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For the first time, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s GBR IRC National Championship in 2024 will not take place from the club’s base in Cowes but will form part of the  Poole Regatta. The 26th edition of the IRC Nationals, one of the major annual regattas for the international rating system operated by the RORC, will take place on Poole Bay over 25-27th May 2024.

Held biennially, Poole Regatta as usual, will be organised by the Combined Yacht Clubs of Poole and Poole Yacht Racing Association. This year’s event included the IRC Southern Area Championship.

One of the oldest sailing events in the world, the Poole and Bournemouth Regatta, as it was originally known, was first held in 1849. At this time, yachting was a popular pastime of royalty and the aristocracy, with clubs being set up and regattas held around the UK’s entire coastline. 

Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner racing Poole Bay Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner racing Poole Bay

Originally the Poole and Bournemouth Regatta was raced for The Canford Cup, a George IV silver vase made in 1822. The trophy was first awarded in 1849 to Gleam, of P Roberts, Esq of the Southern Yacht Club in Southampton. It subsequently disappeared for decades, until it was recovered in 2015. Recently it has been won by Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner Aguila in 2016, Richard Powell's Marvel in 2018 and this year by Ed Wilton’s Who’s Next.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s GBR IRC National Championship in 2024 will form part of the International Paint Poole Regatta.  L to R: Andrew Pearce, President International Paint Poole Regatta, Jeremy Wilton, RORC CEOThe Royal Ocean Racing Club’s GBR IRC National Championship in 2024 will form part of the International Paint Poole Regatta. L to R: Andrew Pearce, President International Paint Poole Regatta, Jeremy Wilton, RORC CEO Photo: Chris Jones

The UK IRC National Championship was first held in 1999 with the advent of the RORC/UNCL’s new IR2000 rule. Developed from the Channel Handicap System (CHS), the maths behind the IRC rule is undisclosed to avoid the arms race that inevitably occurs when competitive, well-resourced teams attempt to optimise their yachts to published rules. Between CHS and IRC, the rule has been refined over the course of almost 40 years and between them the RORC/UNCL rating offices hold a huge database spanning small keelboats to the world’s largest superyachts, from cruisers to grand prix racers. Significantly all certificates issued in the UK, both Standard and Endorsed, are verified by the professional staff at the RORC Rating Office.

As adding complexity to rating systems typically leads to little or no change in results, the IRC has been deliberately kept simple with ratings calculated from declared boat data for standard certificates (i.e. no need for measurement) while for an IRC Endorsed certificate a yacht’s data must be verified by measurement but without the requirement for complex stability and hull measurements. A yacht’s IRC rating is expressed as a single number (TCC) for time-on-time rating and can be used at events internationally. In practice this makes it relatively simple for teams to calculate their position on the course and their result within seconds of finishing.

Andrew Pearce, Poole Regatta President commented: “We are delighted that the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) have announced that they are inviting the Poole Regatta to host the IRC Nationals as part of their regatta in 2024. Moving it out of the Solent to Poole is something we have been talking about for some time as the two regattas fit very comfortably together. With three days and eight races the two regattas are a perfect fit, and Poole being a very short trip out of the Solent should encourage all potential boats that are interested in racing in the event.” 

Cape 31s racing at Poole Regatta Photo: David Harding Cape 31s racing at Poole Regatta Photo: David Harding 

Jeremy Wilton, RORC CEO was present at the announcement on the first day of the Southampton International Boat Show and commented: “It is a real pleasure for RORC to be part of the Poole Regatta. It may not seem like a big decision to move the IRC Nationals away from its traditional home of Cowes, but it is a big decision within the Club and within IRC to actually move the event. It’s never been done before and as it has the title ‘Nationals’ we felt it was really important to take it to a different part of the UK.

Jason Smithwick, Director of Rating at RORC Rating Office commented: “We are excited to have the event as part of the Poole Regatta. For some time we have had the idea of moving the IRC Nationals to other locations to vary the venue and allow other boats to participate in their local waters and now is the perfect time. We hope Poole will attract the regular Solent racers and in particular the boats from the South West and beyond. Poole is a perfect first edition of this initiative with great race organisation and sailing waters. RORC will of course, be part of the core team in helping the Poole Regatta deliver a world class Nationals event that IRC sailors deserve.”

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The up-grading of the RORC's annual Caribbean 600 race to what is effectively a two-week inshore/offshore festival in February 2023, when the sailing in the area is at its brisk but warm best, is a reminder that Irish boats and crews have been in there since the start in 2009 of
what initially seemed like a slightly wacky idea.

For although the established 600-700 mile classics such as the Bermuda Race, the Fastnet Race, the Sydney-Hobart, the Middle Sea and the Round Ireland have relatively straightforward courses, in order to break the 600-mile ceiling, the slighty eccentric Antigua Sailing Brains Trust came up with a cat's cradle of a course, intertwining so many island and large rock turning points that some of the bigger boats carried two navigators, just to be sure to be sure.

 Howth contingent in Antigua - Michael Wright and ex-pat superstar Gordon Maguire before the start of the Caribbean 600. Photo: Brian Turvey Howth contingent in Antigua - Michael Wright and ex-pat superstar Gordon Maguire before the start of the Caribbean 600. Photo: Brian Turvey

But immediately it was proposed, Adrian Lee of Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire was much taken with the idea. He had recently bought Ger O'Rourke of Limerick's Cookson 50 Chieftain, overall winner in the 2007 Fastnet Race and high scorer or winner in several other majors. Yet by February 2009 there she was in Antigua, ready to go as Lee Overlay Partners with a totally fresh high-quality livery re-vamp which clearly declared that this was a completely new chapter in Cookson 50 history.

And a pretty good chapter it was too. Lee Overlay Partners was the overall winner of the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600. And it was the first of several good stagings of the annual race as far as Ireland is concerned, for since then there have been top placings and class wins,
notably by Conor Fogerty with his Sunfast 3600 Bam! and the Howth Wright brothers-led team with the chartered Lombard 45 Pata Negra.

Howth contingent in Antigua - Michael Wright and ex-pat superstar Gordon Maguire before the start of the Caribbean 600. Photo: Brian TurveyThe RORC Caribbean 600 is a cat's cradle of a course - the start and finish is in the middle, at the south end of Antigua

As for the crew of Lee Overlay Partners, they'd acquired a taste for winter-rejecting offshore races, and in November 2013 they sailed in balmy Middle East weather in the 360-mile Dubai-Muscat Race, down the Gulf through the Straits of Hormuz to the Arabian Sea in what some naval authorities reckoned to be a war zone. If it was, Lee Overlay Partners spent a prudent minimum of time in it, as they broke the course record and notched another major overall win.

It was a warm, spice-laden Saturday night in Muscat when the win was declared. Meanwhile, back home in Dun Laoghaire on a wet and windy night of classic November qualities, the Royal St George YC was staging a gala celebration of all the 254 major international wins its members had recorded since the club's foundation in 1838, with the successful idea of cheering everyone up after emerging from the acute economic recession of 2008-2012. In the midst of it all, the news came in from Muscat. With appropriate acclamation, the number on the International Winnerboard was raised to 255.

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The 2022 RORC Season’s Championship concluded on Saturday 3rd September with the finish of the 75-mile Cherbourg Race.

A light southerly wind, oscillating both to the east and the west, gave a strategic edge to the race. The overall winner after IRC time correction was Mike Moxley’s HOD 35 Malice, racing in IRC Two-Handed with Tom Bridge. Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews, also racing in IRC Two-Handed, was runner-up with Sun Fast 3200 Cora. Noel Racine’s JPK 1030 Foggy Dew with a crew from Le Havre completed the podium.

76 teams from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United States started the Cherbourg Race, the class winners included: Lance Shepherd’s Volvo 70 Telefonica Black, RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 INO XXX, Jean-Eudes Renier & Rob Bottomley’s MAT12 Sailplane, Samuel Dumenil & Maxime Lemesle’s JPK 960 Casamyas and Mussulo 40 skippered by James Stableford for the Class40 Division win.

Full results are here

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The world’s largest offshore racing series concludes next weekend with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Cherbourg Race, starting from Cowes on Friday, 2nd September at 1800 BST. 81 teams are entered for the dash across The English Channel, the largest entry for the race in over 20 years.

After a hiatus in 2021, the RORC Season’s Points Championship has come back with a bang. Over 400 teams from more than 30 different countries have competed in the 11-month series. Racing under the IRC and MOCRA Ratings plus the Class40 Rule, over 100 different boat designs have been in action. The RORC Season’s Points Championship includes highly prized races from the UK to France, the Netherlands and Belgium plus international races with venues set in Malta, Lanzarote, Grenada, Antigua, Ireland, and Finland. The Cherbourg Race is the sixteenth and final race of the series.

An entry List is downloadable below. 

36 teams entered in IRC Two-Handed Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC36 teams entered in IRC Two-Handed Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

36 teams entered in IRC Two-Handed

Over 80 double-handed teams have competed with the RORC this year racing in IRC Two-Handed, most of the top teams will be among the 36 double-handed teams racing to Cherbourg. Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada has had a tremendous season, securing victory for IRC Overall and IRC Two-Handed with a race to spare. Richard Palmer will be racing to Cherbourg with Jeremy Waitt, and this is far from just a victory lap (see IRC Three). Fighting it out for runner-up for IRC Overall and IRC Two-Handed are Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino with Deb Fish and Nick Martin’s Sun Fast 3600 Diablo with Cal Finlayson.

The Cherbourg Race is also Race One of the 2022 IRC Double Handed Nationals, Race Two will take place 10-11 September from Cowes. The top three skippers from the 2021 IRC Double Handed Nationals will be racing to Cherbourg: James Harayda’s Sun Fast 3300 Surf, Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO, and Ellie Driver with Sun Fast 3300 Chilli Pepper.

INO XXX Photo: Rick TomlinsonINO XXX Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Pegasus of Northumberland Photo: Paul WyethPegasus of Northumberland Photo: Paul Wyeth

Palanad 3 Photo: Rick TomlinsonPalanad 3 Photo: Rick Tomlinson

High Performance boats set for Cherbourg

Lance Shepherd’s Volvo 70 Telefonica Black will be taking part in its seventh RORC race of the season. No doubt the team of mainly Corinthian sailors will be celebrating in Cherbourg as Telefonica Black has already secured the IRC Super Zero series win. RORC Commodore James Neville will be racing his HH42 INO XXX to Cherbourg. INO XXX is currently third for the season in IRC Zero but a good result in the last race could propel the team to first in class for the year. High Performance IRC boats set for The Cherbourg Race include Ross Hobson’s Open 50 Pegasus of Northumberland, Antoine Magre’s Class40 Palanad 3 and Lloyd Yacht Club’s X-55 Lutine, skippered by James Close.

French skipper Antoine Magre will race Palanad 3 against two Class40s under class rules for the popular box rule design. James Stableford will skipper Mussulo 40 with a team from the Isle of Wight, and Ari Kaensaekoski will race Fuji with a team from Finland.

The winner of IRC One for the series will be decided in The Cherbourg Race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORCThe winner of IRC One for the series will be decided in The Cherbourg Race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Bulldog stands guard in IRC One

The winner of IRC One for the series will be decided in The Cherbourg Race. Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog will be in action and is the current class leader for 2022. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood has an outside chance of beating Bulldog, but a good result will definitely move Darkwood onto the class podium for the season. Also, in with a chance of making the podium are Thomas Scott’s X-50 Itma, sailed by Simon Lambert, Jean-Eudes Renier & Rob Bottomley racing MAT 12 Sailplane, and Sailing Logic’s First 40 Arthur, skippered by David Thomson.

A three-way battle for IRC Two winner will be decided in the race to Cherbourg. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCA three-way battle for IRC Two winner will be decided in the race to Cherbourg. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

All to play for in IRC Two

A three-way battle for IRC Two winner will be decided in the race to Cherbourg. Nick Martin’s Diablo leads for the season, but Rob Craigie’s Bellino and Jim & Ellie Driver’s Chilli Pepper are within striking distance of victory. The Army Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier and Peter Bacon’s Sun Fast 3300 Sea Bear will be racing to Cherbourg with the chance of making the season’s class podium.

Pressure on Jangada in IRC Three. Photo: Tim Wright/RORCPressure on Jangada in IRC Three. Photo: Tim Wright/RORC

Pressure on Jangada in IRC Three

Richard Palmer’s Jangada leads IRC Three, but the class win is far from achieved. Realistically a top three finish for the race will secure the class for Jangada However, depending on other results, a race win for Mike Yates’ JAGO or Tim Goodhew racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora will give those respective teams class victory. Rob Cotterill racing J/109 Mojo Risin’ is currently third for the season but will need to at least beat Katherine Cope’s Sun Fast 3200 Purple Mist, to retain that podium position.

Kirsteen Donaldson X-332 Pyxis Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORC Kirsteen Donaldson X-332 Pyxis Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Podium hopefuls in IRC Four

In IRC Four, Stuart Greenfield’s S&S 34 Morning After has secured the class for the season with an heroic performance in last month’s Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. Morning After is not racing to Cherbourg but three teams will be hoping to get enough points to make the class podium for the season: Kirsteen Donaldson X-332 Pyxis racing with Juan Moreno, Cooper & England’s Dehler 38 Longue Pierre, and Gavin Doyle’s Corby 25 Duff Lite.

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On the last of four days of magnificent racing off the Dutch port of Breskens, two final races were held and the winner of the 2022 IRC European Championship decided by the closest of margins.

Coming off the water it looked very much like this 7th European Championship for the RORC and UNCL’s popular rating rule would go to the fleet’s smallest boat. Alain Rousseau and his largely French crew on the Dehler 29 Picsou enjoyed a resounding regatta, first winning the double points-scoring, non-discardable medium coastal race on Thursday and then, over the last three days following this by scoring five bullets in eight races. This included wins in both of today’s windward-leewards held in a 10-16 knot north-easterly. 

Team Moana celebrate their win Photo: Ronald den DekkerTeam Moana celebrate their win Photo: Ronald den Dekker

However, the results of Francois Goubau and his team on board the Bénéteau First 47.7 Moana were almost as good, but significantly they were achieved in a larger class of 18 boats (IRC 0 and 1 combined) compared to IRC 3’s nine. Using IRC’s formula that takes into account each boat’s result, plus numbers of scoring races sailed and class size, it was instead Moana that was crowned the 2022 IRC European Champion, just 0.003 of a point ahead of Picsou after calculations were completed.w

“It is surprising for sure, but I am very pleased,” said an elated François Goubau, who had assumed, like many, that Picsou’s excellent scoreline had won her the prestigious title. “I think this is the biggest championship I have won in sailing in 30 years.” 

Moana is a 2000 vintage cruiser-racer from Farr Yacht Design that Goubau has been racing since 2005 with a large contingent of immediate family, including his wife Michèle Gelhausen and sons Laurent, Mathieu and Alexis. While Moana may be a relatively old family cruiser, racing her has been, and remains, no casual thing. Goubau is a past Commodore of the Royal Belgium Sailing Club in Zeebrugge and since 2005 the dark blue hull of Moana has been seen out on the Solent for more days than many local race boats.

For this, her first ever IRC European Championship, Moana arrived fresh from a class win at Cowes Week. But most impressive is their Rolex Fastnet Race track record: In 2021, they took part in their 11th consecutive edition, having podiumed in three. Despite only being 38 years old, for their helmsman son Mathieu it was his 12th participation in the biennial race.

Of the IRC European Championship, Francois Goubau commented: “It has been perfect. It was ‘sailing weather’ with the sun and the wind - and the organisation was perfect.” As to why they won, this was clearly in part due to the crew’s super-familiarity with Moana, but also as Goubau explained, because “we prepared the boat very well last winter. We don’t have new sails but we took a lot of time to prepare the underwater shape. After COVID we had forgotten nothing!”

Alain Rousseau's Dehler 29 Picsou - six bullets in nine races Photo: Ronald den DekkerAlain Rousseau's Dehler 29 Picsou - six bullets in nine races Photo: Ronald den Dekker

For Picsou, the crew might have taken the news badly, particularly after ending up in the protest room upon coming ashore. However they were exonerated and then accepted defeat in a most gracious, sportsman-like way. “We know the guys from Moana well, they are good friends of ours,” said owner Alain Rousseau. 

In fact Picsou’s helmsman Philippe Bourgeois was once the owner of the A-35 Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre, part of the Flanders North Sea team with Moana and Elke (also competing here in IRC One) that finished second in the 2016 Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup. “It is better that they won rather than anyone else. If we had had one boat more in our class we could have beaten Moana, but that is how it is.” C’est la vie.

The Picsou crew pick up their well-deserved prize for IRC Three Photo: Ronald den DekkerThe Picsou crew pick up their well-deserved prize for IRC Three Photo: Ronald den Dekker

Ultimately in IRC One Moana finished three points ahead of the Ker 46 Van Uden, in turn 11 in front of the MAT12 Sailplane, campaigned by Jean-Eudes Renier, winner of today’s first race. In IRC Three Picsou finished 10 points ahead of Michel Dorsman's X-362 Sport Extra Djinn, tied on points with the third-placed HOD35 Zarafa of Iwan Vermeirsch.

J/109 Joule wins IRC Two by just 0.5 points Photo: Ronald den DekkerJ/109 Joule wins IRC Two by just 0.5 points Photo: Ronald den Dekker

The biggest upheaval today, and where the points were closest after nine races, was in IRC Two. Here Arjen van Leeuwen's J/109 Joule managed to cling on to the lead to win by just 0.5 points from Paul Jonckherre's A-35 Njord which today scored a 1-2, mirroring Swiss owner Jörg Sigg and his J/99 Lällekönig's 2-1. Radboud Crul and his Dehler 36 Rosetta were third.

Arjen van Leeuwen and his crew on Joule celebrate their IRC Two victory Photo: Ronald den DekkerArjen van Leeuwen and his crew on Joule celebrate their IRC Two victory Photo: Ronald den Dekker

Commodore of the RORC James Neville was competing in IRC One aboard his HH42 Ino XXX. Of this seventh IRC European Championship, which took place as part of Damen Breskens Sailing Week, he commented: “It has been extremely competitive. If you look how tight the results have been they have been jumping around with just seconds between the first few places every time. So you only win if you sail a really clean race. It has been great to have all the different types of boats on the start line.

“We sailed nine races and we’ve done a terrific amount of sailing. The weather has been glorious, the sea conditions have been fantastic and the socials have been fun. It was a great end-of-summer regatta and we have all been well looked after by Marnix Lippens and the Damen Breskens Sailing Week team.”

Further information is available on the event website 

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The IRC European Championship has a bit of a tradition of smaller boats winning. In Cork in 2016, the first ever IRC European Champion was Paul Gibbons and his diminutive Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge while the following year in Marseille, it was Guy Claeys’ JPK 10.10 Expresso 2, winner of IRC Four.

In IRC 3 Dehler 29 Picsou races to victory alongside Archambault 31 Tasman and Grand Soleil 37 BC Mavi Image: Ineke PeltzerIn IRC 3 Dehler 29 Picsou races to victory alongside Archambault 31 Tasman and Grand Soleil 37 BC Mavi Photo: Ineke Peltzer

Could this year’s seventh IRC European Championship title go to Alain Rousseau and his mostly French crew on Picsou, the smallest boat among the 39 boats competing here at Damen Breskens Sailing Weekend? The Belgian-flagged Dehler 29 had a resounding day today, the only boat to post three bullets. This has caused them to go into the final day leading by the biggest margin across the three classes. Yet as an indication of the closeness of the racing at this major IRC championship the Belgium boat is just five points clear of yesterday's stand-out team, Michel Dorsman's X-362 Sport Extra Djinn, in turn just one ahead of Iwan Vermeirsch's HOD35 Zarafa (another former Solent boat that has migrated to the Netherlands) with Kees Keetel's A-31 CSI Rakker also in the running.

Like yesterday, PRO Menno Vercouteren today laid on three races – two windward-leewards and a round the cans course. As a result one discard has come into effect. The wind was again from the north, but started at around 9-10 knots and finished having veered into the northeast, heading for the high teens. 

Arjen van Leeuwen's J/109 Joule tops the IRC 2 leader board on Day 3 Image: Ineke PeltzerArjen van Leeuwen's J/109 Joule tops the IRC 2 leader board on Day 3 Photo: Ineke Peltzer

In IRC Two today another boat came close to a perfect scoreline. Here in the middle group it is safe to say J/109s are dominating. But surprisingly today’s star player was neither Arjen van Leeuwen's Joule, which remains on top of the leaderboard in the class, nor John Smart's slightly lower rated Jukebox, now third overall, but the Royal Navy Sailing Team on their sistership Jolly Jack Tar. The British crew, led by Mark Flanagan, Rear Commodore (Offshore) of the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA), today scored a 1-1-3, launching them into second, just three points off the lead, and making the IRC Two podium an all-J/109 affair (including two British teams) going into the final day. 

“It went well today. We are slowly coming together as a team, which is good,” commented Flanagan. “We are learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we are getting better as the event goes on instead of worse!” Jolly Jack Tar changes crew from event to event and as Flanagan puts it they have a pool of about 500 people from which to choose , obviously dependent upon their availability. “Here we have probably one of our best teams, which is really good.” As a services boat, Jolly Jack Tar has a busy life – this year alone in addition to competing in the RORC offshore series, she has been across to Cork Week and up to West Highland Week.

They chose to come to the IRC European Championship in Breskens for the experience. “This sounded really good. It’s a European Championship - it takes us to a higher level so we can develop our sailors. Plus we hadn’t been to Holland before!” Of their success today Flanagan added: “The starts are really important at this event. If you can do that you can get a clear track upwind and you are going to win. We have managed to get clear air.”

Perfect conditions for IRC One in Breskens Photo: Ineke PeltzerPerfect conditions for IRC One in Breskens Photo: Ineke Peltzer

In IRC One, there has been upset with the scratch boat, Van Uden-ROST last night having her disqualification overturned by the International Jury. This had stemmed from a start line incident in Thursday’s non-discardable, double points scoring medium coastal race. This has launched them back to second overall, just one point behind the immaculate Moana, the Beneteau First 47.7 campaigned by the Goubou family that leads IRC One overall.

Van Uden, which is sailed by a youth crew from the Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team today posted a 2-10-1. “Today we came off the water and thought we sailed every race really well,” said skipper, round the world sailor Gerd-Jan Poortman. They are able to discard today's second race that was caused on the second lap when they experienced a 30° wind shift.

According to Poortman, starting proved a challenge today with the unusual situation of 1.5-2 knots of current lifting the fleet up to the race committee boat. “We decided to play it safe. We are lucky we are the fastest boat and could start to leeward and not get into the mingle too much. There is a lot of tide and a whole bunch of sand banks and the wind bending around the land. But it was good day – sunscreen, shorts, T-shirts, etc.”

Tomorrow, after two more races and a second discard is applied, the winners will be decided from each class and the top boat of the three will be crowned IRC European Champion.

Further information is available on the event website here

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The top five boats in the RORC Channel Race after IRC time correction on Friday, July 23rd were from five different classes.

The overall winner was in IRC Class Zero with Nicklas Zennström’s CF-520 Rán also taking Line Honours. Second overall was in IRC One with Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, skippered by Tom Cheney. Third overall, racing in IRC Two-Handed and IRC Two was Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, which was raced double-handed with Deb Fish.

To complete the full mix of top scoring boats, Harry Heijst’s Classic S&S 41 Winsome was fourth and winner of IRC Four. Antoine Magre’s Palanad 3 was fifth in IRC Overall and winner of the Class40 Division.

The RORC Channel Race started in a light south-westerly breeze to the west off the Squadron Line for the 162nm race for all classes. A Port rounding of East Shambles and North Head was followed by a long beat to Peveril Ledge off Swanage. The RORC fleet then turned east for a downwind leg to round the Needles Fairway buoy to Starboard. After rounding the South Side of the Isle of Wight, and then East to Owers, the fleet raced through the Eastern Solent for a finish off South Bramble in the Central Solent.

Nicklas Zennström’s CF-520 Rán Photo: Rick TomlinsonNicklas Zennström’s CF-520 Rán Photo: Rick Tomlinson

“We are very happy to win our first race, as usual with a new boat it takes a bit of time to figure it out, it is a big learning curve,” commented Team Ran’s Niklas Zennström. “In this race we have learnt more about how to sail the boat, which has been good. It was such a fun race course that was put out. We had good breeze, so we used nearly all of our sails - we did not get to use the flying jib, but we had the full triple-headed offshore set up. It was also amazing to see the variety of boats doing well in this race. With IRC you can set up to win your class but to win overall you need to have the right conditions. We felt that we sailed well and made the most of the conditions, we were out on our own for most of the race, but we could see from the tracker we had good competition.”

Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, skippered by Tom Cheney. Photo: Rick TomlinsonThomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, skippered by Tom Cheney. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Tom Kneen was not on board his JPK 1180 Sunrise for the Channel Race, he was enjoying Lake Como with his wife to be! Navigator Tom Cheney was the skipper for the race and commented: “We sailed pretty well, I think we needed to improve by 18 minutes to beat Rán and I think that would have been quite hard to find, Perhaps we chickened out a bit by not going all the way left on the beat out west, but apart from that the course suited us.”

Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (right of picture) racing in the Western Solent Photo: Rick TomlinsonRob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (right of picture) racing in the Western Solent Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Rob Craigie & Deb Fish racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino was third overall and the winner of IRC Two and IRC Two-Handed. After their winning performance in the Channel Race, Deb Fish commented: “We are absolutely delighted. We got a great start tacking up the island shore and then used the shifts to get south of The Needles. Initially, that strategy didn’t look good, but later the boats up ahead had to tack out on a less advantageous wind angle, so we gained about 2 miles on some of our competitors. After that it was about not making any mistakes and keeping an eye on tidal aspects, so we didn’t lose the gain we made. We had some real fun racing downwind with the spinnaker. We saw about 23 knots of wind, s good top speeds around the South Coast of the Isle of Wight. Next for Bellino will be the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. Getting round will be our first big ambition, it is a monstrous race, a big undertaking. We are happy with the boat; we will look at getting some better data into our auto-pilot. We have all the gear and spares for the race, after that it comes down to us as the crew performing well.”

The next race in the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship will be the gruelling 1800nm Round Britain and Ireland Race which starts from Cowes on August 7th.

Results here 

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club Season’s Points Championship continues with the eighth race of the series, the Morgan Cup Race. Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line at 1800 BST on the 17th of June.

The intention is to start the RORC fleet to the east and around the southside of the Isle of Wight. The final destination will be Dartmouth where a warm welcome awaits from the Royal Dart Yacht Club. 44 teams have entered the Morgan Cup Race competing for the overall win under the IRC Rating Rule and for IRC Class Honours.

The full entry list is downloadable below

Palanad 3, Class40 sailed by Antoine Magre Photo: Carlo BorlenghiPalanad 3, Class40 sailed by Antoine Magre Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Favourite for Line Honours will be Antoine Magre’s Class40 Palanad 3, one of the world’s fastest Class40s. Palanad 3 won her class in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race and the 2021 RORC Transatlantic Race overall. Magre will also be taking on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race this August. For the Morgan Cup Race Palanad 3 is also entered under IRC, it will be very interesting to see how the team fair against the fleet after time correction. Joining Antoine Magre for the Morgan Cup will be the highly accomplished young British navigator Will Harris and Dutch protégé Rosie Kuiper, both are destined to compete in The Ocean Race 2022-23.

Tom Kneen's JPK 1180 Sunrise Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORCTom Kneen's JPK 1180 Sunrise Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The largest and highest rated boat in IRC One for the Morgan Cup Race is Jonathan Butler’s Swan 62 Coco de Mer. Returning to the UK offshore arena is Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, overall winner of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race and class winner for the 2022 RORC Caribbean 600. Fresh from winning the North Sea Race overall under IRC with a full crew, Astrid de Vin & Roeland Franssens’ JPK 1180 Il Corvo is back in action. This time Two-Handed for the Morgan Cup. Top teams from France include Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon, which is one of the class leaders for the season, along with Sport Nautique Club’s Xp 44 Orange Mecanix2, skippered by Maxime de Mareuil. RORC Honorary Treasurer Derek Shakespeare will be racing his British J/122 Bulldog. A good result will put the team into pole position in IRC One for the season. Richard Powell’s Rogan Josh is one of three First 40s racing; Ronan Banim’s Galahad Of Cowes and Sailing Logic’s Lancelot II, skippered by Cameron Ferguson, will also be in action.

Richard Palmer's JPK 1010 Jangada & Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De MilonRichard Palmer's JPK 1010 Jangada and Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Ronan Banim’s Galahad Of Cowes Photo: Paul WyethRonan Banim’s Galahad Of Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

22 teams have entered the Morgan Cup Race racing in IRC Two-Handed including nine Sun Fast 3300s. The top five double-handed teams for the 2022 season will be racing to Dartmouth: Jangada - Richard Palmer & Rupert Holmes , Diablo - Nick Martin & Calanach Finlayson, Purple Mist - Kate Cope & Claire Dresser, Sea Bear - Peter Bacon & Antonio Martinez, and Tigris - Gavin Howe & Rosie Hill.

Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora, class winner for the Cervantes Trophy Race, is back in action.

Diablo - Nick Martin & Calanach FinlaysonDiablo - Nick Martin & Calanach Finlayson Photo: Paul Wyeth

Classic yachts racing in IRC Two-Handed include Stuart Greenfield & Louise Clayton with S&S 34 Morning After and Joe Walters & Evie Herrington racing the wooden-hull Channel 32 Wavetrain.

 Joe Walters & Evie Herrington Channel 32 Wavetrain Joe Walters & Evie Herrington Channel 32 Wavetrain

Fully crewed entries in IRC Three include three J/109s, a fourth is the highly successful JAGO raced Two-Handed by Mike Yates & Will Holland. The Royal Navy Association’s Jolly Jack Tar is second in class for the season, less than 11 points ahead of Rob Cotterill’s Mojo Risin'. The Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club’s White Knight 7 will also be racing skippered by Matthew Pollard. IRC Four includes Francois Charles’ French Dehler 33 Sun Hill 3, which was third in class for the 2019 and 2021 Rolex Fastnet Races.

A warm welcome awaits from the Royal Dart Yacht Club Photo: Neil TheasbyA warm welcome awaits from the Royal Dart Yacht Club © Neil Theasby

Competing boats in the Morgan Cup Race can be tracked using AIS data.

There is also a YB Races App for available free to download on smart devices.

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Sunday 12 June, Cowes: An outstanding long weekend of yacht racing, where the full programme was sailed under brilliant sunshine in 10-20+ knot winds and a mix of tidal states on one of the world’s most challenging stretches of water – the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s 2022 IRC National Championship was a resounding success.

On the Solent, the fleet was divided into three classes with the fastest in IRC One being the Ker 46 Van Uden, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd-Jan Poortman, while lowest rated in IRC Three was Kevin Downer's modified Fun 23 Ziggy. All were in with a chance as witnessed in today’s marginally lighter 10-15 knots conditions. Van Uden won a race in IRC One, while at the opposite end of the fleet, the teenage Greig City Academy crew on the Quarter Tonner Cote, the second slowest boat in the fleet, impressed everyone by scoring their first race win of the series against the substantially more experienced competition. There could not have been a better advertisement how a diverse fleet is turned into level playing by IRC, the RORC-UNCL run rating rule.

Oddly this year, each of the three classes individually had a stand-out winner, but ultimately it went to the wire for the overall prize. Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Rán nearly lost it when she posted a third in today’s first race, the only blemish on her otherwise perfect scoreline. However in IRC Three, Rán’s rival for the overall title, Adam Gosling’s JPK 10.80 Yes! scored a fourth in this same race. In the longer round the cans racing that concluded the event, both scored bullets. The calculation then used to determine the overall IRC National Championship winner resolved with the 2022 IRC National Championship title going to Rán by the tiniest amount – 0.005 of a point – from Yes! 

The Ran crew included Ireland's top offshore sailor, Justin Slattery, the double round the world race champion from Cork.

Smiles all round for the team on Niklas Zennström's Carkeek FAST40+ Rán (including Ireland's Justin Slattery, fourth from left) after winning the 2022 IRC National Championship + class victory in IRC One Photo: Rick TomlinsonSmiles all round for the team on Niklas Zennström's Carkeek FAST40+ Rán (including Ireland's Justin Slattery, fourth from left) after winning the 2022 IRC National Championship + class victory in IRC One Photo: Rick Tomlinson

“It is fantastic!” commented Zennström. “We’ve won our class before [at this event] but never overall. We had an amazing weekend so we are very pleased. It was fantastic sailing with good wind and good weather and also really good race management – we have nothing to complain about at all.” The Skype founder was also enthusiastic about the new Grand Prix Zero class that encompassed all of the entrants competing in IRC One. “It has been really cool to have the other boats - the 43 and 46, etc - mixing it up. It works very well – with a few more boats, you get a critical mass on the start line.” 

Rán ended the regatta nine points clear of Ian Atkins’ second-placed GP42 Dark N Stormy, in turn seven ahead of the Dutch young team on Van Uden. While the Rán team has competed at the highest level in the Maxi 72s, TP52s and FAST40+, with old hands including Zennström, Tim Powell, Steve Hayles and Justin Slattery on board, it is otherwise a mix of young up-and-coming male and female sailing talent.

For example, 30-year-old British Match Racing Champion Mark Lees calls tactics. “The boat is very good, but the team is the best I have been involved with. Niklas and Catherine [Zennström] have been fantastic supporting young sailors and female sailors. The old guard are brilliant - they have sailed together for years and are super experienced. They have been fantastic with us. We race hard, but there is a very good culture on board. I learn every day.”

In IRC Two, the Cape 31 majority prevailed, claiming the top four spots but with John Cooper’s Fanatic winning by 12 points from Tony Dickin’s Jubilee, in turn five ahead of Lance Adams’ Katabatic.

“This is our first race win, so I am more than chuffed,” said Cooper, who raced the IRC Nationals last year on his J/112e. “We’ve found in the Cape 31s that crew training is critical as the big losses are from making bad manoeuvres. Here we’ve had no pace issues. We had some fantastically tight mark roundings, but everyone got away cleanly. The Capes have been doing nicely under IRC. We are not so strong upwind but we win on the downwinds, so it balances itself out.”

Fanatic also has a fine crew including Class40 sailor Jack Trigger and brain box Tom Cheney, one of the architects behind the success of Tom Kneen’s 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race and RORC Season’s Points Championship winner Sunrise.

“It was good to be in the mix more and find some consistency, so we are very pleased,” said Cheney, a software engineer for Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Britannia America’s Cup challenge. “It was a busy race track and IRC Two in particular is hard because there is real mix of boats from fast planning 31 footers to the heavier displacement, symmetric 40s. In the medium breeze, when they are poled back and going straight to the leeward mark, we can’t touch them and it makes our strategy downwind hard, but it demonstrates how good the IRC rule is, with such different boats racing against each other and everyone able to have a good result.”

Former RORC Commodore and Admiral Andrew McIrvine’s Ker 39 La Réponse squeezed into fifth place in IRC Two, winning on countback from the Blair family’s King 40 Cobra.

Adam Gosling and the crew of JPK 1080 Yes! won IRC Three by seven points from John Smart's J/109 Jukebox, in turn four in front of James Chalmers' J/112e Happy Daize. Having lost the overall title (which Gosling previous jointly won on this same boat in 2016), they were gracious in defeat: “Rán sailed a really great regatta and they completely deserved to win,” said Gosling. “You only have to watch how they sail the boat. It is a master class….” As to his Yes! team’s performance he added: “It is the first time we have been back on a sail boat since Cowes Week last year. We were supposed to have done some training weekends but the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations won out instead! Given how many different boats won different races the IRC rule is working pretty well. And the fact that the Cape 31s can race competitively – when did we last have a one design class that is competitive under IRC?” 

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Saturday 11 June, Cowes: A further three windward-leewards were held on the central-eastern Solent on day two of the RORC’s IRC National Championship in yet more exceptional conditions - 15-20 knot WSW winds and brilliant sunshine.

At this regatta - one of the top international titles under the RORC/UNCL-owned rating system - the fleet is split into three classes according to their speed (or TCC rating). After day two significant leaders have emerged in all three, but by the end of tomorrow to be determined will be the 23rd IRC National Champion (since the first in 1999). A published formula determines the outright winner and at present, with the discard applied, Adam Gosling’s JPK 10.80 Yes! leads Niklas Zennström's Rán and John Cooper’s Cape 31 Fanatic, separated by just a fraction of a point. 

Today Rán scored a further three bullets in Grand Prix Zero/IRC One. With a perfect scoreline, it is hard to see what more the team, which includes world-class pros such as Tim Powell, Steve Hayles and Justin Slattery, can do to claim the title. In today’s second race, they were called OCS, returned to restart…and still won. However, the IRC One fleet is smaller than the other two, requiring its leader to work harder to claim the title.

Seven points astern of Rán is Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark N Stormy and two further points back is the Ker 40+ Elvis of Swede Filip Engelbert. According to Dutch legend and tactician Bouwe Bekking, Elvis is suffering from some rust, having not sailed for some time: “In three races we were in the lead, but we had some mechanical issues (spinnaker drop line breakage) and with our manoeuvres – a wine glass in the spinnaker (in the second race).”

Bekking has raced under many different rating systems and appreciates IRC: “I think it is very good when you have similar boats. Generally, it works out nicely – here Rán is a little faster but it works out pretty well and we are all so close so you know who is first while you are on the water.”

Nicholas Griffith's IC37 Icy Photo: Rick TomlinsonNicholas Griffith's IC37 Icy Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Fargo - Robert Bicket's IC37 Photo: Rick TomlinsonFargo - Robert Bicket's IC37 Photo: Rick Tomlinson

A race within a race is taking place between the two IC37s, Nick Griffith’s Icy and Robert Bicket’s Fargo. Icy got the upper hand today. “It was a great day sailing - perfect conditions - arguably some of the best racing I have done in the Solent in a very long time,” commented Griffith, MD of yacht sales and brokerage conglomerate Ancasta Group. “We had great racing between the two IC37s - both boats had a number of 49er sailors in their crew who, not surprisingly, were very competitive. It was great fun to watch.”

In IRC Two, John Cooper’s Cape 31 Fanatic comfortably leads, but today’s best performance was the 2-1-5 of Lance Adams’ Katabatic ending the day six points off the lead and with Tony Dickin’s Jubilee, winner of today’s first race, one point behind. This trio now holds an eight point cushion from Michael Blair’s King 40 Cobra, which was second in today’s final race.

Like Rán, Katabatic was called OCS in race two today but nonetheless claimed the bullet. Adams felt their results today came down to…“getting in the groove on the upwinds in the chop, so we were in contention. We have been working on different ideas and they worked today.” Generally racing for Katabatic at this IRC Nationals has been superb. “The Cape fleet is something else. And what an amazing two days we’ve had: Wind, sun, clear skies - you couldn’t ask for more.”

Ex-Commodore/Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine’s La Réponse on which former RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen is calling tactics, scored a bullet in today’s last race, leaving the grey hulled Ker 39 sixth overall.

“We had a good start, in the middle - in fact it was quite difficult to get across the line on starboard,” recounted McIrvine. “We carried on while our main enemy - Sailplane and Cobra - went right. We had a couple of nice shifts which got us into the lead. Then we were going really fast and deep downwind, fast enough to stay ahead of the planing Capes. Considering we’ve had very little practice, we had some very good crew work with nice gybes. I am pleased we sailed yesterday before it got even windier today, because it was quite a handful.” 

Lance Adams' Cape 31 Katabatic Photo: Rick TomlinsonLance Adams' Cape 31 Katabatic Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Andrew McIrvine's Ker 39 La Réponse Photo: Rick TomlinsonAndrew McIrvine's Ker 39 La Réponse Photo: Rick Tomlinson

In IRC Three Adam Gosling’s race favourite Yes! holds a four point lead over James Chalmers’ J/112e Happy Daize, both having displaced the day one leader, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox. Happy Daize posted 3-3-3 today. “We had a good day - the boat is going well and it is nice to be in touch with Yes! We had some great tacking and gybe duels with them,” said Chalmers. Having campaigned the J/35 Bengal Magic for years, Chalmers has noticed how competitive the IRC Nationals’ smallest fleet has become: “Everything has got closer: We are closer to Yes! and staying ahead of the slower boats is so difficult. It is great racing - you make a mistake and you pay for it.”

In a new development for the IRC Nationals, extra youth and female crew are permitted to race on board. As a result Chalmers’ 12-year-old son is on board for the first time.

Also on a steep learning curve are the inner city students from the Greig City Academy on Cote. Their tweaky Quarter Tonner is proving a handful and today they suffered a prolonged broach. “It is a great learning experience,” commented jib and spinnaker trimmer Christopher Frederick, who is in his 12th year at the school in Haringey, well known for its pioneering sailing program initiated by Jon Holt. Frederick is in year 12 but tries to sail every moment he can, both at the weekends and Laser dinghy sailing during the week in London. 

J/112e Happy Daize sailed by James Chalmers Photo: Rick Tomlinson J/112e Happy Daize sailed by James Chalmers Photo: Rick Tomlinson 

Quarter Tonner Cote sailed by the young sailors from London's Greig City Academy based in Haringey Photo: Rick TomlinsonQuarter Tonner Cote sailed by the young sailors from London's Greig City Academy based in Haringey Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Final day of the IRC National Championship is tomorrow (Sunday), forecast to take place in marginally lighter conditions.

Full results can be found here

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.


While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset


While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

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