Artemis Racing were quick to show the fleet the way as fleet racing at the RC44 Sweden Cup got underway in Marstand.
After being lulled into thinking summer had arrived, the grey skies and rain returned bringing with it a light south easterly breeze that never topped 8 knots. But through the damp weather, Sweden’s Artemis Racing shone.
With Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) at the helm and Morgan Larson (USA) calling the shots, Artemis Racing opened the day with a win. They picked the left hand side of the course, came in on the port layline, led at the top mark and then extended away from the fleet. By the finish they were over 300m ahead of their nearest rival AEZ from Austria.
After a general recall for race two, it was Synergy who picked up the first shift. The Russian team had tacked off to the right immediately after their late start at the committee boat, picked the favoured side and rounded the windward mark in the lead. Race-one winners Artemis Racing were struggling to make in-roads into the fleet. At the leeward gate the leaders all tacked over to the right hand-side, Artemis back in seventh headed out to the left with RUS 7 and Team Nika. The trio picked up more wind and leapt into the lead at the second windward mark. Artemis heaped the pressure on the RUS7, but the Russian’s held their nerve to take the gun, Artemis finished second with early leaders Synergy dropping back to sixth.
The final race of the day was unusual in that it finished upwind close to Marstrand Island. Aqua led from start to finish coming into the top mark on the port layline, just ahead of No Way Back and Aleph. With a little space to play with the defending RC44 Tour Champions kept a safe distance between themselves and the competition, the win taking them up to second on the leaderboard after three races, five-points adrift of Artemis Racing who finished the final race in third.
Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) is relishing sailing in home waters. “We’re really happy to have won today, it was a good day for us. Shifty and very tricky it was all about being on the right side of the course, but the favoured side of the race wasn’t always the same. We were lucky but we sailed well with good boat handling, good boat speed, the team did really good work and we always had really good clean starts.”
The battle for the 2012 Championship does seem to be between Artemis Racing and Team Aqua this year, although Russia’s Katusha are still in with a shot. Aqua’s owner helm Chris Bake knows Artemis are the threat to the team claiming the Championship for a second successive year, but are focussing on their own team’s performance. “Artemis is obviously sailing really well at the moment, so we like to focus on our speed, keeping it strong and not focus too much on them, I’m sure there doing the same. Their second race was quite phenomenal to watch, they were sixth or seventh in the fleet and they just sailed around the whole fleet to come in second. The wind was patchy so if you got a good line you could go through or around the fleet, which is exactly what they did.”
The unluckiest team of the day had to be RUS7 Sail Racing Team powered by AnyWayAnyDay.com, as the team’ tactician Rodion Luka explained. “We were disappointed in the second race to get a penalty on the finish line, we had a lack of training which is acceptable and our lay-lines were not perfect, we were a little bit low so our driver didn’t see the mark properly and our spinnaker touched so we had to go back to do the 360 before we could cross the line. I think we were fourth before that penalty so we lost a lot of points, but then the next race we were first, I’m very happy with the team work.”
Racing for the RC44 Sweden Cup continues through to Sunday 22nd July. Tomorrow will see the fleet race for the ‘Tribute to a Legend’ trophy in honour of Pelle Petterson’s 80th year. The two-time Swedish Olympic medallist who also skippered two Swedish America’s Cup challenges in 1977 and 1980 will be a guest of the RC44 Class for racing