Good wind conditions were predicted as the RC44 fleet returned to the picturesque island of Marstrand for the seventh time, and Artemis Racing’s Torbjorn Tornqvist was looking forward to racing on home waters in Sweden: “The sailing conditions and weather always make for exciting sailing, and Marstrand itself is a wonderful place,” commented Tornqvist.
With tricky and unstable wind conditions to contend with on the first day of racing, good starts and early speed up the beat were key to success.
"It's about having a good enough start and being good enough to hold for three minutes off the line on starboard tack. If you can do that, all but two or three other boats won't be able to live with you and, when you tack, you will be in the top few. So it's a combination of a good start and being on the pace straight away," commented Iain Percy, double Olympic champion and mainsail trim for the week.
Artemis Racing finished the first day in sixth overall, a result that would have been better but for an incident at the top mark in the last race when the boat fell into irons and fouled the mark. But the Englishman was looking forward to more chances to climb up the rankings.
"It's all very close," he said. "They are great boats – they go in light winds and then they are a handful in the breeze."
Torbjorn Tornqvist’s dark blue RC44, with the American Star sailor Andy Horton on tactics, was the top boat on the second day of the class’s Marstrand Cup.
In sparkling conditions on Marstrand Fjord, Artemis Racing scored a race win in the first heat of the day and followed that up with a second place and a fourth in race six of the scheduled 12-race series.
Tornqvist, who has been racing in this class for 10 years, said some new crew members this year has given the team “fresh eyes” on the racecourse, and his team has been looking at all aspects of its game, to good effect.
“We have worked through what we can do better and it looks like we have found a bit of extra speed definitely upwind, for sure, which was where we were struggling, particularly in the breeze,” said Tornqvist.
Artemis Racing continued their progressive form on a closely-fought third day off Sweden's west coast, moving from second place to first overall after nine races.
The dark blue-hulled, all-carbon one-design, with Törnqvist on the wheel, scored a third place in the first race of the day – then second in race eight, and recovered well to finish fifth in race nine when they briefly dropped from first to eighth at the leeward mark.
Stu Bettany, the veteran Kiwi Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup sailor who is manning the pit on Artemis Racing, said the team had got the boat moving nicely.
"We are pretty happy – the boat is going well and we feel very comfortable with our speed upwind. And downwind it's good, so we've got back into the mix. It's great racing in this class – everyone is so close – it's good fun," he said.
Bettany emphasized that the gameplan for the last day was to keep going consistently and avoid mistakes. "You can't always win," he said, "but as long as you can be in the top three or four in each race then you are going to end up at the top of the leaderboard. So that's what we are looking at – just keeping it clean and no penalties and things like that."
After a highly competitive week, the regatta result came down to the last run of the 12th and final race, in sparkling sunshine off Sweden’s west coast.
After battling his way to the top of the leaderboard, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis Racing started the day in first place, two points ahead of Charisma, and began the final day in perfect fashion, claiming an emphatic win, well over a minute ahead of the rest of the fleet.
However a seventh in the penultimate race, meant that Artemis Racing needed to put a boat between them and Charisma in the final race, to win the title.
In the end the boats finished in line astern, with Charisma following the transom of Artemis Racing as they slalomed downwind. They were sixth and fifth respectively in a race won by Team Nika, which left them tied on 48 points, but with Charisma taking the honours on countback.
Tornqvist was disappointed not to have prevailed but loved the nip and tuck racing that had characterised a great week in Marstrand for this hugely competitive class. “Anything could have happened today and anything did happen,” he said. “It was close – it was so close.”
However, the Swede was positive about the way his dark blue boat had been going: “We have enjoyed good racing – we are very happy. We are going into the world championships on a high note – the boat is going really well, we feel,” he said.
The RC44 Class World Championship is next on the schedule, taking place in Cascais, Portugal, in September.