On a day that was dedicated to a legend at the RC44 Sweden Cup, it would be Artemis Racing that would stamp their authority on the event with another consistent performance and an emphatic victory in front of their home crowd in the final race of the day.
Pelle Petterson is a legendary figure in Sweden, he has two Olympic medals, skippered two Swedish America’s Cup challenges, is a designer of the Maxi series of boats, some of the most popular in Sweden and in celebration of his 80th year, the RC44 fleet raced for the ‘Tribute to a Legend’ trophy in his honour today.
After three races sailed it was Sweden’s Artemis Racing, the team with the lowest score from the day, who aptly won the trophy. Owner Torbjorn Tornqvist was honoured to receive the trophy, a miniature replica of the Pelle Petterson designed Volvo P1800 sports car, from the man himself. 'It was a fantastic day and a great result for us. I was thinking about winning the Pelle Petterson (Tribute to a Legend) trophy when I was sailing today, what a fantastic thing to win. He is such an icon in Swedish sailing, both onshore and offshore, he’s a great man so to be able to honour him and to be able to win the trophy, it is an even greater honour for me.'
With the weather changing daily in Marstrand, the skies were blue and breeze in the south west blowing around 11 knots for the majority of the day. As the racing got underway it was Russia’s Katusha who were quick out of the blocks. They rounded the first windward mark ahead of Team Aqua and Aleph and from there on the top three positions didn’t change for the entire race.
Race two belonged to the French Aleph Sailing Team, they too led from start to finish, but behind them places changed constantly. On the second leg Aqua followed Aleph round the left hand leeward gate, but was quick to tack off to the right. Aleph carried on hard left and by the top mark was clear ahead of the fleet. As Aqua dropped from second to fourth, Artemis was making another great recovery, pulling themselves up through the one-design fleet from eighth to third. RUS 7 were having another good day finishing second to follow their fourth in the day’s opener.
The final race of the day was planned to be a spectacle for the visitors to Marstrand Island, finishing with a course in and out of Marstrand’s busy Harbour, and it couldn’t have worked out better as Race Officer Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio explained. 'Sending everyone in to the race arena was really cool, believe it or not they came in on starboard gybe and then the second time they came into the finish line they were all on port as the wind had shifted 50 degrees, so we got the wonderful beat and great tousle for positions.'
There was one boat not tousling for positions in the final race and that was Artemis Racing. They started at the pin end of the line next to No Way Back. Pieter Heerema’s Dutch team stayed left and came steaming into the windward mark on port. Artemis played a safer game; they rounded second but proceeded to sail around No Way Back down the first run. From then on the Swedish team seemed eager to get home, pulling out a 400m lead on the following fleet.
The ‘Race Arena’ as it is known in Marstrand is where the famous match racing takes part, Artemis may have been safely ahead, but it was a game of snakes and ladders behind as Cameron Appleton, tactician on Team Aqua described. 'We got to sail into the harbour and I think it was a real spectacle for anyone on the shore and for all of us on the water. It was impressive as other than Artemis, the ten boats were really compact and we had a beat with a bunch of tacks, ducking under each other and calling for water, it was full action!'
The home team sit on top of the leaderboard, 10-points ahead of their main rival for the Championship, Team Aqua (GBR), who are just one-point ahead of Katusha (RUS) in third. With every race counting and no discards coming into play at the RC44 events, everything could change over the next two days of racing. Team Aqua is renowned for steadily moving up the leaderboard.
'It’s early in the regatta so we’re just trying to sail our own race, there were a few more opportunities than there might have seemed today, we had some really good opportunities that we didn’t quite make the most of. In the last race Artemis got a bit of control over us forcing us in to manoeuvres we didn’t want to do which meant we got stuck in the pack, so they had a great day and were just happy to still be in the same place as we were yesterday with five or six races to go,' Cameron Appleton (NZL), Team Aqua.
The final word of the day has to go the legend himself, Pelle Petterson. 'People call me a legend but I would say I’m a bit old nowadays. I wish I was forty odd years younger so I could be with a gang, but nowadays I know the names, I follow the racing, but just a few of them I have raced against once.' When asked his option on the RC44 class, Petterson was impressed. 'It’s an exciting class, a really good racing boat, especially good in the conditions we had today. I like the monohull racing, you could say I’m conservative, I like the old style, not too much of these acrobatic things, catamarans, things like that!'