Aleph and Aqua on top at 44Cup
Published on November 21st, 2021
Puerto Calero, Lanzarote (November 21, 2021) – With light winds prevailing over four days of racing at the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote, Hugues Lepic’s Team Aleph won the event while Chris Bake’s Team Aqua takes home the 5-event season title.
The schedule for the final day of racing, off the blackened lunar landscape of Lanzarote’s south coast, was brought forward by two hours to 1000 UTC. PRO María Torrijo had made this call in order to provide the best window of opportunity to race, given the forecast of a fourth day of light winds in this usually windy venue.
Ultimately just one race was successfully sailed and this produced a photo-finish between Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy and John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum, with the Russian team taking the bullet by millimeters, from the Gibraltese on which double Olympic Finn gold medalist Giles Scott was calling tactics for the first time.
This was the Russian team’s third bullet in seven races sailed and was enough to leave them ending the regatta second on countback, tied on points with Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 and Chris Bake’s Team Aqua. In turn, they were just one ahead of 44Cup newbies ARTTUBE, skippered by the 44Cup’s sole female helm, Valeriya Kovalenko, who finished fifth of nine in her second ever 44Cup event.
“It is our first podium in the 44Cup for me and also for Pavel,” said the team’s tactician Evgeny Neugodnikov. “It is a great result. Sometimes you have time to do it, like the final event, when the others are fighting for the season and you have a bit more space.”
Atom Tavatuy finished the season fifth overall.
Neugodnikov said that their new bowman, Evgeniy Egorov, had also made a big contribution. “He was very confident. We won all of our starts, apart from the first one. With a good start you have a better chance to come out on top. Also the team is working better and better and Pavel understands a lot more the boat.”
But the winner in the regatta was Hugues Lepic’s Team Aleph led by tactical maestro Michele Ivaldi and Italian Alessandro Rombelli standing in for Lepic on the helm, winning by a resounding 14 points after just seven races.
“It is never easy, but we had the perfect week,” said Rombelli. “The weather was not very good, but we managed to have some nice races. We were in the right spot most of the time which helped. We had fun this week and were happy with the results we achieved.
Within the bigger picture of the 2021 44Cup season’s title, Chris Bake’s World Championship winning team on Team Aqua came into this final event leading by two points from Ceeref. A highly uncharacteristic last place in today’s only race dropped Team Aqua back to fourth, with Ceeref in third, but tied on points.
Effectively separated now by just one point, meant some match racing between the two teams was certain going into the final race. Sadly, with the wind down to 3-4 knots and after a long wait, Mother Nature deprived history of this occurring, handing the 2021 44Cup title to Team Aqua.
“It is the first time in a while we have won the series and the first time we have won that and the Worlds in same year,” said a jubilant Bake. “It is about joining all the dots and that worked well. I don’t think it was anything specific, just more of the same, better. Consistency too has a lot to do with it.”
Team Aqua was the stand-out team in the 44Cup’s early years, winning its fleet racing championship for four consecutive years over 2011-14. Recently the team has enjoyed more success as RC44 World Champions, this year successfully defending their title from 2019.
Bake’s team ‘doing the double’ this season is a first for them but was previously achieved by Ceeref in 2016, a year after Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika was the first team to manage this.
The 44Cup resumes in 2022 with five events scheduled. Looking forward to the new season Chris Bake concluded: “It is really good. We have some renewed interest with two new owners and another in the wings – that is really good for the class.”
Racing was on November 18-21.
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/