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77 boats competed in the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club Channel Race. The international fleet experienced a variety of conditions and wind angles, testing boat handling and tactical skills writes Louay Habib.

Perhaps the surprise overall winner, from a fleet including professional racing teams, was J/121 Darkwood owned by Dubliner Michael O'Donnell. David Collins' British Botin IRC 52 Tala was runner up, and Dominique Tian's French Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen was third.

Michael O'Donnell, based in London, last competed in the Channel Race in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, as a 15-year old nipper. His J/121 Darkwood was only launched this year, and four of the crew including Michael, race in the classic Solent-based XOD Class. Darkwood is very much a team of friends and family and will be competing in next month's Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I was basically a rope-puller on big boats such as Mike Slade's Leopard but I have learnt a huge amount in the XOD Class, especially from Steve Lawrence and Alistair Shaw who are part of the Darkwood team, ”commented Michael O'Donnell. “We are pretty good at getting off the start line, but I have not done any offshore racing since 2013. I am glad that the RORC make us do the qualifying races before the Fastnet; you learn so much about the boat and how to sail together as a team. We made a lot of sail-changes especially during the night, which was hard work with just five on board. Rosie (O'Donnell) did a great job in the pit, and Jamie (Holmes) impressed on the bow. We are thrilled to have won the race, but we have a long way to go, I am sure that the wily teams in the Fastnet are not quaking in their boots just yet!”

"My family sailed from the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay and also from Kinsale Yacht Club. Darkwood will be racing in the Round Ireland Race next year, at the RCYC 300 and of course, the main highlight, Calves Week in West Cork " Michael O'Donnell told Afloat

In IRC Zero, it was joy and pain for David Collins' British Botin IRC 52 Tala, which missed out on the overall win by under three minutes after time correction. However, Tala beat an all-star class in IRC Zero including Peter Harrison's British Maxi72 Sorcha, Eric de Turckheim's French NM54 Teasing Machine, and Frank Niggeler's Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka 3.

"We pushed pretty hard, but I think that the string-drop system breaking at Owers cost us those 100 seconds in real time,” commented Tala's Pete Redmond. “You are racing against the clock, and you can't leave anything out there on the water. Campbell (Field) and Paul (Wilcox) did a great job calling just about every shift, and the crew did a lot of peels, which were spot on. This was the first big Class Zero fleet we have raced since the RORC Caribbean 600, so it was good to check where we are. We feel pretty strong from this performance, but the weather conditions could be very different for the Fastnet.”

The win in IRC Two went to Yves Grosjean's French J/133 Jivaro. Tom Kneen British JPK 11.80 Sunrise was second, just over 14 minutes behind after IRC time correction. With a crew from Northern Ireland, England and Hong Kong, Anthony Day's XC-50 Explorer was third.

“This result is very encouraging, as it has been an effort to get Jivaro back to the Solent to compete for the Fastnet,” commented Yves Grosjean. “After the Channel Race, the team are in the right mood, we have great anticipation for the big race to come. At the start of the Channel Race, we were the only boat in our start to go inshore at the Squadron Line. It paid off as we led our class out of the Solent. Inshore after the Needles Fairway Buoy avoiding the worst of the tide worked well, and we had a good lead at the virtual mark. After that it was all about fighting to maintain our lead, but the big wind shift towards the end of the race was a nerve-racking moment, as we saw the JPK 11.80 Sunrise catch up, but we held on to win.”

In IRC Three, Erik van Vuuren's Dutch W36 Hubo scored a narrow victory over Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600 Bellino. Both teams were racing Two-Handed, Craigie with his regular partner Deb Fish, and van Vuuren with the young apprentice Jochem Schoorl. British pair, Henry Bomby and Hannah Diamond, racing Sun Fast 3300 Fastrack XII, was third.

It was a fantastic race, everything was in it!” commented Erik van Vuuren. “Normally I race with my partner Yvonne Beusker but she is not able to join me for the Fastnet. Jochem is only 22, he has sailed all his life, has the right attitude and is full of energy. This was our first Two-Handed race together and it worked perfectly. From the start we battled with Bellino, and as in any race, you have to be keen and focused until the end. After St.Catherine's Point the forecast was correct; a big rain cloud arrived moving to the east. We kept to our plan, staying high of the next mark. We kept up good speed and that was the game-changer.”

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For the previous four editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the elation of overall victory has been enjoyed by a team racing a yacht of less than 40ft. In the 2013 and 2015 editions of the 605-nautical-mile offshore race, the top three boats overall came from IRC Three and Four.

This year, currently 340 teams will race under IRC for the overall win and over half of them will be competing in IRC Three and Four. The vast majority of the 3,000-strong competitors in the 400-boat fleet are passionate amateurs, racing on a huge variety of boats, with 88 different designs found in these two classes.

Eighty-five yachts have entered IRC Three: 46 from Great Britain, 18 from France and also Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the USA.

Twelve JPKs will be competing in IRC Three this year, including their designer Jean-Pierre Kelbert, racing JPK 10.30 Léon Two-Handed, with Alexis Loison.

JPK designs have an impressive track record, winning IRC Three for the last three editions of the race, and the race overall in 2013 (Pascal and Alexis Loison, JPK 10.10 Night and Day). In 2017, the class went to the wire, with Arnaud Delamare and Eric Mordret’s JPK 10.80 Dream Pearls winning by just 71 seconds from Marc Alperovitch’s JPK 10.80 Timeline. Alperovitch had previously won class in 2009, while taking fourth in 2013, as well as second in 2017. Both teams will be back this year, with Timeline now in two handed mode.

“We reckoned that there were 10 boats in a position to win and that included five British boats,” says Timeline’s owner Alperovitch about the 2017 race. “There was always a competitive boat next to us, it is quite strange to be in the middle of the Celtic Sea and be racing as if it were ‘round the cans’, except it took roughly half a day to overtake another boat!”

Eight Sun Fast 3600s will be in action, including two British teams in top form: Trevor Middleton’s fully crewed Black Sheep and Rob Craigie’s Bellino, racing two handed with Deb Fish.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is likely to decide who will be in pole position overall for the 2019 RORC Season’s Championship. Four of the Black Sheep crew met on the Clipper Round the World Race and this will be Middleton’s third race in succession.

“We are not thinking about the overall win, just to put in our best performance for the race,” explained Middleton. “The competition in our class is really tough, but if I was to single out one area in respect of Bellino, it is that they run symmetric spinnakers to our asymmetric, so a tight reach back from the Rock would be just fine for Black Sheep.”

“TrevorTrevor Middleton’s Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep | Photo: Tim Wright

Eighty-nine yachts have entered IRC Four: 52 from Great Britain, 16 from France and also entries from Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA.

Noel Racine’s Foggy Dew is one of 11 JPK 10.10s racing in the class. Racing his former JPK 9.60 and his current charge, Racine has an impressive record in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Taking part in all seven editions since 2005, Racine has won his class three times and placed third and second respectively in the last two races. In this year’s 179-boat Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race, Francois Moriceau’s JPK 10.10 Mary was the class winner and second overall.

“NoelNoel Racine’s Foggy Dew | Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Designed in 1985 by David Thomas in collaboration with the RORC and the Royal Thames YC, and built in Plymouth, Seven Sigma 38s have entered IRC 4. The one-design sloop was built to stand up to tough offshore conditions using data from the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race.

Chris and Vanessa Choules’ With Alacrity is the leading Sigma 38 for the 2019 RORC season. Since 2009, With Alacrity has completed all five editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing in the top three Sigma 38s every year, before finally winning in 2017.

“We have owned With Alacrity for 15 years and having done a transatlantic, we got hooked on the racing, particularly the competitive racing against other Sigma 38s. The Rolex Fastnet Race is the longest race we can realistically do, and we aim to get around safely and with a happy crew,” explained Chris Choules.

“SigmaSigma 38 With Alacrity | Photo: Paul Wyeth

Sixteen J/109s will be competing in IRC Three and IRC Four. The 35ft bowsprit design has its own prize, the J/109 RORC Trophy. The leading J/109 for the RORC season is David McGough’s Just So, overall winner of the 2019 Morgan Cup with 85 teams racing under IRC. Just So won the J/109 RORC Trophy in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race.

The British Armed Forces have a long history in the race and this year, four teams from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces will be racing in the J/109 fleet. The RAF with Red Arrow, the Royal Naval with Jolly Jack Tar, the Royal Engineers with Trojan, and the Royal Armoured Corps with Ajax.

“JollyJolly Jack Tar | Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Jolly Jack Tar’s skipper Lt Tom Thicknesse RN started yacht racing with the Royal Navy; this will be his second race, and first as skipper.

“Whatever the weather, we are expecting a mentally and physically draining race that demands everything from the crew. We have our sights set on the Inter-Regimental Trophy for the best service yacht and aim to be in the top five J109s overall,” says Thicknesse.

“Offshore sailing has been a key element of Royal Navy sport and adventurous training for many years as the mental and physical challenge gives the opportunity to develop the endurance, leadership, teamwork and courage of our crew. The race epitomises this challenge.”

Classic yachts abound in IRC Three and Four, including 17 Nautor’s Swans and four more classics from the drawing board of Sparkman & Stephens. These majestic yachts with beautiful lines will also race for the S&S Trophy.

All of the classics competing in the 48th biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will be eligible for a new trophy donated in 2017 by Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy, owners of the S&S yawl Dorade, winner of the Fastnet Race in 1931 and 1933.

Former Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, Rives Potts will race his McCurdy Rhodes 48 Carina having crossed ‘the pond’ with the 2019 Transatlantic Race this summer. Potts’ connection with the race goes back to the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race which he won as crew on media mogul Ted Turner’s Tenacious.

The oldest boat in the race this year is Paul Moxon’s 1939 Amokura. The Shepherd-designed classic yawl was built as ‘a speedy vessel, suitable for both cruising and ocean racing’ and designed for Major Ernest Harston, ADC to Lord Mountbatten. She will be joined in IRC Four by Sir Francis Chichester’s famed 53ft ketch, Gipsy Moth IV which is run as a charity to maintain her sailing heritage.

“PaulPaul Moxon’s 1939 Shepherd-designed classic yawl Amokura | Photo: Beken

Another classic yacht with a strong connection to the 1979 race is the Contessa 32 Assent, which was originally named Tessa of Worth and the only yacht in Class 5 to complete the 1979 Fastnet Race. Assent, which has the shortest waterline length (24ft) in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, is now owned by Kit Rogers and skippered by Simon Rogers. Their Father Jeremy Rogers set up Contessa Yachts in 1961.

“This is a pilgrimage to show respect for the ’79 race, now 40 years ago,” commented Simon Rogers. “Our crew will be my oldest child Hattie, and Kit’s oldest Jonah, who are both 19, and this will be in their first Fastnet.”

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club's ongoing interest in Ireland continues to grow with rumours that RORC's annual Morgan Cup race will set sail for Ireland from Cowes in 2020. 

The London Club lists both of Ireland's top offshore races, the Round Ireland Race and the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race, on its points Championship programme and in 2016 its inaugural IRC European Championships was staged as part of Cork Week. Now that relationship is set to grow with the arrival of the Cup Race if the unofficial word is correct.

The Morgan Cup is an annual fleet race with a fleet topping 100-boats which regularly sails to France or the Channel Islands each June. It is a 110-mile offshore race that insiders say may now come to Ireland instead. It would be excellent timing for the UK fleet fillip given the important anniversary year for Irish sailing, that includes Royal Cork's 300th anniversary

Ireland has developed excellent connections with RORC that includes Irish sailors holding high office in the 95-year-old club. RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen recently competed at Dun Laoghaire Regatta, winning in his class of visiting Seabirds.

In 2014, Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club was elected as its Commodore and now serves as Chairman of RORC's IRC Rating Congress. Boyd himself is a winner of the 2017 edition of the Morgan Cup, as Afloat reported here.

In 2014, Anthony O'Leary's Antix of Royal Cork was named RORC Yacht of the Year. The Cork Harbour sailor also served as the club's Vice Commodore and he was twice winner of RORC's Commodore's Cup.

More than a decade previously, in 2002, Dublin Bay sailor John Bourke was elected RORC Admiral.

It hasn't all been plain sailing between RORC and Irish sailing, however. Also in 2002, there was an aborted attempt to stage the Admiral's Cup on Dublin Bay.

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Teams from all over the world will be racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club this weekend in the RORC Channel Race, the 11th race of the RORC Season's Points Championship, which precedes next month's Rolex Fastnet Race. Teams from as far away as Australia, China, and Russia, will compete with teams from all over Europe and Scandinavia. Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, a course of up to160nm will be chosen by the RORC Race Management team. 80 teams are expected to be racing for the overall win, decided by the best corrected time under IRC, the rating rule administered by the RORC and the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL).

IRC Zero

12 teams will be racing in IRC Zero, the largest fleet for the big boat class since the 2019 RORC Caribbean 600. Three teams are likely to compete for Line Honours: VO65 Team Brunel raced by a mainly Finnish crew, led by Robert Staeuber (SUI) and Ysbrand Endt (NED). VO65 Ambersail II will be sailed by a predominantly Polish crew, but also include the combined talents of Brian Thompson (GBR), and Nicholas Lunven (FRA). Also, one of the favourites for Line Honours will be Maxi72 Sorcha, sailed by Peter Harrison (GBR) with Steve Hayles (GBR) navigating.

After IRC time correction, a multitude of teams have a proven track record including; Botin IRC 52 Tala - David Collins (GBR), Cookson 50 Kuka 3 - Franco Niggeler (SUI), Cookson 50 Riff Raff - Brian McMaster (AUS), NMYD 54 Teasing Machine - Eric de Turkheim (FRA), Ker 46 Lady Mariposa - Nigel King (GBR), and Ker 43 Baraka GP - Harmen de Graaf (NED)

IRC One

Class leader for the season, A13 Phosphorous II - Mark Emerson (GBR) will be in action, but five of the top teams in the class will not be racing. Several teams have the chance to climb up the leaderboard, including HH42 Ino XXX - James Neville (GBR) , Ker 40 Keronimo - Lars & Birgitta Elfverson (SWE) with Dublin Bay's Kenny Rumball on board, J/112 Darkwood - Michael O'Donnell (IRL), and Corby 38 Double Edge - Chris Schram (NED).

The much travelled Lombard 46 Pata Negra will be sailed by a Chinese team for the Rolex Fastnet Race. XP-44 Xtra Staerk skippered by Arto Linnervuo (FIN) is back racing with the RORC with his Finnish crew. The Tall Ships Youth Trust has three entries, all with sail training crew. Cowes Race School's Corby 45 Incisor - James Gair (GBR), and Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen - Dominique Tian (FRA), will also be in action.

IRC Two

JPK 11.80 Sunrise - Tom Kneen (GBR), will be looking to extend their class lead for the RORC season. Sun Fast 3600 Tigris sailed Two-Handed by Gavin Howe (GBR) has an opportunity to improve on their impressive fifth in class for this season. Skylander - Yuri Fadeev (RUS) is the leading First 40 for the season, but hard on the Russian's heels are Sailing Logic's fleet of First 40s. Hoping to take the lead after the Channel Race will be Lancelot II - Jon Tyrrell (GBR) and Arthur Logic - Jim Bennet (GBR). Cowes based Performance Yacht Racing have two boats racing, Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8 and J/120 Sunset, with the crews for next month’s Rolex Fastnet Race. J/122 Jolly Jellyfish will be sailed by the Seaventus Russian Offshore Racing Club, skippered by Vladimir Chirkov (RUS), a past competitor in the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Sydney Hobart.

RORC YachtsSun Fast 3600 Bellino, 1957 Laurent Giles sloop Cetewayo, Sigma 38 Sam, Class40 Manic

IRC Three

The Sun Fast 3600s Black Sheep and Bellino will be continuing their battle for both class and overall supremacy in the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship. Black Sheep is skippered by Jake Carter (GBR) and owned by Trevor Middleton (GBR). Rob Craigie & Deb Fish race Bellino Two-Handed. A35 Eaujet - Richard Elliott (GBR), will be racing, hoping to make the class podium after the Channel Race. Top competition comes from Jean-Eudes Renier (FRA) and Jack Trigger (GBR), racing JPK 10.80 Shaitan Two-Handed. Admiral's Cup winner, Erik van Vuuren (NED), will be racing Two-Handed with his W36 Hubo.

A flotilla of four J/109s will be in action in IRC Three, part of the fleet of 19 J/109s that will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The Royal Armoured Corps and RAF will be in this weekend's combat zone, as will JYS Jan with a young Maltese team led by Nikki Henderson (GBR). The Dutch duo, Joppe Schepers & Jasper Heikens, will be racing Two-Handed with Jomalija.

IRC Four

Nigel & Tim Goodhew (GBR) continue their Two-Handed campaign this weekend, racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora. The father and son team lead IRC Four, and are placed third overall for the season. For the Channel Race, Cora is one of a few light-weight flyers that will be taking on heavy-weight opposition including: the 1957 Laurent Giles sloop Cetewayo - David Murrin (GBR), S&S 41 Winsome - Harry Heijst (NED), Dehler 38 Longue Pierre – Cooper & England (GBR), Swan 36 Finola - Chris Frost (GBR) and Sir Francis Chichester's famous 53ft ketch Gipsy Moth IV - Richard Chalmers (GBR).

Four Sigma 38s will be racing in IRC Four: Kindred Spirit – Christoffer Kobusch (GER), Rho - Sophie O'Neill (GBR), Sam will be skippered by Peter Hopps (GBR), and Machismo II, skippered by Tim Levett (GBR), will be crewed by the Olden family.

Seacart 30 Buzz - Ross Hobson (GBR) and Class40 Manic – Ian Hoddle (GBR), will both be competing under multihull and Class40 rules. Flyer winner of the 1977-78 Whitbread Round the World Race is also entered, skippered by Marc van Bemmel (NED).

The impressive RORC fleet will be divided into three starts from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, Cowes. The first start is scheduled for 0900 on Friday 27th July. The best vantage points will be along Cowes Green and Egypt Esplanade on the Isle of Wight. Follow the race online with YB AIS tracking showing each boat’s position and class ranking

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The weather will play a significant outcome in determining the overall results of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Winning your division is more within each team's control, and here we'll look at the top three IRC handicap categories in terms of size and speed. IRC Zero is where the biggest boats congregate and is likely to produce the monohull line honours winner. However, you have to go back to the 2009 and 2011 editions of the race to find the last Maxi to win overall - on both occasions the impeccably sailed Rán 2.

IRC One produced the last edition's winner in 2017, and Lann Ael 2 is back to defend her title, although victory in this hard-fought division will be no picnic for the French crew. IRC Two is also capable of delivering an overall winner, and it is here where the 2015 winner Géry Trentesaux is returning with his new boat, Courrier Recommandé.

Let's take a look at some of the runners and riders, and speculate on who might emerge victorious in 2019

IRC Zero

The biggest boat in IRC Zero is the 100-footer Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 100, owned by Seng Huang Lee from Hong Kong. The international crew is led by experienced Australian sailor David Witt, former 18ft skiff sailor and skipper of the Scallywag team in last year's Volvo Ocean Race. She will be relying on a windy start and light airs conclusion to have a chance at winning on handicap.

RamblerGeorge David's American Rambler 88 Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Closest rival in terms of speed through the water is Rambler 88, George David's canting-keeled sloop from New York. The 88-footer has clocked up some impressive results which include overall winner of Les Voiles de St Barth, line honours winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as well as third on the water in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Rambler 88 also took monohull line honours in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, so has the raw speed, thanks to an experienced crew that numbers many of the America's Cup winning Alinghi crew in its ranks, not least former Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth. This will be David's fifth time of competing, and the ambitious owner still hankers for the overall win: "Too often we have been bridesmaid, which could be what brings us back - along with the great traditions and scenery of this classic race."

Expect to see a tough battle between the Maxi 72s Lucky and Sorcha (formerly the two-time Fastnet winner Rán 2) along with Jethou which was extended over the winter from a 72-footer to 77ft. Lucky was previously the Maxi 72 World Champion Bella Mente now in the hands of American owner Bryon Ehrhart, following in the footsteps of his 63ft Reichel Pugh design and before that the TP52 in which he scored a series of strong results. Lucky has already demonstrated her class with some strong performances in the Mediterranean including Capri Sailing Week, the Rolex Giraglia Race, Palermo to Monaco and the Maxi Worlds. Ehrhart has twice competed in the Fastnet, so knows some of the pitfalls along the way, not least from running aground on the Shingles bank not long after the 2015 start, which forced his RP63 out of the race. No wonder then that Ehrhart identifies the start as one of the most critical parts of the course, where he believes the key to success will be "picking lanes through smaller, slower boats in restricted waters. We'll aim to sail safe, sail hard and sail fast."

Quite a few ex-Volvo Ocean Race boats show up in this division, with Volvo 60s, 65s and 70s all hoping for some fast downwind sailing to make the most of their round-the-world design pedigree. Perhaps the most competitive of these is the VO70 Wizard, formerly Franck Cammas' 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race winner Groupama 4, now owned by Baltimore brothers, David and Peter Askew. Recent winner of the Transatlantic Race 2019, Wizard keeps on clocking up significant victories, notably the RORC Caribbean 600, Chicago Mackinac, Bayview Mackinac and Newport - Bermuda Race, along with a class win at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Not so surprising when you learn that the team includes a couple of Volvo Ocean Race veterans - former winner Rob Greenhalgh from the UK, two-time skipper Charlie Enright of the USA and Australian navigator Will Oxley.

Further down the size range are a bunch of competitive 50-something-footers, including David Collins' Botin IRC52 Tala (formerly Interlodge and Spookie) which recently claimed line honours victory in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham race. Tala will enjoy a good battle with Outsider, a purpose-built offshore TP52. Expect a tight fight between five Cookson 50s, including the Italian team Endlessgame owned by Pietro Moschini, which includes past America's Cup helmsman Paolo Cian in the crew. Watch out for Ron O'Hanley's Privateer as the pick of the bunch after finishing runner-up to Lann Ael 2 in the overall standings for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race.

A couple of other boats in this size range are Oystercatcher XXXIII, owned by east-coast racing veteran, Richard Matthews, who this year will be celebrating his 23rd Fastnet Race, and exactly 50 years since he and fellow crew member, Alan Brooke, first raced around the lighthouse. Oystercatcher XXXIII is a Ker 51 which was previously campaigned by Dutch race veteran Piet Vroon, best known for his series of Tonnerre yachts. Among the crew is the 470 Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, Saskia Clark, who hails from the same part of the country as Matthews.

Teasing Machine is a NMYD 54 which has recently completed the slowest ever Transatlantic Race, after which 600 miles of Fastnet racing will seem but a sprint. Eric de Turckheim is the French owner of a boat which was designed specifically with distance races in mind. Teasing Machine has already proven her pedigree with third overall in the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race, winning the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race and the 2018 Atlantic Anniversary Regatta. De Turckheim has similarly impressive results in his previous Fastnets, 2nd in IRC2 in 2013 and 3rd in IRC1 in 2015. The crew are a mix of amateurs and professionals, including some Volvo Ocean Race veterans, led by Laurent Pages.

IRC One

As outright winner of the last Fastnet Race in 2017, Lann Ael 2 must be considered a hot favourite to win IRC One. After Didier Gaudoux skippered the JND 39 to a near-perfect race in 2017, the Frenchman and his mostly Corinthian crew will be hoping for another set of perfect conditions for their yacht. A lifelong sailor who did his first RORC races in 1978, Gaudoux says the yacht was designed with the Fastnet in mind. "You have to be a bit lucky with the weather to win, but I am very proud to have designed a boat with Bernard Nivelt to win the Fastnet."

Philippe Frantz and his NMD 43 Albator will be one of a number to give Lann Ael 2 a run for her money. Launched in 2017, Albator went on to win class in the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 and the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race, where she also finished 3rd overall. This is the first time Frantz has attempted the Fastnet Race and he is wary of the weather, conditions and speed, but is nevertheless focused on the win. The yacht comes well prepared, with a crew comprising a mix of dinghy sailors, a Figaro sailor and previous competitors from the Route du Rhum, America's Cup, Half Ton Cup and Trophée Jules Verne. If anyone could win at his first attempt on the Fastnet, it's Frantz.

Conor Fogerty RAW 4649Conor Fogerty's new foiling Figaro 3 Raw Photo: Afloat

Competing in the 138-boat Myth of Malham Race this season was the HH42 Ino XXX raced by James Neville who was second on corrected time in the 30-hour race. Sixth overall in the 2017 Fastnet, Ino XXX will find herself competing against the recent third-placed Myth of Malham finisher, the Ker 40 Keronimo raced by Lars & Birgitta Elfverson (SWE).

If the conditions come right for Raw, one of the new foiling Figaro 3 keelboats, then former Irish Sailor of the Year, Conor Fogerty, could be lighting up the Celtic Sea. Fogerty is intent on an Olympic campaign for the new doublehanded offshore event in Marseille 2024, but is sailing four-up for the Fastnet.

Based on sheer experience in the Fastnet, the crew of Lutine from Gosport must be considered as a contender. Neil Armstrong is skippering the X-55 this year, and he's looking forward to the amateur crew showing what can be achieved with a concerted training programme.

Another crew that never misses a Fastnet is Moana, a First 47.7 skippered by François Goubau who races with his wife and three sons. This will be the Belgian boat's 10th Fastnet Race and one of the three sons, Mathieu, will be steering the boat as he has been since the age of 16; this is his 11th Fastnet yet he's still only 38 years old. Over the years Moana has been a RORC race regular, ranging from the Commodores' Cup (second in 2016) to the IRC Nationals and Cowes Week (class winner) and has taken three podium places in class at the Fastnet.

IRC Two

The most likely winner of IRC Two will be Géry Trentesaux, who won the race in a JPK 10.80 in 2015 and won last year's Rolex Middle Race in his present boat, JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé.

Gery Trentesaux Courrier Recommandé Gery Trentesaux's JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé Photo: Paul Wyeth
Having spotted the success of the JPK designs and Trentesaux in particular, Tom Kneen bought a JPK 11.80 last year with a view to winning the Fastnet Race at his third attempt. From a comedy of errors in his first Fastnet just four years ago, the Plymouth businessman has proven a fast learner with his Sunrise crew. "The biggest challenges are the tides between the Solent and Land's End - we have lots of decisions to make," says Kneen, whose team are almost all RORC Under 35 crew and three of whom are members of the RORC Youth Griffin Committee. Additional expertise comes from the young navigator Tom Cheney who works for INEOS Team UK.

Christian Teichmann and Hugh Brayshaw are racing Abu 43 in the doublehanded fleet but could threaten for a division win. Formerly owned by the Artemis Offshore Academy, Abu 43 is an enhanced Figaro II, optimised for racing under IRC. Teichmann, a German investor, is competing in his first Fastnet while this is Brayshaw's second assault on the Rock. Young, but with a wealth of offshore experience, Brayshaw is optimistic about their chances. "I think this time racing shorthanded will mean the latter stages of the race could be hard. But last time we rounded the Rock with a clear sunrise and all these boats around us. We are hoping to finish amongst the top of the Figaro IIs, however, if conditions are right then we could see ourselves towards the front of our class and two-handed."

Another double hander worth watching in IRC Two is Ajeto!, a J/122 sailed by joint owner-skippers, Robin Verhoef and John van der Starre from the Netherlands. The engineer and dentist from The Hague have been Dutch IRC champions four times, and were European J/111 champions in 2015 with a previous boat, Xcentric Ripper, with which they won class in the 2015 Fastnet. It's the fourth Fastnet for another J/122, Junique Raymarine Sailing Team, specially adapted for shorthanded sailing and a proven performer in the hands of Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker who took 3rd in class at the 2018 Round Britain and Ireland race.

The First 40 and First 40.7s will be out in force for IRC Two but whether any can threaten the more optimised boats in this division is another matter. The First 40, Sailplane, is owned by Rob Bottomley and skippered by Nick Martin, and will be hosting Catherine Keohane and her friends and family. It will be Keohane's second Fastnet and this time she is driving a more competitive entry. "We decided to choose the crew and the boat to be more competitive. It is a challenging race attracting a world-class fleet from around the world and it gives us a 'kick' to be taking part alongside professional and amateur sailors alike." With seven out of the 10 crew having completed one or more Fastnets, this is an experienced Corinthian crew.

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2019 IRC National Championship has been won out of the blue by a first timer not from the Solent. The 22 boat IRC Two fleet was led from the outset by Stuart Sawyer's J/122 Black Dog, rounding off the series today with a final bullet to win ultimately by 15 points from the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. As Afloat reported earlier, Dublin sailor Shane Hughes of North Sails Ireland was tactician on the winning entry from Falmouth.

Today was the third in this three-day event where the race committees ventured out into the Solent uncertain of whether they would get racing in. Today it was grey, with sub-10 knot winds and drizzle, and yet two windward-leewards were held on the Hill Head plateau enabling PROs Stuart Childerley and Steve Cole to compete the full schedule on their respective courses.

While the form was firming up in most classes, oddly the opening race saw a new winner in every class, partly caused by a significant shift on the final run. In IRC 1, it was the turn of French owner Dominique Tian on the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen to prevail, while in IRC 2 it was Performance 40 season leader Christopher Daniel's J/122E Juno. The IRC 3 (and HP30) bullet went to Malcolm Wootton's modified Farr 30 Pegasus while Jubilee and Whooper were both upstaged in both today's races by the Southworth's Quarter Tonner Protis. Even in the FAST40+ class Tony Dickin's newly acquired Carkeek 40 Mk3 Jubilee managed to break the unbroken string of bullets of Peter Morton's Girls on Film.

Nonetheless, after the mathematics were applied, Black Dog was determined to be the worthy recipient of this year's IRC National Championship title.

"We haven't sailed that much this year, so when we came up we said we'd be aiming for the top five and we'd be delighted by top three in our class. To win overall is incredible!" said Stuart Sawyer, his Black Dog also securing the Performance 40 prize. While the team has been sailing out of Falmouth on several boats for the last nine years, Sawyer admitted that they feel isolated racing in Cornwall. Previously they campaigned their J/111 around the Solent, but coming from Cornwall this proved too difficult so, according to Sawyer, he sold it and bought the J/122 "to take it easy. But then after we won Dartmouth Royal Regatta last year we thought we had to come here to see how we'd do..."

Compared to racing in Falmouth, there was more of a chop than a swell to deal with on the Solent but also the tides were far more complex. For the event the regular crew was assisted by North Sails' Shane Hughes plus a copy of the Winning Tides book. "And you are constantly having to change gears, but my crew has been amazing - I have never seen them hike harder," said Sawyer who also paid tribute to the late J/Boats dealer and Solent racing guru Paul Heys: "The one person who would have loved to have seen this is Paul. He would have been so chuffed to see both a Cornish boat and a J Boat do this."

In IRC 1 all four boats won races, but ultimately it was Tony Langley's highly polished Gladiator crew, including the likes of Iain Percy and Jules Salter, that prevailed. Despite being a prolific TP52 owner, simultaneously campaigning three boats, this was Langley's first IRC Nationals. "I love it - it is nice to come home," he said. "It was good to have some boat-on-boat action with Tala this weekend. We knew we had a bit on because she is a bit faster. They sailed it well." The UK Gladiator was also Langley's first. "I have quite a soft spot for this boat. We have won the Round the Island and Cowes Week and St Tropez last year on her and now this."

The closest competition for Black Dog's overall IRC Nationals win came from David Franks' J/112e Leon. Her otherwise perfect scoreline was broken twice today, by Pegasus and then in race two by Bruce Huber's Xanadoo, one of two sisterships to Leon competing. "He got his boat this year to come on to give us some competition, but now he is starting to bite our neck," observed Franks, who was the IRC National Champion with his previous boat Strait Dealer in 2012.

One of the tightest battles occurred in IRC 4 where Nigel Goodhew's Sun Fast 3200 Cora and defending champion Giovanni Belgrano on Whooper both suffered disappointing days enabling the Southworth-powered Protis to leapfrog them into second overall. However, winning overall by five points with a consistent 2-2 today was Christopher Preston's J/109 Jubilee.

"It was great fun," observed Preston. "We were very pessimistic about whether we'd all be racing at all today, but then the wind came in and the race committee got it going at the right time and we had two very nice, interesting races with the turn of the tide in the second which made it tactically interesting. It was a much better day than we had dared hope."

As to why Jubilee won, Preston attributed it to being "well prepared with a good crew who sail well together. It helps being at the top end of the rating bracket with a boat that is extremely good and a wide envelope to windward. We had consistently good starts and boat speed that enabled us to use our tactics, which was a big advantage." It was also possible that today's lighter breeze didn't suit Whooper.

Dominating the FAST40+ class was Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film. "We had a pretty good weekend with seven firsts and a second," acknowledged boat captain Nick Butt, who reckons he has done most IRC Nationals since the event started. Owner Peter Morton was not on board today, and the only point they dropped was in today's first race. "We weren't where we wanted to be at the start," said Butt. "We went around the first mark second and it got really light on the second beat and the fleet compacted. Then coming down the run we got mixed up with all of the classes on the shorter course, so there was a lot of bad wind and we were all compacted again. So Jubilee got us by seven seconds."

The HP30 fleet raced in IRC 3 and was won, with the exact same scoreline as Girls on Film, by Locke family's Farr 280 Toucan. With the absence of his father Glyn this week, son Anthony was in charge together with brother Alex. "It was a great regatta," Anthony said. "We were really pleased with the organisation. It felt like we sailed well and we had great racing with all of the HP30 boats. Today was heavily challenging - very puffy and the pressure was up and down a bit. The race committee did a good job getting two races in because I didn't think it was going to happen." Generally of the three day event he said: "We had a bunch of situations where things went our way - which was great. The other boats were sailing really well and it was really great racing. It was fantastic HP30 racing." Toucan currently leads the HP30's 2019 championship.

Prizes were presented to the class winners this afternoon at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.

Full results can be found here

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The most competitive class at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship has an Irish leader in that Howth Sailor Shane Hughes of North Sails Ireland is a tactician on the J122  Black Dog.

IRC 2 is also the biggest fleet with 22 boats, including the whole Performance 40 fleet. 

Overall, Stuart Sawyer's Falmouth-based IRC Nationals first-timers on their J/122 Black Dog continued to score well. A 1-4-2 today has left them with a 15 point lead ahead of the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. The Goubau family from Belgium had an excellent day on their Beneteau 47.7 Moana, posting a 4-2-4, while also on the ascent was Adam Gosling's fine crew, including double Olympic 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers, on the JPK 11.80 Yes! whose 5-3-1 today has elevated them to fourth overall.
Yes!

"It was more our conditions, a slightly more orienteering-type course and the boat is good on that," said Gosling, who over the winter has had Yes! twin rudders replaced. Gosling also paid tribute to Black Dog: "It is great to see such a well-sailed boat. It is good they are winning."

Today's third winner in IRC 2 was the all-star cast, including Andrew Cape and Jerry Hill, on board Robert Bicket's Fargo. Yesterday their Swan 42 shone in race two finishing second and today was the same, sandwiched by otherwise deep results. Bicket described their moment in the sun: "It was a tricky start at the boat end and we managed to just get away and stretch our legs on the beat to get clean air. So it was all the usual classic stuff. It is a difficult fleet with 20+ boats, so you have to get a good start. It is basically about not making mistakes. If you do, you are in the mid-teens."
He added: "There's a great fleet of IRC boats here - well done to the RORC for getting so many to come and race."

Maurice O'Connell, also of North Sails, is tactician on another Class two entry, Tor McClaren's MAT 1180 "Gallivanter". 

Conditions came good on day two with a less severe tidal effect on the Solent due to a later kick-off time and a breeze that peaked at 16 knots. This allowed both race committees (IRC 3-4 run by the RORC racing team's own Steve Cole and Stuart Childerley PRO for the larger classes) to run two windward-leewards rounding off the afternoon with a longer round the cans race. The windward-leewards for the bigger boats was on the Brambles bank with the course for the smaller classes set further west.

While in some classes the leaderboard remains tight going into tomorrow's final day, in others there are some exceptional, stand-out performances. In the six-boat FAST40+ class, for example, Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film holds a perfect six bullet score line. Glyn Locke's Farr 280 Toucan has the same tally in the seven-strong HP30 class, leaving the likes of Malcolm Wootton's modified Farr 30 Pegasus and Richard Woof's J/90 Jo 90 to scrabble for the last podium positions.

One of the tightest fights is taking place among the biggest boats in IRC 1 where today the tables were turned with David Collins' IRC 52 Tala getting the better of Tony Langley's Gladiator, posting a 1-2-1 to the polished 52 Super Series team's 2-1-2.

"It was nice sailing - less one-sided than yesterday and a lot of options," explained Tala's tactician, Brett Aarons. "Yesterday, being a higher-rated boat, it was hard to extend enough away from Gladiator and we were still getting used to racing the boat inshore. Today we got over any issues we had.

"We are a little bit faster than Gladiator, with a slightly deeper keel and a slight taller mast. In shorter races you don't extend enough, but the races today and wind strength allowed us to use our extra power and, together with some good sailing, that allowed us to get away.

"David [Collins] is new to the TP, but he did a great job driving today. In the starts he was not afraid of getting the boat into some small gaps..."

The most competitive class here is also the biggest - IRC 2, with 22 boats, including the whole Performance 40 fleet. Overall Stuart Sawyer's Falmouth-based IRC Nationals first timers on their J/122 Black Dog continued to score well. A 1-4-2 today has left them with a 15 point lead ahead of the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. The Goubau family from Belgium had an excellent day on their Beneteau 47.7 Moana, posting a 4-2-4, while also on the ascent was Adam Gosling's fine crew, including double Olympic 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers, on the JPK 11.80 Yes! whose 5-3-1 today has elevated them to fourth overall.
Yes!

"It was more our conditions, a slightly more orienteering-type course and the boat is good on that," said Gosling, who over the winter has had Yes! twin rudders replaced. Gosling also paid tribute to Black Dog: "It is great to see such a well-sailed boat. It is good they are winning."

Today's third winner in IRC 2 was the all-star cast, including Andrew Cape and Jerry Hill, on board Robert Bicket's Fargo. Yesterday their Swan 42 shone in race two finishing second and today was the same, sandwiched by otherwise deep results. Bicket described their moment in the sun: "It was a tricky start at the boat end and we managed to just get away and stretch our legs on the beat to get clean air. So it was all the usual classic stuff. It is a difficult fleet with 20+ boats, so you have to get a good start. It is basically about not making mistakes. If you do, you are in the mid-teens."
He added: "There's a great fleet of IRC boats here - well done to the RORC for getting so many to come and race."

One point off having a perfect scoreline is the leader in IRC 3, David Franks' J/112E Leon, which today scored straight bullets, despite having one of her crew Medevaced off with a head injury. Leon's six point lead is still vulnerable, but the dominance of the 2012 IRC National Champions is such that sisterships, Xanadoo and Happy Daize, plus the First 40.7 Incognito, are most likely to be left fighting for the remaining podium positions.
On a roll after his exemplary 1-2-1 yesterday is Christopher Preston's J/109 Jubilee. However, while they posted a third bullet today, they are facing increasing ferocious competition from defending IRC National Champion, Giovanni Belgrano's and his 1939 vintage Laurent Giles-designed classic Whooper.

Preston admitted that their scoreline was let down today by a 7-5 in the opening windward-leewards. "We had a problem in the first race with a twisted kite, but we had really good starts all the way through. With a J/109 it is a problem when it is wind against tide, because the beats become very short and the JPKs are faster downwind. We got most of it right. We have got a great crew and are having a great time. We had 2-3 knots more wind than yesterday. It made for lovely racing."

Preston was pleased to observe that at this national championship for the RORC and UNCL's jointly owned rating system, the standard of racing is noticeably higher than other events in which he typically competes.

Racing continues tomorrow with a third and final day with an impossibly light forecast when 'no racing can possibly happen'. The common hope is that the race officials will defy the wind gods for a third successive occasion.

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A strong line-up, ranging from TP52s, FAST40+s and Performance 40s, down to nimble HP30s and the cruiser-racers majority will take to the Solent this Friday for three days of intense competition at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. The event returns after a year's hiatus when the RORC hosted the IRC European Championship in the Solent.

Leading the charge around the race track this weekend in the four boat IRC 1 class will be the match racing 52s - Tony Langley's Gladiator and a boat new to the Solent this season. David Collins acquired the Botin IRC 52 Tala just prior to this year's RORC Caribbean 600. Formerly Interlodge/Steve Benjamin's Spookie, the boat is engineered to race offshore and was bought to do this, but can be remodelled for inshore racing. "We thought it would be fun to race Gladiator and partly to race the boat inshore," Collins explains of his participation this weekend.

As to how well Tala will do against the experienced Gladiator, Collins is realistic: "I would imagine they are more polished than we are. We're focussing on keeping the boat upright and getting round corners. I don't expect it to be anything other than challenge." However, he is delighted with the boat. "It is lovely to sail. Having sailed boats before that are always compromised, to sail one that isn't is wonderful." Around half of the crew will be pro including tacticians Brett Aarons and Paul Wilcox.

Following IRC 1 are FAST40+ for whom this will be the third event of their 2019 championship. Six examples are competing with the form boat likely to be Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film.
The most competitive class this weekend has to be IRC 2. At the top of the class will be a match race between Tor McLaren's Gallivanter and her MAT1180 sistership Leeloo of Dutchman Harold Vermeulen. Vermeulen raced at Cowes Week on his previous 48ft cruiser racer but this will be his first IRC Nationals and also his first time back on the Solent since acquiring a race boat. "I love sailing there. Also the opportunities for racing other performance-orientated boats in Holland is limited," says Vermeulen.
Gallivanter

The remainder of IRC 2 brings together the substantial Performance 40 class. The P40 class is open to boats with a TCC of 1.075-1.150 (plus 11.15m-14.1m length, 125-205 DLR and 2.7m max draft). The P40 class this year comprises of 17 boats and the IRC Nationals is the third event in their 2019 championship, where Christopher Daniel's J/122E Juno leads having won the first two events.
Daniel has owned Juno for the last four years and competed in last year's IRC Europeans. Their performance in that event, he admits, was disappointing, but they are turning this around now. "We have spent a lot of time over the winter training and refining processes on the boat and just developing it which is what is paying dividends now," Daniel explains.
June RT

While the King 40s - Roger Bowden's Nifty and the Blair family's Cobra - are also regular Performance 40 podium placers, Juno showed both a clean pair of heels at the Vice Admiral's Cup. Despite that Daniel warns: "It is very tight and competitive, so you take absolutely nothing for granted. IRC 2 will be a tough fleet: There is a good contingent of Performance 40s, all of which I treat with the utmost respect, then we have the likes of Fargo - a great boat - and Elke from Holland, which did well in the IRC Europeans last year and Moana, the 47.7 - she is a well-sailed boat too."

Juno is crewed purely by amateurs, largely friends and family, mostly under the age of 25, including three women. This weekend she will also face a match race as another J/122, Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog, is making the trip up from Falmouth to compete.

If the stars align as they did two years ago when Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper became IRC National Champion, then a low-rated boat might claim this weekend's IRC title. The very lowest rated this year is the Hustler 32 half tonner Hullabaloo XV, which owner David Evans has brought down especially from her base at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Built 41 years ago and owned by Evans for the last 21, Hullabaloo is one of a long series of boats of this size Evans has owned since the early 1970s. Over the years he has won most of the silverware available on the East coast and Hullabaloo XV is a regular competitor at the Classic Half Ton Cup. "We won the IRC East Coast Championship a few years ago, but there is a big difference in boats between the south coast and the east coast and as much as anything else I wanted to find out whether the IRC rule really does work. And to do something a bit different," he says of why he is competing.
Racing Hullabaloo XV will be a family affair, Evans joined by his brother George and sons Edward and Nicholas. As to the two light days forecast, David says he is not worried: "We don't mind it when it's light, so long as there is a bit of wind. She is quite heavy for a half tonner so once she gets some way on, she doesn't lose it and will carry you through light patches. Short tacking along the shore in light weather, it's not great. But in 30 knots upwind in a stiff breeze under full main and no3, she is phenomenal."

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Howth Yacht Club’s Laura Dillon is among six women profiled by the Royal Ocean Racing Club ahead of their participation in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

While crew lists for August’s race are not yet finalised, at present just over 10% of those competing in the biennial voyage will be women — more than double the rate of races in the 1990s.

The RORC cites role models such as Tracy Edwards, Ellen MacArthur and Dee Caffari as a reason for this increase in female participation — but notes that opportunities for women at all levels to go sailing are increasing “too slowly”.

For 40-year-old Laura Dillon, it was a high competitive drive from a young age that saw her progress from dinghies to 1720 Sportsboats to Beneteau Firsts in both the Round Ireland and Fastnet races.

This year she swaps the helm of Harry J Heijst’s S&S 41, Winsome, for a place on the four-strong crew of Conor Fogerty’s Figaro Beneteau 3, Raw — one of only three of the new offshore class in the race.

She observes that women’s participation in the Fastnet as enjoyed a considerable step up in the last generation — but says there is a direct parallel with women’s positions in the business world, and believes it will take another generation yet before their numbers increase substantially.

The Rolex Fastnet Race website has much more on this story HERE.

Published in Howth YC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's race to Dieppe for the Morgan Cup started in the Solent on midsummer's day in superb conditions. The RORC fleet enjoyed a spectacular downwind start off the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, heading east for the English Channel. During the night, the wind evaporated and as high pressure enveloped the race course, competitors were searching for the best of the breeze and tidal conditions. By morning, clear skies and an early sunrise conspired to enhance sea breeze conditions, giving a fantastic downwind finish for the fleet into Dieppe. The slow-down during the night meant that the race to the finish was a close one, with many classes being decided by minutes, even seconds. The 2019 Morgan Cup Race was notable for British yachts which won all seven classes.

William McGoughand Christian Jeffrey, racing J/109 Just So in IRC Two Handed, won the 2019 Morgan Cup Race, winning overall in a fleet of 86 yachts racing under the IRC Rating System. McGough and Jeffrey are both corinthian sailors in their 30s, and this is their first season racing Two-Handed. Monohull Line Honours for the race went to Botin IRC 52 Tala, skippered by Robbie Southall. After time correction, IRC Zero was won by Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Nigel King. Joel Malardel's Normanni 34 Tancrède took Multihull Line Honours.

The top three yachts in IRC Overall for the Morgan Cup Race were all racing Two-Handed. Just So won by 27 minutes from Sun Fast 3200 Cora, sailed by Nigel & Tim Goodhew. Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, sailed by Rob Craigie & Deb Fish, was third by less than a minute.

“We have been sailing together for 11 years with fully crewed teams in RORC races but this is the first time we have won a RORC trophy so we are absolutely delighted,” agreed McGough and Jeffrey, the Two-Handed team racing Just So. “We got one of the best starts along with Bellino and we were going well out of the Solent. Probably the biggest tactical decision that paid off was to go east. If you look at the results of the pack of boats that went that way, they have all done well. When we finished the race, we looked at the boats around us and knew we had done well, but to win overall is amazing! Just So will be competing in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race fully crewed but this was the last race before we take on the Rolex Fastnet Race Two-Handed.”

In IRC One, Corby 45 Incisor, skippered by James Gair and sailed by the Cowes Race School, was the winner. Didier Gaudoux's 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race champion, JND 39 Lann Ael 2 was second and proven winner Maxime de Mareuil's XP-44 Orange Mecanix2 was third.

In IRC Two, Gavin Howe's Hamble, UK based Sun Fast 3600 Tigris was the winner racing Two-Handed with Sam Cooper. After IRC time correction, Tigris was ahead of 2015 Rolex Fastnet champion Gery Trentesaux racing JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande, and 2017 IRC Two champion, Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia.

The podium for IRC Three was all British yachts, Bellino was the winner. Trevor Middleton's Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep, sailed by Jake Carter, continue to lead the RORC Season's Points Championship with second in class for the Morgan Cup. The Royal Navy Association's J/109 Jolly Jack Tar, skippered by Tom Thicknesse, was third in class for the Morgan Cup. In IRC Four, Just so, and Cora took the top two places. Cooper & England's Dehler 38 Longue Pierre was third in class, and just four seconds off the podium for the Morgan Cup.

The eighth race of the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship will be the East Coast Race, organised by the West Mersea Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The 125nm race across the North Sea finishing in Ostend, Belgium will start on Friday 28th June 2019.

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