Aleph Racing leads 44Cup Palma
Published on November 15th, 2019
Palma, Spain (November 15, 2019) – Racing at the 44Cup Palma in November was always going to be challenging not just for crews but especially for race officials more used to racing here in summer, in a sea breeze you can set your watch by.
After yesterday’s racing was canned with the breeze gusting to 40 knots, today featured a large residual swell conditions with unsettled winds requiring a delay of almost two hours.
As the wind direction pulled around due to the giant clouds crossing the Bay of Palma race area, the light to moderate breeze randomly shifted between southwest and northwest and back before finally settling close to the former when, on their fifth attempt, the race committee was able to lay a course successfully.
From there the day improved and the hero was certainly 2018’s defending 44Cup champion, Nico Poons and his Charisma. The Dutchman’s team, which has had an up and down 2019 season, made most sense of the tricky conditions to win both of today’s first races.
In the first they played the shifts in the centre of the race track and led around the top mark and were then aided by a left shift making the course more one way, thereby benefiting the leader. In the second it was initially harder when they followed Chris Bake’s Team Aqua and Bronenosec around at the top mark, but crossed ahead on the run.
New on board Charisma for this event is Kiwi Hamish Pepper who is standing in for regular tactician John Kostecki. “It was a tough day. It was very shifty and puffy and we sailed well in the first two and got behind in the last one and when we just struggling a bit,” explained Pepper. “The boat was going pretty quick and is sailed well up and down – the guys did a good job with that and we got some lucky breaks and managed to say in front.”
The conditions did improve for race three. In this the arrival of a fresh set of clouds caused the wind to build into the high teens and there were at least three lead changes with Pavel Kuznetsov’s Tavatuy Sailing Team and John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum fighting at the front on the first lap only for Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF to nose ahead going into the leeward gate.
On the second beat Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing chose the favoured left and was ahead at the final top mark rounding before going on to take the bullet. This win enabled Lepic’s team, on which American Steve Howe was steering today, to come out on top, ending the day one point ahead of Charisma, thanks to an average result by Poons’ team in the last race.
“It was a really difficult day,” confessed Aleph Racing’s tactician Michele Ivaldi. “The wind was all over the place. There were big shifts of 30-40° and puffs coming from the sky. It was very difficult to read. Plus we were in the lee of the island and there were all of the rain clouds passing by. You definitely needed some luck…”
Meanwhile there is some concern for the two teams currently topping the 2019 44Cup overall leaderboard. Holding first place there is Chris Bake’s Team Aqua which is currently lying in last place after one day of racing, five points and three places behind their main rival for this year’s title, Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika. Team Aqua’s position was not helped by their spinnaker blowing up in the second run of race two.
On the dock at the event’s hosts, the Real Club Nautico de Palma there were some minor celebrations for the Tavatuy Sailing Team crew, after their third race when they had led at the top mark. “It was very difficult today,” admitted the Russian team’s towering tactician Evgeny Neugodnikov. “The third race as nice. We had a good start and we had good speed and were first to the top mark, but then we came third…”
Tomorrow conditions are forecast to be in the 8-10 knot range, fortunately with a much reduced sea state. Racing is on from November 13 to 17.
Launched in 2007, the RC44 Class enters its 12th season on the 44Cup, a five-stop international racing tour throughout Europe.
44Cup Events Schedule 2019
44Cup Porto Montenegro – Montenegro – April 10 to 14
Adris 44Cup – Croatia – May 30 to June 2
44Cup Marstrand – Sweden – July 9 to 13
44Cup Cascais – Portugal – October 2 to 6
44Cup Palma – Spain – Nov 14 to 17
About the RC44 boat
Five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts conceived the design of the light-displacement, high-performance one-design RC44 with naval architect Andrej Justin in 2005.
Created for top level one design racing in international regattas under strictly controlled Class Rules, the concept and design features of the RC44 are aimed at the amateur helmsmen with professional crews. For its thirteenth season in 2019, the RC44 Championship Tour was rebranded the 44Cup.