Team Artemis grabs the lead in the Bank Sarasin RC 44 Portoroz Cup

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.”