RC44 round up

The US initiative, less match racing in 2011 - Team Aqua's Chris Bake, Terry Hutchinson and Francesco Bruni shares their views on the Coutts one design
One design classes come and go but one on the ascent at the moment remains the RC44. Today Russell Coutts’ black day sailers begin their first ever event in the US, out of Miami with a record 14 boats taking part. 14 boats might sound small compared with say the Farr 40 in its heyday, but one of the self-inflicted constraints of the RC44 class is its unique race format that combines match racing and fleet racing. Finding the time to carry out a meaningful match racing event over two days is verging on the impossible which is why this is to be changed from next season on. In fact to date 24 RC44s have been built (the last being Synergy) while hull #23 is sailing its first regatta this week with the class’ first US-based owner David Murphy. “Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of interest,” says Russell Coutts. “We have 14 teams in Miami and around half are interested in doing Key West Race Week, which is good. We have got quite a few potential owners looking at coming in. It looks like it is going to grow.” According to Coutts the match racing component isn’t the only constraint on fleet size. Once you get beyond 16-18 teams, each having its own container, this limits the choice of venues the circuit can visit. Already the travelling road show is compact as it can be, the RC44s having their unique container-isation system for easy shipping, while the class operate shared facilities for the teams. However the class is likely to be more attractive to owners when the match racing element is scaled back next year. For the match racing a pro helmsman is allowed, while it is strictly amateur drivers for the fleet racing. The new regatta format will feature