Major upsets at the Bank Sarasin RC44 Portoroz Cup

With four victories out of five races, Karol Jablonski and his team Organika look smart at the end of day one of the Bank Sarasin RC 44 Portoroz Cup. Not only did they win more races than anyone else: they also managed to beat some of the best teams in the RC 44 Class, including Sébastien Col's Ceeref, Cameron Appleton's Team Aqua and Paul Cayard's Katusha.

Also on great form today, Jose Maria Ponce (Islas Canarias Puerto Calero) managed to win three races and take the lead in his group ahead of No Way Back (Pieter Heerema and Ray Davies, who share helming duties).

The seven flights completed today took place in a light sea breeze. Due to the increasing number of boats involved in the Class, it is not possible anymore to complete a full round robin and the organisers have decided to split the fleet in two, with five boats in Group Alpha and six in group Bravo. Puerto Calero leads the first one ahead of No Way Back whilst Organika is on top of the other ahead of Katusha.

Tomorrow's format will depend on the wind conditions, which are forecast light by PredictWind. If this proves right, a best of three series will determine the winners whilst a more complex system will be used if the conditions are good. In the latter case, the first and second of each groups will sail against each other before competing in conventional semi-finals and final.

Whilst some new teams made it to the top of the provisional match race ranking today, others logically didn't obtain the results they expected. Slightly rusty, Team Aqua started the day with two premature starts, loosing precious points against Organika and Katusha. Usually dominant, Dean Barker and his Team Artemis suffered two losses against No Way Back and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, ending up third in its group. With two victories out of four races, Russell Coutts' BMW ORACLE Racing isn't looking as good as he would like to either, currently in the fourth place of Group Alpha.

Two teams made their debuts in the RC 44 Class today. Paul Cayard and his team Katusha showed a strong performance, finishing second of their group despite sailing on a brand new boat, with a new group and having only had five days to practice. Modri Gaj, the new local team didn't have such a good day. With Gasper Vincec at the helm, the Slovenian team had a moment of glory when they beat Organika in a very clean race; an achievement that will give them some good memories after a disastrous first race that saw them miss the entry, incur two penalties before the start, round the wrong windward mark and miss the arrival line. As the RC 44 co-designer and crewmember onboard Modri Gaj Andrej Justin summarised after the regatta: “Match racing can be tough!”

They said:

Karol Jablonski, helmsman, Organika: “We have done a very good job and I am very happy. Sometimes we were behind and we managed to come back. We did a great move against Cayard: we were just behind at the top mark and decided to go for a jibe set. It was important to keep it secret and to make sure that they didn't see what we were preparing. It worked out well, the crew did a great job and we won the race. The fighting spirit on board is really excellent.”

Jose Maria Ponce, helmsman, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero: “We've had a very good day. Our starts were excellent, we were fast and the manoeuvres went well. We haven't done any match race since Malcesine, so it's a nice surprise. But there is a major difference in our team: we sail with Luis Doreste. He helps me a lot. He looks out of the boat and concentrates on the tactics. It helps me to focus on the speed.”

Paul Cayard, helmsman, Katusha: “It has been a very good day for us. We won three races and lost two, but the positive thing is that we didn't get beaten square: we gave those two races away. We need to better the positions on board, and my steering also needs to improve. The conditions were very light and it is hard to keep the speed. We need to be very smooth and this is what we didn't do well enough.”

Markus Wieser, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “It was very close all along, but our lack of practice cost us a lot today. We haven't sailed any match since Malcesine and we felt it. We will definitely train more before the Gold Cup. I will compete in Berlin match race and we will train in Dubai beforehand.”

Andrej Justin, crewmember, Team Modri Gaj: “There are no match racers on our boat, so it was tough. At some stages we got penalised and we didn't even know why! But that's life: match racing is a fight and we are not ready for this. The good thing is it's an excellent practice for the fleet regatta.”

Match-race, provisional results:

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

Group Alpha:
1) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, José Maria Ponce, 3/1, 3 points
2) No Way Back, Ray Davies, 3/1, 3 points
3) Artemis, Dean Barker, 2/2, 2 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 2/2, 2 points
5) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/4, 0 point

Group Bravo:
1) Organika, Karol Jablonski 4/1, 4 points
2) Team Katusha, Paul Cayard, 3/2, 3 points
3) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 3/2, 3 points
4) Ceeref, Sébastien Col, 2/3, 2 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 2/3, 2 points
6) Modri Gaj, Gasper Vincec, 1/4, 1 point

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