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Nine-strong 44Cup fleet under starters orders in Marstrand

by 44Cup 19 Jun 10:49 PDT 20-23 June 2024

Racing sets sail tomorrow in Marstrand, Sweden on the third event of the 2024 44Cup following on from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote and Baiona in northwest Spain.

With support from Artemis Technologies and Marstrands Segelsällskap, racing for the high performance owner-driver one designs will take place over 20-23 June.

The RC44's annual waterborne pilgrimage to the paradise island on Sweden's rocky west coast comes at a time when Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika is the holder of the 44Cup's golden wheels; leading after a deliciously consistent 1-2 so far this season. Currently in second is Igor Lah's Team Ceeref Vaider (2-4) with event host Torbjörn Törnqvist's Artemis Racing third in the championship having won the last event in Baiona in May.

As champions, both on the 44Cup in 2023 and also here in Marstrand last year, Poons' Charisma is hoping it can show a return to form this week.

"I love Marstrand - it's cool - it reminds me of home because it is cold and shifty! I really enjoy it," says tactician Andy Horton. "Expectations are high. Everyone has the same equipment so we are always trying to improve, but everyone keeps catching up. We are working on the communication in the group. We have to keep the consistency going and not complicate things too much, so we can keep focussing on the important stuff. These regattas always come down to a few points. Those few places are so important... Anyone can win an event in this class, which is testament to the strength of the whole group..."

Michele Ivaldi tactician on Hugues Lepic's Aleph Racing agrees. "The RC44 is one of the most level classes I sail in - literally everyone can win apart from the newcomers because it takes a while to reach a winning position."

For Marstrand the French team has its owner back behind the wheel, Hugues Lepic having been absent for the last few events, recovering from surgery. "We had a session yesterday afternoon and he was right back into it - like riding a bike!" continues Ivaldi.

Ivaldi won the RC44 World Championship here in Marstrand in 2014: "I like racing here because it is always very challenging - you have different conditions every day, and there's current and waves. Yesterday we had one knot of current..."

Of the conditions this week he predicts: "I think we are going to have a little bit of everything: Tomorrow it is supposed to be windy and it should be milder on Friday and Saturday, when there will be a front crossing at some point bringing change and rain. It should be fair weather but on the chilly side..."

As ever the 44Cup's black boat, which is made available to teams wanting to test sail the RC44 during events, is this week in the hands of Lorenzo Mondo's Farstar, whose team has twice been runner-up at the ClubSwan 36 Worlds and European Champion once.

"The boat is great - very physical for the crew and intensive for the helm," says Mondo, who heralds from the Asti region of northwest Italy. His crew is a mix of amateurs and pros and comes from all over Italy with the exception of tactician Alvaro Marinho, the four time 470 Olympic sailor who is Portuguese. Marinho has raced with the Italian team for the last three seasons in the ClubSwan 36. On the 44Cup he has previously coached Charisma on occasions when Morgan Reeser, another veteran 470 sailor (and Olympic silver medallist), hasn't been available. "This is the first time I have raced the boat. So we are learning a lot as a team," says Marinho.

Elsewhere in the fleet John Bassadone's Peninsula Racing and Christian Zuerrer's Black Star Sailing Team are hoping to bring more consistency to their campaigns, both having podiumed once this year. Meanwhile Chris Bake's Team Aqua is expected to rally upwards from the unfamiliar lower reaches of the leaderboard having previously been the most consistent top scoring team here in Sweden - they have won here five times previously, most recently in 2021.

At today's skippers' briefing before practice racing, Markus Blomberg, Commodore of the Marstrands Segelsällskap welcomed the 44Cup teams: "We are really happy to have you here and we are looking forward to a nice week. It is Midsummer so it is a bit special for us. We are looking forward to giving you nice races this week."

Racing is scheduled to set sail tomorrow (20 June) with a first warning signal at 1130. Winds at the top end of what is sailable for RC44s are forecast. Follow the racing at www.44cup.org.

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

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