A-teams on rise at 44Cup Oman

After a light start, conditions were optimum off Muscat’s Al Mouj Marina for day two of the 44Cup Oman, the fifth and concluding event of the 2022 44Cup.

Three races were held, but today the northerly wind peaked at 15 knots, enough to get the RC44 one designs planing on the downwind legs. The air temperature today in Oman remained in the high 20s and the only small downside to the otherwise outstanding conditions was the lumpy sea state.

In today’s first race, Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing continued her winning ways. They made gains out on the left of the first beat, then found a good lane out to the right, setting them up with a solid lead at the top mark ahead of Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing. Following this with a 2-4, the French team was the lowest scoring boat of the day, elevating it from fourth to second place overall.

Standing in for Lepic on the helm is experienced American driver, Steve Howe, who, with his father Fred, has successfully campaigned Farr 40s, TP52s and Melges 32s named Warpath. He has also previously raced in the RC44 although the last time was in 2013.

The competition remains as hot in the 44Cup as always and he maintains: “Everyone is good – there are no breaks out there. Our last race we had to fight it out around the race course – nothing’s changed.”

On Aleph Racing, Howe has old sailing friends like coach Steve Erickson, and crew James Dagge and bowman Greg Gendell.

A flurry of deckwork – Martinez Studio pic

Of today’s first race, Howe added: “It was hard. We made a good start and Michele [Ivaldi, tactician] did a nice job getting us around the race course. It was puffy, shifty, everything.”

Having a spectacular day was Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing, which didn’t win a race, but was the only boat to score three podium finishes. This despite an incident in the second race After rounding the leeward gate, they tacked ahead of Black Star Sailing Team and Team Asyad Shipping and ended up being struck by the Omani RC44’s bowsprit. It resulted Artemis receiving a small hole in their sacrificial stern.

“Luckily it was a glancing blow,” explained tactician Andy Horton after going on to secure a third place. Back in their berth within the Al Mouj Marina later, they removed their RC44’s sacrificial transom and replaced it with their spare.

After two mid-fleet finishes, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua won todays’ third race by which time the wind had reached its peak.

“I was a bit rusty in the first two races. In the last race we joined the dots up pretty well,” admitted Bake.

“We had a good start and powered through and went all the way out on starboard – one tack and in. We got a few favourable shifts. That left corner seemed to have some decent wind channels.

“It all worked. We just managed to stay ahead of the fleet. We got clear and had a clean downwind. It was hard because the wind was really fluctuating in terms of direction and speed and with the waves it was hard to stay in the groove.”

Downwind slide – Martinez Studio pic

Several 44Cup owners race with their offspring. Today Bake was sailing with his eldest son, Andrew, who despite his enthusiastic father’s long tenure in the class has remarkably not raced on Team Aqua RC44 until this week.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Andrew of this new experience. “I left for university in California in 2015 and I only moved back to London in October, so I wasn’t old enough before. Then I left, so it just never lined up. Ben [Graham] offered to step down and I stepped up. I would like to stay involved because it is such a fun circuit.”

Team Nika’s run of supreme consistency only came to an end in today’s final race she posted a fifth, however at this halfway stage of the event, she continues to lead with a six point margin, although now over Aleph Racing.

Behind it is close with just six points separating second place from Nico Poons’ fifth placed Charisma.

Racing continues tomorrow at 1200 local time (UTC -4 hours). Follow racing live at: http://ww.44cup.org.

Results after six races:

  1. 🇲🇨 Team Nika 2 1 2 3 1 5 – 14
  2. 🇫🇷 Aleph Racing 6 6 1 1 2 4 – 20
  3. 🇬🇧 Team Aqua 1 4 7 4 4 1 – 21
  4. 🇸🇪 Artemis Racing 9 3 3 2 3 3 – 23
  5. 🇲🇨Charisma 3 2 6 5 8 2 – 26
  6. 🇸🇮Ceeref powered by Hrastnik 1860 7 7 4 7 5 7 – 37
  7. 🇬🇧 Peninsula Racing 5 5 8 6 7 6 – 37
  8. 🇨🇭Black Star Sailing Team 4 9 5 8 6 8 – 40
  9. 🇴🇲 Team Asyad Shipping 8 8 9 9 9 9 (2) – 54
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