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It is now confirmed that the International Paint Poole Regatta 2018 on the English south coast will be hosting a record number of championships. Five UK National Championships and two Southern Area Championships have been confirmed for the regatta so far. As the weeks go by, the 2018 regatta is shaping up to be the biggest and best since its re-launch in 2000 and the regatta committee are still working tirelessly to add exciting new features.

The classes holding their National Championship at Poole are the J24, HP30, MOCRA, VPRS and 2.4mR. The 2.4mR class will also be holding their Tidal Championship at Poole Regatta.

With no IRC National Championship in 2018 and the European Championship being held in Cowes limited to boats rating over 0.995, the IRC Southern Area Championship being run as part of the regatta takes on a far greater significance this year. With at least three IRC classes planned, crews are expected to use the event either as their premier championship in 2018 or as a warm-up for the Europeans taking place in June. The Shrimper class will also be holding their Southern Championship during the weekend.

The regatta committee confirmed to Afloat.ie that they will offer free berthing during the regatta for any entrants travelling from Ireland. 

Hopefully that is of interest to your racing community and provides that little extra incentive to head round to the channel and compete. The regatta is just a few days before Poole Boat Show and a couple of weeks before the IRC European Championships, so it could be a good warm up event for anyone participating there.

“With so much silverware available to win, multiple race courses designed to provide dynamic racing for each class and our renowned social events, we really feel that The International Paint Poole Regatta 2018 is going to exceed previous editions in terms of competitive activity on the water and overall event atmosphere. We still have a lot of work to do before May, but can’t wait to host these competitive championships.” Martin Pearson - Regatta Chairman.

To find out more about Poole Regatta click here.

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At midday on Monday 8th January 2018 entry will open for all Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) races, including the Season's Points Championship comprised of 14 races, as well as the highlight of the UK Solent season - the IRC Europeans and Commodores' Cup.

Competitors entering the IRC Europeans (8-16th June) are invited to form a team of three boats with members of their own yacht club or with boats from their region. Alternatively, contact the RORC Race Team who will provide a list of boats entered, but not yet part of a team.

The biggest contest in the 2018 RORC programme is the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Sunday 12th August. At 1,805 nautical miles, it is three times longer than a Fastnet Race and attracts experienced offshore sailors looking for a serious challenge. Starting and finishing in Cowes, it is on a four-year cycle due to the toughness of the race. Circumnavigating all the islands of the UK, including the most northerly point Muckle Flugga, it negotiates headlands with tidal challenges all around the UK and faces the notorious British weather.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's UK domestic season fires up with the Easter Challenge (30th March to 1st April) and offers crews the chance to work on pre-season training and fine-tuning. With the relaxation of RRS41, the highlight of the event is the availability of a selection of experienced coaches on the water to assist with getting back up to speed.

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Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Daniel Hardy, has won the 2017 RORC Cherbourg Race, after holding off a strong challenge from James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX writes Louay Habib. After IRC time correction, 29 seconds was the winning margin, after a high speed blast to Cherbourg across the English Channel. Edward Broadway's Ker 40 Hooligan VII was third, completing the podium for overall honours. The 75 mile race featured a tight reach west out of the Solent, followed by a moon-lit downwind sprint to Cherbourg across the English Channel.

“We were over at the start, as was Ino XXX, so the race didn't start well. We re-started correctly and then went for the island shore, which worked out well for tidal relief. As the last start of the race, we had to work our way through the whole fleet, and after a luffing match with Bob, we were in clear air after the Needles, and put our foot down. The wind speed was up to about 20 knots from the north west, we were surfing towards a rising moon, just classic offshore racing, swapping out grinders and giving it our all. During the night, the wind speed decreased, and with a westerly going tide, we had to be careful not to heat up too much in the quest for speed, and end up too high at the finish. We lost track of Ino XXX but we knew it would be close, so to just get the win, was very satisfying.”

In IRC Zero, Lady Mariposa was the winner, and now leads the class for the season. Ross Hobson's Open 50 Pegasus Of Northumberland, racing Two Handed, was second for the Cherbourg Race, and Stephen Durkin's Farr 52 Bob, sailed by Jonathan Tyrrell, was third. In IRC One, Ino XXX was the winner, and now leads the class for the season. Hooligan VII was second for the Cherbourg Race, and Tor McLaren's MAT 1180 Gallivanter, sailed by Andrew Horrocks, was third.

In IRC Two, the race winner was Nick & Suzi Jones' First 44.7 Lisa, sailed by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd. Lisa was just seven seconds ahead of Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia, after IRC time correction. Christopher Daniel's J/122e Juno was third. Suzi Jones has competed in all races on Lisa this season, juggling commitments, including bringing up three young children. “You need a really good babysitter, looking after three young boys is a tough job” commented Suzi. “I miss them dearly but it gives me a bit of a rest. On board Lisa, we have quite a young crew, so I can be mother to them too! Above all I love racing with the RORC because I am ultra competitive, and I love winning.”

In IRC Three, Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, racing was the winner by less than a minute after IRC time correction. Delamare & Mordret's JPK 1080, Dream Pearls was second, and Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two Handed, was third. In IRC Two Handed, Redshift Reloaded was the winner, Bellino second, and Ian Hoddle's Sun Fast 3600 Game On was third. Bellino has retained the lead in IRC Two Handed for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

In IRC Four, Jerome Desvaux's Sprint 108 Jurassic - Captain Corsaire, scored a memorable victory over fellow French competitor Noel Racine, racing JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew. Paul Kavanagh's S&S Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, was third for the race, and moves up to second, behind Foggy Dew, for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

At the Prize Giving held at the Yacht Club de Cherbourg, RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd, spoke on behalf of the competitors, thanking the club for their generous hospitality. The President of the Yacht Club de Cherbourg, Jean Le Carpentier, and RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott, officiated at the awards ceremony. 

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Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's A35, Fools Gold, skippered by Rob McConnell returned to Wales at the weekend for another regatta campaign. Having won the IRC Welsh Nationals in August in Pwllheli, the Dunmore East boat has gone on to win Abersoch Keelboat Week, IRC division one by half a point.

Fools Gold was up against a range of cruiser–racers in her ten boat fleet including J109s, J97s, Corbys and a Beneteau 234.7. Results are here.

16–year–old helmsman, Dunmore East 420 dinghy champion, Geoff Power got his first taste of cruiser–racing on the tiller of Fools Gold.

A two race retirement after a broken rig, was no barrier for McConnell's crew who, among others, squeezed out ISORA overall leader Mojito for the win.

The Wateford crew also won 'Best Visiting Boat' Trophy at Abersoch. The win completes a successful season for McConnell who also clinched Sovereigns Cup overall honours in July.

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What has been ideal night sailing conditions for this race in past seasons was certainly not ideal last Friday night, 18th August, for ISORA’s Night Race. Weather forecasts all agreed on what faced the fleet of 18–boats that came to the start line writes Peter Ryan, Chairman of ISORA.

Four other boats had earlier pulled out. All forecasts were promising westerly winds of 25–knots and gusting. This was to remain before moderating by early morning.

Due to the conditions the Sailing Committee decided not to use the traditional turning mark on the course, North Arklow, but instead use an inshore course, keeping the fleet away from the banks. The course was: Start at Dun Laoghaire – North Burford (S) – Killiney Outfall (P) – Breeches Buoy (P) – South Burford (S) – Finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire – 36 miles.

The race started in the 25 knots of westerly wind, sending the fleet fast broad reaching towards North Burford. Some of the boats attempted to hoist spinnakers but no great advantage was gained due to handling difficulties as the westerly winds gusted up to 32 knots. Daragh Cafferkey’s “Another Adventure” was first to round followed by Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia”.

JEDI INSS ISORA 1773Just back from a top showing at the Rolex Fastnet Race, Kenny Rumball's Jedi from the Irish National Sailing School competed in ISORA's night race and won Class One Photo: Afloat.ie

The next leg was a loose fetch / tight reach down to Killiney Bay. The fleet had split at this stage. “Aurelia” had passed “Another Adventure” to round that mark first. Close behind the leaders was Kenneth Rumball’s “Jedi” of the INSS and Roger Smith’s “Wakey Wakey” and Vincent Farrell’s “Tsunami”.

ISORA night race route18–boats came to the start line for the ISORA night race along the Dublin and Wicklow coast

The next long leg south to Breeches was another broad reach but this time those boats who ventured to hoist spinnakers broke away from the fleet, despite the many broaches. Rounding Breeches Buoy, “Aurelia” still was maintaining its lead just ahead of “Another Adventure”.

The following leg was a fetch north to South Burford. “Aurelia” had by this time extended its lead from “Another Adventure” followed by “Jedi”, Colm Buckley’s “Indian”, “Tsunami” and Paul Egan’s “Platinum Blonde”.

The last leg to the finish was a beat. “Aurelia” continued to extend his lead and took Line Honours, IRC Overall and IRC Class 0. “Jedi” just pipped “Another Adventure” by 26 seconds to take 2nd IRC Overall and IRC Class 1. Derek Dillon’s “Big Deal” took IRC Class 2.

In ECHO, Jim Schofield’s “Thisbe” took Overall and Class 2. “Aurelia” took Class 0 while “Jedi” took Class 1. Full results can be found here

The next race takes place next Saturday, 26th August, a day race from Dun Laoghaire to Greystones. This is one feeder race to the Greystones Regatta to take place the following day. A fleet of 25 boats from a list of 33 entries are expected to make their way to the start line.

MOJITO ISORA J109 1829J109 Mojito holds a narrow lead in the overall Avery Crest Offshore Championship going into the Dun Laoghaire–Greystones race this weekend. Photo: Afloat.ie

The Overall Avery Crest Offshore Championship is hotting up with “Mojito” slightly ahead of the current Champion “Sgrech” and followed closely by “Jedi” and “Aurelia”. With a large fleet expected for the last offshore from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire on the 9th September, it is possible for any one of those boats to snatch the coveted “Wolf’s Head” trophy.

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With light winds forecast for the final day, the fleet left the event pontoons to the two racing areas in glorious sunshine, a relief to shed the wet weather gear! IRC 1 and 2 sailed two windward/leeward races off shore from a committee boat start, where the breeze held steady from the south–east at 4–7 kts enabling some steady racing. "Fools Gold" and "Dark Angel" each won a race in IRC 1 giving the overall first for the championship to "Fools Gold" adding another title to their successful campaign this season following a win at June's Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale.

In IRC 2 "Checkmate" and "Injenious" each won a race today with the IRC 2 overall championship won by "Legless Again" who sailed consistently all weekend. "Luvly Jubbly" won all three races in IRC 3 sports boat class and the overall win, in a class which we hope to build for next year, racing around the club marks off the club line.

IRC 4 Cruiser class was won today by "Paraiba" with overall championship in this class by Roger Fitzgerald in His Delher 29 Ella Trout III.

Prize-giving followed racing, and crews enjoyed a carvery dinner after Plas Heli and Championship Chairman Stephen Tudor thanked the Royal Dee team for their race management of IRC 1 and 2 and Robin Evans for IRC 3 and 4

Full results and photographs here 

Next year's provisional dates for the IRC Welsh Championships are: 17-19th August

Published in ICRA
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The second ever IRC European Championship took place in the south of France over four days last week for an international fleet of 53 boats.

While last year the inaugural event was incorporated into Cork Week, this year's IRC European Championship was a stand-alone affair, held off Marseille, the 2017 European Capital of Sport and the potential 2024 Olympic sailing venue, should Paris win its bid. It was run by the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL), in conjunction with the three Marseille clubs, Centre Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon (CNTL), Societe Nautique de Marseille (SNM) and Union Nautique Marseillaise (UNM) - the first time they had organised a major international regatta together.

Somewhat disappointingly, given Ireland's strong IRC involvement through ICRA, there were no Irish entries and a single British entry in the RORC event.

At one point. it was hoped that inaugural champion Paul Gibbons Anchor Challenge from Cork Harbour might be in a position to defend her title but with three major IRC regattas within just a few weeks in Ireland this year it would only have been a full pro crew that could have contemplated the Marseille trip.

It would, of course, be in Royal Cork's interest to see Irish participation given the club has bid for the IRC Euros again in 2020, its tricentenary year.

The Marseille 2017 IRC European Championship title was open to boats with an IRC TCC of 0.900 -1.400. In practice entries ranged from 31 footers to TP52s, with IRC, the rating rule of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and UNCL, creating a level playing field for all. Racing was held on windward-leewards and longer courses around Marseille's off-lying Frioul islands in conditions ranging from light on the first two days, building over the weekend into the high teens.

IRC Zero for the fastest boats, featured four TP52s and the Italian Cookson 50, Endless Game, helmed by Spanish double Olympic medallist Luis Doreste Blanco. The longest boats were the Swan 601, Lorina 1895 and the Wally 60, Wallyño, which, despite the grand prix competition, led IRC Zero after day two.

However ultimately crowned 2017 IRC European Champion was one of the smallest boats: the JPK 10.10, Expresso 2 in IRC Four. Owner Guy Claeys regularly races shorthanded, but on this occasion Expresso 2 was sailed with a full crew including Olympic Soling sailor turned sailmaker, Sylvian Chtounder.

The 1994 vintage Alice, originally owned by Vendee Globe skipper Mike Golding, was the sole British entry in this year's IRC Europeans and impressively counted no points worse than a second.

Surprisingly in IRC Three, the top three boats were all Farr 36s, Alice and Frantz Philippe's second-placed Farr 36 Absolutely, recent winner of the inshore racing at Rolex Giraglia Cup, both IRC-optimised by Wicklow designer Mark Mills. They and Week End Millionaire all overcame race favourite, Gilles Pages' Sun Fast 3600 Tip, present leader of the UNCL's 2017 Mediterranean IRC Championship. 

Overall results by class (including discard)
IRC Zero
1. Team Vision Future - Jean-Jacques Chaubard (FRA) - 18
2. Phoenix - Hasso Plattner (USA) - 19
3. Arobas2 - Gerard Logel (FRA) - 22

IRC One
1. Tonnerre de Glen - Dominique Tian (FRA) - 7
2. Imagine - Jean-Claude Andre (FRA) - 16
3. Cippalippa Rossa - Paolo Guido Gamucci (ITA) - 17

IRC Two
1. Geranium Killer - Pascal Fravalo (FRA) - 8
2. Jivaro - Yves Grosjean (FRA) - 15
3. Adrenaline - Michel Gendron (FRA) - 15

IRC Three
1. Alice - Simon Henning (GB) - 8
2.Absolutely - Philippe Frantz (FRA) - 20
2.Week-end Millionnaire - Yves Ginoux (FRA) - 23

IRC Four
1. Expresso 2 - Guy Claeys (FRA) - 7
2. Fioupelan - Frederic Forestier (FRA) - 28
3. Old Fox - Paolo Colangelo (ITA) - 28

Published in RORC
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No matter what Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta organisers did it was never going to be easy to get a quart into a pint pot. Tomorrow's first race will now see 33% of all competing IRC boats in class one. It's the creation of a 'super class' for the biennial regatta, a sign of the popularity of this size of boat.

It will be the test of the season as class one boats gather from across Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales for the VDLR 'Cruisers One' crown. Ironically, the only boats missing – in a who's who line-up of talent – are the winners of May's Scottish Series (J109, Storm, Pat Kelly) and last month's Sovereign's Cup (A35, Fools Gold, Rob McConnell). Read the full IRC one entry list below.

Just how to manage the class breaks in such an impressive but diverse IRC fleet has been occupying the minds of the VDLR committee and its Director of Racing, Con Murphy, an Olympic Games Race Officer from Rio, for some time.

Last week Afloat.ie stuck its neck out on the thorny subject and gave some predictions on class splits and prospective winners. You can read those predictions here.

Afloat.ie pointed to the possibility of moving boats from the very big class one line-up into class zero as a means of dealing with a class double the size of the other IRC classes.

An amendment to the Notice of Race (NOR) published on Monday, however, shows the regatta has instead introduced a sixth IRC class.

'We've ended up with six distinct groups that are of similar speed, rather than six evenly sized fleets', Murphy told Afloat.ie who admits that it has been a vexed question.

It's a move that at first glance seems unnecessary because 88 IRC boats should fit into five classes but it has come about largely as a consequence of the popularity of boats in and around 33–36 feet length and a desire on the part of the J109 fleet to race under IRC rather than as a one design class.

rockabill icraDublin Bay's own Rockabill VI, the JPK10.80 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner will race in class one Photo: Bob Bateman

The net result is VDLR 2017 will set sail with a 'super class' by combining 15 mainly race orientated, well sailed and crewed various designs (JPK 10.80, Corby 33's, Archambault 35's, XP33s, Ker and Mills custom yachts) and then adding to it an uber–competitive 14 x J109 fleet.

VDLR had bowed to the agm–wishes of a 14-strong Dublin Bay J109 fleet as far back as January to allow them race in IRC class one as opposed to a separate class as they had done previously in 2015.

It's been no easy job striking the balance and Murphy has consulted far and wide in trying to reach an equitable solution.

RC35 Scottish seriesIrish boats racing in the RC35 fleet at the Scottish Series in May. The Scottish class says that having a restricted handicap of 1.015 to 1.040 has encourage tight, competitive racing. Scottish boats will be racing in Dun Laoghaire Photo: Marc Turner

Among the lobbyists, Scottish entries argued against some of their boats being moved into class zero. At May's Scottish Series this 'RC35' group had its own class with four boats from Ireland (including an Irish J109 winner) and the racing was tight and competitive. Having a restricted handicap of 1.015 to 1.040 has encouraged tight, competitive racing and has seen four new owners buy boats to fit into this banding.

If there is a split at VDLR, the new Scottish class argued, it will 'dilute our class and our campaign to encourage its development.'

In correspondence seen by Afloat.ie, other skippers argued, however, that class one's higher rated yachts (of 1.045) will make racing 'grossly unfair' as such boats will get 'clear air off the start line while the balance of the relatively level rated fleet will fight for clear air throughout the race and arrive at marks in unison. Meanwhile, the faster boats 'get richer', one Dublin Bay skipper pointed out.

The problem for Murphy is that the bottom of class one fleet is all J109s so there is 'nobody left to move down to class two'. There is a big gap between 1.045 and class zero so moving such boats into class zero would give them 'poor racing'.

If VDLR did move to split class one, it would leave the J109s racing with just one other class one type yacht.

To say the least, the question has put the organisers between a rock and a hard place.

In one sense, of course, it's a good problem to have because so many other regattas these days have been scratching around looking for entries.

As an additional consideration for organisers, this year's VDLR programme will also feature more racing, up to three races per day, so there is a big onus on VDLR to keep fleets together in order to turn races around quickly.

The net result is VDLR 2017 will now have 29 of the 88 boats in class one, that's 33% of all competing IRC boats.

Start lines

It's an imbalance that admittedly could have unintended consequences for class zero, one and two racing that are racing on the same courses.

For example, how do you set proper lines when class zero will start with five boats and, on the same line, class one will start with 29?

Do they make the line too small for the big class? Or if they make it the right length for the larger class, it will be huge (estimated at 400 metres) for the small class, thus allowing boats that don't start well, the chance to get great starts. It's something Murphy acknowledges and as a means of dealing with the issue he will be using pin end committee boats instead of a buoy to facilitate the setting of the suitably long line for the big class one.

'We plan to set appropriately long start lines and 1.5 mile or longer first beats for the fleet to help reduce bunching at marks' 

Equally, Murphy is also investigating the possibility of tying to put in a shorter line for the smaller zero fleet but that will be a tricky thing to achieve within the starting sequence timeframe.

Boat of the Regatta

Another consequence might be its affect on one of the great VDLR traditions and that is its popular 'overall yacht of the week' prize. It's a prestigious award, especially this year when drawn from a total fleet of a near record entry of 473 entries.

How can someone be expected to dominate such a competitive class as class one when it is likely another eight or nine boat classes may produce a dominating boat? It's a factor for organisers to consider because the status of the regatta is diminished if IRC classes are not in the running for this top prize.

Class two and three

Moving down the bands, there are now 17 boats in class two yet only nine in class three. It is, perhaps, a reasonable question to ask why these two classes cannot be combined to make it a 26–boat fleet? If VDLR did this, the spread between the fastest boat and slowest boat would be 57 points. In class one, as they have it now, the spread between fastest and slowest is 50 points.

The answer, says Murphy, after extensive consultation, is that class three is largely made up of vintage –yet modified – Half–Tonners and it is 'unfair to put them with modern class two yachts' because of potential speed differentials.

Racing gets under way tomorrow afternoon.

Cruiser Class One – The Entries

Animal Royal Northern and Clyde YC GBR3627L First 36.7 1.021 Kevin Aitken

Banshee Clyde Cruising Club GBR9470R Corby 33 1.040 Charlie Frize

Bon Exemple Royal Irish Yacht Club GBR8933R X-Yachts 1.017 Colin Byrne

Carmen II Helensburgh Sailing Club IRL1666 First 36.7 1.019 Alan Jeffrey

Ruth National Yacht Club IRL1383 J109 1.015 Shanahan Family

Something Else National Yacht Club IRL29213 J109 1.011 John Hall

Chimaera Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL2160 J109 1.015 Andrew Craig

Jalapeno National Yacht Club IRL5109 J109 1.014 Paul Barrington

Jigamaree Royal Irish Yacht Club IR7991 J109 1.011 Ronan Harris

Joker 2 Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL1206 J109 1.013 John Maybury

Juggerknot Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL3660 J109 1.017 Andrew Algeo

Jump The Gun Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL1129 J109 1.012 John Kelly

Indecision Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL9898 J109 TBA Declan Hayes

Powder Monkey 2 National Yacht Club IRL28898 J109 1.009 Christopher Moore

D-Tox Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL13500 X 35 1.043 Patrick McSwiney

Gringo National Yacht Club Irl 7778 A 35 1.023 Anthony Fox

Impostor South Caernarvonshire YC GBR7377 Corby 33 1.035 Richard Fildes

Jacob VII Port Edgar IRL3307 Corby 33 1.039 John Stamp

Now or Never 3 Fairlie Yacht Club GBR7667R MAT 1010 1.032 Neill Sandford

Prima Luce Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL3504 First 35 1.017 Patrick Burke

Raptor Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL811 Mills 30CR 1.013 Denis Hewitt

Rockabill VI Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL10800 JPK 10.80 1.048 Paul O’Higgins

Thalia National Yacht Club IRL733 Sigma 400 1.035 Aubrey Leggett

Triple Elf Clyde Cruising Club FRA37296 Beneteau First 35 1.020 Christine Murray

Valkerie Liverpool Yacht Club GBR7031T Ker 31 1.027 Austin Harbison

White Mischief Royal Irish YC/National YC GBR1242R J109 1.010 Richard Goodbody

Wavetrain Greystones Sailing Club IRL 1477 Channel 32 1.014 Frank Whelan

Published in Volvo Regatta

With a near perfect scoreline, Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 classic yacht Whooper was crowned 2017 champion at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC Nationals. Today, two windward-leeward races were held on the Solent in similar brisk southwesterlies to the first two days. This year's event may not have been an 'all-round test' weather-wise, but has been extremely challenging in terms of preparation and boat handling.

During the event Whooper, a classic Laurent Giles sloop that was previously IRC National Champion in 2004, scored six bullets, a fourth and a discardable DNF in the final race.

Whooper is no rating demon. She is optimised with modern sails and Belgrano has an experienced crew who do 60-70 races/year.

Elsewhere, the racing was extremely close. In the FAST 40+, Johnny Vincent's Pace fended off charges from Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film to win by a slender two points. Today Pace scored a 1-3 to Girls on Film's 2-1.

IRC One concluded with a dog fight for the lead between the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa and Ker 40 Keronimo. The larger boat held a two point lead going into the final race in which they suffered a major blow, being over the start line early.

Finally they managed to shake Keronimo off and were able to get up to speed until they had to make a last minute change to their lighter spinnaker, despite the wind building to above 20 knots. "We were praying that it would hold to the finish," recalled Hardy. Ultimately finishing fourth to Keronimo's second left them tied on points, claiming IRC One on countback.

In IRC Two there was a leader change with Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, leader all weekend, finally trounced by Adam Gosling's JPK 1080+ Yes! who came very close to successfully defending their IRC Nationals title.

As to relinquishing the IRC National title to Whooper, Gosling said: "Giovanni sails really well. He's campaigned Whooper for a long time. It is nice to see an old boat win."

Results are here

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With the southwesterly piping up to 30 knots in the final race, the RORC IRC Nationals got off to a brisk start on the Solent today with two windward-leewards followed by a round the cans race.

Appropriately, given this is an annual championship for Royal Ocean Racing Club's rating rule, it is a mix of both the newest boats and the very oldest, that lead at the conclusion of day one.

Star performer was Ed Fishwick's Redshift Reloaded which scored straight bullets in IRC Two and now lead reigning IRC National Champion, Adam Gosling on the JPK 1080+ Yes! by five points.

Fishwick typically races his new Sun Fast 3600 doublehanded offshore, but has a full crew for this event. "Today it was mainly about getting good starts and staying upright," he explained. "We are one of the lower rated boats in IRC Two, so it was critical to get good starts and we got them, which meant we were in touch all the way up the first beat. It was very shifty and we had to do an unusual amount of tacking on shifts, but we got it right."

While their competitors were broaching around them, Redshift Reloaded's broad beam and twin rudders helped the crew keep her on her feet as the wind reached 28 knots, although even they suffered one wipe out.

The attrition rate was highest in the FAST40+ class where only four of the nine entries completed the third race. At the end of the race two, Johnny Vincent's Ker 40+ Pace was tied on points with Girls on Film, the brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3 of 2016 FAST 40+ champion, Peter Morton. However, this was not to continue for Morton, who recounted: "The problem was that our bilge pumps weren't working and we were slowly filling up with water which we couldn't get rid of. In the third race we were going down. We had about 2.5 tonnes of water on board and couldn't finish the race."

Nonetheless Morton was pleased with their performance up until then on his brand new boat. "The first time we pulled a spinnaker up was at the weather mark, but the boat feels really good. We are fast upwind and downwind. It's just not designed to carry two tonnes of water..."

The previous Girls on Film, now Bastiaan Voogd's Hitchhiker holds second, tied on points with Mark Rijkse's 42°South, with Pace leading by six points.

In IRC One, Andy Williams's Keronimo is also leading on six points after scoring a consistent 2-2-1 today - a fine performance, this being the Plymouth-based Ker 40's first major outing of the year.

"We had an up and down day - it was quite busy and bumpy and windy, but we really enjoyed it," recounted Williams. However it nearly all unravelled in the breezy final race. "We managed to drop the A4 in the water on the hoist and shredded it with the whole race ahead. But we worked very hard and what got us the race was the last leg - it was a tight reach and we flew an A0 fractional. We were underwater doing 17-18 knots all the way down and we literally made all our time with everyone hanging out the side, properly submerged."

In the first two races Keronimo was playing second fiddle to her bigger, newer brother, the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa. She is fastest boat in IRC One, but had to retire from race three with broken battens.

Swuzzlebubble Half TonnerRacing in IRC Three, Philip Plumtree's Halftonner, Swuzzlebubble Photo: Paul Wyeth

In IRC Three, Mike Bridges' Elan 37 Elaine won race one, but in the second and third it was the turn of renowned structural engineer Giovanni Belgrano and his Laurent Giles classic shoal-draught centreboard sloop, Whooper, winning both races to take the lead overall. A 1939 vintage, Whooper is the oldest boat competing and won the IRC Nationals back in 2004 when Belgrano says conditions were similar to today.

"It was a battle for everyone," said Belgrano of racing today. "But we do well against the modern boats in these conditions." Whooper was progressively reefed during the day, having started off on too generous a jib.

"She has a good hull shape, she was ahead of her time," added Belgrano of his steed. With a displacement of 7.2 tonnes, Whooper has great stability, but even she came a cropper in the lumpy wind-against-tide seas. "We were doing 11-12 knots. We did what may have been our first nosedive and we had green water on the foredeck. We came out of a gybe and we were probably 70° on our side," concluded Belgrano.

Tonight many teams are licking their wounds with much boat work to complete before another full day of racing tomorrow.

Published in RORC
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