Nico Martinez / RC44 Class Association

Early lead to Team Nika

Fleet racing gets underway at the RC44 Oman Cup

Thursday November 20th 2014, Author: Jo Grindley, Location: Oman

After finishing third in the annual RC44 match race championship, Team Nika seems to have got a taste for the podium. It was a tough day on the water for the start of the fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup, with many teams struggling for consistency; but Vladimir Prosikhin and Terry Hutchinson quickly mastered the conditions, picking up just six points from three races to take Team Nika to the top of the overnight leaderboard.

The final event of the Tour cannot be discarded; all points scored in Oman will be added to the year’s overall standings, leaving the top four boats all in with a shot at the title.

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua lead this season’s Championship Tour with six-points from four events - BVIs, Cascais, Sotogrande and Marstrand. John Bassadone and his Gibraltar-based Peninsula Petroleum are one-point behind on seven, Bronenosec third counting 9-points and new-boys Charisma are still in with a shot at the title on 14-points.

Racing got off on time, in an eight knot breeze from the northwest. Nico Poon’s Charisma took the first race win of the day, with Olympic gold medallist and 2013 America’s Cup winning strategist Tom Slingsby calling the shots. They played the shifts up the first beat, rounded the windward mark ahead of Katusha and then proceeded to sail away from the fleet for an emphatic victory, Katusha finished second and Team Nika third.

It was Team Nika’s turn to shine in race two, reading the shifts well up the first beat to lead at the windward mark and control the race from there on in. Synergy Russian Sailing Team took second and defending champions, Team Aqua third.

The final race of the day looked to be a repeat win for Team Nika, right until the final gybe heading into the finish line, a mistake from Nika gave Peninsula Petroleum the final win of the day, after a disappointing opening two races in Oman from John Bassadone’s crew.

Katusha’s helmsman Robert Filimonov has only been sailing for 13 day’s in his life. The team’s goal was to rack up less-points than days Robert had ever sailed. The team scored 12-points from the three races, and sit third overall – result!

Team Nika’s owner driver Vladimir Prosikhin summed up the day: “It’s a great day indeed for us, it wasn’t easy, a close fight with tricky wind. It was really tricky for me in particular; we had good starts today thanks to Terry (Hutchinson) and our new bowman Phil Jameson, who are working very well with the core team.”

Tactician Terry Hutchinson has been with the team since the second event of the season. On the dock after racing, Hutchinson explained the owner/tactician relationship on Team Nika: “Vladimir works very hard on-board, he is intense and focused. I would suspect we are very like-minded in certain ways which sometimes works for us – sometimes against. All in all he always puts his best foot forward which is good to work with.”

Charisma pulled itself right back into the pack on the final race after being OCS at the start, their day’s scorecard reading 1,5,5, and sit second overall, five points off the lead.

The RC44 Oman Cup supported by Mercedes Benz Oman and United Engineering Services (UMS) continues until 23 November. Day two of fleet championships will get underway on Friday at 08:00 GMT.



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