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The World Sailing Show March edition is out now and viewable below on Afloat.ie. The show provides a monthly view of the racing world.  From non-stop around the world racers, to Olympic campaigns; from seasoned professionals, to grass roots sailors, the joint initiative between TV producers Sunset+Vine and the sport’s governing body World Sailing covers a wide range of racing activity around the world.

The March show synopsis

The America’s Cup World Series kicks off in Oman
We find out what happened at the opening event of the season. We also talk to one of the Cup world’s leading technical experts on how teams are combining the need to do well in these intense two day regattas, while also developing the advanced machines that will take them to the America’s Cup itself next year.

Bumper fleet for Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600
Fast becoming one of the must do events in the offshore racing calendar the promise of warm, steady trade winds and spectacular scenery has led many to imagine that this 600 mile offshore race is a walk in the park in T-shirts and shorts. Is it? We find out what happened this year and discover why the event is becoming increasingly popular and take a look at some of the impressive machines that took part. We also join experienced charter yacht skipper Andy Schell as he provides a video blog of his team’s trip around the course.

World domination – The unstoppable Kiwi combination
New Zealand sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke continue their run of world domination in the Olympic 49er class after winning their fourth consecutive world title. We find out what makes them tick and how they have managed to; remain unbeaten for four years, win a Moth world championships and engage in an America’s Cup campaign and lead the racing here too.

Sail Arabia The Tour
Now in its sixth year, can anybody stop offshore rock star Sidney Gavignet from scoring a hat-trick in this inshore/offshore regatta? Several believed they could.

Published in World Sailing

With gale force gusts forecast for the afternoon of Easter Saturday, one long race on a round the cans course in the central/eastern Solent was held today at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Easter Challenge. Despite this, there were leader changes in two of the four classes. Royal Cork yacht Jump Juice continues in second place in IRC 2 and club mates Antix (Anthony O'Leary) move up one place to seventh in the new FAST40+ division writes James Boyd.

In the FAST40+, Peter Morton on his Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, won to topple Texan William Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez. Girls on Film spent today match racing Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus. Mills made the best of the reaching start, but Girls on Film subsequently overhauled them.

"It was very close. Too close!" declared Morton. "We managed to get them on the beat and then managed to stay in front and then move away a little bit on the last beat. It was good fun. We had plenty on!"

The performance of Morton and his crew, which includes Volvo Ocean Race winners Dirk de Ridder and Jules Salter, is remarkable especially because Girls on Film was only launched on Thursday. "We've got quite a few systems and basic things that aren't working, so there is still plenty to come out of it," says Morton. "The first time we hoisted the kite was at the windward mark in the first race yesterday!"

While today's southerly wind was typically less than 20 knots, later on it was gusting towards 30. As Morton said: "Some of the gusts were enough that you couldn't ease or feather enough - you started to be slowed down by the wind."

Having been the driving force behind the resurgent Quarter Ton class in recent years, Morton is enthusiastic about the new FAST40 class that is making their debut at this regatta: "It is a great class: 40ft has always been a perfect size for the Solent and the fact that these boats get up and go, makes it a lot of fun."

Unusually, in all three other classes there is a boat that has won three of the four races.

Holding the largest lead of all is RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine on La Réponse, now six points clear of Irishman Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice in IRC Two. McIrvine's First 40 has been constantly beating higher rated boats and spent today match racing fellow former Commodore Mike Greville on the Ker 39 Erivale.

La Réponse made the best of the reaching start, but it was her superb crew work in the gusty conditions that really paid, while others were suffering dramatic broaches. As McIrvine said: "We put up our heaviest kite and, while everyone else fell over, we managed to keep under it."

Also up with the big boys was the J/111 Jitterbug of Cornel Riklin until she too took a tumble, leaving Erivale and La Réponse to slog it out. Ultimately Erivale won by a boatlength on the water, losing to La Réponse on corrected.

McIrvine, who is gunning for British team selection for this summer's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, attributes his success to two training sessions he's already completed this season and to the strength and experience of his new crew, many of whom raced together on Neil Kipling's J/122, Joopster.

Elsewhere Tom Kneen's JPK 10.80, Sunrise, is clinging onto first in IRC Three. Despite David Franks' smaller JPK 10.10, Strait Dealer, having scored bullets in the last three races, he remains one point behind.

The closest competition remains in IRC Four where Harry Heijst's 1972 vintage S&S 44, Winsome, won today's race to take the lead, a mere half point ahead of Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner, Aguila.

"It was fantastic to get a race in," reported Laura Dillon, the Irish helmswoman among Winsome's otherwise Dutch crew. "We were pleased with the heavy conditions - 18 knots, gusting up to about 26 knots. It was a good long race course and for a boat like ours it was beneficial to have some long beats.

"When we are the top rated boat, we can get into clear air which is beneficial because Winsome is heavy and tacking takes some time."

Dillon and the Winsome crew have been making use of the coaching. As she puts it: "I think it is great to have a training regatta at the beginning of the season."

Certainly with some spectacular broaches and wipe-outs this morning, Jim Saltonstall, RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and North U Regatta Service's Andreas Josenhans and Chuck Allen, had no shortage of material to work with at this afternoon's standing room only post-race debrief at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.

 

 

 

Published in RORC

Sailing forums have seen exchanges in recent days about the relative global coverage of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s (RORC) measurement system - the International Rating Certificate (IRC) - and the Offshore Racing Congress’s (ORC) Offshore Rating Certificate.

Dobbs Davis (US), the Chairman of the ORC’s Promotions & Development Committee, and Zoran Grubisa (Croatia), who heads the organisation’s Rating Officer Committee, were in Limerick three weeks ago at the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) Annual Conference to make a presentation about their measurement organisation, its methods systems, and its level of world coverage. 

This made available yet another fascinating nugget of top-level information for a wide-ranging conference which reflected the considerable influence the ICRA model has in international racing for boats with lids. And at the same time it ensured a good turnout to applaud the ICRA Boat of the Year title going to George Sisk’s WOW from Dun Laoghaire, and to witness the transfer of the role of ICRA Commodore from Nobby Reilly of Howth to Simon McGibney of Foynes. It’s the first time that ICRA has had a Commodore from the western seaboard since its foundation by Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire and the late Jim Donegan of Cork in 2002.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon was in Limerick to take the pulse of this unique body, and his commentary in Sailing on Saturday of 12th March ruffled more than a few feathers, and greatly heightened interest in the RORC’s global programme, which has its European section swinging into action this weekend with the Easter Challenge on the Solent.

Who knows, but some time in the future it may be that Rory Staunton of Mayo Sailing Club will be remembered as the man who finally got the IRC and the ORC to get together by crisply pointing out - at the end of Dobbs Davis’s presentation to the ICRA conference - that as far as ordinary sailors were concerned, when IRC and ORC were both used in one event, the results often seemed very comparable. And while it was no harm some times to have two sets of winners (and even more if you include ICRA’s own Progressive ECHO system), at the top international level it only makes sense to Joe Public to have one undisputed winner in each class.

For the world promotion of offshore racing, the optics would surely be much better if everyone was racing to the same rating system? But it will take a while yet to reach this happy situation, for at the moment the ORC and the IRC appear to be in active competition, and regular visitors to the Afloat.ie website will be well aware that some very powerful voices have weighed in on the RORC/IRC side recently, going so far as to question the accuracy of the fleet numbers made in some ORC claims, and pointing to the IRC’s current areas of rapid expansion in southeast Asia and other regions.

hi fi2
Neil Pryde’s characterful Welbourn 52 Hi Fi won the Rolex RORC China Sea Race in 2012 and 2014

But actions speak louder than words, and this week sees the RORC hyper-busy in the Pacific with the biennial Rolex China Sea Race of 595 miles from Hong Kong to Manila in the Philippines, while on the eastern fringes of the Atlantic in the Solent at Cowes, there’s the annual Easter Challenge, an event with an approved integral training emphasis, as top coach Jim Saltonstall and his team will be buzzing through the fleet in their RIBs giving advice to those who have sought it.

With the Easter weekend’s all-too-evident weather deterioration in progress, it’s likely that yesterday will have given the fleet of fifty or so their pleasantest sailing conditions. But with the RORC secretariat decamped for the long weekend from world headquarters in St James’s in London to the club’s waterfront base in the Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes, a sense of being able to go home at the end of a hard day’s racing will ease the harshness of the conditions.

On the other hand, the fact that the RORC now has a bricks-and-mortar Cowes base in what was once the legendary Rosa Lewis’s “seaside cottage” will provide ammunition for those who would claim that the RORC, and the IRC with it, have essentially become a Solent-centric setup. Thus the fact that the Rolex China Sea Race under the RORC imprimatur is taking place at the same time is very helpful indeed for those who would promote IRC as the world’s measurement system.

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The nice little place by the seaside…..The Royal Corinthian YC in Cowes – a byword for hospitality – is now the RORC’s Solent base

In times past, leading Irish skippers with a Hong Kong base such as Paul Winkelmann and Jamie McWilliam have featured in the China Sea Race, for it has a history as a biennial event going back to 1962, when three yachts – one each from Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan – raced this decidedly disputed bit of water. The situation was such that a naval vessel from Hong Kong accompanied them for the first two hundred miles, and then a hundred miles out from Manila, they were met by a ship from the Philipinnes navy.

The line honours and handicap winner was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie, one of those classic American-style yawls of the Finisterre type which were being widely built in the region at the time, mostly for export. They were guaranteed as teak through and through, for as one sardonic observer put it, the wonderwood was so abundant out there in those days that if the team in the boatyard felt like a brew-up of tea, they’d boil their kettle on a little fire made with teak kindling.

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The winner of the first China Sea Race in 1962 was Chris von Sydow’s yawl Reverie

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A trophy to match. Only a race right across the China Sea would merit a prize like this

Reverie’s time was four days 11 hours and 29 minutes, and she got the very distinctive China Sea Trophy, which is of such a style it just couldn’t be the prize for any other major offshore race. Gradually the numbers built up as it became an established biennial event, in 1972 the RORC came aboard as partners, and it hasn’t looked back since. There’s been some spectacular sailings, the record being set in 2000 by Karl Kwok’s Open 60 Beau Geste, which cracked the two day barrier by coming in on 47 hours and 43 minutes, just 17 minutes maybe, but it was 17 minutes the right way.

The races of 2012 and 2014 were won by Neil Pryde’s rather special Hugh Welbourn-designed 52 footer Hi Fi, but she’s not in this year’s fleet which got under way on Wednesday and has the front runners well in already, though only after a start in miserable conditions which improved in terms of sailing power to have a 28-knot nor’easter building in a monsoon. This made the going good the further you were down the course, but yesterday the little fellows at the tail end were taking a bit of a pasting.

Line honours were taken yesterday (Friday) evening by Australian Philip Turner’s Reichel Pugh 66 Alive, which covered 244 nm in the final 24 hours to set a new course record, though just 11 minutes inside Beau Geste’s remarkable 2000 time – who’d have thought it would stand for sixteen years? Overall on handicap, Alive currently also has it every which way, but things are also looking good for the Ker 42 Black Baza (Anthony Root).

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Cutting it close. Anthony O’Leary’s Antix in a neat-enough port-and-starboard situation with the even newer Ker 40 Invictus

Conditions in Manila may not be idyllic, but at least they’re a bit warmer than the Solent this morning with a succession of fronts set to sweep through for much of he remainder of the Easter Holiday. Irish interest is high as Anthony O’Leary’s Munster-red Ker 40 Antix is defending champion, and the skipper was in fine form in Thursday as he outlined prospects and talked us through some of the usual suspects who will be sailing on this very attractive boat.

Following his accident while racing Antix in ferocious conditions last July, it’s great news that Dylan Gannon of Howth is back on the strength, along with his shipmate Ross MacDonald who had a truly prodigious season in 2015, playing a leading role in crewing Antix while at the same time campaigning his family’s veteran X332 Equinox to such good effect that he was top boat at the ICRA Nats in Kinsale.

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Back on the strength. Dylan Gannon (left) and Ross MacDonald are both sailing on Antix his weekend. Photo: W M Nixon

Two new additions to the Antix strength are Will Byrne from Howth, who was recently making the scene with Half Ton Classics World Champion Dave Cullen and the gang in the C & C 30 championship in Florida in January, and young Cian Guilfoyle from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, who leapt to fame as the third man aboard the J/80 when Anthony O’Leary retained the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland by a considerable margin at the NYC in October, with longtime shipmate Dan O’Grady the man in the middle.

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Cian Guilfoyle maximising his righting moment while crewing for Anthony O’Leary in the victory in the Helmsmans Championship, October 2015. Photo: David O’Brien

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Winning team. Cian Guilfoyle, Dan O’Grady and Anthony O’Leary in the NYC after winning the Helmsmans Championshjp 2015. This weekend, Guilfoyle has joined the crew of Antix. Photo: W M Nixon

The other top Irish contender in the RORC Easter Challenge is also from Cork, Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 (or is she a 37) Jump Juice of 2008 vintage. This makes her something of a veteran but she’s by no means the oldest boat competing, as one doughty skipper has turned up with a Mumm 36, which is like a bit of living history. Yet she’s in with as much of a shout as anyone else if the IRC is doing its work properly, which seems to be where we came in…….

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Back in the day…….the new Ker 36 Jump Juice makes her debut in 2008

But we cannot depart without musing on the makeup of this year’s Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup team which will be defending for Ireland. As other people get agitated about the lack of heads above the parapet to indicate the beginnings of a buildup, Anthony O’Leary is reassuringly philosophical about the whole business.

He is of course very much up for it with Antix, and he’s well aware that there’s another good possibility with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (Royal Irish YC) in line to be campaigning the works JPK 1080 as the season gets going, and of course the JPK 1080 is the boat du jour. As for a third boat, if Jump Juice is reluctant to make the commitment, they’ll be on the lookout for a boat rating 1.049 or above.

But it’s early days yet. As O’Leary recalls with quiet amusement, in assembling the 2014 team from scratch and the non-defence of 2012, he refused to let himself think that the new Ker 40 Catapult was a certainty until he actually saw her unloaded from a ship from America onto a quayside in Europe.

Yet she arrived on time. But it was the Steady Eddy of the team, the Grand Soleile 43 Quokka 8, which ended up causing the most concern. Her charter had been firmly in place since November 2013, but then there came a complete foul-up with delivery schedules back from campaigning in the Caribbean. It was more than a rush to have Quokka race ready for the preliminary jousting in Volvo Cork Week in July 2014. But not to worry. She ended up as champion in Cork Week, and made a solid contribution to the Commodore’s Cup win in which Catapult (which has since become Antix) was top-scoring individual boat.

Published in W M Nixon

This Friday's opening regatta of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic calendar, the RORC Easter Challenge, provides an opportunity for the 50 or so crews to ramp up their programmes for the 2016 season. 

Those on the steepest learning curve will certainly be FAST 40+ crews, the new high performance class making its debut at the RORC Easter Challenge. Here the two latest entries, bringing the class tally up to 10, are two time Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winner Anthony O'Leary aboard his turboed Ker 40, Antix, and Kevin Miller with his new optimised GP42, Zephyr.

The FAST 40+s will take up all of IRC One with those with the most time in their boats likely to enjoy most success - namely Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus, Stewart Whitehead's Carkeek 40 Mk2 Rebellion and South African Mike Bartholomew's modified GP42 Tokoloshe II.

Among the non-FAST 40+ 40 footers, Roger Bowden is fielding the King 40, Nifty (ex-Tokoloshe 1) and will face James Gair and the Cowes Race School's Mills 39 Zero II (ex-marinerscove) and another former Irish Commodore's Cupper, Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice, part of the potent 2008 team, the same year as she won the IRC Nationals.

The RORC's coaching regatta this Easter weekend is also providing an early season warm-up for contenders gunning for spots in the British team in this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, due to take place out of Cowes over 23rd-30th July. The trials for the British team kick off formally in late April, but the Easter Challenge provides a first glimpse of their form.

Among the British triallists competing this weekend are Simon Henning's Mumm 36 Alice, Rod Stuart/Bill Ram's Corby 37 Aurora, James Chalmers/William Skinner's J/35 Bengal Magic, Robert Stiles' J/109 Diamond Jem, Mike Moxley's HOD35 Malice and Brian Wilkinson's Corby 30 Wildchild.

For Guernsey's Simon Henning, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of his Commodores' Cup debut and uniquely, despite having campaigned his Farr 45, Alice II, with GBR White in 2010, he is competing this year in the same boat as he did in 1996. Alice is now some way from being a Mumm 36, but Henning states: "The boat is going well and it is a fun week's racing. We thought we'd give it a go."

Over the years, the Alices have also been regulars at the RORC Easter Challenge, which Henning says is "a great start to the season. It is the first decent-sized regatta. It is great fun and it shakes up the memory a bit." Despite being based out of Hamble Point marina, the Alice crew attends the standing-room only, post-race debriefs provided by Jim Saltonstall and his coaching team, that take place daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.

Also celebrating a 20th anniversary will be former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter, who after many years campaigning his Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, has bought back the Half Tonner he campaigned so successfully over 1995-7. This winter the original Daniel Andrieu-designed Quokka 3 has been modernised with the installation of a heavier keel and swept-back spreader rig and rechristened Quokka 9.

"The trick was to keep our budget on the new boat within that of the price of the mainsail on the Grand Soleil - and we've achieved it!" explains Rutter. "We bought a swapped keel from Cornwall and secondhand mast from Devon and stuck her all together and done a lot of work ourselves."

The RORC Easter Challenge will be the first outing for the refitted Quokka 9. In 1996 Quokka 3 won her class in all eight races of the offshore championship including outright wins in a race from Rotterdam and the Morgan Cup. "That does put a bit of pressure on us," muses Rutter.

While Quokka 9 is the only Half Tonner currently entered, three Quarter Tonners are entered in the RORC Easter Challenge in William McNeill's Ceccarelli, Illegal Immigrant, Ben Daly's Fauroux, Cobh Pirate and perennial competitor Sam Laidlaw's on the Vrolijk-designed Aguila.

Mixed conditions are in store this weekend, the forecast showing sun and sub-10 knot southerlies on Friday, rain and southerlies gusting into the 30s on Saturday and sun and a 15-20 knot southwesterly for the final day, when racing will finish early enough for crews to pick up their chocolate prizes and be home in time to enjoy Easter Sunday evening and Monday with their families.

Published in RORC

For three days over the bank holiday weekend, the yachting world's eyes will be glued to the Solent as the Fast 40+ class makes its debut en masse at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener, the RORC Easter Challenge.

Between eight and 10 Fast 40+s will be competing and with the fleet expected to grow to 14 this summer, pundits are observing that this class represents the most competitive homegrown handicap inshore keelboat racing the UK has seen since the heyday of the Admiral's Cup.

To those unfamiliar with the Fast 40+, effectively it does what it says on the tin: Boats have an IRC TCC of 1.210-1.270 (although a lower limit of 1.191 is permitted for 2016). To put this into context, original Ker 40s such as Hooligan and Baraka GP represent the slowest, while Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, is at the upper limit, along with American Bill Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez, and Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus.

Otherwise Fast40+s must have:

- Hull length (LH) of 12.00-12.60m LOA (*<13.3m)
- Maximum draft of 3m (*3.15m)
- Displacement:length ratio of <90 (*<110 and <124 for 2016 season)
- Speed ratio of TCC²/LH =0.125< (*0.120< and 0.117< for 2016)
- Owner-driver
- 11 crew with a maximum weight of 950kg
- Up to five ISAF Cat 3 'pros' on board

*if launched before 1st September 2015.

Class rules have been broadened for this season to allow more boats in.

"I think it is a natural fit - we aren't trying to force anything, it has just evolved," explains Robert Greenhalgh, who is Fast40+ Class President. "It has taken a couple of years, but to get - all being well - 10 boats at the Easter Challenge, plus some new ones rolling in this season, is fantastic. All the owners have remained positive and are keen for it."

And the boats are fast. Greenhalgh, a former 18ft skiff and International 14 World Champion, and a Volvo Ocean Race winner, competes on Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. "The boat regularly hits 20 knots. We saw 23 last year when it was windy."

The largest contingent of Fast 40+s are former GP42s. At present three are entered in the Easter Challenge - South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II, Mark Rijkse's 42° South and Tony Dickin's Jubilee. The GP42 was originally the smaller, no less high tech brother of the TP52 and competed on the Audi MedCup briefly over 2009-2010.

On the secondhand market you get a lot of bang for your buck with a GP42, as South African Mike Bartholomew found when, just over two years ago, he acquired Tokoloshe II. This Botin & Carkeek design, as Madrid, won the final GP42 MedCup season.

"I think it is great for the development of the sport generally, because it has created a lot of enthusiasm," says Bartholomew of the Fast40+. "And this enthusiasm hopefully will be carried on to other classes as well. Last year there were three or four boats, but this year there is going to be at least 12, so it should be great fun."

Bartholomew adds that he enjoys the speed of his boat, but the racing is also ultra-competitive. "That was illustrated at Cowes Week last year, racing against Invictus and Rebellion. In one race, after four hours, we crossed the line within seconds of each other, having sailed the whole race changing lead and being in very close contract - it's like dinghy racing."
Tokoloshe Easter 2015 PW
South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II - © RORC/Paul Wyeth - pwpictures.com

Having successfully campaigned his Corby 36, James Neville has graduated up to the Fast40+ acquiring Richard Matthews' Oystercatcher XXX, a Judel-Vrolijk designed HH42. With a TCC of 1.228, INO XXX has the lowest rating of the Fast40+s competing at the RORC Easter Challenge.

"We are really looking forward it - to have 10 similar boats out, all taking it pretty seriously it really exciting," says Neville. "The HH42 is a little bit heavier and rates a bit better and should perform in the higher ranges."

In swapping boats, Neville has also had to increase the size of his crew from eight to 11, but enjoys the HH42's speed, having already touched 24 knots.

While boat contact with team RIBs is normally prohibited in the Fast40+, this rule has been eased for the RORC Easter Challenge as the class enters into the spirit of the event being the RORC's season shake-down, training regatta.

With Easter falling very early this year, so far there has been little opportunity for training, so teams are welcoming this event too. Neville is a Easter Challenge regular and acknowledges the worth of the free world class coaching it offers from legends such as Jim Saltonstall to America's Cup veterans such as RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and Andreas Josenhans of North U. Regatta Services. "We could be a bit rusty, but the coaches do a good job."

Racing at the RORC Easter Challenges takes place over 25-27th March with must-attend post-race debriefs occurring daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse, chocolate egg prizes on offer as well as high level coaching on the water and a socially acceptable finish time on Easter Sunday.

Published in RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London says a 'correction is needed' over information contained in an article following an ORC presentation at the ICRA Conference in Limerick, a week ago. Michael Boyd, the Commodore of RORC, says the offshore body 'read with interest', and 'some confusion', the press release by the ORC. Boyd says he feels 'very strongly' that information put forward by Dobbs Davis, Chairman of ORC’s Promotion and Development Committee, 'needs correcting'.

In a statement issued by RORC, who administer the rival IRC system, the club says: 

First, the numbers presented are wrong. Dobbs quotes the number of ORC certificates in total up until the end of the year, but only quotes the number of boats in IRC until the end of August of 2015. These are very different figures. Dobbs quotes 4958 for IRC in 2015 but the real number of certificates for the whole year is 7721. That makes the graph look very different and makes IRC the largest individual system in 2015 with ORC Club behind it at 7404 and ORCi trailing at 2492.

It should also be noted that both IRC and ORC are International Rating Systems recognised by World Sailing and IRC is currently in discussions with World Sailing about having its own World Championship. Rather than having two world championships for offshore boats, we are supporting the WS initiative to have one jointly scored IRC/ORC world championship which will allow the event to travel to other continents.

IRC is expanding with new territories in India and Taiwan, growth in Japan and China and very encouraging numbers for the start of the year from many Northern European countries.

IRC is also flexible and not limited to using time-on-time scoring - as has also been suggested. A simple time-on-distance calculation can be applied to create a time-on-distance value, should race organisers want to use it. Similarly, crew number or crew weight can be applied depending on the race organiser’s needs and wishes.

IRC is doing a great job for our sport – you only have to look at the style of boats that have developed since the demise of IMS (the basis of ORC) to understand that IRC is a progressive rule – with the latest generation of boats being fast, safe and fun to sail. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a first class service and develop a product that is constantly evolving to make sure that racing under IRC is as fair as is possible.

- Michael Boyd, Commodore, ROYAL OCEAN RACING CLUB

Published in RORC

The RORC Easter Challenge is the opening event for a long season of offshore racing. Designed as a 'training whilst racing' regatta, the RORC Easter Challenge is a great way to blow away the winter cobwebs and get world class on-the-water coaching from a team of experienced sailors under the guidance of Jim Saltonstall, and includes the North U Regatta Services coaching team from the USA.

Offshore Championship
April sees the start of the domestic RORC Season's Points Championship with the opening offshore race, the Cervantes Trophy from Cowes to Le Havre on the 30th April. The Cervantes is followed by the North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen on the 6th May and the very popular De Guingand Bowl which is a coastal race around marks in the Channel on 14th May. The Cervantes Trophy and De Guingand Bowl races will form part of the British team selection trails for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July.

RORC continue to experiment with Virtual Marks
As with ISORA, this season the RORC will continue to develop its experience with virtual marks. In an effort to even out the tidal effect on a yacht the RORC will vary the length of the course to suit different size and speed of yachts. Faster boats will sail a greater distance than smaller boats and the results will be based on average speed.

"This is a new initiative the club is trying in a couple of races this year," said RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. "The legs of the courses can be set in the same direction but with increased mileage for the faster boats; the hope being that boats sail in the same tidal conditions for a similar amount of time making the result fairer."

Busy season continues
The busy month of May continues with the Myth of Malham race on the 28th; a race from Cowes, around the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and back to Cowes. This replicates the first part of a typical Fastnet race and is very popular.

June has the Morgan Cup Race to Dieppe or for those seeking more adventure or the challenge of a classic offshore course; the Volvo Round Ireland Race on 18 June. The 704nm circumnavigation of Ireland is rewarded in the Points Championship with a 1.4 points factor, fitting for the tough course taking in the exposed Atlantic coast before pitching you into the Irish Sea. Starting and finishing in Wicklow the welcome will be warm and hospitable.

Cowes Week at the beginning of August is the highlight of the season for our club in Cowes. There are a host of social events being run for members and guests, including cocktail parties on Saturday 6th and Wednesday 10th and the annual 'Corinthian Ball' on Tuesday night, and firework party on Friday night.

New Race in RORC Programme
Following Cowes Week is the new Île d'Ouessant Race from Cowes to St Malo via the Wolf Rock and around Ushant on the north west corner of France. This 400nm race has already attracted much interest and looks likely to become a regular fixture in the RORC Calendar in a non-Fastnet year.

The beginning of September sees the culmination of a very busy season with the final offshore, the Cherbourg Race on 2nd September; an overnight sprint from Cowes to Cherbourg.

Published in RORC

Howth Yacht BAM skippered by Conor Fogerty has won Class 3 in RORC's Caribbbean 600 race after a tense battle over the last 24 hours where there were only minutes to spare against some international competition in the 600–mile race around 11 islands in the West Indies.

In a top set of results for the north Dublin Club, another Howth competitor, Southern Child, skippered by Kieran Jameson, finished third in IRC 2.

24 hours ago and with 87 miles still to sail, Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam was flying after some mid race set backs. The Dublin crew was level on the water with German Swan 44 Best Buddies, skippered by Susann Wrede with the HYC crew gaining the lead in IRC Class 3 yesterday afternnoon, and continuing to be second in CSA 2 signalling some fine silverware for the Irish. Bam took line honours in an elapsed time of 3 days 11 hours 1 mins 7 secs. Bam also won the class win after IRC time correction by just over six minutes. The team on Bam are all Irish, bar Welshman Roger Smith and all live in Dublin. Bam crew member, Simon Knowles has competed in five Round Ireland Races and one Fastnet: "Conor and all the team were over the moon; we have never sailed together as a crew before, so to come here and win our class is brilliant. As the smallest boat racing in IRC and an amateur team, we knew it was going to be tough and the most important thing was just to keep going. Best Buddies kept reeling us in on the upwind legs and we were faster downwind. At Redonda we had a six mile lead but we knew they would be eroding that. It was very tense at the finish, especially as there was confusion about the location of the finish line. From a navigational point of view this is the toughest race I have done, but the race course is fabulous and you are always thinking about the next move. We celebrated when we finished, but we still have something in the tank for tonight's prize giving."

The other Howth crew on Southern Child were 25th overall in IRC, taking a third in IRC 2.

Of all the Irish sailors involved, it is RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC who finished best in fleet, finishing 11th overall on the Grand Soleil 48 Belladonna which he is navigating for Andy McIrvine. The British yacht had an excellent fourth in class one when they got back to Antigua.

Published in RORC

UPDATE 2200hrs: The RORC Caribbean 600 continues to be a race of swings and roundabouts as different boats come to the fore depending on which part of this multi-island course they’re sailing along writes W M Nixon. There are stages where the only encouragement is in maintaining your class position, and this Wednesday evening at 2200 hrs, Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam from Howth Yacht Club has the excellent consolation for the Irish squad of leading CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Division 2, and holding on to second in IRC Class 3, despite slipping to 24th in the IRC overall rankings.

The big news may well be that Adrian Lee’s reliable steed, the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club, seems finally to have got her skates on, and she was pushing towards 14 knots to be lying 8th overall in IRC – her best placing to date in this year’s race – to have her second in the IRC canting keel division with 57 miles to go to the finish.

The situation is completely different back down the line off Guadeloupe, where Kieran Jameson & Co on the First 40 Southern Child are none too happy at barely 6 knots, and they’re back at 29th overall, though in the kindly CSA 2 they’re lying third in class.

At the top of the leaderboard, the Maxi 72s Proteus (George Sakellaris) and Momo (Diter Schoen) are finished and looking good for IRC first and second overall, but Piet Vroon’s Tonnere 4 is just 24 miles from the finish and could pip Momo yet, though Proteus looks secure.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Jim and Kristy Clark’s mega maxi Comanche. They went to an awful lot of trouble to get the big fat girl back from the Sydney-Hobart in time to do this race. And for sure, they did take the mono-hull line honours this morning. But their elapsed time was 33 minutes outside the course record set by George David’s Rambler 100 in 2011. That’s the very same Rambler which made an unscheduled visit to Baltimore in August of that year, when her canting keel decided to go walkabout at the Fastnet Rock. 33 minutes. Ouch.

Published in RORC

In 2016 the IRC Rating rule, administered by the RORC Rating Office (and owned by RORC in partnership with UNCL in France) will be used to battle out no less than eleven regional and special championships around Great Britain and the Channel Islands, including the annual IRC National Championship.  Unfortunately, the IRC Scottish Championships on the Clyde will clash with Howth Yacht Club's staging of the ICRA Irish National Championships from June 10-12.

This year's regional venues stretch from Jersey in the Channel Islands to the Clyde in Scotland and from North Wales to Kent, providing a rich variety of racing and conditions. Specialist IRC Championships include the Small Boat Championship to be held in Weymouth and the Double Handed Championship organised by the Royal Southampton YC and RORC.

Most of the Championships are held over two to six days but the IRC Solent Championship offers racing over six weekends between May and October with different clubs, with the best four results to count. The Championship calendar for 2016 also boasts two brand new additions in Poole and Brighton, giving IRC sailors even more opportunities to join in and pit their skills against each other for the title of Champion!

May-Oct - IRC Solent Championship
28-30 May - IRC Southern Championship, Poole *new*
11-12 June - IRC Scottish Championship, Mudhook YC, Clyde
18-19 June - IRC Sussex Championship, Brighton *new*
24-26 June - IRC National Championship, Cowes
15-17 July - IRC South West Championship, Plymouth
24-29 July - IRC East Coast Championship, Ramsgate
12-14 Aug - IRC Welsh National Championship, Pwllheli
3-4 Sept - IRC Small Boats Championship, Weymouth
9-11 Sept - IRC Channel Islands Championship, Jersey
16-17 Sept - IRC Double Handed Championship, Southampton

Published in RORC
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