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More than 50 entries have been confirmed so far for the fifth edition of the Drheam Cup, which will take place from 11-21 July 2024 between Cherbourg-en Cotentin and La Trinité-sur-Mer in north-western France.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, 11 classes — including for the first time the new Sun Fast 30 one design — will take part in the event, the second race in the IRC Two-Handed European Championship, with all results also counting towards the RORC Championship.

In addition, the race will be part of the 2024 European Trophy, along with the Spi Ouest-France, Armen Race and CIC Normandy Channel Race.

“To date, 54 entries have been confirmed, which is very promising,” says Jacques Civilise, founder and organiser of the race. “We expect a large fleet, which will be different to precious editions, due to a very busy race calendar this year.

“We will probably not see some boats that have attended previous editions, the IMOCAs for example, which will be just back from the New York Vendée-Les Sables d’Olonne race and will be going back to their home ports for work before the Vendée Globe, or some of the Class40, who will be finishing the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo or the Figaro Bénéteau 3, who will be on the Tour Voile.”

Several Class40 racers will attend, however, notably the winner of the 2022 edition, Xavier Macaire, who has spoken about his attachment to the Drheam Cup.

“I have made a habit of including the race in my programme, because I love the atmosphere and organisers. This year, it is particularly important to me to defend my title”, says the skipper of Groupe SNEF, who will battle it out in the dynamic 40-foot monohull class with Nicolas Jossier (La Manche Évidence Nautique), the Normandy entrepreneur Alexandre Le Gallais (Trim Control) and two newcomers in Class40, former Mini sailors Louis Mayaud (Belco) and Nicolas Guibal (NG Grand Large).

The majority of the fleet will be made up of IRC, with a large proportion of two-handed IRC entries (26 to date). Another noteworthy fact is that half of the entries are from abroad, with 10 nationalities represented, including many British sailors.

“We are incredible satisfied to welcome so many crews from abroad; it fits fully into the Drheam Cup/Grand Prix de France de Course au Large’s DNA, which is a race open to all,” Civilise says.

“It rewards our hard work in developing the race internationally. Thanks to our friends at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), the race will not only be written into the RORC calendar, it will also be part of the RORC Championship, meaning points will count towards the season’s rankings.”

The Drheam Cup is listed in the Manche/Atlantique IRC Championship 2024 programme run by the racing division of the Yacht Club de France, the Multi 2000 class (several boats including Jess, skippered by Gilles Buekenhout and Rayon Vert, skippered by Oren Nataf are already entered) and the Figaro Bénéteau class.

Last but not least, for the first time it will welcome a fleet of Sun Fast 30 one designs, the new prototypes designed by VPLP Design and built by Multiplast and Jeanneau, which will then meet again in September in Lorient for the mixed Double-handed World Offshore Championships. A fleet of ready-to-race boats is available for hire from Cap Regatta.

In addition, the first classic yacht has officially entered the race, the 1938 FIFE design Merry Dancer, owned by Vincent Delaroche, chairman and CEO of Cast Software.

Suffice it to say, the 2024 edition fleet — in which organisers are hoping to also welcome Ultims on the DC1500 course designed for them — is shaping up to be particularly rich in terms of the variety of boats on the water, with the mix of professionals and amateurs that has contributed to its success since 2016.

For more details see the Drheam Cup website HERE.

Published in Sailing Events
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Baltimore Sailing Club’s Joseph Griffiths will be joining the two Northern Ireland youth sailors selected for the Griffin Project 2024.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Griffin Project is a Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) initiatve which gives young sailors the opportunity to try offshore sailing, learn best practices for yachting and improve their overall crewmanship.

As part of the project, Griffiths will receive coaching from world-class sailors such as Dee Caffari, Shirley Robertson, Steve Hayles and Ian Walker as one of an exclusive club of 20 sailors selected across the UK and Ireland, including Emma McKnight from Strangford Lough Yacht Club and Daniel Corbett from County Antrim Yacht Club.

Munster Technological University, where the West Cork sailor is an undergraduate studying architectural technology, said: “Joseph has displayed a great attitude and ability to be a good team player ashore and afloat and we are delighted he is getting this exciting opportunity.”

Published in West Cork
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With the RORC’s new Griffin Project for training young sailors recently launched in a blaze of publicity, there have been the usual demands that something similar should be delivered for Ireland. But Sailing on Saturday would suggest that, over the years, the Irish offshore sailing and cruiser-racing communities have done well in creating junior and trainee pathways which function within the relatively scattered nature of our offshore racing centres.

For people from Ireland’s most remote sailing areas, it may seem that there is already an excessive focus of offshore racing attention on the Cork-Kinsale and Greater Dublin powerhouses. But these two big centres are physically very separate – they’re 120 awkward-to-sail sea miles apart. They seldom function in a co-ordinated way. And our second tier regions, such as (1) West Cork on the Baltimore/Schull link, (2) the Shannon Estuary including Tralee Bay, (3) all of Galway Bay with Clew Bay, and (4) Sligo with Mullaghmore and increasingly Killybegs, they all have their own local pride and claim to a place in the offshore and cruiser-racing sun.

GLOBAL RORC?

The RORC may be promoting itself globally with the second RORC Baltic Race in Finnish waters this summer, which brings the bonus of strengthening the Club’s own IRC measurement system in an area where the rival ORC has been on manoeuvres in recent years. Another battle line was the Sydney-Hobart Race, where the organisers have re-affirmed they’re holding firm to IRC. But the reality is that much of the Club’s active people power and boat numbers are to be found in a narrow segment of the English Channel, maybe best called the Hot Spot.

OFFSHORE RACING’S INTERNATIONAL HOT SPOT

The Hot Spot is an area bounded to the north by the Solent, and to the south by the coast of northeast Brittany going on into the Cotentin Peninsula around Cherbourg. Fully expanded yet still very neat, the relevant coastal edges are Poole to Chichester on the English side, and Dinard/St Malo to Le Havre on the French coast.

The Hot Spot. The international concentration of sailors, boats and major competitions in this single section of the English Channel (or La Manche if you prefer) is unrivalled. All of the popular RORC Cowes-St Malo Race takes place within it. As for the Fastnet Race, while it still may go round the same Irish rock, nevertheless it now starts at Cowes and finishes at CherbourgThe Hot Spot. The international concentration of sailors, boats and major competitions in this single section of the English Channel (or La Manche if you prefer) is unrivalled. All of the popular RORC Cowes-St Malo Race takes place within it. As for the Fastnet Race, while it still may go round the same Irish rock, nevertheless it now starts at Cowes and finishes at Cherbourg

It is a reality most directly expressed in the colossally popular RORC Cowes-St Malo Race each July, yet it also emerges with Big Daddy, the biennial RORC Fastnet Race. This may scoop round our own Irish Fastnet Rock, but where originally it started heading eastward off Ryde IOW, and finished at Plymouth, it now starts in Cowes heading westward, and ends in Cherbourg heading east, ultimately because these arrangements best suit the greatest number of boats and crews.

The biggest Local Derby of them all – idyllic conditions for the RORC’s St Malo Race. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCThe biggest Local Derby of them all – idyllic conditions for the RORC’s St Malo Race. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Consequently we find ourselves facing the Centenary of the Fastnet Race coming up in 2025 with our own Fastnet Rock itself the only remaining specific feature of the first race in 1925, which started eastward out of the Solent at Ryde, and finished at Plymouth in Devon

Ireland’s Fastnet Rock is the only surviving fixture of the course of the original Fastnet Race as its Centenary approaches in 2025Ireland’s Fastnet Rock is the only surviving fixture of the course of the original Fastnet Race as its Centenary approaches in 2025

FOLLOWING THE NUMBERS

But as the Rick Morris research group on the best location for staging the ICRA Nationals concluded early in 2019, it makes sense to go where the numbers are already to be found. That can’t be done quite so simply in Ireland, yet in the Hot Spot the fleets are simply queuing up to stage their majors on the Solent from the time-honoured starting line of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, while offshore racers stream away across Channel to some nearby and useful French port practically every summer weekend.

THE GRIFFIN PROJECT

The Griffin Project 2024 reflects this intense focus, for although it allocated 20 places out of a group of 300 applicants recruited “globally”, with two of the successful contenders – after some distinctly tough sailing tests during March - being from Northern Ireland. They are Emma McKnight from Whiterock on Strangford Lough and Daniel Corbett from Whitehead on Belfast Lough. But for the rolling out of the Griffin Project, the focus is definitely on the Channel Hotspot, with the training being largely from Cowes and the Solent on the four French-supplied JenneauSun Fast 30 ODs, hot out of the package yet re-cyclable with it.

It culminates in the RORC Cowes-St Malo Race on 5th July, with the four Griffin Project boats each allocated celebrity sailor instructors in the form of Dee Cafari, Shirley Robertson, Ian Walker and Steve Hayles.

REALITY TV?

Inevitably there’s an element of Reality TV here - it is all so very 21st Century in its intense focus on one “metropolitan” area, its use of celebrities and their star power, and its utilization of all communication techniques on a constant basis. In Ireland by contrast, what others might think to be an overly local focus, we see as reasonably acknowledging the existence of several hubs of national sailing pride.

LOCAL PRIDE

Our great classic, the biennial Round Ireland Race going clockwise, will always be a Wicklow thing. As for the likewise biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, its popular and catchy short title of D2D says everything about where it simply must happen. Then there’s the new regular on the block, the Inishtearaght Race from and back to Kinsale - that will always have the Blaskets and Kinsale stamped on it. You can only race round the Aran Islands from Galway Bay Sailing Club – anything else is impossible to contemplate. And it’s unthinkable that the Ailsa Craig Race should be anything other than something that starts and finishes with the Royal Ulster YC line in Bangor on Belfast Lough.

Inishtearaght is the lighthouse island in the Blaskets Group, a spooky place whose mystique adds to the challenge of the race round it from Kinsale.Inishtearaght is the lighthouse island in the Blaskets Group, a spooky place whose mystique adds to the challenge of the race round it from Kinsale.

But when your fleets are mainly and very numerously located in that mid-section of the English Channel centred on the Solent-Cherbourg axis, there’s immediate focus. While it may be one of the worlds busiest shipping areas, it’s tops in the sailing numbers game, and it facilitates the offshore sport of the greatest number with most convenience.

RORC TOP THE NUMBERS GAME

Then too, the RORC online has more than 40,000-plus regular followers, so in all we are dealing with a neat setup within which resources can be readily released to fund and function what is – with just four boats – quite a modest venture when set against the extended RORC fleet in the area.

Yet here in Ireland , the strength and weakness of our sailing is in local pride. Everybody has to do their own thing in their own place, and while most would admit that Dun Laoghaire is the main centre through weight of numbers, the other significant focal points have their own strengths in places where, over the years, the successful offshore racing skippers have devised their own means of identifying emerging talent with crew potential as it manifests itself in the neighbourhood’s One-Design keelboat and dinghy fleets.

The Dublin Bay 24s, designed by Alfred Mylne, successfully served as a local One Design at Dun Laoghaire, a winner in RORC races, a successful fast cruiser, and a very effective bridge between the dinghy sailors of Dun Laoghaire and the world of offshore racingThe Dublin Bay 24s, designed by Alfred Mylne, successfully served as a local One Design at Dun Laoghaire, a winner in RORC races, a successful fast cruiser, and a very effective bridge between the dinghy sailors of Dun Laoghaire and the world of offshore racing

In its day – which lasted from 1947 to 2004 – the Dublin Bay 24ft OD class provided a bridge of sorts from keen beginner to useful offshore crew. The waterfront clubs provided facilities for the university sailing clubs and their fleets, mostly of Fireflies, and canny DB24 owner/skippers kept more than a benevolent eye on how well the talent was doing in the dinghies before arranging that a fly be cast over them to bring in as DB24 crew.

Whoops…youthful experimentation with the Martin brothers’ DB24 Adastra in a punchy gust coming round the Dun Laoghaire pierheadWhoops…youthful experimentation with the Martin brothers’ DB24 Adastra in a punchy gust coming round the Dun Laoghaire pierhead

This all reached a sort of peak in 1963 when Stephen O’Mara’s DB24 Fenestra RIYC, amateur-skippered by Arthur Odbert, won overall in the stormy RORC Irish Sea Race with some student sailors in her crew. And other DB24s such as Ninian Falkiner’s Euphanzel and Rory O’Hanlon’s Harmony regularly drew on the pool of college sailors in Dun Laoghaire for offshore racing and distance cruising at a time when the Dun Laoghaire sailing community was more compact.

When the Dun Laoghaire sailing community was more compact – everyone shared in the celebration of the DB 24s’ Golden Jubilee in 1997. Photo: W M NixonWhen the Dun Laoghaire sailing community was more compact – everyone shared in the celebration of the DB 24s’ Golden Jubilee in 1997. Photo: W M Nixon

It was a system which worked well in its informal way, but with changing times and greater numbers, a more structured approach was needed. The J/24 seemed to provide a useful answer for an offshore beginner boat after Philip Watson with the J/24 Pathfinder II won his class championship in the closely contended ISORA Championship of 1978.

But then the mayhem of the storm-battered 1979 Fastnet Race saw stability/ballast requirements becoming more rigorous, and the J/24 failed to meet the new standard – something the Cork J/24 fleet could have told them, as they’d already experienced something of a wipeout in heavy weather off the Old Head of Kinsale.

J/24 BASIS OF U25 SCHEME

Yet the J/24 provides so much in other ways that it became the basis of the U25 training project promoted by ICRA Chairman Nobby Reilly and initially developed at his home club of Howth. As the programme has developed, other clubs have adopted it with the most recent success being the Headcase International Campaign drawing a crew from nationwide sources, and the Kinsailor Project out of Kinsale.

Success for the ICRA U25 Project – the J/24 Headcase is race leader in the J/24 Euros at Howth in 2022Success for the ICRA U25 Project – the J/24 Headcase is race leader in the J/24 Euros at Howth in 2022

Ironically at Howth where it started, their keelboat training is now centred around a flotilla of J/80s which apparently are eligible for an IRC Certificate, but there has been no evidence of people queuing up to race them offshore.

Whatever, this has been generally done in a quiet way without the nationwide razzmatazz of the Griffin Project, for the reality is that for successful implementation of projects like this, there needs to be at least one central professional manager/bos’un/instructor and several possibly part-time associate coaches. And of course the upward move from coastal sailing to the offshore game in terms of the boat’s arrangements can be a costly business.

Thus although a very long time back, in the early 1970s, the original Asgard in her sail raining role did sterling work in providing offshore experience in a boat of comparable size to the general offshore racing fleets, it was with the growth of sailing schools that a more clearly-defined route became clear.

GLENANS IRELAND CONTRIBUTION

With Glenans Ireland from 1972 onwards at bases along the Atlantic seaboard, fresh talents like Tom Dolan began to emerge, and then the leading East Coast sailing schools in Dun Laoghaire began to offer the genuine RORC experience, though even the Round Ireland Race can be quite an organisational challenge for a fully-accredited boat from a sailing school.

Sensational. The Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi, skippered by Kenneth Rumball, makes a perfect Fastnet Race start.Sensational. The Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi, skippered by Kenneth Rumball, makes a perfect Fastnet Race start.

Beyond that, the extra logistics of a Fastnet Race campaign from Ireland have meant that while Kenneth Rumball - of the Irish National Sailing School - has had just one very successful but extremely energy-consuming involvement in the Fastnet Race with the school’s J/109 Jedi, Ronan O Siochru’s Irish Offshore Sailing with the well-tested Sun Fast 37 Desert Star has become such a regular and often successful Fastnet contender that they’d probably get a a concerned phone call from RORC if their name didn’t show up on the entry list.

Regular contender. Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Star is a regular in the offshore racing sceneRegular contender. Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Star is a regular in the offshore racing scene

Desert Star’s crew with their trophy after Fastnet Race successDesert Star’s crew with their trophy after Fastnet Race success

But with the sailing school Round Ireland and Fastnet Race packages, you get the feeling that boxes are being ticked. As in: Next year, we’ll tick off the Kilimanjiro climb. That’s not really what the ICRA U25 and RORC Griffin Project promoters are hoping to inspire, even if it is the way of life of many folk nowadays.

LIFELONG COMMITMENT

What the local club and ICRA U25 idealists hope for is the encouragement of the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sailing generally and offshore racing in particular. In titling it the Griffin Project, the RORC are harking back to a time when participation in the regular RORC programme was done with an almost religious devotion, with demand for crew places demand that the RORC was able at one time to support the campaigning of two club yachts, Griffin I and Griffin II.

Griffin I was donated to the club in 1945 by one H West in honour of his recently-deceased co-owner, the sometimes rather odd Commander George Martin. Martin had been the founding Commodore (in Plymouth in 1925) of the Ocean Racing Club, (subsequently the RORC), after he’d won the first Fastnet Race (an event he personally promoted) in his magnificent Le Havre pilot cutter Jolie Brise.

Griffin I was a mixed blessing, as she was 44ft of transom-sterned tradition, a gaff-rigged sloop admittedly without bowsprit, but definitely harking back, despite being built as recently as 1938. But in the post-war austerity, she was one answer to a shortage of crew places for keen newbies. This became so pressing that having won the 1951 Fastnet Race with his Charles A Nicholson-designed Yeoman of 1950 vintage, the great Owen Aisher got together with a subsequent owner to donate the boat to the RORC to become Griffin II, and for a while they ran both boats to cater for would-be offshore racers.

There’s an abundance of history and Crosshaven interest in this image from Cowes Week 1950. On the right is Owen Aisher’s Charles A Nicholson-designed 48ft Yeoman, which went on to be the overall winner of the 1951 Fastnet Race, and subsequently became the RORC Club Yacht Griffin II. At centre is the International 8 Metre Christina, later owned in Cork by Perry Goodbody, and now in Canada. And on the left is the Sandy Balfour-designed, Berthon-built sloop Northele, now based in Crosshaven and fully restored to prime Classic standard by the craftsmen there for locally-based owners Anthony & Sally O’Leary nee Aisher – she is Owen Aisher’s grand-daughter.There’s an abundance of history and Crosshaven interest in this image from Cowes Week 1950. On the right is Owen Aisher’s Charles A Nicholson-designed 48ft Yeoman, which went on to be the overall winner of the 1951 Fastnet Race, and subsequently became the RORC Club Yacht Griffin II. At centre is the International 8 Metre Christina, later owned in Cork by Perry Goodbody, and now in Canada. And on the left is the Sandy Balfour-designed, Berthon-built sloop Northele, now based in Crosshaven and fully restored to prime Classic standard by the craftsmen there for locally-based owners Anthony & Sally O’Leary nee Aisher – she is Owen Aisher’s grand-daughter.

Since then, there has been a succession of RORC-owned-and-run Griffins reflecting changing boat development and sailing styles. So although other organisations have provided One Design offshore racing of some type over the years, the fresh spin put on it by the Griffin Project, with all the oomph of the RORC behind it, might well be seen in future as the real breakthrough.

TRUE ORIGINS OF OCEAN RACING

Meanwhile, with the recent Centenary of the Bermuda Race-organising Cruising Club of America, and now these memories of George Martin and the first Griffin, we found the recent monsoon conditions ideal for brooding about the real organisational origins of offshore and ocean racing as we know it today. If really cornered, we’d suggest it’s neck and neck between the Royal Cork Yacht Club and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Go figure.

Published in W M Nixon

Northern Ireland youth sailors Emma McKnight from Strangford Lough Yacht Club and Daniel Corbett from County Antrim Yacht Club are among just 20 across the UK selected for the Griffin Project 2024.

The Griffin Project is a Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) initiatve which gives young sailors the opportunity to try offshore sailing, learn best practises for yachting and improve their overall crewmanship.

As part of the project, Emma (25) and Daniel (18) will receive coaching from world-class sailors such as Dee Caffari, Shirley Robertson, Steve Hayles and Ian Walker.

They will also be given opportunities to put what they have learnt into practice in races such as Cowes to Saint-Malo. This will inevitably contribute to their development as sailors in challenging and at times unfamiliar environments.

Selection for the Griffin Project was hugely competitive. Over 300 sailors from around the world applied to be part of the project, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, but only 20 were ultimately successful.

For more on Emma and Daniel and the Griffin Project, see the RYA website HERE.

Published in RORC
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The second edition of the Baltic Sea Race will start in Helsinki, Finland, on 27 July 2024.

This new 635nm offshore race is attracting a diverse range of boats eager to take on a new challenge, racing to win The Baltic Trophy for the best corrected time under IRC.

Baltic Sea Race
Passion for the sea is ever present in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, with centuries of seafaring tradition. The sea is prominently featured in Finland’s folklore and literature; the Finns are fanatical about the Baltic Sea. The Roschier Baltic Sea Race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and supported by the City of Helsinki, as well as the major yacht clubs and racing organisations in Finland: Nyländska Jaktklubben (NJK), Finnish Offshore Racing Association (AMP), Helsingfors Segelklubb (HSK), FINIRC and the Xtra Stærk Ocean Racing Society.

Carkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim WrightCarkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim Wright

Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) is confirmed for the 635-mile Roschier Baltic Sea Race. Zennstrom hails from Sweden and will also race in the 350-mile Gotland Runt, which takes place three weeks before the Roschier Baltic Sea Race. The two races provide a thousand miles of offshore racing in the Baltic summer.

One of Rán’s main competitors will be Infiniti 52 Tulikettu (FIN). One of the world’s most advanced grand-prix racing yachts, Tulikettu sports DSS side-foils and all carbon-fibre build. Team Tulikettu’s primary goal is to be the first all-Finnish crew to win RORC’s important offshore races.

Arto Linnervuo Photo: Pepe KorteniemiArto Linnervuo Photo: Pepe Korteniemi

“The Roschier Baltic Sea Race is unique, a new experience for many sailors from overseas,” commented Tulikettu’s Finnish owner Arto Linnervuo. “Teams will experience racing on a new course which goes around three lighthouses. There are plenty of affects from the land, and as we saw in 2022, the gradient wind can be anything from really light to strong. The race is attracting professional teams racing high performance boats and also the amateur teams racing production yachts, the race is really important to promote racing in The Baltic. In Finland there is a huge amount of passion for sailing, and I am sure everyone who races this year, will feel that embrace!”

Published in RORC
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The final day of the RORC Easter Challenge produced yet another variation in conditions with a medium-strong easterly breeze piping up to nearly 20 knots. The sturdy easterly going tide, built during the day, to create classic Solent chop. 

After two intensive coaching days from Mason King’s team ably assisted by North Sails, the focus moved to putting the lessons learnt into practice and literally win the Easter Chocolates. Every class winner was decided in the very last race, producing a thrilling climax to the regatta.

Class winners receiving RORC recycled Keepers were Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II skippered by James Gair, Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again, and Lance Adams’ Cape 31 Katabatic.

Team Hero on Zero II Photo: Paul WyethTeam Hero on Zero II Photo: Paul Wyeth

Cape 31 Katabatic Photo: Paul WyethCape 31 Katabatic Photo: Paul Wyeth

JPK 1010 Elaine Again Photo: Paul WyethJPK 1010 Elaine Again Photo: Paul Wyeth

RORC Vice Commodore Richard Palmer welcomed all the teams to the RORC Easter Challenge Prizegiving. Richard thanked the RORC race team for their excellent organisation and also the Royal Yacht Squadron for hosting all the teams at The Pavilion, while the RORC Clubhouse was under construction. Richard Palmer started the customary Easter Egg Toss with every team getting in the chocolates on Easter Sunday.

For the final day of racing, PRO Stuart Childerley and the RORC team set up a windward leeward course between The Brambles Bank and the North Channel for two tactical races. This was followed by a round the cans race, at every point of sail, with a finish towards Cowes for the RORC Easter Challenge Prize Giving.

Congratulations to Easter Sunday race winners: Giovanni Belgrano’s Giles 39 Classic Whooper, Ben Pritchard’s Cape 31 Akheilos, The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier skippered by Henry Foster, Ian Watkins’ Fareast 28 Mako, Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog, and Lance Adams’ Cape 31 Katabatic.

Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II Photo: Paul WyethMills 39 Team Hero on Zero II Photo: Paul Wyeth

IRC TWO

Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II won the regatta by a single point. J/122 Bulldog won the last race but after the discard came in that was not enough. Sun Fast 3600 British Soldier was third by just two points.

“We cleaned up all the mistakes we had on the first two days and by the last day we were on it,” commented Zero II tactician Guy Sherbourne. “We knew we had to stay in touch with Bulldog and it came down to just the one point. We had some really great information from Ian Walker, we took that on board and we got our trim to where it was supposed to be. Those little incremental pieces of advice make the difference, it is where we got our speed from.”

JPK 1010 Elaine Again Photo: Paul Wyeth JPK 1010 Elaine Again Photo: Paul Wyeth 

IRC THREE

JPK 1010 Elaine Again was the most consistent team at the regatta, scoring all podium race finishes to win the class by two points. John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox was just two points behind in second. Giovanni Belgrano’s Giles 39 Classic Whooper won the last three races to finish third by just two points.

“Before the regatta the main aim was to get the boat and the crew dialled in,” commented Elaine Again’s Ed Mockeridge. “ We have a new J1 and we got that out on Saturday, which was very useful. The crew have been together for a long time but we wanted to check that we are as quick as we were, as this is the first inshore regatta for us since last summer. We had excellent competition from Jukebox and Whooper and this has been a really good regatta to kick start our season, we have the Warsash Spring Champs in three weeks’ time and we will be at the IRC Nationals in Poole later this year.”

Cape 31 Katabatic Photo: Paul Wyeth Cape 31 Katabatic Photo: Paul Wyeth 

CAPE 31

The Cape 31 Class went right to the wire, Katabatic eventually taking the regatta win by winning the final race by just eight seconds after IRC time correction. Simon Perry’s Jiraffe won the first three races but was pipped to first in class by a single point. Ben Prichard’s Akheilos scored two race wins to finish the regatta in third.

“More than half our crew are new this year, there are a lot of things we have been working on so this training regatta is a great event to try them out,” commented Katabatic’s Lance Adams. “We have found a number of areas that can be improved, which is important and the whole point of coming to the regatta. When we go training, we can really sort out manoeuvres but you don’t have the intensity of a start line and boat-on-boat, moding, all that kind of stuff. Those are the key areas that you can get by coming to the RORC Easter Regatta – all boats should do it really, it is so beneficial for the rest of the year, this has been a tough battle”
This year’s RORC Easter Challenge featured many new teams using the training regatta to kick start their programmes including Jonny Hewat & Lucian Stone’s Cape 31 Narwhal, the Royal Navy Sailing Association’s Corby 29 Cutlass, Alain Waha’s J/99 Further West, Julian James’ A31 Thunderbault, and Max Walker’s Sun Fast 3600 Elysium IV.

Grieg City Academy's Cote skippered by Kai Hockley Photo: Paul WyethGrieg City Academy's Cote skippered by Kai Hockley Photo: Paul Wyeth 

The Royal Ocean Racing Club was delighted to see more young sailors than in previous years including the Greig City Academy racing Quarter Tonner Cote. RORC Treasurer Derek Shakespeare's J/122 Bulldog had seven crew in their twenties and on windy Easter Friday, when it was too much for the Quarter Tonner Cote to race, Bulldog invited two of the Cote team on board to race.

J/122 Bulldog with Richard Palmer Photo: Paul Wyeth J/122 Bulldog with Richard Palmer Photo: Paul Wyeth 

“It keeps me young!” commented Derek Shakespeare about his youth crew. “I have been very lucky to put together a crew of fantastically talented youngsters that race around the cans and go offshore and we all love it. They bring huge enthusiasm and energy and hopefully they are learning a lot as well. The RORC have been running the Griffin Youth Project since the 1940s.In recent years we have seen a real drive. The Club has put more money into the programme and Griffin Chair Jim Driver has produced a really well-organised campaign. The Club has had huge interest with 300 sailors under 30 applying for the Griffin Project. Other Club Members are also encouraging you such as Gavin Howe and James Harayda. Youth is the future of our sport. We have to get them on board and give them a chance to learn and have a good time with friends of their own age.”

RORC Easter Challenge Results below

Published in RORC
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It was all change on Saturday, the second day of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge. The big breeze on the first day had moderated to a light southerly of about ten knots, and Spring sunshine had broken through the clouds.

Off Lee-on-Solent, PRO Stuart Childerley and the RORC team set three short, energy-sapping, windward leeward races for all classes. Race Four, the last race of the day, had the novelty of a downwind start. Hitting the ‘B’ of the bang for race starts and finding clear air were the keys to a good performance. With race legs of about half a mile, it was rush hour on the race course. Boat-on-boat tactics came into play, as did nailing the manoeuvres, especially at mark roundings.

In lighter conditions, the complexity of The Solent’s tides were a big factor. A strong easterly tide was present for the morning, changing on the ebb to a complex tidal stream around midday. By the end of the day’s racing, a strong westerly tide, set tacticians a new set of puzzles.

Congratulations to today’s race winners: Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again, The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier skippered by Henry Foster, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox, Simon Perry’s Cape 31 Jiraffe, Blanshard & Smith’s Ker 36 Skermisher, Lance Adams’ Cape 31 Katabatic, and Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II, skippered by James Gair.

After racing a video debrief was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion. The coaching team presented to a full turn-out of competitors eager to learn. Below are some of the key takeaways. North Sails UK General Manager Ian Walker - Golden Nuggets.

Wind speed transition - When the breeze goes from 6 to10 knots, the crew need to change from weight in board, or to leeward, to getting weight onto the high side. trimmers have to change the shape of the sails in the puffs and lulls.

Avoid the layline - If you take the boat all the way to the layline you can get tacked onto. it is better, in most cases, to tack before the layline, letting other boats go beyond you. You can then double tack and put them in your dirt.

Think about the tide - Today, light airs and big tide changed the laylines. This affected where to start and also the approach to mark roundings.

Positioning on the race track – when it’s light, clear air is really important for speed. There will be a lot of disturbed air in the middle of the course, especially if there are three fleets like today. You have to be bold and choose a side, going up the middle rarely works. Often both sides can pay, but choosing the right side for positive wind shifts and good pressure is the key.

Tacking in light airs – the crew need to think about moving their weight, staying on the old side to induce heel and then moving over together as a unit. This will help the driver as shifting weight together will aid the boat through head to wind, meaning less movement of the rudder.

Trim Set Up – Think about your trim through the tack, easing before the helm goes over just a few inches, will keep the boat speed up through the turn. After the turn, counting the speed build before sheeting on will accelerate the boat after the tack.

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The 2024 RORC Easter Challenge got underway in ‘sporty’ conditions on Good Friday with strong gusty conditions in the Eastern Solent.

The first European fixture of the Royal Ocean Racing Club 2024 programme is billed as a training regatta with Mason King’s coaching team strengthened by support from Ian Walker from North Sails and veteran charter boat skipper Andy Middleton. Rules on outside assistance are relaxed, allowing top coaches to aid competitors in kick starting their season.

Cape 31 Katabatic on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Cape 31 Katabatic on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

PRO Stuart Childerley set one race for the opening day for all classes with a Spring Tide going west for the duration.

Congratulations to today’s race winners in the IRC Classes: Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox, and Simon Perry’s Cape 31 Jiraffe.

Giles 39 Classic Whooper on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Giles 39 Classic Whooper on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Race One was held in brilliant sunshine with a stiff wind from SSW gusting well over 20 knots. A course of six legs from every point of sail, tested boat handling plus the ability to judge lay lines in a building cross-tide. After racing, a video debrief was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion. The coaching team presented to a full turn-out of competitors eager to learn.

“For the majority of the crews racing at the RORC Easter Challenge, this was an opportunity to sail together as a team for the first time since the winter lay-off," commented Mason King. “In 25 knots of wind and at the start of the season, the important areas to focus on are boat handling and that is positively affected by good crew organisation and communication. Teamwork is all important for getting the manoeuvres right but we did see a number of boats spinning out today, especially when gybing.”

North Sails' Ian Walker on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth North Sails' Ian Walker on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Ian Walker, UK General Manager for North Sails was out on the water in a coaching role. Ian is a double Olympic medallist and winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race, but also coached Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton for the Yngling gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.

RORC Easter Challenge Debrief after day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth RORC Easter Challenge Debrief after day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Ian Walker commented at the debrief. “For teams that are just getting the boats and themselves back on the water, that was a pretty tough day. However, teams that got out there have made progress, not just for this regatta but for the season ahead.”

Just some of Ian’s ‘golden nuggets’ at the video debrief:

“When it’s windy it is hard to accelerate at the start because if you bear away, you haven’t got the righting moment to gain speed, you have to stay high so you don’t fall over. In terms of sail set up, It was gusty and shifty, so a forgiving trim set up is what you want. You need to get rid of the heeling moment with twist in the sail, especially at the top but not the whole sail as you need to be able to point.”

“The wind was shifty today, so you probably don’t want to get too near lay lines upwind, because the chances are that it is not going to stay lifted on one tack or the other all the way to the mark. It is probably better to stay in the middle of the course and play the shifts.”

Ker 36 Skermisher on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Ker 36 Skermisher on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

“Downwind, calling the gusts was very important, and the team needs to react. Just coming down five degrees is a simple solution, but you have to have a crew member calling the gusts and emphasising the big bullets of pressure.”

Racing continues at the RORC Easter Challenge tomorrow, Saturday 30 March.

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In 2024, the International Rating Certificate (IRC) celebrates 40 years of yacht racing around the world.

Back in the early 1980s, most boats were racing under the International Offshore Rule (IOR), but it was starting to be more concentrated on racing boats and leading to extreme type-forming and pinched sterns, causing “too much rock and roll” in the words of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore at the time, the late Robin Aisher. In 1983 he and the Commodore of l’Union National de la Course au Large (UNCL) Jean Louis Fabry, whilst enjoying an evening out in Paris, decided that a rule was needed that would rate any size and shape of boat. Follow-up conversations, usually held at the end of an RORC cross-channel race, and included RORC Racing Manager Alan Green, clinched the deal. A brief summary of the idea was jotted down on the back of an envelope, and the RORC-UNCL joint venture, Channel Handicap System (CHS), was born to allow cruiser/racers to compete with a simple but mathematical rating rule while IOR continued to cater for the top end racing boats.

Cal 40 Huey Too Photo: Arthur DanielCal 40 Huey Too Photo: Arthur Daniel

The first CHS certificates were issued in 1984 and the system evolved into IRC in 1999. It became a World Sailing (ISAF) international recognised rating system in 2003. Over the last 40 years IRC has continued to rate a huge variety of monohulls including IOR, production cruiser/racers, superyachts, sportboats, classics and cutting edge race boats, always with the fundamental policy of protecting the existing fleet. It has been at the forefront of permissive development taking an early stance on rating features such as retractable bowsprits, asymmetric spinnakers, canting keels and water ballast. For decades IRC has been used for the major trophies in world-renowned inshore and offshore events and continues to provide a simple, inexpensive foundation for competitive sailing around the world.

In the early days CHS certificate processing was a laborious process, unlike the user-friendly systems in place today. Two decades of development later it became possible to import application data into the database and certificates were available as PDFs. The current application system was developed by the current Director of Rating, Dr Jason Smithwick, and has allowed improvements such as the certificate boat data page including an image of the boat, and IRC data published online.

Carkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim WrightCarkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim Wright

The stability and endurance of the IRC rating system and its development owe much to the unparalleled continuity within its team, both past and present. The RORC Rating Office in the UK prides itself on longevity of service and depth of experience, boasting a combined 70 years of service amongst its current four-person technical team, and similar long-term experience is seen across the Channel in France at the Yacht Club de France Centre de Calcul IRC, and on the IRC Technical Committee. The unwavering dedication and collective experience of this international team underscore the resilience and longevity of the IRC rating system, ensuring its continued fairness, relevance and effectiveness in the world of competitive sailing.

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It’s the middle of a foggy night in the North Atlantic. The breeze is fickle and there is nary a star or land sight to guide the yacht. It’s the sort of weather that drives helmspeople insane as they chase the compass this way and that, trying, often in vain, to find some semblance of equilibrium. Unless, of course, the steering is being handled by autopilot.

To date, one of the maxims of fully crewed American offshore racing has been that there must be, at all times, a human hand on the helm. For the Transatlantic Race 2025 this will not be the case as a new amendment to the Notice of Race for the ocean-crossing adventure will allow for autopilots throughout the fleet.

“The Transatlantic Race 2025 is a bucket-list race for many experienced racers and racer-cruisers and this decision targets that second group,” says Dan Litchfield, co-chair for the race. “We are keenly aware of the planning and logistics that go into supporting a crew, and this difficulty scales up with crew size. The main motivation for allowing autopilots is to encourage participation by enabling boats, especially in the racer-cruiser division, to compete safely and effectively with fewer team members.”

The Transatlantic Race 2025 is organized by the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, with support from the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Storm Trysail Club. The race will start from Newport, R.I., on Wednesday, June 18, 2025, and finish off Cowes, England, one to three weeks later. The competitors will cover a distance of approximately 3,000 miles. IRC handicap scoring will determine the winners in each division. The 2025 edition will be the 32nd Transatlantic sailing competition organized by the New York Yacht Club. 

Click here for the current entry list.

Autopilots have been around for centuries, evolving from the simple act of tying off the tiller to the windvane-controlled steering systems pioneered by round-the-world racers in the 1960s to computer-controlled systems that rely on supplied power and are integrated into the design of a yacht’s steering assembly. For foiling ocean racers, which leap across huge swaths of the sea in unthinkably short times, the algorithms powering state-of-the-art autopilots have become more complex and better able to adjust to changing conditions and sea states and rapid changes in boat speed. But the majority of the boats that will take advantage of this amendment will be sailing more traditional ocean racing yachts with autopilots that rely primarily on heading and wind direction inputs to keep the boat on track.

In England and the rest of Europe, the use of autopilots for similar races is more common. The Rolex Middle Sea Race Rolex has allowed them at least since 2018. The Rolex Fastnet Race added the permission for all boats to utilize autopilots to its NOR for the 2023 edition.

Yachts in IRC 3, including (L to R) Carina, Hiro Maru and Kiva cross the starting line for the Transatlantic Race 2019Yachts in IRC 3, including (L to R) Carina, Hiro Maru and Kiva cross the starting line for the Transatlantic Race 2019

"The RORC has found that the introduction of auto pilots has helped boats with less crew to take part in our longer distance races," says Steve Cole, racing manager for the RORC.

The United States has lagged when it comes to this tweak to Rule 52 of the Racing Rules of Sailing. And while that may continue to be the case for many of the races in the United States, a 3,000-mile race that could take some teams as long as three weeks to finish is the best event to test out a change to the paradigm.

Fresh off a victory in The Ocean Race—sailing a foiling IMOCA 60 with a crew of just five—2023 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Charlie Enright knows well the value of autopilots when it comes to reducing the number of crew required to race hard for long stretches of time.

"Allowing autopilots will help increase entries and ensure that boats don't need bigger crews, if that's something they're looking to avoid," says Enright. "Autopilots are commonly used in many types of sailing, racing and cruising, and should not be feared."

The amended NOR for the Transatlantic Race 2025 is online and registration is currently open. An early registration discount is available for all boats that enter by September 1, 2024. Click here for entry information

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.