Displaying items by tag: RORC
James Harayda & Dee Caffari, racing Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, have won the second race of the RORC IRC Two-Handed Autumn Series. Gentoo took line honours in the 128nm race as well as the win on IRC corrected time. Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada, raced by Jeremy Waitt and Shirley Robertson, was second, less than five minutes ahead of Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews.
The overnight race was held in blustery conditions with about 25 knots from the north to north-west. The RORC Race Committee set a course taking in all points of sail and requiring strategic decisions, especially with regards to tidal current and also for wind shadow on the southside of the Isle of Wight.
Undoubtedly the best start was made by Nicola Simper’s S&S 34 Blueberry, starting the race at full pace at the Squadron Line. The RORC fleet headed as far west as East Shambles buoy with Outer Nab 2 forming the most easterly point of the course. After a night of hard racing south of the island, the fleet hankered down for a beat back into the Eastern Solent to finish in the early hours of the morning.
James Harayda is just 22-year-old and racing Gentoo with Dee Caffari who has sailed around the world six times. Dee is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions. Harayda & Caffari have their sights set on representing Great Britain in the Two Person Offshore Keelboat Event for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
“You forget who you're sailing with very quickly, Dee doesn't come with an ego despite having achieved such amazing things,” commented James Harayda. “It's a really nice dynamic on board, Dee brings a huge amount of experience that I haven't had, I think our skills complement each other quite nicely.”
Listen to the full interview with James Harayda
The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Two-Handed Autumn Series comes to a conclusion with the last race scheduled to start on Saturday 10th October. Jangada leads the series, followed by Daniel Jones’ Sun Fast 3300 Wild Pilgrim. Rob Craigie & Deb Fish’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino is third.
Moving to Cherbourg for the finish of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's premier event, the Rolex Fastnet Race next year will see navigators and crews facing a few significant new challenges writes James Boyd
Firstly the new course is 90 miles (or 15%) longer, making it 695 miles, based on the shortest route. Of this the first 500 miles (or 72%) of the course remains unchanged - setting off from the Royal Yacht Squadron line on Sunday 8 August 2021; heading southwest down the English south coast, negotiating Anvil Point, Portland Bill, Start Point and the Lizard en route, before the vital decision over which side to pass the Traffic Separation Scheme exclusion zone off Land's End. Then there are the open ocean crossings to the Fastnet Rock and back to Bishop Rock, southwest of the Scilly Isles.
From here the course changes marginally. From Bishop Rock, it is possible to lay directly Cape de la Hague, the northwesternmost headland of the Cotentin Peninsula, before making the final slight starboard turn for the last 10 miles to the finish line within Cherbourg's harbour. The new course from Bishop Rock is 91°M, compared to 83° to the Lizard, however, the added distance to Cherbourg may affect the make-up of the race overall.
More significant will be the final roll of the dice: how best to tackle one of Europe most powerful tidal gates - the Alderney Race, between Alderney and Cape de la Hague. "This is now the biggest tidal gate of the race," states Moore. "It is strongest off Cape de la Hague, through the Swinge (between Alderney and Burhou, northwest of Alderney) and off the eastern Alderney shore. The tidal effect also covers a much larger area than it does off Portland Bill. There will be winners and losers here and it will be hard to get right."
The Alderney Race’s effect will also be increased after start day’s new moon, with finishers into Cherbourg expecting during a period with a very high tidal coefficient (86-89). The good news is that the Alderney Race runs slightly faster in the fair northerly-northeasterly direction than it does when it is foul. Moore says that navigators will be keenly anticipating their arrival time at the Alderney Race. If it is when it is unfavourable then they try to gain tidal relief by leaving Alderney to port or, more dramatic still, sidestepping the Alderney Race altogether by approaching Cherbourg from the north. This latter route is made less attractive due to the location of the Casquets TSS exclusion zone that forces boats to stay south, unless they wish to round its north side, requiring them to sail 11 additional miles.
UK-based Kiwi navigator Campbell Field was part of the overall winning crew on the 2003 Rolex Fastnet Race on Charles Dunstone’s maxi Nokia and last year was on the top British finisher under IRC, David Collins’ modified TP52 Tala.
His assessment of the new course is similar to that of Ian Moore: “If you look at the prevailing conditions you could expect on an average year with southwesterlies, it will shift the proportions of the race – if it was predominantly upwind and tight reaching and around one third was broad reaching and running - it will flip those proportions. So there will be more open angle sailing. Also the majority of the race will now be post-Fastnet Rock rather than before it. With more downwind, it could well favour the broad reaching/downwind machines that can plane.”
As to the new long final leg between Bishop Rock to the finish, Field observes that while the old course used to be mostly a coastal race, the route to Cherbourg is much more open. “That’s good because there will be weather changes over that period.”
As to the Alderney Race, Field adds: “It is just another obstacle to negotiate, no different to the other tidal gates, but it is something that’ll have to be analysed coming back from the Fastnet. It will be time dependent and if your timing is stacking up to be an hour before or after the tidal gate, that could have a major impact on your race whereas if you get there in the middle of the flow, your strategy is pretty much dictated to you: Get in it and crack on or avoid it! It just adds another interesting navigational dynamic, a new dimension, to the race. I enjoy doing races like the Fastnet because you have constant stimulation...”
The new finish in Cherbourg is due to the joint co-operation of the City of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the Communauté d’agglomération du Cotentin, the Conseil départemental de la Manche and Région Normandie with the RORC. While French boats have dominated recent editions of Rolex Fastnet Race, good knowledge especially of the Alderney Race (or Raz Blanchard as it is known locally) is certain to benefit local residents. One is the 2013 winner, Alexis Loisin, who warns: “Raz Blanchard - there is a lot of current there and maybe the gate there will be open or closed, so you will certainly be able to win or lose the race in the last hours. Your timing must be good – so it is good to have Rolex as a sponsor!”
As Afloat reported previously, Carrickfergus navigator Ian Moore gave an overview of the new course on youtube here
Former successful Irish A35 Fools Gold is continuing her winning ways in new hands on the Solent, lifting an IRC title in Cowes at the weekend under her new name Arcus.
Mid-September it may be, but conditions for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s 2020 IRC championships felt more like June this weekend, with shorts and T-shirts conditions and allowing a full schedule of racing to be laid on by PRO Stuart Childerley and his team. The event concluded today with two windward-leeward races on the central-eastern Solent in more variable and generally lighter winds than on Friday or Saturday.
Despite being new to their A35 Arcus, John Howell and Paul Newell’s crew managed perfect scorelines on day one and today to win not just IRC Three, but the IRC National Championship overall. Given their lack of familiarity with their boat, to earn themselves this coveted title, said Newell “...was beyond our wildest expectations. We were trying to improve our crew and it turned out to be a very successful first outing - an amazing result! It has been a fantastic regatta. There’s been some great racing. I haven’t heard a bad word said about it - thanks very much RORC.”
Conditions this weekend allowed the Arcus crew to try out all their sails including their #1 jib in today’s lighter winds. “Today was a lot nicer although there was a weird tide line and IRC Two weren’t taking any prisoners when we got in among them,” continued Newell.
Demonstrating how the RORC’s IRC rating rule smiles on professionals and amateurs alike, the Arcus crew is firmly in the latter camp, comprising principally co-owners Howell and Newell and their sons, who come from the Buckinghamshire area.
At the opposite end of the IRC spectrum, a 1-3 today was enough to comfortably secure Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Rán victory by five points in IRC One, but a few uncharacteristic blemishes on their scoreline dropped them to second overall.
Having led the fleet around the race track this weekend, Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator finally made up her time to secure her first win of the event in today’s final windward-leeward. “I was a bit rusty, but it is just like falling off a bike!” quipped Langley. “What a great weekend - we couldn’t have picked better weather. It was very enjoyable, nice conditions and good race management. It was nice to be back on the water.” This was Langley’s first event of 2020.
The hardest fought victory across the three classes was that of 2012 winner David Franks aboard his J/112E Leon. They had been handicapped with Franks only coming out of COVID-19 isolation on Friday; maths not working in their favour from the event’s mandatory crew number reduction rules (for social distancing), but mainly from being one of the lowest rated boats in IRC Two and having to find lanes and constantly fight their way up through the fleet. On the plus side the Leon crew had sailed together previously this year. Otherwise, Franks had no complaints: “It has been fabulous, a very good event, well organised. It was lovely to see so many boats out on the Solent.”
Leon posted a 1-2 today with Robert Bottomley’s MAT 12 Sailplane 3 first in the final race. “Normally we do well in the light, despite the fact that we are the smallest boat,” continued Franks. “Today the wind’s velocity was going up and down and was all over the place in direction, so it was hard to know what was going on. It was very challenging, a lot of work.”
Running alongside has been the IRC Two-Handed Nationals. With the increased popularity of this discipline due to it being social distancing-friendly and becoming an Olympic event for Paris 2024, the fleet was packed with talent. Going into the final day Dee Caffari and James Harayda on the Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo was tied with Jeremy Waitt and double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson on Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada. However a 1-3 was enough to secure Gentoo the title as Jangada’s 4-4.5 caused her to drop off the podium, albeit just one point short of second.
Caffari and Harayda coming second in the Drheam Cup was enough to gain them the GBR berth in the recent EUROSAF Mixed Offshore European Championship, where their result was disappointing. As Caffari explained: “We were selected, but had to pay to go: We went to Italy, sailed in an unknown venue on an unknown boat with no support. We had a good inshore race and then made some critical errors offshore and didn’t have the performance we wanted. We were determined to come here and prove a point about why we were selected. We are delighted with our result.”
Gentoo was launched in today’s first race, consolidating their lead on the second leg of their round the cans race by committing to their powerful Code 0 early, but then suffering after being rolled by Gladiator.
Caffari was pleased by the quality of the fleet: “A lot of sailors were here who know what they are doing and know these waters and the tides. It is about eliminating errors and getting around the course cleanly.”
Behind them it was close with second to fifth places separated by just 1.5 points. Ultimately it was Gareth Edmondson and former Artemis Offshore Academy graduate Hugh Brayshaw, who came home second on countback after winning today’s second race by just 16 seconds. Sailing a chartered Sun Fast 3600, this result was a complete surprise for Edmondson who praised his co-skipper, with whom he last sailed doublehanded offshore two years ago. “Hugh is the genius and I just do as I’m told - an autohelm that speaks!” However Brayshaw added their success was down to trust and relying on each other. Both were delighted to be out on the water for the first time this season: “It was fantastic with people simply being able to sail and race and compete. And the standard seemed very high. It was very tight.”
Due to social distancing restrictions, no prizegiving was held.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Summer Series came to a conclusion with the fourth and final race of the RORC Summer Series. A light airs 36-mile race was held in The Solent. Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift took line honours and the overall race win after IRC correction. James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX was second overall, and with the result, won the four-race series. Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada, skippered by Jeremy Waitt, was third overall for the race and for the series. 136 boats entered the RORC Summer Series, which was designed to replace part of the 2020 RORC Season’s Points Championship.
Redshift’s Nick Cherry, a six-time figarista commented: “We really enjoyed this race and the series. Racing with six people, instead of ten, you really have to focus all the time and whilst we adapted our manoeuvres, we made no changes to the systems on board. When we get back to fully-crewed offshore racing, this has served as great practice, as you are in a watch system, often without the full complement of crew on deck.”
Congratulations to the class winners of RORC Summer Series Race 4 including Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader and Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII, sailed two-handed by Henry Bomby & Shirley Robertson.
Overall series winner, RORC Vice Commodore James Neville’s Ino XXX scored a first and two second places in class to win IRC One. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood was second in class and Rob Bottomley’s MAT12 Sailplane 3 was third.
"Well done to the RORC Race Team for coming up with the idea and making it happen,” commented James Neville. “The day races have been quite special, as it’s a good day out for the crew and a real challenge, especially racing Ino XXX with a reduced number. The series has been held in an amazing range of conditions and has been a lot of fun.”
Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster was the run-away winner of IRC Two, scoring two bullets and a third. Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris was second in IRC Two and third in IRC two-handed. Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader was just two points behind in third.
Olympic two-handed hopefuls, Henry Bomby & Shirley Robertson, racing Nigel Colley’s Fastrak XII took the win in IRC Three and second in IRC two-handed. Richard Oswald’s Elan 450 Emily of Cowes was runner-up. Jim Driver’s Sun Fast 3300 Chilli Pepper was third.
After the second race, double Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson commented: “Henry is an amazing young talent who has cut his teeth in the Figaro. Henry is a good teammate and a great teacher. It’s been good to hang out with Henry for the summer.”
Richard Palmer’s Jangada, skippered by Jeremy Waitt, was the clear winner of IRC Four and the winner of IRC two-handed. Chris Frost’s Swan 36 Finola was second in class in the last race to finish runner-up for the series. Tony White’s Sun Fast 3300 Mzungu was third.
Nine multihulls raced during the series and the smallest of the fleet came out on top for the series. Ross Hobson’s Seacart 30 Buzz was the victor. MOD 70 Powerplay, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, with Peter Cunningham on the helm, was second. James Holder’s Dazcat 1295 Slinky Malinki was third.
RORC 2H Autumn Series
Whilst the RORC Summer Series has come to an end, Friday 4th of September marked the start of the 2H Autumn Series. Race One was a race of approximately 100 miles, the first over-night race organised by the RORC since February. Jangada skippered by Jeremy Waitt, was the winner. Rob Craigie & Deb Fish racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino were second. Sun Fast 3300 Wild Pilgrim, skippered by Daniel Jones, was third. The 2H Autumn Series, consisting of three races, continues on Saturday 26th September with another overnight race for two-handed teams.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Summer Series Race 3 was a full-on foam up in 25 knots of breeze gusting over 30. The long day race was a course of about 42 miles for the monohulls with a beat west from the Squadron Line to East Lepe, followed by a scorching downwind leg east through the Solent. After bisecting No Man’s Land and Horse Sand Forts, the downwind sleigh ride took the fleet to Pullar, northeast of the Nab Tower. The final leg was a beat to finish at the Squadron Line.
The stand-out performance in the race was Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII, raced Two-Handed by Henry Bomby & Shirley Robertson. Fastrak XII was the overall winner after IRC time correction and the victor in both IRC Three and IRC Two-Handed.
Bomby and Robertson have set their sights on representing Great Britain in the 2024 Olympics. Bomby is one of Britain's most promising young sailors having raced in four Solitaire du Figaro campaigns, the Volvo Ocean Race and two years with the MOD70 Phaedo3. Shirley Robertson has won two consecutive Olympic Gold medals, and whilst Robertson has offshore experience, the Two-Handed offshore discipline is a new experience.
“Henry is a legend!” commented Shirley Robertson. “We just felt really solid, never on the edge. We made decisions in anticipation and thought it through, making very few errors and sailed a really clean race. The rust is coming away gradually and although offshore racing is a bit unfamiliar for me, a small boat is my bread and butter. We are getting faster and faster, and I have got to say, Henry is an amazing young talent who has cut his teeth in the Figaro. Henry is a good teammate and a great teacher. It’s been good to hang out with Henry for the summer.”
Congratulations to all of the IRC Class Winners in the RORC Summer Series Race 3. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster was the winner of IRC 2 and second overall, Scarlet Oyster scorched around the racetrack in an elapsed time just three seconds shy of Fastrak XII. Rob Bottomley’s MAT12 Sailplane 3, skippered by Nick Jones, took Line Honours for the race, was third overall, and winner of IRC One. Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada, sailed by Jeremy Waitt and Paul Wood, won IRC Four. Ross Hobson’s Seacart 30 Buzz won the Multihull Class.
During the race, Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise was dismasted. However, none of the crew were injured and all returned safely to shore. Tom Kneen expressed his gratitude to the assistance offered by fellow competitors; James Neville’s Ino XXX, Darkwood skippered by Steve Lawrence, and Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane 3.
Full details of the revised RORC racing programme can be found on the RORC website, but in summary: permitted crew offshore can be up to a maximum of six people from any household or two-thirds of a boat's IRC crew number whichever is the least. Competitors are also reminded of the government guidance on social distancing and other Covid-19 measures.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Summer Series comes to a conclusion with the fourth and final race scheduled for Sunday 6th September. Further racing with the club is set to continue in September with a new Two-Handed Autumn Series (4th, 26th Sept. & 10th Oct.) as well as the IRC National Championship (11/13 Sept.) and the IRC Two-Handed National Championship (12/13 Sept.)
For the first time in the history of the London club, the RORC Season’s Points Championship has had to be cancelled. Current restrictions continue to make it impossible to run overnight races for all IRC classes with the result that the last offshore race of the season, the Cherbourg Race has had to be cancelled. With only two races, the RORC Transatlantic Race and the RORC Caribbean 600 having been completed, and three required to constitute a series, the club has had no option but to cancel the 2020 Season’s Points Championship.
“This has been a difficult and unprecedented decision for the club,” said RORC Commodore Steven Anderson. “We were very keen to have one proper offshore race for all classes to allow us to complete the series. We all hoped that by September the restrictions to control the spread of the virus would have been eased sufficiently to allow a sprint to Cherbourg and a good way to end a very frustrating season for all.”
RORC Two-Handed Race to Cherbourg
Instead of the usual season ending Cherbourg Race, the RORC has confirmed the intention to run a two-handed race to Cherbourg. This race which will start on Friday 4th September is in line with current government regulation and has added significance in that the City of Cherbourg will host the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race for the 2021 and 2023 editions.
RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone has been delighted with the number of teams who are participating in the summer series.
“We were pleased to have 133 boats in ‘Race the Wight’, the first race of our Summer Series and interest in the rest of the series is very strong. We decided to start the two-handed race to Cherbourg on the Friday to give the opportunity for those two-handed teams who are involved in the summer series to participate in the last race of the series which is scheduled for Sunday 6th September.”
The RORC Summer Series consists of three additional races on Saturday 15th August, Saturday 22nd August and Sunday 6th September.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club is expecting in excess of 100 entries for Race the Wight, scheduled to start on Saturday 1st August. All entry fees will be donated to the NHS Trust and the Scaramouche Sailing Trust. Race the Wight will be the first of a four-race RORC mini-series during August and September.
“As a charity, we rely on donations and grants. Every pound we receive goes towards getting more students from different backgrounds sailing,” commented Jon Holt, Scaramouche Sailing Trust. “Our next big goal is to be on the start line of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021. We are grateful for the ongoing support from RORC and proud to be named as one of the charities for the race.” The Greig City Academy will have upwards of a dozen students on different boats for the race.
IRC Classes for the 50nm race around the Isle of Wight are still to be confirmed. However, early entries indicate a fleet full of champions with any number of potential victors.
RORC Vice Commodore James Neville racing his HH42 Ino XXX and Ian Atkins’ Melges IC37 Icy are favourites for monohull line honours. The overall winner of the Race the Wight will be decided by time correction using the IRC Rating System. In big upwind conditions Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56 Noonmark IV, skippered by Mike Gilburt, will be a force to be reckoned with. Given the crew limitations and favoured wind conditions, Greg Leonard‘s Class40 Kite (Prev. Maxime Sorel’s V and B, winner 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race) should blast round the island.
“We are looking forward to it,” commented James Neville. “It’s been completely frustrating to have missed racing. We have been modifying the boat over the winter and part of this race will be to test and learn what can be done. The race will give us the experience to move on to the next steps in terms of how we can race the boat given the current restrictions. We have had one training session and it is certainly all on when we gybe. However personally, I wouldn’t go out if we were unable to use spinnakers because it is important to get the boat lit up. We will be racing with six and be taking all the necessary precautions.”
“I am beyond excited!” Exclaimed Ian Atkins. “The challenge now is whittling a crew of nine down to six, but we will probably rotate the crew during the mini-series. Everybody on board is very capable, so they should all get a chance to race during the series. You need all nine crew in a blow on a short windward leeward race, but round the Wight is perfect to stretch our legs without too many corners to negotiate.”
18 J/Boats have already entered the race, Tom Hayhoe and Natalie Jobling will be racing J/105 Mostly Harmless Two-Handed and both work for the NHS Trust. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood won last year’s RORC Channel Race and will be competing with a crew of five.
“With water ballast and a sail configuration designed for short-handed sailing, we are actually sailing with our optimum crew, even with the restrictions,” commented Michael O’Donnell. “The race around the Isle of Wight, starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron, is possibly the most iconic in the world - we just can’t wait to get out there.”
"The permitted crew can be up to a maximum of 6 people from any household or two-thirds of a boat’s IRC crew number whichever is the least"
Eight examples of Beneteau’s Sun Fast yachts have entered including the overall winner of the 2019 RORC Season’s Points Championship, Trevor Middleton’s Black Sheep and last year’s season runner up Bellino, raced two-handed by Rob Craigie and Deb Fish. Two Sun Fast 3300 will be racing, Peter Bacon’s Sea Bear and Jim Driver’s Chilli Pepper.
Five JPKs have already entered, including Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada, overall winner of the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race. Jangada will be facing new teams in similar designs. Peter Butters JPK 10.10 Joy, and JPK 11.80s; Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader and Astrid de Vin’s Il Corvo.
Vintage yachts abound through the fleet including some of the smallest entries, 2019 Quarter Ton Cup Champion Protis, with Ian Southworth on the tiler, will be able to gauge their performance against Tony Hayward’s Blackfun. Past RORC Commodore Peter Rutter will be racing his restored Half Tonner Quokka 9. Giovanni Belgrano is part of the structural design team for INEOS Team UK for the America’s Cup and his 1939 Giles one-off design Whooper has solid form for the race. Whooper is a past winner of the Gold Roman Bowl in the ISC Round the Island Race, beating over a thousand competitors. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster will also be in action and was in fine form recently winning class once again in the RORC Caribbean 600 and overall winner of 2019 RORC Cowes St Malo.
In the MOCRA Class, last year’s ISC race winner will also be competing, Simon Baker’s Dazcat 1495 Hissy Fit. Strong challengers in the multihull class include 2019 RORC Season winner, Ross Hobson’s Sea Cart 30 Buzz, and third in the 2019 RORC Season’s Points Championship, James Holder’s Dazcat 1295 Slinky Malinki.
Full details in the Notice of Race can be found in the Notice of Race but in summary: permitted crew can be up to a maximum of 6 people from any household or two-thirds of a boat’s IRC crew number whichever is the least.
Competitors are also reminded of the government guidance on social distancing and other Covid19 measures.
A while back, the off-the-wall idea was mooted of creating a line of quality face-masks, tastefully printed or even embroidered with sailing and yacht club logos. The world of high fashion was already on to the idea of designer-labelled COVID-contesting kit, and in our more sedately-minded sport, some of us were thinking it might soon become a good idea to have logo-featuring facial covering if the pesky disease thing didn’t go away, thereby requiring us to make mask-wearing as nearly trendy as possible, with - in some cases - the useful juice of a touch of snobbery to give it spice.
Certainly, it will take something extra to get sailing folk to use the things. For us, they generally come with distinctly unpleasant associations, because for anyone who runs a boat with a touch of DIY effort, facemasks are part of the scenario, and they are inextricably linked with the most horrible jobs of all, such as getting the anti-fouling racing-smooth in under the aft end. And though you should of course also be wearing goggles, many don’t, while those of us wearing spectacles find our misery with specs is exacerbated with a mask by seeing everything through thickening mist.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you should immediately use your crisp new club logo-embellished quality facemask for those nasty jobs. But that said, after this coronavirus has been stalking us for a year or two, a certain cachet will attach to arriving down to join your work team of crewmates under the mighty ship, and attacking the preparation work on the nether parts of the vessel attired with an obviously very well-worn washable Royal Cork Yacht Club face mask to protect your schoolgirl complexion, and keep those nauseous fumes and poisonous particles out of the vital tubes.
It reminds me of when I first met up with American sailors wearing the always-trendy Sperry Top-Sider deck shoes. This wasn’t until the 1960s, yet the Top-Siders had been around since 1935, when Paul Sperry had become mighty inventive with non-slip soles after slithering over the side of his boat one night in Long Island Sound while wearing the usual glorified tennis shoes which passed for deck shoes in those days.
His eventual creations, with the uppers based on moccasin design, were soon fashionable, and even in the late 1960s, they still looked so good by comparison with anything in Europe that they were the height of style, and never more stylish than when looking well worn, as though they’d notched a Bermuda Race and then a Fastnet Race as well.
In fact, while I sometimes saw an American wearing an immaculately-polished pair of Top-Siders, there was never any doubt that this was well-loved footwear of considerable vintage, and it was virtually unknown to see anything remotely like a new pair of Top-Siders. Apparently the secret behind this was that, when you finally did have to buy a new pair, you’d get your gardener to wear them for a busy fortnight or even a month before you’d dream of using them yourself……
Royal Ocean Racing Club
We can’t of course get some obliging employee to wear our club-logo facemask to give it honourable venerability, but how the idea of such facemasks turn out will become part of the quaint world of club regalia folklore. Club cravats and bow ties are really a bit too much for most of us, but once upon a time, when people still wore ties, the seahorse-logo neck-tie of Royal Ocean Racing Club (where our own Laura Dillon is currently Rear Commodore) was quite the thing to be qualified to wear, and one evening in that wonderful RORC clubhouse in the heart of London, a fresh-faced young offshore-racing enthusiast burst into the bar and brightly announced to Douglas Campbell, the 100% proof Scottish barman, that he’d just become a member, and would like to buy a tie.
Douglas had a Scots accent so deep and growly you could have run the lighting off it, so he just looked up from under his heavy eyebrows and gruffly demanded: “Silk or Terylene?”
Younger readers, ie anyone under the age of about 60, will need to know that Terylene was the fancy new world-beating synthetic fibre which eventually became known, American-style, as Dacron. Our new young member back in the day in the RORC knew exactly what it meant, but he needed to be apprised of the full significance of the choice, so he responded: “I just don’t know Douglas, which do you recommend?”
Douglas ground out the reply, with his deep slow voice made even slower and deeper and growlier by this over-keen assumption of first-name familiarity:
“Well, if you just want to hold the trousers up, the silk will do. But if you need to start the outboard, then it has to be the Terylene”.
That was then, nowadays people need to be told that many offshore racers’ tenders carried quaint Seagull outboards which you started by winding a removable pull-rope round a wheel on top, and in extemis in the absence or breakage of that pull-rope, you were well stuck if somebody’s tie wasn’t up to the job – it was no laughing matter.
And nor is COVID-19, but heaven knows we need something to brighten our days as the full effects of this pandemic threaten to embrace us again in Lockdown claustrophobia, and we find that our news of sailing sport is increasingly reliant on local events which would probably be much happier to be left on their own to get on with their usually fairly private sailing.
As the dates of what would have been major national and international fixtures come and go with events un-sailed in this pandemic-constrained season, we find we’re cherishing the more manageable second-tier fixtures with a strong home-club bias which can still be staged with the proper controls in place. These are events which will probably have a slightly quirky character combined with a distinct local flavour which will provide an inbuilt level of crowd-control in these strange times.
For they are indeed strange times when, for long enough, it had seemed that “Three’s a crowd” was the mantra of the day, with social-distancing providing the code. And even now when the basics seem to be that we’re allowed close groups of ten if we watch our manners, we must always remember the ultimate fallback ruling is: “If in doubt, stay at home”.
In those circumstances, how do you transfer the safety of home and its instinctively-known rules and restraints into the fluid sociable structures of the group behaviour which used to be the natural basis of sailing’s shoreside post-race gatherings?
Dublin Bay & Cork Harbour cruiser fleets
“With some difficulty, and in a mood of constant vigilance” seems to be the answer, as we see modern classes such as the Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour cruiser fleets develop a controlled form of their normally hyper-sociable programmes, while in classic labour-intensive classes such as the Dun Laoghaire Water Wags and the Howth 17s, it seems to be a matter of baby steps - for want of a more robust phrase – as acceptable crew bubbles are evolved to make racing possible.
But with every race in a shortened season thus becoming more precious in an already limited programme, people will not lightly relinquish their carefully-assembled crew bubbles for initially attractive short-handed events. Thus when it was announced some time ago that Howth’s annual Aqua Restaurant Two-Hander Race’s format – formerly aimed at the cruisers – was going to be extended to all Howth classes when raced today (Saturday, July 18th), it seemed a reasonable enough idea at the time, when personnel limitations looked like being a central theme of the 2020 season.
However, since then the ancient Howth Seventeens have been carefully building up their fleet afloat together with the maximum crew groupings qualified to race the boats, so now their attitude to the Two-Hander invitation is: “Thanks, but no thanks”.
In a normal season, the 1898-established Howth class would sail an impressive total of between 55 and 60 races. But in this shortened season, even with some add-ons if the Autumn proves clement there’ll be far fewer races, and each one will be that much more precious as a result.
The time-honoured Saturday Howth 17 contests - each one a mini-regatta with the fleet resplendent in their jackyard topsails – have become such a pillar of the class’s programme that the idea of one of them being a race in which personnel numbers are reduced to just two per boat is something which smacks of sacrilege when they’ve found that a Howth 17 will often give of her best with four on board.
In an age when modernity is such a dominant feature of popular thinking, building up such a large group of enthusiasts with their shared joy in racing boats of an ancient type is a remarkable community achievement, but it doesn’t just happen by accident. Slightly interested newcomers are gently but persuasively drawn into the net until they become totally committed class enthusiasts.
And though the boats are based on a revered One-Design concept, an assiduously maintained double-scoring system of both scratch and handicap divisions is a class-strengthening recognition of the differences in human abilities and aptitudes, as it ensures that nearly every boat genuinely wins a prize.
In some ways, this was the biggest difference I noticed when I moved from the north to the south of Ireland very many years ago. Up north, One-Design means One-Design, and the idea of having a handicap division within a One-Design class probably offended against the tenets of the majority religion.
But in Dublin Bay and Howth, handicapping in One-Designs was regarded as being every bit as normal as having handicaps in club golf, and it was something which contributed greatly to the extraordinary longevity and good health of many of the OD classes.
The strong historical basis of all this became evident recently when the Water Wags Honorary Treasurer David Clarke was putting some old paperwork in order, and he discovered that the yellowing documents included a copy of the Evening Herald for Friday 3rd September 1939.
At first glance, you might think the Dublin daily evening paper had been kept because its front page featured disturbing news from Eastern Europe regarding an increasing unpleasantness between Germany and Poland. Indeed, maybe that had something to do with it. But the real reason it is in there is because it includes the DBSC Handicaps for the next day’s racing, on Saturday, September 4th 1939.
And they don’t half bend over backwards to keep everyone in each class involved. Few more so than the Water Wags. They may not match the mixed cruisers, where one boat – the deliciously misnamed Windward – is allowed 41 minutes. But then the Water Wags were allegedly One-Design, yet northern OD sailors would have been appalled to discover that they were so tolerant that one boat – Glanora – was generously allowed all of 15 minutes by the two hotshots, Coquette and Penelope.
Olympians Finn Lynch & Annalise Murphy
Quite what handicaps the number cruncher of 1939 would have applied to Olympians Finn Lynch and Annalise Murphy who won the Water Wags on scratch this week is beyond the realms of speculation, but those seriously interested in the well-being of grass roots sailing will have noted that Ian Malcolm with the 1915-vintage Barbara (allowed 4 minutes back in 1939) placed fourth on scratch in the Wags on Wednesday in Dun Laoghaire, while on Tuesday he had taken line honours with his 1898-vintage Howth 17 Aura at Howth, a double classics performance which few if ever can have achieved before, and evidence that, truncated season or not, some people are determined to get in just as much sailing as they can in this truncated season of 2020.
Thus they’re now developing the idea that Howth’s attractive marina/clubhouse complex provides an ideal sailing sport setup in the time of coronavirus, as on the land side it’s a completely closed compound which also provides the club’s only access to moored boats in the outer harbour, a closed compound where entry can easily be restricted to one gateway, and registration and contact tracing can be rapidly developed, particularly with Wave Regatta from 11th to 13th September in mind.
Round the Kish
As it is, the sailors of Howth have been quietly putting their good fortune to proper use, with the second race of the Fingal Series being staged last Saturday to see Dermot Skehan put in a masterclass demo with his Humphreys-designed Toughnut to do a horizon job on the rest of the fleet of sixteen in a race which took them out round the Kish, and meanwhile, HYC Cruising Group Captain Willie Kearney liaised with the sailing club at Skerries (where so far as I know there’s still no harbour master) in order to ensure that there’d be enough clear quay space for his fleet of 18 Howth cruisers to berth in a social-distance compliant style, and Skerries Sailing Club obliged.
Meanwhile, we note that the Royal Irish YC is right up to speed with the continuing twists and turns of the un-winding and re-winding of the regulations, with a crisp notice issued yesterday informing members that if they want a beer or two after today’s DBSC race, they must still order food with it.
Some day, some day maybe very distant, somebody is going to set a mighty computer to work at calculating just how much weight the thirstier part of our nation has had to put on in order to be comfortably un-parched, and yet COVID-compliant….
After a long and open discussion by the RORC Race Management team, senior members of the RORC Committee, and with advice from medical experts, it has been decided that any overnight race that the Club would run would not adhere to the UK Government guidance currently in place. As a result, the Ushant race has been cancelled and in its place will be organised a long day race in the English Channel using laid and virtual marks, starting and finishing in Cowes.
"It was a difficult decision as we were all keen to run a proper offshore race," said RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. "The crux of the decision was based around the guidance that overnight stays away from home are permitted, but only with others from the same or one other household. So whilst a group of up to six people from different households can meet outside, and therefore race a boat (subject to social distancing), they cannot stay together overnight. Our medical expert also pointed out that it would be impossible to honour the 1m+ social distancing guidance when down below in all but the largest race boats."
"The RORC has to take a responsible position when organising offshore races and although teams are in the open air where transfer of the virus is dramatically reduced, we had to consider the position while below decks and the current Government guidance on staying away from home overnight," said RORC Commodore Steven Anderson. "The decision only affects the Ushant race and we will consider the options for the Cherbourg race (Friday September 4th) at the end of July."
RORC Mini Series
The RORC will now put in place a series of long day races which will include the 'Race the Wight' on Saturday August 1st, a round the cans day race in the Channel on Saturday 15th August and another long day race on Saturday 22nd August, with the Cherbourg race (or its replacement, on Saturday September 5th) and trophies awarded to each class winner, the Two Handed division and overall.
Race the Wight
Given that Government guidance now allows up to six people from different households to race on the same boat, the RORC Race Management team have also reviewed the eligibility criteria for the forthcoming Race the Wight, scheduled for the 1st August. There is no change to the Two Handed division, but the number of crew on any boat will be limited to six in total, or two thirds of the IRC crew number (rounded down), whichever is the least, with a minimum of three people.
RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone notes: "With the changes in regulations we believe that adopting the maximum crew of six people or two thirds of the boats IRC crew number (rounded down) is a fair solution for all the fleet and allows the smaller boats a greater opportunity to observe social distancing guidelines."
The race will replace the originally scheduled Channel Race and is open to COVID-19 compliant crews following Government regulations in both the Two-Handed and family/same-household classes.
Race entries are required to have an IRC TCC of 0.900 and above.
RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone comments: "It's been extremely difficult to know what changes to racing will allow us to go back to our original programme; taking into consideration the current regulations and social distancing measures, plus the need to protect the integrity of the season point score. It's our belief that the Channel Race may be a little too early to allow fully crewed racing and would potentially be difficult with regulations not permitting overnight racing. We, therefore, think a race around the Isle of Wight (for those who can), is a great compromise as crews can enjoy a distance race with an offshore element whilst still remaining close to the Solent."
Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the 50-nautical mile race will adhere to the latest Government guidelines and advice from the RYA and World Sailing. The safety of all competitors, staff and volunteers are of primary concern as the RORC continues to monitor the Coronavirus outbreak carefully.
The fleet will race anti-clockwise, heading westwards towards Yarmouth, leaving the Solent and rounding the famous Needles Lighthouse before making their way along south-west coast of the Island to St. Catherine's Point before crossing Sandown Bay to round the Bembridge Ledge. The fleet then makes its way either side of No Man's Land Fort and across Osborne Bay to the finish line back at Cowes.
RORC member, Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard raced around the course in 3h 43m and regular RORC racer, Ned Collier Wakefield took just 2h 22m on the MOD70 Concise 10 - just short of Brian Thompson's ratified World Sailing Speed Racing Council record of 2h 2m 31s in Phaedo3 in Sept 2016! Although these records show the potential speeds possible from these impressive racing machines, the course can take anything up to 12 hours for some of the smaller entries.
All competitors will register their own finish times after crossing the line and submit them for the final results.
"It should be a very nice day of racing for those two handed teams who can follow the guidelines and those sailing families/households who can do the same," continues Stone. "Sadly the timing of the tides doesn't allow us to include the smaller entries, but we think we can give most people a start and their first longer race since the lockdown. Staff and volunteers are really looking forward to Race the Wight as well; I think it's good for everyone.
"We have some nice prizes for the class winners and for our overall winner, and with entry fees going to the Scaramouche Sailing Trust and the NHS, we couldn't be happier about the whole event. It's a great way to re-start the season," concludes RORC Racing Manager, Stone.