The forecasters don’t always get it right and today was luckily one of those days. With racing already delayed in anticipation of an unsettled forecast, the teams were greeted with 13-15 knots and white horses as they sailed from The Wave, Muscat into the starting area for the second day of fleet racing at the RC44 Oman Cup. Katusha extended their lead at the top of the leader board on a day their tactician Andy Horton called “challenging”, with big wind shifts and a breeze that decreased throughout the day, and saw three separate race winners.
Team Aqua seemed keen to make up for the points lost yesterday after their incident with Ironbound. Hitting the pin end of the line at pace and in space, Aqua was launched. They led at the top mark with main rival Katusha right on their tail. On the second beat Lunajets Aleph Racing (FRA) managed to split the pair, Aqua cruised to their first race win of the RC44 Oman Cup, Aleph second and Nika third with Katusha dropping to fifth.
After a general recall the 13 RC44s got away cleanly on the second attempt. Katusha had been fighting for the pin, but put in an early tack taking the sterns of the fleet. By the top mark they had again taken the lead just ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing, the pair proceeded to sail away from the fleet, Katusha taking their third win of the event. The competition for third was fierce with places changing on each leg. Leonid Lebedev’s Russian Sailing Synergy Team eventually held off Peninsula Petroleum and Nika to take third.
In the decreasing 8-9 knot breeze, Artemis Racing took charge of the final race of the day. Katusha rounded the windward mark in second and went for the early gybe; Aqua followed round but opted not to gybe. By the leeward gate Aqua had gained, passing Katusha. The top three places didn’t change on the final run; Artemis Racing, Team Aqua and Katusha remain the only boats to win a race at the RC44 Oman Cup.
On the overall leader board, Katusha, with Steve Howe at the helm this week, have extended their lead from 11 to 16 point lead over Team Aqua. Artemis Racing sit in third tied on points with Team Nika.
Vladimir Prosikhin’s team showing good consistency at the start of their second full season in the class, “Somehow we seem to have improved our boat speed and it’s a good foundation to have. We still have some work to do on the basic boat handling so we can minimise the silly mistakes but we have been fighting hard on both days to keep our position. We still have a lot of things to improve but the fundamentals are now ok.”
Katusha appear to be running away with the regatta, but with two more days of racing and no discards there is still a lot of racing to be done. Defending champions Team Aqua are renowned for their comeback’s and can never be written off, owner Chris Bake gave his thoughts on the competition. “It’s a new year everyone out there is refocused and re-energised, Katusha is sailing very well, the whole fleet is very variable. The newer teams to the fleet such as Team Nika and RUS 7 are all getting some really good races in, I think it’s pretty much an open season.”