Friday, 14 January 2011

RC44: The RC44 class make their debut at Key West Race Week

The RC44 class will be looking to make a big impression when it debuts at Key West Race Week next week (17-21 January)

Ironbound, a new American RC44, belonging to David Murphy, will have British former match racing World Champion Ian Williams on tactics. Image copyright Nico Martinez/RC44.

by Jo Grindley

The RC44 class was conceived and co-designed by four-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts. These thoroughbred boats attract the world’s top sailors as tacticians and leading business minds as their owner/drivers to race at some of the world’s best sailing venues.

Now the RC44 will really bid to show why it is the most exciting new class in international yacht racing as it makes only its second competitive outing in North American waters at Key West, the largest international yachting event in the US.

In December, the sixth and final stage of the 2010 RC44 Championship Tour reached its nail-biting conclusion with the ORACLE RC44 Cup in Miami, where the Oracle Racing team led by Larry Ellison landed the overall Championship trophy.

Now five of the 14 teams that competed at that event have headed south to enjoy some more great winter sunshine racing against the host of high-powered Mini Maxis, IRC-modified TP52s all racing in Division 1 at Key West.

Amongst those taking to the start line at Key West will be the RC44 class’ newest owner David Murphy, from Westport, Connecticut, onboard Ironbound.

Ironbound made her competitive debut in Miami having only been launched a month earlier. David is an experienced veteran of one-design racing and was third in IRC 2 on his J/122 at last year’s Key West Race Week. He admits he is relishing the chance to really put Ironbound through her paces on such a high-profile stage at Key West.

David said: “We are really excited about the new boat and the class. To have a one-design start at one of our favourite regattas with this incredible boat will really be something.

“The RC44 fleet represents the highest level of competition in sailing today. It is the next step for a lot of sport boat enthusiasts. It is an exciting time to be sailing in the class and it is our goal to inspire some American owners from other one-design classes to make the jump to the RC44 and build a US class.”

Joining Ironbound at Key West will be Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, winner of the ORACLE RC44 Cup Miami regatta, Valentine Zavadnikov’s Synergy and Team Aqua owned by Chris Bake, but driven in Key West by Donald (Don) Wilson, the founder of the Chicago Match Race Center. Russell Coutts will spearhead the Oracle Racing team challenge.

Racing starts on Monday (17 January) but the RC44 fleet will spend this weekend fine-tuning their racing talents as they engage in some pre-event training and match race sparring out on the course, organized by the class and Team Aqua.

The boats will be located at the Historic Seaport Marina and the class is happy to welcome down anybody interested in seeing the boats and learning more about RC44 class racing.

After Key West the whole RC44 fleet will decamp west to San Diego, California for the first event of the 2011 Championship Tour from 2 – 6 March.

RC44 entries into Key West Race Week:

Team Aqua:
Helm: Donald (Don) Wilson (USA)
Tactician: Cameron Appleton (NZL)

Team Synergy:
Owner/Helm: Valentine Zavadnikov (RUS)
Tactician: Anton Sergeev (RUS)

Oracle Racing:
Helm: TBC
Tactician: Russell Coutts (NZL)

Owner/Helm: David Murphy (USA)
Tactician: Ian Williams (GBR)

Mascalzone Latino:
Owner/Helm: Vincenzo Onorato (ITA)
Tactician: Francesco Bruni (ITA)