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44Cup: Three bullet day sees Artemis Racing in top spot

Yacht Racing Podcast

After a wait for the wind to fill in, the Vigo River estuary and Galicia’s wider Rías Baixas estuary complex delivered for day three of the 44Cup Baiona with 15-20 knots, brilliant sunshine, a short chop and with the magnificent Caes Islands nature reserve as a backdrop. The schedule was partly recovered with four races held, before the nine teams retired to the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona for a BBQ in the club’s grounds within the 14th century century Monterreal Castle.

Two teams dominated today – one noisily; the other not. A few changes have been made to Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing for this season, the most evident being the recruitment of Hamish Pepper the 2023 44Cup winning tactician from Nico Poons’ Charisma. Impressively the Swedish team won three races today, although, indicative of what was a ‘high scoring day’ for the fleet, also finished last in one. Ironically their day’s scoreline was identical to that of Team Nika, which didn’t win a race but posted a deliciously consistent 4-2-2-4. Thus going into the final day the two teams are neck and neck, the Swedes ahead with their far better tiebreak (number of race wins).

Artemis Racing’s three bullets reminded Torbjörn Törnqvist of the early days of his 44Cup campaigning: “This certainly hasn’t happened for a very very long time! I feel very good. Obviously we have had our issues. Now we feel we are back on track and hopefully our bad performances are behind us.” With one day of racing remaining he is wise enough not to assume anything: “The RC44 class is extremely close – things can change from one day to another. I am very happy with our new set-up. We are fast, which is good and the manoeuvres work. It has all come together.”

In the first race, the right side of the opening beat paid. Artemis Racing was first to the top mark and held on as the wind clocked severely right leaving few passing lanes. Conversely in the second race, they were last around the first top mark. In the third race they again benefitted from the right, reaching the top mark first and then hanging on.

Their hardest fought race was the fourth. With her Italian helm and tactician, Pietro Loro Piana and Michele Ivaldi, this was led for the first lap by Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, but then, as Pepper explained: “we just had a piece of them at the bottom mark, so we gained the right, which was favoured. Aleph and Ceeref had their own little battle, while we got clear. Plus we ended up on the perfect layline…which I would like to say I called from five minutes out!”

Pietro Loro Piana shared his view on this: “The first gate rounding was a bit challenging for us. We were in-between situations and unfortunately, because of that, I wasn’t ready to take action as quickly as Michele wanted which allowed Artemis to do a better rounding than us. But we kept pushing. The team was sailing very well and on the second upwind we had to defend our position.” Aleph Racing ended up second.

So, how he is coming to grips helming the high performance owner-driver one design RC44? “After the last gybe Michele said ‘good gybe’…so after four races and five hours on the sea, it seems I’ve learned! But it is getting more natural, which is what I want. I am enjoying getting better.”

The one race Artemis Racing didn’t win was claimed by Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team. Unlike the first race of the day, race two benefitted the pin end starters – Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref Vaider and Black Star on which tactician Cameron Dunn was then able to find a better lane across to the right enabling them to reach the top with a good lead and to defend from there.

“It was a good day for us,” said Zuerrer. “I am happy we won a race in the breeze. I think we now have the balance of the boat and the tuning right. Always there are these small little mistakes. In this fleet you have to be constantly stable.” Pleased with having today’s third best score, Zuerrer was still reeling from having been pipped to the post in two races today by Team Nika.

Aside from Artemis Racing, most outstanding performances of the day was that of Calero Sailing Team. Incredibly the newbies on the 44Cup’s rental boat (which the class makes available at events for teams to try), after the first two races were the days’ top scoring boat. In three of today’s four races they reached the top mark in second place, translating these into a 2-3-6. The Spanish team is bristling with talent – imagine if they were racing their own boat…

“We are very happy about everything,” said Daniel Calero. “We made a lot of decisions about rigging and sails because the wind was increasing and you need to adapt everything. Then during the races, in this class if you make a mistake you pay. And we paid! But the first two races we sailed pretty stably.”

Tomorrow the aim is to start on time at 1200, if conditions at this new 44Cup venue permits it. Follow live at www.44cup.org

44CUP BAIONA RESULTS:
(After seven races)
1. 🇸🇪 Artemis Racing – 1 7 5 1 9 1 1 – 25
2. 🇲🇨 Team Nika – 3 8 2 4 2 2 4 – 25
3. 🇨🇭 Black Star Sailing Team – 4 9 1 6 1 3 5 – 29
4. 🇸🇮 Team CEEREF Vaider – 5 1 4 9 5 4 3 – 31
5. 🇫🇷 Aleph Racing – 7 3 7 5 7 7 2 – 38
6. 🇲🇨 Charisma – 2 4 3 7 8 5 8 (2) – 39
7. 🇬🇧 Peninsula Racing – 6 2 6 3 6 9 7 – 39
8. 🇪🇸 Calero Sailing Team – 9 5 9 2 3 6 9 – 43
9. 🇬🇧 Team Aqua – 8 6 8 8 4 8 6 – 48

44CUP OVERALL RANKING 2024:
(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

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