The most regularly visited venue on the 44Cup, since the first full racing season for the high performance owner-driver one designs took place in 2008, has been the picture postcard island of Marstrand on Sweden’s west coast. While the remote island is a holidaymakers’ paradise, Sweden is the original home of Artemis Racing owner Torbjörn Törnqvist, who along with Team Aqua’s Chris Bake Team CEEREF's Igor Lah, has continuously raced his RC44 on the 44Cup since the very dawn of the class.
The first 44Cup event was held off Marstrand in 2011 and the circuit has returned every year since with the sole exception of 2016.
“I do look forward to the Swedish event,” says Törnqvist. “I like it obviously but most of all I like to do regattas wherever they are. Hopefully we will do a bit better than we did at the first event.”
At the 44Cup Portorož in Slovenia at the beginning of May Törnqvist said Artemis Racing had enjoyed good upwind pace but had suffered on the downwinds, especially in the manoeuvres - not overly surprising since this was the Swedish team’s first time back in on their beloved RC44 since the final of event of the 2019 season in Palma. “There is nothing wrong with our speed,” Törnqvist concluded.
In recent seasons Artemis Racing has enjoyed posting the best results of the year on its home waters, having finished third in Marstrand in 2019 and second the year before.
But the boat with the best success record in Sweden is unquestionably Chris Bake's Team Aqua which goes into racing next week as the defending champion of the 44Cup Marstrand event. In 2019 Bake’s crew saw off Team Nika, Vladimir Prosikhin’s World Championship winners on these waters in 2017, with Artemis Racing sneaking on to the bottom step of the podium – a slender point ahead of both Team CEEREF and Peninsula Petroleum. Team Aqua also scored back to back wins here over 2011-13.
Also to be watched here will be London-based Frenchman Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing. His Italian tactician Michele Ivaldi scored back to back wins here in 2014 and 2015 with Vladimir Liubomirov's Bronenosec Sailing Team and Lepic always enjoys the trip north. “It is always a good event. We love to go there.”
Not to be discounted on these waters too is Nico Poons, whose Charisma won here in 2018. On that occasion Charisma rudely displacing the event hosts Artemis Racing on the final run of the final race. Tied on points with the Swedes, Poons only managed to claim the top spot on the podium on countback.
Coming out ahead after the first season event of this new season of 44Cup is Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF. The Slovenian team tops the championship roster and is holder of the leader’s golden wheels. In fact Lah has held the RC44’s golden wheels going into the first event of previous seasons, but significantly this is the first occasion that the Slovenian team, on which Britain’s Adrian Stead calls tactics, goes into the second event of the season still holding them – a situation with which the crew is more than happy. However Team CEEREF’s track record off Marstrand is disappointing by their high standards. In many years of coming to this event they have reached the podium only twice – scoring second in both 2011 and at the World Championship here in 2017.
As usual the 44Cup Marstand will begin with practice racing on Wednesday, 30th June following by four days of racing over 1st-4th July.