The Redline Racing team has just won the Grade 3 Riga Cup in Latvia in front of a packed river bank during the Riga City Festival! The regatta was held on the Daugava River in the middle of Riga and with the added hype of the city festival, it made for a spectacular sailing venue. The competition for the top few places was very stiff with the experienced Mati Sepp from Estonia (Word Ranked 22), Olli-Peka Lumijarvi (World Ranked 23) who had World Tour Helmsman Phil Robertson as Tactician and some Latvian teams had the local knowledge of the boats and the river.
The regatta started with a round robin and our first opponent was Mati Sepp. We knew it was to be a tough race with a short course, 3 laps and super shifty wind. Sepp got the better of us on the start and we trailing all the way around until the last upwind where we managed to put a few shifts together and get close enough to put a penalty on him and win the race. This big win for the boys gave us confidence and confidence we kept going onto win the rest of the races that day. That night was the main celebration of the Riga City Festival and with well over half of Latvia’s population living in the city it the biggest event of the year for Latvia. It was much like Australia day with celebrations all throughout the city which included a 24 hour basketball game, stages setup all around the city and some amazing fireworks at night.
The next day dawned and with still half the round robin to get through as well as finals it was always going to be tough to complete the schedule. The wind again was a little temperamental and as the day drew on it became more obvious the finals series would have to be shortened some what. We finished the round robin with 9 wins from 9 and we were advised that we would go straight to the final and petit final with a winner takes all race against Mati Sepp.
The wind was becoming more unstable as the day went on and this as evident in the prestart. We managed to put a penalty on Sepp with a port startboard incident close to the river wall. With the light wind though we weren’t able to quickly turn back around and lost control of him with about 2 minutes left before the start.
We managed to work or way back into the tussle and started relatively evenly. Coming off the line we were a little slow to respond the first shift which meant we were behind by about 10 metres at the first mark. With the very unstable wind we were left in some light wind as we rounded and by the bottom mark Sepp was almost far enough ahead to clear his penalty turn. After rounding the bottom he team linked two shifts together in quick succession to bring them back into the race half way up the last upwind. Again though the wind at the top of the course proved tricky and Sepp opened up a lead that would again allow him to clear his penalty turn but a mistake from him, sailing too low out of the mark meant he caught him above us at the starboard layline, giving us right of way as he got too close. He was then given another penalty which would have meant he had to do one straight away but an interesting umpire decision a few seconds later gave us a penalty, cancelling his out and meant he still only had his one to do but it left him very slow his spinnaker everywhere. We quickly sailed to the top mark and set our spinnaker and chased him downwind. As we got to the finish Sepp went for his penalty spin right on the finish line but slowed and came out on port. Being on starboard and right of way we aimed straight at him and then had to avoid him right on the line. The umpires displayed his blue flag giving him a penalty and us the race and the regatta!
It was an incredibly tight race, one to remember for the team! It is not the way we like to win races but it is nice to know we can pull it out of the hat when we need to. Now the boys are in Vassa, Finland for the Grade 2 Wasa Match Cup on J22s. With a Latitude of 63⁰ North, we are as far north as we have ever been, only 3⁰ off the Arctic Circle, we are looking forward to wearing our new Musto gear from Musto Australasia!
Also, our new world ranking released after our last event in Helsinki is 62! And with the next release counting our result in Riga, it is only going to continue to rise! Stay posted for updates!
Here is the link to Riga Cup event page on Facebook for more photos and results or search Riga Cup "Latvian Match Race Association": https://www.facebook.com/LatvianMatchRaceAssociation.
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