by Jessica Gray
RC44 Championship Tour 2011 guarantees high-octane racing as some of the biggest names in both international sailing and global business join forces for the opening round in San Diego, California from 2 - 6 March.
After their inaugural event in the US in Miami at the end of the 2010 season and an outing at Key West Race Week, the class is now heading west to make its début at the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego. Eleven RC44 teams representing nine nations are gearing up for this first event in the 2011 RC44 Championship.
The RC44 class was conceived and co-designed by four-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts. With a 50:50 split between amateurs and professionals in the crew line-up, the class attracts some of the world’s leading business minds as their owner-drivers along with many of the world’s top sailors.
Racing will take place over five days in San Diego, with four days’ of fleet racing where the boats can only be driven by their owner, and one day of match racing when the pro sailors can get their chance to shine at the helm.
Among the top sailors set to compete on the 2011 RC44 Championship Tour are class designer Russell Coutts (NZL), American yachting legend Paul Cayard and San Diego native son Rod Davis, Audi MedCup winners Morgan Larson (USA) and Jose Maria Ponce (ESP), Olympic Gold medalist Kevin Burnham (USA), along with some of the world’s top match racing talent including Cameron Appleton (NZL).
The 2011 RC44 Championship Tour takes in six venues, including in Austria, France, Sweden, and Spain, before coming to a close with the 2011 RC44 World Championships in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands in November.
With Larry Ellison’ Oracle Racing team winning the 2010 RC44 Championship at a thrilling Miami showdown in December, each of the 2011 teams – established and new - will be vying to topple Oracle from its throne.
The Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego marks a poignant return to the city for Coutts, who won the first of his four historic America’s Cup titles at the venue in 1995. He believes the 2011 RC44 Championship Tour is gearing up to be the most compelling and closely-fought yet. He said: 'Last year’s Championship came down to the wire in Miami and with more owners coming into the class, the level and intensity of the competition is going to be greater than ever. It’s always great to race in San Diego, it will be a natural amphitheatre those watching from onshore. I’m looking forward to a great regatta.'
The Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego will be run by Sailing Events Association San Diego (SEA SD), which promotes major sailboat racing in San Diego Bay for the benefit of the local economy. Racing will take place directly in front of the magnificent new, spectator friendly Port Pavilion at the Broadway Pier, giving fans the chance to really get close to the action.
'All of San Diego is looking forward to great racing on San Diego Bay,' said JJ Fetter, Olympic silver medalist and Event Coordinator for the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego.
'We are excited about having the RC44 Class help showcase our gorgeous new Event Village site at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, which is an ideal venue for world-class racing. This will be a unique opportunity to see such high-caliber America's Cup talent, like Russell Coutts, Paul Cayard and Rod Davis, return to do battle on San Diego Bay, and we will be encouraging the public to come and watch the action for free from the Broadway Pier.'
The RC44 Championship Tour was launched in 2007 and in its first four seasons visited multiple venues across Europe, the Middle East and USA.
RC 44 website