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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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Friday 10 June, Cowes: The Solent was star of the show on day one of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s annual IRC National Championship, one of the leading events for the RORC/UNCL-owned yacht rating system. The race committee led by PRO Stuart Childerley laid on two windward-leewards and a round the cans course on the central/eastern Solent in periods of brilliant sunshine and a WSW wind ranging from 10-20 knots. 

A cracking first day on the Solent for the RORC's IRC National Championship Photo: Rick TomlinsonA cracking first day on the Solent for the RORC's IRC National Championship Photo: Rick Tomlinson

In IRC One there were few surprises when Niklas Zennström's immaculately sailed and conceived Rán scored three bullets. While the smaller fleet in IRC One technically makes it harder to win the overall IRC National Championship title, the all-black Carkeek FAST40+ is on the best possible track to claim this title that has so far evaded Zennström.

Three bullets in IRC One for Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek FAST40+ Ràn VII Ran, with Ian Atkins' Gp42 Dark N Stormy in second place on the first day Photo: Rick TomlinsonThree bullets in IRC One for Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek FAST40+ Ràn VII Ran, with Ian Atkins' Gp42 Dark N Stormy in second place on the first day Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Second, four points astern of Rán, is the Gp42 Dark N Stormy, campaigned by Ian Atkins, President of the new Grand Prix Zero class, which at this event encompasses IRC One. While Dark N Stormy has a strong crew, including Volvo Ocean Race winner and two time Olympic medallist Ian Walker, Atkins acknowledges that there are strong crews across the class: “There are recognisable faces everywhere…. if you don’t nail the start and go the right way up the first beat it is a long way back from that. We need to be smarter getting off the start line. We are getting our act together slowly but surely. Rán is in a class of her own, but is great to show what can be done. It is up to us to close the gap as much as we are able...” In addition to the old hands on board are youngsters including ‘famous daughters’ Suzy Peters and Abby Childerley. 

It was a good day for what IRC calculates as the ‘fastest’ boat here – the Ker 46 Van Oden, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race sailor Gerd-Jan Poortman and sailed by a talented youth crew from the Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team. With three fourths today they are third overall in IRC One. “We are racing Ian Walker, Bouwe Bekking [on Elvis] – whereas our crew has an average age of 22 and this is their seventh big boat race in their lives,” mused Poortman. “We made some mistakes, but we did some good stuff as well. It is challenging against these FAST40s, especially when it is windy and downwind when they sail lower and they plane more easily. It is good competition that we don’t have in Holland. Here we have boats like ours - there isn’t one with a spinnaker pole. IRC is simple to understand and it creates boats that are racy. There is a place in this world for grand prix racing and we should promote fast boats that are planning with big bowsprits and big cockpits that are great fun.”

A talented young crew from the Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team, skippered by Gerd-Jan Poortman on the Ker 46 Van Oden enjoyed a great day's racing in the Solent Photo: Rick TomlinsonA talented young crew from the Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team, skippered by Gerd-Jan Poortman on the Ker 46 Van Oden enjoyed a great day's racing in the Solent Photo: Rick Tomlinson

In IRC Two the competition is between the Performance 40s and nine boat Cape 31 majority, that IRC rates alongside them, despite their diminutive size. Leading after day one was surprisingly not the Cape 31's UK series leader Michael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4, but John Cooper's Fanatic. A 1-1-3 gives her an eight point lead over Tony Dickin's Cape 31 Jubilee.

Anthony O’Leary's Cape 31 Antix at the first mark on the first race Photo: Rick TomlinsonAnthony O’Leary's Cape 31 Antix at the first mark on the first race Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Uncharacteristically deep in IRC Two is Anthony O’Leary, who, in days gone by, led his Irish team to Commodores’ Cup victory here and claimed the 2014 IRC National Championship title on his Ker 39 Antix (now Andrew McIrvine’s La Réponse). O’Leary admits he is coming to terms with his new Cape 31 which he races with members of his talented family. “It is everything it is advertised to be. They are beautiful – to be on a 31 footer doing 21 knots, it is not short on excitement. Mark Mills [the Cape 31’s designer] has done a great job. This is our fourth weekend we have been sailing it. We reckoned we’d come over and learn a lot.”

Top non-Cape 31 in IRC Two, lying third overall is Rob Bottomley and Jean-Eudes Renier’s MAT 12 Sailplane, winner of today’s final race. Their performance today surprised even the highly seasoned campaigner Rob Bottomley: “That is the nice thing about sailing - we thought that windward-leewards would be our speciality and we’d get eaten alive on round the cans by the Capes, but it wasn’t like that today. I am not bothered racing them - most of the time we can beat them on corrected time.” 

Leading IRC Two - John Cooper's Cape 31 Fanatic Photo: Rick TomlinsonLeading IRC Two - John Cooper's Cape 31 Fanatic Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The surprise class is proving to be IRC Three, where the favourite is past winner Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! All was going well with a 1-3 until Yes! finished sixth in the final race dropping her to third. Instead today’s star performer was not a modern, chined French IRC weapon but John Smart's 20-year-old Cowes-based J/109 Jukebox, which posted a 2-2-1 with four-time Irish Olympic Star keelboat helmsman Mark Mansfield calling tactics.

“We took it race by race,” explained Smart. “We are pleasantly surprised. We were imagining that the JPKs and the J/112e would smoke us downwind, but we are hanging in there and are still in the game. We were solid. We have four new crew. We did spend a bit of time yesterday practising. We have the Morris Minor out there! But it shows that the J/109 is a 20-year-old boat, but it is still competitive. Upwind we were going well. Downwind we are just holding our position because there are much faster boats. In the last race there were a lot of wind shifts and we were playing them more than we’d normally do".

“The courses were great as were the conditions – RORC always lays on first-class racing so a big thanks to the team.”

Racing continues tomorrow with an earlier first warning signal at 1025. 

Full results can be found here

A third place in the first race for Kevin Downer's modified Fun 23 Ziggy in IRC Three. More great racing on the Solent tomorrow (Saturday 11 June) Photo: Rick TomlinsonA third place in the first race for Kevin Downer's modified Fun 23 Ziggy in IRC Three. More great racing on the Solent tomorrow (Saturday 11 June) Photo: Rick Tomlinson

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Among the lineup on the Solent this weekend for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship is the Cape 31 Antix, skippered by Royal Cork's Anthony O’Leary, who won the IRC Nationals in 2014.

And it looks like the fleet is due for some lively racing. The wind is forecast to be gusting into the mid-20s.

As usual for this leading championship for the RORC/UNCL-owned yacht rating system, the fleet is a diverse one. The longest and highest rated is the Ker 46 Van Uden (IRC TCC: 1.284), her Dutch crew led by round the world sailor Gerd-Jan Poortman, while lowest rated in IRC Three is Kevin Downer's heavily modified Fun 23 Ziggy (IRC TCC of 0.871). 

The 24th UK IRC National Championship will take place in the Solent from 10-12th June 2022 Photo: Paul WyethThe 24th UK IRC National Championship will take place in the Solent from 10-12th June 2022 Photo: Paul Wyeth

Kevin Downer's Fun 23 Ziggy is competing in IRC Three Photo: Paul WyethKevin Downer's Fun 23 Ziggy is competing in IRC Three Photo: Paul Wyeth

Gerd-Jan Poortman will lead the Dutch team on the Ker 46 Van Uden Photo: Paul WyethGerd-Jan Poortman will lead the Dutch team on the Ker 46 Van Uden Photo: Paul Wyeth

The top end of the fleet is an international one, with Van Uden joined by Solent regulars, the de Graaf family, aboard their Ker 43 Baraka GP, while from Sweden are Filip Engelbert’s Ker 40+ Elvis and Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40 Ràn VII. All are in IRC One which is effectively the new Grand Prix Zero class for this event, catering for grand prix racing yachts of 37-50ft, or specifically in this case, the two Dutch Kers to the two IC37s, Robert Bicket's Fargo and Nick Griffith's Icy.

While Ràn VII is considered favourite in the Grand Prix Zero class, nipping at her heels this weekend will be Dark N Stormy, the GP42 better known from the FAST40+ as Jubilee, now campaigned by well-known industry figure Ian Atkins. The aim of Grand Prix Zero is to reignite racing under IRC at this size range both in the UK and abroad. Atkins explains that he and Class Manager Nick Bonner “looked around and counted 13 highly competitive, well sailed boats between 40-50ft and said ‘let’s create a framework for them to operate within’.” The formula is working: It has encouraged Elvis back out on to the water, while at the Vice Admiral’s Cup, the racing could not have been more competitive. “We won one race by one second and lost another by two seconds - it is really is great racing,” Atkins recalls.

Nick Griffith's IC37 Icy racing in IRC One Photo: Rick TomlinsonNick Griffith's IC37 Icy racing in IRC One Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40 Ràn VII Photo: Paul Wyeth Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 40 Ràn VII Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Filip Engelbert’s Ker 40+ Elvis Photo: Paul WyethFilip Engelbert’s Ker 40+ Elvis Photo: Paul Wyeth

IRC Two class sees a mix of Performance 40s and nine Cape 31s. The former fleet is being led by ex-RORC Admiral and Commodore Andrew McIrvine’s Ker 39 La Réponse and includes long term campaigners the Blair family on their King 40 Cobra; Jean-Eudes Renier and Rob Bottomley on the MAT 12 Sailplane; plus from Belgium, Jan Gabriel’s Mills 37 Ragazza IV and the pair of First 40s, Ronan Banim's Galahad of Cowes and Richard Powell’s Rogan Josh. 

Aside from being the one design ‘of the moment’, the South African-born Cape 31 began its life on UK shores competing in the IRC fleet. One of its objectives is success both as a one design and under corrected time within a broader fleet. One of the hot Cape 31s competing is Michael Bartholemew’s Tokoloshe 4, the present runaway leader of the UK circuit after three events and class winner at May’s Vice Admiral’s Cup. Among the Cape 31 line-up is also Antix, sailed by well known Irishman Anthony O’Leary, who won the IRC Nationals in 2014 with his Ker 39 (now La Réponse). New faces in the fleet this weekend will include Charlie Whelan on Jubilee and Richard Davies on Gallivanter III. 

IRC Two - Jan Gabriel’s Mills 37 Ragazza IV Photo: Paul WyethIRC Two - Jan Gabriel’s Mills 37 Ragazza IV Photo: Paul Wyeth

Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! Photo: Paul Wyeth

Due to the egalitarian nature of IRC, winners are as likely to be among the big boats as the small, and among the latter in IRC Three are two past IRC National Championship winners. Adam Gosling jointly won in 2016 aboard his then new JPK 10.80 Yes! Surprisingly, having owned a JPK 11.80 in the interim, he returns in the same boat having re-acquired her during lock-down. “It is better than an old girlfriend because this is as good as I remember it!” quips Gosling. In fact, of the many boats he has owned, this was also one of his most successful having also won the Round the Island Race’s Gold Roman Bowl in 2017. The Yes! crew has remained the same for the last three seasons says Gosling. This could be the year when they rectify their semi-win from six years ago. “It will come down to whoever sails best and if it is light the smaller boats may benefit and, if there’s breeze, the big boats can get away a bit.”

John Howell and Paul Newell’s A-35 Arcus Photo: Paul WyethJohn Howell and Paul Newell’s A-35 Arcus Photo: Paul Wyeth

While the 1.061 IRC TCC for Yes! makes her speediest yacht in IRC Three, she will face a challenge from another more recent outright IRC Nationals winner. John Howell and Paul Newell’s A-35 Arcus claimed the title, mid-lockdown in 2020. On that occasion, Arcus was new to the team made up of several father-son duos, whose origins are on Great More Sailing Club in Buckingham.

“We have moved forward - we have learned a lot about the boat,” says Newell of how they have progressed. “We have tried to optimise her a little bit more, which hopefully will pay dividends. We have also tried to do a bit of training rather than just racing.” To this end, they have upped their game with input from renowned coach Mark Rushall. “His input was just invaluable. If we can capture some of that and can convert it on the water…” muses Newell. Aside from becoming IRC National Champions, Hamble-based Arcus has come close to winning Black Group at Cowes Week. “We like to surprise people because we are a bunch of puddle sailors from the middle of the country.”

Racing will get underway with a first warning signal on Friday at 1125 and at 1025 on Saturday and Sunday.

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British yacht INO XXX which competes in the Round Ireland Race in less than a fortnight was victorious in this weekend's RORC Myth of Malham Race that featured a number of Irish crews. 

The Cowes-Eddystone-Solent 230nm started last Thursday and saw IRC SZ Zero winner Volvo 70, Telefonica Black, with Dublin Bay sailor Paul Bradley as part of the crew. 

Another tipped Round Ireland contender, Michael O'Donnell's J/121 Darkwood finished second in IRC One and eighth overall. Her Myth of Malham crew is largely the same as that racing the 700-mile Irish ocean classic and included Kenny Rumball, Michael Boyd, Barry Hurley, and Conor Kinsella.

myth of malham fleet68 teams on the downwind start for RORC Myth of Malham Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

The overall winner racing under IRC for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Myth of Malham Race was the British HH42 INO XXX, raced by the RORC Commodore James Neville. Niklas Zennström’s brand new Swedish CF-520 Rán 8 was second overall and took line honours in an elapsed time of just over 26 hours for the 230-mile course. Ed Bell’s British JPK 1180 Dawn Treader had an excellent race, placing third overall and winning IRC One.

 IRC SZ Zero winner - Dublin Bay sailor Paul Bradley (closest to camera) on the Volvo 70, Telefonica Black IRC SZ Zero winner - Dublin Bay sailor Paul Bradley (closest to camera) on the Volvo 70, Telefonica Black

The Myth of Malham Cup was given to the RORC by Captain John Illingworth in 1958 and is named after his famous boat, which won the 1947 and 1949 Fastnet Race. The race mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. 68 teams from eight different nations took part in the 2022 edition of the Myth of Malham Race. An unusual downwind start got the fleet away at a fast pace out of the Solent. During the course of the race, the fleet experienced a huge range of conditions from 5-25 knots, and at times a significant sea state.

The start of the Myth of Malham Race was streamed live. Watch the recording with expert commentary from RYA Race Director, and Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper, Ian Walker below.



IRC Class Winners for the Myth of Malham Race

  • IRC SZ Zero Volvo 70 Telefonica Black
  • IRC 0 INO XXX
  • IRC 1 JPK 1180 Dawn Treader
  • IRC 2 & IRC Two-Handed JPK 1080 Mzungu!
  • IRC 3 J/109 JAGO
  • IRC 4 S&S 34 Morning After

    Full Results here 

Niklas Zennström’s brand new Swedish CF-520 Rán 8 was second overall and took line honours Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCNiklas Zennström’s brand new Swedish CF-520 Rán 8 was second overall and took line honours Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Quotes from the boats

James Neville HH42 INO XXX
“It was great to see so many boats out racing with the RORC making the most of the Jubilee Weekend!” exclaimed INO XXX’s James Neville. “The start was quite difficult, especially to hold a lane. We had to put a few gybes in to hold position on the South Side of the Solent. We were in good shape past The Needles, with tide under us, but it was a tight call getting passed The Shingles. The crucial decision at that point was that pretty much making Portland on one gybe, which gave us our fastest vmg. Rán can sail deeper than us, so they made more progress plus we had more foul tide to the Eddystone Lighthouse and Rán was two hours ahead of us. We knew that on IRC corrected they needed about four hours in the race and the boats behind us had tide with them and could fly Code Zeros with the wind shifting north. Rán did have to foot off as they were on a tighter angle, but INO goes well on a tight reach. The big decision for us was staying quite south on the return past Portland. We had good tide all the way to the Isle of Wight, and with the easterly coming in and tidal relief from the island, that was what did it for us. The wind died for the boats behind, and they had foul tide.”

Winner IRC 2 & IRC Two-Handed JPK 1080 Mzungu! sailed by Sam White & Sam North Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCWinner IRC 2 & IRC Two-Handed JPK 1080 Mzungu! sailed by Sam White & Sam North Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

For quite a few years, racing on a Sun Fast 3200, we couldn’t understand why we were not getting good results as we had been racing well. We realised we just didn’t have the boat speed,” commented Mzungu!‘s Sam White. “At the tail end of 2021 (in the Rolex Fastnet Race) we sort of fixed that problem, and now with our new boat (JPK 1080), we have the boat speed we desire. We are now trying to find that extra 5% to get onto the podium. We are now putting in a huge amount of prep. work including proper race brief and debrief via Zoom. All of this is paying off; to use an analogy, I feel like I am good carpenter but no longer using blunt chisels! For Sam (North) and I, the big one this season is the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland, which will be a different dynamic, very much a change of pace where we will need to make our downtime count, but we have a stable platform, and a good all-round boat.”

Mike Yates J/109 JAGO winner of IRC Three, racing Two-Handed with 19-year-old Hamish Pimm Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCMike Yates J/109 JAGO winner of IRC Three, racing Two-Handed with 19-year-old Hamish Pimm Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Mike Yates J/109 JAGO 

“We went deep south after leaving the Solent, because there was more pressure offshore,” commented JAGO’s Mike Yates. “We were never going to make Portland Bill before the tide would turn and we wanted to avoid Lyme Bay with a forecast of light winds. JAGO is a different type of boat to say a Sun Fast 3300, they have to sail hotter angles. JAGO doesn’t have to go quite as deep, so we gybed earlier to head back inshore. Coming back in Anvil Point was tricky. The wind was due to go west, and we had to be careful not to get headed. After Eddystone the breeze died just around Portland Bill, but there were bands of ten knots in it, so it was very snakes and ladders. We kept an eye on boats inshore and elected to stay offshore for better pressure. We tacked when the tide turned to get the lee bow effect. This was Hamish’s first Two-Handed offshore, he is JAGO’s inshore bowman, and he was absolutely brilliant!”

RORC Fleet after the start in the 2022 Myth of Malham Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORCRORC Fleet after the start in the 2022 Myth of Malham Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Christina Wolfe, racing in IRC Two-Handed with husband Justin on Ruby Red, was the top Sun Fast 3300 with 14 racing.

“We are over the moon; it was just a great time! RORC racing is just incredible,” commented Christina who hails from Washington on the North Pacific Coast, USA. “We are very aware that there are some amazing sailors racing with RORC and it was a fantastic experience. Congratulations to Mzungu!, they had a great race. We got close to them, but they negotiated a tricky transition very well. This has been a huge opportunity to learn, especially as we plan to do the Rolex Fastnet next year. We will be returning to racing in the pacific this summer, but we will be back for the Double Handed Nationals in September.” 

RORC CEO Jeremy Wilton watched the start of the Myth of Malham from the Royal Squadron Line: “One thing that is great about the RORC Season’s Points Championship is the breadth of the boats we have racing, boats from 30ft to 70ft, both fully crewed and a large number of two-handed teams. What supports all that is our IRC Rating system, which is the best rating system for bringing all these boats together to race competitively.”

The Royal Ocean Racing Club RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with the 8th race of the series, the Morgan Cup Race. Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line at 1800 BST on the 17th of June. The 110 to 160 mile race course will be finalised close to the race start. The final destination will be Dartmouth where a warm welcome awaits from the Royal Dart Yacht Club.

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Ireland is among 70 teams from eight different nations that have entered this weekend's Royal Ocean Racing Club Myth of Malham Race.

Irish crews include Michael O'Donnells's team on the J121 Darkwood that are now officially entered for the Round Ireland Race in just over two weeks' time. 

As regular Afloat readers know, O'Donnell is sailing with Michael Boyd, Kenny Rumball, and a crew some of Ireland's top offshore sailors in the 700-miler from Wicklow. The crew first raced this season on Darkwood for last month's Cervantes Trophy. 

Also on Myth of Malham duty this weekend is Dublin Bay's Paul Bradley who swaps his berth on the Cruisers One Mills 33 Raptor for the somewhat larger V70 Telefonica Black, pictured below.

The first start is at 1300 BST from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line on Thursday 02 June.

The course mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, taking the fleet around notable headlands with complex tides, including Portland Bill and Start Point. The Eddystone Lighthouse, nine miles off the Cornish Coast, is the turning point for the 230-mile race with a finish just outside the Solent. This weekend, celebrations will take place all over the United Kingdom for Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. After IRC time correction, class winners and the overall winner of the Myth of Malham, will have their own cause for celebration.

IRC SZ & Zero

Lance Shepherd's Volvo 70 Telefonica Black will be making its first Squadron Line start for the RORC Season's Points Championship and on paper the pro-am crew have the fastest IRC rated boat. However, Racing in IRC Zero, the favourites for Line Honours must include the long-awaited debut for the Swedish CF-520 Rán 8. Niklas Zennström's Rán Racing team returns to offshore racing with the RORC with a stunning new design. RORC Commodore James Neville will be racing his HH42 INO XXX , a solid performance in the Myth of Malham will put INO XXX into the season lead for IRC Zero. VME Racing's CM60 Venomous is the largest boat in IRC Zero, skippered by James Gair.

IRC One

Jean-Eudes Renier & Rob Bottomley's MAT12 Sailplane and Michael O'Donnell's J/121 Darkwood with a top Irish crew, will both be in action. Both teams are challenging for the season lead in class. Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader returns to racing in the UK after a great performance in the RORC Caribbean 600. In form teams in IRC One include Astrid de Vin's Dutch JPK 1180 Il Corvo, overall winner of the North Sea Race, and Derek Shakespeare's J/122 Bulldog, class winner for the de Guingand Bowl Race. Four British First 40s will be in action including Ronan Banim's Galahad Of Cowes, the London Corinthian Sailing Club's Tango and two entries from Hamble based race training school, Sailing Logic: Lancelot II and Arthur.

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The overall winner for the 181nm North Sea Race under IRC was the Dutch JPK 1180 Il Corvo, owned by Astrid de Vin and skippered by Roeland Franssens. Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden skippered by Johnny Poortman was just 121 seconds behind Il Corvo after IRC time correction. Michel Dorsman’s Dutch X-362 Team Extra Djinn was third. The top three boats, racing under IRC, all came from different classes. Richard Matthews’ British CF520 Oystercatcher XXXV, sailed by James Bolingbroke, took Line Honours for the race.

Richard Matthews’ British CF520 Oystercatcher XXXV Richard Matthews’ British CF520 Oystercatcher XXXV Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The victorious Il Corvo team celebrate at the Yacht Club in Scheveningen Photo: Tim ThubronThe victorious Il Corvo team celebrate at the Yacht Club in Scheveningen Photo: Tim Thubron

“Roeland and I have taken part in the North Sea Race many, many times, we have won class before but for me this is the first overall win,” smiled Il Corvo’s Astrid de Vin. “Roeland is the strategist on board and makes all of the key decisions. The Il Corvo crew are a mixture of sailors from past campaigns, and we are all friends. The North Sea Race is one close to our hearts, we are so happy that we have won it! I have booked a nice restaurant to celebrate but we will have an early start to get the boat over to the Solent for the Myth of Malham Race, next week.”

Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden skippered by Johnny PoortmanDutch Ker 46 Van Uden skippered by Johnny Poortman Photo: Paul Wyeth

Skipper of Van Uden Johnny Poortman has competed in three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, and leads a young talented Dutch crew, looking to break into the world of professional sailing. “After the start the race was nearly all off the wind, so there were a lot of sail changes, and especially during the night, the team did an excellent job. Well done to Il Corvo, they must have sailed very well. On Van Uden we can only aim to beat the boats in our class, so we are happy with that.” Van Uden will be competing at the RORC IRC Nationals in the Solent June 10-12.

Start of the 2022 North Sea Race Photo: Richard MatthewsStart of the 2022 North Sea Race Photo: Richard Matthews

The North Sea Race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association, the Yacht Club Scheveningen and the North Sea Regatta.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with the 7th race of the series, the Myth of Malham Race. Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line at 1300 BST on the 2nd of June, the 230-mile race around the Eddystone Lighthouse mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. 

IRC Class Winners for the North Sea Race

IRC SZ Volvo 70 Telefonica Black
IRC 0 Ker 46 Van Uden
IRC 1 JPK 1180 Il Corvo
IRC 2 First 40.7 Flying Fish
IRC 3 X-362 Team Extra Djinn
IRC 4 Sigma 38 Spirit
IRC T-H JPK 1010 Jangada

Full results here

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One of the pinnacle events of the IRC rating system in the UK will take place over 10-12 June from Cowes and Ireland's past victories are recalled as Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix, is racing in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse.

This year’s edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship will be its 24th and as usual will feature a mixed line-up of yachts from across the size and age spectrum, allowing the IRC rating system to create a level playing field between them.

World-class PRO, double Olympic Finn sailor and Etchells World Champion Stuart Childerley (and recently appointed J Class Secretary) will send the IRC fleets off on courses around the Solent with up to four races scheduled each day.

The fleet is divided into tightly-banded classes according to their IRC rating to provide the closest possible racing for competitors between yachts of similar performance. The unique format of the IRC National Championship enables any yacht from across the fleet - big or small, old or new - whose crew sails the best, to be crowned IRC National Champion.

"the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland"

In addition to the regulars of the Solent IRC fleet, the RORC’s IRC National Championship represents the ultimate event to which competitors in the well-supported IRC regional events around the UK aspire. It is a great event to measure up to other competitors around the country and for developing crews to sharpen their skills in a friendly and competitive environment. The three-day event also regularly attracts competitors from the opposite side of the English Channel: Géry Trentesaux’s IMX40 Courrier Nord claimed the top prize in 2002, the first foreign yacht to do so, while the syndicate-owned A-35 Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandres was joint winner in 2016.

But the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland: David Dywer’s Mills 39 Marinerscove. It is only one of two teams ever to have won consecutive UK IRC National Championship titles when his team prevailed in both 2009 and 2010 (the first was Justin Slawson’s X-362 The Big Cheese over 2000-01).

In fact, Irish IRC yachts have won the UK IRC National title on four other occasions too: Royal Irish's Colm Barrington’s Ker 39 Flying Glove in 2005; Tim Costello’s all-conquering Mills 40 Tiamat in 2006 and Conor and Denise Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork two years later. The last Irish winner was RCYC's Anthony O'Leary’s Antix in 2014, whose grey Ker 40 returns this year in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse (following his successful First 40 of the same name now on Dublin Bay).

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” observes McIrvine, who has been a regular competitor at the event since it was first held. “The Solent of course is internationally-recognised as one of the most complex and interesting places to race - so the combination remains very attractive.”

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth

Derek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick TomlinsonDerek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Lena Having's Corby 33 Mrs FrecklesLena Having's Corby 33 Mrs Freckles Photo: Paul Wyeth

Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Photo: Paul Wyeth

As usual, the RORC is attempting to be inclusive, by encouraging female and youth participation in its championship. If an IRC Nationals crew includes at least two women or under 25-year-olds (or one of each), then two extra crew can be added to the maximum number of the crew stated on their yacht’s IRC Certificate (with no weight restriction).

While the majority of IRC National Champions have been the latest and best race boats, this is not always the case. In 2017 it was the turn of the 1939 classic Whooper of leading racing yacht engineer Giovanni Belgrano to claim the title.

Since then J/Boats have enjoyed considerable success. When the IRC Europeans temporarily replaced the IRC Nationals on the Solent in 2018, it was the J/112e of France’s Didier le Moal that came out on top.

Most recently the IRC National Champion title has been won twice by the J/122 campaigned by Stuart Sawyer’s Falmouth-based team, Black Dog - first in 2019 and then again in 2021. While Sawyer isn’t returning this year, his boat is, now renamed Bulldog and campaigned by the RORC’s Treasurer, Derek Shakespeare.

“The IRC Nationals is a very prestigious event and something a lot of very good teams strive to win,” maintains Shakespeare, who recently achieved his first success with his new-to-him yacht when she won IRC One in the RORC’s De Guingand Bowl. 

Despite the provenance of Bulldog, Shakespeare is under no illusion of his prospects in two weeks: “I wouldn’t be as arrogant to assume that we are going to go and win the IRC Nationals with a newish team - we are not expecting to reach those heady heights straight out of the box. We have a nice mix of ages and experience on the boat. We are campaigning both inshore and offshore this year whereas I believe Stuart was more of an inshore specialist. For us the IRC Nationals will be an important measurement of our progress.”

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The Round Britain & Ireland Race

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race will feature a wide variety of yachts racing under the IRC rating rule as well as one design and open classes, such as IMOCA, Class40 and Multihulls. The majority of the fleet will race fully crewed, but with the popularity of the Two-Handed class in recent years, the race is expected to have a record entry.

The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starts on Sunday 7th August 2022 from Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK.

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The Royal Yacht Squadron.

It is run every four years. There have been nine editions of the Round Britain and Ireland Race which started in 1976 Sevenstar has sponsored the race four times - 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and has committed to a longterm partnership with the RORC

The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is a fully crewed non-stop race covering 1,805 nautical miles and is open to IRC, IRC Two Handed, IMOCA 60s, Class40s, Volvo 65s and Multihulls that will race around Britain and Ireland, starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes on the Isle of Wight starting after Cowes Week on Sunday 7 August 2022

The last edition of the race in 2018 attracted 28 teams with crews from 18 nations. Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 saw over victory and Phil Sharp's Class40 Imerys Clean Energy established a new world record for 40ft and under, completing the course in 8 days 4 hrs 14 mins 49 secs.

The 1,805nm course will take competitors around some of the busiest and most tactically challenging sailing waters in the world. It attracts a diverse range of yachts and crew, most of which are enticed by the challenge it offers as well as the diversity and beauty of the route around Britain and Ireland with spectacular scenery and wildlife.

Most sailors agree that this race is one of the toughest tests as it is nearly as long as an Atlantic crossing, but the changes of direction at headlands will mean constant breaks in the watch system for sail changes and sail trim

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race Records:

  • Outright - OMA07 Musandam-Oman Sail, MOD 70, Sidney Gavignet, 2014: 3 days 03:32:36
  • Monohull - Azzam Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, VO 65, Ian Walker, 2014: 4 days 13:10:28
  • Monohull All-Female - Team SCA, VO 65, Samantha Davies, 2014: 4 days 21:00:39
  • Monohull 60ft or less - Artemis Team Endeavour, IMOCA 60, Brian Thompson/Artemis Ocean Racing, 2014: 5 days 14:00:54
  • Monohull 40ft or less – Imerys Clean Energy, Class40, Phil Sharp, 2018: 8 days 4:14:49

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