RC44s Sweden bound
There will be plenty for the home crowd to cheer as two boats representing the host nation take their place in the biggest fleet ever to contest an RC44 event when the inaugural RC44 Sweden Cup takes place in Marstrand from 17-21 August.
Experienced Swedish RC44 Tour campaigners Artemis Racing will be joined for one event only by a team representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club – Team KSSS – as a record 16 boats prepare to do battle in Sweden’s premier sail racing venue.
Although only coming together for this one-off event, Team KSSS have pulled out all the stops in comprising a line-up guaranteed to give the regular crews a real run for their money.
Former 1976 Olympic sailor and 1992 America’s Cup helmsman, Olle Jo Johansson will be on the wheel with four-time around the world yachtsman and 2008 Ericsson 3 Volvo Ocean Race helm Magnus Woxen calling tactics. Meanwhile in the pit will be six-time America’s Cup and four-time round the world stalwart Rodney Arden, part of Alinghi’s 2007 America’s Cup winning team.
Woxen said: “As Artemis Racing are representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) as a challenger in the next America’s Cup, we thought it would be good for Artemis and KSSS to do an event together, a way to show the yacht club really sailing. It is a good way for us to show off the top level of Swedish sailors we have here at the club. It will be great racing against all the teams, especially against fellow Swedes Artemis. Everyone else is much more prepared but we will do our best to stay focused on sailing well and see how far we can get up the ranking."
The RC44 Sweden Cup is the fourth round of the six-event Championship series, with Chris Bake’s Team Aqua (GBR) currently sitting in pole position overall following their thrilling victory at the last round in Sardinia. However just one point separates them from Larry Ellison’s defending Tour champions ORACLE Racing (USA) in second, with Russia’s Team Katusha, led by Paul Cayard, in third.
With three different winners at the first three events, the 2011 RC44 Championships is living up to its billing as one of the most exciting series’ in international yacht racing, with conditions at all the venues so far playing their part in producing nail-biting close racing.
Leading skipper Bake expects no different in Marstrand. He said: “Marstrand is a beautiful location for sailing but I think the wind can be highly-variable so we are going to try and cope with whatever is given to us. I’ve never sailed there but from what I can understand it can be wonderful weather and breezy, or rainy and no wind, or sunny and no wind so I think the key will be to stay flexible.”
As one of the Tour’s founding outfits, Bake says it is great more teams continue to get involved, adding: “The class provides a winning formula; on a relative basis it’s affordable for the level of sailing you are doing, the racing format is highly-enjoyable, the members of the class make it a lot of fun, and its very competitive so very challenging for anyone coming into the fleet.”
Although this is the RC44’s venue debut, Marstrand is no stranger to hosting massive yacht racing events, with the annual Match Cup Sweden attracting thousands of visitors every year. RC44 Team CEEREF’s Swedish crewman, Magnus Augustson, is confident Marstrand will put on a great show in welcoming the RC44 teams for the first time.
He said: “Marstrand is a small island outside the Archipelago in Sweden normally with a very good sea breeze. Marstrand has the potential to be as exciting as Cagliari, maybe not as much wind but there’s going be much rougher seas, which will throw up new challenges for the teams, it will be a fantastic event. It’s going to be great to be back home.”