The final day of the RC44 Valletta Cup brought sun, but the wind never filled in enough to allow the final races to be sailed, despite the 10 boat fleet venturing out on to the water. And so the final event of the year and the resulting RC44 Fleet Racing Championship have once again concluded with impossibly close results: With Saturday’s positions standing, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua has won the RC44 Valletta Cup by a point from Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF. But with a two point advantage going into this final event, Team CEEREF claims the overall RC44 Fleet Racing Championship title for 2016 by a point from Team Aqua.
Being the longest-standing teams in the RC44 class, it is appropriate that Team Aqua and Team CEEREF should dominate the fleet racing in this 10th anniversary season for the Russell Coutts-inspired one designs. As Team Nika managed in 2015, so this year Team CEEREF scored the coveted ‘double’: Victory in the overall season championship as well as the World Championship, this year held in Sotogrande, Spain.
In fact this year’s World Championship results proved critical to the outcome of the season for the two teams. In calculating the RC44 Fleet Racing Championship final results, each team is permitted one discard, but this excludes the World Championship, which must count. While Team CEEREF’s could discard its worse result – a sixth place in Portsmouth, Team Aqua was unable to shed its sixth place at the Sotogrande World Championship. Had this been possible, they would have finished the 2016 Championship one point ahead of their Slovenian rivals.
In his first full season in the class, Alexander Novoselov’s Katusha finished a creditable third in the RC44 Valletta Cup, but this still left the Russian team three points clear of the final step of the podium in the 2016 championship. This was taken by Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing, winner of the RC44 Cascais Cup in September. On Wednesday the Swedish team also claimed the 2016 RC44 Match Racing Championship title.
Once again emphasising the high level of competition in the RC44 class, Team Aqua was the only campaign to win two events this season.
Just four points separated the fourth to seven placed boats at the final season’s tally, demonstrating how close the racing was even in the mid-fleet and how vital it was to achieve a good result here in Malta.
The RC44s return in 2017 with the RC44 Sotogrande Cup over 27-30 April