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Penalties for Irish Crewed Aleph as Charisma Leads 44Cup in Oman at Halfway Stage

4th March 2023
Aleph racing has two Irish crew Cian Guilfoyle from Dublin Bay (grinding) and Oisin McClelland from Donaghdee (offside trimmer on her crew for the 44Cup Oman Cup
Aleph Racing has two Irish crew Cian Guilfoyle from Dublin Bay (grinding) and Oisin McClelland from Donaghdee (offside trimmer on her crew for the 44Cup Oman Cup Credit: Nico Martinez

Day two of the 44Cup Oman had its fair share of up and downs for French Aleph, on which two Irish crew sailors are among the nine-strong crew.

Friday's racing started off sedate as forecast but finished with the wind gusting to 20 knots, providing further ‘yeehaa’ moments for the nine crews as they clung on, blasting off on the downwind legs into the building sea state.

As Afloat reported previously, Cian Guilfoyle from Dublin Bay is joined by Northern Ireland Finn sailor Oisin McClelland this week for the Arabian Peninsula competition.

Another Irish sailor, Simon Johnson, is racing on Black Star.

After six races and at the halfway stage of the 44Cup Oman, there is a new leader. Aleph stays four but had been on a points tie for second on day one and is now five points adrift of third overall. See table below.

For a second day, the forecast suggested moderate ENEerly winds, but unlike yesterday, these actually materialised. In the first race in 10-12 knots. Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing ducked the fleet on port to claim the right and the lead at the top mark, albeit with Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 inside her. By the leeward gate, Ceeref and Team Nika had overtaken, but they split, with Ceeref going left, a move from which they went on to claim, impressively, their third bullet in four races.

On board Artemis Racing, new tactician, 49er gold medallist and Moth World Champion Dylan Fletcher admitted: “At times, I didn’t make all the right decisions and got a bit annoyed with myself, getting caught out of phase and being bouncing around like a pinball. Hopefully I’ll iron out these schoolboy errors.”

He added: “It is a fantastic fleet - the RC44 is great, and everyone is really nice. The thing that really stands out is just how good it is in light winds and how much fun it is, too when it is big breeze and windy. It is a jack of all trades: Close racing and intense.”

Aleph - two penalties racing at the 4Cup Oman Photo: Nico MartinezAleph - two penalties racing at the 4Cup Oman Photo: Nico Martinez

There were several incidents too: Peninsula Racing was OCS and, as she started bearing away to restart, her transom swung into Aleph Racing’s port topside. However, as windward boat, Aleph had failed to keep clear and so she received a penalty. She also received a penalty point for 'hard contact' plus an extra one as there was damage. For Aleph, things went from bad to worse when, just before the finish, she was penalised again when her spinnaker touched Charisma. Chris Bake’s Team Aqua was also in trouble when coming in on port to the starboard layline she was involved in a port-starboard incident with Oman Sail and subsequently collided with them while failing to keep clear. For this she had to complete two sets of turns and received two penalty points.

With the breeze up to 15 knots, the second race saw John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing punch out furthest to the left and lead into the top mark. By the leeward gate Peninsula Racing was still ahead, but rounded the port gate while Nico Poons’ Charisma took the favoured starboard mark. Charisma went on to finally get their first bullet of the regatta.

The last race, in which the wind was gusting to 20 knots, saw a change of fortune for Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing. While Charisma again looked strong initially, the French team found a nice lift at the top of the first upwind enabling them to reach the top mark, comfortably ahead of Team Aqua. This she increased down the run and from there was unassailable, finishing ahead of Charisma and Team Nika.

“It was a nice birthday present for Hugues,” said Aleph’s Michele Ivaldi. “Finally we put all the pieces together: We had a good start and we went almost all of the way left. I was happy to stay on one tack. When you have a small lead at the top mark you can just stretch. It was good fun on the downwinds.” Aleph Racing was on her J2 jib while just two boats Team Nika and Artemis Racing had gambled on the wind increasing and hoisted J3s.

A solid 3-1-2 has caused Charisma to take the lead overall from CEEREF now three points astern, with Peninsula Racing another three behind.

“We made many mistakes, but the results were fine,” commented Nico Poons. “We had good speed and we made mistakes and did things wrong, but we did that less than everyone else. Doing the small things less badly!”

Kiwi tactician Hamish Pepper added: “It was a good day results-wise. We are slowly getting back into the swing of things. It is our first couple of days of breezy sailing.” Traditionally Charisma has always been strong when the wind is up: “Nico likes the breeze and the guys sail the boat really well in a breeze. Typically our boat handling is pretty good and it gives me good opportunities to put the boat in the right place. The 44 is such great racing, so close and it was our day today.”

Second best scorer today was Team Nika with 2-3-3 - surprising given they pulled out of racing yesterday when they almost broke their mast at deck level. “I have no idea how it didn’t come down,” admitted the team’s tactician Nic Asher. Overnight the bottom section of the two piece carbon fibre spar was replaced with a spare. “We put the rig back in at 0700 this morning, put our numbers in and went out early to check it. Then we just tried to go racing and see where we were at.”And clearly where they were at was somewhere good.

Saturday's conditions are forecast to be similar to today. Racing will again start at 1200 local time.


(After six races)

1. Charisma - 2 3 5 3 1 2 - 16
2. Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 - 1 6 1 1 4 6 - 19
3. Peninsula Racing - 5 2 3 5 2 5 - 22
4. Aleph Racing - 4 4 2 7 7 1 (2) - 27
5. Team Nika - 6 7 10 2 3 3 - 31
6. Artemis Racing - 3 5 7 4 6 7 - 32
7. Team Aqua - 8 1 4 9 5 4 (2) - 33
8. Black Star Sailing Team - 7 8 6 8 8 8 - 45
9. Oman Sail - 9 9 8 6 9 9 - 50

Published in 44Cup Team

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About RC44

The RC44 is a light displacement, high performance one-design racing yacht competing in the 44Cup, a five-stop international racing tour. Co-designed by five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts with naval architect Andrej Justin, the RC44 boats are strictly identical in terms of construction, shape of hull, appendages and weight/weight distribution, as well as a 50-50 split between amateurs and professionals in each eight-person crew. With everything, from the keel to the tip of the mast, made entirely from carbon, and with a powerful sail plan, the RC44 is rapid downwind, commanding upwind and performs exceptionally in both light winds and heavier breezes. The RC44’s innovative and technical design present an exciting new hybrid sailing challenge, with the crews expected to hike like a sports boat and grind as you would on a keelboat.

At a Glance - 44Cup 2023 Calendar

  • 1 - 5 March - 44Cup Oman, Muscat

  • 28 June - 2 July - 44Cup Marstrand, Sweden

  • 9 - 13 August - 44Cup Cowes, UK

  • 18 - 22 October - 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina, Gibraltar Straight

  • 22 - 26 November - 44Cup Calero Marinas, Canary Islands

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