RC44 10th An­niver­sary Grand Fi­nale

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The RC44’s 10th an­niver­sary sea­son is lin­ing up for an ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive con­clu­sion with the RC44 Val­letta Cup tak­ing place this week out of the Ex­cel­sior Ho­tel on the Mal­tese cap­i­tal’s Marsamx­ett Har­bour.

De­spite the RC44 Val­letta Cup be­ing be the fifth and fi­nal event of the 2016 RC44 Cham­pi­onship, the score­board re­mains im­pres­sively close. In the Fleet Rac­ing, Igor Lah’s Team CEEREF holds a slen­der two point lead over Chris Bake’s Team Aqua but just seven points sep­a­rate the top seven, with, in the­ory, any still ca­pa­ble of claim­ing the 2016 ti­tle. In the 2016 Match Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship, it is even closer with Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika and Tor­b­jörn Törn­qvist’s Artemis Rac­ing tied for the lead and just three points be­hind them, a fur­ther three teams also tied.

Dr Chris­tian Car­dona, Malta’s Min­is­ter of the Econ­omy, Small Busi­ness and In­dus­try this morn­ing wel­comed the RC44 teams:

“We are look­ing for­ward to the pres­ti­gious RC44s com­ing to Malta for a sec­ond time.

“It will be ex­cit­ing for those tak­ing part as much as for those watch­ing. Not only do we boast one of the world’s largest and most no­table har­bours, but Val­letta, with its rich ar­chi­tec­ture, will pro­vide a mag­nif­i­cent back­drop.

“The RC44s have a rep­u­ta­tion for vis­it­ing some of the most beau­ti­ful sail­ing venues around the globe. We are de­lighted that Malta is on that list. It seems that our is­land was made for this sport.”

While the fi­nal four days of the RC44 Val­letta Cup will see the ten teams com­pet­ing off the coast, tomorrow’s match rac­ing will be held in­side Val­letta’s Grand Har­bour, sur­rounded by the for­ti­fied city’s tow­er­ing ram­parts. Lo­cal organisers Yachting Events have man­aged to get Grand Har­bour closed for the day so the match rac­ing can take place.

Team CEEREF’s Igor Lah is pleased to be back in Malta. Here in 2015 his Slove­nian team re­joined the RC44 class. 18 months on and now they are lead­ing. “Malta is awe­some - I am look­ing for­ward to it,” said Lah. “It is nice to be out in front, but the other guys are re­ally good. All the fleet do ex­tremely well so we’ll have to do our best to main­tain our po­si­tion. The set-up with the ho­tel above the boats is bril­liant.” This time the RC44 Val­letta Cup is self-con­tained at the Ex­cel­sior Ma­rina.

How­ever among those chas­ing Team CEEREF there is con­sid­er­able hunger. Team Nika, the de­fend­ing fleet rac­ing cham­pion and 2015 World Cham­pion, cur­rently lies fourth, five points off the lead.

Owner Vladimir Prosikhin com­mented: “It is not re­al­is­tic for us to knock them [Team CEEREF] down, but we will do our best to make them ner­vous!”

Cameron Ap­ple­ton, tac­ti­cian on Chris Bake’s Team Aqua echoed this: “To be lead­ing is good, but it is hard to stay in that spot be­cause this fleet is so strong. We wish the best of luck to Igor, but we’re com­ing for him…”

Nico Poons and his Charisma team are look­ing for big im­prove­ments this week. They won the RC44 Val­letta Cup when it opened the 2015 sea­son.

“Last time we had lots of wind and we were quite strong and had a good team,” com­mented Poons.

“This time we have a new team and have made lots of changes we’ll see what it brings. We need to sta­bilise the team more, but I am feel­ing a bit more com­fort­able com­pared to Cas­cais.”

As to the prospects of de­fend­ing his ti­tle, Poons added: “It is un­be­liev­ably close, which is what makes it chal­lenge. All the own­ers and crews are com­pet­i­tive and have the men­tal­ity to win. But there is also a great at­mo­sphere be­tween crews and own­ers.”

At a time of year when the weather should be volatile, con­di­tions are look­ing ex­cep­tional with the sun cur­rently out, 20°C and a fore­cast of 10-20 knots for the week.

For mak­ing the RC44 Val­letta Cup hap­pen, Peter Valentino and Niki Travers Tauss of Yachting/Events thanked the Mal­tese Govern­ment, Trans­port Malta, Malta Tourism Author­ity, along with their spon­sors, in­clud­ing Val­letta Su­pery­achts and ARQ Group.

Niki Travers Tauss com­mented: “More and more busi­nesses un­der­stand what this event can do for them – it is a great plat­form for VIP hos­pi­tal­ity, for com­pa­nies to bring in top ex­ec­u­tives and clients and have them wit­ness the spec­ta­cle of RC44 rac­ing. It is a truly unique op­por­tu­nity. I’d like to thank the teams on their vote of con­fi­dence in com­ing here once again.”

Among the high­lights for the RC44 own­ers this week will be a din­ner hosted by the Pres­i­dent of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the RC44 Val­letta Cup and rac­ing progress please visit www.yachtingevents.com.mt and www.rc44.com

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