It went down to the last hurdle between No Way Back, Artemis and Team Aqua, separated by two points only before the ninth and last regatta of the event. No Way Back wins the fleet race ranking – on a tie with Artemis – whilst Team Aqua conquers the overall title thanks to its victory in the match race.
The sun was finally shining yesterday and the wind blowing like it should in a sailboat race, allowing the Race Committee to launch four races and reshuffle the cards in the overall ranking of the RC 44 Austria Cup.
After a last race sailed in the morning in the week's typical gray, cold and unstable weather, the sun and the breeze came back for the final showdown, allowing the Race Committee to launch three fantastic races in Ebensee, at the other end of the lake.
Pieter Heerema and his team No Way Back were looking good at this stage thanks to their victory in the day's first race. But the racing in Ebensee is all different, with the boats sailing as closely as possible to the cliffs in order to benefit from the land effect.
Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis was the best at adapting to those conditions, starting race 6 at the pin end of the line, going as closely as possible to the land in order to benefit from a good lift and tack ahead of the pack to take the lead. Alternating the worse and the best throughout the week, Team Sea Dubai also had an excellent regatta, finishing second just a couple of seconds behind Artemis after a fantastic dual. Other teams had ups and downs, with BMW ORACLE Racing finishing third despite sailing without their bowsprit, Team Austria ripping a spinnaker and Organika incurring a penalty at the windward mark. Team Aqua finished 4th and No Way Back 7th, closing the gap dramatically at the top of the leaderboard before the last races.
The next regatta turned out to be the most exciting one of the week, with a pre-start collision between Team Sea Dubai and Ceeref and further penalties for the same Ceeref as well as Organika and Team Austria in a hairy leeward mark rounding. Team Aqua benefited from this chaos to grab the lead and win ahead of No way Back and Organika.
The scenario couldn't have been any better before the start of the last race of the event, with No Way Back sitting just two points ahead of Team Aqua and Artemis. The three teams knew the situation, and said after the regatta that they sailed “their own race”, without looking too much at the others.
No Way Back twisted a sheet in a winch one minute before the gun and was forced to start at the Committee end of the line when the middle and pin end were clearly favoured. Artemis started as usual at the pin end, but a touch too late. As for Aqua, it took an average start in the middle of the line, momentarily taking the lead of the “race in the race” despite sailing in BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Sea Dubai's wake. The Team from the UAE seemed to have the regatta under control until Artemis – on great form today – made the best of the land effect to grab the temporary third place, just ahead of Aqua and No Way Back. The three teams sailed the last run in each other's wake, trying to attack ahead without taking too much risk behind. BMW ORACLE Racing's beautiful win and Team Sea Dubai's second place were anecdotic compared to this fight for the overall victory. Artemis finally crossed third, Aqua fourth and No way Back – threatened until the last meters by the brave Austrians – in fifth, grabbing the fleet race ranking title on a tie with Artemis. Team Aqua concludes the fleet regatta in third but grabs the overall RC 44 Austria Cup title ahead of Artemis and No way Back, and increases its lead in the Championship Tour.
The next regatta will take place on July 8-12 in Malcesine, Lake Garda.
Pieter Heerema, owner, No Way Back: “We had a fantastic first race this morning; all worked out perfectly for us. We had such a lead that we had to stop before crossing the line to make sure that there was not too much time between us and the others. The other races this afternoon at Ebensee were fantastic. The last race was very close. We had technical problems that prevented us from starting where we wanted but ended up with our direct competitors and had a very close race.”
Torbjorn Tornqvist, owner, Artemis: “We deliberately chose to start all races at the pin end of the line because we thought it was favoured and it usually proved to be the case. Of course this sent us right to the mountainside with other boats just behind and to windward as we had to tack, but I wasn't scared to sail so close from the cliffs; I am used to sail in the archipelago and we do this all the time. During the downwind legs we didn't use the coastal effect enough and lost some ground. We should probably have protected our position better. All in all, it was a great and very interesting regatta.”
Cameron Appleton, tactician, Team Aqua: “I am very proud of our result. We fought until the last race and it was amazing to see the top three boats sailing so close from each other in this last regatta. We had control over the situation half way through, but then I didn't manage to prevent Artemis' come back.”
Russell Coutts, BMW ORACLE Racing: “This was a great event, and a huge success. We had our moments as a team, but I am quite happy with our fourth place. It wasn't easy for our new helmsman to fit in, but he did a good job. It is great that No Way Back had such a good regatta; they worked very hard and sailed very consistently. It is interesting to note that the winning boat's average place is approximately fourth and that five different teams have managed to win races. It says a lot about this Class.”
Christian Feichtinger, event organiser: Last year was our premiere and this year is our break through. We have clearly promoted our sailing event in a new dimension, by proving that we can run an entire match race round robin, eight fleet races and the DHL Trophy on our lake. We are very happy that the Class committed to come back next year.”
Fleet race, final results after nine races (no discard):
(Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results (in bold, double points for the DHL Trophy), points)
1) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 5, 3, 8, 2, 1, 1, 7, 2, 5 – 34 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1, 4, 2, 9, 7, 3, 1, 4, 3 – 34 points
3) Team Aqua, Chris Bake 8, 2, 6, 1, 4, 5, 4, 1, 4 – 35 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Ian Vickers, 6, 6, 4, 5, 9, 2, 3, 8, 1 – 44 points
5) Team Sea Dubai, Stefan Linder, 11 (DNF), 11 (DNS), 0, 3, 5, 8, 2, 5, 2 – 47 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 2, 1, 12, 4, 2, 9, 6, 6, 7 – 49 points
7) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki 3, 8, 10, 6, 3, 4, 8, 3, 8 – 53 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 4, 5, 14, 7, 6, 6, 5, 7, 6 – 60 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 7, 7, 16, 8, 8, 7, 9, 9, 9 – 80 points
RC 44 Austria Cup overall ranking
(Ranking, team, owner, match race, fleet race, points)
1) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 1, 3 – 4 points
2) Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist, 3, 2 – 5 points
3) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 6, 1 – 7 points
4) BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts, 5, 4 – 9 points
5) Team Organika, Maciej Navrocki 2, 7 – 9 points
6) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 4, 6 – 10 points
7) Team Sea Dubai, DIMC Markus Wieser, 7, 5 – 12 points
8) Team Austria, René Mangold, 9, 8 – 17 points
9) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Daniel Calero, 8, 9 – 17 points