The 44Cup Marstrand had a tricky start today off the Swedish paradise island bearing its name. A weather front slowly moving across the west coast of Sweden brought with it solid 25 knots winds, 30+ gusts and the real prospect of no racing for the eight owner-driver RC44s. However mid-afternoon, as the front’s torrential rain arrived, so the wind dropped and PRO Maria Torrijo was able to coax the teams and their high performance one designs out on the water.
Ultimately just one race was held before the wind became too unstable, but crews and race committee alike were pleased to have salvaged one race on what could easily have been a no race day.
In the singleton race, held in a 12 knot northerly, Chris Bake and Team Aqua came out on top. “There was huge expectation for big breeze, but we got out there and the breeze was 14 knots and flat water,” said Bake. “The start was congested by the committee boat but we came in and tacked onto port and got on to the right side of the course where we prevailed and managed to defend. It was a bit touch and go downwind because it was pretty shifty and there were lots of areas where there was more breeze, but we managed to hold on to the lead - so all good. As always the fleet is really tight and there is nothing between first and fifth and fifth and eighth.”
Bake is the ‘Master of Marstrand’ having won here more than any other RC44 team and is also the event’s defending champion. “I like Marstrand a lot: the breeze is great, the weather conditions are highly variable - it throws everything at you. There’s the terrain and the horizon melds into the sea, but I really enjoy sailing here. There is a good atmosphere.”
The race was up and down for Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika, but turned out well finishing second. As the team’s new Spanish tactician Manu Weiller explained: “We had a good start and we were in the front for the first few minutes but then we struggled for boat speed on port tack and then got bounced around the place and were fifth at the top mark. Then we had a bad downwind and we were last at the gate with Peninsula. But we got a very nice line and we started to sail the boat better. We rounded the top mark in third and then we passed Artemis downwind.”
Equally strong out of the blocks today was the event’s host Torbjörn Törnqvist, whose Artemis Racing held second place most of the way around only to be displaced by Team Nika just short of the finish line. The Swedish team appeared transformed today compared to Portorož.
“It is great to be back here,” said Törnqvist. “I have had a bit of time to practice before the regatta. Obviously we didn’t have a good last regatta. Now we have our regular crew back and that feels good. The class is so tight that the slightest mistake and you slide back. I think we know what we need to improve on. We have worked on a few things that did not work in the last regatta. We will try to do our best and enjoy the sailing.”
On mainsheet once again aboard Artemis Racing is double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy. “Flat water 14 knots and J2s, it was a good fun race,” he said. “We lost one boat on the last run, but these things happen. In Portoroz we were struggling to handle the boat in stronger winds. All of us were a bit rusty, but particularly not having some of our main crew members because of the COVID meant we struggled to get around the corners. This is a brilliant place to sail and we have been here many times. It was good to get the race in.”
Conditions are forecast to be lighter and sunny tomorrow when the race committee will attempt to hold three races.