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Representatives of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) met in Dun Laoghaire for two days of debate and discussion at the beginning of October. The IRC Technical Committee agreed on a number of developments for 2019 as a result of research throughout the year, while the IRC Policy Steering Group reinforced the good relations between the owners of the Rule, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL).

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, the annual Congress meeting always proves a good opportunity for delegates to share experiences and ideas between different countries and sailing cultures, and this year was no exception with representatives of IRC from around the world. The 34 Congress delegates came from Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South East Asia, Turkey and the USA; and from organisations including RORC, UNCL, the Royal Yachting Association, Irish Sailing, the Maxi Yacht Association and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) whose Chairman Peter Ryan gave a presentation on ISORA activity.

Reports were received from the international IRC Owners’ Associations and Rule Authorities, and from the organisers, competitors and technical committee of the 2018 Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship. In addition, delegates enjoyed an excellent presentation by the Irish Sea Offshore Sailing Association describing their history, activities and promotion. The IRC European Championship was confirmed as San Remo, Italy, 23-29 June 2019.

IRC rule changes were approved for improved rig dimension definitions, clarifying the number of spinnakers allowed and several housekeeping items. Software developments agreed by the Technical Committee for IRC 2019 include the treatment of draft, boats over 30.50m in length, cruisers and classics with relatively low sail area, and the rating of the number of spinnakers. Many of these changes will benefit cruiser designs and classic boats which form an important part of the IRC club fleet.

The 2018 Congress was the final meeting with Peter Wykeham-Martin in the Chair and he was thanked for his dedicated support and excellent leadership. The incoming Chairman of IRC Congress is Irishman Michael Boyd, past Commodore of RORC and an active IRC racer. In addition, Vice Commodore Alp Doguoglu, who has represented IRC at World Sailing, stood down as Vice Chairman and is replaced by Carl Sabbe from Belgium.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club

The Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London, Andrew McIrvine, has written to the President of World Sailing, Kim Anderson, seeking action from the World body over the prevalence of 'cheating' in sailing that he maintains is becoming 'a major disincentive to going racing at many levels'.

In a strongly worded letter, McIrivne, who is also the Secretary General of the International Maxi Association, says the ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

He claims it is a particular problem among some sailing 'professionals' who, he says, have a 'more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood'.

‘the culture of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent'

McIrvine's letter laments the fact that the 'sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly, he says, 'those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively'.

The RORC Chief says he wants the World Sailing organisation to take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out the culture. 'This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities'" he says.

World Sailing McIrvine's letter (dated 30th of January 2018) is posted on the World Sailing website on this link here and it is reproduced in full below: 

RATING INTEGRITY AND CHEATING

Dear President,

I am writing because of my deep concern over the rise of cheating within our sport and the lack of use of process and sanctions to deal with it.

This was prompted by the recent announcement by the J70 Class Association of the sanctions they were going to apply to those who had arrived at the 2017 World Championship with boats that had been deliberately altered such that they were no longer in class. They had been disqualified from competing at the event but now 4 months later the sanction applied was as little as a 4-month ban – covering the winter, mainly non-sailing, season.

This appeared totally inadequate as a sentence of this type will be ineffective as a deterrent to increasing flouting of the rules.

I am using this as an example as it is a class with which I have no involvement and am therefore seeing it from an independent stance,

An example from within my sphere was the case of ‘Scugnizza’ a boat eventually disqualified from the 2016 ORC European Championships by an International Jury for blatant measurement anomalies. ORC could do this and ban them from their events but no action was taken by either MNA or WS despite the boat being filled with ‘professionals’.

Bruno Finzi, Chairman of the Offshore Racing Council, supports me in our frustration with the lack of sanction from higher authorities.

Stan Honey, Chairman of the Oceanic and Offshore Committee shares our concerns.

This ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

It is probably associated with greater involvement of professional sailors who have a more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood.

Our sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively.

Only serious lengthy bans to individuals perpetrating these offences will have such an effect.

From communication with many sailors, it is clear that this lack of control is becoming a major disincentive to going racing at many levels.

We feel it is imperative that World Sailing as a whole take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out this culture. This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities.

We very much hope this can be put high on your agenda.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Andrew J McIrvine FRCS

Member, WS Classes Committee

Secretary-General, International Maxi Association

Admiral, Royal Ocean Racing Club

Published in RORC

A third light, tricky day with strong tides at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC Europeans and Commodores' Cup saw a lengthy round the cans course in the central Solent just completed before the wind shut down. After a wait, the skies darkened, the temperature plummeted as a southeasterly wind filled in, lasting just long enough for a singleton windward-leeward to be held for the three classes.

Ireland's sole entry in the competition, the Waterford Harbour A35, Fools Gold, skippered by Rob McConnell is lying fifth in IRC division three.

Provisional Results can be found here

A powerful flood tide off Osborne Bay, pushing boats down towards the pin presented some novel problems along the start line of today's first race. In the starts for each of the three classes, boats were called over early. In IRC One Robert Bicket's Club Swan 42 Fargo was OCS, but remarkably went on to win the complex course, criss-crossing the central-eastern Solent on different points of sail, in varying tidal states.
"We had a few things go our way - a Swan 42 is a great boat in 8 knots of breeze and flat water," observed Bicket, racing his new boat's first regatta with a crew, including several former Solent legends prised from retirement. Thanks to the variable winds and strong tides, there were a few park-ups around the race course and these seemed to work very much in the blue Swan's favour. "We had a few favourable compressions and some good mark roundings, but mainly we just stayed out of trouble," concluded Bicket.

Fargo's victory in race one came at Ino XXX's expense. "We thought we'd won the first race until the wind disappeared 100m from the line and everyone else came in with new breeze," observed owner James Neville. However he and the crew of his HH42 were compensated by winning today's second race, ahead of Mike Bartholomew's higher-rated Tokoloshe II. "We are having a good few days," Neville continued. "We just need more wind, but Stuart [Childerley - PRO] has done a good job keeping things on the road."
Nonetheless, the immaculately consistent Tokoloshe II continues to lead IRC One with no scores lower than second, leaving her five points clear of Andy Williams' Keronimo, with Ino XXX third.

While the First 40s were in the chocolates yesterday, the King 40s fought back in IRC Two today. A 3-3 for Nifty propelled Roger Bowden's team back into the lead, while the Blair family's Cobra managed a convincing win in today's first race, but bombed in the second, leaving her fourth. However the day belonged to Scots Rod Stuart and Bill Ram on their Corby 37 Aurora, which posted a 2-1 elevating her to second in class, three points astern of Nifty.

In the round the cans race, Cobra managed to speed away in clear air, but Aurora defended second well. "The windward start was good for us as we prefer windward-leewards," confided Stuart. "We rounded the first buoy in second in front of the First 40s. When we do that we can generally keep our position, although it's tough in a 12-year-old boat."
As in IRC One, the final tight reach back towards the Isle of Wight into even lighter airs compressed the fleet. "The lead we'd built up became challenged, but it was fine - we then had a great light beat against the tide," continued Stuart. "We are enjoying it, but the very light winds make it challenging."

IRC Three is developing into a two horse race between Michael Mollmann's X-37 Hansen and Didier Le Moal's J/112e J Lance 12. Today definitely belonged to the French who won both races. They now lead, one point ahead of the Danes who posted a 3-2 today.

Jean-Eudes Renier's JPK 1080 Shaitan, chartered to Scottish adventurer Jock Wishart was second in today's first race, but, showing a lack of consistency typical across this fleet thanks to the awkward conditions, was eighth in race two.

As was the case with Fargo in IRC One, so Shaitan was called OCS in today's first race but recovered well. "It was a pushy line," recounted jib trimmer Ruaridh Wright, who at 22 is one of several young Scottish sailors competing. "We fought our way through all the dirt, just finding lanes, got to the right side of the course and came out at the top mark in fourth or fifth. It was a constant battle to keep the boat moving. When we reached the other side of the Solent we managed to get away a bit, while the boats ahead fell into a hole in Osborne Bay. We managed to overtake another two boats on the way in- it was a scrappy fight, but we came out alright."

Kings High on the rise as the Celtic Team reasserts itself

In the Commodores' Cup, Jock Wishart's Celtic Team managed to build itself a cushion on day three of the competition and is now 19 points in front of Kings High, comprising the two King 40s, Nifty and Cobra, plus Mike Bridge's Elan 37 Elaine racing in IRC Three. This was despite the Celtic Team's Shaitan along with her team mates, the First 40 Adventurer and Andrew Williams' Ker 40 Keronimo all experiencing mixed results today.

A change of schedule for the remaining four days of the IRC European Championship and Commodores' Cup was announced this evening, with the offshore race, originally due to take place over Wednesday-Thursday now replaced by a race around the Isle of Wight on Thursday. This race was started yesterday but abandoned due to light wind.

Fortunately, good breeze is forecast from tomorrow afternoon for the remainder of the week, with the strongest set to coincide with the rescheduled lap of the Isle of Wight. Inshore races will take place on the remaining days.

Published in RORC

#RB&I - A record 10 Class40s have entered the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race and more are expected to take up the tough 1,800 nautical mile non-stop race this August.

Starting and finishing from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the course takes the fleet as far north as Muckle Flugga in the Shetland Islands on the 61st parallel — shared by Alaska and the Bering Sea.

The 2018 race is an official event for the 2018 Class40 circuit and since the class first competed in the race in 2006, only five have finished the gruelling challenge.

In 2006, Britain’s Phil Sharp became the first Class40 skipper to finish the race and he went on to win the Route du Rhum later that year.

Fast forward to June 2018 and Sharp with co-skipper Julien Pulve was victorious in the 1,000nm Normandy Channel Race, winning by just six seconds after six days of racing.

For the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starting on Sunday 12 August, Sharp will skipper Class40 Imerys and is one of the favourites to win the class.

“The diversity of racing around Britain and Ireland is a real challenge. You can get everything possible thrown at you. Just finishing gives tremendous satisfaction and makes you all the stronger for it,” Sharp said.

“We didn’t do very well in 2006, but it was my first proper race in the Class40 and it was invaluable for the win in the Route du Rhum.

“It is a coastal race but you rarely see land and the course takes you further north than just about any offshore race. The weather can get very extreme and very cold. Racing in howling winds, fully in winter gear, makes it very easy to forget it is August.

“Pushing the boat to the limits can be stressful, but it is an amazing experience, surfing down waves getting doused in blue water. A Class40 transforms itself into a dinghy, especially the modern ones which are highly optimised racing machines.”

The majority of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race fleet will be racing under the IRC Rating system with additional classes for Class40, MOCRA and IMOCA. This year’s race is also expected to have a record entry for two-handed challengers, among them Liam Coyne’s Lulu Belle.

All boats will carry trackers and full coverage of the race is available on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race website.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

The 2018 Royal Ocean Racing Club Season's Points Championship continues with the first of the domestic offshore races, the Cervantes Trophy, which starts on May 5th followed by the North Sea Race, which starts on May 11th. In excess of 300 teams are expected to take part over the course of the season with sailors from around the globe racing in the biggest offshore sailing competition in the world. There are six European destinations: Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Malta, and the Netherlands. Five races are to count for Class Honours, and the highest total score will designate the winner overall racing under IRC.

Entries include some of the world's fastest professional crewed maxis and multihulls, However, more often than not, a passionate well-sailed Corinthian team is the overall winner. After a memorable RORC Caribbean 600, the focus is now firmly on European waters with the majority of races starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, within sight of the RORC Cowes Clubhouse. This year, the championship includes the North Sea Race, Volvo Round Ireland Race, Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race, and the RORC Transatlantic Race.

A sizeable fleet in excess of 60 yachts is expected for the Cervantes Trophy Race, from Cowes to Le Havre, which will have a flexi-course of 110-160 nautical miles across the English Channel. IRC champions from 2017 competing in the Cervantes Trophy include James Neville's INO XXX, Rob Craigie's Bellino, and Noel Racine's Foggy Dew. Gilles Fournier's Pintia will be attempting to win the Cervantes Trophy for a third year in a row and start the defence of their overall win of IRC Two in the RORC Season's Points Championship. The race to Le Havre is a special one for Pintia, as Gilles Fournier explains.

“I have been a member of the Société des Régates du Havre for over 65 years, and my daughter, Corraine Migraine is a past Commodore. This year the race is in early May, so the sea will still be cold, but I can assure everyone of a warm welcome at the club, which is the oldest in mainland Europe (Est. 1838) and has an excellent new menu. Pintia will not have as intensive a season as last year due to work commitments. However, we are definitely aiming to defend our title, Pintia has new sails for the season, and our IRC endorsed certificate is the same as last year.”

The North Sea Race, starting on May 11th, is hosted by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, on the River Orwell in Suffolk, and finishes in Scheveningen, Netherlands. Daniel Hardy, boat captain of the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, confirms that the Hamble based team will be defending their IRC Zero RORC Season's Points Championship title and will be kicking off their campaign with the North Sea Race. British Volvo Ocean Race, and Jules Verne sailor Nigel King, will be the offshore skipper and match racing World Champion and America's Cup sailor Jesper Bank, continues as inshore skipper.

“2018 is the start of our big offshore campaign for 2019, which will include the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Fastnet Race.” commented Hardy. “Nigel brings a tremendous amount of experience and enthusiasm to the team, and we are especially looking forward to racing against the Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden in the North Sea Race. Last year, we beat them on the water but they got us on corrected by a few minutes. It should be a great battle all season but a friendly one, we are actually doing some two boat testing with them once Lady Mariposa is in the Netherlands.”

A Prize Giving for each race is normally held at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's London Clubhouse, with a glittering Royal Ocean Racing Club Annual Dinner & Prize Giving at a top London venue in November.

Published in RORC

Sovereign's Cup winner Fools Gold skippered by Rob McConnell from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club will contest the first IRC European Championship ever to be held on the Solent in mid-June. The Irish boat will be hoping for a repeat of the success of Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons, when the Cork Harbour sailor had an IRC Euros class win at the inaugural event, staged as part of Cork Week in 2016. 

McConnell launches the race-winning A35 on Monday in Dunmore East after an extensive refit that includes a refaired keel. As Afloat.ie previously reported, Fools Gold, will sail to Howth Yacht Club for June's inaugural Wave Regatta and straight after that the crew head for the Euro contest on the Solent.

But it's only part of an ambitious campaign this season as the Waterford Harbour crew will also contest the first ever IRC/ORC Offshore World Championships in the Hague, a month later. 

McConnell's crew, limited to eight, will be similar to the team that won the 2017 Sovereign's Cup and also the IRC Welsh Championships. 2004 Olympian Tom Fitzpatrick is tactician, Roy Darrer is helmsman, Skipper McConnell is mainsail trimmer, Graham Curran is trimmer number one, Dougie Power is trimmer number two, Brian O'Donnell is mastman, Lisa Tait is in the Pit and the bowman is to be announced.  Chris Frost will come onboard as a guest navigator for the Solent event.

The Solent represents the spiritual home of IRC, the rating rule which the Royal Ocean Racing Club runs jointly with its French counterpart, the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large. It is also historically significant - Cowes Week was first held here in 1826 and the first America's Cup (as it would become) in 1851. The Round the Island Race, today one of the largest participation events in sailing, starts from here as does the RORC's own Rolex Fastnet Race, first held in 1925, and now the world's largest offshore race. Running over 10-16th June, the IRC Europeans, the most prestigious title to win under the RORC/UNCL's rating rule, will mark a new chapter in Solent yacht racing history.

British and French boats are traditionally strongest competitors under IRC: A British boat has won the RORC Seasons Point Championship for the last two years, but in 2015 France owned the entire podium. French boats have won the last three Rolex Fastnet Races and are the present holders of the Commodores' Cup, which a British team last won in 2012.

There will be no let-up in Anglo-French competition this season with both sides campaigning examples of IRC's hottest new boat: The 1180 comes from JPK Composites, who's 1080 won the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, while their 1010 claimed it in 2013 - both campaigned by top French crews. Another Jacques Valer design, the 1180 has more volume forward and a more pronounced chine.

Campaigning JPK 1180 #1 is French legend Géry Trentesaux, the 2015 Fastnet winner who led the French Commodores' Cup team to victory in 2006. His Courrier Recommande finished second to a runaway TP52 in her first outing at Spi Ouest-France over Easter. The IRC Europeans will be one of her first major events: "I like to sail in Cowes and I am a member of the RORC, so it is a good idea to come and race against all my English friends," says Trentesaux.

The IRC Europeans schedule follows the same well-refined format as the Commodores' Cup with eight inshore races (windward-leewards, round the cans, some reaching starts), an Around the Isle of Wight (1.5x coefficient) and a 150 mile/30-36 hour offshore (2x coefficient). "The offshore races are not so big," says Trentesaux. "And Cowes in June is wonderful - I am very happy to come back. But we have a new boat. At present she is okay in strong and light weather, but not in medium downwind - we don't have enough spinnaker area. Otherwise she is very nice."

Also campaigning a JPK 1180 at the IRC Europeans is Britain's Tom Kneen. "It will be a really interesting week between Sunrise and Courier, but they will have some more weeks training than us," he says. Compared to the wily veteran Trentesaux, Kneen is much newer to sailing having only acquired his first boat four years ago. Since then he has been enthusiastically campaigning his boats, which, like Trentesaux, culminated in a JPK 1080.

Kneen acknowledges that winning the IRC Europeans is a big ask. "Four years ago I had no idea that one day winning the IRC Europeans would be an ambition. If we came out on top I would be bouncing off the walls with excitement. If we podium I will be dancing!" Kneen is also gathering a three boat team to compete in the Commodores' Cup, which for the first time is being scored concurrently with the IRC Europeans.

The 2018 IRC Europeans is open to yachts with IRC Endorsed certificates and TCCs of 0.995 up to 1.270. At the grand prix end the line-up includes FAST 40+s like Mike Bartholomew's former GP42 Tokoloshe II and James Neville's HH42 INO XXX and the de Graaf family from the Netherlands on their newly acquired Ker 43 Baraka GP. But the event provides ample opportunity for smaller boats to come out on top - if they are sailed well.

Paul Gibbons' Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge won in Cork in 2016

In fact the first two IRC Europeans winners were among the shortest: Paul Gibbons' Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge won in Cork in 2016 while in Marseille last year Guy Claeys' JPK 10.10 Expresso 2 was crowned IRC European Champion, racing in IRC Four.

Among the lowest rated boats competing this year is Mike Bridges' Elan 37 Elaine. Since Bridges acquired her 13 years ago Elaine has been a regular at the IRC Nationals. The IRC Europeans, he says, is just the next step up. "We were looking for something different to do. This came up and we thought we'd give it a crack. We are not doing any other big regattas this year."

Elaine is kept in top condition for racing, she's dry-sailed and with the help of North Sails, Bridges has had her converted to a non-overlapping headsail set-up to lower her IRC rating. These days he admits they don't do much racing offshore, but they have all the experience and it isn't daunting for them. However "if there is some breeze, we'll be alright. If it is light and horrible, we'll be at the back of the fleet," he warns.

The RORC IRC Europeans takes place over 10-16 June 2018 with a race around the Isle of Wight on Monday 11th June and the overnight race over the Wednesday-Thursday, 13-14th June.

Published in RORC

There has been controversy and disagreement in cruiser racing about crews ‘hiking out’ through lifelines on deck to get more upper body weight extended to help boat balance and performance … Rule changes have now come to “sitting on the rail” – an essential part of cruiser racing - though not always a pleasant or desired one, particularly in rough upwind conditions.

Extending the body as far out as possible, between lifelines, has become more obvious, even though that has been frowned upon by those who claim that the racing rules allow only for sitting on deck with the body fully inside the lifeline rails – apart from the legs of course, on the outside.

Now the IRC racing authorities have bowed to the inevitability of recognising reality and modified the rule on yacht ‘Crew Positions’ - This doesn’t seem to have got a lot of attention yet, but the racing season is only getting underway

“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard

“The term ‘sitting on the deck’ is difficult to define,” the IRC Technical Committee has acknowledged…..

“It is not unusual for crew sitting on the rail to be supported only at their upper legs when hiking facing outboard,” it said in announcing the rule change.

SITTING ON THE RAIL HIKING OUTSitting on the rail

To avoid unnecessary and difficult protests, the IRC says it has decided on “a simple and effective solution” … removing rule requirements but keeping the original intention so - When there are two lifelines, competitors facing outboard with their waists inside the lower lifeline may have the upper part of their bodies outside the upper lifeline ….

Lifelines shall be taut “ which is a proper safety requirement anyway, though not always observed as I have seen…. So the IRC change is just bringing reality to racing….

It would be good to see another change in the process of “sitting on the rail…” to where quite a few newcomers to the sport have told me over the seasons that they were sent when they asked to join a crew to get into sailing.

I’ve been told by quite a few that they were never given any further involvement with the boats they were crewing on, never learned much about sailing, so they left the sport…. Others seemed satisfied enough to be “human ballast”….

I’m not sure that does anything much for the popularity of our sport…..

Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Sailors in the UK are enjoying spring racing and looking forward to the summer season, including the varied selection of International Rating Certificate (IRC) Championships that includes sailing events in the Irish Sea that attract interest from the Irish Cruiser Racer fleet.

Regional IRC Championships are held all around the British coast from Scotland to the Channel Islands, as well as a specific event for double handed crews, providing a large variety of venues, racing conditions and social events to be enjoyed both on and off the water. 

Last August, Waterford Harbour yacht Fools Gold skippered by Rob McConnell were Welsh IRC Championships winners and earlier that season, at another event on the British IRC calendar, the Howth J109 Storm (Pat Kelly) were winners at the Scottish Series.

Waterford Harbour yacht Fools Gold skippered by Rob McConnell were Welsh IRC Championships winners

Some events will incorporate other classes racing in IRC, for instance the HP30 class will hold its National Championship at Poole Regatta; Scottish Series is a major event in the RC35 annual class championship, and along with the Welsh National IRC Championship is also part of the Celtic Cup incorporating events in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

The 2018 GBR IRC Championships programme 

· Solent – 4 events (May-Sept)
· Scottish – Scottish Series (May)
· Southern – Poole Regatta (May)
· Sussex – Sussex Regatta (June)
· South West – Falmouth Race Week (June)
· East Coast – Ramsgate Week (July)
· Welsh National – Cardigan Bay (August)
· Double Handed - Cowes (September)
· Channel Islands - Jersey (September)
· Autumn - Hamble (October)
· Inland – Windermere (November-March)

Published in RORC

It was a windless Easter Sunday for the third and final day of the RORC Easter Challenge that saw Ireland's only entry record a creditable fifth overall on the Solent.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, former Cork Corinthian Quarter Ton Cup Champion Jason Losty sailing his First 36.7 Altair in the 12–boat IRC two division finished fifth after six races sailed.

At 0900 when the decision was announced, PRO Stuart Childerley explained: "Currently we have less than five knots on the Solent and we have a lot of flood tide for the next hour and a half which will be very hard for the boats to make over the ground in that wind strength.

"Then as the tide improves for a very short window the wind is forecast to drop to nothing and then the tide will deteriorate. So the long term future for the day is not good and the current conditions are not sailable. In view of it being a training regatta, Easter Sunday and having had two really good days, let's make a decision and move on."

The prizegiving for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's training regatta and domestic season opener was held at their Cowes clubhouse at 1030 .

Coming away most laden with chocolate was Tony Dickin's crew on the FAST40+ Jubilee, which won straight bullets in IRC Zero.

"The last couple of years in the FAST 40 has helped us to refine how we sail the boat and we're constantly working on little things like sail shapes," said boat captain and pitman Gregg Parker. "It was our first sailing of the year, so it was nice to get out there and tune up. We sailed reasonably well but by no means flawlessly. It wasn't necessarily a performance worthy of straight bullets.

"The race committee did a good job and took some bold decisions. Today we were disappointed not sail, but there was no wind and Stuart needs to be applauded to have made the decision not to race early on."

Yesterday Michael Blair's Cobra overtook Roger Bowden's King 40 sistership Nifty to win IRC One by 14 points to Nifty's 15. Significantly this was also the first event for the new Performance 40 class. Supported by North Sails, Performance 40s must fall within an IRC TCC rating band of 1.070-1.145 (this compares with 1.210 to 1.270 for a FAST40+), hull length of 11.15m-14.1m, DLR 130-200 and maximum draft of 2.65m.

In third and fourth places were two First 40s, Jock Wishart skippering Rob Bottomley's Adventurer out of Sailplane to third place, finishing six points ahead of RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's La Réponse.

"Friday was a bit of a trial by endurance with all the rain, but that was the same for everyone," said Wishart, using this event as training for June's Commodores' Cup. "We have had a great few days. It is great regatta. We have a bunch of young Scots...."

Perhaps smartest crew was that of James Chalmer's J/35 Bengal Magic which made the call early not to race Easter Sunday having taken the lead after yesterday's four races in IRC Two.

The most impressive display of consistency was once again Sam Laidlaw and his supreme team on the Quarter Tonner Aguila, which claimed straight bullets in IRC Three to win the smallest class for a fourth consecutive year. "It was good racing," said Laidlaw. "Friday was very cold and wet, probably the coldest and wettest we've had in a Quarter Tonner, but yesterday we got in four good races on great courses and it is all good practice. It is great to be back in the boat - we haven't sailed since August." 

Aguila is currently the Quarter Tonner to beat having won the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup in 2017. One of the reasons for her success is having had a consistent crew for the last seven seasons, comprising Brett Aarons, Dan Gohl, Tom Forrester-Coles and Robbie Southwell. "The crew is the key to the whole thing - in the second yesterday, we tore a kite and the crew had the next kite up in probably less than 15 seconds," said Laidlaw.

The next event in the next event in the RORC calendar is the Cervantes Trophy starting on 5 May while the inshore program continues with the Vice Admiral's Cup over 18-20th May.

Published in RORC

Former Cork Corinthian Quarter Ton Cup Champion Jason Losty is lying fifth overall at this weekend's RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent sailing his First 36.7 Altair in the 12–boat IRC Two
division after six races sailed.

Losty is six points off third overall in IRC Two, a class that is dominated after day two by the Irish registered J/35, Bengal Magic and entered by UK Company Knight Build Ltd. Results are here

The Cork Harbour sailor who was victorious in the Quarter Ton Cup in 2014, is Ireland's sole entry in the UK based test event that has produced some chilly conditions for competitors so far.

At yesterday's Easter Challenge post-race debrief at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Cowes clubhouse, coaching legend Jim Saltonstall advised crews that he and the coaching team from North Sails would be examining rules. Today competitors duly obliged, assisted by one of the strongest tides of the year. This caused numerous close encounters; taking boats over the start line early; on to weather marks; one even snagging the race committee boat's anchor chain. Tonight the queue outside the protest room resembles a doctor's waiting room.

For day two of competition there were 6-12 knots of wind, the temperature on the water was just 5°C, but seemed balmy compared to yesterday's Siberian conditions. Stuart Childerley's race management team staged three windward-leewards on the central Solent followed by a round the cans grand finale to get the boats home. Positions are now firming up, especially in the biggest and smallest classes where Tony Dickin's GP42 Jubilee in IRC Zero and Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner Aguila in IRC Three hold straight bullets and will be hard to beat with just Easter Sunday's races left. 

Baraka GP had a better day overhauling the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa to claim second place in IRC Zero. Harmen de Graaf's Dutch team is getting grips with their new boat, although transferring from a GRP Ker 40 to a carbon fibre Ker 43, both of a similar vintage, has made life simpler. "This is a better boat," states de Graaf eldest son, Dirk. "This is carbon, so she accelerates better downwind and she's stiffer."

However they had to mount a strong recovery in today's third race, when, like so many boats today, they were over early.

De Graaf admits they are still on a learning curve. "Today's last race was the first time we had used the Code 0. Yesterday we had to work out how to use the string drop system for the spinnaker (which we didn't have on the old boat). Today we did our first five second drop!" Such systems from the America's Cup, TP52 and Maxi 72 classes harness the pedestal grinder enabling the spinnaker to be rapidly sucked below.

Closest competition this weekend is in IRC One and the newly created Performance 40 class, where Michael Blair's Cobra crew today overtook sistership and nemesis Roger Bowden's Nifty, ending the day one point ahead. Today both scored two bullets, but Nifty lost the lead after scoring a seventh in race two.

Blair said he was surprised to be leading the First 40s where Adventurer out of Sailplane, skippered by Jock Wishart is lying third, six points ahead of RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's La Réponse. "We thought it was going to be much more difficult against the First 40s. Maybe they will come through in heavy weather."

Competition is also tight in IRC Two, where the crew of Bengal Magic, the 1983 vintage J/35 that competed in the Commodores' Cup two years ago, has made a sterling return after a year out of sailing. "Today was fantastic racing, very close," said skipper James Chalmers. "The second race was so exciting. We got to the weather mark among Jubilee, Cora, Strait Dealer and even Redshift - a proper mark rounding! We were pushed left on the run, but we saw a bit of a gap, popped the gybe in, soaked into the mark, got inside Strait Dealer to win the race. There were only seconds between us."As a result Bengal Magic, that is older than the majority of her crew, has pulled into the lead ahead of Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded. 

Redshift suffered in today's third race when she and Jubilee were OCS. "We only found out about 30 seconds later, but we did quite a good job to dig ourselves out of it," said tactician Nick Cherry. "It's nice to be one of the bigger boats in our class, as we can get clear lanes. Plus the reaching suited our boat - we'd like more of that." Redshift Reloaded won today's final round the cans race.

Behind the dominant Quarter Tonners in IRC Three, Peter Cyriax and the crew of the S&S43 1965 Admiral's Cupper Firebrand have been getting to grips with the boat that once belonged to the late yacht designer Ed Dubois.

"Today was very pleasant - it didn't rain and it wasn't as miserable. The courses were good. The RORC were working hard to give us sensible courses," said Cyriax, who has been making use of the free coaching on offer. "We have two problems - upwind speed and getting our crew work sorted out."

Whether he will be able to work on this further tomorrow is in the lap of the Gods with light winds forecast prior to a prizegiving where the Easter eggs aplenty will be apportioned across the fleet.

Published in RORC
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