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44Cup: Light airs start in Baiona

Yacht Racing Podcast

From some way out the opening day of the 44Cup Baiona, the second event of the 2024 circuit for the high performance owner-driver RC44 one designs, was looking light. At the skippers’ briefing held at 14th century Monterreal Castle, home to the host club, the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona (MRCYB), a two hour postponement was announced and it wasn’t until 1415 that the first race got underway. At this point, as forecast, the grey sky gave way to sun and a light northwesterly finally filled in.

Race one saw John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing and Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team OCS as Igor Lah and his Team Ceeref Vaider won the pin and Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing was closest to the race committee boat, tacking on the line and heading right. The right was to prove popular. Rather than going all the way the layline, Artemis Racing tacked early on a shift leaving Charisma furthest right. This proved a winning move, allowing the Swedish RC44 to pull on to the starboard layline ahead of the traffic and lead round the top mark ahead of Charisma and Aleph.

However here all did not go according to plan for Artemis Racing, as tactician Hamish Pepper explained: “We had a shocking hoist – a drop line was on wrong the side so we had to disentangle it and rerun the sheet. The guys did a good job when I was probably getting a bit heated…! We only got it rerun by the time we’d reached layline.” Fortunately while Artemis Racing had been forced to remain on starboard gybe, most other teams had gybed early only to find the pressure disappear on the right side of the course. Having dropped down to the bottom half of the fleet, Artemis Racing was back leading at the leeward gate.

With the wind fading across the course from the right, the left was popular on the second upwind with Black Star Sailing Team on the ascent, back up to fourth after her OCS. But with conditions looking increasing flaky, PRO Maria Torrijo shorten course at the top mark, leaving Artemis Racing to take the bullet ahead of Nico Poons’ 2023 44Cup winner Charisma and Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika, winner of the opening event of the 44Cup in Lanzarote.

“We didn’t have the best of starts, but the boat is going well and we were lucky with the wind and once you are in front it is easier all of a sudden,” explained Artemis Racing’s Torbjörn Törnqvist, who is racing here with his son Markus on board. He is enjoying his first visit to Baiona: “It is a beautiful place. I love the scenery.”

After a pause for the wind, finally race two was started only for its first attempt to be abandoned at the gun. With the wind continuing to veer, race two finally got away successfully at 1700 with this time Black Star again over but Charisma and Daniel Calero’s Calero Sailing Team also late having picked up pre-start penalties.

In some ways, race two followed a similar pattern to race one but this time Team Ceeref Vaider won the boat end and led the charge out to the right, tacking back short of the layline with a threatening-looking Artemis Racing on her hip. Igor Lah’s team just managed to sneak around the top mark in first ahead of Peninsula Racing with Calero Sailing Team doing an exceptional job in third (after their penalty). Team Ceeref Vaider hung on to the lead for the rest of the race.

“We had a great start and we did what we intended to do,” explained Igor Lah. “Then, most importantly, we tacked and Artemis came with us and we were able to keep our place by her. That was the crucial moment… Then it was quite simple. We are fast. Our boat handling is brilliant as was our tactics. Everything was like it should be. We are ready for tomorrow,” continued Lah, who has previously visited Baiona. “I really love the place. They have amazing food too and wine!”

A key crew on Team Ceeref Vaider is Tina Mrak, who has just got the slot to go to Paris 2024 representing Slovenia in the 470 dinghy. “We had a good start – we were patient at the race committee boat,” she described their winning race. “We decided to go right where there was nice pressure. It’s a really nice place here and the fleet is very competitive with everyone rounding the top mark within 30 seconds.”

Calero Sailing Team managed to cling on to finish fifth equalling their best result since returning to the 44Cup in March in their home regatta in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote. “We were very close to Charisma and are very happy to be competitive and to be in the fight,” commented Daniel Calero.

At the end of day one Team Ceeref Vaider is leading, but tied on points with Charisma, just two points clear of Artemis Racing and Peninsula Racing. More light conditions are forecast for tomorrow with conditions building over the weekend.

(After two races)
1. 🇸🇮 Team CEEREF Vaider – 5 1 – 6
2. 🇲🇨 Charisma – 2 4 – 6
3. 🇸🇪 Artemis Racing – 1 7 – 8
4. 🇬🇧 Peninsula Racing – 6 2 – 8
5. 🇫🇷 Aleph Racing – 7 3 – 10
6. 🇲🇨 Team Nika – 3 8 – 11
7. 🇨🇭 Black Star Sailing Team – 4 9 – 13
8. 🇪🇸 Calero Sailing Team – 9 5 – 14
9. 🇬🇧 Team Aqua – 8 6 – 14

(After one event)
1. 🇲🇨 Team Nika – 1
2. 🇸🇮 Team CEEREF Vaider – 2
3. 🇬🇧 Peninsula Racing – 3
4. 🇬🇧 Team Aqua – 4
5. 🇫🇷 Aleph Racing – 5
6. 🇲🇨 Charisma – 6
7. 🇨🇭 Black Star Sailing Team – 7
8. 🇸🇪 Artemis Racing – 8
9. 🇪🇸 Calero Sailing Team – 9

Main image © Nico Martinez