If the RC44 Austria Cup’s star performer was the crew on Rene Mangold’s AEZ RC 44 Team yesterday, then today’s second round of fleet racing belonged to Torbjorn Tornqvist and the crew of Artemis.
Racing started on time at 1130 local, with 8-10 knots funnelling up snowy peak-lined Lake Traunsee from the south. This held long enough for Principle Race Officer Peter Reggio to bang off three races, before a giant wind shift established the wind in the west. A fourth race was later started but stopped half way up the first beat as the wind disappeared.
In race one today, Massimo Barranco’s Italian team on AFX Capital Racing Team led around the top mark, but on the first run there was a dramatic turnaround as Artemis split from the leaders choosing a course nearer the shore and, benefitting from both improved shift and pressure, soared from seventh place into first, rounding the leeward gate 10 boat lengths ahead of second placed AFX. From here, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s team extended leaving Vladimir Prosikhin’s Nika, John Bassadone’s Gibraltar team on Peninsula Petroleum and AFX, to fight it out for second, eventually finishing in that order.
Artemis tactician Morgan Larsen admitted that they had got a little lucky. 'It came and went – the deciding part was when we took a little risk and got away from the group. The shift went our way, but it was a 50-50 toss-up – it just seemed that getting away from the other boats was valuable.'
In race two, Artemis’ victory was decidedly less clear-cut. She didn’t get the best start and at the first weather mark rounding, Nika was first, ahead of Hughes Lepic’s Aleph Sailing Team and Igor Lah’s Ceeref, the Swedish team again in the fleet’s bottom half. The Italians on AFX made the best of the run to take the lead ahead of Ceeref and Nika. Artemis picked up places on the second beat and was in third at the second top mark rounding, but it was close. The final run was a dramatic surf-fest, the boats on the edge and flying.
As tactician Morgan Larsen described it: 'Just at the finish we got one little right shift and Torbjorn [Tornqvist] got the boat on the plane, when it was marginal planing conditions, and we got an extra three knots of speed.' Artemis nosed ahead of AFX to take her second consecutive victory.
Tornqvist later paid tribute to his tactician: 'Morgan did a fantastic job calling the wind shifts which were quite substantial. With the big shifts it was about positioning and he is very good at that and it paid off today.'
In the third race, Nika got off to a perfect start at the pin and then led the boats short tacking up the shore line to round the top mark with a three to four boatlength advantage over the Steve Howe-helmed Katusha, making it a Russian 1-2. Vladimar Prosikhin’s team extended down the run, but were caught on the next beat by Katusha, the two boats holding a huge margin over those chasing. On this occasion, Prosikhin and his crew were more fortunate than their Italian rivals had been in the previous race and fended off Katusha to take the win.
'We are very happy about that,' said Prosikhin, who is marking his first anniversary in the RC44 class at this regatta. 'After Katusha caught us it was just a game to stay ahead and be patient and not to make any sharp moves. Thankfully it was okay and we succeeded. Here you can lose, because if the wind dies the boats behind can pass you. This year the weather is completely crazy. Still the better boats go well.'
As opposed to their performance yesterday, Prosikhin, who heralds from St Petersburg, Russia, said in today’s third race they made 'virtually no mistakes'.
Having led overall at the end of racing yesterday, the local heroes on the Austrian AEZ RC44 Team have dropped to sixth after a disappointing 10-7-7 today, not helped by their first race when they were over early and then penalised at the top mark rounding for deploying their bowsprit too early. Skipper René Mangold explained: 'The wind was shifting a lot and sometimes we had luck and sometimes not and in the end we were in the middle of the fleet. Every day starts from zero. Yesterday we had a good day and today it was Artemis’ turn and tomorrow maybe it will be another team.'
Despite their results, there were huge cheers from the AEZ team’s fans on the spectator craft whenever they crossed the finish line.
After a strong start to the day, pulling up to fourth after today’s second race, John Bassadore’s crew on Peninsula Petroleum have dropped to eighth after coming home 10th in the final race.
Tactician Vasco Vascotto explained: 'The last race of yesterday and the last race of today were a nightmare for us because we were in very good shape – in fourth and fourth – and then we finished ninth and tenth just when the rain came on to the course. It is a little frustrating, but we need to realise that this is a lake and maybe in the future maybe we’ll be a little more lucky.'
Tomorrow the organisers are once again trying to get three races in with the first warning signal scheduled for 11.30 local time (09.30 UTC).
by Jo Grindley
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7:53 PM Fri 1 Jun 2012GMT
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