Groupama Team France has taken delivery of their AC50 hulls built in part in Switzerland by Décision. They have been at the Multiplast-Groupe Carboman facility to be assembled with the parts already built – being the pod and the beams.
The team says via social media is to have stopped sailing their AC45S on December 18, and it is believed that several of the parts from the AC45 will be transferred across to the AC50.
In early January, the team started sending containers to Bermuda as the first stage of base set up.
The year is here. In 125 days, SoftBank Team Japan will take on Artemis Racing in their first race of the America’s Cup Qualifiers not only marking the culmination of their campaign, but the end of more than a decade of drought since Japan has challenged for the Auld Mug.
The team arrived back in Bermuda on January 2nd returning from a much-deserved two-week holiday – a chance for many members to travel back home and spend time with family prior to the final intensive testing period currently starting up.
However, one very important member of the team stayed behind in Bermuda – the team’s new America’s Cup Class race boat.
Having taken delivery of the new yacht in November, the 50-foot long one-design hull has been going through an extensive modification period in the boat shed as the team continues testing their AC45 Sport on the water.
“Progress with the AC50 has been good”, said Skipper and CEO Dean Barker.
“The entire team took a two-week break over holidays to recharge the batteries before what will be a long and hard 6 months ahead. We are all very excited to think that we will have our new boat in the water in mid-February.”
Counting down to that launch, the shore and design teams hit the ground running January 3rd maximizing the installation time necessary to transfer board control systems, ergonomics, and computers to the new boat. These custom developments have been hewn over the past year as the team has tested their AC45 Sport on the Great Sound in Bermuda.
Along with these systems, upon their return, the team was also tasked with the crucial job of committing to dagger board designs – the shape and contour of the 4-meters of winged surface that will lift the boat out of the water during the America’s Cup.
Contrary to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series where dagger boards are one-design, the 35th America’s Cup protocol allows each team to build 4 customized dagger boards.
With almost four months to go until the America’s Cup Qualifiers, every sailing day – and the resulting amount of data and technique learned – counts exponentially.
Since splashing back on the water on January 13th for their first sail of 2017, SoftBank Team Japan now will begin an extended practice race period with the other teams based in Bermuda – Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, and new neighbors, Land Rover BAR.
“Having four teams on the Sound so far has been great”, said Barker.
“To date we haven’t had too many days with all boats on the water, but it does get busy! It is pretty awesome charging around at well over 30 knots with 4 other boats in close proximity and we’re looking forward to the practice racing the next two weeks.”
Practice racing on the Great Sound in Bermuda will take place as weather permits, January 18th – February 6th.
Robbie Maddison, Ian Walsh and Bobby Brown just got the ride of their lives with Oracle Team USA.
Robbie Maddison, Bobby Brown, and Ian Walsh have just had their lives changed by sailing onboard with Oracle Team USA at the America’s Cup World Series in Chicago. Walsh now wants to buy a boat to take his surfing new level; Brown plans to take what he learnt about sailing’s ‘silent’ teamwork to his next big team; and Maddison learned that sailing is not for old people – and that anything can, and does, happen in sailing.
Sailing, to me, just seemed like something that old people did. This is totally not that at all. It’s extreme, it’s fast, anything can happen. ~Robbie Maddison
Just exactly what is anything? It’s when you’re rocketing along at 41knots (70 kph) and the boat capsizes while you’re attempting to avoid another boat, leaving you to hang on with all of your fingers and toes.
For the record, that’s not typical in sailing. However, if there’s anything that the America’s Cup World Series catamarans prove to us, it’s that this is not typical sailing. After all, you don’t normally fly above the water whilst sailing. But thanks to modern technology, these catamarans all flyabove the water’s surface, literally taking off like airplanes
“In less than a second you’re up on the foils,” surfing legend Ian Walsh said. “You really do feel like you’re flying.”
Although Walsh’s experience with Oracle Team USA was a little more tame compared to Maddison’s, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t equally thrilling. In the America’s Cup World Series, six boats are lined-up and buzzing around each other like bees. The tension is high and the adrenaline is even higher. But there’s no screaming – in fact, it’s pretty quiet.
“It’s really hard to explain,” Walsh said. “Everyone is just in this extreme focus and concentration. I had an idea of what would happen but I had no idea how much the guys said without saying much. So little communication is given, but everyone knows what to do.”
A silent crew, especially while racing, will always be the number one sign of a well-run boat. If everyone’s at the right place at the right time, if it resembles more like an effortless dance than a sailboat race, then chances are higher for getting on the podium.
And it’s this incredible teamwork aspect seriously impressed the athletes. “I just have a lot of respect for these guys,” slopestyle freeskier Bobby Brown said. “It’s crazy just in the teamwork aspect. When you can work and do all these things with silent movements and motions, it’s pretty impressive.”
So are the guys hooked? Definitely. “I’m going to order a Hobie Cat when I get home, and my end game is to get a bigger boat to eventually explore places for surfing you can’t get to by plane,” Walsh said.
Some sports have stops, like baseball between innings or football during change of possessions. For television coverage, these are the commercial breaks. But other sports, like soccer, don’t have convenient stops, with the broadcast often continuing uninterrupted until the end of regulation.
The holders of the America’s Cup are working in earnest to turn the event into a broadcast product, and while the technology developed to show the game is impressive, they’ve yet to create a commercial format that does not cut away during the race.
During the America’s Cup World Series event in New York on May 7-8, the U.S. television rights holder NBC enraged viewers. Here is Douglass Sisk offering his analysis….
I join the chorus of groans, vitriol, and stinky Topsiders hurled toward NBCSN’s ill-timed commercial breaks in the live coverage of the AC World Series in New York. Curious about the situation, I dusted off some grad school skills and did some additional data parsing with television ratings information.
If you take a close look at the ratings table, filter for the timeslots starting at 12noon to 3PM (EDT), then filter out the programs with fewer than 75,000 viewers (an arbitrary number) you end up with 26 viewing options. Sorting further by total viewership, the AC World Series coverage was bested not only by live coverage of several “major” sports events, but also by some well-traveled reruns. Hmmph!
But sort by the highest percentage of viewers in the coveted 18-49 year old age bracket, and the AC World Series coverage is nicely mid-pack. Okay, but…
Is notable that many of the commercial minutes were used up not by paid advertising but in promotional spots for other programs on the NBC family of networks, leading me to think that the “make-good” for a missed commercial not run in the exciting final minutes of a race wouldn’t have been onerous.
Make what you will from these stats, but imagine the conversations at some local watering holes, where veteran sailors are trying to get some new folks interested in sailing by showing off the very appealing mix of technology and speed… only to be denied the finish of the final, regatta-deciding race… leaving the new (and experienced) to wonder “What the heck just happened?”
The lack of repeat or even acknowledgement by the commentating crew suggests that the production staff have no idea that commercial breaks are imminent. It looked like NBCSN just picked up the feed and slammed the commercials in based on time-of-day, rather than action in the Live Sporting Event they were broadcasting.
I can understand that traditional fleet racing is difficult to watch on television, but – credit where credit is due – the AC organizers have worked hard to create a race format that can be enjoyed by sailors and non-sailors alike. Regardless of anyone’s opinions on the current state of the America’s Cup, this area has been successful.
But to be, quite frankly, hosed by the hometown sports network may indeed result in a long and empty road devoid of viewers. There is simply no excuse.
– source: sailingscuttlebutt.com
Oracle Team USA, the defender of the 2017 Americas Cup, the most prestigious sailing race in the world, is making big speed gains in their new boat – setting a new team speed record this week while training in Bermuda.
The team broke 46 knots (or 53 MPH) in their new AC50 yacht, meeting the fastest speeds of the larger AC72 boats from the 2013 cup.
“It doesn’t quite feel like your in control,” Scott Ferguson, a lead naval architect for Oracle Team USA who was on board at the time, said.
That’s understandable. Even for some of the best sailors in the world, skimming above the water at those speeds is a frightening experience.
These yachts use foils – winglike surfaces extending below the boat’s twin hulls – to lift the entire craft of the water and escape its drag. The high speeds mean sailors must wear helmets and impact-resistant clothing.
Foiling has completely changed the America’s Cup, a big element of an effort by software magnate and Oracle Team USA financier Larry Ellison to make the sport spectator and television-friendly.
The racing was indeed a spectacle of epic proportion, but with TV ratings of about one million viewers, it was still far from worth the estimated $100 million price required to field a team, Reuters reported.
Oracle Team USA is Fast
To cut costs for the 2017 cup in Bermuda, the boats will be smaller and regulations will restrict development to the wing, foils, rudder, and the hydraulic systems that move many of these appendages around. This means the teams will have fewer areas with which to eek out an advantage before racing begins next year.
“I expect that the competition will be much closer [in 2017],” Ferguson said.
But due to the already high speeds, what little changes they can make go much further.
“We were always trying to make gains of tenths of a knot,” Ferguson said. “Now, a change can find a knot or a couple of knots.”
A designer of racing yachts for around 25 years, Ferguson worked with Luna Rossa, the Italian challenger for the cup from 2000 to 2007. The University of Michigan-trained naval architect then joined “the home team,” as he put it – he’s been at Oracle Team USA ever since.
Ferguson was part of the shore team at the 2013 cup in San Francisco, when Oracle Team USA made an improbable comeback from an 8-1 deficit to win the first-to-nine event. The team arrived at the event with a slower boat, but managed a series of technical and strategic changes that eventually turned the tide.
At the time, Ferguson was responsible for the wing – the massive, rigid structure that substitutes for a sail. Changes made to the wing’s setup played a large part in the team’s come-from-behind victory, former Washington Post contributor Bruce Knecht wrote in “The Comeback,” his chronicle of the 2013 race.
Now, Ferguson in charge of many more elements of the boat, and the challenge is immense. Especially with the competition right next door.
Emirates New Zealand and SoftBank Japan, two challengers for the cup, are also based in Bermuda. The teams regularly spar out on the water, which can be both a good indicator of Oracle’s relative progress and an ever-present source of pressure on the Oracle crew.
But now they have a new team speed record on their hands – another milestone on the long, exhaustive journey to the 2017 regatta.
The team will compete on May 7-8 in the New York harbor as part of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, an international list of races leading up to the 2017 event.
Three renowned Queensland marine business figures are keen to bring an element of the America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton AC 45 series to Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The three guys are Tony Longhurst, former champion motor racer, twice winner of the Bathurst 1000 and Australian champion water-skier, who is CEO at The Boat Works in Coomera’s marine precinct. He and his brother Rodney Longhurst, the owner and CEO at Riviera Australia, the largest motor yacht builder in the southern hemisphere and they have joined forces with Steve Ackerie the founder of the 50 strong Stefan chain of hair salons and six-time Australian Offshore Powerboat Racing Champion in this venture.
America’s Cup World series – on the Gold Coast in 2017?
We talked this week to Tony Longhurst ‘About two weeks ago we launched our Extreme 40 and we were just running it up and down the Broadwater and we were amazed about how much attention to boat got and the local paper down here, the Gold Coast Bulletin, ran a story on the Extreme 40 and the AC45 and way these series are run and the paper suggested we should be trying to bid for the America’s Cup.
‘Now that is rather premature but Stefan and Riviera and a couple of local businesses in the marine precinct are certainly interested in having a crack at hosting at least a Louis Vuitton AC 45 series here and see what local interest there was.
‘First up we have been onto our local council and we have got great support there.
‘We are talking to the Waterways Authority and then we have got to the right people at (Queensland) state level and there is discussion on what funding is there if we can bring it here.
‘Now we are talking to Ian Murray and understanding how the series works and the AC45s are going to New York and then Chicago, Portsmouth, France and then across to Tokyo so it might actually possible to get around here in February 2017 if we can get the needed local financial support.
‘Initially we were thinking of post 2017, but at the moment there is still one round up for grabs so we can work towards that. If we don’t achieve that then we will definitely have a really strong bid to get online for the next cycle.
‘The action needs to close to spectators. In the Broadwater, it depends on what are you are, as to how close we can get to a shore-side crowd. ‘We have got some areas there that are three metres deep at low water. There is a section that the local authorities are now dredging from the Gold Coast seaway down to the Southport Yacht Club and the (Sundial) bridge there so there is a triangular section that could be dredged out very easily to accommodate the boats.
‘We have got an area along the foreshore where the Southport swimming pool is. It is like a parkland so you can set up there.
‘They are actually dredging right now and I understand that in the next three to six months we are going to be four and a half metres at low water, that would have to be confirmed, up the whole channel running in so it won’t be tricky anymore.
‘Then there is a section to the south western corner there that is a metre, metre and a half at low water so there is not a huge amount to be removed to make that area workable for this event.
‘Of course that would actually make it a lot better for our local boaties as well. ‘But it’s very early days. One step at a time. We certainly haven’t got anything solid yet but you have got to start somewhere and we are don’t want to make fools of ourselves otherwise we lose credibility.
‘We are financially sound to put some seed money up to start to make it happen so we are just trying to get all the ducks in line and kick one off at a time. ‘We are making a little bit of progress which I am really thrilled about. I am absolutely amazed at how much interest there is in this. I have been blown away from that.
‘We can see this event could really work here, so now the hard work has to be done.’
A last minute charge from Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team was not enough to displace Chris Bake’s Team Aqua from the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the RC44 Bermuda Cup, the first event of the Sir Russell Coutts-conceived one design’s 10th anniversary season.
Conditions on the final day of competition on Bermuda’s Great Sound looked marginal initially with a near glass out mid-morning. After a postponement ashore, the first warning signal was finally sounded at 1410 and PRO Peter Reggio just managed to lay on two races in a shifty, patchy breeze that rarely exceeded five knots.
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua Wins RC44 Bermuda Cup
A disappointing penultimate day of racing had seen Bronenosec drop off the leaderboard, but today in the difficult light conditions the Russian team’s tactician, Michele Ivaldi, seemed to have a direct line to the wind gods. This somehow enabled the blue-hulled RC44 to win both of today’s races.
“I’ve been asleep for a couple of days – today I woke up finally,” said Ivaldi with a grin. “For sure in this kind of conditions some luck is involved, but we had good starts and we managed both times to get the first shift. That together with good boat speed and good crew work – it wasn’t easy, but it was a good effort.”
The secret was to be looking ahead constantly to ‘join the dots’ between the various puffs. “If you looked behind you, you would go crazy…” Ivaldi warned. “There were 40° shifts and big puffs everywhere. It was really hard – like Virgin Gorda again!” (Referring to the last event in the RC44’s 2015 season).
Italian navigators are typically good at these conditions which Ivaldi compared not with those typical of Mediterranean Italy, but of an Italian lake.
Bronenosec’s helmsman Vladimir Liubomirov was equally delighted with his team’s performance today. “Before we were really scared because the wind conditions were really tricky, like a casino, but Michele did an extremely good job together with the trimmers. And we did it… For us it was very important to finish this first race of the year very well.”
Liubomirov added that he had been thoroughly taken with Bermuda as a sailing venue. “I like it a lot – we have to come back for sure.” The next RC44 visit is pencilled in for 2018.
John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team, which has another renowned Italian tactician, Vasco Vascotto, also had a solid day, posting a 2-3. But it was less good for Artemis Racing and Francesco Bruni, despite one extraordinary opportunity that emerged on the first run of the second race when the boats at the back of the fleet were able to sail some 20-30 degrees lower than the boats ahead. This elevated Artemis Racing from seventh to second, but she subsequently lost this position on the next beat. “It was a real throw of the dice,” admitted Bruni.
Bronenosec Sailing Team’s pair of bullets caused them to leap from fourth overall back on to the podium and then to second, finishing three points ahead of their arch-rival, Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika. But it was not enough to topple Chris Bake’s Team Aqua. Team Aqua only had two results out of the top half of the fleet, in this lengthy 12 race series.
“We’re really pleased with this week – the guys did really well,” said tactician Cameron Appleton. “We fought hard today in the first race for a start we really believed in. It didn’t quite work out in our favour, but the team did a really good job of keeping the boat fast and we got back into the race enough to take fourth.”
Their prospects were looking better in race two when they pulled out an extraordinary lead on the first beat. However they were prepared for the second leg becoming a lottery. “I said to the guys ‘at this point, if we don’t win, then we’re not supposed to, because who knows how this race is going to unfold.’”
Despite dropping back on run and for a stage on the second beat, they managed to recoup a second place and the victor’s ‘golden wheel’s as winner of the RC44 Bermuda Cup.
The margin between the leaders has impressively remained tight throughout the four days of fleet racing at the RC44 Bermuda Cup. Going into the final race four boats mathematically could still have won.
The RC44s now leave the 35th America’s Cup venue bound for the RC44 Sotogrande World Championship in May.
Having come out on top in yesterday’s match racing after some complex countback mathematics, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua was more definitely the stand-out performer on the opening day of fleet racing at the RC44 Bermuda Cup.
Great Sound was also in more pleasant mood. While yesterday the wind was 20+ knots, conditions felt more summery today with the wind just about gusting to 15 knots, but more regularly 10. It was extremely shifty too, varying in direction between 325 and 025°.
In today’s four races Team Aqua never dropped off the podium. Scoring 2-3-1-3 saw her return to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club leading, two points clear of Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team.
Following yesterday’s requirement for brute force and survival skills, today’s lighter winds placed a premium on tactical calls and crew finesse, “Key was the guys doing a fantastic job,” explained Team Aqua tactician, Cameron Appleton. “It was a very active day for the crew and the guys trimming the sails did a really good job. We sailed well.”
Their races were not flawless – attempting to shoot the top mark in race one, they came to a standstill, fouling Bronenosec Sailing Team and picking up a penalty.
After scoring the most wins in yesterday’s match racing, Bronenosec Sailing Team continued her winning streak by claiming today’s first race. However as was the case yesterday, there was drama from the outset, when, soon after the start, a major collision occurred between Artemis Racing and Team CEEREF. In this, Team CEEREF, in the wrong on port, T-boned Artemis Racing leaving the Swedish boat’s topsides with a massive Slovenian bow-shaped hole in them.
“We wanted to tack and then there was a shift and we just misjudged it,” admitted Team CEEREF owner Igor Lah. “It was our mistake. It was a big one, a major and for our boat there was almost no damage. We are really sorry.”
Thankfully as the collision was with Artemis Racing’s leeward side, no one was hurt. “We were a little bit shocked though,” admitted tactician Francesco Bruni.
To make amends Lah offered the use of his RC44 to Artemis Racing for the rest of the day, but they declined. Once ashore, Team CEEREF tactician Adrian Stead was off to buy the local tipple, Gosling’s rum, in quantity for the Swedes.
The hole in Artemis Racing is not small – an upside down triangle immediately below the gunnel on the port side two thirds of the way back from the bow, its top side measures 1m across. Fortunately the incident occurred close to Artemis Racing’s giant America’s Cup base on the shore of Great Sound. There their RC44 was hauled out and the boatbuilders set to work immediately to build a replacement panel. If the repairwork goes to schedule, Artemis Racing should be racing once again tomorrow.
For redress the jury awarded Artemis Racing four points/race, leaving them third overall.
Surprisingly after sitting out the rest of race one, Team CEEREF rallied, impressively posting a 1-3-1. Despite being disqualified from the first race and receiving a three point penalty for the collision, this left them fourth overall, one point behind Artemis Racing.
“All the guys were upset,” recounted Igor Lah. “I said ‘guys, reset – let’s do it. Let’s show what we can do without making stupid mistakes.’”
Stead said that they had relished the shifty conditions. “You had to chip away at it. In races two and three we were probably fourth or fifth at the top mark, but there were opportunities. You just had to believe in what you saw and try as much as possible to sail your own race.
“Otherwise it was testament to Igor’s driving and concentration and all the guys on the team for bouncing back.”
With the RC44 celebrating its 10th anniversary it was appropriate that the class’ creator, Sir Russell Coutts, took time off from his duties as architect of the 35th America’s Cup to visit the fleet.
“It is good to see them in Bermuda,” said Coutts. “They have been around for a while now and it is good that they have come here. All the owners I have spoken to are surprised at what this place is. They were expecting to be in the Caribbean, but Bermuda has its own unique style – I think they are enjoying it.”
The first regatta in 2016 for the Russell Coutts-conceived one design class is the RC44 Bermuda Cup Championship on March 2-6. Beginning with one day of match racing, the class’ unique Match Racing Championship rolls from event to event throughout the season. The regatta then continues with four days of fleet racing on Bermuda’s Great Sound.
Among the eight teams on the start line will be the RC44’s longest serving crew: Chris Bake’s Team Aqua has been part of the circuit since 2006. “It is a great class and there are great teams out here,” observes Cameron Appleton, who has been tactician on Team Aqua from the outset.
RC44 Bermuda Cup Championship Begins This Week
While two teams – Team Nika and Bronenosec Sailing Team – dominated in 2015, Appleton advises that any of five or six top teams could prevail this season, including Team Aqua. “There is a new level of excitement and new motivation on board – Chris is really excited to have a bit more of a permanent role.” (Work commitments kept Bake from competing in all regattas in 2015.)
New to Team Aqua is American bowman, Sean Couvreux, while the experienced Andrew Palfrey is now coach, focusing especially on post-race video analysis. As ever Chris Bake is keen to develop young talent and has brought 22-year-old British Keelboat Academy sailor James French on as reserve crewman. “He’ll fill in for anyone on the boat,” says Appleton. “Our goal is to develop him into a great sailor and to teach him and share all we can with him.”
With her golden wheels glistening in the Bermuda sun, the 2015 RC44 Fleet Racing Champion, Team Nika, is in Bermuda ready to begin the defence of her title. However, her owner Vladimir Prosikhin is talking down their position: “Honestly, we are starting a bit slow and I am slow. We have two newcomers who are very good sailors and very strong, but it takes time for them to become accustomed to the boat. Our result will depend on how quickly we can pick it up.” The ‘newcomers’ are both highly experienced, in bowman Greg Gendall and pitman Ryan Godfrey.
On the plus side, having sailed with three different tacticians in 2015, including Dean Barker and Terry Hutchinson, Prosikhin has finally settled on former America’s Cup-winning helm, Ed Baird.
As to how he feels about having a target on his back as reigning champion, Prosikhin is relishing it. “Of course we are CLEARLY the target! And at the moment we are an achievable target, but I’ll do my best to stay ahead.”
After Chris Bake, Slovenia’s Igor Lah is the second longest serving RC44 competitor, having joined the class in 2008, his Team CEEREF winning the RC44 World Championship in 2013. Fourth overall last year, this season Team CEEREF is gunning for the podium. “We try to start from where we finished in the BVI [the last event in 2015], to make the best out of it,” says Lah. “We just need to not make mistakes and not be afraid of anything.”
Lah says he is enjoying his first visit to Bermuda and is looking forward especially to the third event this season in Portsmouth, UK, when Team CEEREF will be joined by Lah’s son, who is studying in Plymouth.
After spending most of 2015 close to the leaderboard bottom, 2016 will see Artemis Racing Youth on the ascent. Following the departure of Paul Goodison, Swede Freddy Loof is now the sole Olympic gold medallist on board (Star, London 2012) and has taken over as tactician while America’s Cup winner and round the world race veteran Rodney Ardern joins as main trimmer.
According to Loof, with Aussie former Olympic Finn sailor Anthony Nossiter on board, crew language remains English, “but it’s all good. We have added 30kg to the boat, which will help. We need to mix in with the fleet, so the pressure is on, but I think we can get a couple of good results this year. We have good guys on board and we understand the boat more and more. I haven’t raced that much recently, so I am eager to get going.”
The stage is set for the opening regatta of the 2016 RC44 Bermuda Cup Championship Tour, with some of the biggest names in the world of professional sailing and international business lining up on the starting grid for the RC44 Bermuda Cup, from the 2 – 6 March.
The landmark 10th RC44 Championship Tour season starts in style next week, as the beautiful blue waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound plays host to the fleet of eight international teams, including 56 world-class sailors representing 15 nations.
2016 RC44 Bermuda Cup The stage is set for RC44 Championship Tour
The team to beat in 2016 is undoubtedly Team Nika. Defending both his 2015 World Champion and 2015 Fleet Racing Champion crown, owner Vladimir Prosikhin is pulling-no-punches in 2016 with American sailing legend Ed Baird joining the crew.
As the only American helm to win the America’s Cup since 1992 Baird’s list of achievements is extensive, with multiple world championship titles and a several years with the RC44 fleet under his belt the team are a formidable force for 2016.
But contesting Team Nika’s lead every step of the way Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team has been a consistent challenger for the podium over the past two years, finishing 2015 as Match Racing Champions and runners up in the Fleet Racing. Liubomirov is joined by an experienced crew of Italian and Russian sailors once again headed up by Michele Ivaldi.
Chris Bake’s Team Aqua returns for their 10th season with top match racer Cameron Appleton the permanent fixture as the team’s pro sailor. Holding an impressive track history as five times Fleet Racing Champions and three times Match Racing Champions, Team Aqua will introduce some fresh blood into their crew for 2016 in the form of American sailors Sean Couvreux and Westy Barlow.
Bursting back on to the RC44 scene in 2015 and leading the mid fleet charge, Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF finished the year in fourth tied on points with John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team.
With the cool clam British Olympian and multiple world champion Adrian Stead retuning as tactician for Team CERREF and legendary hot-headed Italian Vasco Vascotto calling the shots for Peninsula Petroleum the RC44 Bermuda Cup will be the first opportunity for the two teams to go head to head in the race to break onto the podium.
Tipped as the favourites for the RC44 Bermuda Cup Artemis Racing and Artemis Youth Academy’s star-studded line-up includes three times America’s Cup and three times Olympic sailor Francesco Bruni, joined by fellow America’s Cup team mates Christian Kamp and Pieter Van Nieuwenhuijzen.
Onboard Artemis Racing Youth, Sweden’s most successful sailor Freddy Loof and British Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison use the Class as a platform to encourage young Swedish sailors into the world of professional racing.
Both teams will be hoping the wealth of local knowledge their sailors have gained from training out of their team base ahead of the 35th America’s Cup will give them the competitive edge needed next week.
The Russian team Katusha completes the line-up, with new owner Alexander Novoselov in the driving seat and experienced tactician Andy Horton hoping to continue their upward trajectory through the fleet.
The RC44 Bermuda Cup will kick off with a day of match racing followed by four days of fleet racing on the Great Sound.