A warm, summery Costa Smeralda, combined with a lazy, balmy wind, seemed distinctly at odds with the cut throat, razor’s edge match racing that took place on day one of the Audi RC44 Porto Cervo Cup.
Despite the wind shifting between the north, northwest and back and varying between 6 and 12 knots, PRO Peter Reggio roared through the full schedule, completing six flights. At the close of play, today’s winners were Bronenosec Sailing Team and Artemis Racing, both on four wins and one loss. However in the 2015 RC44 Match Racing Championship, that rolls from event to event, it is now the St Petersburg team that is a nose in front, on eight wins, albeit with Artemis Racing and Peninsula Petroleum close behind, each on seven.
Today Bronenosec Sailing Team lost just one race – to Nico Poons’ Charisma. “It was very good,” commented skipper Vladimir Liubomirov, of their success today. “We had good weather, but not enough wind, so it was a bit tough in the last few races. The team was a bit more nervous with this wind, but overall the day was excellent for us.”
Artemis Racing also dropped just one race to an ever improving RUS7 – Anywayanyday, with owner Kirill Podolsky helming throughout.
Artemis Racing’s skipper Torbjörn Törnqvist, whose crew includes three time Olympic medallist Iain Percy on tactics, commented: “We sailed well, we had good speed, so it felt good all through. We just carried on from the last event – good crew work, calm, making the right tactical decisions. Nothing to complain about.”
However for some it didn’t go to plan. In flight four Igor Lah and Team CEEREF fell to the hand of their old tactician – Michele Ivaldi, on board Bronenosec Sailing Team. Ivaldi, via helmsman Vladimir Liubomirov, managed to plant two pre-start penalties on the Slovenian team and then, after tying them up, comfortably led off the start line never to look back.
One of the most improved teams was MAG Racing on which Croatian match racer Tomislav Basic was sailing for the first time, calling tactics for skipper Artur Kasner, who said of his new recruit: “We rely on his skills and are eager to find out what he will bring to the team. I think he will be a great input.” Clearly Basic is making an impression, for after winning no matches at the first RC44 regatta of the season in Malta two months ago, the Poles today won three. This included probably the most aggressive match of day against Team Nika.
After some barging close to the pin prior to the start, with both boats early and ultimately setting off slowly, MAG Racing got away first and proceeded to lead Team Nika around the track. On the first run, Team Nika closed and was in with a chance to get ahead as the two boats reached the leeward gate together. However split seconds later there was a loud BANG.
As Team Nika skipper Vladimir Prosikhin admitted sheepishly afterwards: “We couldn’t cross in front of them at the downwind gate. What I had to do was to go around them and push them into the wind, but instead I pushed into their stern! It’s wasn’t hard, but the whole mood then went down. It was very unfortunate and we got a penalty.” In fact Team Nika was awarded two penalty points for the incident, causing her to plummet down the RC44 Match Racing Championship leaderboard.
While there was damage to MAG Racing’s transom and Team Nika’s sacrificial bow broke off (as it is supposed to at such moments) both boats will be back on the water tomorrow, but the downward spiral for the Russian team did not end there. “We were trying to change the bow – and it took so long that we were late for the next start and we got a penalty for that, so our next race was bad too,” admitted Prosikhin, who once ashore went to apologise to the MAG Racing crew.
Tomorrow is the first day of fleet racing at the Audi RC44 Porto Cervo Cup, with the first warning signal scheduled for 1200 CEST.
by class media. Photos by MartinezStudio.es