RC44 Class: Managing the mix
Published on May 20th, 2019
Australian Laser gold medallist and America’s Cup winner Tom Slingsby has planned an interesting year for himself. He will be joining Graeme Taylor at the Etchells Worlds, he is skippering the hyper-performance F50 in the SailGP circuit, and is tactician for Vladimir Prosikhin in the 44Cup series.
While the Etchells is an established citizen and the F50 was launched this year as the most technical craft in competition, the RC44 is a tweenager that has remained relevant despite its untraditional appearance and high profile and professional competition.
“While newer classes are all wide, TP52-esque types, the RC44 is a super sleek and fine – a beautiful boat,” notes Slingsby. “It is very high performance: Downwind you can do 20+ knots and upwind you do eight, and their performance in light wind is amazing. Plus there is a big emphasis on crew work – it is a great class.”
But the boat is just one reason that the RC44 has remained resilient as a class while other 40 footers have come and gone. Slingsby observes one design classes often self-destruct when there is friction between owners.
“The RC44 owners seem to get on well,” he observes. “After sailing there are drinks, and everyone converses – it is a really friendly class. There is a good social scene which is important. The owners have to have fun – it can’t all be about results, there has to be a social aspect to it and the RC44 class does a really good job at that.
“The 44Cup owners are very loyal, energetic, and active and because of them there is no chance of the class dying any time soon.”
Alternatively, classes tend to blow up if one boat starts winning because it has somehow got out of measurement. To prevent this the RC44s are vigorously policed (and self-policed), any changes to boats are strictly prohibited to ensure the fleet remains stringently one design.
Launched in 2007, the RC44 Class enters its 12th season on the 44Cup, a five-stop international racing tour throughout Europe.
44Cup Events Schedule 2019
44Cup Porto Montenegro – Montenegro – April 10 to 14
Adris 44Cup – Croatia – May 29 to June 2
44Cup Marstrand – Sweden – July 9 to 13
44Cup Cascais – Portugal – October 2 to 6
44Cup Palma – Spain – Nov 13 to 17
About the RC44 boat
Five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts conceived the design of the light-displacement, high-performance one-design RC44 with naval architect Andrej Justin in 2005. Created for top level one design racing in international regattas under strictly controlled Class Rules, the concept and design features of the RC44 are aimed at the amateur helmsmen with professional crews. For its thirteenth season in 2019, the RC44 Championship Tour was rebranded the 44Cup.