x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Aqua can smell the title with only two races to go

Chris Bake, the Dubai-based owner, is well placed to win the RC 44 Championship Tour after a match racing, fleet racing and overall championship sweep at the Valencia Cup.

Team Aqua, left, in hot pursuit of a rival yacht in the waters off Valencia.
Team Aqua, left, in hot pursuit of a rival yacht in the waters off Valencia.

Chris Bake, the Dubai-based owner of Team Aqua, is well placed to win the RC 44 2010 Championship Tour after a match racing, fleet racing and overall championship sweep at the RC 44 Valencia Cup. His team will take to the waters again at the Puerto Calero Islas Canarias Cup in the Canary Islands, from October 11 to 16, with a one-point lead over BMW Oracle Racing and Artemis (seven points each) in this season's championship after their enviable treble at Valencia last week.

The final race of the championship is scheduled for Miami from December 7 to 12 and Bake, a Canadian working for a Dubai International Financial Centre oil company, is aiming to repeat their feat of 2007, when Team Aqua won the title. "We would love to do that," Bake said in a phone interview from Britain. "It will certainly be good for the UAE. I know the UAE are pushing sailing again now, both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and looking at hosting several world-class events. Many of the same sailors are racing in this circuit, so I think it's a really good profile for the UAE."

While Bake is keen to help the sport grow in the Emirates, he admits the weather does not give him much sailing time in Gulf waters. "I do some of the non-racing sailing in the UAE at a club level," he said. "Frankly, between the RC 44 and the V840 that I race from time to time, I only tend to sail in the UAE when the 44 is there, which is two to three months a year. The rest of the time, I sail in other locations.

"The summer in the UAE is not very conducive to sailing if you take the temperature and the lack of winds. But in the fall and over the winter months, it's great sailing in the UAE." Bake is a passionate sailor, who grew up in Spain and sailed while attending school in England and university in the United States. But the demands of his professional life and raising a family took him away from the sport.

However, pictures of an RC 44 competing in a match racing event in Dubai in 2006, revived his passion and support from Russell Coutts, the four-time America's Cup winner and a sailing legend, encouraged Bake to join the RC 44 Championship Tour. Bake said: "For a while, when I started my professional life and then I got married and then we had kids and then we were moving around, I never really had a chance to develop it very much from my early days of sailing in high school and university.

"The incredible thing about this format, the way this class is put together, it allows you to sail with a mixture of amateur and professionals. The exposure you get and the type of racing you get is at a level you can never really emulate in a purely amateur circuit. "And because of the class of boats that's involved and the professionals that have signed up to sail in this boat, the quality of those professionals is phenomenal."

@Email:arizvi@thenational.ae