Tricky breeze at Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup

Morgan Larson’s Ceeref penalised at the start of Flight 1. Copyright. Guilain Grenier - RC 44 Class.
Following many practice days with perfect sailing conditions, the RC 44’s involved in the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup spent most of the afternoon waiting for the breeze. Race Officer Peter Reggio held the fleet out appropriately, and managed to initiate a first starting session at 3:45 PM. All the teams knew that the race was going to be tough with this fluky 3 knots breeze, and dangerous points wise.

Morgan Larson learned it the hard way in the pre-start. Replacing the match race ranking leader James Spithill for this event, the American pro-sailor ended up squeezed against the race committee boat and penalized for a premature start, letting Cro-A-Sail and their pro-skipper Morten Henrickson sail away. It took Ceeref two beats to fight their way back and finally conquer the point.

Steering BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison – currently second of the match race ranking - also had a difficult race against another newcomer in the Class: Hamish Pepper, sailing onboard Banco Espirito Santo. The American team benefited from a 20 degrees wind shift to take the best start. Ellison kept well in control until Pepper spotted stronger winds on the right of the course, getting back to a boat length from his opponent. Well advised by Russell Coutts, Ellison kept his cool and controlled Banco Espirito Santo until the arrival line.

Sailing with Philippe Presti at the helm and Mateusz Kusznierewicz grinding the main sail, Team Organika spent the entire race a few boat lengths ahead of ITA 7, the boat chartered by Peter Heerema and steered by the current European Match Race Champion Peter Wibroe. This new team certainly showed a great potential against Organika, who is now well established in the RC 44 Class and a threat to any team.

Finally, Cameron Appleton’s Team Aqua had an easy race against Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, steered by boat owner Armando Giulietti. Appleton showed his huge experience in the pre-start, inflicting a penalty to Hiroshi and starting almost one minute ahead of his opponent, cruising around the course with a smile.

Hamish Pepper, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo: 'We made a good come-back during the race; however it was just not close enough to be able to properly attack BMW ORACLE Racing. The boat is great. Last week, we trained in superb conditions and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is fun to steer, but it also keeps the entire team busy. The boat planes in the breeze, and is very enjoyable.'

Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua: 'The race was over 40 seconds before the start. We poked Team Hiroshi from below and they didn’t react fast enough and touched us. They got a penalty and we sailed away. I think that there was enough breeze for a decent race. The boats react well even in such light winds.'

Peter Wibroe, helmsman, ITA 7: 'I usually sail on the match race tour, and these boats are much bigger so it’s a new experience for me. This is definitely the best boat I have ever sailed, and we all agree on this on board. Rasmus Kostner was doing the tactics, and he was hugely helpful. Unfortunately, Organika started ahead of us and we didn’t have any opportunities to get back.'