Bake wins RC44 World Championship
Published on October 10th, 2021
Scarlino, Italy (October 10, 2021) – The final day of the 2021 RC44 World Championship received sun and 15-20 knot winds, initially from the north but veering northeast, with the defending champions on Chris Bake’s Team Aqua closing strong with a 1-2-2 to jump from fourth overall overnight to claim the 2021 World title.
Going into today just one point had separated the top three – Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing, and Nico Poons’ Charisma with Team Aqua five points off the lead.
A win by Team Aqua in the first race, to Artemis Racing’s third, launched Chris Bake’s team up to second overall, two points shy of Artemis prior to the penultimate race. In this, a wind shift, followed by a short lull, caused Igor Lah’s Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 to finish almost 1km ahead.
In this second race of the day Team Aqua was second but had plummeted to eighth place on the first run, then had rocketed up the left side of the next beat to round the top mark back in second. They did well to hang on and 4 minutes 15 seconds after Ceeref, Team Aqua finished second just ahead of Charisma and Artemis Racing.
At the top of the leaderboard, this left Artemis Racing and Team Aqua tied on points, with Charisma two behind, going into the final race.
The 10th and last race of the series saw Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy lead around the top mark, while in the battle for the World Championship title, Artemis Racing was second and Team Aqua fourth.
However, crucially at the bottom of the run Artemis and Charisma chose the port gate mark while Team Aqua went right. Running their larger J2 as most were on their J3, up the second beat Chris Bake’s team benefited greatly from a right shift propelling them into the lead. They rounded the top mark first ahead of Aleph Racing, Charisma with Artemis Racing now down to fourth.
On the final run, most of the fleet gybed early on to port, but halfway down Charisma put in a hitch to the left and when the two groups converged Poons’ team gybed in front of Team Aqua to win the final race by a hair. Artemis Racing arrived fifth dropping them to third on the podium behind Charisma.
At a prizegiving in Marina di Scarlino, Chris Bake and his Team Aqua were given a rapturous applause worthy of defending champions in one of sailing’s most hotly contested classes.
“It wasn’t an easy one,” admitted Bake. “The last run of the last race of the day and it could have gone three ways between Charisma, ourselves, and Artemis Racing. It was a great day of sailing.”
Of that race Bake said: “We took the right mark [at the leeward gate] which put us in the wind a little bit earlier and that gave us the shift and a little bit of an advantage. Then on the second downwind there were boats either side of us that could have rolled us, so it was really tense.
“The 44Cup is still as full-on competitive as it ever is. Racing doesn’t get any better than this frankly. To be able to still compete in this class is really good.”
Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton was equally ecstatic. “In this fleet on the final day, when the pressure is on, in those sort of conditions, with this sort of fleet pushing hard, that was some tense sailing – to go 1-2-2 there was nothing easy or straightforward about that. What an amazing regatta – the fleet is as tight as it ever is and we are just really pleased to have won.
“Our starting wasn’t that great this week, but on the rest of the race course we managed to do the right things at the right time. We are pleased that the guys on the boat, as always, with their familiarity and friendship, that our teamwork was on a high and pulls us through.”
The Team Aqua crew comprised Bake, Appleton, Andrew Estcourt, Christian Kamp, Juan Marcos, Ben Graham, Aaron Cooper, and James Dodd with America’s Cup legend Rod Davis coaching.
Artemis Racing was on World Championship winning form all week but saw their chances slip through their fingers in the last race.
“We rounded the left gate and the right one was better, but you don’t know that. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t,” said Törnqvist. “At the finish it was almost impossible to say who crossed the line in what place because it was so close.
“It will be one of the best regattas we’ll remember, because it was a World Championship and really high quality sailing and it all came down to the end of the final run.”
Racing was on October 7-10.
The 44Cup continues with the final event of the season, the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote on November 17-21.
Series information – Event details – Results
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/