Nico Poons’ Charisma clung on to her lead from yesterday to win the RC44 Calero Marinas Cup, opening event of the 2018 RC44 championship. But it all came down to the last run of the last race when a last curved ball cut the Monaco-based team’s overall lead to just one point from arch-rival, Team Nika.
An elated Poons noted: “It proves you have to concentrate right to the very end. It is great sailing in this class – it is high performance, a high quality fleet with a level playing field and great value compared to other sailing projects of this kind.”
With no awkward frontal systems to complicate matters today, Lanzarote reverted to her usual summery self for the final day of competition. The 15-16 knots winds remained reliably southwesterly. With flat water and a scorching sun, it seemed like June in the Mediterranean. Until the final run…
Charisma tactician Ray Davies explained: “It was all on – there was a big wind shift and the wind increased to 23 knots with a pressed-up angle coming in. The boats were all surfing into the finish line. Any boat that had gybed early made a huge gain but a couple of us couldn’t quite lay it. Fortunately we did enough, despite finishing with a jib.”
Of Charisma’s performance overall Davies added: “We started really well today which was a big improvement on the beginning of the regatta. There are things we can work on. We are very happy for Nico to come away with a win – his second in four years. It is nice being up against the likes of Dean [Barker] and Vasco [Vascotto]. All the tacticians in this fleet are of the highest level, so there is always some pride on the line.”
Inevitably the team to benefit most from the giant shift was Team CEEREF. Having nailed a similar giant downwind shift to win Saturday’s first race, so Igor Lah’s team nearly pulled off a similar stunt today. Tactician Adrian Stead, who seems to have an uncanny nose for these shifts, explained: “It had gone a little bit right on the way into the top mark and then when we looked up we could see it all along the shore. It was opportunist, but we weren’t too far off taking it all the way to the finish.” Deep fifth at the last top mark rounding, the Slovenian RC44 managed to pull out a third.
Team CEEREF also won today’s opening race, leading it from start to finish. “This is our best first regatta of a year for ages, so it is great,” said Igor Lah. “It was a lot of fun, especially that last leg.”
Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika won race two. Early on the first beat she and John Bassadone’sPeninsula Petroleum opted for the right where they struck gold. The two boats were respectively first and second at the top mark, positions they maintained until the finish.
However playing on Prosikhin’s mind was challenging Charisma in the final race: “We had some major problems at the start – somehow we lost speed. After that we were between our two main competitors. If we tried to escape right, Charisma tacked on us, and if we tried to escape left then CEEREF tacked on us! We were like a pinball – blam, blam, blam. Like Rocky! Finally we escaped and were still ahead, but unfortunately Charisma finished right after us, which was not enough.”
Prosikhin also enjoyed the final downwind dash. “The wind came from behind and we were surviving – trying to push the boat as hard as we could, in danger of broaching all the time! The RC44 is great pleasure to sail and it is such a nice fleet. Today I had one of the best days of my racing career.”
Today’s outcome would also have been different for Team Nika were it not for a layline incident in today’s first race. “We had a bow to bow with Team CEEREF and had to gybe around – which was expensive,” admitted tactician Dean Barker.
The last race was also notable for Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing rounding the top mark in first place. However on the run Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing overhauled the French team to lead for the remainder of the race, despite the monster final shift.
Competition now moves to Portoroz, Slovenia, birthplace of the RC44 for the second event of the 2018 championship over 9-13 May.
Read the full race report at www.RC44.com.