In a change to the normal RC44 race format, the fleet switched their typical windward-leeward course for a long distance race. From Virgin Gorda’s North Sound, the fleet hoisted their kites into the Caribbean Sea, before rounding Guana Island with a long beat back to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. After 28nm of racing where the lead changed on a number of occasions, Peninsula Petroleum took the winners gun in 3 hours 16 minutes, less than 1minute ahead of second placed Synergy Russian Sailing Team.
Peninsula Petroleum triumph in long race - RC44 Virgin Gorda Cup
Team Nika took the early lead, leading the fleet out of Virgin Gorda’s North Sound. An early split saw Peninsula Petroleum, Synergy and Lunajets Aleph Racing gybe over to hug the shore line, as Nika lead the rest of the fleet who had opted to stay out to sea. Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge was forced to make an early spinnaker peel, after ripping their kite on a passing schooners mast, pushing them to the back of the fleet.
As the fleet passed Cockroach Island, a right shift favouring the trio inshore, extending their lead over the rest of the fleet. Reaching North Bay Bluff the fleet dropped their kites for a two sail reach down to Monkey Point, the southernmost tip of Guana Island. It was Peninsula Petroleum who re-hoisted their kite first with Synergy chasing hard, Aleph in third.
Synergy were next to pounce, with co-owner Leonid Lebedev at the helm they passed Peninsula Petroleum on the run up the west side of Guana Island. Synergy’s tactician Ed Baird explained their strategy. 'We had really worked hard to understand this course and were confident with the decision for an early gybe on the run and it worked out nicely. Our research also told us to drop our spinnaker on the right hand side of the boat, so when we rounded the southern side of the island we were all set up on to hoist and unfortunately for them Peninsula dropped their kite on the left, which allowed us to get ahead.'
A close fetch back to Mosquito Rock saw the Russian team go low and fast, it didn’t pay, both leading boats had to tack for the Rock before re-entering the Sound. As they rounded Mosquito Rock the Gibraltar based Peninsula Petroleum had a five-boat length lead and continued to extend away as they headed to the finish line off the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
Tactician Vasco Vascotto was thrilled with the days racing 'This is one of the best places you can do a coastal race, there are islands and channels that can change the racing very quickly. We are very happy with the day, the boat has been sailing nicely, the guys are doing and excellent job. We are really just enjoying the conditions and because of this the results follow. But obviously we need to keep the pressure off because we are Latin, and Latin people are very passionate, so we need to keep focused.'
Synergy held off the French, Aleph Racing, to take second. Team Aqua, with owner Chris Bake back on the helm today, closed up on the leading trio, but could only manage fourth place. Bombarda Racing finished fifth, enough to keep them in touch with Peninsula Petroleum at the top of the leaderboard.
Racing continues at the RC44 Virgin Gorda Cup through to Sunday 16th February.