The countdown is on to the 2016 RC44 World Championship Marina de Sotogrande and with less than a week to go, defending Champion Vladimir Prosikhin and his crew onboard Team Nika will undoubtedly be eyeing-up the 11-strong fleet in competition for their title.
Third place in both the match and fleet racing at the RC44 Bermuda Cup in March was a respectable start to the season for Prosikhin, as the team found their feet with two new crew members onboard. However, with Bronenosec Sailing Team on red hot form on the one hand, and Team Aqua gunning for the only title they have never won on the other, Team Nika will have to up their game next week if they want to stay ahead in what promises to be one of the hardest fought World Championship events to date.
The dominant force in the fleet after winning the Bermuda Cup in March, Team Aqua enter this years World Championship as favourites, with the iconic golden steering wheels on deck. But, despite an impressive track record after nine years in the Class, five fleet racing series titles and three match racing series titles, the RC44 World Championship crown has always eluded them. A fortune tactician Cameron Appleton will be looking to change this year.
"Expectations to win this event are normal within our program, all teams yearly goals are based around the worlds. But for sure if you try too hard or want something to badly you will make mistakes and forget about the basics of what makes an event successful. One thing about this class, you can't make mistakes the fleet is just too good, " commented Appleton.
New to the fleet in Sotogrande is the all Russian crew of BlackWater and, after a short absence at the beginning of the year, Nico Poons' team Charisma returns to the fleet with American John Kostecki calling tactics and French team Aleph Racing comes back with Kiwi Olympic sailor Hamish Pepper onboard as tactician.
Next week will also be a big one for local heroes Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team. Racing on the beautiful home waters of San Roque owner John Bassadone will be hoping good fortunes and the dependable westerly Poniente breeze will be blowing in his favour as he takes on the fleet.
"‘It's fantastic to sail in familiar waters so close to where I live in Gibraltar. To have this regatta as the world championship makes its additionally special. I am looking forward to seeing our friends and fellow competitors and hope we get good wind and everyone has great fun," explained Bassadone.
Racing kicks off on Wednesday 11th May with a day of match racing followed by four days of fleet racing for the RC44 World Championship Marina de Sotogrande crown and with every team capable of not only winning races but regattas; the RC44 Sotogrande Cup is not to be missed.
RC44 World Championship Marina de Sotogrande - Crew List
Aleph Racing (FRA)
Hugues Lepic (FRA) - Owner /Driver Hamish Pepper (NZL) - Tactician Warwick Fleury (USA) - Main trimmer Thierry Briend (FRA) - Jib Trimmer Jean Baptiste Marcon (FRA) - Floater Olivier Herledant (FRA) - Pit Paul Dagault (FRA) - Grinder Willie Beavies - Bow
Artemis Racing (SWE)
Owner/Driver - Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) Tactician - Francesco Bruni (ITA) Main Trimmer - Noel Drennan (AUS) Bowman - Pieter Van Nieuwenhuijzen (NED) Pit - Stu Bettany (NZL) Headsail Trimmer - Peter Nichols (AUS) Offside Trimmer - Chris Kamp (DEN) Grinder - Anders Ekstrom (SWE)
Artemis Racing Youth (SWE)
Owner/Driver - Gustaf Lidvall (SWE) Tactician - Freddy Loof (SWE) Main Trimmer - Anthony Nossiter (AUS) Bowman - Gustav Petterson (SWE) Pit - Andreas Axelsson (SWE) Headsail Trimmer - Rodney Ardern (NZL) Offside Trimmer - Nils Akervall (SWE) Grinder - Marcus Anjemark (SWE)
Bronenosec Sailing Team (RUS)
Owner/Driver - Vladimir Liubomirov (RUS) Tactician - Michele Ivaldi (ITA) Main Trimmer - Paul Westlake (AUS) Bowman - Alberto Barovier (ITA) Pit - Pietro Mantovani (ITA) Headsail Trimmer - Maciel Cichetti (ITA) Offside Trimmer - Vlamimir Ikonnikov (RUS) Grinder - Victor Serezhkin (RUS) Floater - Flavia Tomiseli (ITA)
BlackWater Team (RUS)
Owner/Driver - Alexander Zaytsev (RUS) Andreas Savvidis (RUS) Maxim Merzlikin (RUS) Tactician - Konstantin Besputin (RUS) Main Trimmer - Alexander Ekimov (RUS) Bowman - Roman Konstantinov (RUS) Pit - Denis Rozhkov (RUS) Headsail Trimmer - Egor Larionov (RUS) Grinder -Viktor Filippov (RUS)
Owner /Driver - Nico Poons (NED) Tactician - John Kostecki (USA) Main Trimmer - Chris Hosking (AUS) Trim - Ross Halcrow (NZL) Offside Trim - Dimitri Simons (NED) Grinder - Owen Tudur (GBR) Pit - Revelin Minehane (IRL) Bow - Ivan Peute (NED)
Owner/Driver - Alexander Novoselov (RUS) Tactician - Andy Horton (USA) Main Trimmer - Ben Durham (AUS) Bowman - Marco Carpinello (ITA) Pit - Alan Smith (USA) Headsail Trimmer - Valeriy Zsazarinsky (RUS) Offside Trimmer - Anton Sergeev (RUS) Grinder - Ian Baker (NZL)
Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team (GBR)
Owner/Driver - John Bassadone (GBR) Tactician - Vasco Vascotto (ITA) Main Trimmer - Pablo Rosano (ESP) Bowman - Miguel Jauregui (ESP) Pit - Robin Imaz (ESP) Headsail Trimmer - Oliver Gongora (ESP) Offside Trimmer - Mikel Pasabant Quintian (ESP) Grinder - German Panei (ARG)
Team Aqua (GBR)
Owner/Driver - Chris Bake (GBR) Tactician - Cameron Appleton (NZL) Main Trimmer - Andrew Estcourt (NZL) Bowman - Sean Couvreux (USA) Pit - Jonathan Swain (RSA) Headsail Trimmer - Phil Jameson (NZL) Offside Trimmer - Weston Barlow (USA) Grinder - Ben Graham (GBR)
Team CEEREF (SLO)
Owner/Driver - Igor Lah (SLO) Tactician - Adrian Stead (GBR) Main Trimmer - Dirk de Ridder (NED) Bowman - Matteo Auguardo (ITA) Pit - Jaro Furlani (ITA) Headsail Trimmer - Jon Gunderson (NZL) Offside Trimmer - Simone Mina (ITA) Grinder - Mickey Cannoni (ITA)
Team Nika (RUS)
Owner/Driver - Vladimir Prosikhin (RUS) Tactician - Ed Baird (USA) Main Trimmer - Tomaz Copi (SLO) Bowman - Greg Gendell (USA) Pit - Ryan Godfrey (AUS) Headsail Trimmer - Mitja Margon (SLO) Offside Trimmer - Darko Hajdinjak (CRO) Grinder - Iztok Knafelc (SLO)