Sunday, December 12, 2010

BMW ORACLE Racing on threshold of RC 44 season championship

MIAMI (Dec. 11, 2010) -- Larry Ellison moved one day closer to securing the 2010 RC 44 Season Championship by climbing the leaderboard in the fleet racing portion of the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami.

Ellison and tactician Russell Coutts scored an eighth and a fifth in today’s two races and now have 34 points. A top-three finish in the fleet racing, coupled with the sixth they scored in the match racing would be enough to secure the overall championship they led coming into the final event of the season.

Points are easy to come by on the racecourse, however, and the crew’s win is far from certain.

“We’re not there yet,” said BMW ORACLE Racing mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder. “There are a lot of boats out there and it’s easy to rack up the points. The key is to get a free lane. When you get near other boats you tend to slow down, so it’s almost worth it to sail extra distance and get a clear lane.”

Ellison and Coutts trail the RC 44 World Champion yacht 17, led by helmsman William “Doug” Douglass and tactician James Spithill, by 20 points. Douglass and Spithill scored two bullets today and have 14 points in 6 races.

“I’ve got a good crew and a great tactician in Jimmy Spithill,” said Douglass. “He’s putting me in the right place and the guys have the boat tuned great. It’s easy to go well when the boat’s fast.”

For the RC 44 World Champion crew of 17, Douglass represents the third fleet racing helmsman this season. The lack of continuity is far from ideal, but the crew has adapted.

“It’s difficult getting a new helmsman every regatta because the communication from one to the next is always different and basically you’re starting over again at every event,” said 17 crewman Kyle Langford. “But because we’ve had so many different guys we’ve been able to figure out what to focus on to make it work.”

The ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami and 2010 season conclude tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 12:00 pm.