With its strict one-design format the RC44 class is as level a playing field as you could wish to find in international yacht racing.
The Tour is made up of two elements – one day of match racing where the pro skippers or owner drivers get their chance to shine at the helm and four days of owner helmed fleet racing.
Great venues across the globe are chosen for their excellent sailing conditions, create a racecourse that is often demanding of the helm. Fast tracking their amateur experience to a level where the owner/drivers can compete in the match racing on the same level as the professional sailors.
Chris Bake, owner of Team Aqua and five times RC44 Tour champion, comments on the secret behind his teams success "We spend a lot of time on boat set up and getting the boat in good condition for racing, knowing there are no equipment issues allows us to really focus on boat speed and crew work.”
The RC44 Championship Tour 2016 comprises five events and at the end of the Tour series two champions are crowned:
1) RC44 Fleet Racing Championship Tour champion
2) RC44 Match Racing Championship Tour champion
How the scoring works
With the team owners at the helm, and the pros calling tactics, the fleet racing events are very short, intense and action-packed races with a target time of 40 minutes, with boats frequently separated by just seconds at the finish line.
There are generally three to four fleet races a day, depending on weather conditions, and no discard meaning every single race counts. The fleet racing takes place on a windward-leeward course, with a dog leg at the windward mark and a gate at the leeward mark.
Points are allocated on the standard ISAF ‘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 Class also has the option to introduce a long distance race during a fleet racing series. These races are often two-to-three hours long, with teams sometimes given the challenge to circumnavigate nearby islands and landmarks.
The final RC44 Fleet Racing Championship Tour champion is determined by adding together every team’s four best fleet racing scores from the five events, with the lowest score winning.
Match racing is compelling to watch and a race can be won or lost before the start signal has even been sounded so important and exciting is the pre-start.
With either the pros or the owner/drivers at the wheel, boats go head-to-head in a rolling round robin format throughout the five events, with the rankings based on the number of victories and losses each team picks up.
The match racing contests are held on a windward-leeward course with one gate at the leeward mark.
The RC44 World Championship
The first ISAF-ratified RC44 World Championship took place at Puerto Caleros, Lanzarote in October 2010 and was won by the combined force of Anders Myralf and James Spithill on ‘17’.
Current World Champions Russian Team Nika’s title will be up for grabs at the RC44 Sotogrande World Championships in May, the second event of the 2016 season.
Points scored at the World Championship count as normal towards the final Tour rankings but the overall winner of the event also walks away with the prestigious title of RC44 World Champion.