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44Cup Calero Marinas Day 1

by 44Cup 29 Feb 22:37 GMT 28 February - 3 March 2024
44Cup Calero Marinas 2024 © Nico Martinez

The Canary Islands are renowned for their breezy northeasterly trade wind conditions and today Lanzarote fully delivered this, with 20-25 knot winds and occasional gusts of 30. In this wind, plus the lumpy sea state, playing it safe and carrying out well executed manoeuvres was order of the day for the nine teams.

Despite American Andy Horton replacing New Zealander Hamish Pepper as tactician on board, Nico Poons' Charisma in the first race demonstrated why they are the defending 44Cup champions: they won the pin, and the left subsequently coming good, enabling them to lead around the top mark and continue to score the first bullet of 2024 comfortably.

In the third and final race Charisma looked set to repeat this, extending their lead down the first run until this was abruptly halted as they were laid flat in a massive gust. "It was a big, big puff, while we were out in front on our own" explained Horton. "We were on the edge, trying to get down, but it was just a moment in time that wasn't kind to us..."

Of today's conditions, which peaked in the second and third races with the wind blowing obliquely offshore from 020-030 degrees, Horton continued: "It was full on, awesome. It got to the point where we were easing sails upwind and just going high, because it was so windy. Then downwind you just held on. The gybes were manageable - not out of control, if you did a good job." Coming last in the final race, dropped Charisma to fourth overall, albeit just one point from the podium.

In the final race, Charisma's loss in her broach was Team Aqua and Team Ceeref Vaider's gain. As Charisma floundered, Chris Bake's team powered into the port leeward gate in first with Igor Lah's Team Ceeref Vaider close astern. But up the next beat Ceeref's crafty tactician Adrian Stead put in a small hitch to the right and with this side slightly favoured and coming in with rights, the Slovenia team finally got the upper hand over Team Aqua, leading into the final top mark and on to the finish.

"It was amazing - it felt like being on a submarine!" commented Lah. "We caught a few waves and got completely wet. I was extremely careful not to broach, but it was so close! It is really fun in those conditions - I really love it, even if it looks dangerous."

Stead added: "It definitely was on the edge - the gybes were getting interesting especially with the seaway slightly twisted. But it was Lanzarote at its 'shiftiest best'. The breeze was flicking around by about 40 degrees and quite gusty and as the day went on the gusts got more vicious and unstable. But it was a great day all round and Igor did a great job driving."

Team Ceeref Vaider's 5-2-1 today left them second overall, but behind Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika, which with three podium finishes today currently leads the 44Cup Calero Marinas.

"Today was good, pretty consistent," mused Prosikhin. In the second race, John Bassadone's Peninsula Racing had led Team Ceeref Vaider around the port leeward gate mark as Team Nika had split right. A shift had subsequently propelled Team Nika into the lead which they held to the finish. But their most outstanding result was in the last race when they recovered from a start line penalty (infringing Team Aqua) to finish third.

Of today's conditions Prosikhin commented: "It was fun - this is why we are sailing - days like this are very special. Our top speed was 24.7 knots - very close to the record. It was fun, very exciting and the crew worked well. The trimmers were great because they didn't let me broach the boat even though I was very close a couple of times."

Of their secret today, tactician Nic Asher explained it was about keeping it simple and to the basics - handing, staying in phase with the shifts, etc. "We didn't start too well. The guys did a good job, so it was easy to place the boat where we wanted to. Downwind we were solid - in fact we were able to catch up if we got it slightly wrong on the beat."

One of the most radiant coming ashore was Daniel Calero, skipper of Calero Sailing Team, the RC44 being fielded at this regatta by the event hosts Calero Marinas. Given that the 'black boat' is used by inexperienced teams looking to join the 44Cup, their 8-7-5 was commendable as they didn't once finish last.

"I am super happy about the day," said Calero. "We enjoyed it a lot. We were a little afraid of the conditions, but I think we had some luck and were getting better during the day. The conditions were really tough, but the boats react well to it. Alfredo [Gonzales, tactician] did a great job in difficult conditions, because the strong wind increased the difficulty. We are all super happy. We have seen we can at least be in the fight."

Due to an even stronger forecast tomorrow (Friday 1 March) the schedule has been brought forward with a first warning signal scheduled for 0930 UTC.

44Cup Calero Marinas Results: (after three races)

1. Team Nika - 2 1 3 - 6pts
2. Team CEEREF Vaider - 5 2 1 - 8pts
3. Peninsula Racing - 3 3 8 - 14pts
4. Charisma - 1 5 9 - 15pts
5. Team Aqua - 9 4 2 - 15pts
6. Aleph Racing - 4 6 6 - 16pts
7. Black Star Sailing Team - 6 9 4 - 19pts
8. Calero Sailing Team - 8 7 5 - 20pts
9. Artemis Racing - 7 8 7 - 22pts

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