x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Sun sets on water for Davies

The Kiwi guides No Way Back to triumph as the Dutch yacht takes advantage of Aqua and Artemis teams' failures to win the RC44 series.

Team Aqua failed to win any of the 10 fleet races on offer and lost out to the No Way Back team.
Team Aqua failed to win any of the 10 fleet races on offer and lost out to the No Way Back team.

DUBAI // It may not have been a very sunny afternoon yesterday in Dubai, but Ray Davies did not seem to mind. The Kiwi has proven his worth over the past four days at the Sea Dubai RC44s Gold Cup, guiding the Dutch yacht No Way Back to what was considered an unlikely overall triumph in six-event international series.

The No Way Back crew arrived in the UAE trailing Team Aqua and Team Artemis after the total points from five previous regattas had totted up and sensed that overall honours were beyond them in a highly competitive class featuring identical boats. But a combination of their own brilliant sailing and the failure of Aqua and Artemis to perform to their potential opened the door for them to capitalise.

"We're all ecstatic about this," said Davies, a former member of the Team New Zealand America's Cup team who began to get a sniff of the main award on Saturday when he and his colleagues swept to an emphatic victory in the DHL long-distance race, which carried a high premium of points. "It's been a great week for us. We knew we had to have a solid regatta to stand any chance and rely on a bit of help from elsewhere.

"Fortunately some of the other teams had a bad match racing regatta which got us right back in the hunt and once we were in the running we took our opportunity superbly. "We came here as underdogs so there was no pressure on us, unlike the situation facing the crews who were ahead of us. There was a really awesome atmosphere on the boat. Everything came together for us over the last couple of days."

The spirit in the No Way Back camp was typified in the penultimate race of the programme when they were penalised for an illegal tacking manoeuvre at the first mark which relegated them to last position. "The boys were not fazed by that setback and just got straight back to the jobs they were doing," said Davies. "Their attitude was tremendous and we somehow managed to make up a great deal of ground to finish fifth which was brilliant for team spirit."

The writing was on the wall for Aqua after the match racing series which got under way a day late because of an absence of wind on Wednesday. The UAE team, owned by Canadian businessman Chris Bake, finished last of the 10 boats in that curtailed programme with Artemis finishing second bottom. Aqua had chances to win several of the 10 fleet races but could not accept any of them. With chief rivals Artemis managing only one win out of 10, both boats were vulnerable to Davies's expertise on the high seas. And the joyful Kiwi certainly made them pay.

The uncharacteristically poor showing of the Aqua team in home waters led to them falling from first to fourth in the overall rankings. Sweden's Artemis, owned by Torbjorn Torqvist and skippered by New Zealand's Dean Barker, held on to second place with the Slovenian entry Ceeref profiting from their match racing triumph here to claim third overall in the annual standings. Sea Dubai, the second of the UAE entries, finished ninth out of the 11 teams who have taken part at the six different venues in 2009.

Their team, led by Emirati Yousef Latej, were helped by two victories on home waters in the fleet series, the last of them fittingly rounding off the annual programme. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae