It’s all change for the 44Cup’s 16th season in 2024. While the circuit for the high performance owner-driver one designs will still comprise five events, including one World Sailing-sanctioned World Championship, this year it will visit three new venues for the first time. 

However, taking place at the end of February, the first event will be on very familiar territory, the RC44 owners and crews able to enjoy some winter sun in Lanzarote, with its uniquely barren lunar-type landscape as a back-drop. The Canary Islands are renowned for their regular north-northeasterly trade winds which average around 12 knots in early March.

Puerto Calero in Lanzarote hosted the grand finale of last year’s 44Cup, which was won by Hugues Lepic’s Aleph Racing, while a third place for Nico Poons’ Charisma was enough to crown the Dutchman’s Monaco-based team the 2023 44Cup champions. The 44Cup has a long association with the Calero family, who own marinas throughout the Canary Islands. For several years, the family even campaigned their own RC44.

For its second event, the 44Cup remains in Spain but heads for the mainland and, for the first time ever, to Baiona in the country’s most northwesterly autonomous region of Galicia. Located on the south side of the entrance to the Ria de Vigo, the town is open to the Atlantic. The prevailing wind is northerly, but the geography of the bay permits protection in the event of it getting too strong.

Galicia is world-renowned for its seafood and this area around Vigo, the Rías Baixas, for white wine produced from the Albariño grape. Baiona itself is historically significant for being where La Pinta moored, bringing news of the discovery of ‘the New World’ in 1493 and for being on the Portugese coastal pilgrimage route to Santiago di Compostela. With the town overlooked by the 16th century Monterreal Castle, the 44Cup’s hosts for the Baiona event will be the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona.

From Spain, the 44Cup makes its own annual pilgrimage north to Marstrand for its rendez-vous with the Swedish paradise island and its rugged terrain courtesy of Artemis Racing’s Torbjörn Törnqvist. The 44Cup will be hosted here by the Marstrands Segelsällskap club with the support of the Marstrands Havshotell. In the height of summer, conditions on the race area to the west of Marstrand island can vary from chilly brisk northeries to light, more balmy conditions if high pressure develops nearby. This will be the 11th time the 44Cup has visited Marstrand, Sweden’s premier regatta venue. This year racing will coincide with Midsommar, the summer solitice, one of Sweden’s most celebrated holidays. As usual the 44Cup will lay on a show and on at least one day a finish line will be set in Marstrand fjord providing great views of the action for spectators.

For 2024’s World Championship, the 44Cup will move inland to a lake. Due to their unique design that enables a 44ft long yacht travel as if a 40ft container, the RC44s are straightforward and relatively inexpensive to transport. As a result, they have often raced on lakes including Lake Garda in Italy and Lake Traunsee in Austria, but the last time this happened was in 2012. While the RC44s had an event on Lake Lugano in 2007, this will be the first occasion the 44Cup has visited central Switzerland where they will be racing on Lake Lucerne out of the small touristic town of Brunnen. This is located in one of the oldest parts of the country, close to where the Switzerland’s oldest official document, the Federal Charter – a pact between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden – was signed in 1291.

The Brunnen event has come about at the recommendation of Christian Zuerrer who has raced and trained there with his Black Star Sailing Team often in the past. “It is a fantastic place. During COVID we spent one month training there and out of 30 days we sailed for 28 days. The guys were exhausted!”

Brunnen is located on the outside corner of a 90deg bend in the picturesque lake which means the racing area can be adapted to the conditions – the wind is largely thermal, building typically to 12-18 knots but as much as 25 at times. Zuerrer is setting up the event with support of the Brunnen town council and he is keen to show off 44Cup racing to visitors. “It is a spot where people come to spend a nice summer weekend, just to hang out at the lake. For me it is a chance to show them that this is a cool sport, so we want to make it friendly to the public and not stuck away in a closed marina.”

For its final event, the 44Cup will return to the British Virgin Islands at the end of November. The circuit last visited the Caribbean at the end of 2015, with the Virgin Gorda Cup. On that occasion the event was held out the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s clubhouse in North Sound Harbour, but this sadly was destroyed during the Category 5 Hurricane Irma in 2017. As a result for the 2024 44Cup’s conclusion the fleet will be based out of Nanny Cay marina on the main island of Tortola, famous for hosting the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival every April, where they will be hosted by the Royal BVI Yacht Club.

Racing here will take place on one of the world’s best courses – the Sir Francis Drake Channel between the Tortola itself and the smaller off-lying islands to the south, such as Peter Island, Norman Island and Ginger Island. While the race area is still relatively open to the typical easterly trade winds which blow in this part of the Caribbean, the effect of these low-lying islands is to flatten out the water. For those visiting from north Europe, Tortola’s typical temperature in November is a welcome 25-30degC.

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