A decade since its launch the RC44 Championship Tour will take on a new racing format for the 2017 season. Adding the highly competitive match racing day, that previously kicked off each regatta, into the practice racing in favour of four days of high intensity fleet racing.
“The bang-bang nature of match racing does a lot to hone the communications and boat handling for the owners and crews in tight situations,” explains Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio. “It will still play an important part in the practice racing, but the new format will now allow the teams to fully focus on their fleet racing game.”
With three to four races per day over a four-day regatta, the RC44 Championship Tour offers the fleet more racing each season than any other owner driven racing circuit.
“The match racing is part of the heritage of the Class and something we are keen to keep in the format of racing. But adding it into the practice day means less pressure on the owners, one less day each regatta which is more manageable with our schedules, but still the same number of races over the season,” added Chris Bake, owner of Team Aqua, who has competed in the Class since 2007.
The 2017 season will comprise of five European events. Starting in Sotogrande, Spain (27 – 30 April), the fleet will return to the iconic Sardinian sailing mecca of Porto Cervo, Italy (29 June – 2 July), before moving onto to the Marstrand, Sweden for the 2017 RC44 World Championship (9 – 13 August).
After three seasons with the fleet Nico Poons, owner of Monaco based team Charisma, commented:
“Next year’s calendar looks good; I’m looking forward to the world championship event in Marstrand. The wilder conditions, with the strong breeze and big sea, really brings out the best in the design of these boats.”
“I don’t know if there is something in the snaps or the heavy breeze, but we always seem to perform well in Sweden,” added Bake with a smile.
The penultimate regatta of the season will be held in the sailor’s favourite stop, Cascais, Portugal (28 September – 1 October), with the season finale in November to be announced in the coming weeks.
“The key aspects that first attracted me to this class still holds true – it’s one-design, it’s a team boat and because of the one-design rule it all comes down to skill to differentiate you from your competitor.
“If you are in sync, this class is immediately gratifying, there is nothing else quite like it. The one-design rule is closely managed so leading the fleet is all the feedback you need. Just look at the points, it’s ridiculous how close the racing is,” Bake concluded.
Still to come the final event of the 2016 RC44 Championship Tour is set to take place in Valletta, Malta next month, 23 – 27 November, where the season match and fleet racing champion will be crowned.
The RC44 Valletta Cup is followed by The Yacht Racing Forum, the leading annual conference for the business of sailing and yacht racing, from the 28-29 November in Malta.
2017 RC44 Championship Tour
April 27 – 30 RC44 Sotogrande Cup 2017, Spain
June 29 – July 2 RC44 Porto Cervo Cup, Italy
August 9 – 13 RC44 Marstrand World Championship, Sweden
September 28 – October 1 RC44 Cascais Cup, Portugal
November 23 – 26 to be confirmed
52 Super Series – Cascais
Winners of four of the five regattas this season, Quantum Racing were crowned 2016 52 Super Series champions in Cascais, Portugal on Saturday evening. The American-flagged team – who has also won the circuit in 2013 and 2014 – secured their third 52 Super Series title on Thursday with two days to spare, finishing Saturday with an overall aggregate of 140 points after 45 races contested in Scarlino (Tuscany), Porto Cervo (Sardinia), Puerto Portals (Mallorca), Mahón (Menorca) and Cascais (Portugal).
But last year’s champions Azzurra denied Quantum Racing their coveted clean sweep of all five titles. When they won the final race of the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup in bright Autumnal sunshine and 11-14kts southerly breezes, Azzurra won the Cascais Cup and finish second overall for the season, 59 points behind Quantum Racing.
Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing Team take third step on the season’s podium after a nervous final day showdown against Ergin Imre’s Provezza and Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. Rán Racing fought back spectacularly from a penalty at the final mark that dumped them into last place, but quickly rallied to a critical fifth place, which ensured they take third for the season. Just as last year’s battle for third overall was decided on the last race of the season, so it was again on the same waters in Portugal. Rán finish on 241pts, Platoon on 245pts, Provezza on 248pts and Bronenosec on 251pts.
On Friday, Provezza had earned a tentative grip of third place but a bitterly disappointing run of 9,9,9 from their last three races saw them crumple to fifth overall on the season’s standings, losing out to Platoon who had brought in John Kostecki as tactician for their final push.
Quantum Racing have set an exceptional level from the start of the season. They served notice of their intentions when they won the pre-season warm up regatta Gaastra Palma Vela. Four different teams led at the opening regatta in Scarlino, Tuscany but it was Quantum Racing who prevailed. Doug DeVos’s team won the 52 World Championship title in Mahón, Menorca in September also. Between last season and this season, Quantum Racing had won six regattas on the hop. But the resurgent Azzurra team were back to their imperious best in Cascais where they won four of the eight races and held the overall title winners to second, eight points behind.
There has been no dark magic nor no reliably boat speed silver bullet for the Quantum Racing crew. Their success has been down to the unrelenting daily grind, seeking perfection on and off the water by the entire team, at regattas and between events.
It has been widely acknowledged by many members of the Quantum Racing crew – not least Terry Hutchinson – that the catalyst for this never ending pursuit was finishing second overall to Azzurra last year.
Similarly when he stood on the dock in the Marina de Cascais, relieved and contented at their final day regatta win, Azzurra’s skipper Guillermo Parada in turn paid tribute to the high benchmark set by Quantum Racing that forced them to up their game. Azzurra made significant gains since mid season, July in Puerto Portals and since then won nine of the last 18 races.
With the top two teams now seemingly on equal terms, a mouth watering opening to the 2017 season is already anticipated in Key West, USA in just twelve weeks time.
The key difference has always been Quantum Racing’s ability to grind out rock solid sequences of top-fours, or at worst top-fives, avoiding the weighty ballast of double digit scores from the basement of the fleet. This year has been the most competitive yet with 13 different boats competing. Ed Reynolds, the long serving Quantum Racing boss who has been at every single TP52 event since 2005 explained:
“The biggest thing that we focussed on this season was never crashing down to a big number in a race.
Everybody seems to focus on two boat testing, trying to be the fastest boat, but more often than not, we’re not the fastest boat out there. But we’re never the slowest boat. Trying to develop sails that are good for racing, and not just to win tuning setups has given us a lot of awareness.
You always hear about shifting gears on boats, well, we really focussed on our first, second and third gear. Getting off the line or when you get into trouble, when you have fine lines or really thin lanes, you have to have a completely different setup than when you’ve got the bow out, sending the boat.
Probably the biggest thing we saw this year was that we were never slow. We weren’t always the fastest boat on the course, and a lot of the other boats were set up to win races. If you look back on our history, we don’t win many races, but we rarely get out of the top four.”
The final day of the season will remain one of the most memorable of the year. Azzurra went into the final race with a lead of three points. They sailed an impeccable first beat – beating bow to bow with Quantum Racing, striving for the smallest advantage. At the top mark Azzurra were just ahead of Sled. Quantum Racing slid to a sixth place finish, their worst result of the regatta.
The overall podium for the Cascais Cup is composed of the same three teams as in 2015. Last year Azzurra clinched the circuit title when Quantum Racing won the Cascais Cup. Both times Takashi Okura’s Sled have finished third at this regatta.
Niklas Zennström was delighted at Rán’s third overall for the season, also lifting the top owner-driver award.
“It was a pretty stressful day. But it also shows how tight the class is this year and I think we had Provezza, Platoon and Bronenosec. Third place overall is the most important thing for us because its also about us being able to race against the best in the world, against Azzurra and Quantum and some of the other really good pro drivers. And so to be third overall for the season trumps being best owner driver.
It was pretty tight, we got a penalty. Then you say ‘shit we’re last’ but you just have to keep fighting. It’s all about fighting til the last second.”
Provezza’s Tony Rey was disappointed to drop so much on the last day:
“We had a great season but today was a tragedy, there’s no sugar coating it. We started off the day in fourth, just a couple of points behind. Bit by bit we closed on Rán over the last two events and ended up as close as you can get. But we couldn’t get it done this afternoon. We bled points throughout the season doing different things here and there and it all came down to today and we couldn’t get it done. But that’s sport and you just have to live with it. We’ve learned an enormous amount, we joke that we’re tired of learning and we just want to go win now.”
Final Standings after day 5 (8 races):
1 Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8,1,2,3,1) 19 pts
2 Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3,5,3,1,6) 27 pts
3 Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2,2,8,5,2) 31 pts
4 Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1,6,7,2,3) 38 pts
5 Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4,4,1,7,8) 41 pts
6 Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5,9,5,8,5) 50 pts
7 Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6,3,9,9,9) 52 pts
8 Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7,10,6,6,4) 58 pts
9 Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9,8,10,4,7) 59 pts
10 Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10,7,4,10,10) 65 pts
Final Overall Standings after 5 regattas:
1 Quantum Racing, 140 pts
2 Azzurra, 199 pts
3 Rán Racing, 241 pts
4 Platoon, 245pts
5 Provezza, 248 pts
6 Bronenosec Gazprom, 251 pts
7 Sled, 275 pts
8 Alegre, 283 pts
9 Gladiator, 342 pts
Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup
The chances of Azzurra halting the regatta winning run of 2016 champions Quantum Racing were given a boost when the team from the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda sailed to a first and second place in modest breezes beating their American rivals twice.
Azzurra now lead Quantum Racing into the final day of the last regatta of the season by five points. But their tactician Vasco Vascotto considers that their positive progress, having closed the performance gap on the circuit’s benchmark team is more exciting for him than the prospect of winning their first event of a season, which has so far been dominated by Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing.
“It’s very nice for us to feel like all the work we’re doing is taking us in the right direction. For me, that’s the most important thing. This is an important event, and Cascais is a wonderful place, but the most important thing for us is to know that with the next season being just around the corner now we know that our benchmark that is Quantum Racing are not too far away and that we’re going in the right direction.
I’m proud of what we are doing, and it looks as if everything is perfect.
No, actually not perfect, just better.”
The race arena for the penultimate day’s racing was moved east, slightly more towards Lisbon city, in the search for stronger pressure. The resulting race course was complex, with a reduction in wind strength towards the top mark and a right hand shift in the top third of the track. Downwind legs gave a growing advantage to the leaders who worked progressively into stronger breeze.
Vascotto proved particularly adept at reading the breeze. On the first run he held Azzurra closer to the shore and rolled down in extra, heading pressure that allowed them to sail round early leaders Sled. Quantum Racing were bounced by Phoenix early in the beat and finished fifth. Provezza’s third to Rán Racing’s ninth saw the two contenders for third overall for the season swap positions, Ergin Imre’s team getting a taste of third overall.
The breeze remained settled and the course marks fixed for the next race. Bronenosec followed the same strategy as worked nicely for Azzurra in the previous heat. As they made their final tack for the windward mark to claim the lead they left Quantum Racing trailing in their dirty air exhaust fumes.
Slowed momentarily they were rolled by Azzurra which had the luxury of bringing their bow down very slightly on approach accelerating to second place. Vladimir Liubomirov’s crew took their second win of the regatta to move up to fourth on the event standings. Azzurra’s second earned them one more point going into the final day.
The duel for third overall saw Rán Racing seize back third place when they finished fifth to Provezza’s bogey ninth. Just as there was in Cascais last year, the third place battle goes to the wire, Rán leading Provezza by just two tiny points.
Standings after day 4 (6 races)
1 Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8,1,2) 15 pts
2 Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3,5,3) 20 pts
3 Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2,2,8) 24 pts
4 Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4,4,1) 26 pts
5 Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1,6,7) 33 pts
6 Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6,3,9) 34 pts
7 Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5,9,5) 37 pts
8 Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10,7,4) 45 pts
9 Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7,10,6) 48 pts
10 Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9,8,10) 48 pts
Season overall standings
1 Quantum Racing, 133 pts
2 Azzurra, 195 pts
3 Rán Racing, 228 pts
4 Provezza, 230 pts
5 Bronenosec Gazprom, 236 pts
6 Platoon, 240pts
7 Sled, 268 pts
8 Alegre, 273 pts
9 Gladiator, 331 pts
10 Paprec Recyclage, 430.2 pts
The Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup will take place from 11-15 October, with races starting at 13:30 CEST every day. Track the boats via state-of-the-art Virtual Eye at www.52SUPERSERIES.com/LIVE or via the app.
Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup
Quantum Racing sealed the 2016 52 Super Series title when they crossed the finish line of the fourth race of the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup winning the overall season with two days of racing still to be completed.
The American-flagged team has won four out of four regattas this season. And when they crossed the finish line in third late this afternoon with Azzurra in eighth, they now share the same points tally as the leaders of this final regatta this season.
Hard driving tactician Terry Hutchinson acknowledged that their outstanding string of regatta wins this season owes a lot to the pain and frustration felt one year ago when they finished second overall to Azzurra in the chase for the 2015 title.
“I think it took us getting smacked around a little bit last year to understand that we had got to get back to basics.” the visibly relieved Hutchinson smiled, “We had to get back to hard work and due diligence, and to making sure that we put every possible amount of effort forward to be successful.”
The 2016 title is Quantum Racing’s third since the 52 Super Series started out in 2012, adding to their series wins in 2013 and 2014.
“It’s been awesome, such a solid team effort all along.” Hutchinson continued, “For me, this was by far the most rewarding season we have ever had because we’ve shared the helmsman role between Ed [Baird] and Doug [DeVos], and it’s just been a solid team effort all season long.”
Quantum Racing will keep their celebrations on ice, reserved for Saturday night’s glamorous prize-giving. Meanwhile, they brought their clean sweep of all five regatta titles within closer reach when they returned a typical solid pair of two thirds from the testing windward-leewards. As erstwhile regatta leaders Azzurra sailed to a second and an eighth the two are now locked together on 12pts with two days of racing left.
A delay to racing was rewarded with two competitive races, where opportunities for gains and losses were always available in the shifting W’ly to NW’ly breezes which varied from seven to 10 knots.
Azzurra sailed the first beat of Race 3 best and led around the top mark with Bronenosec second. Quantum Racing were hard on their heels but lost slightly at the windward mark when they found themselves shy of the final layline, having to shoot the turn downspeed. Bronenosec gained on the right on the first downwind to lead at the leeward gate holding on to win ahead of Azzurra with Quantum Racing third.
The breeze was slightly further right for Race 4 meaning the course was closer to the shore. Bronenosec led at the top mark from Quantum Racing and Sled. But on the second, final run tactician John Kostecki and strategist Jordi Calafat held Platoon out to the right of the downwind and made a gain from fourth to first.
Azzurra and Quantum Racing are now tied on 12 points, Takashi Okura’s Sled are third also posting a six point day, sailing to fourth and second and Platoon move to fourth overall for the regatta.
The tussle for third step on the 52 Super Series podium sees Rán Racing holding a four points lead over Provezza now. Platoon lie fifth and are now just nine points behind Provezza.
Standings after Day 3, four races
1 Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8) 12 pts
2 Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3) 12 pts
3 Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2) 14 pts
4 Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1) 20 pts
5 Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4) 21 pts
6 Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6) 22 pts
7 Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5) 23 pts
8 Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9) 30 pts
9 Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7) 32 pts
10 Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10) 34 pts
52 Super Series – Overall Standings
1. Quantum Racing, 125 pts
2. Azzurra, 192 pts
3. Rán Racing, 214 pts
4. Provezza, 218 pts
5. Platoon, 227 pts
6. Bronenosec Gazprom, 231 pts
7. Alegre, 257 pts
8. Sled, 258 pts
9. Gladiator, 313 pts
10. Paprec Recyclage, 408.2
The Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup will take place from 11-15 October, with races starting at 13:30 CEST every day. Track the boats via state-of-the-art Virtual Eye at www.52SUPERSERIES.com/LIVE or via the app.
After a long delay waiting for the breeze to build and settle racing at the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup had to be abandoned on day two after one upwind and part of a downwind. A big, heavy rain squall blew through, bringing a shift in the wind direction of 100 degrees, upending the race course.
The race officer quickly made the decision to abandon the contest. A further wait was finally ended when it became obvious that the leaden, dark rain clouds were continuing to play havoc with the breeze for the foreseeable future.
If conditions allow then the race management team will try to complete three races Thursday and Friday.
Egnos 52 Super Series in Cascais
Quantum Racing may be inching their way inexorably towards the 2016 52 Super Series title, making steady progress towards their end game with a fourth and a second on the opening day, but the 2015 champions Azzurra are in no way giving up without a fight.
Their “gaucho spirit” is alive and kicking as the Roemmers’ family team made the best possible start to the season’s finale – the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup – winning both opening races. They led at each and every mark in the gentle Southerly breezes to build a four point lead over second-placed Quantum Racing who has Doug DeVos steering.
After a modest start to the season when Quantum Racing came out of the blocks fast, Azzurra’s hard work in late July and August now seems to be rewarded. Their two bullets mean they have won five of the last six races sailed on the 52 Super Series, now visibly having the speed and height to capitalise on Vasco Vascotto’s astute tactics. This contrasts sharply with the early regattas when, as skipper Guilermo Parada admitted, they were being forced into taking big risks to try and win races or hold on to Quantum Racing.
“We made a lot of changes all the way through the boat trying to find more speed, everywhere. We found some issues we had and we are addressing them.” Parada explained on the dock in Marina de Cascais, Portugal. He added:
“We are happy with the way the boat is going now and if we continue like this then we will be able to finish strong this season and set a good baseline for next season.
In Palma we worked really, really hard and in a way sacrificed a little of the result at that regatta to try different things. We made lots of changes every day, before and after every race. Sometimes at ten minutes before the start we were trying things. We put apart the results a little there and Copa del Rey we discovered a lot of things too. We put these things all together and were more competitive in Menorca and hopefully we can carry this on for now and for the future.
The biggest gain is we can hold lanes upwind and change modes. Downwind we never felt we had a problem. Upwind we found we only had one mode and could not hold lanes. In this kind of fleet that was too expensive. So we had to take too many risks and mostly they did not work.”
Azzurra led off the pin end of the start line of Race 1 and were in better wind pressure early, able to lead Takashi Okura’s Sled around the top mark with Ergin Imre’s Provezza in third. There were few passing chances around the course and that was the order across the finish line. Quantum Racing were pressing hard on Provezza’s stern at the finish line.
Azzurra started off the windward end of the line in the second race, which was contested in six to 10 knots of breeze. Quantum Racing did well at the top of the first beat and came around second.
A big shift to the right at the top of the second beat offered a lifeline to Rán Racing, rising to third across the finish line. Gladiator, calling on Ian Walker’s long experience of Cascais – where he lived and trained with Abu Dhabi Volvo Ocean Race Team – went hard left down the last run and pulled up to fifth.
In the battle for third overall for the season it was a good day for Provezza. Their three, four for the day not only sees them third overall at the regatta but has closed Rán’s lead to just two points.
Standings after Day 1
1 Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1) 2pts
2 Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2) 6pts
3 Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4) 7pts
4 Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6) 8pts
5 Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3) 10pts
6 Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5) 11pts
7 Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7) 12pts
8 Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8) 16pts
9. Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9) 18pts
10. Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10) 20pts
The Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup will take place from 11-15 October, with races starting at 13:30 CEST every day. Track the boats via state-of-the-art Virtual Eye at
RC44 Cascais Cup
With spinnakers blowing up all around them, Torbjörn Törnqvist steered his Artemis Racing through the carnage of the final run of the final race to claim the RC44 Cascais Cup.
At the final top mark rounding, both Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, race leader at the time, and Team Ceeref in third (and regatta leader at this point), suffered kite problems. These incidents helped the Swedish team prevail, winning by a single point in one of the closest finishes ever seen in the RC44’s ten year history, with six points separating first from sixth place after 11 races.
“That is amazing after one week of racing,” enthused Törnqvist, who last won an RC44 regatta in Virgin Gorda last November. “And it all coming down to the last run – it was incredible. Obviously there was a bit of luck involved, but it was our lucky day.”
After two light to moderate days, conditions turned more brutal for the final three races. The long Atlantic swell Cascais is famous for wasn’t so much in evidence, but a particularly vicious sea state had been kicked up by the north/northwesterly breeze that built steadily until it was gusting to 25 knots. For the crews, the downwind legs were sensational, with all the teams getting their boats up on the surf and hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots.
“Obviously it was more challenging with the waves and the wind,” said Törnqvist of today’s sailing. “It was not so much about the shifts as handling the sea state and keeping the boat under control. At all the marks the boats were very close, which is a great tribute to the class.”
Also impressive was Artemis Racing’s turn-around performance this week– winning, despite ending day one in last place.
“We were in last place,” agreed the team’s tactician Francesco Bruni. “We had a very good second day which got us back in the hunt. Yesterday was average. And today our 2-3-1 was probably the best day Artemis Racing has ever had.”
Bruni also attributed their success to the experience of their crew. “For sure we wouldn’t have won without them – we reacted to problems better than the other teams.”
This was also perhaps the reason why the longest serving RC44 crew also had the best day of their regatta. Chris Bake’s Team Aqua won the opening race and led the final race, until they too had kite issues.
Bake explained: “We were getting the chute out of the hatch and it ripped on a jib shackle putting a big tear in it. So we had to change chutes, which was a fairly rapid deployment situation.
“Apart from that it was a great day and really good racing: This week it has been as tight as I’ve ever seen it in this fleet. Not only were the points so close, but all the teams were capable of coming first. Hats off to BlackWater because to get to where they have got to is a big credit to their team.”
The biggest loss was to Team Ceeref, which led going into the final day and following their win going into the final race were still ahead with a two point cushion. Going into the final leg of the last race, the Slovenian team was still winning, but then disaster struck as their spinnaker gracefully divided in two, splitting across its centre from luff to leech. This caused them to drop from third to seventh and to lose the RC44 Cascais Cup by a mere point.
As British tactician Adrian Stead summarized: “We were totally in control at the top mark and totally out of control about 10 seconds later…”
Of their loss, Team Ceeref owner Igor Lah was most succinct: “Shit happens! We were pretty sure it was done. We tried to recover all we could, but it wasn’t enough.”
Despite this, Lah and Team Ceeref managed to win five out of the 11 races this week and even after losing here in more dramatic circumstances to how they lost last year, Lah remains is a great fan of the Portuguese sailing mecca. “I think it is brilliant – one of the best venues there is, a really great location with nice wind and nice people.”
However there is a significant consolation prize for Team Ceeref. Their performance in Cascais has left them two points ahead of Team Aqua at the top of the 2016 RC44 Fleet Racing Championship leaderboard and they take charge of the leader ‘golden wheels’. This will lead to a close finale going into the last event of the RC44 season, in Malta over 23-27 November.
Overall Standings Cascais Cup
1 Artemis Racing 47pts
2 Team Ceeref 48pts
3 Team Nika 49pts
4 Team Aqua 51pts
5 Peninsula Petroleum 52pts
6 Bronenosec Sailing Team 53pts
7 BlackWater Sailing Team 60pts
8 Charisma 68pts
9 Artemis Racing Youth 71pts
RC44 Cascais Cup
Saturday’s racing at the RC44 Cascais Cup was the hardest yet for race officials and crews alike. First they had to wait out on the water off the Portuguese sailing mecca for a light breeze to build and stabilise long enough for one race to be held. Then, some wise race management saw everyone decamp east, back towards the Marina de Cascais where a new course was laid and a second and final race shoehorned in, in a relatively stable eight knot wind.
With just five points separating the top seven boats at the start of the day, there was inevitable upset on the leaderboard. Ultimately the two top scoring boats displaced Peninsula Petroleum, leader of this regatta for its first two days.
For the third consecutive time, Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref won the first race of the day, but finally broke their unfortunate habit of following this up with a last in the second race, instead coming fifth.
“It is close, but yesterday was closer,” observed Lah. “Today was fine and we didn’t make mistakes like two days ago. Somehow the first race each day is ours! We were expecting a ninth in the second, so we broke that sequence. Maybe we’ll just have one race tomorrow – the first one!”
Team Ceeref tactician Adrian Stead was pleased to have finally gained the lead overall, which has been a long time coming considering they have won four of the eight races held over the last three days.
In the first race of the day Stead observed that there was a reasonable amount of current taking boats over the line early and this also made for a long tack out to the right of the course. During the race they had a prolonged battle with Chris Bake and Team Aqua with their opponent regaining the lead on the second beat only for Team Ceeref to sneak around the outside of Team Aqua, which was slow rounding the top mark for a second time.
“Finishing mid-fleet [in the second race] when it could have been an eighth – it was a not bad day. We achieved our points goal,” said Stead.
Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika scored the same result as Team Ceeref, only in reverse, to end up just one point behind their Slovenian rivals, with Peninsula Petroleum a further two points astern of them, in third.
Going into the final day of the RC44 Cascais Cup, the leaderboard remains supremely close with five points separating the top five and eight points between the top seven. In fact with three more races scheduled and 27 points available, any of the nine teams is still capable of winning
RC44 Cascais Cup
Two days to go of fleet racing at the RC44 Cascais Cup and, incredibly, just four points separate the top seven boats across this nine-strong fleet. Yesterday there were 12 points between first and seventh.
After an hour long postponement ashore, conditions came good with sun, a steady 12-18 knots and a shallow swell rolling in from the Atlantic. Unfortunately the stable conditions didn’t help fleet separation and in the race two, the nine boats arrived at the top mark within five boat lengths. This clearly defying the laws of physics, penalties were landing on boats like confetti.
Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref, which scored two wins and a last yesterday, continued its scoreline of extremes. After winning the first race, the Slovenia team finished last in the second having come off the worst from the top mark elbowing, awarded two penalties.
Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua also received penalties coming into the top mark, Aqua picking up a second on the run when their spinnaker touched Peninsula Petroleum or more accurately smothered their tactician – the umpires able to identify a Vasco Vascotto-shaped indentation in the Team Aqua kite, still gesticulating wildly.
Stand-out boat was Artemis Racing, which posted a 4-1-2 with owner Torbjörn Törnqvist taking over the helm this morning. From being in last place, 15 points off the lead yesterday, the Swedish RC44 is now just four points from first, albeit still sixth.
“What can I say? It really was a good day…” said a beaming Törnqvist. “It was down to a few small things on board and the communication, which worked with lots of feedback. Conditions weren’t that difficult – the wind was very steady, with few wind shifts, so you could work with the speed. During the course of the day I think we learned how to sail the boat a bit quicker.”
While conditions helped compress the scoreboard today, Törnqvist also believed it was down to the sheer competitiveness of the RC44 fleet.
“Anyone can win and it is getting closer and closer – there are just metres difference between boats now.” Törnqvist singled out the Russian team, BlackWater, new to the RC44 circuit this year. “There are so many good boats and the slightest mistake is very costly in this fleet.”
Having elevated themselves from an uncharacteristic last place, Artemis Racing’s Italian tactician Francesco Bruni was looking relieved.
“We made some small adjustments on the boat and today our speed was better, whereas yesterday we were struggling. And today I was starting better and making better strategy. But it is always easier when your boat is faster!”
Like yesterday, the fleet was continually hunting the right side of the course, and a small beneficial shift close to the shore.
Bruni described their race two victory:
“We had a good start and were furthest right on the first beat. We did a good job on the approach to the mark. We had a little incident with Ceeref but luckily there was no collision and there was a penalty on them. Then we stretched from there.”
Often in RC44 races, the leader extends, but in the third and final race, Artemis Racing and Bronenosec Sailing Team remained locked in their own personal fight for the lead from start to finish. “We thought we had them on a couple of occasions, but we couldn’t quite make the jump,” admitted Bruni.
Sadly Bronenosec’s first race win here in Cascais, followed two eighth placed finishes earlier today. Tactician Michele Ivaldi explained:
“In the first race we made a couple of mistakes – we went right, but too early on for it to pay. In the second we had a good start, but we just got forced to the left and we got sandwiched, spat out the back. Then there was a massive pile up at the top mark”
The short break after race two was enough for the Russian team to regroup. For the final race they came out fighting, won the right and just escaped Artemis’ clutches on the final run.
The top three teams overall were among today’s highest scorers. For example, John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum remains overall leader but it could so easily have been so different had the Gibraltar-based team not hooked a lobster pot in the final race. As a result they end the day just a point clear of Team Ceeref and Bronenosec.
With two days to go, the RC44 Cascais Cup is showing a closeness across the fleet never previously see at this stage of an RC44 regatta.
Racing continues at 1200 noon local time. Follow live at www.rc44.com
RC44 – Cascais Cup (after 6 races)
1 Peninsula Petroleum 2 4 1 3 6 9 1pp 26pts
2 Team Ceeref 1 1 9 1 9 6 27pts
3 Bronenosec Sailing Team 4 2 4 8 8 1 27pts
4 Team Nika 8 8 3 2 4 3 28 pts
5 BlackWater Sailing Team 7 3 6 7 2 4 29pts
6 Artemis Racing 9 7 7 4 1 2 30pts
7 Team Aqua 3 5 2 6 7 7 30pts
8 Artemis Racing Youth 6 6 8 5 5 5 35pts
9 Charisma 5 9 5 9 3 8 2pp 41pts
RC44 Cascais Cup – Fleet Racing
It was a day of mixed fortunes for the top teams as fleet racing got underway on day two at the RC44 Cascais Cup. In light to moderate conditions off the Portuguese sailing mecca, three races were held in an 8-10 knot northwesterly and a long but shallow Atlantic swell.
Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref got off to the strongest of starts, comfortably winning the first two races. “We just wanted to be consistent and to avoid any collisions, so it was pretty simple,” claimed the Slovenian skipper.
Ceeref’s British tactician Adrian Stead expanded on this: “In the first race we wanted the pin and to work to the right – which we got. In the second race we wanted the right hand side of the start to go to the right – and we got that as well. It was the kind of course where if you were confident in your laylines you could make nice gains.”
However in the third, as Lah admitted, they were “too greedy…” Shaving the committee boat, they were a second or two early and were immediately called back to restart. Sadly they were subsequently unable to recover adequate ground and came home ninth. “That was a pity. But we know we can do it – we will not make the same mistake,” concluded Lah.
Stead was generally optimistic: “Our goal today was nine points or less, so we missed that but we are still in the frame. The tempo and how we sailed the boat was good – Igor was driving the boat really well and executed exactly what we wanted. It was unfortunate that one of the starts was early.”
Adhering more closely to their ‘consistency pays’ mantra was John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum. A 2-4, followed by a win in the day’s final race, leaves the Gibraltar-based team leading.
“It was very good, great fun,” Bassadone observed. “The boat seems to be going well. Everyone seems pretty relaxed and the racing, as always, is super-tight. It was a good start, but our focus is on trying to be consistent and conservative, but not too conservative – to try and sail like we know how to sail and see where we end up. Obviously there is a very long way to go.”
Peninsula Petroleum’s Italian tactician Vasco Vascotto admitted that they had struggled to find the right upwind mode in the first race. “Everyone was pushing hard to the right and if you got a nice lane you could sail to your target.” In fact the fleet seemed obsessed with the right, land side of the course, both upwind and downwind in the first two races.
“There were plenty of nice women on the beach!” quipped Vascotto. “We know that usually in Cascais the right is strong, due to the little right banana [shift] at the end. We feel very comfortable here – it is one of those places, like Porto Cervo, where you feel at home. You know where you have to go. The problem is…so does everyone else…”
There was a small blemish on Peninsula Petroleum’s scoreline when she was awarded a one point penalty for a marking rounding collision with Nico Poons’ Charisma. She still ends the day two points ahead of Chris Bake’s Team Aqua and Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team, tied in second, with the day’s star performer, Team Ceeref just a point behind them in fourth.
Also starting to show form today was the new Russian RC44 team, BlackWater, which held second for most of race two, before being overhauled by their mighty compatriots, Bronenosec Sailing Team.
“The second race was good. We started well and we had a very nice, first mark rounding when we were second. Basically it was down to the tactician and the helm and the team in this race didn’t make any mistakes. It feels very good when you see most of the fleet behind you. It is a funny feeling – you are happy and a little bit scared, because everyone’s pursuing you…” explained Andreas Savvidis, one of BlackWater’s trio of young owners, who was breathing a small sigh of relief: Whenever BlackWater wins its first ever RC44 race, his co-owners in BlackWater, Alexander Zaytsev and Maxim Merzlikin, have promised to shave his head.
Fleet racing continues on Saturday at 1200 noon local time. Follow live at www.rc44.com