It's the second year of class RC44 comes to the resort town of Cascais, located 30 minutes drive from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. And I am sure the fleet will come back here again and again! This small town has earned great fame in sailing circles: it hosted the «America»'s Cup World Series, stopped the Volvo Ocean Race and entered the MOD70 trimarans. In winter, dragonists and SB20 fans train in Cascais. This makes many RC44 yachtsmen and team owners feel at home here. Everyone has their favourite hotel, a sunset wine and a midnight whisky. But the teams don't come here to rest.
The penultimate stage of competitions in class RC44 Cascais CUP took place from October 2 to 6. Bce training days either poured heavy rain or there was an unsightly fog. It was as if the athletes had captured Swedish autumn in sunny Portugal as they raced on the island of Marstrand. The same rainy weather stood on the first day of the competition during the match race.
At a press conference, team tactician «Synergy» Ed Baird joked that «he would like to have two buttons: turn off the rain, turn on the wind». One of them was pressed after all.
Summer has returned to Cascais from the first day of the fleet races! But we never expected stable weather conditions. In search of wind, the fleet set off towards Guinshu Beach and fought the fickle wind and two-meter waves there. In the end, we managed to conduct all the planned races. Portugal had not pumped up!
After the «America»'s Cup, all sailing fans sent their eyes to RC44 class. The freed-up yachtsmen arrived here as well. For example, Iain Percy, British Olympic champion and manager of the America»'s Cup «team, took the tactical position in the Swedish team Artemis.
Founder of the class, Russell Cootes, has paid attention to the RC44 Cup.
He ended up on Team Italia. However, the presence of the renowned yachtsman did not help and the team moved in the opposite direction (last 3 places in the fleet races). Team owner Massimo Barranco said it «was a great and rewarding experience for the team to be in the same team as the founder of the class».
The news of the Portuguese stage RC44 was the appearance of the boat Gazprom 2. Now, in addition to the Bronenosec team, the competition is attended by a team that has become part of the «Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge», a program to develop youth sailing. In practice, the team kept the RUS7 crew in the same composition. Almost all the athletes fell into the youth category and perform under the new, yet working name of Gazprom 2, in new uniform and with a new coach. The program is only gaining momentum and will be fully operational for the next year.
It is so far known that the task of Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge is to attract the attention of Russian youth to sailing and help them take a confident position in the arena of world sailing.
Kirill Podolsky, owner of the RUS7 team, has been supporting young athletes from Taganrog for many years. The guys have been earning watches on water both in Russia and abroad. It was their experience that made them the first participants of the programme.
«We want to achieve great results and pass on experience to younger athletes»," says Igor Lisovenko, 25-year-old tactician of the team. - The appearance of the youth sailing development programme is very important for us».
The team's growth is already visible: on the first day of the match race, the guys won in four out of six flutes. Ekaterina Skudina, an experienced yachtswoman and Olympic participant, was at the helm. «I am happy to participate in the program. I have a lot to learn, yet I do not have much experience on such boats. And I think I can pass something on to the guys, because the years of Olympism and communication in the professional environment gave me great experience and understanding of the competition»process.
The hero of the penultimate RC44 stage was another Russian team - «Synergy».
The first day of the fleet races the team played smoothly, finishing in the middle of the fleet. On the second day of the first race the guys came first, and then immediately grabbed the penultimate place. Then they leveled off, coming second in the last race of the day. The next day the team finished first again. After three days of competition in the overall standings «Synergy» took fourth place with a slight lag behind the three leaders: Team Katusha, Team Aqua and Peninsula Petroleum.
On the last day of the RC44 Championship Tour 2013 stage, passions heated up. Team Cascais - Aleph won the first two races and unexpectedly took the lead in the final table. Two teams were in second place with only two points behind: «Synergy» and Peninsula Petroleum. Team Katusha fell from the podium to fourth place.
The last race of the final day was crucial. «The synergy» started confidently and did not give up the leading position anymore. The guys came to the port, realizing that they were champions.
Both the boat and each other, the welcoming guests and journalists were filled with champagne. This victory was the team's best achievement in the RC44 fleet racing since entering this class in late 2010. Owners and crews of all competing teams came to shake hands with the winners!
The intrigue of the RC44 has not yet been revealed. Very soon we will have to find outwho will be the champion of the 2013 season and the winner of the RC44 World Championship.
The final competition of the 2013 season will take place on the island of Lanzarote in Puerto Calero from November 20 to 24. Team Aqua's permanent winner has dropped to fifth place in the annual tournament table and needs to finish in the top three to hold the championship at the World Championships in Lanzarote. Team Katusha has every chance to snatch a win from the three-time RC44 champion. The event promises to be spectacular!