Seriously close at RC44 World Champs
Published on October 8th, 2021
Scarlino, Italy (October 8, 2021) – After 30 knot winds prevented any racing on day one of the 2021 44Cup World Championship, three races were successfully held today in the bay off Marina di Scarlino in a northerly that built to 20 knots gusting 25.
Partly due to the difficult-to-read conditions, partly due to the intense competition between the nine boats, it was a high scoring opening to the 11th edition, but just one point separates the top seven boats and two points the top eight in the nine boat fleet.
The first race was the hardest fought with Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing doing well on the upwinds and Nico Poons’ Charisma edging ahead on the runs. The Dutchman’s team was first home as the Swedes dropped to fourth.
“Everyone sailed pretty well and I managed to get a few shifts as well – it all helped,” explained Charisma’s tactician Hamish Pepper. “Artemis is going well. They had one small problem which opened the door for us thankfully and we took advantage of it.
“It wasn’t a ‘go hard right’ sort of day. There were still a few shifts coming back from the left and you had to try and join the dots. It was tough because everyone was expecting a bit more right breeze and more breeze to come, so sail selection was tricky – we were all pretty conservative; the fleet matched itself…”
Artemis Racing turned race one’s result around in the second. Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing led around the top mark, showing some of the same form that won her the 44Cup Cowes in August, but a gybeset launched Artemis into the lead which she never relinquished.
“We had a great start up by the boat and sailed a couple of shifts well,” noted Artemis tactician. “Then we did what TT [Torbjörn Törnqvist] called ‘the boat handling move of the day’ – a gybeset at the top and that got us past Aleph and then we were pretty much gone.”
He added that generally it was a difficult day: “We were getting reports from the top mark that it was 25 knots from 30° and we sailed up the beat in 12 knots from 5°.”
Törnqvist added: “The first two races were great but unfortunately coming out of the first gybe on the last beat, when we were leading, we lost our bowsprit. It took us some time to sort that out, but these things happen. That small thing lost us three places. I’m sure everyone had similar stories today.”
In the third and final race, Igor Lah’s Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 won the pin, then stayed to the mid-left and eventually crossed the fleet on port to lead around the top mark. The overall 2021 44Cup leaders then never looked back.
Artemis Racing held a strong lead overall after race two, but lost her advantage with a seventh place finish in race three. Nominally the leader after day one is Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860, but with such a leaderboard, this is all but meaningless. The 44Cup Scarlino World Championship will effectively restart tomorrow.
“It is amazing. It cannot get closer so tomorrow we start from scratch, like today didn’t happen,” said Igor Lah, adding of his race win today: “The last one was great. The first was a big mistake on my side at the start, but luckily we came back. The conditions were great – really fun. I loved it, it was brilliant.”
Of the tight overall result Nico Poons added: “That is crazy. This shows how close this is!”
Torbjörn Törnqvist: “First of all it shows the standard within the class and perhaps some of the difficulties today – it was shifty and windy, a bit all over the place. And you had to have luck also. We had two good races and one where we were dictated by the situation on the course – which does happen.”
Enjoying her first 44Cup races today was Moscow lawyer Valeriya Kovalenko on board her ARTtube. While she and her fledgling team were expecting to bring up the rear in every race, in fact in today’s second race they finished ahead of two teams.
“Today was a great day,” she said. “We were happy sailing especially in the second race.” While it was Kovalenko’s first day of 44Cup racing, this was not the case for the majority of her team which have previously sailed on Kirill Podolsky’s RUS-7, the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge and Synergy.
Her tactician for example, Igor Lisenko raced for a season and a half on Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge, before joining Kovalenko on board her victorious J/70. “We are young in this class but it was a good day for us,” he said. “In strong winds it is not easy, because we don’t have practice. But overall we are very happy.”
Competitors are expecting a similar forecast tomorrow. Racing is planned for October 7-10.
2021 44Cup Schedule
May 19-23 – 44Cup Portoroz, Slovenia
June 30-July 4 – 44Cup Marstrand, Sweden
August 11-15 – 44Cup Cowes, UK
October 7-10 – 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/