Report 44Cup Marstrand 2023
44Cup Marstrand, 28 June – 2 July 2023, Marstrand, Sweden
For the second regatta of the 44Cup 2023 we flew from hot and sunny Portugal directly to the cool north to Sweden. We were of course aware that the weather would not be the same as in the south. But landing in Gothenburg with rain and almost 13 degrees was a shock after 38 degrees and sun on Sunday in Lagos. Fortunately, the more we got closer to the sea, the less it rained on the way to Marstrand. Marstrand welcomed us dry but cool. The yacht was already in the water when we arrived and we immediately helped with the finishing work so that we could start training the next morning. During dinner at the hotel, we discussed the coming days and our goals.
After the somewhat disappointing result for us in Oman, we wanted to finally achieve that, if possible, we would no longer “sail behind”, but would finally actively compete in the field. One thing we learned from the 44Cup Oman was that we were not sailing as fast as our competitors on the downwind courses. The problem could finally be found out together in the material. For this reason, we had obtained a new spinnaker for the 44Cup Marstrand. In addition, we decided that Grégoire would take over the spinnaker trim and swap positions with Will. The first training sessions on the water were positive. Among other things, it became clear that the new spinnaker, which was cut differently, performed much better.
Regatta with a lot of wind
Our memories of last year’s regatta were that Marstrand can offer quite challenging conditions. After the practice sessions, we started the first race on Thursday also dry, but with good wind. We coped well with the conditions and were actually able to achieve our goal of sailing in the field. Due to the weather forecast, four races were sailed on the first day, which turned out to be a good decision.
Friday morning brought more wind than announced even in the harbour. With waves over three metres high in the regatta area, the race committee decided early on to cancel the regatta for Friday.
On Saturday, the wind and waves were more moderate again, so we were sent out on the water early to sail four races again. We had our best day ever sailed in the RC44 class, finishing 8th, 5th, 3rd and 3rd place respectively. We were not only able to fight in the field, but also to improve and maintain our position in the ranking.
With the 6th place at the 44Cup Marstrand, we also say goodbye to the last place in the annual ranking for the moment. But the most important thing for us is that we managed to move forward again and that we are obviously optimising and improving in the right places.
In our RC44 photo gallery you will find more pictures of this regatta. (And as always, you can find the detailed results on the official 44Cup website.)
Test sailing for the RC44 World Championship in Cowes
In order to be as well prepared as possible to travel to the World Championships in Cowes, we looked for opportunities to train close to the venue. Due to its shape as a strait, the Solent is known for creating special conditions, which have to be taken into account when sailing, in addition to strong winds, especially due to the tides. The flow in the side arm of the English Channel is sometimes so strong that it has a considerable influence on manoeuvres and tactics.
The opportunity arose to sail on a Cape 31 yacht. And to take part in a (for us) fun regatta. The Cape31 yacht is a bit smaller than our RC44 Black Star and is steered with a tiller. It was important to us that we could improve commands and procedures as a team, especially in the manoeuvres. And of course we wanted to better explore sailing in the wind in the notorious drift.
The forecast for the regatta days was cool, wet and windy. Unfortunately, it was so windy that there was no sailing on Saturday, because the wind speeds were over 55 km/h. Sunday was the starting signal, with a little less wind. The fact that all our instruments failed shortly after leaving the harbour was certainly not a disadvantage. So we couldn’t be “afraid” because we didn’t know exactly how strong the wind actually was. But the whitecaps and the swell told us that it was damn windy. Without instruments, we had to sail the yacht by feel. Just like in the old days. We quickly learned to control the boat, to find the right sail setting in the waves and the strong winds, and were eventually sailing briskly even on the downwind course. The manoeuvres were carried out carefully, but visibly with confidence, so as not to cause any damage to the rented boat.
Unfortunately, due to the challenging weather conditions, there was no second Cape31 yacht in the field, so we lacked a direct comparison. We finished the regatta in 5th place according to a calculated ranking. Of the 18 yachts entered, only 9 were still competing until the end.
With this experience, we hope to have taken another step towards the next successful regatta on the RC44 yacht, and to be able to keep up well at the upcoming 44Cup World Championship.