Team CEEREF wins 44Cup Portorož
Published on May 23rd, 2021
Portoroz, Slovenia (May 23, 2021) – After a difficult second day of this regatta, Slovenian Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF rallied today to top the 8-boat field to win the 44Cup Portorož, the opening event on the 2021 44Cup schedule.
Team CEEREF was lowest scoring yesterday and today built on this during the three races. Initially posting a second, they followed this in race two by a come-from-behind win as Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing, for the first time at this event, led round the top mark. Team CEEREF split, gybing early into a beneficial shift and better pressure allowing her to cruise into the lead which she consolidated upon during the next upwind.
Thanks to this, Team CEEREF started the final race holding a four point lead, but with Team Nika and Atom Tavatuy still capable of toppling her.
Sadly fortunes were not smiling on Chris Bake’s Team Aqua initially today. After being able to do no wrong on day two, when they scored a perfect three bullets, adding another yesterday, the wizened RC44 team left the dock leading by four points. However, eighth and seventh to start with today not only lost them their lead, but dropped them from the podium.
Fortunately in the final race, Bake’s team managed to get ahead of Atom Tavatuy to make a successful run on the bottom spot on the podium. This outcome was disappointing for Atom Tavatuy after a superb four days but their overall is the best result to date for Pavel Kuznetsov’s team, the 44Cup’s newest.
“It was very sad, losing third place on the final run like that,” said Kuznetsov. “We were expecting light wind this week but there was a lot of wind and the racing was very close. I enjoy the fight.”
Going from fifth to third place on the final run of the final race was enough for Team CEEREF to win the 44Cup Portoroz by five points from Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika.
“It was brilliant – I am really happy for this event,” said Lah. “It is our first time to win in Slovenia and it is like winning a world championship for us. The team worked perfectly. We were able to keep all the guys together over the last 18 months – it was extremely important to keep the team spirit.”
Half way through the regatta Team CEEREF was lying fifth. “We are always a little bit up and down – that is our specialty! I was not worried. I knew we can do it, it was just a matter of time,” concluded Lah. This is the third season he has started out with the 44Cup winner’s ‘golden wheels’ but the first time he has kept them after the first event.
His tactician, Adrian Stead, added: “This week Igor drove brilliantly and Tine [Lah’s son] was fantastic on the boat handling and all the other guys. 44 racing is just so great and it is just about being consistent.
“In 2019 there were a couple of regattas where we’d have really good races and then we’d get a 7th or an 8th. One thing we did this week was that we would try to turn a 7th into a 6th, etc. For sure we made some mistakes, but we have been consistent and kept fighting. The racing is awesome. The class is as strong as it has ever been and everyone has come back eager to race.”
Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing had her best day yet, twice leading at the top mark but was unable to hold on to her advantage. “There is nothing wrong with our speed – upwind we are quite fast,” observed Törnqvist, “it is the maneuvering – that has to become better. Even though today the last race was terrible – getting the mainsheet caught around the wheel at a critical moment, I am not unhappy. I enjoyed being here and doing the regatta is most important.”
Due to the pandemic, the 44Cup Portoroz was the first event for the high performance owner-driver one designs in 17 months. It took place with strict safety measures put in place by the RC44 class and the local organisers, including event and team bubbling and frequent testing for COVID-19.
Racing was held from May 20-23.
2021 44Cup Schedule
May 19-23 – 44Cup Portoroz, Slovenia
June 30-July 4 – 44Cup Marstrand, Sweden
August 11-15 – 44Cup Cowes, UK
October 6-10 – 44Cup Scarlino, Italy
November 17-21 – 44Cup Calero Marinas, Puerto Calero, Lanzarote
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. https://www.44cup.org/