To the wire for Team Aqua
Going into the final day of racing at the RC44 Sweden Cup just four points separated the top four teams. It was so tight at the top that the day would see a match race between Team Aqua and Ceeref to decide the eventual event winner and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero jump up the leaderboard to take third place.
The day started with a steady southerly breeze that built from 10 to 15 knots throughout the day. In race one Igor Lah/Michele Ivaldi and Team Ceeref (SLO) led from start to finish, Team Aqua (GBR) crept inside No Way Back (NED) at the first leeward mark to take second place. By the end Ceeref had closed the gap by one point on Team Aqua in the overalls. The biggest drama came when Synergy (RUS) lost a man overboard as they hoisted their kite at the first windward mark. They successfully retrieved him and finished the race in 14th position.
There was more drama to come. No Way Back, now lying in third overall, jumped the gun in the second race and were called back to restart – as they had been the day before – but unlike yesterday the Dutch team managed to pull themselves back through the fleet to finish seventh and still be in the hunt for the prizes.
As No Way Back played catch up, Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) took control. They led from the start and never looking challenged for the lead. Their second win of the event pulled them up from ninth to seventh - great for the team which had been involved in the crash with Artemis Racing on Friday and had raced the week without owner John Bassadone.
As for the fight at the top of the leaderboard, Ceeref finished third, Aqua fifth; meaning just one point separated the pair going into the final race of the day. Team Aqua with no race wins from the week had to put a boat between them and the Slovakians to take the overall event win.
Chris Bake, owner/driver on Team Aqua took up the story: “At the start we managed to get ourselves in to a little bit of a situation with Ceeref. We were coming up to the line and they tacked on top of us and got a penalty, we were neck and neck up until the first mark rounding which was really tight there were a lot of boats there and they were a bit jammed up inside the mark, Aleph came inside of us and it was fairly hairy. We go out of that situation had a good run down wind in the second upwind we picked off a few more boats and came in third; it was as exciting as it gets.”
Tactician Cameron Appleton added: "In the final race at one minute to go we decided to stay up to the right of the fleet, Ceeref tacked in front of us when we were approaching the line and tried to bear away over the top of us and ended up fouling us, so the umpire gave them a penalty and they gybed around but all of our instruments had stopped working, Ceeref were going on port and we decided to go with them because we just had to stay in front of them. It was kind of a tricky one, we went with Ceeref out to the right just the two of us, we got around the first mark just before them, had a really good run gained a few boats back and got our own left hand mark and were able to stretch away and get back to third.
Aqua clinched the overall title by a narrow four point margin, but for Ceeref they were pleased with their weeks work. “This is the first time in the last two years we’ve been on the podium so it’s good, we’ve been waiting for this.” Igor Lah, owner/driver of Team Ceeref.
Behind the top two there was still third place to play for. Daniel Calero back steering Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) was having a good day after two races, that was about to get better. They had been lying seventh going into the final day but the team from Lanzarote slotted in a 4, 2, 1 scoreline and crept past No Way Back on the overall results, into third.
Daniel Calero commented: "We have been going from bad to really good on the results table, we’ve had really low pressure and then maybe too much battling all the time with the waves and the wind conditions but we are really happy because we’ve gained some points in the end today. It was a really important day for us and I think we’ve gained some points in the overall ranking as well, so we are very happy. After being second in the first race today we were looking forward to get another good result to be inside the top three and we had a good start, our tactician (Jose Ponce) read the course very well and I did my best to maintain the speed of the boat."
There was disappointment for Pieter Heerema, Mark Mendelblatt and the team on No Way Back. Their two OCS’ had cost them a place on the podium.
The RC44 class is becoming more competitive at each event this year. 16 teams competed in Sweden and many of the new teams are starting to get up to speed. Six different boats took race wins. Only three - Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), No Way Back (NED) and Team Ceeref (SLO) - enjoyed double race wins, and the victors in Marstrand lifted the trophy and gratefully accepted the Breitling watch having not taken a bullet in any of the nine races sailed.
Team Aqua’s second successive win of the season, keeps them at the top of the RC44 Championship Tour standings after four events, with one event discard now coming into play.
Oracle Racing (USA), despite a disappointing regatta, is still second overall with Ceeref overtaking Katusha (RUS) to sit in third.
Next stop for the RC44 Championship Tour is the Adris RC44 Cup in Rovinj, Croatia between 28 September and 2 October.
RC44 Sweden Cup Fleet Racing results (after nine races no discards)
1 Team Aqua 5 6 3 11 2 4 2 5 3 = 41
2 Team Ceeref 1 12 12 3 5 2 1 3 6 = 45
3 Islas Canarias Puerto Calero 8 11 7 2 4 13 4 2 1 = 52
4 No Way Back 7 9 1 4 14 1 3 7 8 = 54
5 Aleph Sailing Team 2 2 4 14 8 5 9 6 7 = 57
6 ORACLE Racing 11 5 6 5 10 7 5 4 9 = 62
7 Peninsula Petroleum 6 16 9 9 1 9 12 1 4 = 67
8 Artemis Racing 3 4 5 17DNS 7 6 6 11 13 = 72
9 Ironbound 12 7 8 6 6 14 7 8 5 = 73
10 Katusha 10 3 2 12 11 12 8 12 10 = 80
11 AEZ Sailing Team 15 1 13 13 9 11 10 9 2 = 83
12 Team Nika 9 8 10 1 12 10 11 13 11 = 85
13 Synergy Russian Sailing Team 4 10 15 10 3 3 14 15 12 = 86
14 MAG Racing 16 13 14 7 13 8 13 14 15 = 113
15 RUS-7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyWayAnyDay.com 13 15 16 15 15 15 15 10 14 = 128
16 Team KSSS 14 14 11 8 17DNS 17DNS 17DNS 17DNS 17DNS = 132