Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Marine Clothing

Another successful annual IRC Congress meeting was held in early October in the popular sailing venue and race destination of St Malo on the northern French coast. Forty delegates from as far afield as Japan and the USA came together to talk about the International Rating Certificate (IRC) racing around the world, technical development and ideas on encouraging participation in yacht racing generally.

In 2018, there is the exciting prospect of the IRC European Championship combined with the RORC’s Commodores’ Cup in Cowes in June, closely followed by the joint IRC and ORC Hague Offshore World Championship in the Netherlands in July. These events set the high standard for IRC racing in 2018, along with the major offshore classic races that continue to be scored using IRC.

However, the IRC Congress never loses sight of the core of the IRC fleet who are taking part in club racing around the world every week and much talk at Congress was how to further encourage this. Everyone agreed that exciting events drive participation. This is demonstrated by the record four minutes for the Rolex Fastnet Race entry to be fully subscribed and the large number of boats that entered the Offshore Worlds straight after registration opened. Clubs were encouraged to put on events that provide an escape from the stresses of modern life, with a variety of courses, and some longer races with interesting destinations.

The IRC Technical Committee has been working on technical developments including the rating of boats equipped with foils, and a longer term review on rating ‘code zero’ sails. IRC has always been fast to embrace new developments in yacht design, while as far as possible retaining the characteristic simplicity of the IRC Rule and avoiding too much complexity for the majority of owners.

Published in RORC

The RORC has instigated a new format to include the Commodores' Cup, a Corinthian team-based event within an IRC fleet racing championship which is open to amateurs and professionals. 

Ireland has twice won the Cup under the burgee of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. Captain Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club and his three boat teams sailed to victory in  2010 and 2014 but inspite of plans to field two teams to defend the Cup in 2016, no Irish defence materialised.

As announced earlier this year, the Cowes-based championship will be held from 8-16th June and will follow the successful Commodores' Cup race format, with a variety of different courses ranging from inshore, coastal and offshore - 10 races in all using the Spinlock IRC rating system.

It still remains to be seen, however, if these innovations are enough to galvanise Irish cruiser-racers into mounting a campaign for the Cup in eight month's time.

New for 2018 are the following:

1. Competitors wishing to enter the Commodores' Cup are invited to create teams of three boats with a rating between 0.995 and 1.270 with a max DLR of 210

2. Teams can represent a club, a region or a nation. For national representation, authorisation may be required from the appropriate MNA

3. The Commodores' Cup maintains its Corinthian ethos with only one professional sailor allowed on each boat

4. Boats that race with two females or two crew under 25, or one female and one under 25, are allowed an extra crew member

5. There is no crew weight limit, only the crew number limit on their IRC rating certificate.

The Notice of Race for the 2018 IRC European Championship, incorporating the Commodores' Cup, is now available.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) welcomes expressions of interest for the event, and online entry will be open from Monday 8th January 2018.

Published in Commodores Cup

The Royal Ocean Racing Club is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher Stone as the new Racing Manager from mid-November 2017. He will succeed Nick Elliott at the international members' club based in London and Cowes.

Chris from Australia will bring over 15 years of expertise to the position that includes his most recent role as Sailing Manager in the Senior Management Team at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and previously at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

As a professional sailing administrator, he has vast experience and proven ability managing significant events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Farr 40 Worlds, Etchells Worlds and Volvo Ocean Race and Clipper Round the World stopovers. This experience will see him in good stead in what will be an equally challenging high profile role for the Club formed over 90 years ago in 1925.

A keen sailor himself, Chris has competed at Cowes Week and in events such as the Melges 32 National Championships and Etchells Worlds. He also has offshore race experience downunder so has first-hand experience of yacht and keelboat racing, both inshore and offshore.

Chris will direct the Race Management Team based in Cowes, Isle of Wight who work year-round on the RORC Season's Points Championship; a much-coveted series of offshore races running at regular intervals from February to November. He will also be responsible for running a series of inshore events such as: The RORC Easter Challenge, Vice Admiral's Cup, IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup), as well as the RORC's signature event, the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race that regularly sees over 300 boats taking part.

Looking forward to his new challenging role and to moving to the UK, Chris says:

"I am excited at the prospect of working with the RORC as the Club and its racing has a wonderful history of varied and highly professional offshore sailing. Its hallmark events form part of so many sailor's dreams and aspirations; and I am no exception to that. To be involved at this level is a wonderful opportunity.

"I have a strong family connection with sailing and the Isle of Wight and I am very much looking forward to spending some more time in the Solent ensuring the Club continues to offer some of the best offshore racing on the planet."

Published in RORC

With 312 entries in the IRC divisions alone, and numbers pushing towards the 400 mark when all classes are included, the record-breaking Fastnet Race 2017 was surely on the edge of becoming an unwieldy beast as it got under way in classic style westward down the Solent on Sunday August 6th. Add in the fact that the mountain of results was only being finalised on the following Friday, when the rhythm of the sporting week was already starting to bring major weekend arena events to the top of the demanding media agenda, and you inevitably have the prescription for a hasty allocation of subsidiary awards which risks seeing some trophies going to the wrong recipients. W M Nixon takes a look at how it all eventually came right in one very special case.

The Roger Justice Trophy is a handsome cup in the Rolex Fastnet Race array of silverware, yet it’s a cup for which nobody specifically competes. It goes to whichever offshore sailing school has done best in the overall results, and there were upwards of thirty boats eligible for it in 2017. But as Kenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School tersely comments, if you’re racing a school boat in the Fastnet and you’re only interested in the Roger Justice Trophy, then you’re missing the point completely.

For as he sees it, the entire purpose of taking your training vessel in the Fastnet is to throw the tyro crew into open competition. You’re not seeking any special concessions because you’re a school boat. On the contrary, you’re there because this is the big boys’ game. You’re playing by the big boys’ rules. And you’re taking on the very best of them head-to-head, with no concessions expected.

jedi fastnet start2Head-to-head competition in the open fleet with no concessions expected. Jedi makes a dream of a port tack start in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. And yes, she did pass clear ahead of that boat (top left) romping in on starboard tack. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The story of how the Irish National Sailing School in its busy corner of the Inner Harbour of Dun Laoghaire came into being in the 1970s is now the stuff of legend. Our most recent detailed look at it came in this blog on 16th May 2015, when we headlined with an account of how school founder Alistair Rumball had expanded his additional advisory and boat provision role with the TV and movie business by organising the longships for the television series Vikings, thereby providing an additional income source to help the INSS through the depths of the economic recession.

In this he had the full support of his wife Muriel, who is the overall administrator of the school. And as it was a situation that demanded sacrifices in terms of working hours, pay and conditions which could never be expected from a non-family employee, their son Kenneth jacked in his job in Dublin as an accountant, and became the on-water principal.

By 2015 the light at the end of the tunnel had become a warm, steady and reassuring glow, and when we were there on a May evening, things were definitely on the up-and-up. In the basic but very functional premises, the first committee meeting of the recently-formed Irish National Sailing Club was being held. It had been set up in order to organize races and provide sailing school graduates with a club membership to comply with major event requirements, and to reflect that while the INSS was definitely a school, for many participants it had attractive elements of a club about it.

alistair muriel kenneth3Alistair, Muriel and Kenneth Rumball – the family’s devoted work with the Irish National Sailing School has made an enormous contribution to Irish sailing. Photo: W M Nixon

Alistair was busier than ever with Viking ships which had to be replaced from time to time just wherever he could find a builder who could comply with strict standards and a tight budget, and Kenneth was thinking ahead to further development of the uses of a fleet which included craft up to 1720s size, with the Reflex 38 Lynx in prospect as the school flagship with serious offshore racing possibilities.

In the intervening two and more years, many things have happened. Sadly, Alistair’s brother Arthur died much mourned in December 2016. He had been a cornerstone of the school structure as he was in charge of maintenance of the enormous, very varied and growing training fleet, but he’d trained his staff well, and his high standards have been maintained.

But by December 2016, the club’s fleet structure had been enhanced with the addition of the Reflex 38 which Kenneth had skippered to tenth overall in the fleet of 63 boats in the Volvo Round Ireland Race, winning the sailing schools division.

Yet despite this successful debut on what was now the international scene, they’d already concluded that the technically difficult Reflex 38 was not the ideal offshore racing boat for a Dun Laoghaire-based sailing school to make the best use of the unique combination of possibilities which Dublin Bay and its adjacent long distance racing areas provided.

Longterm readers of Afloat.ie don’t need reminding that we have been banging on for a very long time indeed about just how ideal is the J/109 to embody Dublin Bay’s noble One-Design tradition. So when word came through that the Irish National Sailing School had bought the 2002-built J/109 Jedi II with the aim of serious campaigning in the 2017 season, it was very good news indeed.

It’s the perfect package – a very manageable boat, straightforward to sail with a bowsprit and asymmetricals, plenty of sister-ships to pace yourself against offshore, and a cracking fleet in Dublin Bay to give INSS students a taste of inshore One-Design racing at its very best.

kenneth rumball4Kenneth Rumball in the INSS’s decidedly basic premises on Dun Laoghaire’s Inner Harbour this week. He took a 15-year-old J/109 and transformed her into a race winner. Photo: W M Nixon

But there was much to be done to bring Jedi up to Kenneth Rumball’s demanding requirements. At 29, he was already a successful veteran of the Round Ireland, Fastnet, Middle Sea and Sydney-Hobart Races. So a year’s campaigning culminating in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 demanded a programme of painstaking remedial work to optimize Jedi for the serious stuff.

In doing this, he was helped by two things. Arthur Rumball’s legacy was a skilled workshop staff who could assist Kenneth in reducing superfluous weight in Jedi – in all, about 350 kilogrammes of unnecessary equipment and “ornaments” came out of her, while her underwater hull was taken down to the gelcost and her keel got a proper fairing. But as well, Andrew Algeo had also recently also joined the Dublin Bay J/109 fleet with the newer Joggerknot. He too was engaged in optimizing her for the high standard of racing of the Dun Laoghaire fleet, so between them they provided a real Brain’s Trust for the exchange and implementation of ideas.

At a high point in January 2017, it looked as if the INSS might have two boats in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. Kenneth had just come back from racing the Sydney-Hobart in a First 40, and was filled with enthusiasm for the potential of having the school’s two boats in the Fastnet. So he set up two Rolex Fastnet Race 2017s entry procedures side-by-side on two separate laptops on the school’s work table. There was just time to have everything in order as the closing date arrived, and for those who have had difficulty in even getting their Fastnet Race entry considered, it will be maddening to hear that both INSS boats made the cut.

But over the coming months, harsh reality intervened as the sheer logistics challenge of managing and manning two proper school entries from a base in Dun Laoghaire in a race starting off Cowes became apparent, and Lynx’s slot was returned to the RORC office.

Thanks to this slimming of the operation, things were looking very good for the season’s campaigning of the revitalized Jedi. Early races were providing increasingly encouraging results, and the places in the training programme towards participation in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 had been quickly snapped up and money paid up front by a diverse line-up of trainees. This meant they’d comfortably comply with the RORC’s fairly modest definition of a sailing school entry as a boat which was sailing school-owned, and had a 50/50 lineup between experienced and trainee crew.

It has to be remembered that this was all taking shape as the INSS was entering its busiest time of the year in its core activity of being a sailing school which gets hundreds of people from every background afloat in a wide variety of boats in Dublin Bay, a significant proportion of them for the very first time.

jedi leading5Jedi leading the offshore fleet. The combination of Dublin Bay One-Design sailing with the J/109s, combined with readily-available offshore racing, offers a superb opportunity to learn – but only for those who can stick the pace. Photo: Afloat.ie

So it was a cruel blow when the wheels came off the Jedi programme on May 13th with the ISORA Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire Race. A rugged event with wind-over-tide conditions and the sea at its coldest, it may have seen hardened veterans like Paul O’Higgins and his tough crew in the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI revelling in the going to win, and there was also good going by second-placed Transatlantic veteran Conor Fogerty in the Sunfast 3600 Bam. But aboard Jedi there was misery and seasickness rampant among the trainees, and at race’s end three of them pulled out of the Fastnet programme.

They’d already paid up, but in time an amicable financial settlement was reached, and Kenneth Rumball set about filling the empty places, though as the end of May approached, he was not feeling optimistic. Yet they managed to get a crew with the right configuration together for the vital Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on 11th June, seen as a key qualifier and training event, yet here too things went pear-shaped.

The unbelievably rugged beat round Ireland’s rocky southeast corner took a savage toll with wholesale retirals, and one of Jedi’s crew became ill beyond seasickness. It was feared they were having a stroke, and the whole purpose on board became focussed on getting into Dunmore East as quickly as possible and getting the casualty to hospital, where recovery was complete. But by the time that had been done, it was clear they were out of the race, and they sailed disconsolately back to Dun Laoghaire to pick up the pieces.

Fortunately the rest of the crew were still more than game for the Fastnet challenge, and they’d ISORA’s Lyver Trophy Race on June 30th before the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 6th to 9th July to provide the final necessary qualifier. But the race was postponed because of a severe gale, put back to a date three weeks hence, which would leave the final Jedi qualifier only a narrow window of opportunity.

Yet suddenly, they were in a time of hope. Jedi with many of her potential Fastnet crew on board had a great Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. They finished second in class, and the team were bonding in a very encouraging way.

Jedi vdlr6When it all finally started to come together. Alistair & Muriel Rumball with Jedi’s crew at the prize-giving ceremony for Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta, July 9th 2017. To celebrate Dun Laoghaire’s 200th Anniversary, one of the prizes was a picture of the first regatta at the harbour, in 1828.

Two weeks later, the Lyver Trophy was sailed on July 21st from Holyhead round Rockabill to Dun Laoghaire, and they’d a good race of it. Although the winner was the all-conquering J/109 Sgrech (Stephen Tudor), Rumball and his crew were right in the thick of it chasing in a three-way match race with sister ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), and they finished with the feeling that at last they had the basis of a proper Fastnet challenge, albeit with just a fortnight to go to the start.

So the fact that Kenneth Rumball finally filled in the form to define them as a sailing school entry with less than a fortnight to go to the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 may have had something to do with the subsequent initial post-race mis-allocation of an award. He himself regarded the sailing school thing as very secondary to the core Jedei theme of being in the midst of the main fleet, and in any case he had the prodigious logistical challenge of transferring the focal point of the campaign from the school office in Dun Laoghaire to the Solent.

In times long past, anyone doing the Fastnet Race expected to spend the days beforehand berthed in Cowes. But with current entry numbers and the Solent area’s overcrowded situation, being in Cowes is if anything a disadvantage for a campaign from Dublin with limited resources and very extended lines of communication. In the circumstances, the way the Jedi team handled this was real textbook stuff.

Time and personnel resources were of the essence, so they arranged for the boat to be delivered on a semi-professional basis to the relative peace and quiet of Mercury Yacht Harbour well up the Hamble River over on the Solent’s mainland shore. And while the rest of the crew flew over in time to allow three clear days for final preparation, Kenneth and Lorcan Tighe stocked up a mini-bus to double as shore transport and a workshop/storeroom, and they took the Holyead ferry and drove it post-haste to the Hamble

jedi crew7Just ever so slightly nervous….Jedi crew in Mercury Yacht Harbour on the River Hamble early on the morning of the start of the Rolex Fastet Race 2017 

Lorcan Tighe (17) may have been be Jedi’s most junior crewman in terms of age, but he was one of the most experienced on board. From Killiney in Dublin, his family is non-sailing though his dad is into scuba diving. But when he was just six, Lorcan took a week-long course at the INSS, and was hooked. So although he now has his own Laser based at the National YC, his heart stays with the INSS where he instructs evenings and weekends and during holidays (he’s in final year at Marian College in Ballsbridge). And he’s mad keen on the offshore thing, taking on the hugely challenging job of being the bowman on Lynx during the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race.

He’s a talented helmsman too, so he was very much on the “experienced sailor” side of the equation aboard Jedi, where the co-skipper with Kenneth Rumball was Conor Kinsella (28), who’s from Tullamore and works in finance.

As for the “trainees”, they were very much of the Ireland of today. Deirdre Foley works in banking, Kylie McMillan (29) is in financial consulting, Keith Kiernan (41) is in insurance, George Tottenham (38) is in windfarms, and Fearghus McCormack – whom Kenneth Rumball reckons to be about 40 – is Mine Host of that splendid establishment, the Merrion Inn in the heart of Dublin 4.

Kenneth Rumball is refreshingly non-ageist, so apart from Lorcan Tighe who put us right on his young age, all those ages are only guesses. And Rumball is also refreshingly dismissive of the whole experienced/trainee divide. As far as he and his shipmates were concerned, they were a team, they were crew together, they had a joint mission to perform and everyone was doing his or her very best, and that was all there was to it. There were emphatically no artificial them-and-us divisions on Jedi.

jedi departs8Here we go…Jedi leaves the now-familiar surroundings of Mercury Yacht Harbour, heading for the start of the Fastnet Race

After such a saga of setback and breakthrough, the Fastnet Race itself could have just been just the concluding chapter in an extraordinary tale of triumph over tribulation. But of course for Jedi’s crew, it was the pinnacle. And it was high adrenalin stuff from the start. Kenneth Rumball set out to take on the best of the opposition head-to-head, and he’d the great Carlo Borlenghi to photograph the moment when Jedi made the sort of clear-away port tack start that is inevitable in traditional Fastnet conditions, yet few manage it so well.

As for the race itself, Deirdre Foley speaks for all with her enthusiastic memories: “I loved every minute of it. Superior planning and attention to tactics/routes etc, a great crew – great sense of humour and craic……on water we had some great wind overnight on our return journey to Plymouth – what looked to be a full moon, nice sea state, Jedi flying along like the wind, for me the best part of a wonderful race”

Young Loran Tighe takes, as you’d expect, a mature overview despite his youth. After all, this is a guy who was working the foredeck of Lynx at the age of 16, racing through the night off Ireland’s Atlantic coast:

“It was great to get the chance to experience the Fastnet Race, but also everything that led up to it including the ISORA series and Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Great boat, good plan, and in the end, a crew put together that made a super season of it”.

As to the actual race, the irony of it is that it looked as though they were having their closest race with sister-ship Mojito from the other side of the Irish Sea but the reality of a fleet the size of the Fastnet is that you’ve races going on at every side of you, and in the end the way that conditions of tide, wind and whatever pan out will mean that boats a certain size, type, and rating cohort will win out.

Thus everything was going the way of Jedi and her cohort after beating out to the Fastnet in classic style. The overall leader on IRC at the Rock was the JPK 10.10 Night and Day (Pascal Loison), with fellow French skipper Noel Racine second in sister-ship Foggy Dew, while third was Ireland’s Paul Kavanagh in the vintage Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan.

Their ratings are 1.003, 1.002 and 0.985 respectively, which tells us much. Mojito at the stage was at he best place in the race, she was ninth overall rating 1.010, while Jedi was in contention, rating 1.008 and in 11th place overall, just one place ahead of RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC racing the first 44.7 Lisa.

jedi fastnet9On top of the world….with 17-year-old Lorcan Tighe on the wheel, Jedi heads for Plymouth from the Fastnet Rock lying 11th overall in the 312-strong fleet

But on the fast sail back to Plymouth, it was boats around the 40ft mark which carried the favourable conditions best, and the JNA 39 Llan Ael 2 (Didier Gaoudoux, France) rose up the rankings from 29th overall at the Rock to become overall winner, while Lisa was remarkably consistent to move up from 12th to 8th.

But for the smaller J/109s, things became distinctly unfavourable, and though Jedi did indeed run like the wind, getting ahead of Mojito despite seeing her A3 blow out when it shouldn’t have, by the time she was in the final approaches to Plynouth the bite had long gone gone from the wind, and she cascaded down to 58th overall.

She was still very much the first J/109, and while she was 8th in IRC 3, she was first in IRC 3B for boats doing their first Fastnet. There was a cherished medallion in line for that, for a first in class in the greatest Rolex Fastnet Race ever held is something very special.

jedi plymouth approach10Aboard Jedi approaching Plymouth and the finish as night draws on, Thursday 10th August. The wind is slipping away, and she no longer holds a top overall placing, but is leading Class 3B.

On that crowded Friday afternoon in Plymouth with mountains of results figures still being assimilated and analysed, the Roger Justice Trophy went to a Sailing School Farr 60. Something strange here. A scan of the results showed that Jedi been well ahead of that Farr 60 on corrected time. But with everyone going their various ways with Conor Kinsella heading off to retrieve the mini-bus from the Hamble while Kenneth Rumball cruised Jedi home, sorting it out could be left to a later date.

With that Class 3B win under their belt, there was time enough to see about putting the record straight. And when they later contacted the RORC office, they were told that there had indeed indeed been an error, and the winner of the Roger Justice Trophy was Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire in the Sunfast 37 Desert Star, thereby repeating Ronan O Siochru’s success of 2015.

So then they’d to get back to the number crunchers again, and gently suggest to them that it was indeed a Dun Laoghaire-based sailing school which had won the Roger Justice Trophy, but it was a different one - it was the Irish National Sailing School and the boat was called Jedi.

jedi gets justice11Jedi gets Justice – RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, Committee Member Lucy Reynolds, and Kenneth Rumball as the Roger Justice Trophy finally reaches its rightful winner in RORC headquarters in London last week.

It’s understandable that it happened. After all, Jedi’s final fully-qualified crew list as a sailing school was only submitted to the race office with about ten days to go to the start of the race. The sheer weight of data flying about by this stage must have been smothering for those handling it.

But it all came right at the end, though admittedly it was the very end. At an awards ceremony in the RORC in London last week, at the last moment Jedi was finally called forward to receive the Roger Justice Trophy. Forget that old saying about justice delayed is justice denied. In sailing, it’s acceptable if justice is done in due course, and is seen to be done.

Published in W M Nixon

Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Daniel Hardy, has won the 2017 RORC Cherbourg Race, after holding off a strong challenge from James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX writes Louay Habib. After IRC time correction, 29 seconds was the winning margin, after a high speed blast to Cherbourg across the English Channel. Edward Broadway's Ker 40 Hooligan VII was third, completing the podium for overall honours. The 75 mile race featured a tight reach west out of the Solent, followed by a moon-lit downwind sprint to Cherbourg across the English Channel.

“We were over at the start, as was Ino XXX, so the race didn't start well. We re-started correctly and then went for the island shore, which worked out well for tidal relief. As the last start of the race, we had to work our way through the whole fleet, and after a luffing match with Bob, we were in clear air after the Needles, and put our foot down. The wind speed was up to about 20 knots from the north west, we were surfing towards a rising moon, just classic offshore racing, swapping out grinders and giving it our all. During the night, the wind speed decreased, and with a westerly going tide, we had to be careful not to heat up too much in the quest for speed, and end up too high at the finish. We lost track of Ino XXX but we knew it would be close, so to just get the win, was very satisfying.”

In IRC Zero, Lady Mariposa was the winner, and now leads the class for the season. Ross Hobson's Open 50 Pegasus Of Northumberland, racing Two Handed, was second for the Cherbourg Race, and Stephen Durkin's Farr 52 Bob, sailed by Jonathan Tyrrell, was third. In IRC One, Ino XXX was the winner, and now leads the class for the season. Hooligan VII was second for the Cherbourg Race, and Tor McLaren's MAT 1180 Gallivanter, sailed by Andrew Horrocks, was third.

In IRC Two, the race winner was Nick & Suzi Jones' First 44.7 Lisa, sailed by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd. Lisa was just seven seconds ahead of Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia, after IRC time correction. Christopher Daniel's J/122e Juno was third. Suzi Jones has competed in all races on Lisa this season, juggling commitments, including bringing up three young children. “You need a really good babysitter, looking after three young boys is a tough job” commented Suzi. “I miss them dearly but it gives me a bit of a rest. On board Lisa, we have quite a young crew, so I can be mother to them too! Above all I love racing with the RORC because I am ultra competitive, and I love winning.”

In IRC Three, Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, racing was the winner by less than a minute after IRC time correction. Delamare & Mordret's JPK 1080, Dream Pearls was second, and Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two Handed, was third. In IRC Two Handed, Redshift Reloaded was the winner, Bellino second, and Ian Hoddle's Sun Fast 3600 Game On was third. Bellino has retained the lead in IRC Two Handed for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

In IRC Four, Jerome Desvaux's Sprint 108 Jurassic - Captain Corsaire, scored a memorable victory over fellow French competitor Noel Racine, racing JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew. Paul Kavanagh's S&S Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, was third for the race, and moves up to second, behind Foggy Dew, for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

At the Prize Giving held at the Yacht Club de Cherbourg, RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd, spoke on behalf of the competitors, thanking the club for their generous hospitality. The President of the Yacht Club de Cherbourg, Jean Le Carpentier, and RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott, officiated at the awards ceremony. 

Published in RORC

The RORC Cherbourg Race is the penultimate race of the RORC Season's Points Championship, between the record breaking entry for the Fastnet Race, and the highly acclaimed Middle Sea Race. The 75 nautical mile race from Cowes to Cherbourg is the last of the UK-based races for the RORC Season’s Points Championship, and for many teams this will be the swan song for their 2017 racing season.

In IRC Two, Gilles Fournier's French J/133 Pintia, has secured class victory for the season, which is decided by the best five results. Nick & Suzi Jones' First 44.7 Lisa, is second in class, but leading the RORC Season's Points Championship overall, which counts all races. Lisa won the championship last year, and has once again been chartered to RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of Dublin's Royal Irish Yacht Club. 

“We are in a great position to win overall for the second year, but we must finish the Cherbourg Race, and even then, it depends on the results from the Rolex Middle Sea Race” commented Michael Boyd. “It has been a thoroughly enjoyable season, made all the more so by the close competition with Pintia. We have barely been out of sight of each other, and ashore we have become close friends. Gilles Fournier, his charming daughter, his grandson, and all of the Pintia crew, are wonderful people. Neither Lisa nor Pintia are stripped out racing boats, and I believe it says a lot about racing with the RORC, that anyone is capable of winning the championship. Nick and Suzi Jones have been fantastic to sail with, and Lisa is very well prepared, a big part of the reason for our success.”

Gilles Fournier is also full of praise for their rivals: “Having such close racing with Lisa, has definitely improved our performance, and we have enjoyed every battle in every race. After the Fastnet, we met for lunch, and we both worked out the same mathematics. Pintia wins the class, and Lisa wins overall. So we will have a race of honour to Cherbourg - the final decider!”

In IRC Zero, the class leader for the season is Windward Sailing's, CM 60 Venomous, skippered by Derek Saunders. For the Cherbourg Race that lead will be under pressure from Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Daniel Hardy. In IRC One, the class leader is Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra, which will be under similar pressure from James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX.

In IRC Three, the season's leader, Delamare & Mordret's fully crewed French JPK 10.80 Dream Pearls, will have one last match with a trio of Two Handed teams. Three British Sunfast 3600s that have provided close competition all year, Rob Craigie's Bellino, Ian Hoddle's Game On, and Ed Fishwick's Redshift Reloaded. Bellino leads the IRC Two Handed Class for the season. Nick Martin's British J/105 Diablo-j will also be racing Two Handed to Cherbourg, and will be looking to better their 2016 Cherbourg Race result; second in class.

In IRC Four, Noel Racine's French JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew, has been in scintillating form all season, and has secured the class win with two races to spare. However for the Cherbourg Race, two yachts are vying for a podium finish for the season; French Norlin 37 China Girl, skippered by Marc Noel, and Paul Kavanagh's Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan.

62 yachts are expected to start the race, and as with all RORC offshore races, the participants are an eclectic mix of professionals, experienced Corinthian sailors, and newcomers to the sport. Thus far, 438 yachts have competed in the RORC Season's Points Championship.

Published in RORC

With light winds forecast for the final day, the fleet left the event pontoons to the two racing areas in glorious sunshine, a relief to shed the wet weather gear! IRC 1 and 2 sailed two windward/leeward races off shore from a committee boat start, where the breeze held steady from the south–east at 4–7 kts enabling some steady racing. "Fools Gold" and "Dark Angel" each won a race in IRC 1 giving the overall first for the championship to "Fools Gold" adding another title to their successful campaign this season following a win at June's Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale.

In IRC 2 "Checkmate" and "Injenious" each won a race today with the IRC 2 overall championship won by "Legless Again" who sailed consistently all weekend. "Luvly Jubbly" won all three races in IRC 3 sports boat class and the overall win, in a class which we hope to build for next year, racing around the club marks off the club line.

IRC 4 Cruiser class was won today by "Paraiba" with overall championship in this class by Roger Fitzgerald in His Delher 29 Ella Trout III.

Prize-giving followed racing, and crews enjoyed a carvery dinner after Plas Heli and Championship Chairman Stephen Tudor thanked the Royal Dee team for their race management of IRC 1 and 2 and Robin Evans for IRC 3 and 4

Full results and photographs here 

Next year's provisional dates for the IRC Welsh Championships are: 17-19th August

Published in ICRA

The final results of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 show that Kenneth Rumball with the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi has won in IRC 3B, where third place has been taken by ISORA’s J/109 Mojito. And RORC Commodore Michael Boyd has been second in IRC 2 with the First 44.7 Lisa.

Clearly, the Irish contingent in this great classic have had a successful time of it despite some extraordinary fluctuations of fortune. But how are such twists of fate to be explained? The Rolex Fastnet Race of modern times can be analysed by the latest technology in so many different ways that, even with the best computers, it can sometimes take much longer to deduce what precisely happened than it took in real time out at sea. So perhaps if we just select a few salient facts, we might be able to get a better overall picture. W M Nixon gives it a try.

If the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 had finished at the Fastnet Rock itself, with the fleet adjourning into Baltimore and Schull to have a party or three, there would have been much for the builders of the successful JPK range to celebrate. And several crews with strong Irish connections would have been quite right in partying to beat the band as well.

nikata at fastnet2Glad morning again….the biggest boat in the race, the JV 115 Nikata (Tom Brewer) rounds the Fastnet Rock at 7 o’clock on Tuesday morning. Photo Rolex

For after an increasingly rugged windward slug the whole way from the start, the overall leader at the Rock was 2013’s winner, the French JPK 10.10 Night & Day, whose achievement was further heightened by the fact that she was being sailed two-handed by father-and-son crew Pascal and Alexis Loison.

And second overall was another seasoned French campaigner, Noel Racine with his JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew. But it’s when we get to third slot that Irish eyes light up, as it was comfortably held by our own Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan. She was all of 11 minutes ahead of yet another French boat, Giles Fournier’s J/133 Pintia, which was fourth overall at the Fastnet.

But close behind in sixth overall was the classic S&S 41 Winsome (Harry Hiejst) helmed by Laura Dillon, Irish Champion Helm in 1996. Winsome had experienced her ups and downs since the start, but when it comes to grown-up windward work, there are still very few boats that can do it like the best 1972 Sparkman & Stephens design, and Winsome had been making hay since Land’s End, marching her way up through the fleet.

However, before we move on to see how these leaders-at-the-Rock finally ended in the rankings in Plymouth, casting an eye further down the Fastnet times continues to be rewarding, as we find that the hot ISORA J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) was lying 9th overall as she made the turn on Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock, and Kenneth Rumball in command of the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi was only a quarter of an hour later, correcting into 11th overall, which put him one place ahead of our RORC Commodore Michael Boyd in the First 44.7 Lisa.

jedi fastnet3Cheerful times aboard Jedi after rounding the Fastnet, where she’d been placed 11th overall of the entire 312-strong IRC fleet. Photo INSS

nikata volvo65s4Nikata at the start with three of the Volvo 65s. The new Volvo boats had a very close Fastnet Race, with Dongfeng winning by 54 seconds from Mapfre. And they’re being kept busy – on Thursday they raced away from Plymouth, bound for St Malo and Lisbon

Yet of the boats which are now figuring at the top twelve of the overall leaderboard in Plymouth, only Pintia, Lisa and the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam were in the top twelve at the rock. The JNA 39 Lann Ael 2 (Didier Gaudoux), which seemed to come out of nowhere at the finish to snatch the overall lead from Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, was only 29th at the Fastnet Rock.

As for Privateer, she was well back, in 40th. Yet the way the winds, weather and tides developed for the final 247 miles from Fastnet to finish meant the placings continued to be shaken up until the very end, and it looked for long enough as though Privateer has the big prize until Lann Ael 2 came out of the dark in the small hours of Thursday morning, and took it.

lann ael5The JDA 39 Lann Ael making knots on the way to Plymouth

lann ael6The look of a winner. Lann Ael was not showing up on the Race Tracker for some tehnical reason, but she was very definitely right there, zooming past the Isles of Scilly on her way to the overall win

This means that for the third time in a row, the overall Rolex Fastnet Race winner is French. There’s no doubt about it, but La belle France is on a roll on the offshore scene these days, for if they aren’t themselves actually sailing the winning French-built boats, the chances are they were the designers and builders.

This is an impression which is reinforced by going into the class details, and particularly among the smaller boats. In IRC 3 it’s French-produced boats dominant, with two JPK 10.80s – Dream Pearls and Timeline - separated by just two minutes on corrected time, with Timeline having finished first, but losing through a higher rating.

It’s not until we got down to 9th place in IRC 3 that we break the French stream, and even here the 9th placed Irish J/109 Jedi – which wins IRC 3B - may have been designed in America by the Johnstone team, but I’ve a feeling she was built in France.

The placing means that Jedi got through Mojito in the sometimes wild romp back from the Rock, but all around them positions were changing, and the solid Sparkman & Stephens veterans such as Pomeroy Swan and Winsome, which had shown so well on the dead beat, were losing time all the way while the loghter boats were surfing.

However, while the two overall leaders at the Fastnet, Night & Day and Foggy Dew, slipped down the overall rankings, they maintained their class leads in IRC 4, and let it be noted that Poweroy Swan wasn’t entirely out of the hunt, as she is 4th in IRC 4. But Winsome slipped back to 12th in class.

It’s ironic that of the two former Champion Helms of Ireland whom we know to have been doing the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017, one of them – Laura Dillon – was in a boat which went superbly to windward but wasn’t so competitive downwind, while the other. Nin O’Leary, was in a boat which seemed woeful to windward, but was fastest of the lot as soon as she bore off at the rock.

hugo boss at fastnet7Hugo Boss finally reaches the Fastnet Rock at 3.0pm on Tuesday. Within minutes, she was speeding downwind, up on her foils and making 22 knots
Quite why Nin’s co-skippered IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss was just so poor to windward, even by comparison with other IMOCA 60s, is something for further study. But she’s very much a boat for the wide open spaces, and the relatively short 247 miles from the Fastnet to Plymouth wasn’t nearly long enough for her foils to pick her up properly, and let the big black boat really go like the wind.

It was clearly a race of horses for courses, and while it might be going too far to describe Hugo Boss as a one trick pony, in a complex race like this there were some superb all-round boats which gave a master-class in successfully dealing with a wide variety of conditions and finishing with a mileage which suggested that some other boats were sailing a different race entirely.

malizia racing8The Yacht Club de Monaco’s IMOCA 60 Malizia placed third in class

To re-phrase the great Damon Runyon, the race may not always be to those who sail the shortest distance, but that’s the way the smart money bets. However, the smart money isn’t always completely right. The Fastnet Race course is somewhere between 603 and 608 miles (those pesky Traffic Separation Zones must have changed the classic distance), and it’s of interest to note that the boat which was recorded as sailing the fewest miles, the Italian Mylius 15E25 Ars Una which placed 11th overall, got round in just 655 miles.

pintia start9The French J/133 Pintia (Gilles Fournier) at the start. One of the most consistent boats in the fleet, she was well placed overall at the Fastnet, and went on to win Class 2 while placing fourth overall at the finish

But Winsome, back in 75th overall after being so handsomely placed at the rock, got round in only 656 miles. She pointed higher than most other boats, and made the right tactical choices on the open water outward bound windward leg. But coming back on the fast run, her classic hull shape militated against her no matter how neat a course they sailed.

The detailed results are here

As for the winner Lann Ael 2, she sailed 662 miles, but for the Fastnet-Plymouth stages she had conditions which clearly suited her perfectly, while the Cookson 50 Privateer sailed all of 687 miles, but she sailed them so well she retained second overall. And the great pioneer, the pathfinder in the lead on the water and testing condtions for all those astern, was George David’s Rambler 88. She may have taken line honours in convincing style, but she sailed an astonishing 730 miles to do so, and slipped back to 65th overall when the basic sums were done.

These sums will be re-worked for a long time yet, for this was one very special Rolex Fastnet Race. Our own Michael Boyd captured it so perfectly in his role as Commodore RORC, shortly after he had finished to take second in class, that it’s worth re-running the vid we posted last night, for he did us proud.

Read all of Afloat.ie's 2017 Fastnet Race coverage here 

Published in W M Nixon

It’s classic Fastnet Race Day One evening conditions, with the fleet plugging to windward along the coast of Dorset, and the tide about to turn foul at Portland Bill writes W M Nixon. With the relatively rapid progress westward through the afternoon while the ebb was at its strongest, the Irish contingent in all its ramifications was having its moments of glory.

Of the boats mentioned yesterday in Sailing on Saturday as worth watching, at one stage we were in the dizzy position of having Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s J/109 Mojito from Pwllheli, but with half her crew from the National YC, lying second overall, while Harry Heijst’s classic 41ft S & S Winsome, with Laura Dillon of Howth the No 1 helm, was in third.

With a fleet this size, the mix is re-jigged by the minute, and for a while our hottest hope was Paul Kavanagh’s vintage Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, which is a regular and successful contender on the RORC programme in the English Channel, but is down in the entry list as being very much Irish.

fastnet start editThe Fastnet Race Start of the IRC Z & VO65 Classes Rambler 88, Sail No: USA 25555, Class: IRC Zero, Owner: George David, Type: Canting Keel Sloop Cqs, Sail No: AUS 11111, Class: IRC Zero, Owner: Ludde Ingvall, Type: Supermaxi

The Kavanagh boat was lying third as we started to write this, but now she has slipped back to 13th, while Winsome is very much back in the frame, she lies second overall while the current leader is the extraordinary two-handed JPK 10.10 Night and Day from France, overall winner of the 2013Race, and sailed by the Loison father and son team.

As for Mojito, she’s back in 32nd, which shows you just how cruel the pace can be in a fleet of 312 in the IRC Division, and with every possible permutation of boat size, type, and location being put to the racing test. Thus the currently best-placed J/109 is the Irish National Sailing School’s Jedi, showing at 29th but she’d been up a 20th for a respectable period.

Race tracker here

Up at the front of the fleet, Paul Meilhat’s IMOCA 60 SMA is setting a cracking pace. The word on the waterfront is that his co-skipper is our own Marcus Hutchinson, so that can be offset against the fact that Alex Thomson and Nin O’Leary took an inshore tack a while back with Hugo Boss, and didn’t do well out of it at all. They now lie ninth and are down to 9.1 knots while SMA is pacing away from the entire class at 10.4 knots.

George David’s Rambler 88 is starting to get into the hunt as the fleet sorts itself out from the different start times. It has been notable just how high she is able to point relative to some of the more specialist craft while still sailing at 12.4 knots, so after the up-coming six hours of foul tide with the smaller boats in the strongest area of it, we should see Rambler move up from her current 63rd overall in IRC./

Published in Fastnet

#Rambler88 - George David’s Rambler 88 has won the King Edward VII Cup in this year’s Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race.

The American Maxi took line honours in the 151-nautical-mile offshore race and was also declared overall winner IRC time correction of the 176-boat fleet, which sailed from for Brittany from Cowes on the Isle of Wight last Friday (7 July).

The Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race is the ninth stage of the 14-race RORC Season’s Points Championship, currently led by defending champion Lisa, the Beneteau First 44.7 owned by Nick and Suzi Jones and sailed by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd.

Earlier this year, Rambler 88 — which had a record-breaking debut in last year’s Round Ireland, years after a memorable capsize in the 2011 Fastnet Race — took line honours in a cliffhanger finish at the RORC Caribbean 600, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Offshore
Page 1 of 28