DUBAI // With light winds returning to the Dubai coastline, the Artemis and No Way Back yachts head into today's second round of fleet races locked in a two-way fight for top billing, after both crews snared 11 points in four Sea Dubai RC44 Gold Cup regattas yesterday. "It was good to get out there," said Dean Barker, the Artemis skipper. "It's the first reasonable breeze we've had so it made for good sailing. The guy who is steering our boat, Tim Snedden, has never sailed the RC44 before. He's replaced the owner who couldn't be here, so every race for him is doubling his experience. "He's getting to grips with that and he's been doing a really good job. There is still plenty of racing to go, so we'll keep our wits about us and keep trying to get consistent results," he added.
Ray Davies, the No Way Back skipper, was equally as positive after piloting his RC44 to a a hat-trick of top three finishes in four races, including a victory in the final regatta. "We've got less than a three point average for the fleet racing and the team's thrilled," said Davies. "We kept off the edges of the course, played up the middle and tried to stay in play with the shifts. Some of the other guys got caught out on the edges, but we were just going for small gains. We made some good calls in the down wind and had good boat speed." Davies also insisted his crew have a close eye on chief rivals Artemis. "We've got confidence and nothing to lose, we'll keep sailing one race at a time and keep the positive atmosphere on the boat. Pieter Heerema is doing a good job steering, but we're keeping a close eye on Artemis. They are the favourites, but it could get quite interesting with the double points up for grabs this weekend."
In was an up-and-down day for Sea Dubai, the home yacht. The Markus Wiesner skippered yacht won the first regatta, but was last in the final race; the team also managed fifth and third place finishes in the middle races. "It was a short day, so finishing fourth or fifth overall is fine, it's average," said Wiesner. "The last race was disappointing but we sailed quite well over the day. We had good starts in two races, but we struggled a little bit on boat speed, maybe concentration as well, towards the end. That's how it is." The rival crews' intent to make the most of the whimpering winds is understandable when one casts a closer look at the high-speed, feather-like RC44s. The identical yachts weigh just over three and half tonnes, almost two thirds of which is contributed by the sturdy keels. And with crews, usually eight or nine sailors strong, allowed to collectively weigh no more than 680kg, the yachts are making light of the tame breezes.
While yesterday's five knot winds bordered menacingly on the postponement mark, for the third day on the trot, the light thermal drafts did not hinder some intriguing sailing, or the crews' enjoyment, according to Artemis pitman, Christen Plinius. "It's difficult without the wind, but it's the same for everyone," said Plinius. "The boats are amazing; they are designed to go five six knots in the same amount of wind. It's fun in these boats, as opposed to other boats. You'd be bored in other boats. email@example.com