RC 44 Championship: Yachting's Premier Fleet Is Back in Action

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2009

The RC 44 Championship fleet is back in action, with the Puerto Calero, Islas Canarias RC 44 Cup, the 2009 season’s first regatta which starts this Wednesday Feb. 25. The RC 44 Cup will begin with two days of match racing, followed by three days of fleet racing. The regatta will wrap up on Sunday with The double points DHL coastal race.

Some of the World’s best teams and sailors will once again take part in the RC 44 Championship, making it one of the world’s leading sailing events. The list includes such yachting luminaries as Torbjorn Tornqvist / Dean Barker on the Artemis and BMW ORACLE Racing’s Russell Coutts and many more.

The RC 44 is a light displacement high performance One Design sailing boat. It was designed by three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts, together with naval architect Andrej Justin.

The RC 44 was created to be the pinnacle of racing in international regattas under stringently controlled Class Rules. The concept and the design features of the RC 44 are committed to the amateur helmsmen racing in fleet racing sailing events.

The intention of the Class is to develop a high level and entertaining racing program and to keep the fixed one design aspect of the RC 44 by ensuring that all boats are as indistinguishable as possible in terms of manufacture, shape of hull and appendages, weight and weight distribution, deck layout and equipment, sail plan and performance.

“Our focus is on the teams”, says Class manager Bertrand Favre. “Our goal is to support them as well as we can, for example by coordinating the transport of the boats, announcing the dates and venues a long time ahead, and providing an exciting program both on the water and on land.”

“We wanted to include a degree of complexity so an owner can experience what a top-end race boat is like to sail, and it delivers on that”, explains Russell Coutts. “Yet we also wanted it to be easy to own – you can race this boat in summer and if you wish put it away relatively easily in winter.”

"While the RC 44 have some distinctive America's Cup features, they are light-displacement, high performance racers and designed to sail with eight person crew, or for a professional match racing format they could be sailed by just six crew.

"When we started to formulate this concept I wanted to create a boat that would be exciting to sail downwind and powerful in light winds because most of the harbor and lake sailing is staged at lighter wind venues.  I also wanted a boat that could be sailed short-handed with a deck layout incorporating many non-standard adjustments."

Intended strictly for racing with a potent sail plan, the RC 44 was designed for either match racing or day sailing fleet races. The boat is targeted at the day sailor who wishes to sail a high performance one-design class. 

It has no comforts for cruising, and with a large open cockpit, a fairly narrow beam and the huge sail plan it produces a lot of excitement. The philosophy was to create something special for the racing sailor.

The class rules and the construction of the boat are being tightly controlled to protect the one-design concept and reduce development costs for participants. For fleet racing, it will be an owner driver class with strict limitations on the number of professional crew.

The 2009 RC 44 champions will be crowned on Nov. 29 in Dubai, UAE at the end of the RC 44 Gold Cup.  With six international regattas, some of the world's greatest sailors and new teams joining the Class, the third RC 44 Championship Tour will be one of sailing’s crowning international events of 2009.