The RC44 Championship Tour will return to Malta, between the 23rd and 27th November for the grand finale of the 2016 season, the RC44 Valletta Cup.
So far this season we have seen a fleet of 11 international teams, helmed by the world’s top businessmen alongside 77 world-class sailors, battled it out in Bermuda, Sotogrande (Spain), Portsmouth (UK) and Cascais (Portugal) for their position on the leaderboard going into the final held here on Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
About the RC44
Now in its tenth year, the RC44 Class is as level a playing field as one could wish for in international yacht racing due to its strict one-design Monohull format. The Tour is made up of two elements – one day of match racing where the pro skippers get their chance to shine at the helm and four days of owner (amateur) helmed fleet racing.
The RC44’s iconic design presents an exciting sailing challenge, with the crews expected to hike like a sports boat and grind as one would on a keelboat, it is an incredibly physical boat to sail and spectacular to watch.
Each team is made up of eight sailors on board, supported by their respective shore crews, management teams, coaches, and other personnel.
The 2016 Championship Tour so far
Everything will be determined in Malta.
With both the match and fleet racing 2016 titles up for grabs in this highly competitive fleet, the RC44 Valletta Cup is sure to be a nail-biting end to the season.
With just seven points separating the top seven boats, and every one of the team capable of making it onto the podium, Malta promises to be the closest fought final in RC44 history.
Currently at the top of the fleet racing leaderboard, Igor Lah’s Team Ceeref (SLO) are on seven points closely followed by Chris Bake’s Team Aqua (GBR) two points behind in second. Artemis Racing (SWE) round up the leaderboard one point adrift in third with defending 2015 champions Team Nika (RUS) tied on 12 points in fourth with Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) in fifth.
The match racing is equally tight with Team Nika (RUS) and Artemis Racing (SWE) tied on 14 points in first and second respectfully. However, they are chased by a pack of three, Bronenosec Sailing Team (RUS), Team CEEREF (SLO) and Team Aqua (GBR), each on 11 points and vying for first place.
Founded by five times America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts, the Class reads a who’s who of sailing’s greatest achievers, from America’s Cup legends to Olympic champions, the top names to have embraced the RC44 Class since inception include - Iain Percy, Cameron Appleton, Vasco Vascotto, Ed Baird, Paul Goodison, James Spithill, Paul Cayard, Brad Butterworth, Tom Slingsby and Terry Hutchinson – some of these famous names expected to be on the crew list in November.
From a business perspective some of the boat owners are some of the world’s business leaders, the movers and shakers in their industries – financial services, oil and commodities, retail estate - Torbjörn Törnqvist , Chris Bake, John Bassadone, Gustav Lidvall, Igor Lah and Vladimir Proshikhin are just a few of the owners that race in the fleet.
Chris Bake, owner of Team Aqua and winner of the past four consecutive RC44 Championship Tours, commented: "I think the class provides a winning formula. On a relative basis it's affordable for the level of sailing you are doing, the racing format is highly enjoyable, the members of the class make it a lot of fun. It’s a good class with great people and it’s very competitive so it's very challenging for anyone coming into the fleet."
Race management is in the capable hands of Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio, who has ticked the boxes on all of the big regattas - America’s Cup, Olympics, TP52 MedCup, RC44 Championship Tour, Farr 40 Worlds, Melges 24 Worlds. His unique expertise and reputation for fairness makes him a popular choice. He will be joined by renowned mark layers and a team of seven umpires of international standing led by Italian Marco Mercuriali.
For an island with a maritime history spanning thousands of years and boasting of the one of the finest ‘natural harbours in the World, Malta has become a fitting choice to host high calibre events like the RC44 Valletta Cup.
Hubert Detrey, RC44 Class Hospitality Manager, currently in Malta in a pre-event visit, explained why Valletta was chosen:
“The RC44 Class is unique in that it is very much driven by the owners and so there are a two key elements they are looking for. Firstly the conditions for racing here are very good. Malta is considered to be the wind factory of the Mediterranean and with the warm climate the owners enjoy the fast pace racing Malta offers. Secondly, the hospitality in Malta has been incomparable both from the local organising authority as well as all the stakeholders involved – all have made our teams and support crews very welcome”.
Follow the racing
Following the racing couldn’t be simpler. For the boat-vs-boat match racing on the 23rd November, it is a simple game of wins and losses. With the highest score over the 2016 season to be crowed the match racing champion.
The best viewing points for the match racing will be Valletta Waterfront, Upper and Lower Barakka.
For the Fleet racing from the 24th – 27th November, points are allocated on the standard World Sailing ‘low point system’, so the boat that comes first in a race gets one point, second gets two points etc. The team with the fewest points at the end of each event is that event’s fleet racing winner.
The best viewing points for the fleet racing will be from Sliema seafronts.
You can also follow online with the live race commentary and GPS race tracking at www.rc44.com
The RC44 Valletta Cup will be immediately followed by the Yacht Racing Forum, the leading annual conference for the business of sailing and yacht racing, from the 28-29 November in Malta.