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Charal's arrival completes the IMOCA podium but the racing rages on, especially for 4th and 5th between Initiatives Coeur and Arkéa-Paprec. The front of the Class 40 remains incredibly close with the current leader now just 600 miles from the finish. The Ultimes are now all safely in port.

A third-placed finish for the third time running for Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt.

The pair crossed the line in the early hours following a titanic cat and mouse chase with Apivia who finished second earlier in the day. The all-French crew also finished third in 2013 and the 2019 edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre race.

Charal and Apivia spent much of the time within sight of each other. It was only in the last 1,200 miles in the gybing battle along the Brazilian coastline, that Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat began to stretch ahead on Apivia.

Beyou and Pratt took 19 days 14 hours 59 minutes and 36 seconds to cover the 5,800 theoretical miles from Le Havre at an average speed of 12.21 knots, but they actually covered 6,574.22 miles at 13.96 knots. Her gap to the winner, LinkedOut, was 1 day 13 hours 38 minutes and 26 seconds.

Beyou said, "You have to be satisfied with a podium finish when there are great winners like Thomas (Ruyant) and Morgan (Lagravière), big congratulations to them. The gaps between the boats don't necessarily reflect the differences in level, the weather made things very difficult"

IMOCA fleet still thrilling

Can Briton Sam Davies in her 2010-built boat reel in the faster, newer Arkéa-Paprec to claim fourth place? That's the big question as the two boats race to the finish. Sébastien Simon and Yann Elies have a 20 mile advantage on Inititiatives Coeur with only 120 miles to the finish line.

Just a little further back in sixth is Davies' partner Romain Attanasio, who is in turn locked into a three boat battle with Italy's Ginacarlo Pedote on Prysmian Group and Corum L'Epargne.

Ultimes - and then there were five

The final Ultime competing, Sodebo Ultim 3 crossed the finish line overnight. It marked the end of a difficult and frustrating race for Thomas Coville and Thomas Rouxel. The huge multihull hit an object north of Madeira and despite stopping for repairs its co-skippers had to nurse the boat all the way across the Atlantic.

The pair took 19 days 14 hours 32 minutes 41 seconds to complete the race covering 9,573.33 miles at an average speed of 20,35 knots. The finished 3 days 12 heures 43 minutes 25 seconds behind the winning boat.

Class 40 - nailbiting stretch to finish line

The leading pack is keeping us on the edge of our seats. In the lead, Antoine Carpentier and Pablo Santurde Del Arco (Redman) have 600 miles to go to the finish line. The leading four boats are within only 40 miles of each other. As they approach Martinique the current angle of the wind will force the leaders to gybe. Benoit Hantzberg (Volvo) explains: "It's tricky because gybing is like going backwards, it takes us further away. We're going to head for Martinique as much as possible, because the first to gybe leaves the others free to take the podium."

The north-easterly trade winds are forcing the chasing pack to make a southerly course so that they too can gain some angle on the climb to the finish.

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Significant changes to the ISORA 2022 fixtures schedule (downloadable here) on the Irish Sea will be discussed online at this year's Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) Annual General Meeting.

The offshore body promotes offshore racing on both side of the channel, principally from Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay and Pwllheli in North Wales.

As Afloat previously reported, it is proposed to hold two Coastal Series, one on each side of the Irish Sea. Points for the Coastal series will not count for the Wolf’s Head. The Coastal Series will have its own signature trophies.

The AGM will be held virtually by 'Zoom' on Saturday 4th December 2021 at 11.00 hours.

The meeting is for the transaction of the following business:-

  • To approve the minutes of the previous AGM.
  • To approve the accounts for the year to November 2021
  • To elect Officers of the Association for the ensuing year.
  • To elect members of the Committee
  • To Agree the 2022 Race Management Detail and Proposed Race Schedule

The meeting is for the following categories:

  • 2019, 2020 and 2021 Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2022 prospective Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2021 Committee Members
  • 2022 Committee Members (proposed)
  • Yacht/Sailing Club Representatives

Voting will be restricted to one vote per ISORA participating boat.  Questions for the AGM are required to be forwarded to the Hon Sec before 2nd December 2021

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Afloat reported in August that the Irish duo of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee aboard RL Sailing had been denied a podium position in the Fastnet Race despite crossing the finishing line ahead of her class rivals.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) race jury later found that RL Sailing had unintentionally entered a commercial shipping TSS (prohibited zones under race rules) and awarded them a 10% penalty dropping them to last place.

Despite the team's protest and redress requests, the jury apparently relied on the screenshot of the Yellowbrick tracker that showed RL Sailing inside the RSS.

However, an Afloat investigation identified several other vessels that the Yellowbrick tracker put inside the TSS that were not penalised by the race jury.

Furthermore, screenshots from the tracking app appear to show boats missing out on rounding the Fastnet.

The yacht in this picture is clearly in TSS, but recorded as a legitimate finisher in 162nd place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Challenger II inside TSSA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing a yacht inside the TSS (displayed in a red tint) 

In the screenshot below the yacht, Horus seems to not only be in the TSS but her track suggests she failed to round the Fastnet. Results show her as a genuine finisher in 118th place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet RockA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet Rock

The J/125 Magic Wind was recorded finishing in 76th place, but the tracking screenshot suggests that she too missed the Fastnet and entered the TSS.

 A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet

Afloat is not suggesting that there was any wrongdoing by these vessels, but rather that the source of evidence relied on in the protest room - the Yellowbrick tracker - is questionable.

If this evidence was available to RL Sailing in the protest room, would the outcome have been different?

RORC did not respond when Afloat put these questions to them.

UPDATE: October 16 2021: RORC Racing Director Chris Stone responded as follows:

1. Was any action taken against these boats for what appears to be infringements of the SIs?

No further action was taking with regards Magic Wind, Horus & Challenger I (not Challenger II as you had referenced). Race Committee (RC) had concluded that none of the boats in question crossed into a TSS zone. For your information both Magic Wind & Horus had tracker failures (water ingress after a heavy couple of days) prior crossing the Celtic Sea and were put on AIS transmission. Both boats had received positions outside the TSS zone (clearly closer to land) and were then reported further down the course south of the Isles of Scilly and again when in AIS range closer to France. Both boats appear to have cut the course due to the dead reckoning between actual AIS positions. In the case of Challenger I on the western side of the Fastnet TSS, a failed satellite report and variations in boat speed meant that dead reckoning place them within the TSS zone while actually being outside. In cases where the RC cannot find evidence to prove a boat was outside the TSS zone, boats are scored with the standard penalty and asked to provide proof of their course, speed and heading to the international jury at the event, should they wish to.

2. If so was it a DSQ and reinstatement on the basis of evidence supplied?

None of the 3 boats identified were given a penalty because the RC had already determined they hadn’t breached the obstruction.

3. If not, was this because of any malfunction by the tracking system?

As noted above two boats had failed trackers and we were using AIS positioning as a safety precaution (which as we all know has very limited range). The third boat had a failed satellite transmission.

4. If the tracker malfunctioned on these three occasions, would it not be appropriate for those boats that were disqualified to request reinstatement?

No – individual tracking units failing or a failed satellite transmission doesn’t represent a failure or malfunctioning tracking system. In all cases, boats who have an issue with their penalty have the right of reply through an international jury. The jury is onsite at the event and open for this very reason (and other protest matters as well). In all cases where competitors wish to take the matter to the International Jury, they are asked to provide satisfactory evidence that they weren’t in the TSS zone (which is easy enough to do with ALL modern navigation technology) or alternatively show evidence that through no fault of their own they breach the TSS zone. For your information, all competitors are also made aware that taking a matter to an International Jury gives them no right of appeal after the decision of the international jury, as laid out in the Racing Rule of Sailing.

Some other points that may help in publishing further facts in relation to the matter around RL Sailing;

  • Satellite tracking is extremely accurate. YB trackers report multiple GPS fixes in a single satellite transmission, meaning that in one transmission (which is every 15 minutes at that point of the race) they can have up to 90 GPS fixes, if requested to do so.
  • The YB tracking system is set up specifically for Rolex Fastnet and the TSS zones are set up within the system as ‘poly-fences’. Any time a boat comes close to a poly-fence the YB tracking unit automatically requests higher frequency GPS reporting to monitor its approach into the TSS zone.
  • The RC also use a two box theory to identify boats within a TSS zone. 1 - being the outer box that is the actual TSS coordinates and then 2 - an inner box set some distance inside the outer box to allow for a higher degree of accuracy for a breach. Any boat with multiple GPS fixes inside box 2 will receive a standard penalty.
  • All penalties and protests for all boats can be found here https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com/en/competitors/race-documents/race-documents . Hearing 8 is the matter in relation to RL Sailing.
  • For your information there were only 4 boats in the Figaro III class, RL Sailing came 3rd after the penalty.
  • RORC and the RC made every effort to help RL Sailing after receiving a penalty, including allowing Pamela Lee to review the RC data about the breach and distances involved, and specifically identifying information required that would be useful in pleading her case with an International Jury.
  • From the hearing decision, RL Sailing appear to be unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.

RORC ‘s ongoing position remains the same, as it has done for more than a decade, the club elects for the purpose of safety and prudent seamanship, in what can be busy commercial shipping areas, to have TSS zones as obstructions within its sailing instructions. Those obstruction breaches receive a standard penalty and allow the RC to enforce any breach of an obstruction when there is suitable proof to do so. RORC regularly reminds competitors of the need to take a wide berth of areas of obstruction and allow for clearance when rounding marks or corners of any obstruction. These penalties and obstructions are clearly identified in ALL RORC race sailing instructions.

Additionally, Chris Stone emphasises RORC 'feels strongly' in representing the following facts;

  • For RORC this is a broad safety issue. The sailing instructions clearly state that TSS infringements will be penalised! This has been the case for a number of years and prior to 2020 the penalty was 20%.
  • YB Tracking (satellite tracking) is extremely reliable and the information is suitable any number of purposes, including determining breaches. As we are aware YB tracking is the industry standard for almost all major events (Vendee, Middle Sea, Hobart, Route du Rhum) and they all use YB tracking for similar purposes including identifying penalties.
  • The 3 boats raised in your email (and there were others) were all reviewed and identified as having sailed the course without entering an obstruction zone.
  • RL Sailing was NOT the only boat who received a 10% standard penalty for TSS infringement. There were several other boats across the entire fleet who received the same penalty.
  • RL Sailing did attend a hearing with the international jury and the jury found RL Sailing was unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.
  • There was no failure or malfunction of the tracking system that had adversely affected RL Sailing’s position in relation to a TSS zone. There were individual tracker failures which highlighted areas of further investigation which were reviewed by the RC.

The RORC are aware that this is an extremely disappointing penalty for RL Sailing however RORC operates fairly and without bias for all competitors in relation to the rules within the sailing instruction and we feel in the case of TSS infringements we have conducted ourselves appropriately.

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Out of an entry list of 13 boats, seven will take part in the last offshore of the Musto ISORA Offshore Series on Saturday. 

The 'Long Offshore' will start from Pwllheli in North Wales at 10 am and sail a course to Dun Laoghaire Harbour to conclude the 2021 season.

While there are only seven boats taking part, they are the top boats of the year and the overall placings in the Irish and UK Musto ISORA Offshore Series will be decided by this race.

ISORA James Eadie race fleetISORA James Eadie race fleet

Known affectionately by ISORA sailors as the “James Eadie Race” it is traditionally the last race of the ISORA season.

As there were only two possible combined offshore races this season between the Welsh and Irish fleets, the Wolf’s Head Trophy for the Musto ISORA Offshore Champion, will not be awarded in 2021.

The race can be followed on the YB tracker app and on the ISORA website.

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club Season’s Points Championship concludes this weekend in the UK with the Castle Rock Race, the grand finale for the RORC season. The eleventh and final race for 2021 will decide the class winners for the world’s largest offshore racing series. Over 400 teams will have competed in the championship over the twelve-month series.

Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise secured the overall championship win in last month’s Rolex Fastnet Race. However, the overall runner up for the season will be decided after the Castle Rock Race. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader is currently second, but three teams are very much in contention: ISORA's Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra, Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, and Dubliner Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood.

VME Racing’s CM60 Venomous © Carlo BorlenghiVME Racing’s CM60 Venomous © Carlo Borlenghi

In IRC Zero, VME Racing’s CM60 Venomous is in pole position but David Collins’ Botin IRC52 Tala is favourite to retain the IRC Zero title by completing the final race. Eric de Turckheim’s NYMD 54 Teasing Machine is currently third but a good result by Ross Hobson and Adrian Banks' Pegasus Of Northumberland will see them overtake Teasing Machine for third.

Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood © Paul Wyeth/RORCMichael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC One will have a new champion for the series, as neither of the top contenders has won the class before. Michael O'Donnell’s Darkwood has a five-point lead over Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra with both boats unlikely to be able to better their current scores. Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II had a superb Rolex Fastnet Race and is odds on to claim the final podium position, ahead of Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift.

Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Paul Wyeth/RORCRoss Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Paul Wyeth/RORC

In IRC Two Tom Kneen’s Sunrise is virtually unbeatable. However, Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster is looking strong for runner-up in the class with Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader assured of at least third place for the season.

Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two-Handed with Deb Fish © Rick Tomlinson/RORCRob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two-Handed with Deb Fish © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

A record 83 IRC Two-handed teams have been racing in the RORC Season’s Points Championship and the class winner will be decided in the Castle Rock Race. Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing with Deb Fish, leads the class for the season by just over seven points from Nigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. Bellino was the champion in 2019, Cora was second.

In IRC Three, there are four Sun Fast 3600 battling for the podium. Bellino looks set to win the class, having been runner-up in 2019 by less than two points. Bellino is only four points ahead of James Harayda’s Gentoo, racing Two-Handed with Dee Caffari. However, Gentoo has not entered this weekend’s race. Battling for the final podium position are the Army Sailing Association’s Fujitsu British Soldier and Nick Martin’s Diablo.

Nigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. © Rick Tomlinson/RORCNigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

In IRC Four, the podium for the season looks to be decided prior to the Castle Rock Race. Cora has an unassailable lead and will win IRC Four for the first time. Renaud Courbon & Emmanuel Winsback, racing First Class 10 Shortgood, is in second place.

Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada, racing with Jeremy Waitt, is less than two points behind in third, but Jangada is en route to the Rolex Middle Sea Race and will not be competing in the Castle Rock Race.

Greg Leonard’s Class40 Kite © Paul Wyeth/RORCGreg Leonard’s Class40 Kite © Paul Wyeth/RORC

37 Class40 teams have competed in the championship. Greg Leonard’s Kite is entered for the Castle Rock Race for somewhat of a lap of honour having won class for the season. Sam Goodchild’s Multi 50 Leyton will be making a RORC debut, with plans to compete in next year’s RORC Caribbean 600.

Yachts taking part in the Castle Rock Race will start to gather off Cowes Parade from around 1800 on Friday 10th September. The full entry list and AIS tracking link can be found here and also via smartphones with the YB App. 

Once back in Cowes competitors will experience the warm welcome by the RORC Cowes Clubhouse where the prizegiving will extend to an evening of partying, with competitors and their guests enjoying all that the Clubhouse has to offer.

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ISORA will stage its first cross-channel race in nearly two years on Saturday morning for a 75-mile offshore race from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Pwllheli.

Despite teething problems with COVID passports, new customs procedures, a clash with deliveries to Calves Week Regatta, and this weekend's Lions Rugby match, an eight boat fleet will start Dun Laoghaire outfall buoy for an 8 am start.

Four Dublin boats and four Welsh boats will test the waters, but the reigning champion Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club along with the Royal St. George top performer Aurelia, both from Dublin Bay, have pulled out.

Nevertheless, there's still a potent lineup with two J/109 designs, a J/125 as well as some Jeanneau Sunfast marques competing.

The starters are: A Plus (Archambault 31), Indian (J109), More Mischief (First 310) and Elandra from Dublin Bay and Mojito (J109), Zig Zag (Sunfast 3600), Jac Y Do (Sunfast 3200i) and Jackknife (J 125) from Pwllheli.

J/109 Indian from Howth

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120 boats competed in the 2021 Cowes Dinard St Malo Race. The historic race which dates back to 1906, was won overall by RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was second and Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift was third. In the modern era, James Neville is the first RORC Commodore in office to win the King Edward VII Cup.

“Some amazing sailors have been Commodore of the RORC, so this is a proud achievement,” commented James. “We got a fantastic start and held onto Teasing Machine up the Solent. It was a challenging race for the navigator Coriolan (Rousselle), especially to judge how far west we could go to hedge our bets with the tide. Then when the wind went very unstable, we stuck to our plan and cracked off for speed. The tactic worked as we were lifted to get ahead of Redshift. We are really happy about our performance because light winds beating is not really our best conditions, it is not what we are set up for, but we really played our hand very well.”

Line Honours for the MOCRA Class was taken by Francis Joyon’s IDEC. Line Honours for monohulls ,and winner of IRC Zero, was Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine. Congratulations to all the class winners: Nicolas Jossier’s Class40 La Manche #EvidenceNautique, Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader, Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee², and Elizabeth Wallis’ Albin Express, Expressly Forbidden.

Full Results here

By the morning of the race, 40 French and Dutch boats had sailed to Cowes to compete. On receiving YB Trackers delivered by RORC RIB, all of the overseas teams were delighted by the warm RORC welcome. The club was equally delighted that so many overseas sailors teams had made the effort in these unusual times.

The 150 nautical mile race started off the Squadron Line in brilliant sunshine and light airs. Race fans enjoyed a spectacular view from Cowes, as the majority of the fleet started on the island shore as the tide began to turn favourably to the west. A building south-westerly breeze arced up the boats in the Western Solent for an impressive send-off past The Needles and into the English Channel. Conditions offshore were extremely unstable, the prevailing wind was a light southerly, but the fleet experienced significant changes in wind strength and direction, which coupled with strong tide provided a complex conundrum. Managing the changing conditions was rewarded with a top performance.

 Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan DehayesFrancis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan Dehayes Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

MOCRA Class

Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan Dehayes, had an extraordinary dial up for the start of the race. The two giant trimarans circled each other match racing for position. Actual seemed to win the start, racing to windward of IDEC in a controlling position. IDEC was just ahead of Actual at The Needles and eventually pulled away. A westerly breeze kicked in as IDEC rounded the Casquets, ramping up the trimaran to over 20 knots of boat speed. IDEC took Multihull Line Honours and the win in the MOCRA Class. Andrew Fennell’s Morpheus was the third to finish and second in the MOCRA Class. James Holder’s Dazcat 1295 Slinky Malinki completed the MOCRA podium.

Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine and Ultim Actual cross tacks at the startEric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine and Ultim Actual Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

 IRC One Start at the RYS Line CowesIRC One Start at the RYS Line Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

IRC One

RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX and Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift had yet another close battle in IRC One. Ino XXX eventually winning the class by approximately five minutes after time correction. David Cummins’ Ker 39 Rumbleflurg was the early leader but finished third in class, just ahead after time correction of Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood retains the class lead from Redshift. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra is third.

Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. © Paul Wyeth/RORCEd Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Two

Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was the winner, scoring an impressive victory over Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise by nearly two hours after time correction. Dawn Treader was very close to winning the race overall, just over two minutes behind Ino XXX after time correction. Christopher Daniel’s J/122e was third in IRC Three.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Sunrise is still the overall and IRC Two Class leader. Dawn Treader is second in both overall and class.

Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee²Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee². © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Three

Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee² was the first boat in class to finish and was the winner in IRC Three after time correction. Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO, racing Two-Handed with Eivind Bøymo-Malm, was second and Noel Racine’s JPK 1030 Foggy Dew was third.

“I have always wanted to win class in the St Malo Race, but this is the first time I have achieved that,” smiled Louis-Marie Dussere. “We know that Raging-Bee² is a good boat for upwind but so is the J/109 JAGO. Noel Racine (Foggy Dew) is a good friend ashore but a fantastic enemy offshore. So, we are really happy with this win, and it has been wonderful to race with the RORC again. At Les Hanois, I think we were about fifth, but the wind disappeared, and we had a re-start. Raging-Bee² put in a really good finish, and to be honest the wind stopped again just after we crossed the line. This was a great race against really good opposition.”

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship in IRC Three and IRC Two Handed, Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing with Deb Fish, is the new leader. James Harayda’s Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, racing with Dee Caffari, is second, and Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris, racing with Maggie Adamson, is third.

IRC Three start at the RYS Line Cowes. © Paul Wyeth/RORCIRC Three start at the RYS Line Cowes. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Two Handed

31 teams started the race in IRC Two Handed Elizabeth Wallis racing her Albin Express Expressly Forbidden with Bryn Phillips, revelled in the light upwind conditions to win by approximately seven minutes after IRC time correction from Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO. Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews, racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora was third. Elizabeth Wallis and Bryn Phillips are both under thirty and taking part in their first RORC race of the season. Expressly Forbidden, with an overall length of 25ft was the smallest boat in the race.

120 boats compete in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race. © Paul Wyeth/RORC120 boats compete in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Four

Expressly Forbidden was the winner with Cora second. Jonathan Rolls' Swan 38 Xara had an excellent race following on from the overall win for the De Guingand Bowl. Xara was third in class for the St Malo Race. The classic yawl Amokura, sailed by Paul Moxon & Steve Jones, was the last boat to finish the race. With great tenacity, the team did not waiver from their goal to finish the race, taking nearly two and a half days to complete the course.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Cora leads IRC Four by just over five points from Stuart Greenfield’s S&S 34 Morning After with Xara third. 

The Royal Ocean Racing Club Season’s Points Championship continues with The Channel Race, scheduled to start on Saturday 24th July. 

Published in RORC
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Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox's J/109 Mojito were winners of the Tremadog Bay 'pop up' Regatta at Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales.

This Welsh regatta was organised over the same days as the cancelled Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta - hence its “pop up” moniker.

It produced a great local fleet of 14 offshore boats with IRC racing for Class One and two and inshore boats.

There were four days of 'Round the Cans' races as well as a day to take in the sights of Tremadog Bay.

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IRC Zero represents the glamour end of the keelboat fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. It’s likely that we’ll see line honours go to one of the maxis in the class, perhaps George David’s 88ft defending line honour champion Rambler 88 (USA), if she can keep the freshly launched ClubSwan 125 Skorpios (MON) at bay.

Traditionally IRC Zero produces the most overall winners. Over the last 10 editions, half have been won by IRC Zero competitors, including Niklas Zennstrom's two-time winner Ran 2, while David and Peter Askew's VO70 Wizard won overall IRC honours and the Fastnet Challenge Cup in 2019.

Aside from the fully professional teams competing aboard the ‘no excuse to lose’ maxis, there is a growing charter market in the Volvo Ocean 65 and Volvo Open 70 boats. These canting-keeled flying machines were thought to be cutting-edge technology less than a decade ago, and initially were considered too powerful and not sufficiently reliable for the keen amateur crew looking to charter a fast ride to the Rock. However, attitudes have shifted as keen sailors have learned the ropes of racing high-powered race boats in a safe and seaworthy manner, and a number of pay-to-play crews are lining up for the adventure of their lives aboard them.

While there are enormous kudos in being first across the finish line in real-time, every racing sailor knows that the real battle is on corrected time under IRC. As winner of another prestigious RORC offshore race, the Myth of Malham - covering the first part of the course to the Eddystone Light and therefore a strong indicator of form for the Rolex Fastnet Race - things appear to be in Tala’s (GBR) favour, although owner David Collins says that on that occasion his Botin-designed 52-footer enjoyed a large dose of good fortune. “We sailed well, but making the last tide gate in a dying breeze is what gave us the result in the Myth of Malham. It is certainly no indicator for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Our aim for the race is, as ever, to sail error-free and keep the boat moving fast.”

Part of the key to Tala’s success is the consistency of personnel. “It’s a fairly settled crew now,” says Collins, whose navigator is the experienced Campbell Field. “Three will be Volvo Ocean Race veterans. We have a couple of strong trimmers and some talented amateurs.” Two families make up five of the crew.

David Collins Botin-designed 52-footer Tala was third overall in IRC and top British finisher in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comDavid Collins Botin-designed 52-footer Tala was third overall in IRC and top British finisher in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Paul Wyeth

RORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine, seen here finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORCRORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine, seen here finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORC

Other boats to watch in this size bracket include the ever-competitive Teasing Machine (FRA). Designed by Bernard Nivelt and Alexis Muratet and built by King Marine in Spain, Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine is a powerful 54-footer with soft chines and a cockpit that has been fully optimised for crewed offshore competition.

At the core of the Teasing Machine, campaign is project manager Laurent Pages, a Volvo Ocean Race winner in 2011/12. Above the water, the 54-footer bears strong similarities with a VO70 or VO65, with a similar deck layout and twin companionways with the pit in between. But Teasing Machine is designed to compete under IRC. The major area of optimisation is her heavy fin keel and a number of concessions to comfort onboard, including hot water, an oven, and two fridges.

From the battle-proven to the barely-touched-the-water example of Sir Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed custom 52-footer. While this may be the boat’s first foray into the Rolex Fastnet Race, for Sir Richard it is his 24th assault on the Rock: “For us, it’s the pinnacle of our racing and at 72 years old, it is a challenge and an experience to enjoy during the race and afterwards.”

24th Fastnet Race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed 52-footer © Paul Wyeth/Round the Island Race24th Fastnet Race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed 52-footer © Paul Wyeth/Round the Island Race

Nicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Pierre BourasNicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Pierre Bouras

If offshore racing is a game that rewards experience and sea miles, the group of sailors on Bretagne Telecom from La Trinité-Sur-Mer will again be ones to watch for the overall prize. Second overall on IRC in 2019, boat builder and owner of this canting-keel Mach 45 Nicolas Groleau has campaigned Bretagne Telecom (FRA) in the past six editions of the race. She has twice won her class and stood on the podium on all but one occasion, so an overall race victory is surely only a matter of time and persistence for Groleau and his committed band of Breton hotshots.

What will 25-year-old architecture student Katrina Westphal be able to achieve as skipper of the carbon fibre Grand Prix racer, the Carkeek 47 Störtebeker (GER)? Boris Herrmann’s runaway success in the Vendée Globe turned the IMOCA 60 sailor into a household name in Germany, and the ‘Boris effect’ is generating a resurgence in offshore interest across the country. Not that Westphal is a newcomer to the Rolex Fastnet, as this will be her third time in the race and second time as a skipper. Thanks to the crew training initiative of her yacht club, the Hamburger Verein Seefahrt, this ambitious sailor and her equally youthful crew hold the reins of a high-performance race yacht that could really make waves in the overall standings.

Promoting youth participation - the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden © Van UdenPromoting youth participation - the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden 

Another entry with a strong focus on promoting youth participation is the Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden (NED), with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd Jan Poortman looking to turn his crew of 18 to 25-year-olds into world-class offshore sailors. “Our team, the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team, has been training every week and done a fair bit of overnight offshore training but like my kids in the Optimist, we are getting a little tired of training and we want to race! We’ve been preparing for the Rolex Fastnet Race for two years and if the weather is right for us, we will go for the win.

“We are a small boat in IRC Zero - so often it’s a big boat race or a small boat race. When it is a small boat race we are up to the challenge; we have trained hard, have good equipment and talented sailors. Our crew has very little racing experience, but we think we have done more training than the average team over the last two years so we hope that makes the difference.”

The De Graaf family are one of the most faithful Rolex Fastnet Race teams and return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED). Olivier De Graaf comments: “Since the start of Baraka Sailing Team 17 years ago, I have sailed with my father and with my two brothers as well as with friends we know from the world of sailing. This will be our sixth Fastnet together as a team and our second time with this boat. Finishing in Cherbourg is adding a new complexity to the course, which will make the final run into the finish even more important, especially after three days of racing already.”

COVID restrictions have prevented their multinational team from meeting up for training out of the Hamble in the Solent, so they have been meeting up for online boat handling sessions via Microsoft Teams. Olivier admits he has yet to see whether these dry manoeuvres will prove effective in the salt-water reality of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Sixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family who return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comSixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family who return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth

Seven VO70s and four VO65s are entered in IRC Zero, including The Polish National Foundation's - I Love Poland © Robert HajdukSeven VO70s and four VO65s are entered in IRC Zero, including The Polish National Foundation's - I Love Poland © Robert Hajduk

Published in Fastnet
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Reigning ISORA Champion Rockabill VI Paul O'Higgins leads this season's ISORA Irish points series after Saturday's 64-mile offshore race from Dublin. The Royal Irish JPK 10.80 also leads in the overall combined UK and Irish ISORA league.

As regular Afloat readers know, ISORA organisers have been forced to separate the Musto sponsored leagues for a second year given the ongoing restrictions due to COVID that rules out cross channel racing. 

Last Saturday's line honours winner of race eight at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the J122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club is 32.3 points behind Rockabill VI overall with John O'Gorman's Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie from the National Yacht Club in third place.

The overall Irish Series position is here

The Welsh Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do (Mark and Jo Thompson) trails Rockabill VI by just 6.1 points in the overall combined UK and Irish league. Third is former ISORA Champion, the J109 Mojito of Pwllheli Sailing Club (Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox)

The overall combined UK and Irish position is here

Published in ISORA
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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