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Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) racers will agree the 2021 Race Schedule early next month but like most things to do with the 2020 offshore season it will be a little different so there is no surprise that this year's Annual General Meeting will be conducted virtually.

Despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the association managed to conduct a full season of coastal fixtures on both sides of the Irish Sea although no cross-channel racing was completed. As regular Afloat readers will know, a win in September's final race of the IRC Series gave overall victory to Royal Irish Yacht Club crew Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins). The last coastal race win sealed the COVID-hit season after eight races sailed with five to count.

Now, the ISORA fleet is gathering again, not as usual for the annual National Yacht Club power-wow, but virtually by 'Zoom' on Saturday, 7th November 2020 at 11.00 hours for the AGM.

ISORA's Hon Sec Stephen Tudor has set out the order of business of the meeting in a notice on the association's website:

  • To approve the minutes of the previous AGM.
  • To approve the accounts for the year to November 2020
  • To elect Officers of the Association for the ensuing year.
  • To elect members of the Committee
  • To agree the 2021 Race Management Detail and Proposed Race Schedule

The meeting is for the following categories:

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

Voting will be restricted to one vote per ISORA participating boat. Questions for the AGM to be forwarded to the Hon Sec before 2nd November 2020

To attend please complete the 'AGM attendance invitation request form' here so that the Zoom invitations can be circulated by e-mail.

Published in ISORA
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The buildup to the 41st edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Offshore Race from Malta on Saturday (October 17th) continues in Valetta in muted style in line with pandemic restrictions, and while yesterday's traditional preview event, the Yachting Malta Coastal Race, may have been staged in idyllic conditions, it was with a smaller fleet than normal. This had already been expected in the circumstances, but numbers were further reduced by some Middle Sea Race participants being delayed by a storm on their way to Malta.

In conditions which showed the storms are well cleared for the time being, PRO Peter Dimech chose a race of approximately 30nm, starting from outside the Royal Malta Yacht Club, with the fleet rounding the island of Comino before returning to Marsamxett Harbour.

"It was champagne sailing," commented Dimech. "12-15 knots from the southwest building to 18 knots later in the day. There was about a metre of swell on the west coast of Comino, but flatter seas on the east coast."

In the first start, Timofey Zhbankov's Russian JPK 10.80 Rossko got the best start and went on to win their class and place second overall. In the second start, the Podesta family racing Maltese First 45 Elusive 2, the Middle Sea Race Overall winner in 2019, showed the way with great pace out of the harbour, going on to win the race overall after IRC time correction. Rossko was second and Jean-Pierre Dick's French JP54 The Kid – which took line honours - placed third overall on IRC.

round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid Multiple round the world races veteran Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in yesterday's Malta Coastal Race. He will be sailing his second Middle Sea challenge on Saturday with a Czech crew.

Christophta, co-skipper of Elusive 2, commented after the race: "Last year we showed our potential by winning the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. We know it is a tough race to win and we are not getting big-headed. We hope we can be faster than in 2019 and win our class. But winning overall is dependent on things beyond our control, yet we can sail to our potential and certainly enjoy the race."

Jean-Pierre Dick's JP54 The Kid took line honours in an elapsed time of 2 hrs 47 mins 39 secs, and she will be sailing her second Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday with J-P Dick as skipper. A veteran of three Vendee Globe Races, he won the Barcelona Round the World Race in February 2008 with Ireland's Damian Foxall as co-skipper, resulting in a celebratory reception for the dynamic duo at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin with President Mary McAleese and her family.

"We are competing with the same Czech-based crew, this race is a lot of fun and I come from Nice, so I love the Mediterranean," commented Dick. "Today's race was a good test for the boat in racing conditions and to practice manoeuvres and sail changes. Some of the boats did not make it for the Coastal Race because of the storm. However, for the Rolex Middle Sea Race there will be fierce competition. This is a different game to the Vendee Globe, but it is a challenge just the same, and this year the race is wide open."

Published in Offshore
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A new organisation has been founded to represent the emerging discipline of doublehanded offshore racing, called the 'Offshore Doubles Association'.

The association has attracted a number of key offshore sailors and administrators including former Volvo Ocean Race chief, Knut Frostad of Norway as an advisor.

The association will launch officially on October 9th.

The association says its aim is to create a fair and robust ecosystem to build on the fastest-growing segment of offshore sailing. According to its website, 'the association is dedicated to helping our members (sailors) and partners (Events, Boats, Suppliers and Sponsors) succeed in their goals and to building the community as a whole'.

The new association quickly follows the announcement of the new Olympic Offshore Mixed Doubles Event for Paris 2024.

Proponents say the new event is an exciting development for the sport, showcasing the thrill and hardship of day and night sailing offshore with 24/7 media coverage. 

The website is www.offshoredoubles.org

Published in Offshore
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Sometime after October 12, British skipper Cat Hunt and Greystones, County Wicklow sailor Pamela Lee aim to sail a Figaro Bénéteau III racing yacht around Ireland, in an attempt to set the first record for an all-female, doublehanded sailing circumnavigation.

They are undertaking the challenge in partnership with The Magenta Project, a collective set up to support women at the highest level of sailing.

The two sailors are taking on this challenge with the hope of inspiring girls in Ireland and the UK to move into offshore sailing after graduating from dinghies and to aspire to skippering large boats.

The offshore circumnavigation of Ireland is approximately 700 nautical miles, which will take about five days and nights.

Hunt and Lee say they wanted to set this record as an all-female crew, to demonstrate that women are not part of the shorthanded and fully crewed offshore sailing scene just because of a mixed crew requirement, with the likes of the Olympic and Ocean Race rules, but because they are strong, motivated sailors in their own right.

“Shorthanded racing is a great discipline because it demands that each skipper is skilled in all aspects of offshore sailing – from navigation to helming and sail trimming,” says Hunt, a 21 a 21-year-old British sailor, focused on offshore shorthanded sailing

“It is fantastic for females to be involved in particular because it offers opportunities to learn and take the lead onboard that are often harder for women to fulfil on a fully crewed boat, where roles are more compartmentalised.” says,  Lee a co-skipper with RL Sailing, an Irish team formed with Kenneth Rumball.

“There is talent, enthusiasm and potential among young, female sailors in Ireland and the UK, but often a lack of awareness about the avenues for participation for women,” say the skippers. “We hope our record attempt will help to break down some of the stereotypes, related to accessibility and male dominance, and will generate excitement – encouraging other girls to get out and try to break the record we set!”

From France to Ireland

Following delivery of the boat from Lorient, France the hub of offshore sailing and a quarantine period in Ireland, from the 12 October they will be ready and waiting to set sail, once a suitable window materialises. professional navigator will be working alongside them to find the optimum window.

Record Route

The original plan for Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) was to follow the classic route of the biennial Round Ireland Race. That route begins off Wicklow Sailing Club and heads south, keeping Ireland and all its islands and rocks to starboard (to the right of the boat). However, soon after the launch of the record bid, the girls switched to the World Sailing Record route that begins and ends off the Kish light on Dublin Bay and can be navigated either north or south about, as Afloat reports here.

As there are only two of them and they will be sailing without stopping for up to five days and nights, they will run a two-hour rotation of being ‘on watch’ (so the longest break each will have over the duration of the journey for rest, sleep or food will be two hours). A watch needs to be maintained at all times not only for safety reasons, but because there are constant adjustments required to maintain speed and react to changing weather conditions. The skippers will also work together as a team on deck whenever manoeuvres such as sail changes are required.

Fifteen-year-old sailor Timothy Long spent his summer on a 1,600 nautical mile anti-clockwise voyage around the British coast. Now he has broken the record of Tom Webb, who sailed around Britain aged 17 in 2011. Timothy, from Aylesbury, has become the youngest person to sail solo around Britain while so far raising over £7,000 to support his heroine, Dame Ellen MacArthur's young person's cancer charity (Thursday 1 October).

Ellen MacArthur has been Timothy's greatest inspiration since reading her books as child. When he learned about the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust – the national charity that empowers young people aged 8-24 to embrace their future after cancer through sailing and outdoor adventure – he wanted to help. He was too young to volunteer so decided to fundraise. After plucking up the courage to email Ellen – having told his mum "I can't write to her, she's a Dame"- a copy of her book 'Full Circle' and an Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust baseball cap, both signed by Ellen with the words "Go for it!" arrived out of the blue.

Inspired by Ellen's encouragement and that she had sailed round Britain aged 18, Timothy donned his Trust cap to follow her lead on his 28ft Hunter Impala, 'Alchemy'.

Having set out from Hamble, Southampton on 16 July, Timothy's venture (See Afloat.ie 1st, 6th and 14th September) brought him in early September to Bangor Marina from where he left on 4th September, calling at Ardglass on the County Down coast on his way south. He arrived yesterday (Wednesday 30 September) in the Isle of Wight where he received a warm welcome from Ellen herself, ahead of his final leg to Hamble.

Timothy said: "The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust does amazing work with young people to rebuild their confidence after cancer treatment, and the experience of being together on a boat can be a real turning point for people who have been through the worst of times".

Reflecting on his voyage Timothy said "My 20-hour passage between Eyemouth to Stonehaven in Scotland made me think of being in the shoes of the young people the Trust supports. I can't even imagine being diagnosed with cancer at this age, but people are and have to go through years of treatment, it's crazy. How can you return back to normal life after such a terrible experience without the support of the Trust?"

Timothy's first sailed a dinghy on a reservoir near Swindon aged nine. During his voyage, he sailed an average 50 miles per day, with several passages of up to 100 miles. He battled giant waves, gale force winds, 17 hours in thick fog in the Bristol Channel and on occasions sailed for 24 hours straight, sleeping for just 20 minutes at a time. There have been wonderful moments too; of perfect sailing, magical sunrises and sunsets and beautiful scenery and wildlife including dolphins, seals, birds and even a pilot whale.

Ellen said: "It is an incredible achievement for anyone to sail single-handed around Britain, but to do it at 15 really is something else. While Timothy will always have the personal satisfaction of that achievement, the legacy of what he's done will be even more far-reaching in terms of helping to change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer. I send Timothy my warmest congratulations and thank him on behalf of every young person the Trust supports."

To support Timothy go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/roundbritain2020 and for more information about the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust visit www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org

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.

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It's not the biggest ISORA fleet but all seven boats in contention are on the starting list for tonight's race that could yet decide the Irish championship.

Tonight's course will use 100% virtual marks – another first for ISORA. Race finish times will be recorded by the onboard trackers that provide instant results. (see tracker below)

The night race will also stand to those boats who are competing in the inaugural Fastnet 450 Race from dun Laoghaire to Cork next Saturday.

Race six's ISORA starters in tonight's 40-mile night race on Dublin BayRace six's ISORA starters in tonight's 40-mile night race on Dublin Bay

The Irish ISORA championship includes the Irish coastal and offshore and will be the defacto top award in 2020 after the cancellation of the cross-channel Wolf's Head Trophy due to COVID-19.

Overall, the coastal results don’t tend to count as weightings are applied to the offshore races. Tonight's fixture is weighted 1.1. The last race on the 5th September is 1.3!

Tonight's 40-mile course is as follows:

  • STARTING LINE at Dun Laoghaire
  • ISORA Dublin Virtual Mark (P) N53 17.110 W6 00.100
  • Virtual Mark (P) N53 27.99 W04 40.00
  • ISORA Dublin Virtual Mark (P) N53 17.110 W6 00.100
  • FINISH LINE at Dun Laoghaire

In the meantime, there are ISORA coastal races being run in Pwllheli as part of the Welsh IRC Nationals.

Live Dublin Bay webcam here and Race Tracker below

Published in ISORA
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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.

Published in RORC

For the second week running, a smaller class two boat has won one of ISORA’s long offshore races in tricky light winds off the Dublin coast.

After a 15-hour marathon, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief sailed into Dun Laoghaire Harbour to finish last night in darkness as the Class Two and overall IRC winner two in the 15-boat fleet.

Provisional results via ISORA's Yellowbrick tracker put two-class boats in the top three overall after the long race in light northerly breezes that took the fleet from Dublin Bay to North Dublin before a long reach to County Wicklow. The full course at 8 am was from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to a virtual mark to Bennett Bank to Rockabill to East Kish to Breeches, Muglins and a finish in dusk or total darkness at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. a total of 7o nautical miles.

With just seconds to the start, the ISORA Rockabill VI and the Sunfast 3600 YoYo look for the advantage at the Committe boat end of the start line (Above and below) With just seconds to the start of ISORA's Race 5a off Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Rockabill VI and the Sunfast 3600 YoYo look for the advantage at the Committee boat end of the start line

Rockabill VI at the ISORA start

JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI

ISORA Race start

ISORA Race Start at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Kalinecki's 30-footer took some big scalps including the reigning champion Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) that again made an impressive start to yesterday’s fifth race of the season and was the Class Zero winner. Last weekend in a fifty miler, Rockabill VI also showed impressive form only to be beaten by the A31 A Plus when the wind died and smaller boats caught up over the race four-course, as Afloat reported here.

Gently does it! Even a loudly spoken sentence seems to threaten the collapse of spinnakers in the light north wind. J109 Indian (Red) leads Samaton (Pink) and White Mischief (Black) Gently does it! Even a loudly spoken sentence seems to threaten the collapse of spinnakers in the light north wind. J109 Indian (Red) leads Samaton (Pink) and White Mischief (Black)

Shortly after the start, the 15-boat fleet head for the first virtual mark on the 70-mile course Photo: AfloatShortly after the start, the 15-boat fleet head for the first virtual mark on the 70-mile course Photo: Afloat

The overall winner, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief (black spinnaker) makes her way out of Dublin BayThe overall winner, the Grzegorz Kalinecki skippered First 310 More Mischief (black spinnaker) makes her way out of Dublin Bay  Photo: Afloat

The Line Honours winner in an elapsed time of 13h 33m 6s was Chris Power Smith’s Aurelia from the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Third on class Zero was early season performer, George Sisk’s XP44, WOW.

George Sisk's WOW and John O'Gorman's Hot CookieGeorge Sisk's WOW and John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie Photo: Afloat

Sailing fully crewed as opposed to two-handed for the first time this season, Andrew Algeo’s J 99 Juggerknot II was second overall and the IRC One winner. Second in Class One was the Simon Knowles skippered Howth J109, Indian. Third in class was a new arrival in ISORA racing, the John Harrington skippered IMX 38 Excession.

Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was second overall and sailing fully crewed for Race 5Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was second overall and sailing fully crewed for Race 5

Second to Kalinecki’s More Mischief in Class Two was Desert Star, the Ronan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 that also finished third overall, in another coup for class Two. Third in Class Two was Steve Hayes’ First 34.7, Magic Touch.

Line hnouors winner Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia, included ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan (second from right) on the crew for Race five Photo: AfloatLine honours winner Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia, included ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan (second from right) on the crew for Race five Photo: Afloat

This is the first race of the 2020 season since news broke that racing for ISORA's overall Wolf’s Head Trophy would be scrapped this season following the abandonment of cross channel racing.

Ronan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 Photo: AfloatRonan O’Siochru Irish Offshore Sailing School’s Sunfast 37 Photo: Afloat

A new offshore race has been announced, the Fastnet 450 from Dublin to Cork on August 22nd, the same date as the cancelled Round Ireland Race. The new fixture is attracting some strong entries including some ISORA regulars including Algeo's J/99 and the Kalinecki Polish-based crew too.

Published in ISORA
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In a major change to ISORA's rebooted season, the offshore body is cancelling plans for any further attempt at cross channel racing this season.

It is the latest blow for Irish Sea offshore sailing fans and follows the loss of this month's Round Ireland Yacht Race.

In view of the COVID situation in UK and Ireland and the present regulations in force, a meeting of ISORA's Sailing Committee unanimously decided that there will be no cross channel races and instead there will be races on each side of the Irish Sea. In view of this, the Wolf’s Head Series is being abandoned for 2020, ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan told Afloat.

'This was a very difficult decision for ISORA where the Wolf's Head trophy has been presented every year since it was first presented to ISORA in 1977 but the safety of all competitors is our primary concern and we are of course guided by the rules and regulations of the separate Nations, Ryan said.

Competitors will compete for the respective championship titles on either side of the Channel, the Coastal Series, Class Results and the Silver Class.

ISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy - racing abandoned for ISORA's Top award for the first time in 43 years Photo: GPPhoto/ISORAISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy - racing abandoned for ISORA's Top award for the first time in 43 years Photo: GPPhoto/ISORA

Should the situation improve significantly later this month, resulting in a relaxation of the regulations, the last race, the James Eadie, may proceed as planned from Pwhelli to Dun Laoghaire.

On Saturday, ISORA ran two separate offshore races on either side of the Irish Sea in a bid to keep the offshore scene alive in spite of the pandemic.

The revised schedule will be published shortly with the appropriate amendments and revised Supplemental Sailing Instructions.

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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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