The pressure is on for the 44Cup fleet going into next week’s grand final in Palma, Majorca, over the 13 – 17 November. This will be the fifth and final event of the 2019 season and we expect to see a a heated fight for the podium between the top three teams.
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua currently lead the fleet, on a roll after the World Championship win in Marstrand Sweden during the summer which they followed up with a win in Cascais, Portugal last month. Having been at each other’s throats for the entire season Team Aqua’s biggest threat is Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika has taken three second place event finishes this season and is desperate to take an event win.
“It’s becoming a pattern that we need one more day each event - we wake up too late,” admitted Vladimir Prosikhin last month. “We finished the final day in Cascais with three firsts - we improved our position throughout the week, so I am happy, but it would be better to start that way.”
Also in the mix for the end of season podium is Igor Lah’s Slovenian Team CEEREF. On 10 points overall they have a four point gap to bridge to second place and a further two points to first. After an unusually bad results at the last event in Portugal, which saw them finish a disappointing seventh place, the usually consistent crew, lead by British tactician Adrian Stead, is hungry to relive their Tour winning form of 2016-17.
Remarkably for this international one-design fleet this is the first time the 44Cup has visited Palma and hosted by the Real Club Náutico de Palma many of the sailors are very well rehearsed in racing on these waters.
Nearly every team features sailors from the 52 Super Series who regularly race in Palma.
At the 2019 52 Super Series World Championship in August German team Platoon took the win. Good news for Charisma who share tactician John Kostecki, trimmer Ross Halcrow and coach Morgan Reeser.
After a strong start to the 44Cup Cascais, Nico Poons' Charisma did well but couldn't shine as brightly as the teams on the ascent in the last two days. However with a scoreline this season of 9-2-9 followed by a third in Cascais, the Monaco-based Dutchman's team is replicating his up and down season of 2018...which he ended up winning overall.
Making it hard for Charisma to defend their 2018 Tour winning title this season is the big step up from the mid fleet teams Aleph Racing, Peninsula Petroleum and Artemis Racing who are all within three points of each other ahead of Poons’ team in fourth to sixth respectively.