They are the reigning 44Cup champions, defending champions here in Marstrand – today Nico Poons, Kiwi tactician Hamish Pepper and the rest of his red-hatted crew on Charisma showed again why they are the current supreme leaders in the high performance owner-driver one design class.
Hosted by the Marstrands Segelsällskap and supported by Artemis Technologies, racing at the 44Cup Marstrand was blown-off yesterday due to excess wind and waves. Today conditions had dropped to around 10 knots today with a slight left-over chop and PRO Maria Torrijo succeeded in making up most of the schedule by holding four races as the wind continually backed from the south to southeast. In this Charisma won the first and third races and plus two fourths, making her not only the day’s top scoring boat but also leader of the 44Cup Marstrand with a significant 10 point lead going into tomorrow’s final day. Marstrand, the paradise island off west Sweden, took on a more wintry feel as a front arrived bringing rain half way through today’s proceedings.
“We are pleased,” commented Charisma’s tactician, Hamish Pepper. “It was fantastic for the team and the guys are sailing the boat well, Nico is steering it well. When we are behind we manage to claw our way back and pick up one or two places. When we were ahead we could extend a few times.”
Today the race track was slightly one way with most teams heading left into the shore in search of tidal relief and a favourable left shift. “It was not a ‘must go’ left, you had to play the shifts and we had a few opportunities to play the shifts well and we got a few bullets,” continued Pepper.
Most impressively the team seemed to not miss a beat when they had an unfortunate port-starboard collision with Team Aqua prior to the start of the third race that had left Charisma (who was in the right on starboard) with her sacrificial bow knocked off and Team Aqua with damage to her port topsides. “Luckily no one was hurt. Their boom came close to our guys and our rigging,” said Pepper. “It was just bad luck for them timing-wise. The good thing about the RC44 is that it has a fake bow, so if you do have a collision the bow is designed to come off and soften the blow. We had a spare bow out there, and it took about 15 minutes for our boat builder to strap it on.”
John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing picked up her second bullet of the event in today’s second race. Then in the fourth and final race, 44Cup Marstrand event host Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing tacked at just the right moment on the first upwind to edge into the lead.
“We have been trying hard and finally it came our way, so it was nice,” observed Törnqvist. “We got to the left, which is where we wanted to be, because we were down at the pin, where it was a bit crowded. Then we managed to get the lead and hold on to it. But it was very close at the end.”
On the final moments of the last run came a strong challenge to them from Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing. But Artemis Racing managed to keep its nose in front to take its first bullet of the event. “It is close racing as always. It was nice to finally to have a little bit of success after some not so good races,” admitted Törnqvist. Of the event generally he added: “It is good – we didn’t sail yesterday but we have had eight races so far and we are going to try and get some more in tomorrow.”
Team Nika had a mixed day coming home second in today’s first race but trailed the fleet home the second race when she suffered damage to her headsail. Very much on the ascent today was Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team which was third in the last two races.
“I think it was the best day we have ever had in the RC44,” said a beaming, if soaking wet, Zuerrer once ashore in the 44Cup’s dockside hospitality suite. “It feels great that we are now able to stay up with all the other guys, even though it is still hard when it is so close at the top, and then staying there all the way to the finish line.”
Tomorrow further strong winds are forecast. To stand the greatest chance of being able to get racing in the first warning signal has bene brought forward to 0930.