Nico Martinez / RC44 Class Association

Light northeasterly wreaks havoc

Russians take the lead as Peninsula Petroleum bombs on the second day of RC44 fleet racing in Sotogrande

Friday June 27th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

For day three of the RC44 Puerto Sotogrande Cup, the Mediterranean laid on different conditions to the first two days. While the sun remained, there was initially no wind on the water and when it did fill in, it was blowing down the coast, from the northeast, rather than the westerly offshore breeze of the first two days.

Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio pulled the rabbit out of the hat at around 1300 local time, when the wind briefly built to around 8 knots, allowing him to squeeze in one race. But even towards the end of that, the wind was dying and failed to return for the rest of the afternoon. At 1600 the eminent PRO terminated racing for the day.

America’s Cup winning helmsman Ed Baird, tactician on second placed Synergy Russian Sailing Team, described today’s conditions: “It was pretty challenging, because there was a very light breeze in the first place and the current choice went against the wind choice. It was a case of ‘which one shall we put more faith in?” The left was favoured in terms of the current, but in the event the breeze also went left, doubly favouring those on this side of the course for the first beat.”

In the light conditions Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika, on which circuit founder Russell Coutts is calling tactics, started well at the committee boat end of the line. Nika excelled up the first beat, gaining on the left in the latter stages, to lead around the top mark. Along with Team Aqua, she then extended away around the rest of the course, the two boats comfortably claiming first and second place as great separation developed generally across the fleet.

“Pre-race the wind seemed to be set in and fairly stable,” recounted Team Aqua owner, Chris Bake. “The first windward leg we were fairly well positioned. We had a fairly dramatic left hand wind shift, and we were on the left side, heading towards the mark, so some of boats to the right of us got very strong. But we held our course, sailed the boat clean and managed to get second around the windward mark and more or less stayed in that position. We managed to stay out of some of the holes on that second windward leg.”

While Team Nika won, having held ninth place overall at the start of the day, conversely yesterday’s overall race leader, John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum, finished last today. She was over the start line early, along with Gazprom Youth and Charisma. Slow to return, this left the local boat trailing the fleet around the race course and on this circuit, where there are no discards, this was the poor result Bassadone and his Italian tactician Vasco Vascotto managed to avoid yesterday so successfully.

After today’s performance, Peninsula Petroleum has dropped to third place, tied on points with Team Aqua, while two Russian boats now lead – Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team lying just one point ahead of Valentin Zavadnikov and Leonid Lebedev’s Synergy Russian Sailing Team.

After winning yesterday’s final race, Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing came home a solid fourth in today’s one race and now holds fifth place.

“It feels like we’re in the Caribbean,” said Törnqvist as he came ashore in Sotogrande. “Yesterday was great, with a good wind and interesting breeze. The racing has been good. You can see that on the score board: The first five places are within four points, which is nothing.”

Three races are scheduled for tomorrow with the first warning signal scheduled for 11:30 local time. Sadly the forecast indicates that it could be another light day. Follow all the action on the water blow by blow via the live race blog at

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