One of the great things about sailing, and one of the things that makes the professional sport of sailing so confusing is the diversity of classes. Classes come and go. Design rules outlive their usefulness or rich owners get bored and want to do something different. The RC44 class is a slow burner. After four seasons of the RC44 Championship Tour, the class has been recognised by the sport’s governing body and given permission to use the word ‘World’ in the title of a regatta.
The first official RC 44 World Championship will take place on October 11th – 16th 2010, in Puerto Calero (Canary Islands).
RC44 Class Manager, Bertrand Favre says:
“This is an important step for us. Over the past two years we have consistently organised races involving ten or more strict one-design RC 44’s representing ten countries. This number is due to increase over the coming months and the recognition by the International Sailing Federation comes as an acknowledgement of the hard work we have put into the development of this Class.”
The venue will be Puerto Calero, a spot that is well known for delivering exciting racing. Event organiser Daniel Calero says:
“It will be the second time that we welcome the RC 44 fleet in Puerto Calero. We are very proud to welcome the world’s best sailors to our venue. The fact that this event is the official World Championship is a great bonus for us as the event organisers, and a fantastic achievement for the Class.”
The RC44 Class should perhaps be more successful. The boat is designed by a sailor acknowleged to be one of the best in the business – Russell Coutts. The sailing is spectacular, the venues are desirable from a sponsorship point of view and some of the best sailors compete in both fleet racing and match racing. Moreover, the unique relationship between the series and logistics partner DHL makes the budget for running a team quite attractive.
It seems that the RC44 Championship, like many sailing events, is inwardly focussed. It seems to exist primarily for it’s owners, who afterall are the main customer. On this basis, the class is a success. Twenty-two RC 44 one-designs have been built to date. One of them has just been shipped to the US in order to be showcased to the American sailing audience and the first ever RC 44 Regatta is planned.
But as the America’s Cup teams, some of whom compete in the RC44 series, begin to design a new class for the America’s Cup and continue to invest in events like the Louis Vuitton Trophy and Audi Med Cup, you have to wonder about the longevity of such classes. How many circuits that require €700,000 – €1,000,000 to do 5 or 6 races can be supported?