Cayard, Coutts, Onorato, Gram-Hansen and more celebrate the RC44 Class debut in Switzerland 21/6/07

The idyllic setting of Lugano provided a spectacular backdrop for the first ever RC44 event in Switzerland. The Lugano Yacht Club Cup, the fourth event in the Class Championship Tour, presented challenging racing for RC44 owners and their crews during yesterday’s opening race.

The thermal mountain breeze began to build shortly after 14:00 and the teams enjoyed three fiercely competitive fleet races. Spectators lined the shore of Lake Lugano to watch the impressive, high performance RC44s manoeuvre, tackling and accelerating in the shifty conditions with ease.

Team Omega, with guest helmsman Ronnie Pieper, VP of the Swiss Sailing Federation and a 5.5m World Champion, smoothly dominated the first of the three fleet races. Team Omega, with Russell Coutts calling tactics, swiftly passed Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, on the first windward leg and led the fleet around the course. Team Aqua, with owner Chris Bake driving and tactician Cameron Appleton, quickly moved into second place, leaving Mascalzone Latino to finish third.

In the second race it was Teams Aqua and Light Bay that selected the favoured right side of the course from the start. While Mascalzone Latino and Team Omega, with their world-renowned tacticians Cayard and Coutts onboard went left, the other RC44 owners proved that the traditionally favoured right side of the lake would pay off. Team Aqua, the current leaders of the fleet, finished first, followed by Team Light Bay and Team Omega.

Mascalzone Latino’s America’s Cup helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen took the opportunity to step on board with Onorato’s team as a guest for the third race. It was a close start with the entire fleet on starboard, they then tacked swiftly back towards the right side of the lake, with the exception of Omega who remained in the middle of the course. This was to pay off for Coutts’s team as the wind dropped and the Race Committee shortened the course. A win for Mascalzone Latino was the perfect end to owner Vincenzo Onorato’s first day of racing onboard his RC44.

The much anticipated match race between Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard could not take place due to the lack of wind. The forecast for today is for 8-10 knots with mixed weather conditions.

Results (day 1 provisional)
1 Team Aqua, (2,1,3) 6 points
2 Team Omega, (1,3,2) 6 points
3 Mascalzone Latino (3,4,1) 8 points
4 Team Light Bay (Magia), (4, 2, 4) 10 points