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One of the pinnacle events of the IRC rating system in the UK will take place over 10-12 June from Cowes and Ireland's past victories are recalled as Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix, is racing in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse.

This year’s edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship will be its 24th and as usual will feature a mixed line-up of yachts from across the size and age spectrum, allowing the IRC rating system to create a level playing field between them.

World-class PRO, double Olympic Finn sailor and Etchells World Champion Stuart Childerley (and recently appointed J Class Secretary) will send the IRC fleets off on courses around the Solent with up to four races scheduled each day.

The fleet is divided into tightly-banded classes according to their IRC rating to provide the closest possible racing for competitors between yachts of similar performance. The unique format of the IRC National Championship enables any yacht from across the fleet - big or small, old or new - whose crew sails the best, to be crowned IRC National Champion.

"the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland"

In addition to the regulars of the Solent IRC fleet, the RORC’s IRC National Championship represents the ultimate event to which competitors in the well-supported IRC regional events around the UK aspire. It is a great event to measure up to other competitors around the country and for developing crews to sharpen their skills in a friendly and competitive environment. The three-day event also regularly attracts competitors from the opposite side of the English Channel: Géry Trentesaux’s IMX40 Courrier Nord claimed the top prize in 2002, the first foreign yacht to do so, while the syndicate-owned A-35 Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandres was joint winner in 2016.

But the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland: David Dywer’s Mills 39 Marinerscove. It is only one of two teams ever to have won consecutive UK IRC National Championship titles when his team prevailed in both 2009 and 2010 (the first was Justin Slawson’s X-362 The Big Cheese over 2000-01).

In fact, Irish IRC yachts have won the UK IRC National title on four other occasions too: Royal Irish's Colm Barrington’s Ker 39 Flying Glove in 2005; Tim Costello’s all-conquering Mills 40 Tiamat in 2006 and Conor and Denise Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork two years later. The last Irish winner was RCYC's Anthony O'Leary’s Antix in 2014, whose grey Ker 40 returns this year in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse (following his successful First 40 of the same name now on Dublin Bay).

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” observes McIrvine, who has been a regular competitor at the event since it was first held. “The Solent of course is internationally-recognised as one of the most complex and interesting places to race - so the combination remains very attractive.”

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth

Derek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick TomlinsonDerek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Lena Having's Corby 33 Mrs FrecklesLena Having's Corby 33 Mrs Freckles Photo: Paul Wyeth

Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Photo: Paul Wyeth

As usual, the RORC is attempting to be inclusive, by encouraging female and youth participation in its championship. If an IRC Nationals crew includes at least two women or under 25-year-olds (or one of each), then two extra crew can be added to the maximum number of the crew stated on their yacht’s IRC Certificate (with no weight restriction).

While the majority of IRC National Champions have been the latest and best race boats, this is not always the case. In 2017 it was the turn of the 1939 classic Whooper of leading racing yacht engineer Giovanni Belgrano to claim the title.

Since then J/Boats have enjoyed considerable success. When the IRC Europeans temporarily replaced the IRC Nationals on the Solent in 2018, it was the J/112e of France’s Didier le Moal that came out on top.

Most recently the IRC National Champion title has been won twice by the J/122 campaigned by Stuart Sawyer’s Falmouth-based team, Black Dog - first in 2019 and then again in 2021. While Sawyer isn’t returning this year, his boat is, now renamed Bulldog and campaigned by the RORC’s Treasurer, Derek Shakespeare.

“The IRC Nationals is a very prestigious event and something a lot of very good teams strive to win,” maintains Shakespeare, who recently achieved his first success with his new-to-him yacht when she won IRC One in the RORC’s De Guingand Bowl. 

Despite the provenance of Bulldog, Shakespeare is under no illusion of his prospects in two weeks: “I wouldn’t be as arrogant to assume that we are going to go and win the IRC Nationals with a newish team - we are not expecting to reach those heady heights straight out of the box. We have a nice mix of ages and experience on the boat. We are campaigning both inshore and offshore this year whereas I believe Stuart was more of an inshore specialist. For us the IRC Nationals will be an important measurement of our progress.”

Published in RORC
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Cowes: Sunday 22 May, 2022:  Today had a change in wind direction to an east-southeasterly that progressively strengthened to 10-11 knots, along with more glorious sunshine for the 50 teams competing at the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup. 

The Quarter Tonners enjoyed close competition, with many places changing and just 7.5 points separating the five boats in places four to eight. However, at the front of the fleet the overall lead of Sam Laidlaw’s BLT was never threatened and he won the eight-race series counting seven points, having discarded his sole second place. Victory for Julian Metherell’s Bullit in the penultimate race saw him take second overall on 13 points, while Louise Morton Bullet took third on 21 points.

The new Grand Prix Zero class was one of the three dominated by one boat, in this case Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Ràn, which won every race, despite being pushed hard at times by Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark N Stormy. 

“We had great weekend, with a better forecast than expected,” says Joy Fitzgerald, a long-standing team member who runs the pit this weekend. “We thought we were coming to a light wind regatta, so to have the conditions we’ve had over the past few days has been really beneficial for us.”

Despite two disappointing results today, RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX held onto third overall on count back, having finished the regatta tied on points with Harmen Jan de Graaf’s Ker 43 Baraka Gp.

Overall winner in the Quarter Ton class - Sam Laidlaw’s BLT Photo: Paul WyethOverall winner in the Quarter Ton class - Sam Laidlaw’s BLT Photo: Paul Wyeth

Julian Metherell’s Bullit Julian Metherell’s Bullit Photo: Paul Wyeth

A third place for Louise Morton's Bullet Photo: Paul Wyeth A third place for Louise Morton's Bullet Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Success for Niklas Zennstrom's Fast40+ Rán in the newly formed Grand Prix Zero class Photo: Paul WyethSuccess for Niklas Zennstrom's Fast40+ Rán in the newly formed Grand Prix Zero class

Grand Prix Zero class start Photo: Paul WyethGrand Prix Zero class start Photo: Paul Wyeth

Enjoying the inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero) Photo: Paul WyethEnjoying the inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero)

In the J/109 class David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish won all but the final race, a result he was able to discard. However, the fight for second place could not have been closer, with John Smart’s Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta. The tie break was resolved in Jukebox’s favour thanks to their win in the final race.

By contrast, the Cape 31 fleet was one of three classes that went to the wire. A win for Russell Peters’ Squirt in today’s first race left him as a strong contender against Michael Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe 4 for the overall title. 

However, Squirt had a disappointing third race, finishing eighth, while two consistent third places for Tokoloshe 4 were enough for her to take an overall win with a six point margin, while Tony Dickin’s Jubilee took third overall, a further three points adrift. For most this was a high scoring regatta, yet there were many closely-fought individual battles throughout the fleet, including three pairs of boats that finished the regatta tied on points.

“It was awesome,” says Tokoloshe 4 helm Dave Bartholomew, “brutal and stressful but fun and really, really hard work. The race management was brilliant – we were lucky with conditions, which combined with good race management to make eight absolutely amazing windward leeward races over the three days. It was hard work, with lots of position changes and lots of fun.”

J/109 class win for David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish Photo: Paul WyethJ/109 class win for David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish Photo: Paul Wyeth

John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta Photo: Paul WyethJohn Smart’s J/109 Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta Photo: Paul Wyeth

Michael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4 was overall winner of the 13-strong Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul WyethMichael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4 was overall winner of the 13-strong Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul Wyeth

Cape 31 Tokoloshe 4 Photo: Paul WyethCape 31 Tokoloshe 4 Photo: Paul Wyeth

Cape 31 start on the final day of racing Photo: Paul WyethCape 31 start on the final day of racing Photo: Paul Wyeth

In the HP30s Jerry Hill and Richard Faulkner’s Farr 280 Moral Compass held an overall lead at the end of each of the first two days of racing. However, Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s Gweilo got faster and faster during the regatta, finishing with three consecutive race wins.

“We had the joy of Graham Bailey driving for us in the windy conditions on Friday,” says Powell, “when Jerry Hill’s boat handling was superb and for us sailing downwind at 16-17 knots with water cascading across the deck was spectacular.” Other team members on board include Sophie Heritage, recently returned from working with the British SailGP team in Bermuda, Ben Vines who was driving on Saturday, plus America’s Cup and SailGP chief umpire Craig Mitchell.

Powell also echoed the thoughts of many competitors in saying: “…it was marvellous to see PRO Stuart Childerley back on the water – he and Paul Jackson (who ran the second committee boat) gave us eight cracking races in three days.”

Winner of HP30 class - Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s GweiloWinner of HP30 class - Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s Gweilo Photo: Paul Wyeth

HP30 start action - Photo: Paul WyethHP30 start action - Photo: Paul Wyeth

The J/111 class produced some of the most intense racing, despite being one of the smaller fleets. The final results were decided in the final race, which Tony Mack’s McFly and Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll started the race on five and six points respectively 

Both boats circling repeatedly in match-race style in the pre-start. Journeymaker then made the dash for the line first, followed by McFly on her windward quarter, and was first to tack onto port, heading towards the stronger favourable tide south of the Hill Head plateau. Unsurprisingly, McFly was quick to cover, but both boats were still almost neck and neck at the windward mark. They arrived at the leeward gate almost simultaneously, rounding opposite marks just three seconds apart.

However, McFly was on the advantaged side of the gate and therefore reached the stronger stream first, helping her pull ahead into a lead at the final windward mark that proved unassailable. She went on to cross the finish with an 18 second advantage at the end of a full-on 41-minute race.

For more action-packed and intensive close, short course racing, the IRC Nationals, hosted by RORC are on June 10-12, 2022.

Tony Mack’s McFly saw intense racing and overall victory in the J/111 class Tony Mack’s McFly saw intense racing and overall victory in the J/111 class Photo: Paul Wyeth

Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll Photo: Paul Wyeth

Results here

Published in RORC

Brilliant sun, big tides and light to moderate winds that built from 6-8 knots in the morning to 10-12 knots during the afternoon provided glorious conditions for the second day of the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup off Cowes. 

All six classes completed three hour-long races, with either two or three laps around the course. By the end of the afternoon, the leaders in several classes had firmly asserted their dominance. Sam Laidlaw’s BLT in the Quarter Ton class notched up a perfect scoreline of race wins. Nevertheless, he continued to be pushed hard by other boats in this very competitive fleet, especially in today’s first race, when second placed Julian Metherell’s Bullit was only eight seconds behind after IRC time correction. With only two races to go Laidlaw now looks almost invincible with a five point advantage over Metherell, while Louise Morton’s Bullet is five points back in third overall. 

At the opposite end of the size range, in the Grand Prix Zero class, Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40 Ràn has also won every race so far, with only Harmen Jan de Graaf’s GP42 Baraka Gp managing to finish within a minute of Ràn on IRC corrected time in any of today’s races. However, the Swedish boat also showed that she too is capable of making mistakes, with a decidedly third-row start in race 5 of the series.

The rest of the fleet has been enjoying a series of tight battles and only one point currently separates Ian Atkins’ Gp42 Dark N Stormy and RORC Commodore James Neville’s more offshore oriented HH42 Ino XXX in the fight for second place overall. Today they were frequently neck and neck on the water, with Ino demonstrating very slick boat handling, yet Dark N Stormy still gaining the upper hand overall.

“It was a terrific day, with three very good races,” says Neville. “We had a really tough first race when the wind was light, but got ourselves set up right for the next two and were really competitive. Both committee boats set great windward leeward courses, with plenty of shifts and interesting tides to give excellent competition.”

Jim Prower's Quarter Tonner Theseus Photo: Paul WyethJim Prower's Quarter Tonner Theseus Photo: Paul Wyeth

Tight battles in the Grand Prix Zero classTight battles in the Grand Prix Zero class Photo: Paul Wyeth

Two race wins today in the HP30 class allowed Chris Townsend’s Farr 280 Gweilo to nibble the overall lead of Jerry Hill and Richard Faulkner’s Farr 280 Moral Compass down to only 1.5 points. Jamie Rankin’s Farr 280 Pandemonium put in another consistent performance with two seconds and a third place. This class also produced some very close action among the Far East 28Rs in the fleet, including Andrew Peake’s Resolute, which took second place after IRC time correction in race 6.

The impressive success of boats at the top of their class shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the intense mid-fleet competition that raged throughout the day. This was particularly sharp in the Cape 31 fleet, where places shuffled on every mark rounding and on occasion half a dozen boats arrived at the leeward gate almost simultaneously. The final race remained super-close for mid-fleet boats right to the finish, when five of them crossed the line in a period of barely more than 20 seconds.

Today’s notable performances in this fleet include Tony Dickins’ Jubilee in the final race of the day, which he won by almost two minutes. However, his position slipped to third in the overall standings, thanks to Russell Peters’ Squirt putting in a very consistent series of results, including a win in the second race. Michael Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe 4 remains at the top of the leaderboard having been able to discard a disappointing 10th place in race 6.

“The wind was building all day and then steadied nicely,” says Lance Adams, who won today’s first race sailing Katabatic. “It’s exhilarating and there’s nobody racing in this fleet who hasn’t got a big smile on their face.”

Chris Townsend’s Farr 280 Gweilo is nibbling at the overall lead in the HP30 class Chris Townsend’s Farr 280 Gweilo is nibbling at the overall lead in the HP30 class Photo: Paul Wyeth

Places shuffled on every mark rounding in the Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul WyethPlaces shuffled on every mark rounding in the Cape 31 fleet Photo: Paul Wyeth

Both the J/109 and J/111 fleets joined the action today. In the former, David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish won every race, with Mike Yates’ Jago second and John Smart’s Jukebox third. However, this again belies how close the racing was today.

In their opening race, for instance, Jago won the start with a perfectly judged run into the middle of the line. However, a slow spinnaker drop at the end of the first lap allowed Jellyfish to close the gap. She then gained the advantage on the second lap and power reached to the finish in a vein of stronger wind only five seconds ahead of Jago.

The top end of the J/111 fleet was dominated by three boats: Anthony Mack’s McFly, Chris Jones and Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll, and Cornel Riklin’s Jitterbug, with the trio frequently shuffling position during each race. 

McFly had a strong mid-line start in the final race and held a 39 second lead over Journeymaker at the end of the first lap, before extending her advantage to an impressive 71 seconds at the finish. It was a performance that leaves the two boats tied on five points at the head of leaderboard, three points ahead of Jitterbug.

The J/109 fleet saw extremely close racing when they joined the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup regatta on the second dayThe J/109 fleet saw extremely close racing when they joined the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup regatta on the second day Photo: Paul Wyeth

Two more races are scheduled for each class tomorrow (Sunday), which promises yet more bright sun, but a weaker pressure gradient than the past couple of days. 

Results here

Published in RORC
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Since the pandemic there has been a boost in numbers of people getting afloat - mostly sailors relatively new to the sport - and the RYA and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) are keen to encourage as many keelboat and cruiser-racer sailors as possible to enjoy racing at their clubs or local regattas. Recognising the need for, and current lack of an entry level rating system, the RYA and RORC have joined forces with the South West Yacht Time Correction Factor (YTC) rating system to develop and roll out a new initiative: the RYA YTC, powered by RORC Rating.

YTC has been developed over recent years by a group of volunteers, initially based in Falmouth, but now more widely spread across the South West, to rate the wide variety of cruiser/racer yachts to be found racing in clubs so that they can race against each other easily, competitively and fairly. YTC is based on the statistical models developed by Linda Wolstenholme of Emsworth Slipper SC, but the system has developed significantly since the early days and, for those clubs who wish to use it, a means to introduce more accurate results-based club handicapping. Under an innovative tripartite agreement, the existing YTC core team, led by RYA SW Regional Chair Chris Davis, will continue to advise and support both the RYA and RORC in order to achieve both a seamless transfer for existing users and development and alignment of the system with IRC. The RORC Rating office will bring their unrivalled operational knowledge of rating systems to managing the new system and overseeing future development.

RYA Racing Director Ian Walker explains: “We recognise the existing RYA National Handicap for Cruisers system (NHC) was not fulfilling clubs’ needs and nobody is keener than my team to see more boats out enjoying racing on the water. Having a good, proven rating system that is portable between clubs and regattas and available nationally, free of charge to anybody wanting to go racing, must be a good thing.”

For the RORC Rating Office this project is part of their ambition to support the growth of the sport. Director of the RORC Rating Office, Jason Smithwick adds: “YTC has proven popular in the South West and has been successful in encouraging more boats into the sport. The system provides an excellent, simple entry-level introduction to racing without the need for personal handicapping, and we are enthusiastic that expansion will help many clubs increase their racing fleets. For those keen to progress further it acts as a simple stepping-stone to IRC racing; the gold standard for rating.”

The aim of the new management team is to move systems across and embed the processes in 2022 before really promoting the system and encouraging more clubs to adopt the system in 2023 and beyond.

SW YTC Chair, Chris Davis added: “This is an exciting time for the YTC system. It is important to us that sailors and clubs that already use this system have a seamless transition to the new management group. All current YTC ratings and certificates for 2022 will remain valid and the process will remain free of charge. I would like to thank all the volunteers that have worked so hard, for over 10 years now, to implement YTC in their clubs and regattas, and of course our sponsors here in the South West. We in the core team are delighted that YTC will be developed further, whilst maintaining the current ethos of the system for the good of anyone wishing to go yacht or keelboat racing at club level.”

Any club wishing to adopt the RYA YTC for their club racing, or any boat owners interested in obtaining an RYA YTC rating can find details here

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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With the wind speed varying from zephyrs to over 20 knots, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s De Guingand Bowl Race tested the international fleet right through the spectrum of skill sets on Saturday over a 115 mile course.

Seven teams in IRC Two-Handed posted the top positions for IRC overall.

Sun Fast 3300 Atomic, co-skippered by Gareth Edmondson & Hugh BrayshawSun Fast 3300 Atomic, co-skippered by Gareth Edmondson & Hugh Brayshaw Photo: Paul Wyeth

British Sun Fast 3300 Atomic, co-skippered by Gareth Edmondson & Hugh Brayshaw, won overall. Atomic crossed the finish line just one second ahead of Sun Fast 3300 Red Ruby, co-skippered by the American duo of Christina and Justin Wolfe, Ruby Red was second overall after IRC time correction.

Richard Palmer’s British JPK 1010 Jangada, racing with Rupert Holmes, corrected out to third for the race and retain the overall lead for the RORC Season’s Points Championship.


IRC Class winners for the RORC De Guingand Bowl Race

IRC Zero & Monohull Line Honours - RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 INO XXX
IRC One - Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog
IRC Two & IRC Two-Handed - Atomic
IRC Three - Jangada
IRC Four - Stuart Greenfield’s S&S 34 Morning After
Class40 - Antoine Magre’s Palanad 3
MOCRA & Multihull Line Honours - Multi50 Spirit of Poole sailed by Robert Langford-Wood

Full results here

Published in RORC
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A new Grand Prix Zero Class is inviting members to join the IRC-rating based initiarive on the Solent.

Eligible high-performance boats will have an IRC Rating from 1.192 to 1.394 and a DLR max of 105.

The aim of GP Zero is to create a competitive racing series at existing events for high-performance boats racing under IRC.

The inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero) will be at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Vice Admiral’s Cup 20-22 May. The 2022 GP Zero Series has teams racing at five established regattas in The Solent from May to October.

Future plans include forming GP Zero racing at regattas outside of the Solent including international events.

Grand Prix Zero Class

The class will also actively promote after racing get-togethers. These socials will be a lot of fun but also a great place to air new ideas and plan for future GP Zero events.

2022 GP Zero Circuit

  • 20-22 May RORC Vice Admirals Cup
  • 10-12 June RORC IRC Nationals
  • 30 July-06 August Cowes Week
  • 01-02 October HRSC Autumn Championship
  • 08-09 October HRSC Autumn Championship

“In light of the recent drift in race activity away from IRC keelboats and towards One-Design, many owners of competitive IRC designs, particularly those with higher ratings, have been discussing ways for performance orientated boats to compete against one another in the Solent and beyond,” commented GP Zero Class President, Ian Atkins. “The conclusion is to create a new class dedicated to the group – Grand Prix Zero. With the support of the RORC and several Solent based Yacht Clubs, we propose a rating band from 1.192 to 1.394 and a DLR max of 105. This rating band includes IC37s all the way to TP52’s, this initial consideration can be extended if the majority of GP Zero owners agree.”

GP Zero Class for RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup

Five teams are expected for RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup. Expressions of interest have been received from over a dozen international teams for future regattas.

Ker 43 Baraka GPKer 43 Baraka GP Photo: Paul Wyeth

Ker 43 Baraka GP Harmen Jan de Graaf’s (NED) Baraka GP will be skippered by his son Olivier de Graaf with a crew mainly from the Netherlands and Belgium. Baraka GP has a winning profile offshore including the Round Ireland Race. Inshore Baraka GP was a force to be reckoned with in the FAST40+ Class before rule changes meant the boat could no longer feature. Baraka GP has the longest water-line length in GP Zero for the Vice Admiral’s Cup, but also the highest IRC Rating (1.276)

Carkeek 40+ RánCarkeek 40+ Rán Photo: Paul Wyeth

Carkeek 40+ Rán  Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40+ Rán is arguably the most optimised IRC boat ever built. Rán 7 was launched in April 2018 and took the FAST40+ fleet by storm. Rán won class for the 2021 IRC National Championship and Vice Admiral’s Cup. Rán Racing Project manager is Tim Powell and the crew are a mix of top-class professionals and talented young sailors. For the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup Rán has the second highest rating, the radical design is a rocket ship in medium to heavy breeze but may be weaker in light airs.

Botin 42 Dark 'n' StormyBotin 42 Dark 'n' Stormy Photo: Paul Wyeth

Botin 42 Dark 'n' Stormy President of the GP Zero Class Ian Atkins acquired Dark 'n' Stormy (formally Peter Morton’s Jean Genie) earlier this year. Atkins admired the speed of the boat hooning around the Solent, especially coming second to Rán by a single point in the 2021 IRC Nationals. Ian has always crewed with top sailors with the right attitude and Dark 'n' Stormy is no different. Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper, and double silver Olympic medallist, Ian Walker will be on tactics. Admiral’s Cup winner Mark Chisnell is navigator, and the highly experienced Nick Bonner is on main sheet.

HH42 INO XXX Photo: Paul WyethHH42 INO XXX Photo: Paul Wyeth

HH42 INO XXX RORC Commodore James Neville has been campaigning HH42 INO XXX inshore and offshore since 2016. INO XXX came second overall in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race and has made a terrific start to 2022 winning the RORC Cervantes Trophy Race overall. This will be INO XXX second inshore event having competed at the RORC Easter Challenge. With twin-rudders and an innovative sail configuration INO XXX is very different to the GP Zero boats racing at the Vice Admiral’s Cup. James Neville’s crew have been racing together for many years and includes Coriolan Rousselle as navigator, Mike Henning on trim, and the MOD70 Powerplay combo of Martin Watts and John Hunter-Hamilton. Rating ten points lower than Baraka GP, INO XXX has an IRC corrected time advantage of approximately 30 seconds/hour.

IC37(MOD) FargoIC37(MOD) Fargo Photo: Paul Wyeth

IC37(MOD) Fargo Bertie Bicket’s modified IC37 Fargo is from the drawing board of Mark Mills and is the smallest and lowest rated boat in GP Zero for the Vice Admiral’s Cup. Baraka gives Fargo approximately 5 minutes per hour in IRC time correction and all of the GP Zero boats give over 4 minutes in corrected time. While Fargo does not have the same top speed as the competition, all of the GP Zero boats have the ability to get on the plane downwind and also maximize VMG upwind. While Fargo may not have the fire-power on the start line, the boats ahead will be a good indication of the best pressure during the race. Fargo’s crew with Bicket driving includes some of the sharpest young talent in Nick Robins and Dan Budden, both GBR Olympic 49er squad members, and the wily multiple world champion Mark Heeley.

Published in RORC

The fifth race of the RORC Season’s Points Championship is the De Guingand Bowl Race, scheduled to start at 09:30 BST on Saturday 14th May to the west, from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, Cowes. The course for the overnight race of 110-160nm will be announced prior to the start. 57 teams have entered, racing under IRC, MOCRA and Class40 rules.

Crew come from at least nine different countries including: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States.

Antoine Magre’s French Class40 Palanad 3Antoine Magre’s French Class40 Palanad 3 © Carlo Borlenghi

Four teams can be counted as favourites for Monohull Race Line Honours, the highest rated boat under IRC is Ross Hobson & Adrian Banks’ British Open 50 Pegasus of Northumberland . Antoine Magre’s French Class40 Palanad 3, winner of the 2021 RORC Transatlantic Race, will also be racing. Both teams have entered the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. In contention to be the first monohull to finish the De Guingand Bowl Race is RORC Commodore James Neville with British HH42 INO XXX, which took the gun and the overall win for the 2022 Cervantes Trophy Race. New to RORC Racing will be Michael Møllmann’s all-composite Danish Elliott 35SS Palby Marine, sailed by Sofus Pedersen. Ultimate Sailing’s British Multi50 Spirit of Poole, sailed by Robert Langford-Wood, is currently the sole entry in MOCRA and will be taking part in its first race since undergoing a four-month refit.

Michael O’Donnell's J/121 DarkwoodMichael O’Donnell's J/121 Darkwood Photo: RORC

Thirteen teams are entered for IRC One including Ireland’s Michael O’Donnell racing his J/121 Darkwood, which was second overall for the Cervantes Trophy Race. The class contains a number of charter boats with passionate amateur crew including six First 40s: Skylander skippered by Jordan Billiald, Galahad of Cowes skippered by Ronan Banim, Lancelot II skippered by David Thomson, Arthur skippered by Jim Bennett. Two teams from the London Corinthian Sailing Club, will be starting their 2023 Rolex Fastnet Campaign racing Tango and Jazz. Overseas teams in the class include Benedikt Clauberg’s Swiss Ocean Racing Club with First 47.7 Kai and Laurent Charmy’s French J/111 SL Energies_Groupe Fastwave.

IRC Two-Handed is the largest class for the De Guingand Bowl Race with 30 expected to be racing. The two leading teams for the 2022 season will be in action. Richard Palmer will be racing his JPK 1010 Jangada with Rupert Holmes and Sunfast 3200 Cora will be raced by Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews. Twelve Sun Fast 3300s will be racing in IRC Two-Handed, including a RORC debut for Red Ruby sailed by partners Christina & Justin Wolfe from Washington USA. Wayne Palmer will also be racing his J/99 Jam for the first time, racing in IRC Two-Handed with Mark Emons. Stuart Greenfield will be racing his S&S 34 Morning After with Louise Clayton.

Twenty entries have been received by teams racing in IRC 2, the majority of which will be racing in IRC Two-Handed. Fully crewed entries in IRC Two include the well-sailed Sun Fast 3600, the Army Sailing Association’s Fujitsu British Soldier, skippered by Philip Caswell, which was class winner for the Cervantes Trophy Race. Freya Anderson & Adam Leddy will be racing Gavin Howe’s 1987 Julian Everitt designed 35ft sloop Wavetrain.

Harry Heijst’s S&S 41 WinsomeHarry Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome Photo: RORC

In IRC Three, the Royal Navy Sailing Association’s J/109 Jolly Jack Tar, skippered by Henry Wilson, the Royal Air Force Sailing Association’s J/109 Red Arrow, skippered by Gillian Burgess. Harry Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome is entered with a majority Dutch crew. French Franck Ribot’s JPK 1010 Whisper returns to RORC racing with an all-French team. In IRC Four, Christophe Declercq will be racing Contessa 32 Lecas with a team from Belgium.

The overall winner of the race after IRC time correction will be presented with the De Guingand Bowl, which was presented to the Royal Ocean Racing Club by E.P. de Guingand, affectionally known as ‘Buster’ (Vice Commodore 1957-1959). The best vantage points of the start will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade. Competing boats can be tracked using AIS data, when in range, via the YB tracker player here 

RORC Cowes ClubhouseAll competitors, family and friends are welcome to the RORC Cowes Clubhouse. Photo: RORC/Paul Wyeth

The De Guingand Bowl Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship, the world's largest offshore racing series comprising of 16 testing races. Every race had its own coveted prize for the overall winner and famous trophies for IRC class honours.

Published in RORC

Having previously straddled Europe, visiting other major yachting hubs such as Cowes, Cork Harbour, Marseille and Sanremo, the seventh edition of the prestigious IRC European Championship this year will take place over 25-28 August in the Netherlands, alongside Damen Breskens Sailing Weekend.

This will be first time that the IRC European Championship has been held since 2019 after the pandemic forced the last two editions to be cancelled. In 2019 the championship for the simple, single number rule, operated internationally by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large, was dominated by two Marseille-based boats: the winner Yves Ginoux's Farr 36 Absolutely II and Jean-Pierre Joly's GP42 Confluence Sopra DPMF, finishing ahead of the local boat Gianluigi Dubbini's Italia Yachts 9.98 Fuoriserie Sarchiapone.

Close to the Belgium border, on the south side of the River Scheldt leading to Antwerp, Breskens is well situated as a yacht racing centre, offering direct access to courses both in the estuary or in the North Sea.

Following a day of registration, equipment inspection and measurement on Wednesday, 24 August, racing will take place over the following four days. Nine races are scheduled, including one ‘long coastal’ of up to six hours duration (and carrying a 2x scoring co-efficient) and up to three shorter courses each day on either windward-leeward or coastal courses. One discard will be applied once five or more races have been sailed and two if the full nine-race schedule is completed.

The fleet will be divided in three: IRC One for yachts with a TCC of 1.050+, IRC Two for those with a TCC of 1.000-1.050 and IRC Three for 0.900 to 1.000. To ensure accuracy of the rating and absolute fairness of the competition, entries must have an Endorsed IRC certificate, but to obtain one is straightforward and not costly using local IRC measurers and without the need for any complicated hull measurement or inclination requirements.

In addition to a group of FAST40+ yachts due to enter the event will be Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, James Neville with his heavily campaigned HH42 INO XXXIn addition to a group of FAST40+ yachts due to enter the event will be Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, James Neville with his heavily campaigned HH42 INO XXX Photo: Paul Wyeth

Once again the event aims to promote diversity with one extra crew permitted, over and above the number stated on a yacht’s IRC certificate, if that yacht’s crew includes at least two females or two youth of up to 25 years of age.

The 2022 IRC European Championship is expected to attract a highly competitive fleet. Already entered is one the hottest yachts from the area: the Ker 46 Van Uden, skippered by three-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd-Jan Poortman and with a crew of young, up and coming Dutch sailing talent from the Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team. Now into its sixth year, the campaign was set up to help prevent youngsters dropping out of sailing once they had finished in dinghies. It is funded by a business club and supported by the marine industry, with her crew carrying out the majority of the maintenance work themselves.

The team is planning on a competing in the Solent early in the season including the IRC Nationals in Cowes over 10-12 June, before returning home for the IRC Europeans.

Poortman has competed at Breskens Sailing Week for the last 20 years and recommends it. “It is a fantastic sailing place. There are tidal waters – it’s right on the North Sea. I love sailing there. You can do nice offshores and windward-leewards. There is a lot of room. It is always well organised with great tents and the Breskens people are always very friendly. Breskens is a small town but I also like small towns because everyone stays close together and you have a lot more fun… It is far away from anywhere in Holland, so everyone stays there. There is a nice little town centre with lots of restaurants and bars.”

The 2022 IRC European Championship is expected to attract a highly competitive fleet when it takes place between 25-28 August in the Netherlands, alongside Damen Breskens Sailing WeekendThe 2022 IRC European Championship is expected to attract a highly competitive fleet when it takes place between 25-28 August in the Netherlands, alongside Damen Breskens Sailing Weekend

In addition to the local boats, a strong fleet of IRC boats is expected to make the relatively short passage to Breskens from the UK and France. In addition to a group of FAST40+ yachts due to enter the event will be Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, James Neville with his heavily campaigned HH42 INO XXX that will also compete Round Ireland in June.

“I am greatly looking forward to visiting Breskens and seeing a grand gathering of the IRC fleets from across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany along with a strong turn-out of entries from the UK and France,” said Neville. “It will be a good opportunity to showcase IRC with all the benefits of its simplicity and accuracy in a new venue for this championship.”

Breskens Sailing Weekend is one of the biggest multiclass regattas in the Netherlands. It is organised by Stichting Breskens Sailing, on behalf of Watersportvereniging Breskens, the Royal Yacht Club of Belgium, Koninklijke Roei- & Zeilvereniging ‘De Maas’, Koninklijke Nederlandse Roei- en Zeilvereniging Muiden, Koninklijke Antwerpse Watersportvereniging SRNA and under the authority of the RORC.

The Notice of Race for the 2022 IRC European Championship is downloadable below. 

Published in RORC
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Two top UK-based yachts expected to enter June's Round Ireland Race scored significant wins in the UK’s offshore season opener in a race across the English Channel on Saturday.

It's a weekend result that raises the stakes for overall honours in the biennial Irish ocean classic that gets underway in a little over six weeks' time with a quality fleet of more than 40.

The first race of the domestic season for the RORC Season’s Points Championship was a tricky light airs 100-mile dash across the English Channel to Le Havre. RORC Commodore James Neville, racing HH42 INO XXX was the standout performer scoring a hat-trick of wins: The Cervantes Trophy for first overall after IRC time correction, race line honours, and IRC Zero. 

The Cowes boat has declared for June 18s significantly longer 700-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race and with the Cervantes Trophy in the bag, Neville is likely to be very much in contention for the Wicklow race that includes quality ISORA, RORC, Class 40 and Volvo 70 yachts.

Yet to enter the Round Ireland Race but sailing with a strong Irish crew for Saturday's fixture, Michael O'Donnell’s UK-based J/121 Darkwood was second overall and the winner of IRC One.

As Afloat reported previously, Dubliner O'Donnell was joined for the race to France by Irish offshore sailors Kenny Rumball, Michael Boyd, Barry Hurley, and Conor Kinsella.

The Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points ChampionshipThe Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, skippered by Henry Foster was the winner of IRC Two.

Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora had a superb race, taking third overall, and winning IRC Three and IRC Two-Handed.

The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British SoldierThe Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier Photo: Rick Tomlinson

“It was hard work getting out of the Solent in light shifty conditions,” commented James Neville. “Taking a more easterly line offshore worked well for us, staying in better pressure, and making sure we weren’t swept west on the tide. The crew did a great job concentrating in the cold air. The reaching conditions really suited our four-sail set with the Fro, jib, staysail and main all in the air.”

After the finish of the race RORC racing teams arriving at Société des Regatés du Havre, received nothing short of a spectacular welcome with a carnival atmosphere laid on by the oldest yacht club in France, including a dancing girls cabaret and a sumptuous dinner at the renowned restaurant.

The Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship, the world's largest offshore racing series comprising of 16 testing races. Every race has its own coveted prize for the overall winner and famous trophies for IRC class honours. The fifth race of the championship is the De Guingand Bowl Race, which is scheduled to start on Saturday 14th May from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line with an overnight race in the Solent and adjacent waters.

Additional race report by Louay Habib

Published in RORC
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Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore James Neville has confirmed he will be back in Irish waters again this season and racing his Solent-based HH42 INO XXX in June's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race.

As Afloat reported earlier, Neville and his crew embark on their first offshore since the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race this weekend at the season opener to France for the Cervantes Trophy.

RORC Commodore James Neville Photo: Courtesy RORCRORC Commodore James Neville at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Courtesy RORC

“We are excited to get back racing, it has been a long break, but we have had time to focus on this year,” Neville said. “We will compete in the RORC series including the Round Ireland Race and culminating inshore with the IRC Europeans in Breskens.

The Hudson/Hakes built 42’, a Judel/Vrolijk design, and took line honours and first place in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race IRC One Class.

Published in Round Ireland
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