A big part of every RC44 event is the guest programme. Each day, weather permitting, the guests, families and sponsors are invited to board the spectator boat to watch the racing and, if lucky, are transferred onto the back of the RC44 to be a guest sailor during the racing.
With the RC44 Portoroz Cup being hosted jointly by RC44 owners Vladimir Prosikhin and Igor Lah, it is no surprise the hospitality programme in the sunny Slovenian port is chock-a-block with VIP guests this week. One such guest was Mario Lovrič and his colleagues from Hrastnik 1860, one of the best manufacturers of glass in the world.
Having never sailed on board anything more than a cruising yacht before, like most guests, jumping on board an RC44 during racing is a once in a lifetime experience, as Lovrič explains: “When I first saw the boat I thought ‘whoa, this looks a bit scary – I’ll sit in the middle so I’m not too close to the edge’ but the team made me feel really comfortable as they explained that I should just follow what they do.”
On board the 44-foot carbon racing yacht the experience of being a guest sailor is intense. Firstly, there is your position on board; hovering inches from the water on the back of the boat, guests sit in a four-foot space on the detachable scoop. Directly behind the owner at the helm and the tactician by their side, the guest is able to hear every call the pros make and feel how responsive the RC44 is to the touch of the wheel.
The second thing that strikes you as a guest on board is how narrow the RC44 is. Designed to not only be efficient upwind but to also fit into a 40-foot cradle for shipping, it means once racing with eight crew on board finesse is everything. “I was very surprised by how the team works, it’s not until you are on board that you appreciate just how skilled these guys are. It’s a very complex process to get these boats around the race course” Lovrič observes.
Racing with Team Aqua, Lovrič was lucky enough to be with one of the oldest crews in the fleet, having raced together for the past 12 years: “I was surprised how much it feels like you are part of the team – although you can’t do anything sailing-wise, you still have to move side-to-side as the crew does when they tack – you get a really get a sense of the team spirit.”
Lovrič and his fellow Hrastnik 1860 employees have followed the RC44 racing tour for a number of years now in the company newsletter as Hrastnik 1860 owner Lah is also the helm of two times Tour championship winning boat Team CEEREF.
It seems only appropriate then that Hrastnik 1860, which has specialised in making top quality glass product for over 150 years, has designed and built the trophies for the RC44 Portoroz Cup. The unique hand-blown white glass sails are a beautiful prize for the winner of this RC44 event.