It may seem an age since the final horn sounded at the RC44 Bermuda Cup, the opening event of the 2016 season, but fear not - in just a few weeks’ time the teams will be back in action for one of the most important events on the 2016 racing calendar, the RC44 World Championship in Sotogrande Spain.
To whet your appetite, we’ve compiled a list of the key storylines to follow heading into the World Championship event…
Friends on shore, rivals on the water. Can Team Nika challenge Bronenosec’s dominance?
On the dock Vladimir Liubomirov and Vladimir Prosikhin are the best of friends, but out on the water their racing teams, Bronenosec Sailing Team and Team Nika, have emerged as the fleets biggest rivals.
After winning both the 2015 World and Fleet Racing Championship title it is easy to assume Team Nika are this years dominant team, but if you think that makes them super confident for 2016, think again.
After the RC44 Bermuda Cup kicked off the season, it is clear that Vladimir Liubomirov and hisBronenosec Sailing Team fancy their chances.
After winning the 2015 match racing crown Lubomirov’s team continued to obliterate the opposition winning five out of six of their matches in Bermuda. However, a costly two point penalty saw Team Nika finish ahead of them in the overall standings.
But Bonenosec bounced back in the fleet racing to snatch second place from Team Nika.
For round two in Sotogrande the pressure will be on defending World Champion Team Nika as Bronenosec Sailing Team establish themselves as the chief thorn in their old friends side.
Can Team CEEEREF ride their momentum to upstage the Russians?
Team CEEREF burst back on to the 2016 leaderboard with a string of outstanding results in the opening races of the RC44 Bermuda Cup. With the rest of the fleet on the back foot after the winter break Igor Lah’s team lead by tactician Adrian Stead are challenging for the podium and rattling a few cages within the fleet.
Can Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team move up the leaderboard?
Over the past five years John Bassadone’s Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team have had checkered results table. A challenge for the golden wheels in 2014, finishing the year as runner up to the mighty Team Aqua, Peninsula Petroleum fell short of expectation in 2015 only managing a fifth. But with the 2016 RC44 World Championship on their home waters and with owner John Bassadone back on the helm, the big question now is can they deliver after the short winter break and transform themselves into a serious threat for this years podium?
Can Team Aqua re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with this year?
The RC44 fleet is about as competitive as you can get in the world of professional racing and the benchmark team for the past nine years has been Chris Bake’s Team Aqua. Five times fleet racing champions and three times match racing champions the team has had an almost faultless run of luck.
But a tough year in 2015 saw their four year fleet racing winning streak broken with a third place finish.
But the team is back with serious intent. An event win in Bermuda was a strong step up in gear for 2016 but the real test is still to come with the illusive RC44 World Championship. Despite their impressive history in the Class Team Aqua have never won a World Championship event.