Thirteenth season for RC44 Class

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Nine RC44 teams are set to make their debut April 10-14 for the first event of the newly christened 44Cup on the beautiful waters of Kotor Bay, Montenegro. Now it thirteenth season, the season series matches amateur helmsmen with professional crews in the 5-stage international circuit.

While the majority of teams have retained the same crew as last year, a few key changes promise to mix things up. Entering the fray for the 2019 season are a fresh crop of tacticians: Tom Slingsby takes over from Dean Barker on defending World Champion Team Nika and Ed Baird joins Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team, replacing long term tactician Vasco Vascotto.

Slingsby, the former Oracle Team USA tactician and London 2012 Laser gold medallist, notes how owner driver circuits place a real challenge on communication. “The full professional programs are usually unbelievably quiet boats because you know what people are thinking, but the semi-pro teams place a huge importance on good communication skills.”

Team Aqua’s tactician Cameron Appleton recognized how none of the sailors have previous experience at the venue. “The racing area is in a beautiful bay surrounded by massive mountains so we are expecting flat water and lighter shifty winds. This becomes tricky as no one will have a clear advantage.”

Returning regulars, with only small changes to their crew line-up and looking to monopolize on their consistency, include long term favorites Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, Vladimir Liubomirov and Kirill Frolov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team and Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing.

However, in 2018 the teams topping the leaderboard showed surprisingly little consistency. Nico Poon’s Charisma won the 2018 season by a single point over Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika and Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF.

Throughout 2018, both Poons and Prosikhin struggled desperately with consistency and only prevailed in the final event of the season. Going into the new season Poons, again like Prosikhin, will be struggling as he too takes on a change in tactician, as American team coach and Olympic 470 silver medallist Morgan Reeser steps into the role left open by Kiwi America’s Cup legend Ray Davies.

“Our main challenge for 2019 is not the other teams but the change of our tactician and one of the key crew member (Sean Clarkson) who’s also left for the America’s Cup. Nothing can be predicted!” said Prosikhin.

Perhaps these crew changes will create a chink in the armor that will allow back in one of the strongest teams in the fleet and the kings of consistency, Team CEEREF.

The only crew to glean a fraction more experience over the rest of the fleet in terms of the 2019 44Cup’s first venue is the newest: Tavatuy Sailing Team. Having joined the fleet for a single regatta in 2018, they have committed to the 44Cup for the full season and in preparation have already put in a week of training in Montenegro.

“We were lucky with the weather in February and we were able to do a good training session in the strong north-east Bora wind,” notes boat captain Sergejs Filatovs. “It is a beautiful marina and I’m sure the other teams will be as impressed as we were.”

44Cup Events Schedule 2019
44Cup Porto Montenegro – Montenegro – April 10 to 14
Adris 44Cup – Croatia – May 29 to June 2
44Cup Marstrand – Sweden – July 9 to 13
44Cup Cascais – Portugal – October 2 to 6
44Cup Palma – Spain – Nov 13 to 17

About the RC44 boat
Five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts conceived the design of the light-displacement, high-performance one-design RC44 with naval architect Andrej Justin in 2005. Created for top level one design racing in international regattas under strictly controlled Class Rules, the concept and design features of the RC44 are aimed at the amateur helmsmen with professional crews. For its thirteenth season in 2019, the RC44 Championship Tour was rebranded the 44Cup.

Source: Event Media / sailingscuttlebutt

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