At the RC44 Sweden Cup, just after a relaxing morning waiting for the breeze to fill in, the sixteen teams competing were sent afloat after a two hour delay. The breeze stayed long enough to complete one race and it was Team Ceeref who continued their great form to take the only race win of the day.
It was a day of comebacks and defending positions and a course that provided an interesting twist. The fleet sailed their normal windward leeward course in a light eight knot NW breeze, but instead of finishing downwind on the second lap the teams had to sail through the southern inlet to Marstrand to the finishing line off the spectacular Strandverket Castle.
Artemis Racing (SWE) didn’t get out of the blocks too well, but caught the first shift well and were the early leaders at the first windward mark. France’s Aleph Sailing Team was just behind with Team Ceeref (SLO) making up the top three. Although the Swedish, French and Slovenian teams never fell out of the top three, all took the lead at different points of the race.
Having led around the first lap and extended away from the fleet Artemis looked in control, the wrong choice on the leeward gate dropped the team back to third position as owner Torbjorn Tornqvist explained. 'We were not well positioned at the start but we managed to gain a strong lead on the fleet. However, at the first leeward mark, we made a tactical error going left while the others went right and by the time we realized this it was too late to recover'
RC44 Sweden Cup 2011 - Dan Ljungsvik ©
It was then Aleph’s turn to take the lead with Ceeref on their tail. Both rounded the right hand gate and slid ahead of Artemis. At the top of the second beat it looked as though Aleph were going to round first, but a double tack to make the layline saw Ceeref sail over the top of them.
For the team that only joined the RC44 circuit at the second event in Austria, Aleph were happy with their second place. 'It was a fantastic day for us, we sailed the whole race at the front of the fleet and it’s a great feeling,' said the teams’ tactician Mathieu Richard after racing.
Team Ceeref entered the southern inlet to Martsrand with what should have been a comfortable lead, but with the breeze decreasing it was a tense ride to the finish for tactician Michele Ivaldi (ITA) and helmsman Igor Lah (SLO). In the end they won by just four boat lengths, concentration was key as Lah described. 'There was really light shifty wind today, pretty tough conditions, so it was necessary to concentrate for the whole race which was hard, but it paid off.'
RC44 Sweden Cup 2011 - Dan Ljungsvik ©
Behind the top three the fleet played a game of snakes and ladders, with places changing constantly. The team climbing the ladders had to be series leaders Team Aqua (GBR), after hitting the right side hard on the first beat they were buried at the first windward mark as owner Chris Bake explained.
'It was an interesting day; we went from eleventh to fifth. The wind was shifting so much that on the second downwind leg we basically went far right and picked up a little bit more breeze than the others and that was what gave us the big comeback we had. We were fairly deep at the start, went right and unfortunately a wind shift lifted the middle and left side of the course in the first windward leg so it was really the second downwind that helped us out a lot.'
On the snakes, Ironbound (USA) sailed a nice first beat rounding seventh, a penalty at the leeward gate put them back and they slid further down the ladder to finish 12th. Oracle Racing also slid from sixth at the first mark to 11th as they crossed the finishing line inches behind Katusha.
Friday is expected to be a very different sailing day in Marstrand, with winds due to increase throughout the day, which should make for some exciting racing and great viewing for the expected crowds. Racing continues the RC44 Sweden Cup until Sunday 21st August with racing due to start at 11.30 (CET).
RC44 Class Association website