Photos: Martinez Studio
Malta’s sailing scene is made up of much more than posh accents and expensive deck shoes – although Maltese sailors are probably what’s keeping the pink polo-shirt industry alive. Some of the most prestigious races take place in Malta and frankly our island was pretty much made for the sport.
One of the many notches on our sailing bedpost is the RC44 Championship Tour. It launched in 2007 and has quickly established itself as a key series to compete on in the international yacht racing circuit. The tour brings together the worlds of sailing and business – amateur owner drivers race high performance one-design yachts with some of the world’s elite sailors in some of the most beautiful and diverse sailing venues around the world.
The first edition of the RC44 Valletta Cup was held in March 2015. Crews included Olympic Medallists, World Champions and America’s Cup sailors racing with some of the world’s business leaders.
Aside from a potential chinos epidemic, here’s what to look forward to in this year’s edition:
1. It’s named after an amazing sailor
It took three years for five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts and naval architect Andrej Justin to come up with the final design of the RC44 boat. For all the sailing dummies out there: the Rc44 boat is what’s called a ‘one design class’, meaning all of them are identical.
2. It will bring out the geek in every sailor
Apparently the fact that the RC44 is a carbon fibre racing machine that is 44’ long, weighs 3.6 tonnes, 3 tonnes of which are in the keel and has a 69’ mast that weighs 121 kg is basically like porn to sailor folk.
3. It’s the ultimate group sport
The RC44 Class rules dictate that the owner is at the wheel at all times, but each racing crew consists of eight people, so this will be the ultimate Maltese boat-day. Except most of the sailors who participate are Olympians and America’s Cup veterans so probably less pink sausages more world-class sailing action.
4. This year Malta is the biggest deal
This year the final result of the entire championship will be determined in Malta. With both the match and fleet racing 2016 titles up for grabs the RC44 Valletta Cup will be a nail-biting end to the season. Yep, we’re kind of a big deal.
5. It’s insanely competitive
The RC44 Valletta Cup will kick off in Malta’s Grand Harbour with a day of match racing. This is a sailing discipline where teams sail on two identical boats against each other in a tournament format. In this type of racing second place is actually last place. So it’s basically “first or nothing”. Intense. Not for you though –you’ll be sipping spritz on St Barbara’s Bastions like a boss.
6. It puts Malta in the limelight – again
Hubert Detrey, the RC44 Class Hospitality Manager, said it best: “Malta is considered to be the wind factory of the Mediterranean and with the warm climate the owners enjoy the fast pace racing Malta offers. The hospitality in Malta has been incomparable both from the local organising authority as well as all the stakeholders involved – all have made our teams and support crews very welcome”. Well that’s just how we roll.
The RC44 Valletta Cup will be taking place between Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at 12:30pm and Sunday 27th November 2016 at 1:30pm. better get your sailing-supporter outfit ready.