We had another light wind day today with a max of 8 knots from 345 degrees around 1400. The race committee did well to get 4 fleet races in. We had a mediocre day onboard Katusha with a 4,5,6,9. Some of the teams that won races immediately finished last in the next race. It wasn’t easy out there.

There were too many ups and downs to go through it all. Obviously, we did not sail great so we hope to improve on that tomorrow. Artemis had a good day with a 5,3,3,1 I believe and may be winning the fleet racing.

Tonight Team Aqua, whose owner Chris Bake, lives here in Dubai, is hosting a barbeque on the beach. We are headed down there now.

It was pretty warm today topping out at 30C.

Tomorrow is supposed to be light winds again. We have the DHL Race which is a short coastal race. We will race around The Palm to some extent. We will probably have a couple of windward/leeward races after that wind permitting.

For more information go to www.rc44.com

The Match Racing boiled down to 4 races as there was no wind yesterday and we got started at 1230 today. Likewise, we did not race everyone in the fleet. The fleet was divided into two groups and we did one mini round robin within each group.

On Katusha, we had a good day by winning three of our four races. We had a bad day because in the first race, we were involved in a prestart incident where the umpires decided we were at fault and because the two boats touched we got a scoring penalty of one race and then because there was damage, albeit minor, we got another race taken away. Plus, we had to do the penalty turn during the race.

This was extra frustrating as I believe we were not in the wrong and the tactician of the other boat even came and told me he was very concerned that they were in fact in the wrong.

So there you go, we start four race event with a minus 2 score. Pretty bad. Meanwhile, in another race, one boat T-boned another boat, the hole was bad enough that they were taking on water, and they got the same penalty as us!

I went and talked to the umpires after the racing was completed, asking about such a heavy penalty, 2 races deducted, and they said, “Sorry, it is written that way in the sailing instructions so there is nothing we can do.” You know what, someday we will have a commissioner in our sport, just like in the NFL or the NBA and he will have discretion to make the right call.

But I have to hand it to the Katusha team; we won everything from that first race on and finished realizing we are the same strong team that won the Match Racing in Slovenia 8 weeks ago.

Bob “Peaches” Little did an excellent job for us today in calling the wind and we won the side of the start we wanted in the three races we won. We even shut out Artemis at the committee boat in the last race of the day which was nice.

So, we aren’t happy about our score but we are happy with how we are sailing. And we take that into the fleet racing tomorrow.

I should mention that my long time friend Rod Davis, skippering Cereef, won the day by winning all four of his races. Rod is surely the oldest pro helmsman out here at 53. Thanks Rod for taking that honor and good on you for winning! In fact, as bad as it was for us, we will not be last, I am sure we beat Aqua and Artemis. I don’t know the final results of the day yet but you can check for them on the class site below.

I think I better go have a beer and let this one blow over.

For more information go to www.rc44.com

Not a lot to report from Dubai. Unfortunately, the good wind of the last two days seems to have left a bit of a void here. Today the wind never got above 6 knots and mostly was 4 knots and under.

It wasn’t possible to race in these conditions. Sid Bensalah, the General Manager of Dubai International Marine Club, told me that today was the first race day they have ever lost for lack of wind here. I was also told that it is not uncommon after a couple of days of “shamal” (that is the name of the strong northwest wind here…cool name) there is typically a bit of a vacuum.

We made the most of the day by training in the very light conditions anyway. First, after the racing was postponed outside, we came to the inner harbor, alongside The Palm in order to find a little breeze. We trained inside for about an hour just doing a very short course of windward/leewards hoisting and dropping the gennaker, gybing and tacking. Then there was a little breeze out in the channel which goes out to the sea so we trained there for an hour or so. Then there was finally 5 knots of wind outside, but not in the race area around 1600 and we sailed for another hour. So we probably got 3 hours of training in which is good for Katusha. I steered for about half of it and Peaches steered for the other half.

Speaking of Peaches (Bob Little), I have gotten many emails regarding his nickname. So here is the real story. His Mom did not give him the name. It came when he was part of a delivery crew with my good friend Kimo Worthington and the young Curmudgeon, Craig Leweck. They were delivering one of the Pendragon’s up the coast from LA to San Francisco. Young Bob apparently did nothing but eat the canned peaches the whole trip. So it was Kimo and Craig that gave Peaches his name and it has stuck!

The Match Racing will be shortened due to losing today. So, we will race five matches each and likewise won’t race against everyone. It is kind of random as to who you sail. At the end of those five flights, the top two will race for the finals, second two for the 3rd and 4th places, etc. Let’s just hope there is wind so we can race.

Friday through Sunday is the fleet racing part of the RC44 Gold Cup. The forecast is improving for each day as we go forward so it should be all on by the weekend.

For more information go to www.rc44.com

We had a good day today on Katusha. The forecast was for fresh winds and big seas, so most teams stayed at the dock until 1300. Since our boat is still relatively new, we took the opportunity to get out early, on our own, to check our boat and rig thoroughly from structural point of view. All was good and we had a nice sail from 1100 to 1230.

We came back to the dock, made a few changes to a new mainsail, ate lunch and headed out at 1330 with the other RC 44s for the practice race. As the seaway was large outside the harbor….2 meter waves, Peter Reggio the Race Committee Chairman, decided to have three practice starts inside. What does “inside” mean? It means between The Palm and the shore, so hidden a bit from the waves. This was also a great idea because we were sailing right under all those big buildings I sent you pictures of yesterday. Good spectating and good PR for our sport!

We had Bob Little (“Peaches” as he was nicknamed by his mother) on the helm. Bob is a very good sailor who decided to get a real job a number of years ago. As the fleet racing is an amateur driver competition, Bob enjoyed the opportunity to get some starting practice in. He did a great job working with our bowman Morgan Gutenkunst getting their time-on-distance judgment down.

Then we went outside for the practice race. We had a good start, but struggled to find the groove in the big waves. We got better as the race went on. Downwind was a lot of fun as the boats were surfing the big waves and it was easy to gain and lose a lot of ground downwind. We did not do that well in the end, 6th I think. We have a debrief every day after sailing and we have been very positive about our training whether we win or lose. The key is to keep building our strength as a team. We will learn the tricks of these boats.

We had a nice welcome cocktail tonight and tomorrow is the first day of match racing. The format is a single round robin and since there are 10 teams here each team will have 9 matches. The winner of this part of the competition will be the team with the most points. We should be getting underway with the first flight around 1130 wind permitting. Unfortunately, the forecast is for the wind to lighten up substantially so let’s hope it doesn’t all go away. As you know, we have been sailing in plenty of light air recently.

For more information go to www.rc44.com

We have had two days of training here in Dubai on Katusha. Today was a very good day with wind speeds up to 14 knots. The boats were surfing downwind and there was plenty of action.

We trained with Aqua most of the day. We had about eight match race starts and three races with them. They had the upper hand on us all day, but we learned a lot. We have two new crew members for this regatta, Bob Little who will be our fleet racing helmsman and match racing tactician and Alan “Buddah” Nakanishi who is helping Robbie with the trimming of the kite and the jib. Alan is from Hawaii and been around as long as I have.

The remainder of the crew includes: Morgan Gutenkunst on the bow, Sander van der Borsch in the pit, Tahito Sanchez (mainsheet assist), Robbie Naismith (genoa-spinnaker trim), Jared Henderson (cockpit), Marco Constant (mainsheet) and me steering in the match racing and tactician in the fleet racing.

I took a few photos at the airport and around the Dubai International Marine Club which is hosting the Gold Cup. The airport is HUGE! You would think Dubai is the hub of the world with how many flights and people pass through here. I was here a few times 5 and 6 years ago and I can tell you that all those building behind the Yacht Club were not here as well as most of the other structures near the marina. We are just in front of The Palm and it is still under going massive construction. You wonder who is going to buy all these places.

The forecast for tomorrow is even more wind, maybe up to 20 knots, from the Northwest, then easing for the rest of the week. Hopefully not too much easing.

For more information go to www.rc44.com

It was another beautiful day in Portoroz with 14 to 8 knot winds and plenty of sunshine.

On Katusha, we began the day in fourth place in the fleet racing, with the goal of staying there to win the overall series (with our first place from the match racing portion and a fourth in the fleet racing). Artemis had a fifth in the match racing and they were in first in the fleet racing.

So, we had three windward leeward races today with the wind still from the northeast and plenty shifty.

In the first one, the shift went against us right before the first mark and we went from 2nd to last in one minute. We managed to pass two boats to finish 9th. At this point we were 5th in the fleet racing and therefore in second overall.

The pressure was on. We hit the right upwind in the second race and it came good for us in a big way and we won that race rather comfortably. Behind us there was plenty of mixing in the scores.

In the final race, we had a great start and got to the windward mark second. Up the second windward leg, Sea Dubai got to our right and passed us. Team Aqua was comfortably in the lead. We finished third and thought we had won the event overall.

Unfortunately, BMW Oracle had a rather bad day including a 9th in the last race while No Way Back had a series of 3rds and 4ths and quietly snuck past BMW Oracle for the fleet racing. In so doing, they tied us for the overall with a 3, 2. In this class, as the emphasis is on the owner driver aspect, the tie breaker goes in favor of the fleet racing.

So, with a bit of dispointment, we finished second overall and Artemis was third. Still, it was a great first outing for Katusha. Our owner was extremely pleased. He has not been a big sailor in the past but he seems truly bitten by the sport. He was onoard with his family at the end of the day, sailing the boat back to the dock with his friend Torbjorn Tornquist closeby on Artemis.

The next RC44 event is the last week of November in Dubai.

Right now, some of the Katusha team and I are in a van going to the Trieste airport to fly to Palma tonight. Tomorrow morning we are on deck with Artemis the TP 52 preparing for that World Championship.

Reports from Palma will start on Tuesday.

For complete results go to www.RC44.com

Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis controlled the situation today, winning the fleet race ranking ahead of Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back and BMW ORACLE Racing. No Way Back grabs the combined fleet race / match race ranking.

October 3, 2009 – Torbjorn Tornqvist, his tactician Dean Barker and their crew onboard Artemis controlled the situation perfectly today, increasing their lead in the overall ranking in the first race of the day before securing the title in the second. Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back controlled BMW ORACLE Racing throughout the day, grabbing the second place in the overall ranking and the first place in the combined fleet race / match race ranking.

The four boats who were leading the provisional ranking ahead of today’s races started the first race at the pin end of the line and headed for the left of the course. All other teams went right and benefited from a slightly better angle. Sailing fast and well, Artemis just managed to squeeze in and take the lead whilst BMW ORACLE Racing – sailing no more than one boat length behind Artemis – had no other choice but to bear away to give way to the other boats, finally rounding the top mark last!

The wind was quite irregular, provoking many changes within the fleet. No Way Back played the shifts well, grabbing the second place ahead of Team Aqua and Ceeref whilst BMW ORACLE Racing only managed to climb back up to the seventh place.

The Swedish team, with Torbjorn Tornqvist at the helm and Dean Barker calling the shots, won the DHL long distance race and dominated the day. The conditions were absolutely fantastic, with up to 20 knots of wind and a great sunshine.

October 2, 2009 – The double points DHL Trophy took place this morning in perfect conditions, with up to 20 knots of wind and a great sunshine. Artemis started the race at the Committee end of the line and tacked immediately, heading for the right of the course when all the other teams carried on to the left. The decision was right and Artemis reached the windward mark first.

The teams then sailed towards the medieval town of Piran, following the beautiful Slovenian coast. Some tried to cut the course by sailing close to the shore, whereas the local teams Ceeref and Modri Gaj knew that there would be windless patches under the cliffs and made a good move sailing further out. A confused sea and gusts of wind blowing up to twenty knots welcomed the teams past the cape of Piran. The eleven strong fleet then sailed upwind towards the next mark, in Isola. A wild spinnaker ride towards the arrival line – back in Portoroz – followed, giving the helmsmen the opportunity to test their skills. Artemis never got threatened during this ride, extending their lead and winning comfortably, ahead of Pieter Heerema’s No Way Back and Igor Lah’s Ceeref, quite unhappy in this regatta until this good result.

Two windward – leeward races followed the DHL Trophy. BMW ORACLE Racing, who seems to be the only team capable of challenging Artemis’ leadership in the fleet regatta, won the first one and finished second of the next whilst Artemis did the opposite. The second race turned out to be a match between the two boats, followed at a respectable distance by Chris Bake’s Team Aqua and Igor Lah’s Ceeref. The third race seemed to be one too much for some of the exhausted crews. The last windward mark rounding turned to carnage, with Aqua broaching, Ceeref twisting its spinnaker around the headstay, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero unable to bear away due to a blocked halyard and several other mishaps. Leading the fleet, No Way Back, BMW ORACLE Racing and Artemis extended their lead, Artemis managing to overtake both during the last beat to win the race.

Today’s races allowed some of the new teams in the Class to have their moment of glory. Sailing well in the breeze, Team Austria managed to challenge the best teams on several occasions, finishing the DHL Trophy in sixth – their best result so far. Also alternating the worse with the best, Modri Gaj finished seventh of the long distance regatta and sixth of the last race – after sailing in fourth for most of the regatta.

The last races will take place tomorrow. There are only fourteen points between the top three boats and everything remains possible.

They said:

Torbjorn Tornqvist, owner and helmsman, Artemis: “This is our best performance so far this year. The deciding factor for us is our great speed; we also perform very well as a team. All the little details make a difference. We had two great races against Russell.”

Noel Drennan, crewmember, BMW ORACLE Racing: “The DHL race was fantastic and we then sailed two beautiful races against Artemis. We were third during most of the long distance regatta but then we made a mistake at the last jibe, in Piran, loosing two places to Cayard and Ceeref. We are feeling much more comfortable again in the fleet races. We won the fleet regatta in Cagliari at the beginning of the year and then had some difficulties, but we are back at the top.”

Michael Reardon, helmsman, Modri Gaj: “The sailing was absolutely awesome; it?s a fantastic experience. I am pretty happy with our day and I feel that we are improving fast. We made great calls on the shifts and sailed quite well. Basically, the team was great and the only mistakes we did were mine.”

Pieter Taselaar, helmsman, Team Katusha: “I absolutely loved today. The boats are very exciting in those conditions, both up and downwind. We were doing 20 knots, it was awesome. The sensations are quite comparable to the Melges 32 but it is more technical, especially upwind. Paul Cayard gave me great advice. I had never sailed with him before; he is very calm, he explains a lot and helps us anticipate the next moves. I love sailing with him.”

Yousef Lahej, helmsman, Team Sea Dubai: “I am not happy with our results but the day was great. We had never sailed in such a breeze before and it was very difficult. In Dubai, we only get 14 knots of wind at best. The positive thing is that now we have done this. We have learned a lot. It was really cool downwind; we were surfing at full speed.”

Ren

A good day for Katusha. With a score of 4 in the DHL Coastal Race (and a 6, 4) in the two windward leeward races, we have moved up to 4th in the fleet racing. At this point, that has us in the lead for the overall win in the Bank Sarasin Cup.

Artemis had a great day with a 1, 2, 1 and showed that they have been in the Class for a couple of years. BMW Oracle also had a good day with a 5, 1, 2.

The wind was in today and we even had a bit of seaway in the DHL Race as we sailed out of the Bay of Portoroz and up to the Isola (about four miles to the northeast). With the wind hitting 17 knots, the ride back to Portoroz was fast as the fleet planed downwind.

The two windward leeward races were action packed as all the boats arrived at the top mark together in the smooth water of the bay. The wind was shifty though, as it was coming off the land, so plenty challenging for the tacticians.

Tomorrow, we should have two more windward leeward races. The forecast is for the same wind direction (060 Bora) with the speed starting the day at 20 knots and moderating to 10.

For more information go to www.RC44.com

Today was the first day of the fleet racing series. We had good winds all day, between eight and 12 knots. The wind was from the south and there were some pretty big shifts, and holes as well.

Onboard Katusha, we had a moderate day. We are lying 6th after four races, but just three points out of third. Things are tight still.

BMW Oracle had a great day winning the first two races and are leading the fleet racing at this point. No Way Back from Holland had a good day as well, winning the last two races so they are in third place. Artemis sailed more consistently and is in second place overall.

There are too many ups and downs to go through it all. One big mistake we had was being over the start line early in the third race. This made it tough for us and Team Modri Gaj of Slovenia, as we had to go back to restart and the fleet had a huge jump on us. We managed 10th in that one.

Today was also the first day of sailing for our helmsman, Pieter Taselaar. Most of the other helmsmen have been steering their boats for more than a year. These boats are very sensitive and need to be constantly adjusted, both the sails and helm, to go fast. Pieter did a great job today and he will feel even more comfortable tomorrow.

First thing tomorrow should be the DHL Race. This race is a coastal race of about 15-20 miles. We are going to race up to a town called Izola and back. There should be “Bora” wind tomorrow and rain too! Nice. After the DHL Race (which counts double) we will probably do one or two windward leeward races, weather permitting.

For more information go to www.RC44.com