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44Cup Calero Marinas - Overall

by 44Cup 3 Mar 19:35 GMT 28 February - 3 March 2024

Four bullets from nine races was enough to secure Team Nika victory in the 44Cup Calero Marinas, opening event of the 2024 44Cup.

All four days of racing in the Canary Islands were in maximum conditions for the high performance owner-driver one design - in fact no one can remember an event requiring their smallest headsail, the J3, to be used in every race. Even for the final day (forecast to be the lightest), teams were still subjected to gusts into the high 20s blowing from the north, over Lanzarote's barren lunar landscape.

The day began with Team Nika first, three points clear of Igor Lah's Team Ceeref Vaider. However initially both teams made a meal of it: In the first race Team Nika was second at the first top mark rounding, had dropped to fourth by the second but went the wrong side of the course on the last run to finish sixth place - her worst result. Fortunately her principal rival had fared even worse being OCS and then suffering spinnaker damage. She finished last.

Matters got worse for Team Nika in the second race, once again held in wind ranging from 14 knots to 24. In this, once again, she started well and was second to Charisma at the top mark. However approaching the leeward gate, she dramatically broached, dropping her from second to sixth, losing a further position by the finish. Meanwhile a third for Team Ceeref Vaider left them two points clear overall going into the regatta's deciding race.

Sadly the much anticipated final show-down never materialised. Team Ceeref Vaider won the pin but once she tacked wasn't sufficiently advanced to cross Artemis Racing and Calero Sailing Team. In ducking they struck the host team's stern and were awarded a penalty turn and two penalty points. Salvaging fifth was enough for them to retain second overall, a slender point ahead of John Bassadone's Peninsula Racing.

Meanwhile Team Nika got the last race right. Peninsula Racing was first to the top mark, but she was in her wake. The two split at the leeward gate with Peninsula Racing taking the favoured right, but Team Nika covered well, nosed into the lead and was gone. Winning by 45 seconds she was followed by a deluge - second placed Peninsula Racing and sixth placed Charisma separated by just four seconds.

"It was a very good regatta - challenging, strong winds," commented Team Nika's Vladimir Prosikhin, who last won in Oman in 2022. "We finished the previous one second and this one first - I hope we can stay consistent. We have two new crew - they smile, are full of energy and very strong." Hull #10, Team Nika is the oldest RC44 competing, now 17 years old.

Sporting a new mast, Team Nika clearly had speed which helped tactician Nic Asher: "In both the first and second races we started well. In the first I was a bit impatient and we had that broach: The kite went through the jib so up the second beat we couldn't sheet the jib on."

If Team Nike was star of the show, Chris Bake's Team Aqua was star of the day. In the first race, towards the end of the second beat they grafted their way past Team Nika, Artemis Racing and Aleph Racing to lead around the top mark and then just managed to do enough down the final run to win from a charging Artemis Racing and Black Star by just 8 and 11 seconds respectively.

But their second race will go down in 44Cup folklore when they were called OCS and then went on to score their second consecutive bullet, aided by a 'right shift from God' again towards the top of the second upwind. Again on this occasion they did just enough on the run to finish 13 seconds ahead of Hugues Lepic's Aleph Racing, being steered here by Pietro Loro Piana.

"That is the nice thing about this course - if you can put the shifts together," mused Chris Bake of their second race. "We knew we were going to get some rightie, but we didn't expect it to be that big." He added: "It has been great here. It shows how dynamic these boats are. You can have wind conditions from 14-27 knots - everyone has had a blast. The Caleros have done a great job."

Aleph Racing had their best day yet, posting a 5-2-3. They were fighting back after two crew injuries earlier in the week. These spots were filled by Team Aqua's Aaron Cooper and Black Star Sailing Team coach Luke Molloy. "If it hadn't been for them, we would have been at the dock," said tactician Michele Ivaldi. "It was difficult, especially in these super tricky conditions which are at the top range of sailing for a 44. If the event started again tomorrow we could do a really nice job!"

Peninsula Racing and Christian Zuerrer's Black Star Sailing Team also had good final days posting a 4-6-2 and a 3-5-7 respectively. Artemis Racing shone in today's first race when in the final moments they made great gains on the final run to come home second behind Team Aqua - their best result of the week.

The 2024 44Cup resumes over 8-12 May in Baiona, Spain.

44Cup Calero Marinas Results: (after nine races)

1. Team Nika - 2 1 3 1 4 1 6 7 1 - 26pts
2. Team CEEREF Vaider - 5 2 1 3 2 2 9 3 5 (2) - 34pts
3. Peninsula Racing - 3 3 8 5 1 3 4 6 2 - 35pts
4. Team Aqua - 9 4 2 7 6 5 1 1 4 - 39pts
5. Aleph Racing - 4 6 6 4 5 6 5 2 3 - 41pts
6. Charisma - 1 5 9 2 7 4 8 4 6 - 46pts
7. Black Star Sailing Team - 6 9 4 6 8 8 3 5 7 - 56pts
8. Artemis Racing - 7 8 7 9 3 7 2 8 8 - 59pts
9. Calero Sailing Team - 8 7 5 8 9 9 7 9 DNF - 72pts

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