Three regattas down, two to go and there is a three-way split for the 2017 RC44 Championship Tour title. So far this season current series leaders Team Nika of Vladimir Prosikhin and third-placed Katusha of Alexander Novoselov have taken a regatta win each. But hiding in second, under the radar, is Bronenosec Sailing Team.
With all three Russian teams tied on 10 points and the chasing fleet only one point adrift, the RC44 Cascais Cup, 28 September – 1 October, is going to be a test of nerves. As whoever handles the pressure will take the win.
Onshore we are friends, I wish them luck and I’m proud of those Russians all the time,’ explained a spirited Prosikhin, ‘but on the race course, all competitors are competitors no matter who they are or where they are from. No compromises.’
After winning the RC44 World Championship in Marstrand, Sweden, last month with a race to spare, Team Nika are the favourites going into the penultimate event of the season. Despite being the oldest boat in the fleet, hull number 10 of 26, Prosikhin feels she has lost none of her charms: ‘The black beauty is not young anymore, but then neither am I. Tos, our boat captain, takes good care of her, as a crew we are still in shape and with our tactician Terry Hutchinson we are in very good company!
This season’s underdogs, Bronenosec Sailing Team, started the year with a completely new all-Russian crew as part of their commitment to further the development of young Russian sailors. With new helm Kirill Frolov taking the wheel for two of the three regattas, little was expected, as historically it normally takes a season or two to gain the flawless crew work that is required in this competitive fleet. However, a 3-4-3 score-line has shaken the RC44 stalwarts from the podium, awarding the underdogs second place going into the penultimate event of the year.
With the focus returning to monohull sailing after the recent America’s Cup speculation, the quality of racing provided by the RC44 Championship Tour is reinforced by the field of competitors and depth of competition. RC44 tacticians Vasco Vascotto of Peninsula Petroleum, Cameron Appleton of Team Aqua and Francesco Bruni of Artemis Racing, all of whom are America’s Cup veterans, currently hold fifth to seventh place in the RC44 leaderboard and are battling to break onto the podium.
Of the remaining fleet, defending 2016 Champions Team CEEREF lead the mid-fleet charge, a single point off the podium in fourth place. Whilst Charisma hold eighth and Artemis Racing Youth ninth but with just 13 points between first and eighth place and two regattas yet to be raced the Championship Tour is still all to play for.
RC44 Championship Tour – Overall ranking
1. Team Nika – 10
2. Bronenosec Sailing Team – 10
3. Katusha – 10
4. Team CEEREF – 11
5. Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team – 12
6. Team Aqua – 14
7. Artemis Racing – 18
8. Charisma – 23
9. Artemis Racing Youth – 27
by RC44 Class Association