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.

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The American sailor won the best of three final series against Karol Jablonski’s Organika. Ray Davies and Pieter Heerema finish third onboard No Way Back.

September 30, 2009 – Paul Cayard and his new team Katusha surprised everyone – and himself – in the Bank Sarasin RC 44 Portoroz Cup match race series, dominating the event and winning the best of three final against Karol Jablonski’s Organika. Katusha is the latest RC 44 (number 22), just out of the Pauger boatyard. The team is also brand new and had never sailed together under Cayard’s leadership. No Way Back (Ray Davies & Pieter Heerema) finishes third ahead of Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (Jose Maria Ponce), Artemis (Dean Barker) and Team Aqua (Cameron Appleton).

The day started with a “dead or alive” match between the local team Modri Gaj and Team Austria. At the helm of Modri Gaj, Gasper Vincec managed to close the door at the start, kicking the Austrians out and taking control of the race to win it.

The other semi-finals saw today’s most spectacular matches, including an aggressive fight between Dean Barker’s Artemis and S

Katusha wins the Match Racing! It could not have gone better for our first two days of racing in the RC44 Class.

We had a one race match against Puerto Calero in the semi final first thing today. The wind was light and the two boats were never more than 3 boat lengths apart.

Then we faced Organika in the finals, a best 2 out of 3. We won the first race wire to wire. Organika had a slightly better start in the second race and they went all the way left, while we went all the way right. Left was far better and it never was much of a contest.

That set up the race for all the marbles. We led back in the prestart and slowed Organika down nicely. Then we sheeted on and took the favored right side of the line and race course. It was a bit close up the first leg, but we were always in control. They then gybed away down the run and we just sailed the pressure and stretched nicely. That was pretty much it. The last lap was more of a delivery, which was just fine with the Katusha Team.

All happy here. Tomorrow the fleet racing starts. All boats must have an amateur helmsman and we have a good one…Pieter Taselaar who just won the Melges 32 Worlds in Porto Cervo last week.

The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same with the possibilty of showers.

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A good day onboard Katusha today and it was our first race day. The 11 boats were split into two groups; six in our group and five in the other. We were 3-2 in the match racing and finished up second in our round. Organica of Poland was first with 4-1. We were in a position to win each of our races and made one key mistake in each of the two that we lost. As frustrating as that is, I would rather know that we have the ability to win and made a mistake than to not have the ability to win.

In the other group, Puerto Calero won and No Way Back finished up second. The surprise there is that Artemis and BMW Oracle are out of the top two, both finished up 2-2.

Tomorrow should put the top two teams of each division in a semi-final and then the final for the two winners.

Those who did not qualify will race for 5th-11th.

The winds were very light again today, with a peak wind speed of 8 knots at 1500. But these RC44s are very high powered boats, so it was very good racing anyway.

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Today was the official practice race. We went out early and did some practice match racing with Artemis. The practice race was a fleet race and we finished a credible third. We had the lead off the start and 3/4’s of the way up the first beat, then made some mistakes. So the good news is that we can improve. The wind was 8-9 knots, which is a good breeze in these boats. As you can see from the photo, we were fully powered up. Artemis won the practice race and Aqua was second, Ceeref fourth.

In the photo, from front to back is Mo Gutenkunst, “Belt” Sander, Jarad “Beach” Henderson, Robbie “the Battler Naismith”, “Sister” Theresa, Marco “Shark” Constant and missing is Mohito and myself. I think I must have been down below making a sandwich at this time. No really, I was on the boat today. The dude on the back with the life jacket is a photographer.

Tomorrow we start the match racing part of the event. Our first match is against Sea Dubai, and then we have Aqua who is leading the season. First warning signal is at 1130. The forecast is for light winds all week.

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We had a very good day of practice today on Katusha, our new Russian RC44. A lot of work has gone into getting the brand new boat ready for our first event here in Slovenia. Brad and JR have been here a month putting the keel on, getting the bottom perfect, assembling the rig and fine tuning all the bits and pieces. They have done a great job and we have a very nice boat to sail.

The Katusha crew is all new, so we have not sailed together before. These boats are really demanding from a crew stand point. The boats are very powerful and agile, so things happen fast. We have made great strides since our first day sailing together last Wednesday, but we have a ways to go to be as proficient at the teams that have sailed together for the past two seasons.

Tomorrow is the practice race. Since the practice race is a fleet race, we will do three or four practice match races with the Team Artemis beforehand. I know this is confusing, as I usually sail on Artemis. But that is the Artemis TP52 and this is the Artemis RC44, which has Dean Barker as helmsman.

The RC44 class allows four professional sailors and the remaining sailors must be non-professional. The owner or his representative, in any case an amateur, may helm the boat in the fleet racing. This has proven to be good for sailing in many other classes like Farr 40 and Melges 32. The pros, who are the tacticians in the fleet racing, helm the boats in the Match Racing. This is a lot of fun for us.

The format is that the first two days of the event are match racing and the last three days are fleet racing. There is placing for each discipline, as well as an overall combined placing.

The forecast for the next few days is for light winds.

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The Lake of Traunsee was not too kind to us today. Four very mediocre finishes pushed us down to 6th overall. The team from Holland in No Way Back, won the event. Artemis and Aqua followed.

The sun actually came out for the day which made things a lot more pleasant. There was plenty of snow around in the hills after all the rain of the last two days. There wasn’t much wind up at the Gmunden end of the lake so after the first race, things were moved completely down to the other end, about 10K from Gmunden.

This is a beautiful place especially when the sun is out. Idylic really. Nice weekend homes for the people of Linz and Salzberg.

The RC 44 is a great boat and I hope to do some more sailing in the class.

I am back to San Francisco tomorrow and training on Flash next weekend for Trans-Pac with Danny and Allie and the rest of the Flash team.

The Ceeref team had an ok day today. As with most of the teams, we went from first to last and back so many times and can’t remember. The conditions were fairly light and very shifty. There were some massive holes, the worst of which swallowed up Artemis in one race that they were winning on the second windward leg and left them in last.

The weather has been bad the last 48 hours. Lots of rain and very shifty, gusty conditions. This what we woke up to today with the added factor of 6C temperature. We don’t really have the right clothes for this place. However it was 33C here on Monday.

We had the “long race” first today. This race is called the DHL race as it is sponsored by DHL. It was about a 5 miles beat to windward and a 5 mile run. The race counts double points and naturally it was our worst race. We were in good shape in third about three quarters of the way up to the top mark. Then, I got us out of phase and we rounded about 7th.

Down the run we made some gains and passed one boat only to fall in a hole just before the finish and have one boat come from behind with a puff and roll us right on the line. We finished 7th in that one and it counted double! God knows why.

Anyway, Team Sea Dubai went from dead last to first in this one. They were followed by Artemis and then BMW Oracle who had a huge come back as well.

Then we had two windward leeward races. Well, that is what they were supposed to be. These were both very squirrely races with the wind going from 165 at 7 knots to 180 and then to 120 and dying to 2 knots. We had decent starts in these and managed to get a 4th and a 2nd.

All this took hours. We went out at 0900 today and came in a 1700. Lots of time in between races waiting for the wind to come up of settle in direction. That is almost a hopeless aspiration here. The people are very friendly though.

Here is an article on the RC44 site about today’s racing.

Anyway, tonight is the gala dinner and tomorrow is the last day of racing. We start again at 1000 and hopefully we will get four races in which is the maximum allowed in one day.

The points for top 5 in the fleet racing as of now are:

No Way Back – 19 Points
Ceeref – 21
Team Aqua – 21
Artemis – 23
Team Sea Dubai – 30

You can find the results on the official site for the class is:

The Ceeref team had a great day today, winning the day with a 2nd and a 1st place in the fleet racing. The conditions were fairly windy and very shifty.

With owner Igor Lah at the helm, we got off the line well in both races. We fell a bit behind on the first leg of the first race as Artemis took control. We managed a good comeback on the second windward leg and final run to finish second.

In the second race, the wind was building. We started in 15 knots. The wind was shifting from 270 to 300 every three minutes. It wasn’t the same over the course. Very tricky! We had a good start and played the first few shifts off the line. By the first windward mark we had a 100 yard lead. Artemis was looking good again up half way up the beat but got too far left and rounded about 5th.

We got a nice puff and extended down the run. At the bottom of the run, a strong gust came through…. about 35 knots. We had just gotten around the bottom mark and were going up wind as BMW Oracle and Artemis were coming downwind straight at us, pretty much out of control. I thought they were going to hit us and told our guest to get ready to avoid them. They both missed us and both broached. There was carnage all over the place. Gennakers flagging, boats on their side, etc.

We, and the fleet, managed to sail the second windward leg with way too much sail up. The wind shifted hard to the right as this front passed very quickly and the final run was a 2 sail reach in 30 knots of wind. The boat was going 21 knots! Igor did a great job of keeping the boat under control. Igor has only been sailing for two years and clearly doesn’t know everything about the sport. But it was very clear to me that he had a great feel for “balance” and he instinctively sailed the boat to the right heel angle. This is a hard thing to teach someone but Igor seems to have that inside him.

The wind died after that front went through, then we had plenty of rain. After that it went clam and then we were told of another squall coming and ordered to the moorings. We just got to the moorings when the next line of squally hit. Lightning and hail. The call came, “Let’s just scrape the snow off the jib before we put her down below.” Mate, I don’t thing I have heard that call in a long time.

Tomorrow we will have a bit of an earlier start and hope to get about 5 or 6 races in.

I haven’t seen the scores but I know we won the day and Artemis was second with a 1, 4.

We had a good day onboard Ceeref today winning three races and losing just one. The conditions were tricky as seems to be the norm here and this caused more than a few lead changes.

Before things got going, our boat captain Josh did a great job getting down to the boat at 0700 to check her out. He even dove on the boat and found that the trim tab had been damaged by one of the mooring lines the night before in the storm. He and a couple of the crew took the boat down to the end of the lake, about 10 miles away, hauled it and tried to put in the spare tab. It did not fit so they put the damaged one back in, sanded it a bit and we raced like that. Luckily we had a bye in the first flight of racing so we did not miss anything.

We actually led around every mark of every race we were in. In our first race, we lost the lead on the final run to the finish when the boat behind gybe set and got a puff of wind we never saw. Other than that, we never crossed behind anyone. I could not have hoped for much more than that. Most importantly, my friend and fellow team member from the 1983 America’s Cup, Rod Davis, kindly let me beat him so I could win the master division.

If you want to read more about the day this is a descriptive article.

So tomorrow we have the last four matches. We start out with Artemis where Dean Barker is the helmsman. The forecast for tomorrow isn’t great but I think we just have to reset our idea of good wind down to about 4 knots with 40 degree shifts and then it will all be normal.

We had a nice party tonight in an old palace half way down the west side of the Lake. There was a church in this place from the 12th century. Most places we go are very international really. If you go to Palma or St. Tropez or San Francisco, you can find anything. This place is very old and very Austrian.

Standings after today:

1) Team Aqua, Cameron Appleton 4/1, 4 points
2) CEEREF, Paul Cayard, 3/1, 3 points
2) Artemis, Dean Barker, 3/2, 3 points
2) Team Organika, Karol Jablonski 3/2, 3 points
5) BMW ORACLE Racing, Rod Davis, 2/2, 2 points
5) No Way Back, Pieter Heerema, 2/2, 2 points
5) Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Jose Juan Calero, 2/3, 2 points
8) Team Sea Dubai, Markus Wieser, 1/3, 1 point
9) Team Austria, Christian Binder, 0/4, 0 point