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Thread: Weathering The Weather in In Porto Montenegro

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    Weathering The Weather in In Porto Montenegro




    eams CEEREF and Nika make the best in torrential Montenegro conditions
    While the forecasts had looked glum and windless, the Bay of Kotor somehow allowed PRO Peter Reggio and the race committee successfully to lay on two races on the opening day of the 44Cup Porto Montenegro.

    Having been delayed for an hour and a half tied up to the dock off the Regent Porto Montenegro hotel, several teams headed out into the lake-like bay, not expecting to race, but to practice on the winds ahead of a squall line. Ultimately this southwesterly breeze held, albeit backing severely, for one race before dying on the final run. An hour later, a solid southerly filled in just long enough for PRO Peter Reggio to pull the rabbit out of the hat again, despite the tops of the surrounding mountains being obscured by low cloud and the rain turning torrential.










    Race one saw Igor Lah's Team CEEREF doing well on the right up the first beat to lead around the top mark from Team Nika. The wind backing hard, caused the boats to reach the leeward gate without gybing, however up the second beat the two leaders separated and, doing better on the left, Team Nika managed to bounce Team CEEREF back to the right to take the lead at the top mark. This Team Nika held to the finish as the breeze continued to clock left and fade with Nico Poon's Charisma moving up to second at the line.

    After a pause, the new southerly breeze had piped up to 15 knots for race two. In this there was an equal split up the first beat and following a considerable number of port-starboard incidents coming into the top mark, it was John Bassadone's Peninsula Petroleum that emerged ahead with Team Nika once again doing well in second. Ultimately with the wind again going left, several boats gybed early on the final run, a move that enabled Team CEEREF and Team Aqua to overhaul the leaders and take first and second in the race's closing stages.











    As Team CEEREF tactician Adrian Stead explained of their resounding final run: "We had kept it close, snapping at their heels up the second beat and when we came around we were a little bit lifted and had a good gap to fourth so we were happy to step down and get a little separation. In the end it headed 30° down the run and both Team Aqua and Bronenosec also made gains from that: Aqua especially went from sixth to second. Sailing here is about setting yourself up so that you have a chance to gain, but you don't make a big loss."

    Team Nika's Vladimir Prosikhin shared his side of that last run: "We were a bit unlucky but Team CEEREF took some risk and gybed earlier and got some nice shifts or puffs and ended up ahead. It is normal in these conditions that nothing is guaranteed.

    "The puffs were bigger than usual with the clouds and that made it more tricky, but it was normal sailing. In those conditions visibility can become limited, but it was good enough. We could see the marks and the other competitors."

    This season Team Nika has another new tactician following on from the likes of Russell Coutts, Ed Baird, Terry Hutchinson and Dean Barker. Now in this role is Australian Laser gold medallist turned America's Cup and SailGP sailor Tom Slingsby. "It was great," said Slingsby of his first day racing with Team Nika. "The racing was super tight. We had some luck go our way. In the second race we got a poor start and got to the right and it ended up our way and we rounded second. But it is going to be like that this regatta when it is so shifty and patchy – don't rip up your tickets because there will be always plenty more positions to gain!"

    On a day when the rain was causing tell tales to stick to sails being a Laser Olympic gold medallist was certainly an advantage.












    Also having their first day of racing on the 44Cup was Pavel Kuznetsov's Tavatuy Sailing Team. Calling tactics on board is top Russian match racer Evgeny Neugodnikov: "We had a nice day because we spent all the time in the middle of the fleet, all of the time fighting." Being new to the RC44 also means they have yet to feel the pressure to perform: "We are a little relaxed and we feel freer – if we make a mistake it is easier."

    After two races, the PRO sensed his luck was running out and sent the boats in. Despite the major shifts, the leaderboard is remarkably close after day one with Team CEEREF a mere point ahead of Team Nika with Peninsula Petroleum a further two astern.

    "It was difficult today," said Team CEEREF's Igor Lah. "I didn't lose my grip but I was really cold. I am pleased there wasn't a third race!"

    Stead added of their opening day: "Getting two top threes was a real result. There weren't many ways back if you got into trouble. There is a lot more for us to do."

    Racing is due to start tomorrow for day two of the 44Cup Porto Montenegro at 1130.


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    Bay of Kotor Antics Put Slovenian Team In Lead




    Team Aqua top scorer on day two of 44Cup Porto Montenegro
    While the sun was out and the rain held off, Porto Montenegro presented a challenging second day of 44Cup racing, starting in 10 knots and building to 20 by the close of play mid-afternoon. A light patch around the committee boat helped create nail-biting photo finishes in two of today's three races.

    Igor Lah's Team CEEREF comfortably won race two and holds the lead overall by two points at this halfway stage of the 44Cup Porto Montenegro.

    Kirill Frolov's Bronenosec Sailing Team appeared to have the first race squared away, with a massive lead on the final run, only for her gennaker to blow up. Frolov explained: "It wasn't a good hoist at the second top mark. We went higher than we should have done and we were left with some big holes in the genniker. It was fine on starboard but when we gybed it was terrible." Anticipating there might be a problem, they were all set up to peel only to discover that the spinnaker halyard was jammed at the masthead.

    As Bronenosec's Kiwi tactician Cameron Dunn observed: "We got a massive header during the hoist, that caused the halyard jump the sheave. With the rips in the chute we thought we had a big enough lead to sail conservatively and do the run in one gybe. Unfortunately after we gybed it only lasted about 30 seconds…" The Russian team salvaged a fifth but then had to send a crew aloft to release the halyard and drop the head of the blown sail.











    This left John Bassadone's Peninsula Petroleum to win the lunge for the line ahead of Chris Bake's Team Aqua.

    "It was a little bit of the nature of here," expounded Bassadone of his welcome victory. "Conditions are very shifty, very tricky so you have you stick with it and, as Ed [Baird – Peninsula Petroleum's new tactician] keeps telling us 'be patient, be patient'. It was premeditated to delay gybing and we found more pressure but also more space to accelerate and managed to nip in ahead at the end."

    While Peninsula Petroleum is the only team so far with no result deeper than a fifth, today's best score came from Chris Bake's Team Aqua on which keelboat legend Peter Morton was helming, today being only his second ever in the high performance one design class. Team Aqua's 2-4-1 made her best scoring boat, elevating her to second overall ahead of Peninsula Petroleum.

    Morton, who aside from reigniting the Quarter Ton class and dominating the first two seasons in the FAST 40+ class has campaigned in most of the top one design and box rule classes over the last decades, observed of the 44Cup: "The racing is amazing. I haven't steered a boat with a wheel for 12 years, apart from a couple of superyachts! The Team Aqua crew is fantastic and there lots of coaching, which is good.

    "Today it wasn't a case of anyone being particularly outstanding," he continued. "You'd get a couple of little puffs but two boat lengths here can mean four or five boats. I enjoyed it. I'd love to do some more." Tomorrow Chris Bake returns to steer.












    eam Aqua tactician Cameron Appleton was also pleased with their performance. "It hasn't been easy as the fleet is so tight. You get ahead and the others come down with new pressure. And the beats weren't exactly straightforward, but we improved as the day went on. We had great starts over the last two days which has allowed us to do what we needed to do."

    In race three they won by prevailing in a three way photo finish alongside Hugues Lepic's Aleph Racing and Tavatuy Sailing Team, who remain on a steep learning curve at this, their second ever 44Cup event.

    "We all piled into the finish line together holding our breath to see who came out on top," recounted Appleton.

    As with Bronenosec in race one, so in the third race Aleph Racing saw victory slip through their fingers. Tactician Michele Ivaldi explained: "In these conditions you need a bit of luck. We had some in the first beat when we chose the better [right] side of the course. But downwind when you sail into less wind, it is tricky. We tried to defend. At the finish we could have been fourth but we managed to sneak a second."

    With two days of racing left, just three points separate the lead trio, but there is a now a significant seven point gap back to Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika, now holding fourth place after a disappointing day. To make matters worse Team Nika has both their two time Melges 32 World Championship winning compatriots on Tavatuy Sailing Team and Nico Poons' Charisma nipping at their heels, within two points of them.

    Conditions look equally promising tomorrow when racing is due to start at 11:30.










    44CUP PORTO MONTENEGRO
    POS NAT TEAM POINTS
    1 Slovenia SLO TEAM CEEREF 15
    2 United Kingdom GBR TEAM AQUA 17
    3 United Kingdom GBR PENINSULA PETROLEUM 18
    4 Russia RUS TEAM NIKA 25
    5 Russia RUS TAVATUY SAILING TEAM 26
    6 Monaco MON CHARISMA 27
    7 France FRA ALEPH RACING 31
    8 Russia RUS BRONENOSEC SAILING 31
    9 Sweden SWE ARTEMIS RACING 35




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