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Cork's Marinerscove.ie (Dave Dwyer) has been declared RORC IRC National Champion, successfully retaining the title, a feat only ever achieved once before by Justin Slawson’s Big Cheese in 2001. Louay Habib Reports.

The tension was mounting at the start of the final day of the RORC IRC National Championship. The international fleet from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Netherlands and South Africa were waiting to act out the final chapter of the championship. The seabreeze kicked in from south west at about 1100 and the fleet got into race mode for the last two races of the championship.

During the day, the southwesterly built from a wispy six knots to a stiff sixteen knots with wind over tide, giving the Western Solent some degree of swell; truly sublime racing conditions.

There were dramatic scenes right from the off with a bevy of boats infringing the start line of Race 7. Johnny Vincent’s TP52, Pace, was called over the line and got back smartly to not only recover but to win Race 7. In IRC One there were no less than five boats hauled back to restart.

The RORC IRC Super Zero title was won by Charles Dunstone’s highly impressive TP52, TEAMORIGIN Rio. Volvo Ocean winner, Jules Salter, who is currently navigating with Emirates Team New Zealand, was in the afterguard and he had this to say after their win: “It was great to be back sailing in the Western Solent, I can see my house from there! It is a place that I really call home. The tides are pretty well documented but reading the effects on the wind created by the tide is always a challenge, one that I really enjoy, it is a pleasure to sail with Charles and I count many of the crew as good friends.”

In IRC Zero Glynn Williams’ Swan 45, WISC, was four points off the lead overnight. WISC took up the challenge, nailing the start of Race 7 and battled all the way to the finish taking the bullet by less than 30 seconds on corrected time. IRC Zero went to the wire. Going into the last race, WISC was level on points with Nick Burns and Fred Kinmouth’s King 40, EFG Bank Mandrake.

John Shepherd’s Ker 46, Fair Do’s VII, won the last race of the day but WISC clinched the IRC National title for Class Zero after coming home in second place.

‘It is a big, big, big, win,” declared Glynn Williams. “When we saw the fantastic opposition in the fleet, our expectation before the start was top four, so to come here and win is very satisfying indeed. Kevin Sproul did a marvellous job at the back, as he always does but the whole crew should be congratulated; there is not a gram of emotional baggage on board, they are all a pleasure to sail with.”

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In IRC One Dave Dwyer’s Mills 39, Marinerscove.ie, continued their relentless onslaught, notching up win number four in Race 7. Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, was a solid second but a battle went to the wire for third place between four boats who will be racing in the Rolex Commodores’ Cup: Christopher Opielok’s Corby 36, Rockall III, Robert Davies’ Corby 36, Roxy 6, and Philippe Delaporte’s J 122, Pen Azen. In the last race Rockall III overhauled their rivals to clinch third place.

Marinerscove.ie was also declared overall RORC IRC National Champion. Successfully retaining their title, a feat only ever achieved once before by Justin Slawson’s Big Cheese in 2001.

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Andy Beadsworth has a long association with David Dwyer and had this to say at the prizegiving: “Before the championship we decided that we would judge our performance by how well we sailed rather than the result and that still stands. I believe that we covered the basics well and got our risk strategy right. The crew work has improved since we won last year and a lot of that is down to a determined effort by everyone on board to reach and maintain a high standard of boat handling. That has enhanced our boat speed which is a crucial area in any kind of yacht racing. Marinerscove.ie is in great shape for the Rolex Commodores’ Cup.”

Chris and Hannah Neve’s, No Chance, has had a cracking championship and blew the opposition away with a bullet and a second to take the IRC Two title by a healthy margin. It was evident why they have been chosen to represent England for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores’ Cup. No Chance was also awarded the Jackdaw Trophy for second best yacht overall in IRC.

“Overwhelmed, it’s absolutely fantastic to win against such high class opposition, we are so up for the Rolex Commodores’ Cup,” declared a delighted Hannah Neve.

In IRC Three Louise Morton steering Anchor Challenge was first in class beating two other Quarter Tonners; James Morland’s Menace and Mark Lees’ Espada, into second and third respectively.

Louise was not sailing her usual boat Espada but her sistership Anchor Challenge, which is usually sailed by Peter Morton who was on duty with TEAMORIGIN Rio.

“We are obviously delighted with the win and it was great to sail Anchor Challenge, we decided to sail her because she is a far more tweaky boat than Espada with additional systems such as halyard locks but I feel that the greater sail area is more suited to the boys, who weigh a fair bit more than the my all girl crew.”

Racing continues for the Royal Ocean Racing Club, on Friday 2nd July with the 164 mile Cowes – Dinard – St Malo Race in association with UNCL, Yacht Club de Dinard, Société Nautique de la Baie de St. Malo and the Royal Yacht Squadron as part of the RORC Season’s Points Championship.

Published in RORC

One of the most competitive fleets ever assembled enjoyed some spectacular sailing conditions (as Paul Wyeth's photos over the fold show) on the first day of the 2010 RORC IRC National Championship writes Louay Habib.

Charles Dunstone’s TP52, Team Origin Rio, had a perfect start to the championship, scoring three straight bullets in IRC Super Zero. “Rio just lights up in these conditions; it was absolutely fabulous out there today,” commented Charles Dunstone after racing.

There was an intense battle on the water in IRC Zero. Hong Kong’s Rolex Commodores’ Cup big boat, Mills 40, EFG Bank Mandrake, is in pole position after three races. Joint owner, Nick Burns had this to say dockside: “That was pretty hot racing out there. Great fun and fantastic stuff. We were delighted to take two wins but our disappointing last race has left us a bit perplexed. We seemed to lose boat speed upwind and downwind. Perhaps we picked up something on the keel but we really don’t know what the issue was.”

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In IRC One reigning RORC IRC National Champion Dave Dwyer’s Mills 39, Marinerscove.ie, got off to a great start winning the first two races, but the last race of the day did not go according to plan. Tactician Andy Beadsworth explains: “The first two races went well for us, we sailed our own race and as the fastest boat in the class we could go our own way but it all went wrong in Race Three. We were too eager at the start and with close to three knots of tide we were over the line and had to go back. After that we misjudged a port-starboard and ended up doing penalty turns. However the recovery was good and we managed to claw our way back through the traffic for a third place.”

Marinerscove.ie leads IRC One after the first day. Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, is in second place with Robert Davies’ Corby 36, Roxy 6, in third.

In IRC Two, Marc Alperovitch and Jerome Huillard’s A 35, Prime Time, had a disappointing first race but it was all smiles for the French team after that with two bullets to end the day top of the class leader board. Chris and Hannah Neve’s First 35, No Chance, is lying second over night with Steve Northmore’s A35, Waterjet.co.uk, in third place.

IRC Three may be the smallest class at the championship but virtually the entire class enjoyed a very close squabble in the western Solent. Mike and Jamie Holmes’ J 97, Jika Jika, came out on top after three races. James Morland’s Quarter Tonner, Menace, slipped up in the last race of the day but holds onto second place. Louise Morton’s Quarter Tonner, Anchor Challenge, has a very consistent day and is lying third.

Three races are scheduled for the second day of the Championship today. All of the competitors will be hoping for another fantastic day’s racing in the Solent.

Full results from Day One of the RORC IRC National Championship can be found at www.rorc.org

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Published in RORC
The RORC IRC National Championship includes competitors from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland and the Netherlands. Competing on tight Solent courses there is no doubt that this will be a very competitive regatta with plenty of high-octane action. The international fleet contains many of the competitors that will be taking part in this year's Rolex Commodores' Cup and the scene is set for some close racing between rivals old and new. All of the classes racing at the IRC National Championship are brimming with talent.
IRC Super Zero has the mouth-watering prospect of the high performance big boat class lighting up the Solent including some TP 52s; Johnny Vincent's Pace, Charles Dunstone's TEAMORIGIN Rio, the British Keelboat Academy's  John Merricks II and Rob Grey's Farr 52, Bob.
IRC Zero is virtually composed of Rolex Commodores' Cup contenders from six different countries. Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, is the current Irish IRC Zero National Champion but only just beat Dave Dwyer's Mills 39, Marinerscove.ie, by a single point less than a month ago. However Marinerscove.ie is the reigning IRC National Champion and will not be letting go of the trophy without a struggle.
IRC One has a highly competitive international line-up.  Philippe Delaporte's Pen Azen is over from France and the J 122 is a proven winner; having been awarded RORC Yacht of the Year in 2008.
"Pen Azen will be representing France in the Rolex Commodores' Cup this August," explained Philippe. "We see the RORC IRC Nationals as a perfect way to prepare for the event, the crew will be getting used to living in Cowes and the surroundings but also we will get some fantastic racing with our competition on the same race course."
IRC One also includes RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine, and Peter Morton's First 40 La Réponse, who will have their first inshore encounter with sister ship Coup De Coeur raced by Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux. Other top contenders include Jim Macgregor's Elan 410 Premier Flair, and Robert Davies' brand new Corby 36, Roxy 6. IRC One should also provide some tense moments and close mark roundings with five First 40.7s amongst the high caliber fleet.
IRC Two is the largest fleet competing and includes the biggest variety of designs including David Aisher's J 109, Yeoman of Wight, Wouter Borghijs' A 35, Tontin, from Belgium and Chris and Hannah Neve's First 35, No Chance, who have been selected for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores' Cup.  "The First 35 is a new design this year and we are absolutely loving the boat," explained Chris Neve. "We are really looking forward to the championship."
The scratch boat in IRC Three is Mike and Jamie Holmes' J 97, Jika Jika, who should have a close tussle on the water with Richard Sparrow's J 92, Who's To No.
There are several Quarter Tonners expected including Paul Kelsey's Runaway Bus, James Morland's Menace and Louise Morton's Espada. "This week there were 35 boats competing for the Quarter Ton Cup, enjoying some fantastic racing.  It would be marvellous to see a big turn out for the RORC IRC National Championship, it is a great event and one not to be missed," said Louise.

Irish Commodores' Cup entrants Marinerscove.ie will head to the Solent next week to defend their RORC IRC title, shadowed by the top-ranking Irish IRC boat this year, Anthony O'Leary's Antix. Blondie IV also takes part under a Hong Kong flag.

The RORC IRC National Championship includes competitors from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland and the Netherlands. The international fleet contains many of the competitors that will be taking part in this year's Rolex Commodores' Cup and the scene is set for some close racing between rivals old and new. All of the classes racing at the IRC National Championship are brimming with talent.

IRC Super Zero has the mouth-watering prospect of the high performance big boat class lighting up the Solent including some TP 52s; Johnny Vincent's Pace, Charles Dunstone's TEAMORIGIN Rio, the British Keelboat Academy's  John Merricks II and Rob Grey's Farr 52, Bob.


IRC Zero is virtually composed of Rolex Commodores' Cup contenders from six different countries. Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, is the current Irish IRC Zero National Champion but only just beat Dave Dwyer's Mills 39, Marinerscove.ie, by a single point less than a month ago. However Marinerscove.ie is the reigning IRC National Champion and will not be letting go of the trophy without a struggle.


IRC One has a highly competitive international line-up.  Philippe Delaporte's Pen Azen is over from France and the J 122 is a proven winner; having been awarded RORC Yacht of the Year in 2008.
"Pen Azen will be representing France in the Rolex Commodores' Cup this August," explained Philippe. "We see the RORC IRC Nationals as a perfect way to prepare for the event, the crew will be getting used to living in Cowes and the surroundings but also we will get some fantastic racing with our competition on the same race course."


IRC One also includes RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine, and Peter Morton's First 40 La Réponse, who will have their first inshore encounter with sister ship Coup De Coeur raced by Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux. Other top contenders include Jim Macgregor's Elan 410 Premier Flair, and Robert Davies' brand new Corby 36, Roxy 6. IRC One should also provide some tense moments and close mark roundings with five First 40.7s amongst the high caliber fleet.


IRC Two is the largest fleet competing and includes the biggest variety of designs including David Aisher's J 109, Yeoman of Wight, Wouter Borghijs' A 35, Tontin, from Belgium and Chris and Hannah Neve's First 35, No Chance, who have been selected for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores' Cup.  "The First 35 is a new design this year and we are absolutely loving the boat," explained Chris Neve. "We are really looking forward to the championship."


The scratch boat in IRC Three is Mike and Jamie Holmes' J 97, Jika Jika, who should have a close tussle on the water with Richard Sparrow's J 92, Who's To No.


There are several Quarter Tonners expected including Paul Kelsey's Runaway Bus, James Morland's Menace and Louise Morton's Espada. "This week there were 35 boats competing for the Quarter Ton Cup, enjoying some fantastic racing.  It would be marvellous to see a big turn out for the RORC IRC National Championship, it is a great event and one not to be missed," said Louise.

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Two of the favourites for the Round Ireland title topped out the RORC IRC overall listings last weekend at the Morgan Cup an overnighter to Cherbourg. The winning boat, Psipsina, was a double-handed entry sailed by Paddy Cronin and John Loden. They pipped Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens III for the overall trophy by just over two minutes on corrected time.

“I am totally gobsmacked,” admitted John Loden. “I have been racing Psipsina for 11 years and this is the biggest win by a country mile.” 

Loden admitted that the falling breeze approaching Cherbourg was a decisive reason for the win and it went right to the wire. Psipsina beat Piet Vroon’s Ker 46,Tonnerre de Breskens 3, by just two minutes and thirteen seconds on corrected time to win the prestigious Morgan Cup.

The start didn’t go well for Psipsina, Loden and Cronin made a navigational error and nearly missed Trinity House buoy altogether but fortunately they managed to alter course, just in time. After that they hardly put a foot wrong.

“The majority of the fleet chose to go to the north shore in the Solent but we correctly chose to say island-side and enjoyed better breeze than our rivals,” explained Loden. “By the time we got to No Man’s Land Fort we were leading IRC Two on the water and going well. During Saturday we had a superb spinnaker run across the Channel,15 knots of steady breeze, warm air downwind sailing…terrific. One of the important factors in offshore racing is fatigue and we have never taken the macho approach of staying up when sleep is available and both of us got some rest during the day on Saturday which pays dividends.

By Saturday afternoon we were on our final approach to Cherbourg and paid great heed to the tide. Perhaps we were a little over cautious but we were going to make damn sure we were uptide and we worked hard to make this happen. As we approached the finish the wind died down to as little as 5-6 knots and we were headed. We used one of our secret weapons to make good our speed in these conditions; we have a very flat A5 which is designed as a storm sail downwind but it also doubles up as a very effective headsail in light air conditions closer to the wind.

We were pretty confident of the Class win and Paddy and I were enjoying a cold beer in the Yacht Club de Cherbourg when the RORC team told us the fantastic news. It is a moment I will treasure for a very long time.”

Piet Vroon’s Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, won the Knightsbridge Cup for best yacht in IRC Zero and also took the RORC Salver for line honours by beating Tony Lawson’s Class 40, Concise 2, on the water. Peter Robson’s First 40.7, Playing Around Logic, took the Queensborough Cup for best yacht in IRC One. Matthias Kracht’s JPK 9.60, Ultreia! was best yacht in IRC Three, winning the Warsash Cup.

 

Ahead of the race, their third win in a row, Loden had said: "We had a very good reminder of what can happen if you lose your concentration in this game during the Cervantes Trophy Race. We got our approach to France all wrong and the resulting foul tide knocked us right down the pecking order. I have been racing short-handed for a few seasons now and I really enjoy the satisfaction of beating fully crewed boats. Also you learn so much when you have to do all of the work between just two of you. Probably the greatest pearl of wisdom I have learnt in short-handed racing is to take time to plan a manoeuvre, especially down wind. Gybe in haste; repent at leisure, would be a good way of summing it up."

Loden & Cronin now lead the double-handed standings, with Vroon leading RORC's overall IRC series.

 

IRC Morgan Cup Overall Results HERE.

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RORC Morgan Cup starts Friday 11th June: from the RYS Cowes, starting to the East, to Cherbourg.  First warning signal: 1850.


Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with the Royal Thames Yacht Club, the Yacht Club de Cherbourg and the Royal Yacht Squadron.


Unless you have been living in the remotest corner of the earth without communications, you may be aware that the FIFA World Cup kicks off this Friday. However not everybody will be glued to a television set, daring to dream of winning thecoveted trophy. Hundreds of sailors will be taking part in the RORC Morgan Cup and will miss the start of the tournament in South Africa.


The Morgan Cup marks the launch of a new Class 40, Tony Lawson’s Concise 2, on board will be one of Britain’s iconic solo sailors, Pete Goss, as Tony Lawson explains:


“For the inaugural race the new boat will be skippered by Tom Gall with Pete Goss and Ned Collier Wakefield” explained Tony Lawson. “Tom is a great example of what Concise is all about, he is a young, up and coming sailor, who has worked with PUMA during the last Volvo Ocean Race and is a bright prospect for the future, he deserves hischance. Ned has been with the team for some time but took some time out to finish his education and we are very happy to see him back on board.  Pete Goss is looking to get as much time on the water as he can, before returning to solo racing on Concise 2 for the Route de Rhum, later this year. His attitude is outstanding and he brings a wealth of experience, a perfect role model for young talent.”


In IRC Zero Piet Vroon’s Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, will be looking to continue the impressive form that has them in pole position in IRC Overall for the RORC Season’s Points Championship.  However Mike Greville’s Ker 39, Erivale III, has had a good start to the season and is currently lying in second place in IRC Zero and he is a big fan of the race to Cherbourg, as he explains:


“I have to say it is one of my favourite venues for RORC racing, there is an excellent deep harbour that can fit us all in at whatever time we finish and some great restaurants.  Hopefully we will finish in time for dinner on Saturday night but at the moment it is looking like a light airs race.  However, that was the forecast for the Myth of Malham which turned into a windy one.  We have had a good start to the season and perhaps the fact that the crew have been together for five years is one of the main reasons for our success.”


Steven Anderson’s First 40.7, Encore, is currently leading IRC One and this weekend will be racing with his wife Jane and the entire compliment of his Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland crew.  The team are all friends and family and Steven is relatively new to racing, as he explains:


“I use to do a lot of cruising but these days I really enjoy the racing.  I have become fascinated with the intellectual challenge of the offshore sport, especially through the development of navigational electronics and performance relative data that is now available.  We are really enjoying the battle with Sailing Logic; although we are fiercely competitive we are also great friends and this is another great aspect of this sport.”


John Loden, along with his co-skipper Paddy Cronin, are currently leading the RORC  Two-Handed Division and hope to make it three wins in a row for HOD 35, Psipsina, this weekend.  However Loden is not counting his chickens just yet.


“We had a very good reminder of what can happen if you lose your concentration in thisgame during the Cervantes Trophy Race. We got our approach to France all wrong and the resulting foul tide knocked us right down the pecking order.  I have been racing short-handed for a few seasons now and I really enjoy the satisfaction of beating fully crewed boats.  Also you learn so much when you have to do all of the work between just two of you.  Probably the greatest pearl of wisdom I have learnt in short-handed racing is to take time to plan a manoeuvre, especially down wind. Gybe in haste; repent at leisure, would be a good way of summing it up.”


In IRC Three the class leader is Trevor Nicholls’ Starlight 39, Spellbinder Of Wytch. Trevor sails under the burgee of the Phoenix Yacht Club out of Haslar Marina in Gosport.  The Club was formed to enable its members to enjoy sailing and to share the costs between a group of like-minded individuals.  The club depends entirely on its members to ensure that the yachts are maintained to a high standard.  Every time a yacht is used, the skipper and the crew are expected to leave the yacht in a better condition than they found it.


The results of the Morgan Cup will be posted, as and when available, by the RORC Race management team on the RORC web site: www.rorc.org

Published in RORC

Two of the three boats in Ireland's Commodore's Cup team are booked in for the annual Round the Island race in the Solent on June 19. The race, which already boasts 1,200 entries, kicks off the day before the Round Ireland, which is struggling to make the 20-entry mark at present.

Anthony O'Leary's Antix and the new Crosshaven-based Corby, Roxy 6 appear in the 399-boat IRC lineup.

Racing 50 miles around the Isle of Wight will no doubt be beneficial for the teams aboard both boats ahead of August's Commodore's Cup, and six Irish boats feature in the IRC section. However, the clash calls into question the timing of the Round Ireland. With the Round the Island, the single most popular sailing event in the British Isles every year, taking place on the solstice weekend, the Round Ireland puts itself at a serious disadvantage in seeking entries at that time.

The chance of tempting boats up from the Solent is lessened, when skippers are faced with a shorter, cheaper and more sociable event at home.  And with the Solent a similar distance from Cork, It's no surprise that two of the top boats in Ireland, both based in Cork, have decided to use it as a training event for the Commodore's Cup.

Insiders have already grumbled that this point is one Wicklow needs to address going into the next Round Ireland cycle.

Share your thoughts on Afloat.ie's forum.

Published in RORC

Wicklow Sailing Club has secured a title sponsor for its 30th anniversary Round Ireland race next month.The 2010 race sets sail under the banner of Conway Media as title sponsor on June 20th, according to race organiser Dennis Noonan. The deal was signed last week between the Club and local businessman and sailor Roy Conway. Entries to date for the race number 13 but Noonan remains confident the final fleet will total 40 or more.

More on the Round Ireland Yacht Race:

Round Ireland Yacht Race 2010 Review

Round Ireland Yacht Race, Ireland's top offshore fixture

A Round up of 80 stories on the 2010 Round Ireland Yacht Race
Published in Round Ireland

The rating cost of composite standing rigging will be reduced with effect from 1st January 2011 following a recent meeting of the IRC Technical Committee.

The Committee noted that the technology of composite standing rigging has matured significantly in recent years to the extent that it is now becoming close to mainstream.

There is now evidence that composite standing rigging has a life expectancy at least that of steel rod rigging.

In parallel, the cost of composite standing rigging has fallen to the extent that some brands are now available at costs only a little higher than the equivalent steel rod rigging.

Composite standing rigging is also now beginning to become available as a standard option from production boat builders.

Noting all of the above, the Committee has concluded that the rating cost of composite standing rigging will be reduced with effect from 1st January 2011 (1st June 2011 in IRC southern hemisphere countries). This notice has been issued now to enable owners considering either new boats or modifications to their existing boats to plan accordingly.

The exact effects on TCC are not yet available. The Committee’s intention however is that the effects should in future be broadly neutral in terms of speed versus rating. The effect of composite standing rigging will also continue to vary from boat to boat

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Nigel Passmore’s turboed TP52, Apollo had a cracking De Guingand Bowl winning overall and IRC Super Zero, in some style but it didn’t start off very well as Nigel Passmore explains;

“We did have the worse possible start to the race, we were half a boat length over and whilst the rest of the fleet enjoyed a spinnaker run, we were putting up a headsail and making our way back to restart the race, it took us five painful minutes.”

 By the time Apollo had reached St.Catherine’s Point, they had caught up the entire fleet and crossed ahead of rival TP52, John Merricks II.

The De Guingand Bowl Race is part of the RORC Season’s Points Championship. It is a testing series of 12 races and for the serious offshore sailor, trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge. The longest race this year is the non-stop, 1760 mile, Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race that is both tactically and physically challenging.

 “I don’t think I have ever raced 140 miles down the south coast of England without ever encountering a foul tide “ admitted Nigel Passmore. “But one of the greatest strengths of Apollo is the resolve of the crew, they always give 100%, all of the time and we dug ourselves out of a hole and we are delighted with our win.”

 “We decided to come up from Plymouth to compete in the RORC season because we wanted to race the best and the fleet for the De Guingand Bowl had many great boats which are very well sailed. We are looking forward to the Myth of Malham, on the May Bank Holiday. But this afternoon we will all meet up and have a bit of a celebration” concluded Nigel Passmore.

 In IRC Zero, Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8 had a marvelous debut race, winning the class by some distance in some good company, Jens Kuehne’s American RP48, Sjambok was second and South African, Michael Bartholomew’s King 40, Tokoloshe was third on corrected time. Quokka 8 was also runner up overall.

IRC One was won by Neil Kipling’s J 122, Joopster. “It is Neil’s first season with the boat and he is a very happy owner which is always a good thing” commented navigator Tristan Nelson. “We will be racing most of the RORC races this season including the IRC Nationals next month but our long term goal is the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race.”

 Second in IRC One was RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine and Peter Morton’s First 40, La Response with Paul Turner’s Grand Soleil 43, Artemis in third.

Past RORC Commodore, David Aisher was racing his J 109, Yeoman of Wight and had a successful race, winning IRC Two in an extremely competitive class which including several other Rolex Commodores’ Cup contenders. David’s crew has several members of the British Keelboat Academy and they showed great resolve by anchoring off Anvil Point at a crucial part of the race. Tired but elated, David was highly complimentary of his crew and delighted with the class win.

Steve Northmore’s A 35, Waterjet.co.uk was second with Chris and Hanna Neve’s First 35, No Chance in third place.

In the two handed division John Loden’s HOD 35, Psipsina was victorious beating Kirsteen Donaldson’s X 332, Pyxis into second place with Peter Olden’s A 35, Solan Goose of Hamble into third.

In IRC Three, Kirsteen Donaldson’s X 332 Pyxis won a grueling race, crossing the finish line after nearly 28 hours of racing. Second was Trevor Nicholls’ Starlight 39, Spellbinder of Wytch.

The next race as part of the RORC Season’s Points Championship will be the Myth of Malham. The 230 mile Round Eddystone race starts on Friday 28th May.

Published in RORC
Cork's Jamie McWilliam will lead this year's Hong Kong Commodore's Cup team made up with former Irish Cup boats.

Having finished fifth overall in 2008, surprising many of the more seasoned campaigners in the process, McWilliam and his teammates were resolute in their determination to return.

With three months to go to the 10th edition of the biennial Rolex Commodores' Cup, the international fleet has every prospect of being one of the more exotic in recent events. A noteworthy success in these straightened times.

The Hong Kong team is made up of Rockall III, a Corby 36 owned by Chris Opielok, in the small boat slot. 'Opie', as he is known, is a Hong Kong sailing legend, having won two Admiral's Cups for his native Germany. Rockall III is the former Rosie, which has a dominant history in UK & Irish IRC racing. The middle boat is Blondie IV, a Mills (King) 40 chartered by Anthony Day from Helmuth Hennig, both very well known Hong Kong racers. Blondie was 2nd in class in Rolex Commodores' Cup 2008 and has an exceptional track record under her former owner. The big boat is Mandrake, Nick Burns' Mills 40.5, formerly Ngoni and Tiamat. AsTiamat, she had an outstanding Rolex Commodores' Cup in 2006.

The headline foreign contingent is perhaps South Africa, participating at the regatta for the first time. Hong Kong has confirmed it will be back following its happy venture in 2008. Thereafter, the northern European teams – Ireland, France and the United Kingdom - that are the traditional backbone of the event - will be present in numbers. Organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, anticipate a total of 12 teams. Racing is from 15 to 21 August, with close of entry on 12 July.

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McWilliam (pictured above) is not just to participate, mind you, but to have a crack at winning. "In 2008 we arrived with a crew that had trained hard but which had never seen the boats before the regatta, as they were either charters or brand new. This meant that we spent quite a bit of important time just before the event working on the boats instead of working on our speed, and as a result we were still learning about the boats during the series. Our team this time was determined to avoid that mistake," comments McWilliam, explaining that this time, "all the boats are owned by Hong Kong owners and we therefore have much more time [to prepare]. Our full team will be at the UK IRC Nationals in late June and we are scheduling other weekends over the summer for the boats to have new sail trials."

It is a tall order to travel almost halfway around the world to participate in a three-boat team event. The three yachts needed to compete range in size, roughly, between 35 and 45 feet. There are crews to be identified, accommodation and travel to be arranged. McWilliam is clear that it is worth the effort, "it's always exciting going to an event where you think you have a chance to win but where you know you're going to have to really perform to achieve that. It provides a great combination of expectation, anticipation, and nerves. Combined with the knowledge that we are representing the small sailing community in Hong Kong, it's a really exciting deal."

McWilliam acknowledges the difficulties involved for foreign teams, particularly getting the right boats in the right condition to the venue when they are located more than a delivery trip away. He clearly believes more countries should look more seriously at the possibilities, "I would definitely encourage other teams to participate. The Solent puts unique and intense pressure on crews and seemingly trivial moments turn out to be really critical, like a down tide bottom mark rounding where you've got to be perfect in order to hold your lane to get out of the current. I also believe that the best team here has always won the event, and that's the best recommendation I know for a regatta."

The Hong Kong team is looking forward to renewing rivalries with some of the teams it competed against in 2008. They are not here to make up the numbers, "we really enjoyed the event in 2008 and feel that the event is a good match for the type of sailing we do in Hong Kong, and therefore represents a great opportunity for Hong Kong to compete against peers and find out where we rank. We were happy with our 5th position in 2008 but saw it very much as an initial effort and unfinished business."

The Rolex Commodores' Cup is a weeklong series mixing inshore racing on the waters in and around The Solent, the body of water separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland United Kingdom, with an offshore course that takes the fleet out into The English Channel and a course round the Isle of Wight. All of the racing is typified by one thing. Comprehensive knowledge of the tides and currents affecting these areas is essential. Furthermore, it has been proved time and again that is not just the team with the best boats or the best sailors that wins. It the team that is the best prepared in all aspects.


The Rolex Commodores' Cup will be held off Cowes, Isle of Wight, from 15 to 21 August. Entries, which must be made by Member National Authorities, close on Monday 12 July.

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