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Ireland’s Simon Johnson was among the crew of Black Star who completed the podium at the 44Cup Baiona at the weekend.

As previously reported on, Artemis Racing were victorious in the second round of the 2024 44Cup which concluded on Sunday (12 May).

Placing third was Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team, who won two races to end up equalling their best event result ever (they previously reached third place at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina last autumn).

Black Star, with Wicklow’s Simon Johnson, duels with Aleph Racing (featuring Ireland’s Oisín McClelland) at the 44Cup Baiona | Credit: Nico Martinez/44CupBlack Star, with Wicklow’s Simon Johnson, duels with Aleph Racing (featuring Ireland’s Oisín McClelland) at the 44Cup Baiona | Credit: Nico Martinez/44Cup

Wicklow sailor Simon Johnson serves as pit crew on the multinational Black Star squad, but he’s not the only Irish representation in the 44Cup this year — with Finn sailor Oisín McClelland on the French-flagged Aleph Racing and the Royal Cork’s Grattan Roberts grinding for Team Ceeref Vaider, who finished fourth in the final standings.

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Artemis Racing emerged victorious at the 44Cup Baiona, held at the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona (MRCYB) in Galicia, after winning five out of nine races. The second event of the 2024 44Cup concluded on Sunday, after a delay in the wind direction caused a lengthy wait for the races to commence. 

Chris Bake's Team Aqua started the first race on a high note, tacking at the committee boat and winning the right to take the lead. However, Artemis Racing made a wrong choice by starting on the left, which put them behind. But in the second race, both teams chose the same sides, and Artemis Racing managed to gain an inside berth at the top mark, eventually taking the lead and winning the race. This win secured the 44Cup Baiona victory for Artemis Racing, beating Team Nika by six points.

Torbjörn Törnqvist, the helmsman for Artemis Racing, expressed his delight at the victory and credited the team's success to "the perfect regatta for us. Everything seemed to work from the boat set-up to the teamwork, the coordination on board, the tactics, the speed, etc. When you feel that, your confidence level goes up." 

The win marks a significant turnaround for Artemis Racing, who joined the RC44s in 2008 but had not won a regatta since 2016. Hamish Pepper, who became tactician for Artemis Racing, played a crucial role in the team's success, having won the last two seasons with Nico Poons' Charisma. The addition of Brad Ferrand and Luke Muller as stand-in crew may have also changed the dynamic on board.

Team Nika, captained by Vladimir Prosikhin, secured second place in the event, despite not winning any races. Their consistent performance throughout the races enabled them to retain their position as the 2024 44Cup season leaders.

The event was praised by Chris Bake, the RC44 Class Association President, who said, "The club facility is beautiful. They have been very hospitable, which is really nice. I think they are keen to have us back, and everyone is pretty excited about that." 

The next event on the 2024 44Cup will take place in Marstrand, followed by two more new venues for the 44Cup - Brunnen, Switzerland for the RC44 World Championship, and concluding at Nanny Cay, Tortola in the BVI.

Baiona 44 Cup results:

  • 1. Artemis Racing - 1 7 5 1 9 1 1 3 1 - 29
  • 2. Team Nika - 3 8 2 4 2 2 4 6 4 - 35
  • 3. Black Star Sailing Team - 4 9 1 6 1 3 5 4 7 - 40
  • 4. Team CEEREF Vaider - 5 1 4 9 5 4 3 5 5 - 41
  • 5. Aleph Racing - 7 3 7 5 7 7 2 2 8 - 48
  • 6. Peninsula Racing - 6 2 6 3 6 9 7 7 2 - 48
  • 7. Charisma - 2 4 3 7 8 5 8 8 3 (2) - 50
  • 8. Calero Sailing Team - 9 5 9 2 3 6 9 1 6 - 55
  • 9. Team Aqua - 8 6 8 8 4 8 6 9 9 - 61
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Team Nika emerged as the winner of the 44Cup Calero Marinas, the opening event of the 2024 44Cup. The high-performance owner-driver one-design race was held in maximum conditions for all four days of racing in the Canary Islands. In fact, no one could recall a time when the smallest headsail, the J3, was used in every race. Even on the final day, teams faced gusts into the high 20s blowing from the north, over Lanzarote’s barren lunar landscape.

All four days of R44 racing in the Canary Islands were in maximum conditions for the high performance owner-driver one design Photo: Nico MartinezAll four days of R44 racing in the Canary Islands were in maximum conditions for the high performance owner-driver one design Photo: Nico Martinez

Team Nika secured their victory with four bullets from nine races. The team faced a challenge from Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref Vaider, who finished second overall, just one point behind Team Nika. Team Ceeref Vaider suffered a spinnaker damage and was awarded a penalty turn and two penalty points in the final race of the regatta.

Several Irish sailors are competing at the 44Cup including Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle on board Aleph Racing Photo: Nico MartinezSeveral Irish sailors are competing at the 44Cup including Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle on board Aleph Racing Photo: Nico Martinez

Team Aqua, skippered by Chris Bake, had a remarkable second race, being called OCS and then going on to score their second consecutive bullet. They finished third overall.

The regatta was challenging, with strong winds, and the teams had to cope with tricky conditions that were at the top range of sailing for a 44. Despite this, the event was a great success, and all teams had a blast.

The 44Cup resumes over 8-12 May in Baiona, Spain.


(After nine races)

1. Team Nika - 2 1 3 1 4 1 6 7 1 - 26
2. Team CEEREF Vaider - 5 2 1 3 2 2 9 3 5 (2) - 34
3. Peninsula Racing - 3 3 8 5 1 3 4 6 2 - 35
4. Team Aqua - 9 4 2 7 6 5 1 1 4 - 39
5. Aleph Racing - 4 6 6 4 5 6 5 2 3 - 41
6. Charisma - 1 5 9 2 7 4 8 4 6 - 46
7. Black Star Sailing Team - 6 9 4 6 8 8 3 5 7 - 56
8. Artemis Racing - 7 8 7 9 3 7 2 8 8 - 59
9. Calero Sailing Team - 8 7 5 8 9 9 7 9 10DNF - 72

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Team Nika continues to lead the 44Cup Calero Marinas after a thrilling third day of racing in Lanzarote. Despite the forecast predicting lighter winds, the Lanzarote wind gods had other ideas and 30-knot winds blew late morning. After initial postponement, the day’s first race finally got underway at 1430 UTC.

As Afloat reported earlier, Irish crews compete on three of the nine boat fleet; France's Aleph in fifth place, Black Star Racing and Team Ceeref Vaider.

The gusts of up to 26 knots and lulls as little as 15 made the race challenging. The northerly wind was backed compared to the first two days, blowing more squarely offshore from Puerto Calero. The breeze, passing over Lanzarote’s mountainous barren landscape, created huge turbulence, churning up a short, sharp chop to challenge the nine teams.

In the first race, Team Nika and Team Ceeref Vaider started to weather of the fleet, and despite Aleph Racing and Artemis Racing both looking good out to the left, tacking on the (giant) shifts up the center paid. Igor Lah’s Slovenia team led on to the first run ahead of John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing and Team Nika, with Calero Sailing Team holding fourth after another strong upwind leg for the rookie local heroes.

Tacticians Vasco Vascotto and Nic Asher spotting a right shift coming, Peninsula Racing, and Team Nika were the first to gybe, but a good layline call by Adrian Stead enabled Team Ceeref Vaider to reach the leeward gate just ahead of Team Nika, which split right.

Team Nika leads the 44Cup after a thrilling third day of racing in Lanzarote Photo: Nico MartinezTeam Nika leads the 44Cup after a thrilling third day of racing in Lanzarote Photo: Nico Martinez

Up the second beat, Team Ceeref Vaider was doing well on the left, and Team Nika tacked to join her. As the two entered into a private match race, a favorable shift for Peninsula Racing out to the right saw her ease into the lead and Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing into third. As Peninsula Racing extended away down the final run, helped by another significant shift making it ‘long on port’, the main battle became for second with Team Ceeref Vaider prevailing.

In the second race, three boats – Team Ceeref Vaider, Team Aqua, and Calero Sailing Team - were OCS, while Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team was carrying out a penalty turn on the line. After winning the pin, Charisma initially looked good on the left only for a right shift lifting the Pietro Loro Piana-steered Aleph Racing up to the mark and into the lead ahead of Charisma and Team Nika.

On the run, Team Nika and Team Ceeref Vaider - remarkably already recovered from her OCS - gained by gybing early into more pressure. They led around the starboard gate mark with Aleph Racing third, splitting left. Team Nika held the lead up the second beat to round the top mark ahead of Team Ceeref Vaider and Peninsula Racing, positions they held to the finish. This third bullet for Team Nika saw Vladimir Prosikhin’s team retain its overall lead.

“We feel really fast upwind and downwind,” explained Team Nika headsail trimmer Pierluigi de Felice. “Vladimir is steering well, and everything is coming together this week. Hopefully, we can seal it tomorrow.”

For Peninsula Racing, it was their finest hour since they came so close to winning their event in Marina Alcaidesa last autumn. “It felt amazing – it’s always good to win,” commented John Bassadone. “Today generally the feeling was that we sailed well, whereas yesterday we didn’t. We felt that everyone in their different positions sailed well. That first race was very good, and even the second one we covered quite well. We were sailing the runs a lot better, and the boat seems to be well balanced, which, in these conditions, is quite hard.”

Going into the final day, Team Nika is only three points clear of Team Ceeref Vaider, who, in turn, is holding an eight-point cushion over Peninsula Racing.


(After six races)
1. Team Nika - 2 1 3 1 4 1 - 12
2. Team CEEREF Vaider - 5 2 1 3 2 2 - 15
3. Peninsula Racing - 3 3 8 5 1 3 - 23
4. Charisma - 1 5 9 2 7 4 - 28
5. Aleph Racing - 4 6 6 4 5 6 - 31
6. Team Aqua - 9 4 2 7 6 5 - 33
7. Artemis Racing - 7 8 7 9 3 7 - 41
8. Black Star Sailing Team - 6 9 4 6 8 8 - 41
9. Calero Sailing Team - 8 7 5 8 9 9 - 46

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Royal Cork Yacht Club's Grattan Roberts is the latest Irish sailor to join the ranks of the high-performance owner-driver one-design racing R44 fleet.

Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle are on board Aleph Racing, Wicklow's Simon Johnson is on the Black Star Racing Team and, for 2024, Roberts joins Team Ceeref Vaider.

After a brief winter break, the 44Cup resumes next week with the 44Cup Calero Marinas, the first of the five-event 2024 series, taking place out of Puerto Calero in Lanzarote.

Three months ago, the high performance owner-driver one design RC44 fleet concluded its 2023 44Cup on these same Canary Islands waters. On that occasion, Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing comfortably won ahead of Team Nika, with Nico Poons’ Charisma completing the podium to win the season.

Aleph Racing had an exceptional 2023 with only one result off the podium, but even so she still finished the season second overall, three points behind Charisma.

For the 44Cup Calero Marinas, Aleph Racing will have almost the same winning crew as before, led by Michele Ivaldi, however standing in for owner Hugues Lepic will be Italian Pietro Loro Piana. Loro Piana steered Aleph Racing to second place at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina last year.

The more significant crew change for 2024 is the departure of Hamish Pepper from tactical duties on Charisma. The Kiwi ace helped coax Nico Poons and his team to 44Cup victory, in both 2023 and 2022. He is being replaced by American RC44 veteran Andy Horton, who last sailed with the class in 2022 as Torbjörn Törnqvist’s tactician on Artemis Racing. Ironically, following the departure of the Swedish team’s tactician, Dylan Fletcher, so Pepper will be taking his spot in Lanzarote – albeit only as a one-off.

Horton first raced the RC44s in Lanzarote 13 years ago on Ironbound and since has been the long term tactician on Katusha, before Artemis Racing. He comes in race fit from having won last weekend's GL52 Winter Series in Key West on board Fox, where Charisma’s mainsheet trimmer is Chris Hosking. He is looking forward to stepping on board the Nico Poons winning machine. “I can’t wait to get with those guys and see what they have and to learn from them.”

He continues: “The 44s are the best boats we sail: they are powered up in all conditions – the genoa does that in light conditions and the kites are big. They are nearly as quick as a 52 around the race track. And the boat is as complex, with adjustable things like the pole and trim tab - so everyone has a job. It is the best boat there is - 100%.”

Igor Lah’s Slovenian team, led by Britain’s Adrian Stead, lacked their usual impeccable consistency in 2023 winning in both Oman and Gibraltar (44Cup Alcaidesa Marina) but also scoring three deep results that almost cost them their final spot on the podium. For this season the only crew change is Ireland’s Grattan Roberts coming in as grinder. The team for this season will be known as Team Ceeref Vaider (Vaider being owner Igor Lah’s company).

One point off the podium for the season in 2023 was Team Nika, which otherwise scored results in the top half of the fleet, culminating in a second place finish to Aleph Racing in Lanzarote last November. The team has been part of the 44Cup since 2011 and last season saw two of its longest serving Slovenian crew depart in offside trimmer Mitja Margon and grinder Iztok Knafelc. They are being replaced this season by burly Estonian Taavi Taveter, who already stood in for Knafelc grinding last season and Australian Harry Hall.

“We were a little bit light with our set-up, so we have gone younger and gained some weight, which should make a difference,” explains British tactician Nic Asher. “Both should be very eager and bring a more youthful outlook to Nika this year.” Team Nika is also bedding in a new mast.

As to their prospects for 2024, Asher says: “We feel pretty good. The last event was good for us. We sailed well. We have a few things we want to work on for this year and the two new guys should make a nice difference in a few of those areas. So we are feeling quietly confident. We just need to find our way, improving at every event.”

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The fifth and final event of the 2023 44Cup takes place for the high-performance, owner-driver one-designs in the familiar waters off Lanzarote’s Puerto Calero next week.

Irish sailors are in action and in a buoyant mood after strong October performances off Gibraltar when they finished second and third at 44Cup in Spain meaning the Lanzarote meeting will be intense.

As regular Afloat readers will recall, just two points separated the top four boats, at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina in Spain with nine points on the table on the last day; mathematically, any of the top six could still have won.

Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle were on board Aleph Racing, and Wicklow's Simon Johnson was on the Black Star Racing Team, finishing second and third, respectively.

"First podium for this boat. Eight events in the making. First bullet this event, too", Johnson told Afloat in October after the much improved Black Star performance.

The Calero family, who own and operate four marinas in the Canary Islands, have long been friends of the RC44 class, even campaigning their own boat during the circuit’s early years. In turn, the 44Cup has regularly visited their marinas in the Canary Islands, the last occasion being when the fleet wintered there two years ago. The 44Cup will once again conclude it 2023 season and start its 2024 one racing off the island, famous for its dramatic barren lunar landscape.

Since last month’s 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina, the landscape has changed on the 44Cup leaderboard. Defending 44Cup champions and reigning world champions, Nico Poons’ Charisma, was defying the usual closeness of 44Cup racing having finished 2-1-1 in this year’s first three events (in fact Team Aqua scored the same in 2013 before winning that season overall). A fourth good result off Gibraltar last month would have made Poons’ team virtually unbeatable for the 2023 44Cup title. However, they wavered, finishing the regatta an uncharacteristic sixth. Meanwhile, their principle rival, Igor Lah's Team Ceeref, powered by Hrastnik 1860, prevailed, winning (as is so often the case in this class) in the final race.

So far this season Charisma and Ceeref have won two events apiece, but whereas Ceeref's two other results have been a pair of fifths, Charisma's are a 6-2. 44Cup teams are not allowed discards at events, but are allowed to drop one of the five during the season, albeit not the World Championship nor the last event. Having the ‘better discard’ means that Charisma can still win the season overall if at the 44Cup Calero Marinas she finishes fourth and Ceeref wins (or there are no more than two boats between them).

“The beauty of the 44Cup scoring system is counting the last regatta, so it is never done and dusted until the very end,” says Ceeref’s tactician Adrian Stead. “So we have a chance of catching Charisma, although the tie break is the Worlds where Charisma holds the trump [they won it], but it is still possible. 44 Cup racing often comes down to the last race: In 2019 we went into the last event in Palma, six points behind Aqua and Nika for the season and we won the season on the last beat…”

At present all of the teams on the 44Cup are capable of winning regattas. John Bassadone's Peninsula Racing, host of the Marina Alcaidesa event, was leading their regatta for the first three days until some final deep results caused them to drop off the podium. Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis Racing also had a strong start to the event. Chris Bake's Team Aqua did the opposite, with three podium finishes in the last four races after a slow start, while Charisma returned to their bad old ways of either winning or coming last. Team Nika had their moments despite being two crew down due to sickness.

The team most strongly on the ascent currently is Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team. During the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina they not only managed to win their first ever individual 44Cup race since joining the class last year, but also finished on the podium for the very first time.

“It was definitely a great result and I am happy of course to step on the podium,” says Zuerrer. “It was one of the goals we had this season - to be competitive.”

There is nothing like having an Olympic gold medallist on your crew and for Lanzarote Black Star Sailing Team once again will have Will Ryan, the Australian defending 470 Olympic champion from Tokyo on mainsheet. While one person can’t make all the difference, bringing on someone with Ryan’s credentials, and the Olympic discipline that comes with it, may have had a wider effect on the whole crew. Whatever the reason, Zuerrer is hoping they can replicate it – or better - next week. “At this coming event, we have to show we weren’t a ‘one hit wonder’. I am looking forward to Lanzarote – I know that it will be wavy and possibly windy, but it is the same for every team and we will have to do our best to stay on the top of the fleet.”

Adrian Stead concludes: “I am very excited with how the fleet is at the moment. The boats are such good fun to race. The 44Cup is the most competitive we have seen. We are up for another fantastic end of season and another great advert for the class.”


(After four events, with one discard)

1. Charisma - 2 1 1 6 - 4
2. Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 - 1 5 5 1 - 7
3. Aleph Racing - 3 3 4 2. - 8
4. Team Nika - 5 4 3 7 - 12
5. Peninsula Racing - 4 2 6 4 - 12
6. Team Aqua - 7 7 2 5 - 14
7. Black Star Sailing Team - 8 6 7 3 - 16
8. Artemis Racing - 6 8 8 8 - 22

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Today at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina, there was nothing marginal about the wind strength on the Bay of Gibraltar. Despite the first warning signal for the opening day of competition being brought forward by an hour to 1100 CEST, already at 1000 conditions were exceeding the maximum 25-knot limit for RC44 racing to take place. The decision to cancel racing for the day was disappointing, but an easy one.

44Cup PRO Maria Torrijo explained: “We are expecting strong wind, especially this afternoon – we have a warning of gale force winds. This morning we were supposed to have less wind and a window of two hours in which we wanted to do two races, but right now on the course we have 23 knots steady and the gusts are up to 27-28 and we know it will be increasing throughout the day.”

Fortunately, prospects for Friday are much better with 18-20 knots forecast, when the race committee will attempt to make up the schedule.

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Following the RC44 class’ World Championship in Cowes in August, the 44Cup resumes on Thursday morning in the shadow of another famous maritime British empire outpost - Gibraltar.

Host of this event for the high-performance owner-driver one designs is the 624-berth Alcaidesa Marina. This is in Spain, metres across the border from the northern ‘Pillar of Hercules’, home of John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing team. Racing at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina will start tomorrow on the Bay of Gibraltar at 1100 CEST.

Irish sailors on the 44Cup circuit are Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle on board Aleph Racing, and Wicklow's Simon Johnson is on the Black Star Racing Team.

Appropriately, given the move to Spain for this fourth event of the 2023 44Cup, a Spanish team will be in charge of the class’s trial RC44 this week. While the Noticia team has been a regular feature of Spanish yacht racing for years, the international community will most likely remember the name from a decade ago when a Noticia Soto 40 competed in the complimentary one-design fleet to the TP52s on the Audi Medcup. Noticia’s Santander-based owner Luis Martín Cabiedes, later recruited the remnants of the Iberdrola former Spanish America’s Cup crew, performing well in the process.

From an IMX 40 to the Soto 40 and then on to J/80s (racing with Jose Maria ‘Pichu’ Torcida - two time J/80 World Champion) and a J/70 (with Torcida and Rayco Tabares – five time J/80 World Champion), both popular classes in Spain, Cabiedes acknowledges his yacht racing has retrograded over the last decade. But there is good reason for this: “Four or five years ago I decided to start steering, which will mean that I can keep racing for longer. So far we haven’t had good results, but I am no5 in the J/70 ranking in Spain. The truth is that I always like to sail with very very good crew like this one.”

Due to the severe weather forecast for later on Thursday afternoon, the race committee has chosen to advance the first start by one hour to 1100.

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The pinnacle of the 44Cup’s 2023 season sets sail on Thursday (10 August) with the opening races of the 44Cup Cowes World Championship, and Irish Fastnet Race winner Cian Guilfoyle is competing on Frecnh entry Aleph.

The Solent, one of the most challenging stretches of water for yacht racing due to its unique tidal characteristics and numerous sand banks, shallows, ledges and spits, is currently hosting the 44Cup Cowes World Championship. The event features some of the world’s top sailors competing in the high-performance Russell Coutts-conceived one designs. This is the second time the event has been held on the Solent, and it promises to be an exciting competition.

In 2021, Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing won the 44Cup Cowes World Championship ahead of Team CEEREF and Team Aqua. The team is hoping to defend their title with the help of local sailor Graham Sunderland, author of Winning Tides, who is advising the French team once again. Most 44Cup teams are relying on specialist local knowledge to help them navigate the challenging waters of the Solent.

Charisma, currently ranked first in the 44Cup leaderboard and the present holder of the ‘golden wheels’ as the 2023 44Cup leader, also has a Solent specialist in legendary British Olympic coach and sailor David Howlett. Helmsman Nico Poons, who knows these waters well, has also been racing on the Solent for over 40 years. The team faces stiff competition, however, as everyone will be fast and sailing well with good coaches and support.

In addition to the eight RC44s competing in the championship, a ninth RC44, Bullet, is being sailed by an all-female team led by Louise Morton. The event is being hosted by Chris Bake, owner of Team Aqua, via his club, the Royal Yacht Squadron.

The racing started with a first warning signal at 1130 and will continue in the central Solent, with the Royal Yacht Squadron line being used for the start of Saturday’s practice racing as well.

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Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland and Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle sailing on France's Aleph Racing are lying third at the 44Cup in Marstrand, Sweden an event that is dominated by the reigning 44Cup champions.

Nico Poons, Kiwi tactician Hamish Pepper and the rest of his red-hatted crew on Charisma showed again why they are the current supreme leaders in the high-performance owner-driver one design class.

Hosted by the Marstrands Segelsällskap and supported by Artemis Technologies, racing at the 44Cup Marstrand was blown-off yesterday due to near gale force wind and waves. Today conditions had dropped to around 10 knots with a slight left-over chop and PRO Maria Torrijo succeeded in making up most of the schedule by holding four races as the wind continually backed from the south to southeast. In this Charisma won the first and third races and with two fourths made her not only the day’s top scoring boat but also leader of the 44Cup Marstrand with a significant 10 point lead going into tomorrow’s final day. Marstrand, the paradise island off west Sweden, took on a more wintry feel as a front arrived bringing rain half way through today’s proceedings. 

“We are pleased,” commented Charisma’s tactician, Hamish Pepper. “It was fantastic for the team. The guys are sailing the boat well and Nico is steering it well. When we are behind we manage to claw our way back and pick up one or two places. When we were ahead we could extend a few times.”

Today the race track was slightly one way with most teams heading left into the shore in search of tidal relief and a favourable left shift. “It was not a ‘must go’ left, you had to play the shifts and we had a few opportunities to play the shifts well and we got a few bullets,” continued Pepper.

Most impressively the team seemed not to miss a beat when they had an unfortunate port-starboard collision with Team Aqua prior to the start of the third race that left Charisma (who was in the right, on starboard) with her sacrificial bow knocked off and Team Aqua with damage to her port topsides. “Luckily no one was hurt. Their boom came close to our guys and our rigging,” said Pepper. “It was just bad luck for them timing-wise. The good thing about the RC44 is that it has a fake bow, so if you do have a collision the bow is designed to come off and soften the blow. We had a spare bow out there, and it took about 15 minutes for our boat builder to strap it on.”

John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing picked up her second bullet of the event in today’s second race. Then in the fourth and final race, 44Cup Marstrand event host Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing tacked at just the right moment on the first upwind to edge into the lead.

“We have been trying hard and finally it came our way, so it was nice,” observed Törnqvist. “We got to the left, which is where we wanted to be, because we were down at the pin where it was a bit crowded. Then we managed to get the lead and hold on to it. But it was very close at the end."

On the final moments of the last run came a strong challenge to them from Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, but Artemis Racing managed to keep its nose in front to take its first bullet of the event. “It is close racing as always. It was nice to finally to have a little bit of success after some not so good races,” admitted Törnqvist. Of the event generally he added: “It is good – we didn’t sail yesterday but we have had eight races so far and we are going to try and get some more in tomorrow.”

Team Nika had a mixed day coming home second in today’s first race but trailed the fleet home in the second when she suffered damage to her headsail.

Very much on the ascent today was Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team which was third in the last two races. “I think it was the best day we have ever had in the RC44,” said a beaming, if soaking wet, Zuerrer once ashore in the 44Cup’s dockside hospitality suite. “It feels great that we are now able to stay up with all the other guys, even though it is still hard when it is so close at the top, and then staying there all the way to the finish line.”

Tomorrow further strong winds are forecast. To stand the greatest chance of being able to get racing in the first warning signal has been brought forward to 0930.

(After eight races)
1. Charisma - 5 1 3 2 1 4 1 4 - 21
2. Peninsula Racing - 3 5 1 6 5 1 4 6 - 31
3. Aleph Racing - 1 4 4 3 6 6 6 2 - 32
4. Team Nika - 2 6 5 4 2 8 5 5 - 37
5. Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 - 4 8 6 5 3 3 2 7 - 38
6. Black Star Sailing Team - 7 3 7 7 8 5 3 3 - 43
7. Team Aqua - 6 7 2 1 7 2 9DNS 9DNS - 45
8. Artemis Racing - 8 2 8 8 4 7 7 1 - 45

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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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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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