Artemis Racing show the way in Sweden
19 July, Marstrand, Sweden: Artemis Racing were quick to show the fleet the way as fleet racing at the RC44 Sweden Cup got underway in Marstand.
After being lulled into thinking summer had arrived, the grey skies and rain returned bringing with it a light south easterly breeze that never topped 8 knots. But through the damp weather, Sweden’s Artemis Racing shone.
With Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) at the helm and Morgan Larson (USA) calling the shots, Artemis Racing opened the day with a win. They picked the left hand side of the course, came in on the port layline, led at the top mark and then extended away from the fleet. By the finish they were over 300m ahead of their nearest rival AEZ from Austria.
After a general recall for race two, it was Synergy who picked up the first shift. The Russian team had tacked off to the right immediately after their late start at the committee boat, picked the favoured side and rounded the windward mark in the lead. Race-one winners Artemis Racing were struggling to make in-roads into the fleet. At the leeward gate the leaders all tacked over to the right hand-side, Artemis back in seventh headed out to the left with RUS 7 and Team Nika. The trio picked up more wind and leapt into the lead at the second windward mark. Artemis heaped the pressure on the RUS7, but the Russian’s held their nerve to take the gun, Artemis finished second with early leaders Synergy dropping back to sixth.
The final race of the day was unusual in that it finished upwind close to Marstrand Island. Aqua led from start to finish coming into the top mark on the port layline, just ahead of No Way Back and Aleph. With a little space to play with the defending RC44 Tour Champions kept a safe distance between themselves and the competition, the win taking them up to second on the leaderboard after three races, five-points adrift of Artemis Racing who finished the final race in third.
Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) is relishing sailing in home waters. “We’re really happy to have won today, it was a good day for us. Shifty and very tricky it was all about being on the right side of the course, but the favoured side of the race wasn’t always the same. We were lucky but we sailed well with good boat handling, good boat speed, the team did really good work and we always had really good clean starts.”
The battle for the 2012 Championship does seem to be between Artemis Racing and Team Aqua this year, although Russia’s Katusha are still in with a shot. Aqua’s owner helm Chris Bake knows Artemis are the threat to the team claiming the Championship for a second successive year, but are focussing on their own team’s performance. “Artemis is obviously sailing really well at the moment, so we like to focus on our speed, keeping it strong and not focus too much on them, I’m sure there doing the same. Their second race was quite phenomenal to watch, they were sixth or seventh in the fleet and they just sailed around the whole fleet to come in second. The wind was patchy so if you got a good line you could go through or around the fleet, which is exactly what they did.”
The unluckiest team of the day had to be RUS7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyWayAnyDay.com, as the team’ tactician Rodion Luka explained. “We were disappointed in the second race to get a penalty on the finish line, we had a lack of training which is acceptable and our lay-lines were not perfect, we were a little bit low so our driver didn’t see the mark properly and our spinnaker touched so we had to go back to do the 360 before we could cross the line. I think we were fourth before that penalty so we lost a lot of points, but then the next race we were first, I’m very happy with the team work.”
Racing for the RC44 Sweden Cup continues through to Sunday 22nd July. Tomorrow will see the fleet race for the ‘Tribute to a Legend’ trophy in honour of Pelle Petterson’s 80th year. The two-time Swedish Olympic medallist who also skippered two Swedish America’s Cup challenges in 1977 and 1980 will be a guest of the RC44 Class for racing. Follow the racing via the live tracking and blog on www.rc44.com.
A three win day for Team Aqua
21st July, Marstrand: A storming day for Team Aqua propelled them into the lead at the RC44 Sweden Cup on the penultimate day of racing.
With blue skies again, the north westerly breeze steadily built throughout the day from 9 to 14 knots to make for a near perfect sailing day in Sweden’s sailing mecca Marstrand.
Team Aqua was invincible, winning the first three races in empathic style. A third in the final race of the day propelled the defending RC44 Champions past overnight leader Artemis Racing and into the lead.
In such a tight one-design fleet keeping your scores in the top three is tough to achieve and brilliant when you pull it off. Chris Bake (GBR), owner of Team Aqua and the man at the wheel today was deservedly happy with their days work. “Today was a good day. We seemed to get a good clean start on the first race and led to the windward mark, managing to stay ahead for the rest of the race. That set the tone for the next couple of races. We had good boat speed and good starts which was really the key to today, getting out of the pack and in clean air was what helped us get ahead.”
With perfect sailing conditions in Marstrand the race committee decided to throw in a fourth race. This time it was Katusha (RUS) who took the win. The team, with Steve Howe at the helm, had started the day slowly with a fourth and an eighth, but fought back in the final two races to slot in a second and then a race win.
Artemis Racing went into the day with a 10-point lead over Team Aqua, after four races sailed and a 2,11,7,4 score-line, they now trail by eight points. The leading pair seemed glued to one another at each start, something the Swedish team’s tactician, Morgan Larson, felt could have been a mistake in hindsight. “Aqua were always to weather of us off the line and could just hold us out on the left all the way out, we could never tack on a shift because they just wanted to tack on us. So maybe strategically we should have started in a different position, but for whatever reason in the conditions today we struggled a little bit for speed and it forced us to not sail our normal game.”
The French Aleph Sailing team consistently slotted in top fives, their 5,2,3,2 score-line now places them level with third placed Katusha on 41 points a-piece. Just 10-points separate the top four boats, and with upto three races to sail tomorrow it really is – all to play for – at the RC44 Sweden Cup. Racing is due to start at 11.30 (CET), follow the racing via the live tracking and blog on www.rc44.com.