The RC44 Valletta Cup, 23- 27 November, is set to be one of the closest fought finals in the RC44’s ten-year history. With only seven points separating the top seven teams and with each boat capable of making it onto the podium it will be a case of who can master the Mistral racing against the backdrop of the city’s magnificent fortress.
Having quietly risen to prominence throughout the year, Team CEEREF go into the RC44 Championship Tour grand final next week in pole position, with a slim two-point lead over five-time RC44 Champions Team Aqua.
Not feeling the pressure Slovenian owner Igor Lah explained: “I am not superstitious so I do not believe past results can predict future ones. Obviously, everyone is trying really hard and putting a lot of effort to be as good as possible.
“As the class has matured everyone’s knowledge of how to optimise the boats performance has grown, so it’s going to be tough, but I’m also very competitive so it really pushes me on.”
But, when the racing is so close luck also plays its part, last month at the RC44 Cascais Cup the Slovenian team had the title in their sights until disaster struck and their spinnaker gracefully divided in two splitting across its centre from luff to leech. This caused them to drop from third to seventh and to lose the RC44 Cascais Cup by a mere point to Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Swedish boat Artemis Racing.
Having clinched the crown in the final meters of the final race, Tornqvist’s experienced crew are expected to do well in Malta as, the much like the Portuguese racecourse, the conditions will be not so much about the shifts as handling the sea state and keeping the boat under control.
It has been a turbulent year for the 2015 defending champions Team Nika but the onus is now on them to show the will of a champion and bounce back. A disappointing eighth at the World Championship in Sotogrande has seen the team fight back all season going into the final in fourth place tied on 12 points with fifth placed Peninsula Petroleum.
Of the remaining challengers to the podium Bronenosec Sailing Team hold 13 points in sixth place followed by Katusha on 14 points in seventh.
With racing due to kick off at 11.30 (CET) Wednesday 23 November follow all the action of the RC44 Valletta Cup visit www.rc44.com.