The third event of the RC 44 Championship Tour 2009 starts tomorrow in Austria on the picturesque Lake Traunsee. A fairly strong wind is forecast, with temperatures dropping after today’s record temperatures.

Representing eight nations, the nine RC 44’s involved in the RC 44 Austria Cup did two practice starts in a very light breeze today, preparing for the beginning of the competition scheduled tomorrow at 11:30 AM.

Last year Gmunden (Austria) hosted the Championship Tour for the first time and it proved one of the Circuit’s most memorable regattas. The world’s best sailors involved in the Tour were unanimously impressed by the scenery, the greenness of the forests that overlook the lake and the highness of the surrounding mountains.

One year later the RC 44 fleet is back with a highly competitive fleet that includes some new names such as Paul Cayard (Ceeref), Ray Davies (No Way Back) and Rod Davis (BMW ORACLE Racing). The Class’ other “usual suspects” such as Dean Barker, Cameron Appleton, Daniel Calero or Markus Wieser have also been spotted walking up & down the pontoons over the past few days, preparing for another exciting regatta in this challenging circuit.

Speaking this morning during the event’s opening press conference – held at the stunning Seeschloss Orth (Lake Traunsee’s emblematic castle) – both Dean Barker and Ray Davies mentioned how refreshing it is for them to sail on a mountain lake. “Usually when I go to this sort of resort it is in New Zealand’s southern Island and I am going skiing”, said Barker. “It is a nice change.” Paul Cayard went as far as saying that “this is such a beautiful place that I could very well consider living here”.

Unbeaten in match race in Cagliari last month, Dean Barker and Artemis are the favourites of the series although Ceeref still leads the overall ranking. Paul Cayard replaces Sebastien Col for this event, and he clearly hopes to maintain his team on top of the leader board. “I haven’t competed in a match since almost two years, and this is a welcome “refreshing course” for me. The fleet is obviously highly competitive, but I am definitely here to try to win.”

Christian Binder, skipper of the local team Austria, explained that his team is still fairly new. “We are learning every day”, he said. “But we have been working hard and we had some good training sessions over the past weeks. We definitely hope to get a good result”.

The weather forecast for the coming days is not good and a low pressure from the West is expected.

Tomorrow will be the first day of racing for the RC44 fleet here in Gmunden. The RC44 is a relatively new class of boat designed by Russell Coutts and Andre Justin. It looks like a 1/2 scale of the America’s Cup boats from 2007. But it is relatively lighter and very high performing. It planes downwind in 16 knots of wind and it is fully powered up in 7 knots upwind. It is a one design class and the boats are very high tech being built out of carbon fiber and even having a trim tab on the keel fin.

The RC 44 fleet has a circuit around Europe and the Middle East.

May 12, 2009 – Following two successful regattas held in Lanzarote (SPA) and Cagliari (ITA), the RC 44 fleet is getting ready for the third stage of the RC 44 Championship Tour 2009. The RC 44 Austria Cup will take place on May 22 – 26 on the beautiful Lake Traunsee, in the middle of snow-capped mountains and on a lake well known for its consistent thermal breeze.

Four teams are currently dominating the Championship Tour: Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, who currently sails with the Championship Tour leader’s gold wheel, Larry Ellison’s BMW ORACLE Racing, Igor Lah’s Ceeref who will sail the Austria Cup with Paul Cayard, and Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis. These teams are only separated by four points.

The battle is also fierce amongst the followers. Pieter Heerema’s Team No Way Back will sail for the first time with Emirates Team New Zealand’s tactician Ray Davies. Led by Christian Binder, the local Austrian team expects a good race in front of its public. These two teams have already been training together on Lake Traunsee, hoisting the sails as early as 6:00 AM to make the best of the local breeze.

The flat water and sometimes tricky tactical conditions could well change the Class’ hierarchy. The strict one-design concept of the Class also favours changes, giving all the teams the opportunity to fight for victory. The statistics speak for themselves: since the beginning of the season, all the teams involved in the Tour have finished at least one race in the top three whilst six of them have won regattas.

The RC 44 Austria Cup will take place just after the Traunsee Woche; a regatta that unites 650 sailors on 220 boats.

The teams involved:

(Name of team, owner, pro sailor)

Team Aqua, Chris Bake / Cameron Appleton
Team Ceeref, Igor Lah / Paul Cayard
Sea Dubai, DIMC, Markus Wieser
BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts
Team Organika, Maciej Nawrocki / Karol Jablonski
Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Jose Juan Calero / Jose Maria Ponce
Artemis, Torbjorn Tornqvist / Dean Barker
No Way Back, Pieter Heerema / Ray Davies
Team Austria, Christian Binder / Ren

Cayard, Coutts, Onorato, Gram-Hansen and more celebrate the RC44 Class debut in Switzerland

The idyllic setting of Lugano provided a spectacular backdrop for the first ever RC44 event in Switzerland. The Lugano Yacht Club Cup, the fourth event in the Class Championship Tour, presented challenging racing for RC44 owners and their crews today.

Lugano (CH), 20 June 2007 – The thermal mountain breeze began to build shortly after 14:00 and the teams enjoyed three fiercely competitive fleet races. Spectators lined the shore of Lake Lugano to watch the impressive, high performance RC44s manoeuvre, tackling and accelerating in the shifty conditions with ease.

Having arrived just days before from Lisbon in their custom containers, these light displacement boats proved their adaptability as they mastered the challenging lake conditions.

Team Omega, with guest helmsman Ronnie Pieper, VP of the Swiss Sailing Federation and a 5.5m World Champion, smoothly dominated the first of the three fleet races. Team Omega, with Russell Coutts calling tactics, swiftly passed Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, on the first windward leg and led the fleet around the course. Team Aqua, with owner Chris Bake driving and tactician Cameron Appleton, quickly moved into second place, leaving Mascalzone Latino to finish third.

As the afternoon went on and the breeze became shiftier, the RC44’s showed their true versatility and ability to accelerate in light conditions.

In the second race it was Teams Aqua and Light Bay that selected the favoured right side of the course from the start. While Mascalzone Latino and Team Omega, with their world-renowned tacticians Cayard and Coutts onboard went left, the other RC44 owners proved that the traditionally favoured right side of the lake would pay off. Team Aqua, the current leaders of the fleet, finished first, followed by Team Light Bay and Team Omega.

Mascalzone Latino’s America’s Cup helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen took the opportunity to step on board with Onorato’s team as a guest for the third race. It was a close start with the entire fleet on starboard, they then tacked swiftly back towards the right side of the lake, with the exception of Omega who remained in the middle of the course. This was to pay off for Coutts’s team as the wind dropped and the Race Committee shortened the course. A win for Mascalzone Latino was the perfect end to owner Vincenzo Onorato’s first day of racing onboard his RC44.

Unfortunately, the much anticipated match race between Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard could not take place due to the lack of wind. The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-10 knots with mixed weather conditions.


Vincenzo Onorato, Mascalzone Latino: “It was a beautiful first day of racing on the RC44. We were fortunate to have Paul Cayard onboard. The boats are extremely fast; they are much more fun to sail than the America’s Cup boats, which are dinosaurs in comparison! The RC44s are ten years ahead of their time.”

Paul Cayard, Mascalzone Latino: “The boats power-up easily which makes for good racing, even when there is not much wind. In the America’s Cup they wouldn’t even race in these conditions, but with the RC44 it’s all possible.”

Armando Giulietti, Team Light Bay: “It was my first time racing the RC44 on a lake and in these light air conditions. We learned a lot and had good manoeuvres. It is a fast boat. Lugano is beautiful and ideal for the spectators.”

Cameron Appleton, Team Aqua: “It was challenging to get the light air configuration right. The first two races were one-sided, but the conditions mixed up for the third race. It was an impressive day on the water.”

Lugano Yacht Club Cup

Day 1 Provisional Results – no discard

1) Team Aqua, (2,1,3) 6 points

2) Team Omega, (1,3,2) 6 points

3) Mascalzone Latino (3,4,1) 8 points

4) Team Light Bay (Magia), (4, 2, 4) 10 points

Photo: Mascalzone Latino racing in Lugano, with Vincenzo Onorato at the helm and Paul Cayard calling tactics Credit: Gianni Armiraglio