With the 2017 RC44 Championship Tour reaching its halfway mark next week, we take a look at how each of the international teams are fairing, as they prepare for this year’s World Championship, hosted in Marstrand, Sweden, over the 10 – 13 August.
Currently topping the annual ranking is John Bassadone’s, Peninsula Petroleum with Italian sailor Vasco Vascotto calling tactics. Taking the early advantage was made a little easier for Peninsula's all Spanish and Italian crew as the first two regattas of the season, in Sotogrande and Porto Cervo, played to their local knowledge strength. However, Marstrand calls for a very different style of sailing to that of the Med.
Mountainous seas can give way to a short chop, and torrential rain can give way to sunshine and a shifty breeze, making Marstrand one of the most “stressful” race courses on the tour. Having never made it onto the podium here before, Peninsula is going to have to rely heavily on their team work to hold on to the ‘golden wheels’ that mark them as the current Championship Tour leader.
Challenger to the 'golden wheels' is second placed Katusha of Alexander Novoselov. Rising through the ranks from mid-fleet this season, we have always known the Russian team were capable of topping the podium, and their efforts finally paid off last month when they won the RC44 Porto Cervo Cup.
Katusha is riding high going into the World Championship event. However, the question is can they repeat their success and hold off the formidable duo of Bronenosec Sailing Team and Team Aqua who currently hold third and fouth place respectively.
Looking back over the five years that the RC44 fleet has been racing in Marstrand there are two teams with a history of outstanding success in the Swedish archipelago. From 2011- 2013 Chris Bake’s, Team Aqua dominated, winning the RC44 Marstrand Cup successively until Bronenosec Sailing Team took the title in 2014 and 2015.
Fast forward to this year's regatta and Bonenosec Sailing Team has a new all Russian crew that is performing well under the joint ownership of Vladimir Liubomirov and Kirill Frolov. During the first two regattas of the season, Frolov took the helm, and the new team scored nine podium positions over 19 races, matching that of leaders Peninsula Petroleum and Katusha. For the World Championship next week, Liubomirov will take the helm, and after winning the 2014 World Championship and the Marstrand Cup in 2015, the team are strong contenders.
After a tough opening event to the season, where the crew struggled with consistency, Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF are currently holding fifth place. As defending Tour and World Champions, this halfway point of the season is important if tactician Adrian Stead wants to have a hope of defending their titles in this competitive fleet.
For Team Nika and Charisma, 2017 started with new tacticians. Team Nika saw the return of Terry Hutchinson, while Charisma was joined by Morgan Reeser. Having both taken podium places at the Marstrand Cup in 2015, this World Championship event will be the time when their tactical changes will need to pay off.
However, if there is any team going into the Marstrand World Championship with confidence, it is that of Artemis Racing and Artemis Racing Youth. It’s been a busy year for both crews with the 35th America’s Cup at the beginning of the year their main focus but now the dust has settled the teams will up their RC44 game.
With owner Torbjorn Tornqvist at the helm of Artemis Racing with Francesco Bruni as tactician and Artemis Racing Youth helmed by Gustaf Lidvall with tactician Freddie Lööf, the teams are easily the favourites amongst the supporters onshore for the World Championship event.
Returning to the Swedish sailing mecca for the sixth year the RC44 Marstrand Cup will be a cause for great celebration on the picturesque island not only for the RC44 fleet but also for the Dragon and C55 fleet who will also be racing over the same weekend.
Join us on www.rc44.com to follow the racing live with the first start Thursday 10 August, 12.00 CET.