Strong start for Ka­tusha at the RC44 Val­letta Cup

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

While ten teams are muscling up in the RC44 Val­letta Cup, the last re­gatta of the class’ 10th an­niver­sary sea­son, it was not the favourites for the 2016 cham­pi­onship ti­tle that pre­vailed on the open­ing day of fleet rac­ing here off the coast of Malta. In­stead it was Alexan­der Novoselov’s Ka­tusha, cur­rently sev­enth on the sea­son’s leader­board. As a suit­able end of year chal­lenge, Malta laid on brisk con­di­tions to­day. The wind gust­ing above 20 knots, plus a choppy sea, tested crews and owner-driv­ers alike. With the south­east­erly blow­ing down the shore, crews quickly found that the right, coastal side of the course was pay­ing. This slightly one-side race track, re­sulted in some of the tight­est top mark round­ings. In race one Ka­tusha’s crew was among the first to recog­nise this ‘power in the right’, edg­ing ahead of Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika to take the lead up the first beat. Ka­tusha, un­der her gi­ant red spin­naker, then tore away down the first run and was not to be caught from then on. Race two saw a bunch­ing of boats at the com­mit­tee boat end and once again it was Ka­tusha that got her bow in front of, on this oc­ca­sion, John Bas­sadone’s Penin­sula Petroleum com­ing into the top mark. Ka­tusha again showed the way around the race track but with Artemis Rac­ing Youth punch­ing above her weight to clinch sec­ond on the fi­nal run, ahead of team­mates, Tor­b­jörn Törn­qvist’s Artemis Rac­ing. “We are very proud,” said a beam­ing Novoselov. “We did very good prepa­ra­tion of the boat and it was good team work, with a ge­nius tac­ti­cian [Andy Hor­ton was stand­ing be­side him] and some good luck I guess…” Hor­ton ob­served that Novoselov’s per­for­mance had been ex­cep­tional given that this is only the sec­ond time has ever helmed an RC44 in wavy con­di­tions. “To­day he went out and did a great job. And the guys did well trim­ming the sails.” Hor­ton also at­trib­uted their backto-back bul­lets choos­ing the right head­sail. The J2 seemed to be a brave call at the start of the first race when it was gust­ing into the early 20s and the ma­jor­ity of boats opted for the smaller, safer J3. But, as he put it: “We were able to deal with it re­ally well in the windy spots and then, when it was light, we were re­ally fast.” As to the rea­son for the right pay­ing, there seemed to be dif­fer­ing opin­ions be­tween the tac­ti­cians. Ac­cord­ing to Hor­ton there was tide against them on the run but this was as strong in­shore as off­shore. It was more about the get­ting some ben­e­fi­cial shifts from the lo­cal to­pog­ra­phy. “There’s a lit­tle point there and if you came in un­der that you got lifted and, as long as you could get out bow ahead, it was all gains.” For the open­ing day’s third and fi­nal race, the sea state had dropped frac­tion­ally and the wind had be­come lighter and more shifty. In this, it was Team Nika, Artemis Rac­ing and Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF that were jock­ey­ing for the lead com­ing into the top mark with Lah’s Slove­nian team just get­ting her bow in front. The fron­trun­ners con­tin­ued to play the right side of the course for the re­main­der of the race with Team CEEREF, the present over­all RC44 Fleet Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship leader and cus­to­dian of the RC44’s pres­ti­gious ‘golden wheels’, hang­ing on to first place ahead of Artemis Rac­ing and Team Nika. Ac­cord­ing to Lah, they won the race com­ing into the first top mark: “We were able to squeeze Nika a lit­tle bit. We had enough room, but they didn’t.” Team CEEREF gybed and made good gains in­shore on the run and re­peated this on the next lap cross­ing the line with a com­fort­able lead. Lah ad­mit­ted to find the sail­ing hard work in the big waves to­day, but win­ning the fi­nal race made it worth­while. “There are three more days, so we will do our best.” Team CEEREF’s Bri­tish tac­ti­cian Adrian Stead was con­tent too: “It was a good open­ing day. We got sailed past lay­line in the first race on the last down­wind which prob­a­bly cost us a cou­ple of places, but 11 points to­day was within our tar­get.” Ka­tusha scored a ninth place fin­ish in the fi­nal race drop­ping her to sec­ond over­all be­hind Artemis Rac­ing, yes­ter­day’s RC44 Match Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship win­ner. Fleet rac­ing at the RC44 Val­letta Cup con­tin­ues to­mor­row in sim­i­lar 15-20 knot con­di­tions to to­day but with the wind fore­cast to veer into the south. For more in­for­ma­tion about the RC44 Val­letta Cup please visit – www.yachtingevents.com.mt or www.rc44.com

Ka­tusha lead­ing the fleet

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