by Jo Grindley
If the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Cascais Cup belonged to John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum, on day two it was the turn of Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika.
RC44 Cascais Cup - Team Nika
In breeze that was considerably lighter than yesterday, another three races were held on the Atlantic waters off Lisbon, with Nika putting in a 5-3-1. This was enough to elevate them from fifth to second place, now just three points behind overall leader, Peninsula Petroleum.
'5-3-1 - the order matters, as we’re climbing up, so I’m happy,' beamed Prosikhin.'We had no presents from the weather, like nice wind shifts. It was hard work all the time, but we made no big mistakes. We made some bad tacks in the last race but we won that. We were doing well today.'
Prosikhin said that the difference today compared to yesterday was that conditions had dropped, but even so you had to change mode during the day - including boat set-up and helming style - as the wind increased from eight knots to 14-15 for the last race.
Nika is currently in her highest position ever at an RC44 fleet racing regatta, the difference apparently being the effect the team’s new American tactician Terry Hutchinson. According to Prosikhin, Hutchinson has a unique style: 'I consider Italian tactics on board to be emotional while Anglo-Saxon tactics are rational. With Terry we get both! But I like it this way. I always get something sweet from it, even when I make mistakes. He is tough, but encouraging.'
Hutchinson felt that Team Nika had shown good boat speed today and he, Prosikhin and the team had made two and a half good starts, despite running into MAG Racing’s transom in the first race and a hole in their spinnaker on the final run of race two, causing the kite to explode 50m shy of the finish line.
A new American tactician to the fleet also featured in today’s first race win, when Andrea Pozzi’s Bombarda prevailed, featuring Oracle Team USA’s John Kostecki. 'We made a good start, which was very fast and John sent us to the right and it was good. Every race we were very fast and we were in a good position,' summarised Pozzi, whose team is only sailing its second ever RC44 regatta, but now lies fifth. Originally a motor racing driver, Pozzi previously competed in the Melges 32 class but graduated up to the RC44, which he says is the top racing boat class, short of the America’s Cup.
Another team having a strong day was Bronenosec, which after a disappointing performance yesterday, posted a 3-1-9 today, the second strongest across the fleet, elevating them from last position to ninth.
Bronenosec is skippered by Commodore of the St Petersburg Yacht Club Vladimir Liubomirov and has Italian America’s Cup veteran Michele Ivaldi as tactician: 'We had a good day, especially compared to yesterday,' said Liubomirov. 'We improved a lot and I am really happy: Conditions were not as difficult as yesterday and yesterday we learned our lessons.'
Also on the ascent is Artemis Racing, skippered by Torbjörn Törnqvist, which scored a 6-2-3 today, a vast improvement over the Swedish team’s scoreline on Thursday.
'We were going pretty well which helped a lot – it makes my job easy when we are going fast,' commented tactician on board, Iain Percy, the British double Olympic gold medallist who now runs Törnqvist’s Swedish America’s Cup challenge. 'We were over on the first start, but we had good speed in slightly easier conditions and the boat was well set up and we were the same speed, if not better, than most.'
Percy has been racing the RC44s for the best part of a year. 'It is a fun boat and it’s really good here. The standard is now up another jump as a lot of people have come from the Cup, but it's happening at the pace of the owners as well. It is fun racing, the boat is tweaky and you have got to be quick. It is proper sail boat racing.'
Day three of fleet racing continues tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 11.30.
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