Saturday, May 1, 2010

May day at the RC 44 Austria Cup

On Saturday at the RC 44 Austria Cup, the teams shifted modes from match racing to fleet racing on a non-scoring day.  

Today was billed as a practice day, with a 'long-distance race'. In effect, it's an opportunity for the amateur drivers to get a feel for the boats. (In the RC 44 Class, pros are allowed to drive in the match racing, but amateurs must be on the helm for the fleet racing).

With it being a Saturday and the May 1st holiday in Europe as well, it was a chance to bring the racing close to shore and the start line was set up just off the race village allowing the hundreds of spectators down at Lake Traunsee to get an up-close look at the action.

PRO Peter Reggio held the fleet ashore for a short postponement to allow the wind to build and then gave the teams several practice starts ahead of the distance race, which isn't scored towards the overall results. 

"It's chance to get geared up for the fleet racing and that's a good thing as we're still trying to get the most out of what is a new team," said John Kostecki, tactician on the RC 44 Challenge boat, who finished in seventh place in the race, while BMW ORACLE Racing was third.
Among the interesting changes the amateur driver rule brings is where Jimmy Spithill ends up on the boat - after steering in the match races, he is now turning the handles as a grinder for the fleet racing. But according to Kostecki, that's no bad thing.

"He's actually a very good grinder," JK says. "He's probably the fittest guy on the team, so that's not an issue at all. If anything, it's an upgrade!"

Spithill spent countless hours in the gym training ahead of the 33rd America's Cup Match which put him in good stead for the extremely long days on the trimaran and now as a grinder at the RC 44 Austria Cup.

The fleet racing regatta begins on Sunday.