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Two Irish sailors are among the top level crews set for another classic four days of hot one-design racing in the RC44 class at Marstrand.

West Cork sailor Revelin Minihane and Irish pitman Simon Johnson are in the heart of the action in the RC44, the high-performance monohull class, and what promises to be another classic round of hotly-contested one-design racing in the beautiful surrounds of the Swedish resort of Marstrand.

With a fine weather forecast and good wind conditions predicted for the four days of racing that starts tomorrow, the nine crews are looking forward to renewing rivalries after two successful opening regattas of the 2018 season at Lanzarote and in Slovenia.

The top boat over the season so far, in the world's premier owner-driver series, is Igor Lah's Team CEEREF and British tactician Ado Stead knows they will have to be on their game to stay ahead by Sunday.

"The last regatta was so close between first and sixth – you can't give an inch in this fleet," he said. "We are blessed by having the golden wheels at the moment by being just in front, but it's a cut-throat class and there are no free rides out there."

Stead is expecting some challenging and changeable wind conditions on Sweden's west coast which should test crews and tacticians alike. "It's actually looking really nice and sunny for the next couple of days which is great, but there will be some different stuff, with onshore breezes and then on Friday and Saturday a north-easterly becoming north-westerly, so there will be a bit of everything," he said.

In contrast to CEEREF's consistent showing so far this year, Nico Poons's Charisma has gone from the top of the rankings almost to the bottom in two events, having won in Lanzarote, only to finish sixth in Slovenia. Ray Davies, the Kiwi tactician on board, says the game-plan this weekend is to sail incident-free races and avoid incurring penalties.

"Keeping out of trouble is the plan – that's where we bled a lot of points last time out," he said. "We were getting too involved with other boats at mark roundings and in protests – so we need to just try to keep it nice and clean."

Like Stead, Davies makes the point that there is very little margin for error in these all-carbon monohulls that feature twin wheels and a single winch pedestal in the cockpit. "It's definitely tough, competitive one-design racing," he said. "Make a mistake and you really get punished and we've seen that in the last few years with this class – it's really close racing."

Enjoying the delights of Marstrand for the first time in more than 10 years is Dean Barker, tactician on board Vladimir Prosikhin's Team Nika. Barker, the former skipper of Team New Zealand in the America's Cup, has competed here many times in match racing but is looking forward to four days of competitive fleet racing.

"I've never raced outside the harbour and we've had two days of practice and the wind conditions seem quite tricky to read," he said after docking this afternoon in warm sunshine. "I think it is going to be a really good and challenging racecourse which is all you can ask for," he added.

A bit like Charisma, Team Nika did well in the season opener only to fall down the rankings in the last event when they were propping up the bottom of the table. Barker reckons they made the mistake of assuming their boat would continue its strong form from Lanzarote in Slovenia which did not happen. In Marstrand they have been meticulous in their preparation, trying to ensure they leave nothing to chance.

"We thought the boat was in good shape but we struggled a bit for speed and the whole thing felt difficult," explained Barker. "So we have had a really thorough approach to our preparation of the boat for this one and, after the last couple of days, we feel it is going more in line with what we'd expect. Hopefully that will translate into some good results."

There are nine boats competing in Marstrand with a maximum of 12 races scheduled between tomorrow and Sunday. The other boats on the startline this week are Aleph Racing owned by Hughes Lepic with Michele Ivaldi as tactician, Torbjörn Törnqvist's Artemis Racing with Andy Horton calling the shots, Peninsula Petroleum owned by John Bassadone and featuring Vasco Vascotto on tactics, Team Aqua with Cameron Appleton on tactics and two Russian crews in Bronenosec Sailing Team owned by Vladimir Liubomirov and Tavatuy Sailing Team owned by Pavel Kuznetsov.

Cameron Dunn the New Zealand tactician on Bronenosec Sailing Team says his crew is another one that will be looking to get back up to speed in this tight fleet, having missed the first two regattas of the season.

"For sure we have plenty to polish and get better but we are back and we are fresh," he said. "It's the same team as last year, so we are not rookies or anything but sure, there will be some bits of rust to rub off."

The teams are hosted in Sweden by Artemis Racing's owner Torbjörn Törnqvist and Stena Bulk. The event kicked off this evening with a welcome cocktail in Marstrands Havshotell opened by CEO Daniel Svensson and Erik Hanell, CEO of Stena Bulk.

RC44 Marstrand Cup - Crew list

Aleph Racing (FRA17)

Hugues Lepic (FRA) - Owner / Driver
Michele Ivaldi (ITA) - Tactician
Skip Baxter (NZL) - Main trimmer
Thierry Briend (FRA) - Headsail Trimmer
Ryan Godfrey (AUS) - Pit
Matthew Barber - Grinder
Umberto Molineris (ITA) - Floater
Greg Gendell (USA) - Bow

Artemis Racing (SWE44)
Torbjörn Törnqvist (SWE) - Owner / Driver
Andy Horton (USA) - Tactician
Iain Percy (GBR) - Main trimmer
Maciel Cicchetti (ITA) - Headsail Trimmer
Anders Ekstrom (SWE) - Offside Trimmer
Stu Bettany (NZL) - Pit
Julius Halstrom (SWE) - Grinder
Pieter Van Nieuwenhuijzen (NED) - Bow

Charisma (MON69)
Nico Poons (NED) - Owner / Driver
Ray Davies (NZL) - Tactician
Chris Hosking (AUS) - Main trimmer
Ross Halcrow (NZL) - Headsail Trimmer
Dimitri Simmons (NED) - Offside Trimmer
Revelin Minehane (IRL) - Pit
Jeff McCooey (USA) - Grinder
Ivan Peute (NED) - Bow

Peninsula Petroleum (GBR1)
John Bassadone (GBR) - Owner / Driver
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) - Tactician
Nano Negrin (ESP) - Main trimmer
German Panei (ESP) Robin Imaz (ESP) - Headsail Trimmer
Pablo Rosano (ESP) - Pit
Mikel Pasabant Quintian (ESP) - Grinder
Flavia Tamisell (ITA) - Floater
Gonzalo Morales (ESP) - Bow

Team Aqua (GBR2041)
Chris Bake (NZL) - Owner / Driver
Cameron Appleton (NZL) - Tactician
Andrew Estcourt (NZL) - Main trimmer
Christian Kamp (DEN) - Headsail Trimmer
Grace Bake (NZL) - Offside Trimmer
Simon Johnson (IRL) - Pit
Ben Graham (GBR) - Grinder
Matt Cassidy (USA) - Bow


Igor Lah (SLO) - Owner / Driver
Adrian Stead (GBR) - Tactician
Dirk de Ridder (NED) - Main trimmer
Javi De La Plaza (ESP) - Headsail Trimmer
Mickey Cannoni (ITA) - Offside Trimmer
Jaro Furlani (ITA) - Pit
Davide Loleo (ITA) - Grinder
Matteo Auguardo (ITA) - Bow

Team Nika (RUS10)
Vladimir Prosikhin (RUS) - Owner / Driver
Dean Barker (NZL) - Tactician
Tomaz Copi (SLO) - Main trimmer
Zachary Hurst (NZL) - Headsail Trimmer
Mitja Margon (SLO) - Offside Trimmer
Sean Clarkson (NZL) - Pit
Iztok Knafelc (SLO) - Grinder
Jeremy Lomas (NZL) – Bow

Bronenosec Sailing Team (RUS18)
Vladimir Liubomirov (RUS) Kirill Frolov (RUS) - Owner / Driver
Cameron Dunn (NZL) – Tactician
Alexandr Ekimov (RUS) - Main trimmer
Viktor Serezhkin (RUS) - Headsail Trimmer
Pavel Karachov (RUS) - Offside Trimmer
Pietro Mantovani (ITA) – Pit
Egor Terpigorev (RUS) – Grinder
Alex Kulakov (RUS) – Bow

Tavatuy Sailing Team (RUS21)
Pavel Kuznetsov (RUS) - Owner / Driver
Evgeny Neugodnikov (RUS) – Tactician
Konstantin Besputin (RUS) - Main trimmer
Anton Sergeev (RUS) - Headsail Trimmer
Maxim Sheremetyev (RUS) - Offside Trimmer
Valeriy Zatsarinskiy (RUS) – Pit
Egor Larionov (RUS) – Grinder
Pavel Mshenskiy (RUS) - Bow

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#Offshore - New footage from Team Aqua’s RC44 shows their Irish pitman Simon Johnson in the heart of the action.

And the video takes that literally — as it tracks his heart rate topping out at 181bpm after a leeward drop, a left-hand turn and an early tack.

The former crew on Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix is clearly in peak physical condition in his new role with the British-owned RC44 Championship Tour mainstay.

Published in Offshore
Team Aqua (GBR) clinched the overall title by a narrow four point margin, over Team CEEREF (SLO) in the final day's racing in Maarstand, Sweden. Photos from Oskar Kihlborg below.

Behind the top two there was still third place to play for. Daniel Calero back steering Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) was having a good day after two races, that was about to get better. They had been lying seventh going into the final day but the team from Lanzarote slotted in a 4, 2, 1 scoreline and crept past No Way Back (NED) on the rankings and into third.

The RC44 class is becoming more competitive at each event this year. 16 teams competed in Sweden and many of the new teams are starting to get up to speed. Six different boats took race wins. Only two; Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) and Team Ceeref (SLO), enjoyed double race wins, and the victors in Marstrand lifted the trophy and gratefully accepted the Breitling watch having not taken a bullet in any of the nine races sailed.

Although there is no Irish Campaign in this class as yet there are murmurings of a move towards some kind of Irish participation in a class that is raced as 50% amateur and 50% professional.

Four-time America's Cup winner Coutts conceived the design of the light-displacement, high-performance one-design RC44 with naval architect Andrej Justin in 2005. It was created for top level racing in international regattas under strictly controlled Class Rules. The concept and the design features of the RC44 are dedicated to the amateur helmsmen racing in fleet racing sailing events.

The class is unique in that the crew is made up of 50% amateur and 50% professionals, with an amateur driver required for fleet racing. The class attracts some of the world's top business men, along with the best professional sailors in the world. Top sailors who have competed on the circuit include: Volvo Ocean Race winner, seven-time sailing world champion, a five-time America's Cup veteran Paul Cayard, America's Cup helmsman James Spithill, Olympic Gold medalist Kevin Burnham and a number of the world's top match racing talent including Cameron Appleton, Terry Hutchinson, Sébastien Col and Marcus Wieser.

Since its 2007 debut, the RC 44 class has held regattas in Europe, USA and the Middle East, attracting substantial spectator interest and media coverage.

The racing format will be a combination of both Match Racing (one-on-one racing similar to the America's Cup) and Fleet Racing (Olympic-style racing with all the boats on one race course)rc

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