11th RC44 World Championship Scarlino, Italy
9 ott 2021
While the forecast indicated that it might be sailable, the opening day of this 11th RC44 World Championship was blown out with the northerly winds off Scarlino, Italy regularly reaching the high 20s and gusting into the high 30s. After a wait out on the water the race committee sent the boats back to the Marina di Scarlino to see if conditions would abate and when instead the wind built, soon after 14.00 racing was abandoned for the day.
44Cup Principle Race Office Maria Torrijo explained: “We knew the forecast was for strong wind, but we didn’t expect it to be SO strong - we were expecting a maximum of 22-23 knots, but we had gusts up to 39. The average wind was very high as well – there was no way we could start a race. It was not even marginal.”
America’s Cup winning helmsman American Ed Baird, tactician on John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing, was in no doubt about the PRO’s decisions: “When we left the dock we had 15 knots-ish; by the time we got sails up and got moving it was in the low 20s and we went for a little sail around the race track but then the low 20s became the bottom of the wind and the top was around 30. And it increased from there. It was just too windy for these boats…”
Even with no racing, the crews took their nimble RC44s hooning up and down the race track, causing broad grins all round.
Tomorrow the forecast is for marginally lighter conditions and to capture the most sailable part of the day, racing will commence two hours earlier, at 10.00 CEST.
44CUP OVERALL RANKING
(after three events)
1. CEEREF powered by HRASTNIK 1860 - 1 4 2 - 7
2. TEAM AQUA - 3 1 3 - 7
3. ALEPH RACING - 5 5 1 - 11
4. CHARISMA - 7 2 4 - 13
5. ATOM TAVATUY - 4 6 5 - 15
6. TEAM NIKA - 2 7 8 - 17
7. ARTEMIS RACING - 8 3 7 - 18
8. PENINSULA RACING - 6 8 6 - 20
44CUP SCARLINO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ENTRY LIST:
ALEPH RACING (FRA17)
Owner: Hugues Lepic (FRA)
Tactician: Michele Ivaldi (ITA)
ARTEMIS RACING (SWE44)
Owner: Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE)
Tactician: Andy Horton (USA)
ATOM TAVATUY (RYF 21)
Owner: Pavel Kuznetsov (RYF)
Tactician: Evgeny Neugodnikov (RYF)
CHARISMA (MON 69)
Owner: Nico Poons (NED)
Tactician: Hamish Pepper (NZL)
PENINSULA RACING (GBR 1)
Owner: John Bassadone (GBR)
Tactician: Ed Baird (USA)
TEAM AQUA (GBR 2041)
Owner: Chris Bake (NZL)
Tactician: Cameron Appleton (NZL)
TEAM CEEREF (SLO 11)
Owner: Igor Lah (SLO)
Tactician: Adrian Stead (GBR)
TEAM NIKA (MON 10)
Owner: Vladimir Prosikhin (RYF)
Tactician: Manu Weiller (ESP)
ARTTUBE (GBR 204)
Guest owner: Valeriya Kovalenko (RYF)
Tactician: Igor Lisovenko (RYF)
One Point Separates Lead Three RC44S After 20+ Knot Day in Scarlino
Conditions could not have been better for day three of the 44Cup Scarlino World Championship. Coming out two hours ahead of schedule to make the best of the breeze, the wind was already knocking on the door of 20 knots. By the time the first race started at 10.00 the wind was firmly 20 knots and then spent most of the day in the low 20s, frequently gusting more.
Blowing off mountainous Tuscany, the offshore breeze was shifty and puffy. It caused numerous lead changed and seemed to favour no one. Thus, to make up the schedule after a lost opening day four races were held and each featured a different winner.
The overall 2021 44Cup leader, Igor Lah's Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860, got off to a strong start winning today's opening race, but then a collision with Aleph Racing in the next saw them come home last with a two point penalty imposed on them for 'hard contact'.
Meanwhile Nico Poons' Charisma team was sailing a blinder. Winning today's second race caused them to move to the top of the leaderboard, tied with Artemis Racing, the Swedish team showing excellent consistency, despite the difficult conditions. But, as is proving typical here, this position was shortlived for both as they scored deeply in the next race. In this Chris Bake's Team Aqua finally scored a bullet, propelling his team up to second overall as Aleph Racing took the lead.
“It was pretty tricky!” admitted Bake later. “But what beautiful conditions – sunny, breezy. It was a full-on day today, but it was good. All the boats are going really well, one mistake and you are toast – you’ll get spat out mercilessly.”
Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton added: “It has been a battle. This fleet is tight and we’ve had tricky conditions to execute all the time out there. We always know we are capable of it, we just have to connect everything together. We finally got a good start and sailed well in the placement up the course. As soon as you get your nose out, things become a bit easier than when you are in the back of the pack trying to fight your way out of there, because you don’t get much room in this fleet. The fleet is so close and everybody just knows how to sail the boats well. Every regatta this year has been windy, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore. It is now about going out there and positioning better and doing the basics well. It is going to be a good battle all the way to the finish.”
In the fourth and final race of the day, a 1-2 for Artemis Racing and Charisma caused them to catch Hugues Lepic's Aleph Racing creating an ultra-close leaderboard going into the last day. In front is Aleph Racing, but the Frenchman's team is just one point ahead of Torbjörn Törnqvist's Artemis Racing and Nico Poons' Charisma.
“We have always known in this fleet that it is important to be always up there,” explains Aleph Racing tactician Michele Ivaldi. “You win regattas with an average of 3.5-4 points. So if you manage to squeeze in 2nds, 3rd and 4ths you end up in good shape.”
But consistency has been the one thing difficult to achieve in the blustery conditions this week and even the leader’s average score has been just under 4 per race. “With the offshore wind there are huge shifts, as much as 30° during a single race,” continued Ivaldi. “I think we managed to start reasonably well and be able to sail the first shift and then you have to sail the wind that you have and try to get out of phase as little as possible….”
As to the tight leaderboard going into the final day, Ivaldi is not surprised: “It is good to be coming into the last day with the possibility to win, but we know perfectly that four or five boats can still win. Everything is still up for grabs. We’ll just go out tomorrow as if it is a normal day.”
In the final race victory slipped through the fingers of Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy, not once but twice. Firstly a beneficial shift while on starboard propelled them into the lead at the first top mark rounding. “We started very nicely on the downwind and gybed at the right time and we were leading by 100m,” recounted tactician Evgeny Neugodnikov. “But then the wind dropped to 12-13 knots and Charisma got in front but we were still second [Charisma going left as they went right at the gate].”
There was another roll of the dice up the second beat as Artemis Racing did well on the right to lead at the second top mark rounding with Atom Tavatuy a close fourth behind Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika. Gybing early and splitting from the leaders, Kuznetsov’s team rolled Team Nika and was again in contention for the lead but Artemis Racing and Charisma covered to leave Atom Tavatuy third. “It’s nice weather, nice wind and very close racing – like usual! I hope tomorrow we will be better,” concluded Neugodnikov.
Tomorrow, the final day of the 44Cup Scarlino World Championship, racing is scheduled to start at 11.00 CEST and with three or four races likely to be held, weather permitting any of the top eight boats remains capable of winning.
44CUP SCARLINO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2021
(after seven races)
1. ALEPH RACING - 6 2 4 6 2 2 4 - 26
2. ARTEMIS RACING - 4 1 7 2 4 8 1 - 27
3. CHARISMA - 1 6 6 4 1 7 2 - 27
4. TEAM AQUA - 3 5 5 5 5 1 7 - 31
5. CEEREF powered by HRASTNIK 1860 - 8 3 1 1 9 3 6 (2) - 33
6. TEAM NIKA - 2 8 3 3 6 6 5 - 33
7. ATOM TAVATUY - 7 4 2 7 7 4 3 - 34
8. PENINSULA RACING - 5 9 8 8 3 5 8 - 46
9. ARTTUBE - 9 7 9 9 8 9 9 - 60
Extraordinary Day Concludes 44CUP Scarlino World Championship
A last minute manoeuvre by Nico Poons’ Charisma won them the final race of the 44Cup Scarlino World Championship by a mere second, but it was the defending champions on Chris Bake’s Team Aqua that defended their title in this 11th RC44 World Championship by one slender point. Like a final curtain call to this World Championship, as well as a reminder of how close the racing always is between the high performance owner-driver one designs, the top eight RC44s all crossed the finish line for the final time within just 20 seconds after 40 minutes of racing.
Off Scarlino, it was another supreme day of sun and 15-20 knot winds, initially from the north but veering northeast.
Going into today just one point had separated the top three – Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, Torbjörn Törnqvist's Artemis Racing and Nico Poons’ Charisma. So began a day where the podium changed after each of the three races held.
A win by Team Aqua in the first race, to Artemis Racing’s third, launched Chris Bake’s team up to second, two points shy of Artemis prior to the penultimate race. In this, a wind shift, followed by a short lull, caused Igor Lah’s Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 to finish almost 1km ahead. In this second race of the day Team Aqua was second but had plummeted to eighth place on the first run, then had rocketed up the left side of the next beat to round the top mark back in second. They did well to hang on and 4 minutes 15 seconds after Ceeref, Team Aqua finished second just ahead of Charisma and Artemis Racing.
At the top of the leaderboard, this left Artemis Racing and Team Aqua tied on points, with Charisma two behind, going into the final race.
The 10th and last race of the series saw Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy lead around the top mark while in the battle for the World Championship title Artemis Racing was second and Team Aqua fourth. However crucially at the bottom of the run Artemis and Charisma chose the port gate mark while Team Aqua went right. Running their larger J2 as most were on their J3, up the second beat Chris Bake’s team benefitted greatly from a right shift propelling them into the lead. They rounded the top mark first ahead of Aleph Racing, Charisma with Artemis Racing now down to fourth.
On the final run, most of the fleet gybed early on to port, but halfway down Charisma put in a hitch to the left and when the two groups converged Poons’ team gybed in front of Team Aqua to win the final race by a hair. Artemis Racing arrived fifth dropping them to third on the podium behind Charisma.
At a prizegiving in Marina di Scarlino, Chris Bake and his Team Aqua were given a rapturous applause worthy of defending champions in one of sailing’s most hotly contested classes.
“It wasn’t an easy one,” admitted Bake. “The last run of the last race of the day and it could have gone three ways between Charisma, ourselves and Artemis Racing. It was a great day of sailing.”
Of that race Bake said: “We took the right mark [at the leeward gate] which put us in the wind a little bit earlier and that gave us the shift and a little bit of an advantage. Then on the second downwind there were boats either side of us that could have rolled us, so it was really tense. The 44Cup is still as full-on competitive as it ever is. Racing doesn’t get any better than this frankly. To be able to still compete in this class is really good.”
Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton was equally ecstatic. “In this fleet on the final day, when the pressure is on, in those sort of conditions, with this sort of fleet pushing hard, that was some tense sailing - to go 1-2-2 there was nothing easy or straightforward about that. What an amazing regatta - the fleet is as tight as it ever is and we are just really pleased to have won. Our starting wasn’t that great this week, but on the rest of the race course we managed to do the right things at the right time. We are pleased that the guys on the boat, as always, with their familiarity and friendship, that our teamwork was on a high and pulls us through.”
The Team Aqua crew comprised Bake, Appleton, Andrew Estcourt, Christian Kamp, Juan Maros, Ben Graham, Aaron Cooper and James Dodd with America’s Cup legend Rod Davis coaching.
Meanwhile of their killer move in the final run Charisma’s Nico Poons said: “We were fourth of fifth rounding the buoy and decided to go to the other side where there was a bit more breeze. That is how we beat the rest, and finished first, just a few millimeters ahead of Team Aqua. For a Worlds it was quite strange!”
Charisma main sheet trimmer Chris Hosking described the conditions today: “It was shiftier than a bag a weasels and there were a lot of weasles out there today! Good on Pepsi [tactician Hamish Pepper] for keeping it real. We are all dealing with the same thing – you can’ t get frustrated, you just have to deal with it the best as you can and everyone did that really well today. This is truly one of the best grand prix racing circuits in the world – if you look at the competitiveness of all the boats. You can’t bother counting the points - you just have to sail every race as if it is the last on the earth.”
Artemis Racing was on World Championship winning form all week but saw their chances slip through their fingers in the last race. “We rounded the left gate and the right one was better, but you don’t know that. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t,” said Törnqvist. “At the finish it was almost impossible to say who crossed the line in what place because it was so close. It will be one of the best regattas we’ll remember, because it was a World Championship and really high quality sailing and it all came down to the end of the final run.”
44Cup first timer Valeriya Kovalenko and her ARTTube team enjoyed the World Championship despite coming last. “I am happy. It was a great World Championship with great races. Today we finished one race fifth and my team is very proud with this result. My crew is happy to be back in this class and now in the team we have a conversation about next season…”
The 44Cup continues with the final event of the season, the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote over 17-21 November.
44CUP SCARLINO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2021
(after 10 races)
1. TEAM AQUA - 3 5 5 5 5 1 7 1 2 2 - 36
2. CHARISMA - 1 6 6 4 1 7 2 6 3 1 - 37
3. ARTEMIS RACING - 4 1 7 2 4 8 1 3 4 5 - 39
4. CEEREF powered by HRASTNIK 1860 - 8 3 1 1 9 3 6 7 1 3 (2) - 44
5. ALEPH RACING - 6 2 4 6 2 2 4 4 7 8 - 45
6. TEAM NIKA - 2 8 3 3 6 6 5 5 6 6 - 50
7. ATOM TAVATUY - 7 4 2 7 7 4 3 2 8 7 - 51
8. PENINSULA RACING - 5 9 8 8 3 5 8 8 9 4 - 67
9. ARTTUBE - 9 7 9 9 8 9 9 9 5 9 - 83
44CUP OVERALL RANKING 2021
(after four events)
1. TEAM AQUA - 3 1 3 1 - 5
2. CEEREF powered by HRASTNIK 1860 -1 4 2 4 - 7
3. CHARISMA - 7 2 4 2 - 8
4. ALEPH RACING - 5 5 1 5 - 11
5. ARTEMIS RACING - 8 3 7 3 - 13
6. TEAM NIKA - 2 7 8 6 - 15
7. ATOM TAVATUY - 4 6 5 7 - 15
8. PENINSULA RACING - 6 8 6 8 - 20