Team Aqua, Masters of Marstrand
It is rare even between the ultra-close RC44s for an event to go to the wire in such an extreme way as it did today at the conclusion of the 44Cup Marstrand. Going into the tenth and final race of the series, held off the Swedish island of Marstrand, five of the eight strong fleet was still capable of winning the event. At this point Dutchman Nico Poons’ Charisma was leading by a useful, but by no means unassailable, three points over Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF.
Up the first beat of the final race Chris Bake’s Team Aqua had made great gains on the right side of the course to lead comfortably around the top mark and extended from there.
Team Aqua had started this race in third place overall, five points behind Charisma and tied with Marstrand event hosts Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing. Thus after crossing the finish line there was intense scrutiny of the arrival order behind. If Charisma finished fifth then the 44Cup Marstrand would be hers, but if Poons’ team was sixth she would tie with Team Aqua, causing Bake’s team to win on countback. Despite a tremendous battle between the leaders, Charisma got stuck in traffic coming into the top mark leaving her in last position, and by the finish had only managed to fight back to sixth. Victory was Team Aqua’s.
Still at the close of play just six points separated the top five RC44s.
This year’s 44Cup Marstrand was the ninth occasion the series for the high performance owner-driver one designs has visited Sweden. Of these Team Aqua has previously won on four occasions and is the defending champion here having won in pre-pandemic 2019. Their win, while Team CEEREF finished fourth, means that Team Aqua also takes over the lead in the 2021 44Cup and gets to fit the leader’s “golden wheels” to their yacht.
Artemis Racing claimed third overall, the third occasion the Swedish former America’s Cup challengers have finished on the podium at their event. In what proved to be a high scoring day with racing held in a light 6-8 knot southerly, with considerable current pushing the nimble racing yachts around the course, Törnqvist’s team was joint “top scoring” yacht of the day with Team CEEREF, both scoring nine points.
In a classic 44Cup change of fortune, today it was the turn of Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing to take a tumble. At the beginning of the day the French team had been tied on points at the top of the leaderboard. Ultimately they finished fifth.
Pavel Kuznetsov’s Atom Tavatuy achieved the third best score today but this wasn’t enough to redeem them from Saturday’s unfortunate results and they ended up sixth overall. The 44Cup’s other Russian team, Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika had enjoyed promising moments throughout the week but otherwise lacked consistency to finish with a result they will put down to experience. Demonstrating that any team is capable of winning at present on the 44Cup, John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing won today’s first race, but this was not enough to prise them up from the bottom of the leaderboard.
The 44Cup now moves on to Cowes over 11-15th August.