Oman – The Oman RC44 Cup delivered another challenging sailing day for the fleet competing in the final event of the 2014 Championship Tour. Consistency was hard to come by and no team managed to stay in the top half of the fleet in all three races. Team Aqua was the most consistent team of the day picking up 11-points, Nika and Charisma both added 12-points to their overall score.
Similar conditions to yesterday greeted the RC44 fleet, 7-11 knots from the NNE and flat water. The fleet remained concertinaed throughout the day; tricky shifts meant no boat was safe from the game of snakes and ladders that was playing out on the Gulf of Oman.
The three boats that started in the middle of the line in race one popped out at the windward mark as the leading bunch. A shifty first beat saw Artemis Racing lead round the top mark with Team Aqua chasing – Bronenosec in third. The positions stayed the same to the finish, but behind them small mistakes were punished. One of the contenders for the 2014 overall title, Peninsula Petroleum, tried to find space coming in on the port layline in the middle of the pack, they tacked under the fleet trying to slot in to a space that really wasn’t there, after getting unstuck from the mark, a penalty turn put them to the back of the fleet.
Artemis Racing’s owner/driver Torbjorn Tornqvist described how close the racing between the 10-boat fleet was. “Consistency is hard, it is shifty the fleet is good, there is very little between the boats. In a couple of races we beat teams within a boat length; it’s all very close, which is as it should be.”
Charisma started at the pin, Nika next to them in race two, at the other end of the line, Katusha were first to tack away and head right. Katusha led Charisma and Nika at the top mark and started to extend away from the fleet downwind. At the leeward gate the leading pair split, Charisma headed right and made a massive gain. The Monaco domiciled team went on to take their second win of the event, Nika second and Katusha just managing to hold off Artemis for third.
Tom Slingsby calling the shots for Nico Poon’s Charisma gave an overview of the team’s performance. “Today started very poorly, we were mid fleet and in with the top group but slowly slipped back. I made a mistake, I thought we were going to cross a boat but we didn’t and had to do a penalty turn, dropping from about sixth to ninth. We won the second race by a long way and had a second in the third race. It’s really hard to get consistency, if you can make the top mark in good shape ahead of the pack you’re going to have a good race but if you’re battling away amongst the fleet things go wrong, like our penalty, and you can so easily drop five places.”
In the final race of the day the fleet were fighting to start at the committee boat. Team Aqua opted for the pin end and headed left for more breeze. The move paid, Team Aqua tacked and crossed the fleet with room to spare. Never challenged Aqua went onto take the win from Charisma in second and Synergy in third.
Aqua’s long standing tactician Cameron Appleton (NZL) summed up the race. “We felt there was better pressure on the left, when we started we were in a right hand direction but it’s always hard when the whole fleet goes right to branch out, do you put all the money in the bag and keep going or do you play more conservatively. We went for it and it worked out, we held our left hand pressure all the way across. The moment you get out in front it is so much easier, so to make that first cross it becomes a much easier race.”
On the overalls, Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika have a five-point lead over Charisma in second, with Team Aqua moving up into third.
The RC44 Oman Cup supported by Mercedes Benz Oman and United Engineering Services (UMS) continues through to 23 November. Day three of fleet race championships gets underway on Saturday 21th November, 11.30 GST, 07:30 GMT.