Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info

High hopes for home team in season finale

Aqua crew told to stick to basics as they take a narrow lead into the championship decider when the showdown strats today off the Dubai coast.

DUBAIi // A protracted battle for supremacy on the high seas promises to reach a nerve-wracking conclusion over the next five days off the coast of Dubai and there is every chance that local sailing enthusiasts will be cheering a home team to victory.

Team Aqua, based in the UAE and owned by Canadian Chris Bake with New Zealand's Cameron Appleton at the helm, carry a narrow lead over their closest rivals Artemis into the final RC44 Championship regatta of a busy season which has seen competitive match racing and fleet racing at five other international venues. The class which was introduced by Russell Coutts, a three-time America's Cup winning skipper, here in Dubai three years ago has steadily grown in stature.

Two boats competed in that initial event, now there are 21 registered, 10 of which are moored off Dubai International Marine Club ready to burst into action when the Sea Dubai Gold Cup gets under way this morning. Providing Aqua finish what is likely to be an exhausting programme with a better record than that of Artemis, they will be confirmed champions of their class. There is a possibility the overall title could be snatched by No Way Back, currently third, or fourth-placed Oracle, but organisers regard such an outcome as unlikely.

Appleton and his fellow crew members have profited from their tremendous consistency all season but have seen a healthy early lead erode away to only three points going into the Gold Cup finale, which offers double points. His message to his crew going into the deciding regatta was to keep doing the basics well. Curiously Artemis, who have a Swedish skipper in Torbjorn Tornqvist and a New Zealand helmsman in Dean Barker, lead all three categories - match racing, fleet racing and DHL Trophy (long distance) - yet cannot claim pole position overall going into the deciding regatta.

"That's a little strange, it's a complicated scoring system but it rewards consistency," said Barker. "We didn't start the season very well but we've improved as the season has developed." "We have managed to close the gap on Cameron. The fact that we are racing for double points here means that none of the current rankings are safe . This is our last event. We are not required to be back next year but we want to close it off with a good result."

Asked for his strategy in the round-robin series of nine match races and the maximum of 12 fleet races, he responded: "We are hoping to be lucky out there. It's better to be lucky than good." Sadly for the prestige of the event, Coutts has changed his plans to compete because of the priority of preparing his Oracle team for the much-delayed America's Cup challenge to the Swiss catamaran Alinghi. Several of the likely America's Cup crew members have travelled from their San Diego base to take part against the other nine teams which include a second home representation in Sea Dubai.

They occupy eighth position of 15 teams who have taken part at the various venues and have an Emirati owner in Yousef Lahej. He has Germany's Markus Wieser at the helm. Wieser said: "We have been playing catch up for most of the campaign and it is not easy to make up ground because all the other guys are getting better and better in this class." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National