The GC32 Villasimius Cup has a worthy winner in Oman Air supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco, but her lead of nine points as the ten flying catamarans returned to Marina di Villasimius yesterday afternoon was no reflection of the competition’s closeness.
Yesterday the Omanis may once again have been lowest scorers, but Alinghi and INEOS Rebels UK were only one and two points behind. This situation would have been markedly different too had these two teams not been called OCS in the final race, in which they finished seventh and eighth respectively.
“We had a really good day of solid racing and we came back to within four points of Oman Air before the last race,” said Nicolas Charbonnier, the 470 Olympic bronze medallist, now Alinghi’s main trimmer/tactician.
The main feature of the day was the overcast sky and torrential rain combined with intense gusts due to the northerly wind blowing across mountainous southeast Sardinia. In one race, wind speed ranged from 9 to 23 knots. However it was a day of high adrenalin reaching starts.
Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Rebels UK got out of the blocks strongly in Villasimius’ uncharacteristic ‘British’ weather, relieving Jason Carroll’s Argo of the lead in race one to finish ahead of Alinghi and Oman Air, thereby setting the tone of the day.
“It was a funny old day – we were Code Zero up, down and struggling with jib choices every race,” commented Giles Scott, the INEOS Rebels UK tactician/main trimmer.
In fact INEOS Rebels UK was called OCS in the last two races, but in the penultimate one, when Red Bull Sailing Team was also penalised, both teams recovered superbly, finishing third and second respectively. “It is shame we didn’t finish it off with a good one,” continued Scott. “Otherwise we were really happy with the way we sailed. It was nip and tuck racing, against very good teams. It really justifies our decision to do this circuit.”
INEOS Rebels UK led for the first lap in today’s second race but was overhauled by Alinghi on the first beat, with Argo again doing well to take third. Alinghi won this race, and also race four after winning the start and leading into the reaching mark. “It was not easy to sail, but it was the same for everyone,” said Nicolas Charbonnier. “We had good fun, but we have a few little things we can still improve.”
After a strong start to the event, Franck Cammas and NORAUTO had a Saturday the Volvo Ocean Race and Route du Rhum winner would rather forget and a decidedly mixed Sunday, the French team’s bullets in the third and final races surrounded by deep results.
Cammas commented: “We had some good races, which means we have the necessary speed and the right boat handling to win, but we’re not consistent enough. We need to make some details better and avoid making mistakes. Today we started well twice, and that was when we did well. Our upwind starts are good enough, but we can do much better on the reaching starts.”