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A new Grand Prix Zero Class is inviting members to join the IRC-rating based initiarive on the Solent.

Eligible high-performance boats will have an IRC Rating from 1.192 to 1.394 and a DLR max of 105.

The aim of GP Zero is to create a competitive racing series at existing events for high-performance boats racing under IRC.

The inaugural event for the new IRC Racing Class, Grand Prix Zero (GP Zero) will be at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Vice Admiral’s Cup 20-22 May. The 2022 GP Zero Series has teams racing at five established regattas in The Solent from May to October.

Future plans include forming GP Zero racing at regattas outside of the Solent including international events.

Grand Prix Zero Class

The class will also actively promote after racing get-togethers. These socials will be a lot of fun but also a great place to air new ideas and plan for future GP Zero events.

2022 GP Zero Circuit

  • 20-22 May RORC Vice Admirals Cup
  • 10-12 June RORC IRC Nationals
  • 30 July-06 August Cowes Week
  • 01-02 October HRSC Autumn Championship
  • 08-09 October HRSC Autumn Championship

“In light of the recent drift in race activity away from IRC keelboats and towards One-Design, many owners of competitive IRC designs, particularly those with higher ratings, have been discussing ways for performance orientated boats to compete against one another in the Solent and beyond,” commented GP Zero Class President, Ian Atkins. “The conclusion is to create a new class dedicated to the group – Grand Prix Zero. With the support of the RORC and several Solent based Yacht Clubs, we propose a rating band from 1.192 to 1.394 and a DLR max of 105. This rating band includes IC37s all the way to TP52’s, this initial consideration can be extended if the majority of GP Zero owners agree.”

GP Zero Class for RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup

Five teams are expected for RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup. Expressions of interest have been received from over a dozen international teams for future regattas.

Ker 43 Baraka GPKer 43 Baraka GP Photo: Paul Wyeth

Ker 43 Baraka GP Harmen Jan de Graaf’s (NED) Baraka GP will be skippered by his son Olivier de Graaf with a crew mainly from the Netherlands and Belgium. Baraka GP has a winning profile offshore including the Round Ireland Race. Inshore Baraka GP was a force to be reckoned with in the FAST40+ Class before rule changes meant the boat could no longer feature. Baraka GP has the longest water-line length in GP Zero for the Vice Admiral’s Cup, but also the highest IRC Rating (1.276)

Carkeek 40+ RánCarkeek 40+ Rán Photo: Paul Wyeth

Carkeek 40+ Rán  Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40+ Rán is arguably the most optimised IRC boat ever built. Rán 7 was launched in April 2018 and took the FAST40+ fleet by storm. Rán won class for the 2021 IRC National Championship and Vice Admiral’s Cup. Rán Racing Project manager is Tim Powell and the crew are a mix of top-class professionals and talented young sailors. For the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup Rán has the second highest rating, the radical design is a rocket ship in medium to heavy breeze but may be weaker in light airs.

Botin 42 Dark 'n' StormyBotin 42 Dark 'n' Stormy Photo: Paul Wyeth

Botin 42 Dark 'n' Stormy President of the GP Zero Class Ian Atkins acquired Dark 'n' Stormy (formally Peter Morton’s Jean Genie) earlier this year. Atkins admired the speed of the boat hooning around the Solent, especially coming second to Rán by a single point in the 2021 IRC Nationals. Ian has always crewed with top sailors with the right attitude and Dark 'n' Stormy is no different. Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper, and double silver Olympic medallist, Ian Walker will be on tactics. Admiral’s Cup winner Mark Chisnell is navigator, and the highly experienced Nick Bonner is on main sheet.

HH42 INO XXX Photo: Paul WyethHH42 INO XXX Photo: Paul Wyeth

HH42 INO XXX RORC Commodore James Neville has been campaigning HH42 INO XXX inshore and offshore since 2016. INO XXX came second overall in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race and has made a terrific start to 2022 winning the RORC Cervantes Trophy Race overall. This will be INO XXX second inshore event having competed at the RORC Easter Challenge. With twin-rudders and an innovative sail configuration INO XXX is very different to the GP Zero boats racing at the Vice Admiral’s Cup. James Neville’s crew have been racing together for many years and includes Coriolan Rousselle as navigator, Mike Henning on trim, and the MOD70 Powerplay combo of Martin Watts and John Hunter-Hamilton. Rating ten points lower than Baraka GP, INO XXX has an IRC corrected time advantage of approximately 30 seconds/hour.

IC37(MOD) FargoIC37(MOD) Fargo Photo: Paul Wyeth

IC37(MOD) Fargo Bertie Bicket’s modified IC37 Fargo is from the drawing board of Mark Mills and is the smallest and lowest rated boat in GP Zero for the Vice Admiral’s Cup. Baraka gives Fargo approximately 5 minutes per hour in IRC time correction and all of the GP Zero boats give over 4 minutes in corrected time. While Fargo does not have the same top speed as the competition, all of the GP Zero boats have the ability to get on the plane downwind and also maximize VMG upwind. While Fargo may not have the fire-power on the start line, the boats ahead will be a good indication of the best pressure during the race. Fargo’s crew with Bicket driving includes some of the sharpest young talent in Nick Robins and Dan Budden, both GBR Olympic 49er squad members, and the wily multiple world champion Mark Heeley.

Published in RORC