by Jo Grindley
The RC44 fleet will be welcomed by the turquoise waters of Virgin Gorda, for the opening event of the 2014 season from 12-16 February; nine teams out of the fourteen strong fleet will compete at the opening Championship Tour event.
RC44 Championship 2013 - Calero Marinas
The Virgin Gorda Cup will kick off with a day of match racing, where either the professional tactician or owner can take the helm. The remaining four days will be fleet racing, with the addition of a long distance race on the Friday that will see the teams complete a windward leeward in the Sound before racing 25 nautical miles around the island. A typically sailing day in Virgin Gorda sees 15-20 knot winds from the northeast, perfect racing conditions for the highly competitive one design fleet.
Dominating the leaderboard for the third consecutive year, Team Aqua will once again start the season as the defending Tour Champions; after an outstanding year in 2013, Chris Bake’s team took home both the match and fleet racing title.
Hot on the heels of Team Aqua in 2013 was Valentin Zavadnikov’s Synergy Russian Sailing Team. Tactician Ed Baird (USA) is calling tactics for the otherwise all Russian team again this season and will be planning to go one better this season after finishing runner up in both the fleet and match racing last year.
New to the class for 2014 is the Italian team Bombarda Racing, owned by Andera Pozzi , who are sailing with an all Italian crew led by tactician Gabriele Benussi. Also joining the fleet as helmsman of Russia’s Team Katusha will be Vladimir Sokolov; despite this being his first experience of yacht racing, Vladimir is a keen sportsman, avid tennis player and has extensive experience in motor and car racing, calling the shots for Katusha this year will be America’s Andy Horton.
Stepping back into the fleet will be class founder Russell Coutts onboard Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika for the Virgin Gorda Cup. 'Having the event hosted by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda is going to be spectacular. The competition within the fleet is phenomenal and with a new season beginning I’m looking forward to getting on the water with Team Nika.'
The Virgin Gorda Cup has been supported by Moorings Yacht Charter, racing will be run out of the beautiful Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, with their race team supporting the classes very own Principal Race Officer, Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio.
Racing runs from Wednesday 12th February for five days through to Sunday 16th.