West coast debut
The 2011 RC44 Championship Tour kicks off early next month with the circuit's first visit to the US west coast.
After their inaugural event in the US in Miami at the end of the 2010 season and an unofficial outing in January at Key West Race Week, the class is now heading to San Diego for the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego over 2-6 March.
Eleven RC44 teams representing nine nations are gearing up for this first event in the 2011 RC44 Championship. Racing will take place over five days in San Diego, and the new format for this year will comprise four days of fleet racing - where the boats can only be driven by their owner - with the match racing component (when pro sailors can get their chance to helm) reduced to one day.
Among the top sailors set to compete on the 2011 RC44 Championship Tour are class creator and designer of the RC 44, Russell Coutts, American Paul Cayard and San Diego native son Rod Davis, Audi MedCup winners Morgan Larson and Spain's Jose Maria Ponce, along with some of the world’s top match racing talent including New Zealander Cameron Appleton and two-time World Match Racing champion Ian Williams, sailing on the latest addition to the circuit - David Murphy's Ironbound.
The Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego marks a poignant return to the city for Coutts, who won the first of four America’s Cups there in 1995. Coutts believes the 2011 RC44 Championship Tour is gearing up to be the most compelling and closely-fought yet: "Last year’s Championship came down to the wire in Miami and with more owners coming into the class, the level and intensity of the competition is going to be greater than ever. It’s always great to race in San Diego, it will be a natural amphitheatre those watching from onshore. I’m looking forward to a great regatta."
The Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego will be run by Sailing Events Association San Diego (SEA SD), which promotes major sailboat racing in San Diego Bay for the benefit of the local economy. Racing will take place directly in front of the magnificent new, spectator friendly Port Pavilion at the Broadway Pier, giving fans the chance to really get close to the action.
“All of San Diego is looking forward to great racing on San Diego Bay," said JJ Fetter, Olympic silver medalist and Event Coordinator for the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego. "We are excited about having the RC44 Class help showcase our gorgeous new Event Village site at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, which is an ideal venue for world-class racing. This will be a unique opportunity to see such high-caliber America's Cup talent, like Russell Coutts, Paul Cayard and Rod Davis, return to do battle on San Diego Bay, and we will be encouraging the public to come and watch the action for free from the Broadway Pier."
Following the win for Larry Ellison’ Oracle Racing team in December, the RC44 Championship Tour this year visits six venues, including Austria, France, Sweden, and Spain, before returning to in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands in November with the 2011 RC44 World Championship.
Read our round-up of the RC44's 2010 season here