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Irish Big Guns gather in Solent

12th June 2008

The big players in Ireland's IRC fleet are gathering in the Solent for the UK IRC Nationals, with tricolours proudly flown near the top of every fleet. Racing begins tomorrow, continuing through until Sunday.

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Tim Costello's Tiamat, in action this weekend at RORC

Seven races are scheduled over three days of racing around tight Solent courses. The spotlight will focus on the Rolex Commodores’ Cup competitors who will use the RORC IRC Nationals as a warm-up for their big event next month.

Already Ireland's two teams are earning a lot of attention, not just because of the calibre of the squads, but because of the design differences.

With one team made up entirely of Jason Ker designs, and the other made up of homegrown Mark Mills designs (Mills is based in Wicklow), the battle for supremacy is as much one of architecture as it is of yachting prowess.

The hottest competition will probably be between the six TP52’s that assembled in the Solent this winter. These lightweight racing machines packed with America’s Cup sailors, all have similar speed and the racing should be close and very exciting.

Joining the Solent-based boats and fresh from his victory in Miami is Colm Barrington in Flash Glove. This Irish based team will be keen to make up for the gear failure, in last years windy Nationals that denied them a possible class win. In the early season sparring, Niklas Zennstrom’s, Ran seems to have the edge over Charles Dunstone’s, Rio. Whilst Stuart Robinson’s Stay Calm is a proven competitor and Lutener & Elwood’s Henri Lloyd Cutting Edge has been improving all season.

Gery Trentesaux is back to defend his class win last year but this time in his new First 45, Lady Courrier, which won the season opener at Tarbert just a few weeks ago. John Shepherd’s Ker 46, Fair Do’s VII and Nick & Annie Haigh’s DK46, Dark and Steamy, have both shown good form around the cans this season. From Ireland, Tim Costello is a past winner of the event, arriving in his new Alfa-Romeo sponsored Mills 43, Tiamat.

Expect a close battle between some more Rolex Commodores’ Cup contenders; Eamon Rohan’s Mills 40, Blondie IV and Denise & Conor Phelan’s Ker 37, Jump Juice and also Kees Kaan’s Grand Soleil 43, ROARK.

Last year’s overall champion is back, Tim Spalding’s First 40.7, Love Shack, which will face some top opposition including Andrew Allen’s, Mills 37, No Naked Flames and last year’s class winners - Eamon & Alan Crosbie’s Ker 32, Teng Tools (Voodoo Chile). Both of these boats have travelled to the event from Ireland. Hong Kong Etchells sailor, Jamie McWilliam is competing in the J/109, Yeoman of Wight and Chris Walmsley’s Ker 31, Sanguma is a consistent performer.

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