The RC44 Cascais Cup has thrown everything at the fifteen competing teams in Portugal, from boat breaking conditions to light sea-breeze, sun, a storm and even a couple of hours of torrential rain.
With four times America's Cup winner, Russell Coutts calling tactics, Katusha (RUS) went into the final day of racing with a strong 13-point lead. Race one didn’t start quite as planned with the Russian flagged team, driven by Steve Howe (USA) this week, being called over the line early along with AFX Capital (ITA), No Way Back (NED) and Team Nika (RUS). The question was, could Team Aqua take advantage of their error and close the gap, to put the leaders under pressure going into the final race.
Team Aqua (GBR) rounded the windward mark in seventh with Katusha back in twelfth; Chris Bake’s team needed separation. By the finish Aqua had taken just one place, finishing sixth with Katusha climbing to ninth. However, Team Aqua are renowned for their come-back’s and weren’t about to give up the fight. They won the final race of the event, but Katusha were just three places behind again, crowning Katusha the winners of the inaugural Cascais RC44 Cup 2012.
It was Russell Coutts, tactician this week on Katusha, first RC44 event since Rovinj, Croatia in October last year, but enjoyed his return to the fleet. 'It’s been a great event here in Cascais. Today wasn’t our prettiest a few mistakes but we did enough to win, so that feels good.'
The fight was now on for third place. With just nine-points separating Peninsula Petroleum in third from sixth place Synergy Russian Sailing Team everyone needed to sail their own race and hope they came out on top.
You wouldn’t have betted against Peninsula Petroleum (John Bassadone/ Vasco Vascotto) retaining their place on the podium; the team from Gibraltar had shown such consistency over the past two days of fleet racing. But the team didn’t get off to the best of starts, rounding the windward mark second to last, but with rivals Ceeref behind them, Ironbound one place ahead and Synergy in sixth they were still on the podium.
It wasn’t until the final metres into the finish line where Peninsula got themselves trapped between Aegir (GBR) and Ceeref (SLO), that it was all over, they went from twelfth to fifteenth and handed Synergy the final place on the podium.
Synergy’s consistent second and third place in the final two races had put Valentin Zavadnikov’s team on the fleet race podium for the first time since they joined the circuit in 2010. It was the second RC44 event for the team’s new tactician Ed Baird who is excited to see the team’s progress up the rankings.
'We had a great day today, it was very exciting and I think we probably had the best day, which was a surprise for us as much as anyone. In the second race we had the question of what jib do we use as the storm came through, the wind got a little stronger so we changed for our smaller one but then the wind died as we started to race so we really struggled, the guys did a great job changing sails downwind and then we gained a boat place on each leg after that which was a really great job by the crew.' Ed Baird, tactician, Synergy Russian Sailing Team.
In the overall standings Team Aqua retains the golden wheels with just three-points from the first two events, their closest rivals Artemis Racing and Peninsula Petroleum, both on nine-points.
The next stop on the 2012 RC44 Championship Tour is the RC44 Austria Cup on Lake Traunsee from 30th May – 2nd June.