Lah and Spithill conquer the RC 44 Austria Cup

Team Banco Espirito Santo leads the way, ahead of Team Ceeref and BMW ORACLE Racing
Martina Wohlesser

The Slovenian Team Ceeref has confirmed its new leadership over the RC 44 Class.

After having won the match race event, Igor Lah and James Spithill have also conquered the fleet regatta ahead of Chris Bake’s Team Aqua and Patrick de Barros’ Banco Espirito Santo. The latter is the winner of the long distance DHL Trophy.

Following the sumptuous gala diner organised last night in the beautiful Gmunden City Hall, the sailors needed a little bit of time to get back in racing mode this morning.

Indeed, the first start turned out to be a general recall, most of the fleet being over the line at the due time.

The second attempt was the right one. Merely separated by two points at this stage, Team Aqua and Team Ceeref both got perfect starts at the pin end of the line, and immediately started controlling each other’s moves. The tacking dual on the first beat cost a lot to Aqua, who reached the windward mark in fifth. As for Ceeref, it was once again in the lead, having already won two races on Friday. Chris Bakes’ Team Aqua managed to fight its way back to third before the arrival line, but the gap between the two teams was increasing. In good form, Patrick de Barros’ Team Banco Espirito Santo, with Russell Coutts calling the shots, finished second.

The second race took place in similar light wind conditions. However this time, unlike during the first regatta, the right side of the course was favoured. A difference that Spithill didn’t miss, tacking to port soon after the start together with Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano.

The move paid off and the two teams grabbed the lead, with Armando Giulietti and Sébastien Col smartly controlling the rest of the competitors. The victory by Hiroshi – the first in this event – brought back a smile to Giulietti’s face. Sailing with the RC 44 Championship Tour leader’s gold wheels, Hiroshi is clearly not at ease with the lake conditions and Armando Giulietti confessed earlier on that their goal was to 'limit the damage'. An objective well reached thanks to this victory, ahead of Ceeref and Beecom.

The third race saw the domination of the Japanese team Beecom. Controlling the situation throughout the race, Beecom’s owner and helmsman Isao Mita grabs the first victory of his career in an RC 44 fleet regatta, ahead of Team Aqua and Ceeref. A well deserved achievement.

The last race of the event was also the DHL long distance trophy. During the morning, the RC 44 were sailing in the southern part of the lake, called Ebensee. The DHL Trophy took them back to Gmunden, with a long beat alongside beautiful cliffs and wild forests; a stunning surrounding.

Already guaranteed to win the fleet event, Team Ceeref made the wrong initial call (for the first time), sailing together with Beecom to the right side of the course when the left proved to be the favored one. At the front of the fleet, Team Aqua, Banco Espirito Santo and BMW ORACLE Racing were battling hard for the lead, tacking along the coast to try to benefit from the land effect to gain a few meters. Banco Espirito Santo made it first in Gmunden, ahead of team Aqua and Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, grabbing the DHL Trophy and the third place overall.

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua finishes second of the DHL Trophy and of the Austria Cup. As for Team Ceeref, it crossed the finish line last but remains the great winner of the event, illustrating the fact that in this tough Class, everybody can win races but also loose some badly.

The next regatta of the RC 44 Championship Tour is the Malcesine Cup, on Lake Garda, on July 9-13.

They said:

Igor Lah, helmsman, Team Ceeref: 'James Spithill did a fantastic job today, and the crew was just perfect; they haven’t done a single mistake. I enjoy lake sailing. It is very challenging but it is beautiful. This was really an excellent event, and I want to thank the organizers for a great job.'

Chris Bake, helmsman, Team Aqua: 'Our boat is back in shape and our speed is good. It was very interesting to race here; it’s challenging to read the shifts and to manage the wind. I have enjoyed this very much and the scenery was fantastic.'

Patrick de Barros, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo: 'This has been a fantastic event, with an outstanding organization. Of course, sometimes it was frustrating and we had to wait for the wind. But it is definitely worth it. I have enjoyed the scenery but Russell has given me a hard time. He doesn’t leave me half a second to look around. If I turn my head to look, I immediately get told off!'

Russell Coutts, tactician, Banco Espirito Santo: 'This was a fantastic event. For us sailors, it is really refreshing to sail in different locations, and to mix the conditions we sail in. It tests all our skills. And the consequence is that some people are better in some conditions and some in other. The hierarchy is not the same. That’s what’s great about sailing; nothing’s ever acquired. In this lake, you just need to keep looking out of the boat. And if you make a mistake, carry on looking for a solution instead of being frustrated. You must permanently look ahead and focus on the future.'

Fleet-race, final results after seven races (no discard):

(Name of team, helmsman, No of victories / defeats, points)

1) Team Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 9 - 19 points
2) Team Aqua, Chris Bake,1, 3, 2, 3, 7, 2, 2 - 20 points
3) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 4, 4, 4, 2, 6, 4, 1 - 25 points
4) Team Hiroshi - Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 5, 7, 6, 5, 1, 5, 3 - 32 points
5) Team Beecom, Isao Mita 7, 5, 5, 4, 3, 1, 8 – 33 points
6) BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison, 3, 9, 3, 9, 5, 7, 4 - 40 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 8, 8, 7, 6, 4, 8, 5 – 46 points
8) Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser 6, 2, DSQ, 8, 9, 6, 6 – 47 points
9) Cro-Aut-Sail, Rene Mangold, 9, 6, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7 - 54 points

DHL Trophy winner: Team Banco Espirito Santo