and his team. The top two boats are pulling away from the chasing fleet, but there was one stand out performance and that came from the Slovenian team, Ceeref.

With an early start planned for the 13 RC44 teams, they were greeted by a three hour delay. But when the AP finally came down, it proved to be some of the best conditions of the week. The steadier wind came as quite a relief to Ceeref’s owner and helmsman Igor Lah, who added just three points to their score-line. They starting the day with a second, to then go one better in race two, and take their first race win of the RC44 Austria Cup.

“There has always been something missing, but today it was perfect and we had great results. The first race start was pretty lousy but we managed to catch up, so the tactics were perfect and Michele (Ivaldi, tactician) did a great job. Then the second start was perfect, just as we wanted it and the team work on the boat was really good, so it finally paid out. We just hope to keep repeating the success, we are ready,” recounted Lah as he doused his team in some celebratory champagne. The team are now just four points off the No Way Back who remain in third place.

But it is Team Aqua, with their new boat just out of the wrapper, who are pushing Oracle Racing at the top of the leaderboard. Their second and third placing left them just four points adrift with one more day of racing on Lake Traunsee.

Chris Bake and his team finished ninth last year in Austria, a result they will not be repeating this year: “We’re just trying to keep it really clean, stay focused stay fast and out of trouble and so far thankfully we've been able to do that. This Lake is pretty merciless, its shifty and very tricky but of you’re in sync with the lake its fine and if you’re out of sync it’s really hard.”

Rene Mangold is the man behind the home team, AEZ. They have made a number of crew changes since the first event in San Diego and today had their best results, posting a sixth and seventh place.

“Wednesday was our first day sailing together and we have been having a lot of problems with the language, we used to speak German on the boat and now English. It’s the little differences that are making it hard but now it’s starting work so we are building on the speed and working on the manoeuvres and the starts, today was good for us.”

The conditions the Lake have not suited everyone, but one person who is loving it is the new boy onboard No Way Back, Australian Laser World Champion, Tom Slingsby. “Sailing in the RC44 has been great, I love the boats, the fleet is just unbelievably competitive," said Slingsby. "Lake Traunsee is excellent, I have grown up on lakes and I feel very comfortable in the shifty crazy conditions and a little less comfortable in the straight forward racing! I know it drives a lot of people crazy but I’m definitely having fun.”

It’s all to fight for at the final day of racing in Austria, you would expect Oracle Racing to keep Team Aqua well within their sights – but this is Lake Traunsee and the team’s have learnt to take nothing for granted – in Chris Bake's words - “this Lake is pretty merciless.”

Results - RC44 Austria Cup - Fleet Race (after 8 races)

1 Oracle Racing (USA) Steve Howe / Russell Coutts - 2, 2, 3, 9, 2, 1, 1, 5 - 25
2 Team Aqua (GBR) Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton - 8, 1, 8, 1, 4, 2, 3, 2 - 29
3 No Way Back (NED) Peiter Heerema /Tom Slingsby - 1, 3, 12, 3, 1, 9, 8, 3 -40
4 Team Ceeref (SLO) Igor Lah / Michele Ivaldi - 7, 7, 11, 9, 3, 4, 2, 1 - 44
5 Katusha (RUS) Gennady Timchenko / Paul Cayard - 3, 4, 6,, 9, 8, 7, 9, 6 - 52
6 Aleph Sailing Team (FRA) Hugues Lepic / Mathieu Richard - 11, 13, 5, 5, 6, 3, 4, 8 -55
7 Ironbound (USA) David Murphy / Peter Evans - 6, 8, 4, 2, 12, 6, 11, 9 - 58
8 Peninsula Petroluem (GBR) John Bassadone / Inaki Castaner- 9, 6, 2, 9, 11, 12, 5, 11 - 65
9 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) Daniel Calero /Jose Ponce - 4, 10, 13, 9, 5, 10, 10, 4 - 65
10 Artemis (SWE) Torbjorn Tornqvist / Morgan Larson - 13, 9, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 13 - 68
11 Team Nika (RUS) Vladimir Prosikhin / Tomislav Basic - 10, 5, 1, 9, 13, 11,12, 10 - 71
12 Synergy (RUS) Zavadnikov Valentin / Peter Holmberg - 5, 11, 10, 4, 10, 8, 13, 12 - 73
13 AEZ (AUS) Rene Mangold / Christian Binder - 12, 12, 9, 6, 9, 13, 6, 7, (2) - 76




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