Aleph wins 44Cup Cowes
Published on August 15th, 2021
Cowes, UK (August 15, 2021) – The final day of the 44Cup Cowes had overnight leader Hugues Lepic’ Aleph with a seven point gap over second placed Ceeref, and while the margin closed over three races, it was enough for Aleph to take the third event of the season.
More breeze was always on the cards with the forecast showing over 20+ knots and this was precisely what the fleet got. Yet this time around the tide was with the wind most of the day making for flatter seas, which in turn meant that there were some superb high speed sleigh rides downhill.
In the first race CEEREF smoked around the course to take the first win, leaving Aleph, who finished in fifth, to wonder where their points buffer had gone.
Charisma had finished second, their best of the series and possibly a trigger for believing that more was possible.
In the second race it clearly was as they took their first win of the week with Aqua in second.
By now the points table had been compressed and shuffled, the last race would decide a great deal. It did so in dramatic style, especially on the last downwind leg where boats hit 22 knots in the relatively flat water. In the end. after some stressful moments deep in the fleet, Aleph took the overall win by one point.
“This was an amazing day, a lot of stress but three great races, great competitors and for us it went all the way to the last run,” said Aleph’s owner Hugues Lepic. “Winning any race in Cowes is a treat, but winning an event is something very, very special. A lot of our points margin from earlier in the week got eroded but we managed two decent last races.
“I’m so pleased and happy for our team that has put in so much effort. We have been improving over the last two years and now we can show it.”
With two wins on the final day, second placed Ceeref knew that they hadn’t left much on the table.
“We knew we had to come out firing today because we had a few points to make up,” said tactician Adrian Stead. “We had 27 knots of breeze during the gybe for the committee boat for the final finish, but we pulled off. It was hard though and could have changed our fortunes completely.
“But what a race, everyone overlapped at the top mark on the first rounding in the last race after a 1.4nm beat is testament to just how close the racing is in this fleet. Another regatta decided on the last run of the last race which is awesome.”
For Chris Bake, taking the third podium spot was also a success but having been the catalyst for making the Cowes event happen the week had been particularly special.
“It’s been a great event. Showcasing the 44s here is really important, so I was happy to help get the fleet here,” he said. “It’s a boat that I think deserves to be more popular and we wanted to show the fleet off a bit and see if a few more owners would be interested in trying it.”
Racing was from August 12-15.
Race 10 – SW 20-25 knots – Flood tide
Low cloud, drizzle and a stronger breeze than was expected kicked off the first of the final day’s racing, these were punchy conditions. But so too was the start for some, especially Team Aquas who were prepared to hold back at the committee boat end to ensure that they could tack onto port straight away and bag the right hand side of the course.
It paid off and at the top mark Chris Bake’s team rounded in the lead. But a right hand shift and the strong east going tide had meant that an early gybe was favorable. Among those that did was Igor Lah’s Ceeref team who then managed to soak down at speed on port to overtake Aqua.
But there was more fun to come thanks to the tide and the wind shift as the bulk of the fleet approached the right hand leeward mark so close to the lay that putting in two gybes and a round up was going to be a big ask.
Ceeref saw this coming and did an early drop, two quick down-speed gybes and a round up. Simple, if you do it right. But when you’re in the pack and under even more pressure, things can go wrong and for some they did, shuffling the fleet in the process.
Here, Artemis came off worse, trawling their kite and going from third to last.
By the end of the second lap Ceeref had held their lead with Charisma in second and Aqua third.
Race 11 – SW 20-22knots – Flood tide easing
Another boisterous affair in which the east going ebb tide continued to favor the right hand side of the course. By now the fleet knew it. Once again Aqua, now joined by others, tried to bag the right hand side of the course by starting close to the committee boat.
This time is was Nico Poons’ Charisma that got to the top mark first with Aqua second, which is how things stayed through to the finish.
But there was another battle developing further back in the fleet where overall leaders Aleph were trying to extricate themselves from the bulk of the fleet in 6 and catch Ceeref who were then in 4th. If they were to finish like this Aleph’s lead would be eroded badly.
But the French team kept pushing and managed to not only force their way through the fleet during the second lap but pip Ceeref at the finish line by a matter of just centimeters. The frustration on the faces of Ceeref’s crew was clear as the race committee confirmed the result.
Race 12 – SW 22-25knots – Slack tide
Between the two front runners nothing had changed in the order but winning for Ceeref had just got one point harder. On the other hand, as we had seen, a kite trawl could easily scrub off several points in one go so the pressure was still on the French.
Just behind, Charisma’s two good results had put them just three points behind Ceeref, with Aqua just five points adrift of third – things were tightening up. The final race was going to matter.
The breeze had also picked up and this time the fleet hunted as a pack as they pushed their way upwind. The top mark rounding was tight with the need to pull off a good hoist adding to the pressure.
By the time they got to the leeward mark there was action aplenty with hard gybes, kite trawls and very difficult mark roundings.
John Bassadone’s Peninsula was leading and Torbjon Tornqvist’s Artemis had found their mojo again. But the focus was on Aleph and Ceeref.
Ceeref were ahead but not by enough and even given their win as they scorched across the line, Aleph were hanging in with a 4th, enough to take overall victory by a single point.
Aqua scored a 5th, sufficient to take the third spot on the podium also by one point.
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/