Team Sea Dubai takes a serious option on the Al Maktoum Sailing Trophy RC 44 match race
The wind was very light and fluky today for the second half of the match race event. Despite Peter "Luigi" Reggio’s attempts to close the contest, the last two flights will take place tomorrow, before the fleet race practice.
Unbeaten after seven flights, Team Sea Dubai is almost certain to win the title. Indeed, the local team’s closest rival, Artemis, sits two points behind whilst the team from the Emirates won the direct confrontation this afternoon. All they have to do is cross the line and avoid any penalising collision.
The match of the day, between Team Sea Dubai and Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis, delivered all its promises. The two boats started on split tacks at full speed and immediately engaged in a tacking dual. Just ahead of its opponent after the first cross, Hutchinson made a slight error of appreciation that allowed Team Sea Dubai to close the gap. The two teams then engaged in a dial up as they were nearing the windward mark. Markus Wieser came out of it better than Artemis and rounded the mark two boat lengths ahead. Hutchinson tried hard to come back during the rest of the race, but Wieser and his crewmembers held on tight and won the race.
"We focused on the basics", commented Hartwell Jordan, Team Sea Dubai’s mainsail trimmer and strategist. "Last night, we debriefed our first day and decided not to change anything and to carry on sailing for fun, without putting any unnecessary pressure on our shoulders. We felt comfortable with our course management and boat speed, so we didn’t feel the need to put a specific strategy in place. We just went for it as relaxed and focused as we could."
Disappointed by his results today (two losses against TSD and No Way Back), Terry Hutchinson remained as positive as he could. "The day was good", he said. "We won our two starts and managed to keep the pressure all along. Unfortunately, we did some mistakes. In the first race, we went to the wrong side of the course and our timing was slightly wrong in the second one. I have the feeling that we bet ourselves more than anything else."
Whilst Team Sea Dubai is almost certain to win the title, the rest of the podium remains open. Artemis is currently second with four points, followed by five teams on a tie in third with three points.
Despite the winner being almost certainly known, the last two flights will definitely not be for the gallery!
Hartwell Jordan, mainsail trimmer and strategist, Team Sea Dubai: “We have changed the set up of our boat over the winter and we can feel the difference. We have also changed our mental approach: in the past, we sometimes felt intimidated by the level of our competitors. We are now more relaxed about this, and we try to manage the pressure more efficiently. We’ve also trained hard over the winter, which has allowed us to remember all the moves almost instinctively. As a consequence, we can now look out of the boat and concentrate on the regattas."
Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua: “This hasn’t been the most rewarding event for us so far and we’ve had a tough couple of days… We didn’t train like the others over the winter, but I don’t think it would have made a difference in this light wind. Our problem was mainly linked with timing; we didn’t take good starts and weren’t in the right rhythm."
Rod Davis, helmsman, Ceeref: “It was good to win a race by one second against Team Aqua after having lost two matches by one second yesterday… It’s very strange, we are loosing against teams that we should beat (on the paper) and we are winning the toughest matches. It shows how tight the Class is. Any small team can challenge the best ones. The consequence is that we need to train harder in order to improve."
Paul Cayard, helmsman, Katusha: “We were quite unhappy with our result yesterday, but the good thing is that the team stayed well together, and focused. We all knew that we could do a better job. We spoke about our races and decided to keep it as simple as possible and focus on getting a better result without changing anything fundamental in the way we sail. It’s just tough; the races are very close and difficult."