Gmunden –

After a quick trip to Moscow on Sunday and Sochi yesterday, to work on a Russian Louis Vuitton Trophy event in 2011, I arrived in Austria late last night.

Gmunden and its Lake Traunsee is the site of the second event on the RC 44 Championship Tour of 2010. Lake Traunsee is spectacularily beautiful with 2000 meter mountains rising right up out of the lake. There is still snow in those mountains so it is not the normal sailing scenery. The tall mountains do make it challenging for the wind.

Today was our first training day on Katusha. The sailing was sporadic as the wind filled first at the south end of the lake then died there and filled at the north end, albeit from the south.

We trained with our partners on Artemis. I felt a bit rusty, probably the 30 hours of flying since Saturday didn’t help. Tomorrow is the weigh-in so sauna first thing as we need to drop 15 kgs as a team. Then another training day, then we will get the match racing part of the event underway on Thursday.

The fleet racing will start on Sunday and the event concludes on Tuesday the 4th.

Ten teams are here including two teams from America’s Cup winner BMW Oracle. Skipper Larry Ellison with tactician Russell Coutts were out training today, as were 9 of the 10 teams.

For more information and complete results go to


This is going to sounds like a broken record….we sailed badly again today.

The short story is that we ended up 6th overall.

The sob story is that while having a great first race today, sailing down the final run in third place, the wind shifted 120 degrees…that’s right…120 degrees. The whole fleet had to put jibs up on the run and we even had to tack. We finished last.

Second race, going well, third after the first lap, big shift, a mistake by us in droping the spinnaker, and were 7th.

Anyway, I’m thinking we got it out of our system. All the bad stuff in the same week.

With 40 years of racing under my belt, I can say that “it happens”. I can also say that we will go on and win many more races.

Artemis, who finished up second in the fleet racing and combined with their third place in the match racing, ended up winning the overall. That is great for Torbjorn Tornqvist and Terry Hutchinson.

And it is good for the whole Artemis team as we head down to Auckland next week for the Louis Vuitton Trophy. I will start writing updates from New Zealand around March 5.

That’s is from Dubai. Thank you to the DIMC, Sid Bensalah and Saeed Herab and the whole staff here. We will be back in November for the Louis Vuitton Trophy.

Three races were held today in a southeast to south wind blowing between 15 and 25 knots. It was incredibly dusty, with the wind blowing sand into the air.

Artemis had the best day with a 2,3,1. Onboard Katusha, we did not have a great day as we made big errors in the first two races finishing 8,7. In the last race we sailed well, getting to the first mark just behind Artemis and staying close all the way around. We closed in on them a lot on the final run, with a nice puff, but they managed to hang on to beat us by a couple of meters.

In the first race of the day, we were not in great shape coming down the first run. It was windy and just before the leeward mark, we broached and got stuck on our side for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, Aqua was very heads up as we were heading for them in the middle of the broach. They had to tack onto port to get out of our way and that saved the two boats from colliding. We hurt their race as they were in the lead at the time and they eventually finished 4th. We apologize for that. We did our penalty turn even though one had not been signaled and we were well into last place. We had a bit of luck in someone else’s misfortune and we ended up passing Austria on the final run as they had a problem too.

In the second race, we were doing pretty well up the second windward leg battling away for third or fourth when a massive gust came down the course and shifted the wind 30 degrees. Sea Dubai had gone from last to first on this leg and were sailing past us in the new wind. So, I thought we should dig into it as it seemed it was filling. We got into it and were looking ok until that wind collapsed and the left filled back in. We lost 3 or 4 boats right there at the top of the beat and finished 7th.

Very frustrating for all of us.

So, it was nice to put a good race together in the last race of the day and come back to the dock feeling a bit better.

We really need to raise our game. We all know we can sail better. For sure the competition is tough but we must find a way to improve. With all that we are still in the same place we were in when we left the dock this morning…5th. Aqua still leads and Artemis is nipping at their heels.

Tomorrow, the forecast is the same, strong southerly winds which means the wind coming off the land and massive shifts of both wind strength and direction.

For complete results go to

The fleet racing portion of the Maktoum Trophy started today with four very competitive races in great sailing conditions. The wind strength was between 20 and 12 knots from the south all day. It was shifty with the wind coming off the land so that made things tricky and it did get a bit softer toward the end of the day but the boats were powered up and planing downwind all day.

There was so much dust and sand flying in the air that you could not see more than a mile. We were only 2 miles offshore and we could not see land in the first two races.

Team Aqua had a “blinder” as the Kiwis would say. The sailed very well in three of the races and got really lucky in the last one to come out with a 2,1,2,1. On Katusha we had an ok day with a 5,5,2,8 and we are in 5th. The fleet stays very close together in these conditions and small mistakes can cost 3-4 boats. We were over the start line early in the first race and battled back to 5th. Even in the race we were second, we were back in the pack at the first mark. So, there is plenty of mixing and you just have to hang tough all the way to the end.

There is no “coastal” race here this time, so just more of the windward leeward racing tomorrow.

The forecast for tomorrow and Saturday is for more of the southerly winds, even going southeasterly, and a bit stronger. Four races in this breeze is a good work out for everyone.

Another tough day for Katusha. We only had one race today and we lost it. Actually, I lost it right at the start. I turned up for line too early and we got locked out at the committee boat end. That was the race. We kept it close but Aqua was always safely in control.

I hate to lose but I really hate handing it to people on a silver platter.

The cost of losing that one race, was the difference between 4th overall and 8th place.

It will take me a while to put this regatta out of my mind.

Sea Dubai went on to win which is great for our hosts. No Way Back finished strong in second and our team mates on Artemis were 3rd.

Tomorrow, we start the fleet racing portion of the event. Bob Little, aka Peaches, will be steering and I will be tactician. The rest of the team is the same.

We had the practice race for fleet racing today. We had an ok start but rounded the first mark 6th. Down the first run we lost one boat and rounded 7th at the bottom. But up the second windward leg we went right and passed a few boats to round 4th, then passed one more to finish 3rd. So that made us feel a bit better.

The winds were very light and fickle, under 6 knots all day.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for a southerly wind, quite strong, in the morning the fading late morning/early afternoon with a sea breeze building late afternoon.

Light winds dominated the race course today. We had a two-hour postponement and racing finally got underway at 1345 in 7 knots of wind with smooth seas.

We onboard Katusha had a much better day today winning both of our races. In the first flight of the day, we were up against BMW Oracle which is being raced by the young Kiwi team led by Adam Monoprio. Adam and his team are the current Match Race World Champions. They had a slightly better start than we did but we quickly got to the right of them and that paid off. We led the whole way around, but up the second windward leg we had a nice tacking duel, complete with fake tacks and lots of downspeed sailing. The Katusha crew did a great job there and we stretched out our lead and went on to win rather comfortably in the end.

In the second flight of the day we were up against Puerto Calero from the Canary Islands. This team always gives us a tough race and today was no exception. We had a very good start in that we were able to dial them on the entry and hold them on starboard for the entire four minutes. We eventually pinned them outside the left side of the line and led them back to start late. We then retained control of the right. They closed in on us at the top mark and we had to luff them head to wind and park them there. We then stretched a bit and had a nice lead at the bottom mark. But by this time the wind was dropping in strength, now down to four knots and things got dicey. We picked the gate that sent us to the right side but that was wrong and before we knew it we had a race on our hands again. We barely managed to corral them out on the left layline, there we stretched and won the race comfortably.

The wind died soon after and the race committee called it around 1630.

Sea Dubai continued its roll and won both of their matches including a critical one against Artemis in the battle of the unbeatens. Artemis actually won the start in my opinion and had control of the right. But three-quarters of the way up the leg Artemis tacked and crossed to the left leaving Sea Dubai to the right. There wasn’t much room left out there but it was enough for Sea Dubai to grab the lead and they never relinquished it.

So, tomorrow morning we will have to finish up the round robin. Sea Dubai has mathematically won the Match Race part of this event. We still have a chance to be in the top four. We only race one of the remaining two races as we haven’t had our “bye” yet. There will surely be a few ties on points so depending on who beats who in the match ups, the ties will be broken and teams may go up or down 3-4 places.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for even lighter winds than today so that is not good. But then again, it is just a forecast.

Tough day onboard Katusha. We had 5 match races today and only managed one win. I haven’t had that bad of a win percentage in a long time.

The winds were lighter and later to fill than forecast. The wind peaked at 10 knots from 285.

We started very well in all of the races except for the one against Artemis where we were over early by a second, all alone at the left end. We had to go back to restart and that gave them that race.

In the other four we had more than a fighting chance and something just ended up going against us. As an example, in race number two, we were even off the line against the Dutch and we had the right which gave us right of way at each intersection. After two intersections, we went back at them a third time.

Then BMW Oracle, which was in another match, tacked on us blocking our wind. We could do nothing other than tack away to clear our air but that meant three tacks to the one for the Dutch and that gave them a strong lead in the light winds.

Anyway, not to whine too much. We just had a bad one today. The good news is that through all the frustration of the day we stayed tight as a crew, not getting down on each other but rather staying positive.

The local team, Sea Dubai is having a great regatta so far having won all 5 of their matches. Our Louis Vuitton Trophy teamates on Artemis also had an excellent day winning all 4 of their matches.

The forecast for tomorrow is light offshore in the morning, shifting to light onshore as the land heats up.

We’re going for a good night’s sleep and a good one tomorrow!

Today was a practice day here in Dubai and we had 15-17 knots of wind with 1-2 meter seas. A breeze known as a “Shamal” blew in increasing the wind strength from the normal 8-10 knot thermal breezes we usually experience here.

While all the teams went out training today, there wasn’t a lot of aggressive match racing practice going on as the conditions were a bit much for that and tomorrow is the first race day.

The format for 2010 has changed just a bit in that the first two days of the RC 44 events will comprise match racing, the third day will be a make up day for match racing and/or the fleet racing practice race. Then the final three days will be the fleet race portion. This new format gives the organizers a better chance to get a good match racing event in, even if faced with difficult conditions such as what we experienced here last November.

Last week the Artemis Louis Vuitton Trophy team….17 crew members….trained on two RC 44s, Katusha and Artemis for five days. The conditions were excellent with 8-11 knot winds almost every day and plenty of sun. We had an excellent organization with two top umpires, a coach and a race committee. By setting up drills that put the boats into critical race situations, as well as running real races, we got into more race situations each day than we would normally get into over an entire regatta. Having the umpires and coaches allowed us to debrief the situations, with video, and really learn the best way to manage these situations on the race course and the rules that apply. It was also a nice team building exercise for team Artemis.

Next stop for the Louis Vuitton Trophy team is Auckland from March 9-21.

For now, Katusha and Artemis are concentrating on the Maktoum Trophy here in Dubai through Saturday.

We started out really badly today by finishing last in the first race. We were sailing with the number 2 jib on as the breeze was up today and we really struggled with our speed upwind. Toward the end of the race we made some changes in our set up and it seemed to help us the rest of the day.

In the second race, we had a good race going and at the end of the first lap we were in fourth. The wind shifted 40 degrees to the right and I had us too far to the left so we gave back 4 positions on the second windward leg of that race. We passed one boat down the run to the finish but still a disappointing 7th.

For the last race, we had a good start, actually our starts were good all week and that is a credit to Bob Little and Morgan Gutenkunst. We were battling away in 5th most of the race and then we passed TeamAqua down the final run to finish 4th in the last one.

It was not our best regatta that is for sure. We made a lot of mistakes and had more than the normal amount of things go against us. So that is the recipe for mediocrity.

BMW Oracle had a good day winning the first two races and No Way Back just dominated the series and the season. No Way Back has put more time and effort into this Class than any other team this year and it shows in the results. They have two coaches; one for the sails and one for the crew work, and they show up one week before the regatta starts to train. That is how to get good at sailing the boat. Ray Davies does a very nice job with the tactics as well so well deserved.

I am off to SFO for about 20 hours and then to Rio on Tuesday where I will be racing in the Nestle Match Cup which is a match racing event. I will be sailing with a bunch of my Star buddies as crew. We are racing Bennetau First Class 40.7’s I believe. I really like Rio and haven’t been in a while so I am looking forward to spending a few days down there with some good friends. I will report in on Wednesday or Thursday.

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A decent day for Katusha today. Actually apart from one incident, it was a great day. The wind came in around 1330 and we had 8-9 knots in the first race, then up to 12 knots at a moment between races, then 11-8 knots for the second race and 7-8 knots for the “DHL Coastal Race” (as DHL is one of the sponsors of the RC 44 circuit).

We got third in the first race in a very tight race all the way around with Artemis and No Way Back. At the finish line, the three of us were overlapped and we came out of it third with Artemis fourth. I honestly can’t even remember who won that race. Maybe TeamAqua.

Then in the second race, we had a nice start and decent windward leg to round 4th. Down the run we made some good choices, passed third and second, and got to the gate at the same time as Cereef who had been leading. Cereef was on starboard and we were on port as we approached. As we were laying the left gate mark, we slowed to let them go ahead. We were not sure which mark they were intending to go to but when they crossed our line and kept going, so we assumed they were going to the other mark. So we went behind them and toward the mark Just then they gybed just to leeward of us. We were instantly overlapped on the inside with no way to get out. They protested us for taking room at the mark. The umpires ruled that we fouled Cereef so we had to take a penalty turn. Then while completing that penalty turn, as we were winding back up onto the wind, Artemis was approaching, yelling and screaming, and they protested us for making them tack before we were finished with the penalty (totally on the wind). Both penalties were probably correct. So we went from 2nd to last, but hung tough on the second lap and passed three boats to finish seventh.

Then in the DHL race, we had a good start and worked the middle left of the course initially. A lot of the fleet really wanted to go to the right next to The Palm. We felt there was more pressure out to the left but the wind would eventually go right. Tricky. All these races have been tricky. Anyway, we were about 7th and then we got a break and ducked through a small hole in the traffic and popped out in a strong position for fourth. We defended that position as the course wound right around The Palm and up to the Atlantis Hotel. We set spinnakers up there and reached and then ran back to the harbor. The race was shortened as the sun was going down so we finished in 4th. And that race counted double.

So we now sit in 4th place for the fleet racing, 3 points out of 3rd and 3 points ahead of 5th. Still plenty of points to be had out there as racing continues tomorrow.

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