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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 02/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Russian team Katusha, last year's runner-up in the RC44 Championship Tour, extended its lead at the top after the second day'saction in the RC44 Oman Cup at the Almouj Marina in The Wave, Muscat on Friday.

With winds of 13-15 knots greeting the 13 teams on a sunny afternoon, Katusha's tactician, Andy Horton of the US, managed to overcome the 'challenging conditions' to lead the fleet-racing with 14 points.

On a day when three different race winners emerged amid big wind shifts, Team Aqua of Great Britain managed to make up for the points lost on Thursday after its collision with Ironbound to finish second with 30 points.

Team Aqua, the defending champion, cruised to its first race win of the RC44 Oman Cup on Friday.

Katusha, meanwhile, fought for the pin and put in an early tack, taking the sterns of the fleet by the top mark just ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis Racing. The pair sailed away from the fleet before Katusha claimed its third win of the event.

The competition for third place was fierce with places changing in each of the legs. Valentin Zavadnikov's Russian Sailing Synergy Team eventually held off Peninsula Petroleum and Team Nika to finish third.

With the breeze dropping to eight-nine knots in the late afternoon, Artemis Racing took charge of the final race of the day.

Katusha and Team Aqua were involved in a close contest, with the latter taking the second spot in the final race.

Artemis Racing, Team Aqua and Katusha remain the only teams to win a race at the RC44 Oman Cup so far.

On the overall leaderboard, Katusha (14) stretched its lead from 11 to 16 points over Team Aqua (30). Artemis Racing is in third tied on points with Team Nika with 33 points. With two more days to go, Katusha appears to be in good position to clinch the regatta, but faces a stiff fight from Team Aqua, which is known for comebacks.

Team Aqua owner Chris Bake said, ''It's a new year. Everyone out there is focussed and energised. Katusha is sailing well, the whole fleet is very variable. The newer teams, such as Team

Nika and RUS-7 Sail Racing?Team, are all getting some good races in. It's pretty much an open season.''

Earlier on the opening day of fleet-racing on Thursday, Katusha dominated the proceedings, winning the first two races and making a remarkable recovery in the last to finish third.

Team Aqua finished second in both the opening races and sixth in the third. But a collision in the final race with Ironbound resulted in a dramatic end as the American team's scoop ripped away from the hull.

A protest was lodged by Ironbound's tactician Paul Goodison and after much debate in the protest room, Team Aqua was disqualified from the third race and handed out three additional penalty points, which dropped it from second to sixth overall. 

Ironbound was awarded redress, leaving it on third in the standings. Artemis Racing won the final race on Thursday after what had been an indifferent start for the Swedish team.

It picked up a penalty in the first race for missing the off-set mark and again in the second for trying to squeeze inside MAG Racing at the leeward gate.


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