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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Artemis Racing hosts favourite for midsummer 44Cup Marstrand

by 44Cup 13 Jun 02:07 PDT 19-23 June 2024
44Cup Marstrand © Nico Martinez

The 44Cup returns to its most regularly visited venue next week with the 44Cup Marstrand taking place over 19-23 June with support from Artemis Technologies and Marstrands Segelsällskap.

The high performance owner-driver one designs have visited Marstrand on Sweden's west coast every year since 2011, with the only exception being in 2016. Aside from the remote picture postcard island being one of Scandinavia's most famous yacht racing venues, it is also a favourite tourist destination.

This year's edition of the 44Cup Marstand falls over the weekend when the island will be especially busy with summer solstice celebrations. In Sweden, where the sun barely sets at this time of year, this is a big holiday, focussed upon Midsummer Eve, which falls on Friday 21 June, mid-way through the 44Cup event. Typical of the festivities is people putting flowers in their hair, dancing around poles, singing and drinking schnapps and the usual Swedish fare of pickled herring and new potatoes.

Since 2011, Torbjörn Törnqvist's Artemis Racing has naturally competed in every edition of the 44Cup's Swedish stopover. In 2018 they finished second to Nico Poons' Charisma and they podiumed in the next two editions. However a significant issue is that Artemis Racing has yet to win their own event. But this year perhaps they have put themselves into the best position. A vital new addition to the Swedish team's line-up for this season has been the insertion of Hamish Pepper as tactician. In 2022 and 2023 the Kiwi ace was tactician for Nico Poons' 44Cup-winning Charisma team. A significant consideration going into the 44Cup's Swedish stopover was that Pepper called tactics for Charisma when they won the last two editions of the 44Cup Marstrand.

This season with Pepper, plus some additional new recruits on the Swedish team, Artemis Racing won the last event on the 44Cup in Baiona, Spain. Remarkably this was the first time since 2016 that the Swedish team, that first joined the RC44 class in 2007, had won a regatta. As Törnqvist put it: "We have been digging ourselves out of a hole - we had some doubt whether we could do that. It just shows that you can if you continue to work..."

With this under their belts Artemis Racing goes into Marstrand as favourite. Naturally with such strong competition nothing can be taken for granted and having been in the class for so long no one knows this better than Törnqvist: "We are feeling that certainly there are things that we have to improve. You always have to keep pushing and you have to have some success so you can refine the good aspects of it. Hopefully we will perform more steadily than we have previously."

The long term forecast for the 44Cup Marstrand shows brisk conditions to start with but as Törnqvist puts it: "You never know in Sweden but it will be mid-summer there so it is a fun time to be there."

Also on a charge at present is Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika on which Britain's Nic Asher is calling tactics. Having won in Puerto Calero at beginning of March and come second to Artemis Racing in Baiona, Team Nika is the current holder of the 44Cup 'golden wheels' (ie the 44Cup championship leader).

Prosikhin is a great fan of the Marstrand event. "I love Sweden - the nature there is very appealing to me. All the rocks, etc." In terms of his track record at that, Team Nika too has yet to win this event. "I was second once there which was our best result. We will see. These days on the 44Cup it is less dependent upon the venue than on the state of your team and where you are and if you are prepared, your speed and your sails."

The newest boat to join the fleet for the Marstrand event will be Lorenzo Mondo's Italian crew from ClubSwan 36 Farstar who will race the class' 'black boat', that is available for aspirant RC44 teams wishing to experience the 44Cup's ultra-tight racing. Helmed by Mondo the Farstar team will draw their RC44 experience from tactician Alvaro Marinho, former coach to Charisma, and grinder Jelle Jenzen who joins them from Team CEEREF.

Another truism of the 44Cup line-up is that any of the nine teams are capable of winning. Igor Lah's Team Ceeref Vaider is currently second in 2024 44Cup, while Christian Zuerrer's Black Star Sailing is perhaps trying hardest to improve, which the Swiss team demonstrated finishing third in Baiona. And looking at the historic record, Chris Bake's Team Aqua is never to be discounted with the biggest win-rate at the 44Cup Marstand.

44Cup Overall Ranking 2024: (after two events)

1. Team Nika - 3pts
2. Team CEEREF Vaider - 6pts
3. Artemis Racing - 9pts
4. Peninsula Racing - 9pts
5. Black Star Sailing Team - 10pts
6. Aleph Racing - 10pts
7. Team Aqua - 12pts
8. Charisma - 13pts
9. Calero Sailing Team - 18pts

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