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Irish crews were second and third overall in the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina in Spain at the weekend.

Just two points separated the top four boats, and with nine points on the table, mathematically, any of the top six could still win.

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 after the much improved Black Star performance.

Ireland's Oisin McClelland and Cian Guilfoyle and the Aleph Racing crew with their second overall prize at the 44 Cup in Spain Photo: Nico MartinezIreland's Oisin McClelland and Cian Guilfoyle and the Aleph Racing crew with their second overall prize at the 44 Cup in Spain Photo: Nico Martinez

Racing started in moderate wind and rain beneath an ominously dark sky before building to 20+ knots in the gusts for the third and final race.

Wicklow's Simon Johnson was on the third places Black Star Racing Team at the 44 Cup in Spain Photo: Nico MartinezWicklow's Simon Johnson was on the third places Black Star Racing Team at the 44 Cup in Spain Photo: Nico Martinez

Leading by one point going into this race, life was made easy for owner Igor Lah, tactician Adrian Stead and the crew of Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 as their most threatening rivals tied themselves up.

Ceeref won the pin, claimed the left and, returning on port, screeched into the starboard layline and, from there, rounded the top mark just ahead of Team Nika and Chris Bake's Team Aqua. At this point, their top four rivals were not featuring: leader going into the final day and generous host of the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina, John Bassadone and his Peninsula Racing and star of the first two days – Christian Zuerrer's Black Star Sailing Team – were eighth and ninth respectively both having committed to the unfavored right.

The closest of Ceeref's rivals was Aleph Racing in sixth.

44Cup Alcaidesa Marina Results: (After nine races)

1. Team Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860, 34
2. Aleph Racing, 38
3. Black Star Sailing Team, 41
4. Peninsula Racing, 41
5. Team Aqua, 42
6. Charisma, 46
7. Team Nika, 47
8. Artemis Racing, 48
9. Noticia, 69

44Cup Overall Results:

(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. Peninsula Racing - 4 2 6 4 - 10
5. Team Nika - 5 4 3 7 - 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

Published in 44Cup

Back in the dark latter days of the Pandemic, high-flying rumours began circulating about a new Botin 52 being completed in New Zealand. Normally, the multi-titled 52 class sees only incremental improvements as the latest boats take up this ultimate challenge on the modern scene. But the word was that this boat had more bright ideas than a waggonload of Einsteins - she would knock most other 52s out of the ballpark. And when this new boat Caro campaigned her first major at Hamilton Island, this did indeed prove to be the case, to such an extent that formerly dedicated TP owners reckoned it would be a step too far to try to keep up with this latest level of the arms race.

Caro is as international as she is successful. Designed in Santander in Northern Spain, she was engineered by Pure and built in New Zealand by Core Builders Composites under the supervision of Mark Turner (no stranger to Irish sailors), with the overall project management in the hands of Justin Ferris from Doyle Sails NZ.

Owner Max Klink has her down as registered in Switzerland, yet her sail numbers in 2023 seem to emanate from the Cayman Islands. Whatever, this supra-national mix has provided a boat of such exceptional speed and achievement that merely to be listed on her potential crew panel is high recognition. And to be on board – as Cian Guilfoyle of the National YC was - for a global peak like the 50th Fastnet Race is talent-recognition of a high honour .

So although they lost their supposedly-essential electronic masthead wand while getting an added pasting in the edge of Portland Race while outward bound, Adrian Stead and his crew always found that bit of almost super-natural extra speed for which Caro is increasingly renowned, despite having to use some very ancient helming skills to find it. And thus, Cian Guilfoyle, the Irish member of this remarkable team, is our Offshore Sailor of the Month for July.

Cleaned up in every sense – Caro’s overall winners looking fresh and well in CherbourgCleaned up in every sense – Caro’s overall winners looking fresh and well in Cherbourg

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Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle, who already holds a role on French team Aleph on the 44 Cup circuit, has also joined the 52 Super Series, where he is sailing on board New York Yacht Club team Sled.

The 2021 champions are a prominent international team that is headed by owner-driver Takashi Okura.

The circuit is among the world's leading high-performance monohull yacht racing circuits.

Sled have been regular podium contenders at most regattas thanks to a strong group of experienced top professionals, many former Team New Zealand sailors.

Dublin Bay's Cian GuilfoyleDublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle

At the recent 52 Super Series at Scarlino Sailing Week in Italy, with Guilfoyle on board, Sled was fifth and is lying fourth overall in the series to date.

Ergin Imré’s Provezza team won their second title in a row in Tuscany when they overturned nine points deficit over two final races to clinch the 52 Super Series at Scarlino Sailing Week regatta victory, adding to their success in Saint Tropez, France, just three weeks ago.

Led by helm John Cutler, tactician Hamish Pepper, navigator Nacho Postigo and strategist Cole Parada it was the same set of attributes which worked for them in Saint Tropez, which made the difference on the Gulf of Follonica. They made good starts, stayed out of trouble and let their good boatspeed work for them.

But maybe most of all, they showed the value of a really buoyant, strong team spirit when they bounced back from a 10th in the second race of Friday to go out and win the first race today, which they followed up with a fourth to eclipse the 2022 circuit champions Quantum Racing powered by American Magic by a single point.

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After a light start, conditions were optimum off Muscat’s Al Mouj Marina for day two of the 44Cup Oman, the fifth and concluding event of the 2022 44Cup.

Three races were again held, but today the northerly wind peaking at 15 knots, enough to get the nimble RC44 one designs planing on the downwind legs.

Meanwhile, as temperatures elsewhere in the northern hemisphere plummet below freezing, so the air temperature today in Oman remained in the high 20s°C. The only small downside to the otherwise outstanding conditions was the lumpy sea state.

Today’s first race saw Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing (with Dublin Bay's Cian Guilfoyle as Grinder) continuing her winning ways. In today’s first race, they made gains out on the left of the first beat, then found a good lane out to the right, setting them up with a solid lead at the top mark ahead of Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing. Following this with a 2-4, the French team was the lowest scoring boat of the day, elevating it from fourth to second place overall. 

Standing in for Hugues Lepic on the helm for this event is experienced American driver Steve Howe, who, with his father Fred, has successfully campaigned Farr 40s, TP52s and Melges 32s named Warpath. Steve has also previously raced in the RC44 although the last time was in 2013. The competition remains as hot in the 44Cup as it always has been, he maintains: “Everyone is good - there are no breaks out there. Our last race today we had to fight it out around the race course - nothing’s changed.” On Aleph Racing, Howe has old sailing friends like coach Steve Erickson, and crew James Dagg and bowman Greg Gendell.

Of today’s first race, Howe added: “It was hard. We made a good start and Michele [Ivaldi, tactician] did a nice job getting us around the race course. It was puffy, shifty, everything.”

Having a spectacular day was Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing, which didn’t win a race but today was the only boat to score three podium finishes. This was despite an incident in the second race when, after rounding the leeward gate, they tacked ahead of Black Star Sailing Team and Team Asyad Shipping, still charging downwind, and ended up being struck by the Omani RC44’s bowsprit, resulting in them receiving a small hole in their sacrificial stern. “Luckily it was a glancing blow,” explained tactician Andy Horton and they still went on to secure a third place. Back in their berth within the Al Mouj Marina later, they removed their RC44’s sacrificial transom and replaced it with their spare.

Of their day generally, Horton continued: “We battled back really hard. The guys sailed really well and we were in the pack with just good boat handling and speed.” Fortune was also smiling upon them: “We won the little battles today - we had a leeward mark rounding with Team Nika and we came in and had room to go right. If they had been 2m further forward they would have been able to get clear air in front of us and we would have had an awful one… Similarly there were just a couple of crosses and tight lanes that we lived in that were game changers.”

After two mid-fleet finishes, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua won todays’ third race by which time the wind had reached its peak. “I was a bit rusty in the first two races. In the last race we joined the dots up pretty well,” admitted Bake. “We had a good start and powered through and went all the way out on starboard – one tack and in. We got a few favourable shifts. That left corner seemed to have some decent wind channels. It all worked. We just managed to stay ahead of the fleet. We got clear and had a clean downwind. It was hard because the wind was really fluctuating in terms of direction and speed and with the waves it was hard to stay in the groove.”

Several 44Cup owners race with their offspring and today Bake was sailing with his eldest son Andrew, who despite his enthusiastic father’s long tenure in the class has managed, remarkably, to escape racing on the Team Aqua RC44 until this week. “It was a lot of fun,” said Andrew of this new experience. “I left for university in California in 2015 and I only moved back to London in October, so before I wasn’t old enough and then I left, so it just never lined up. Ben [Graham] offered to step down and I stepped up. I would like to stay involved because it is such a fun circuit.”

Team Nika’s run of supreme consistency only came to an end in today’s final race when they posted a fifth, however at this half way stage of the 44Cup Oman they continue to lead with a six point margin, although now over Aleph Racing. Behind it is close with just six points separating second place from Nico Poons’ fifth placed Charisma.

Racing continues tomorrow at 1200 local time (UTC -4 hours). 


(After six races)
1. Team Nika 2 1 2 3 1 5 - 14
2. Aleph Racing 6 6 1 1 2 4 - 20
3. Team Aqua 1 4 7 4 4 1 - 21
4.Artemis Racing 9 3 3 2 3 3 - 23
5. Charisma 3 2 6 5 8 2 - 26
6. Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 7 7 4 7 5 7 - 37
7. Peninsula Racing 5 5 8 6 7 6 - 37
8. Black Star Sailing Team 4 9 5 8 6 8 - 40
9. Team Asyad Shipping 8 8 9 9 9 9 (2) - 54

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Dun Laoghaire's Cian Guilfoyle stays third overall on Aleph after day three of the 44Cup in Cascais, Portugal.

After two days of sun, Atlantic swell and prevailing northwesterlies, conditions turned around for day three of the 44Cup Cascais. Overnight the wind veered into the south and in the morning the eight RC44 teams waited ashore for an extra hour and half as the wind filled in.

Out on the race track, the tacticians faced the perplexing scenario of the breeze from the new southerly direction, combined with, on the upwinds, more than a knot of current against them, but still with the residual Atlantic swell from the northwest with them.

Despite the about-turn of the race track, the hard right again was favoured and in the sub-10 knot conditions, it was Nico Poons' overall leader, Charisma, Chris Bake's Team Aqua and Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing that went all the way to the starboard layline before tacking. The port tackers, Ceeref, Team Nika and Artemis Racing picked up at the top of the beat, but thanks to a good layline call into the top mark all had to duck Aleph Racing coming across with rights on starboard. 

Tight racing in the 8-boat 44Cup in Cascais, PortugalTight racing in the 8-boat 44Cup in Cascais, Portugal Photo: Nico Martinez

After going the wrong way up the first beat, Charisma gybed early on the run, and finding better pressure she was propelled from seventh to second. She was able to follow Aleph around the starboard gate mark and out to the right. Both played the shifts well up the second beat and, with Ceeref in third, they gained separation which they held to the finish.

“We wanted the right,” recounted Team Aleph tactician Michele Ivaldi of their winning race. “We had a good start in the upper part of the line. The first two boats went off [to the right] and we waited another minute and then we went all the way too. Then we got a nice righty going into the mark. It was lucky we were on the layline so we didn’t have to do an extra tack.”

According Ivaldi the contrary current and Atlantic swell made it difficult to helm: “There was more wind at the top of the swell and less at the bottom so getting it stable was key.” Fortunately Team Aleph helmsman - former Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Alex Roepers, who is standing in for Hugues Lepic at this event - did a sound job.

Roepers himself is enjoying his first time steering an RC44 in anger. “The experience is incredibly good. It is amazing how fast they can sail in light air but we have had some very high breeze for the first couple of days and it is unbelievable to work these machines downwind. It was a bit of a learning curve for me to get the gybes right, but the Aleph team is top notch. I am very lucky and honoured to be a guest helmsman. My compliments to the RC44 management and the owners for a great class.”

A short delay saw the wind drop and return for a second race, but in continued light conditions. Charisma and Ceeref went hard right out of the start, but then on a long starboard tack across the course they managed to cross ahead of the entire fleet. Charisma rounded the top mark first with John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing pulled into second ahead of Ceeref. The lead boats all gybed early heading out to the favoured right, especially favoured thanks to a wind shift to the right. The lead trio remained the same to the finish but with Ceeref edging past Peninsula Racing on the second upwind.

Going into the final day the dominant Charisma has managed to recover the six point lead she had after her exceptional opening day here when she scored straight bullets. But with three races scheduled tomorrow in further south or southwest wind, as tactician Hamish Pepper puts it: “Any time you are leading a regatta in this fleet you are obviously sailing very well and we are just happy we are in front but it is still pretty close. Six points - you can lose that in one race and in this fleet that can easily happen and has happened in the past.”

Team Aqua lies in fourth place having had what skipper Chris Bake described as a “truly average day for us. It was difficult - very different to yesterday, different wind direction and you had a cross current under the sea state, which created a strange motion on the boat. But it seemed to go okay.”

John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing, on which double Olympic Finn gold medallist Giles Scott calls tactics, saw a moment of brilliance when they came home third in the final race today. “It was good to get a decent result there," said Bassadone. "But generally we are quite disappointed because the boat is going well and it is a combination of bad luck and a couple of boat handling things. It is good to at least to have half a smile on our face after that race today.”

Racing continues on Sunday at 1200. 


(After 8 races)

1. Charisma - 1 1 1 4 3 4 2 1 - 17
2. CEEREF  - 3 4 2 2 6 1 3 2 - 23
3. Aleph Racing - 4 2 7 5 2 3 1 7 - 31
4. Team Aqua - 2 6 4 1 4 8 4 4 - 33
5. Artemis Racing - 7 3 5 3 5 2 6 5 - 36
6. Team Nika - 5 8 3 6 1 5 5 6 - 39
7. Peninsula Racing - 6 5 6 7 7 6 7 3 - 47
8. Black Star Sailing - 8 7 8 8 8 7 8 8 - 62

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Cian Guilfoyle of Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the French entry Aleph has a nine-point lead going into the final day of the 2021 44Cup at Puerto Calero, Lanzarote today.

This week a shallow depression centred due west of Gibraltar has effectively shut down the famous trades, which typically provide 20+ knot winds at this time of year in the Canary Islands, making it world-renowned as a water sports mecca. With a light-to-no wind forecast for the penultimate day of the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote, the weather gods did tentatively oblige and after more than an hour’s wait ashore, a race did get going but was abandoned when the wind dropped away.

While the forecast didn’t look hopeful, the nine RC44 teams were patient and the race committee persevered and eventually were rewarded with one successful race when the wind filled in to 6-7 knots. In this it was the immaculate Team Aleph that led around the top mark. But Nico Poons’ Charisma took the lead on the first downwind and then defended well to gain the Dutchman’s team its first bullet of the regatta.

“It felt good,” said Nico Poons once returned to Puerto Calero. “We had some bad ones, so we needed that.” 

Of the fortuitous first run, Charisma’s tactician [standing in for Hamish Pepper], Laser gold medallist, triple Moth World Champion turned America’s Cup sailor Paul Goodison explained: “It was a bit like the first day. There was a little bit of current running [from right to left across the course]. I didn’t want to be the last one to gybe, so I thought we would lead the gybe and as it was it was quite right shifted when we went and we had another leftie back at the end so we managed to gybe and cross them [Team Aleph]. Then we managed to get a few shifts right up the next beat and were able to extend a little bit.”

Two attempts to get the next race underway were both general recalled. The third attempt got away successfully under the U flag. Despite this Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika and Igor Lah’s Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 were both over early and with the prospect of another attempt to hold the race looking unlikely, both returned to port, leaving seven RC44s on the race course. In this two time Olympic Finn gold medallist Giles Scott called the shifts to perfection on board John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing pulling out a commanding lead at the top mark. Sadly approaching the leeward gate the wind dropped, the race was abandoned and everyone returned to Puerto Calero. This was good news for Prosikhin and Lah’s teams as the U flag start permits them to rejoin this race when the next attempt to hold it is made tomorrow.

A second place in Saturday’s only race for Team Aleph, on which experienced keelboat owner-driver Alessandro Rombelli is standing in on the helm for Hugues Lepic, has left the French team holding an impressive nine point lead going into the final day.

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Conditions off Lanzarote’s moonscape south coast took on a different character for day two of racing in the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote on Friday (19 November) with much improved sailing conditions — albeit with the 8-12 knot wind blowing either along or off the shore.

To make up the schedule, four races were planned at the beginning of the day and four races were delivered. This was made hard as the wind veered through 90 degrees over the course of the afternoon, and that four races could be held was at least in part thanks to the 44Cup’s recently adopted use of MarkSetBots.

These remote-controlled robot sailing marks can — when required, as they were repeatedly today – speed across the seas to realign the course and keep it fair. ( has more on the MarkSetBot HERE.)

For most, the day was one of mixed fortunes, none more so than Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy on which Evgeny Neugodnikov calls tactics. In the day’s first race the Russian team nailed the right, Lanzarote side of the first beat, which proved a winning move.

The Russian team went on also to claim the third race, but punctuated their otherwise excellent day with seventh and eighth placed finishes.

“It was a tough day,” Neugodnikov said. “We had a great start to the day. In the first race, we expected the right shift and there was more pressure also. It started at 205 degrees, and shifted to 225.

The 44Cup fleet racing against the stark backdrop of Lanzarote | Credit: Martinez Studio/44CupThe 44Cup fleet racing against the stark backdrop of Lanzarote | Credit: Martinez Studio/44Cup

“I am not happy with our fourth race because we were fifth or sixth but we made a mistake and missed the layline which left us last at the top mark and at the bottom gate. But our two wins — it is much better than not having two wins!

“In the first we were fighting with Aqua and the second time we were fighting with Ceeref at the top mark… and we won. So, it is not bad, but it should be much better.”

This was similarly the case for Igor Lah’s CEEREF powered by Hrastnik 1860 which, after a long fight with Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, came home first in the day’s second race. On a roll, the Slovenian team followed this with a second in the third race only to bookend these with an eighth and a seventh.

“It was a mixed day,” Lah said. “We missed one shift in the last race. We are trying to climb up. We were surprised to see we are still third. Lanzarote is brilliant — it is warm with nice conditions. We expected more wind, but we will play with what we have got."

44Cup newbie and sole female helm, Valeriya Kovalenko on ARTTUBE — sailing only her second event in the 44Cup — continues to punch above her weight with her crew, many of whom once competed aboard RUS7.

Incredibly, at this halfway stage of the 44Cup Calero Marinas Lanzarote, ARTUBE lies mid-leaderboard, in fifth place overall, ahead of several very much more experienced teams.

But for a second day, the stand-out performance was that of Team Aleph, on which highly experienced Italian owner-driver Alessandro Rombelli is standing in for Hugues Lepic — and whose crew features Dun Laoghaire’s Cian Guilfoyle.


Scoring a 2-4-4 in the day’s first three races, they were already top scorer of the day, but they then sealed the deal with a bullet in the final race.

“He has been driving very well and also the guys have been trimming the sails — all the crew work was flawless,” Team Aleph tactician Michele Ivaldi said. On the day’s racing, he added: “We managed to always start in a good position where we could play the first shift and if you are in phase everything gets easier.”

Team Aleph now holds a useful four-point lead over Team Aqua going into this weekend. Chris Bake’s World Champions in turn are six in front of CEEREF — a key situation as Igor Lah’s team represents their main threat for the overall 44Cup title for 2021.

But as Lah puts it, in this fleet “anything can happen. Everything is so close that if you make one mistake then you are behind. But that works in both directions!”

Racing continues this afternoon, with last night’s suggesting the wind will be lighter and once again onshore like Thursday. Follow the live race tracker at


Published in 44Cup

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Cian Guilfoyle, a crewman on the RC 44 Aleph, took the first race of the final and deciding event of the 2021 44Cup in Lanzarote yesterday.

Racing got off to a difficult start. To race, the nimble RC44s only need 5/6 knots of wind and on several occasions, the race committee valiantly began a start sequence in more than this, only for the wind to disappear.

Finally, moving the entire race course north towards Lanzarote’s capital Arrecife enabled one race to be held. In this, there was a tight-run battle between Hugues Lepic’s Team Aleph, John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing and surprisingly, newbie 44Cup team Valeriya Kovalenko’s ARTTUBE. Among the nine racing, this trio did the best job of reading the shifts and the awkward current coming out of the mid-left. Then, on the final run, as the wind was getting ever shiftier and softer, Chris Bake and Team Aqua benefitted from a massive flier out to the right side of the course. Finding marginally improved pressure there pulled the reigning RC44 World Champions up to second place but the move was unable to advance them far enough to catch Team Aleph, which won what would prove to be today’s only race. 

Team Aleph - standing in for helmsman Hugues Lepic at this regatta is Italian Alessandro RombelliTeam Aleph - standing in for helmsman Hugues Lepic at this regatta is Italian Alessandro Rombelli Photo: Martinez Studio

With Michele Ivaldi calling tactics as usual and an otherwise regular Team Aleph crew, standing in for helmsman Hugues Lepic at this regatta is Italian Alessandro Rombelli. A highly accomplished owner/driver, Rombelli’s yachts are all named Stig and have spanned Maxi 72s down to the complete range of Melges sportsboats.

"To race, the nimble RC44s only need 5/6 knots of wind"

“The race committee did a great job moving the course, because here in front of the harbour it would have been impossible to race,” Rombelli noted. “It was still difficult to keep momentum and speed and to get lucky on the wind shifts, but it worked well for us. It was a great start to the series. I am here just standing in for the owner, so I am happy that we have got a good result for him.”

Rombelli has not sailed an RC44 before, but said he was impressed with its versatility, now he has raced it successfully in impossibly light conditions today and in 18 knots while training. “The boat is super fun. It is technical. It is a good combination. The big genoa is definitely helping when conditions are super light.”

While none of Rombelli´s Stig regulars are on board, there are many in the crew he has raced against, including Italian tactical wizard Michele Ivaldi. “It is good to have today behind us,” noted Ivaldi once ashore. “The main thing was the very light breeze and the pressure coming in and out. We were pretty lucky on the first beat to get the right shift. But it was open to the end.”

John Bassadone and his team on Peninsula Racing were sailing with a confidence not seen recently, boosted no doubt by their new tactician, British two time Olympic Finn gold medallist and America´s Cup sailor Giles Scott. They were headed for the podium until losing out on the final run.

“We have done one race with Giles but it was great, a really good feeling, I´m really enjoying sailing with him,” said Bassadone. “He is obviously a fantastic sailor. Today was very positive in difficult conditions, but we made the right calls and the boat is going quite well.”

With her Spanish crew, Peninsula Racing is effectively the ´home team´ here and Bassadone has fond memories of Lanzarote, having won here in 2017 but also it being the first place where he raced his now beloved RC44. “It is fantastic to come back to Puerto Calero. We have enjoyed some good results here and we have some good friends here in the Caleros. I love coming here.”

After finishing last in her first ever event on the 44Cup in Scarlino last month, Valeriya Kovalenko was all smiles once her RC44 ARTTUBE returned to Puerto Calero. Her third place today is her best result to date in the 44Cup.

“Today it was light winds and we have had more training in that in Russia,” said Kovalenko, who struggled during her first regatta steering an RC44 last month in Scarlino´s strong breeze. “This wind is good for me. We are happy with our result today,” she concluded, adding that while this is her first time to Lanzarote, many of her crew raced here previously on Kirill Podolsky´s RUS7.

Racing continues tomorrow at 1200 when it is hoped conditions will be marginally improved.

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The final event of the 2021 44Cup sets sail today out of Puerto Calero, Lanzarote with technically any of the five top teams still able to win the overall prize and any of the top seven capable of landing themselves a spot on the podium following the four events so far this season. As Afloat previously reported, at least one Irish sailor is among the competing crews with Cian Guilfoyle of Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the French entry Aleph.

Due to the involvement of the Calero family, both as past competitors and hosts of the 44Cup, thanks to their portfolio of marina complexes spanning the Canary Islands, Lanzarote has been one of the most visited venues in the history of the high performance, owner-driver one design circuit.

The Canary Islands may have been in the news recently due to the volcanic eruptions on La Palma, but the beautiful islands are quickly getting back to normal, with tourism having recovered. It has also seen the return of popular sailing events, in addition to the 44Cup, such as the Mini Transat EuroChef that departed from La Palma in October, the Global 5.80 Transat which left Lanzarote today and the RORC Transatlantic Race taking place in January.

This will be the eighth time the 44Cup has visited and of the nine teams embarking on this last event of the season, five have previously won here. Chris Bake's Team Aqua is the only team to have come out on top twice here, when they beat Igor Lah and Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 into second at the very dawn of the circuit in 2009 and then won in 2012 from Hughes Lepic's Aleph Racing.

Lanzarote has been one of the most visited venues in the history of the 44CupLanzarote has been one of the most visited venues in the history of the 44Cup

Torbjörn Törnqvist´s Artemis Racing won here in 2011, while the 2021 season´s leader Team Aqua was victorious during the opening event of 2012 from Hugues Lepic´s Aleph Racing. When the 44s last wintered here over 2017-18 it was Peninsula Racing that claimed the final event of 2017 while Nico Poons´ Charisma won the 2018 debut here.

Both Charisma and Peninsula Racing return here this week, by coincidence both with British Olympic champions standing in for their regular tacticians.

Standing in for Hamish Pepper on board Charisma, Paul Goodison won gold in the Laser in Beijing in 2008, was Moth World Champion for three consecutive years over 2016-18 and has since become an America´s Cup regular, most recently with American Magic in Auckland.

Goodison has much experience in the RC44, with David Murphy´s Ironbound and then Artemis Racing Youth. “But,” he admits. “That was quite a while ago. The RC44s are cool boats. It is amazing how light and nimble they are and how they get up and go so early. It is super fun to be sailing these boats again.”

A decade ago, Goodison was tactician on Ironbound when they came close to winning the Worlds here. “We had a really good regatta – we were leading into the last day, but we had a bit of a disaster. It is a really interesting place to sail, really tricky. It is going to be fun.”

A sailor with more recent Olympic success is the towering Giles Scott, who this year secured the gold medal in the Finn class in Tokyo to accompany his gold from Rio. He too has been forging a career in the America´s Cup but alongside Finn legend Ben Ainslie in the last two America´s Cups and now again as part of INEOS Britannia.

Scott is on board Peninsula Racing this week but comes with less RC44 experience than Goodison, having raced only once previously as tactician on board Charisma. “I got a call from John [Bassadone] and jumped at it,” admits Scott. “The boats are so cool - they are nice and sporty and the racing is super close. I am looking forward to it. It is my first time to Lanzarote. It is a beautiful spot.”

So far Scott has only done two days of training with Peninsula Racing but appreciates the depth of experience both within the Gibraltar-based team and their owner-driver.

Who will win here in Lanzarote is anyone´s guess. To date this season all four 44Cup events have been won by different teams with the World Champions, Chris Bake´s Team Aqua currently holding a slender two point lead from Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 with Charisma a further point astern.

Artemis Racing was on the ascent when the Swedish team finished third at last month´s Worlds in Scarlino, Italy. “We are coming here on a high note and if we sail the way we did [in Scarlino] and learn from our mistakes we can aim very high,” said Torbjörn Törnqvist. “We have everything to make us go all the way. The class today, where you have four or five boats at such a high level - I can’t see any other class offering this quality of sailing.”

Following practice racing yesterday, racing starts in earnest at midday GMT. The forecast is for light to moderate conditions of around 8-12 knots for the next four days, the wind direction dictated by the position of a shallow depression lying over the Canaries.

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Cian Guilfoyle will race in the fifth and final event of the 2021 44Cup Championship Tour that concludes next week in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote. The nine boats entered are lining up for an ultra-competitive conclusion.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Guilfoyle is a crew member on France's Aleph racing team that is currently placed fourth overall. The Dubliner was last in action on Aleph when the crew competed at the World Championships in October.

In true 44Cup style, the scoreboard remains impressively close going into the final regatta of the season. At present, Chris Bake's Team Aqua is ahead on five points. Bake holds a slim lead over the chasing pack on the scoreboard but has the psychological advantage on the water, coming to Lanzarote fresh from victory in the World Championship event in Scarlino, Italy, last month with the 44Cup series leader's 'golden wheels' proudly fitted onboard.

Two points behind in second place is 2019 defending tour champion Igor Lah's team CEEREF powered by Hrastnik 1860 and in third 2018 tour champion Nico Poons' Charisma. Both teams won their titles in the previous years with impressive come-from-behind victories in the closing moments and will be looking to do the same next week.

Hosted over the 17 - 21 November in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote's most established yacht harbour has been a favoured winter destination for the RC44 fleet over the years thanks to its winter sun and strong northeasterly trade winds. Organisers Calero Marinas have seen many 44Cup showdowns having hosted six regattas and three World Championships since 2008.

"Two values embodied by the 44Cup we have sorely missed during the pandemic," explains Jose Juan Calero Managing Director of Calero Marinas, "the deep-rooted sailing camaraderie and a pure passion for insanely close, one-design racing. We've been fortunate to have hosted nine regattas in Lanzarote, and have made some life-long friends over the years. This November the event returns to its origins, for us, in Puerto Calero. We can't wait".

Of the remaining fleet, just eight points separate the top five teams. Hugues Lepic's fourth-placed Aleph Racing and Torbjorn Tornqvist's fifth-placed Artemis Racing are within reach of claiming the 2021 title. Aleph's best result this season has been a win at the Cowes event in the UK, whereas Artemis' has hit the podium in third twice this year, first at their home event in Marstrand, Sweden and then again at the World Championship in Italy.

Behind them is a tie between Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika and Pavel Kuznetsov's Atom Tavatuy; if either team is on form next week while the main contenders are not, then the Russian-based crews could reach the overall season's podium.

New to the fleet in Lanzarote will be British Olympian Giles Scott replacing America's Cup legend Ed Baird as tactician onboard Peninsula Racing and Valeriya Kovalenko with her team ARTTube who will return with a new boat. Kovalenko formally joins the fleet after a successful debut in Scarlino last month as part of the 44Cup's black boat project, which allows a guest team to trial race an RC44 at a regatta to get a feel for how good the competitive one-design fleet is.

To find out more about the 44Cup Calero Marinas, visit


(after four events)

1. United Kingdom TEAM AQUA - 3 1 3 1 - 5
2. Slovenia CEEREF powered by HRASTNIK 1860 -1 4 2 4 - 7
3. Monaco CHARISMA - 7 2 4 2 - 8
4. France ALEPH RACING - 5 5 1 5 - 11
5. Sweden ARTEMIS RACING - 8 3 7 3 - 13
6. Russia TEAM NIKA - 2 7 8 6 - 15
7. Russia ATOM TAVATUY - 4 6 5 7 - 15
8. United Kingdom PENINSULA RACING - 6 8 6 8 - 20

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