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Golden Oldies Shine In RORC’S 400-Mile Race Round Ouessant

17th August 2016
The classic Swan 47 Sarabande (left) in Wicklow after winning Class 2 in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016. Berthed outside her is Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam!, currently lying 13th overall and fourth in IRC 3 in the RORC Ouessant Race The classic Swan 47 Sarabande (left) in Wicklow after winning Class 2 in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016. Berthed outside her is Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam!, currently lying 13th overall and fourth in IRC 3 in the RORC Ouessant Race Photo: W M Nixon

#Offshore - Take a classic GRP production-built offshore racer, well matured in years but still in basically good shape, and give her lots of TLC. Add a good wardrobe of new sails and other discretionary go-fast equipment. Then race her regularly with determination and skill, and every so often you’ll find you have a boat which, thanks to a sensibly low rating, can embarrass the new machines when conditions suit, writes W M Nixon.

Thus, in predicting the top ten favourites for the Volvo Round Ireland race in June, we included Richard Loftus’s vintage Swan 65 Desperado. The thinking was that, with strong winds forecast for the long slug along the South Coast, and with the marathon character of the race itself, a hefty big well-sailed classic Swan that provides comfort for her crew would do well in the long run.

Our thinking was right, but we picked the wrong ‘hefty big well-sailed classic Swan’. We should have plumped for Richard Mabley’s Swan 47 Sarabande, a fine boat that won Class 2, and would have done better overall (she was 15th) except that the hyper-calm just north of Rockabill saw her so stopped that she ended up pointing in the wrong direction. When the wind trickled back, it took so long to get steerage way on her again, and pointing towards Wicklow, that lighter zippier boats she’d been pacing with were now on the southern horizon.

In the current and rather intriguing 400-mile RORC Cowes-Wolf Rock-Ouessant-St Malo Race, which started on Sunday 14 August, the manageable sailing, and the regular slowbacks by adverse tide, have seen the low-rated oldies moving up the rankings.

The current overall leader on IRC is Jonathan Rolls Swan 38 Xara, which dates from the early 1970s. But quite how long Xara will remain in that overall lead is doubtful, as she’s currently struggling to round Ouessant while making just 1.7 knots over the ground. And second overall is Eric de Turckheim’s all-conquering A13 Teasing Machine, which is just 68 miles from the finish, and on course at 7.0 knots.

RORC Ouessant trackerThe tracker for the 400-mile RORC Cowes-Wolf Rock-Ouessant-St Malo Race at 1300hrs today (Tuesday)

Lying third is a real blast from the past, the 1976 Half Tonner Silver Shamrock (Stuart Greenfield). Winner of the Half Ton Worlds in 1976 under Harold Cudmore’s command, the 30ft Silver Shamrock (rating just 0.884) is closing in on Ouessant, but making a crisp 5.6 knots.

The three Irish boats in the race are RORC Commodore Michael Boyd’s JPK 10.80 Audrey (currently 14th overall and fifth in IRC 3), Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36 Bam (13th overall and fourth in IRC 3), and Alan Hannon’s Reichel Pugh 45 Katsou (17th overall in IRC and second in IRC 1).

Published in Offshore

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