Team Aqua extends away
The penultimate day of the RC44 Sweden Cup challenged the 12 competing team’s crew work and punished small mistakes. Consistency has proved tough in Marstrand with eight different winners coming from the first eight races. Only overall leader Team Aqua has been able to win two races, helping her increase her lead over the chasing pack to 14-points.
With the breeze touching 20 knots for the opening race, the Team Nika crew was eager to get its day started and she was called over the line early. Katusha looked to be leading the fleet up the first beat, when their runner block broke, putting them out of the race. Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing took over and rounded the windward mark first, followed by Aqua and Ironbound. Aleph held onto its lead until the closing stages of the race when a broach resulted in a ripped kite, putting her back to sixth. David Murphy, steering Ironbound, had made a big gain staying hard left on the first run and took over the lead to take their first win of the event, Aqua crossed second and Synergy sailed another strong race to finish third.
The breeze dropped slightly for the second race of the day. With the tide pushing the fleet down the line, Team Italia lined up to leeward of the fleet ended up below the pin end layline, Ironbound stacked up next to them were forced to tack out behind the fleet. With the left favoured again Brian Benjamin’s Aegir Racing had the best first beat, but a costly broach on the first downwind gave Team Aqua the lead at the leeward gate.
Second placed Katusha opted to split with Aqua and take the left hand gate to snatch the lead from the overall leaders. Katusha proceeded to match race Aqua up the second half of the beat, ensuring Chris Bake’s team had no clean air. By the top mark Katusha had given themselves a 30m buffer. With Steve Howe steering this week, Katusha stayed ahead to take her first win of the RC44 Sweden Cup. Aqua picked up another second place, with Artemis Racing staying in contention in third.
The breeze moderated to 14-16 knots for the final race of the day. Big gennakers were back up flying and Nika was called over early again along with Aleph. With the left side being so favoured, a clean lane off the start line and good boat speed up the first beat was imperative. Aqua nailed it and led from start to finish, only challenged for the lead by Synergy. Ironbound rounded off a good day finishing third.
The question of why the left is so favoured was put to Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton: “I’m still trying to find out myself why the left hand side is favoured, it’s just a geographical line, there might be a little less current and it’s the way you lead into the shore. Today a couple of times there were opportunities for right shift that we hadn’t seen, but the left was still the favoured place to be, more pressure, less current and a geographical influence from the rocks and the land as it bends around the coast. There’s nothing really obviously showing it’s there but it’s happening every race.”
In the overalls, Team Aqua now has a 14-point lead over second placed Synergy Russian Sailing Team, sailed today by Valentin Zavadnikov, while John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum stays in third, one point behind the Russians. Brian Benjamin’s Aegir and Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing both stay in contention for a top three finish in Sweden.