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Peter Hall's Adélie of the National Yacht Club sailed to another success in the Ruta de la Sal from Denia to Ibiza this Easter.

There were very different conditions this year when the race started at 10 am on Thursday 18th April - grey, chilly, windy (blowing up to 20kts a lot of the race), lumpy confused seas, raining - very much not the champagne conditions of two years ago as Afloat reported here.

Close to 100 boats entered the Denia race, but only 50-odd came to the start, with only 14 finishing the 125-mile race.

Adélie topped her racing class A2 on this occasion, and the Salina class for a second time - coming 4th overall following a seriously exciting final 20 miles on Code 0 and then on a tight spinnaker reach into San Antonio Bay, Ibiza.

Published in ISORA
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ISORA has a full and exciting schedule of races in its 2019 series with a total of 16 races which will include the two Coastal Series, Night Races and, of course, its traditional Offshore Races. The series has been designed to combine with many top-class regattas and the classics races in the Irish Sea catchment area.

The 2019 series starts with the Viking Marine Coastal Races in Ireland and the Global Display Coastal Race in Wales, both on Saturday 27th April.

The coastal race weekend will be followed by the first Offshore race on 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, an important return after the storm disaster there in 2017.

ISORA have again this year teamed up with other races in the Irish Sea and arranged the racing so that deliveries are minimised. This includes the Classics; Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (D2D) and the 100th edition of the Liverpool to Douglas Midnight Race.

The Royal Dee Yacht Club, in conjunction with ISORA are running the RDYC Irish Sea Offshore Championship again this year as part of the VDLR. This includes the Race from IOM (Race 9) and the four coastal races in the VDLR.

ISORA has also been working with ICRA to set up a good programme of day offshore races that will be exciting. Quite a lot of effort and planning has been made to offer boats that are more interested in offshore day racing a quality programme of demanding day races. More Information about the ICRA Championships (7th - 9th July) here.

The full ISORA 2019 Schedule of 16 Races is available downloadable below as a pdf.

Published in Offshore
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The miraculous years of 2016 and 2017 provided a magic time in Irish sailing writes W M Nixon. Annalise won her Olympic Silver Medal. Shane McCarthy won the GP14 Worlds. And the most glamorous Round Ireland Race ever staged saw George David’s Rambler 88 and the three MOD 70 trimarans set course records every which way.

Then in the Autumn Enda O’Coineen went off in the Vendee Globe. And our interest in the big race didn’t stop there, as Stewart Hosford through Alex Thomson, and Marcus Hutchinson with his involvement in several boats, gave us an interest in campaigns at every level in this stratospheric peak of sailing ambition.

Came 2017, and Conor Fogerty won his class in the OSTAR, while Tom Dolan continued to make a more significant impact in France with the Mini Transat. Michael Boyd won the RORC Championship overall with the First 44.7 Lisa. And at junior level, there were new stars emerging with reassuring regularity and frequency in several classes at home and internationally.

It was good. In fact, it felt too good to be true. People were dreaming dreams. Even the most grounded people started to dream dreams. And the dream, in this case, was the Vendee Globe 2020. Tens of thousands of miles of everything our planet’s oceans can throw at extreme IMOCA 60s requiring superhuman feats of endurance.

hugo boss2Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss. The skipper is very British, and the sponsors are undoubtedly German, but they need a major French event to show what they can do.
The more demanding the Vendee Globe challenge, the greater the number of Irish sailors who spoke of their interest in being there on the starting line next time round, on 8th November 2020. At various stages proven sailors as diverse as Conor Fogerty, Sean McCarter, Nin O’Leary, Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan have been testing the sometimes distinctly tepid waters of potential Irish and international sponsorship support for the 2020 race.

Of course, we have to recognise that the difference between an expression of interest and the announcement of a full-blown campaign is a very wide gulf, and if everything is going the right way, there is much that can happen in the year or so that is arguably still available.

Yet here we are now, with eight and perhaps even nine totally new IMOCA 60 boats well under construction in Europe with the 2020 race less than 19 months away, and not one of any of the entries - new or second-hand - seems to be Irish. This despite the fact that there are now so many IMOCA 60s of varying vintages around that the Rolex Fastnet Race of 3rd August 2019 has an entry of 29 of these remarkable machines. And the fact that one of them, Mike Golding’s boat the former Gamesa, has Joan Mulloy in the personnel lineup certainly provides a line of possibility.

imoca 60s monaco3There’s a lot of them about……Imoca 60s at Monaco in June 2018, with Souffle du Nord/Team Ireland in foreground racing to success for Thomas Ruyant and Joan Mulloy. In the 2016 Vendee Globe, Ruyant’s Souffle was forced into port in New Zealand following hull damage from a submerged object, and after repairs was sailed back to France by Enda O Coineen

But the Fastnet Race, while challenging, is more of a display case for the highly-specialised offwind-oriented IMOCA 60s than a proper contest. For the Fastnet has a very manageable timespan as opposed to the resources-devouring full-on Vendee Globe campaign, which requires major expenditure decisions from sponsors. And in today’s uncertain economic and political times, many big business decisions are being put on hold.

However, part of the big-time sponsorship process involves long hours of detailed presentations in powerful board-rooms, in an atmosphere about as remote as possible from the realities of racing the Great Southern Ocean. Such serious negotiations could be going on in total privacy even as we speak. In fact, as recent Irish experience has shown, premature announcements of quests for sponsorship can be seriously counter-productive. And “serious” is scarcely the word for it – after all, for a top end new boat, we’re talking of a basic budget of €2.5 to €3 million, effectively for three years although there’s value added in that, post race, the boats are now eligible to be modified for participation in 2021’s Ocean Race.

So speculation on permutations of fate continues to be rife. But for now, we’ll stick to the known knowns. For we do of course have Stewart Hosford of Cork and his team beavering away in a building unit near Southampton on the new Hugo Boss for Alex Thomson. And in Lorient in Brittany, the many talents of Marcus Hutchinson of Kinsale and formerly Howth are being deployed on another IMOCA 60, this time for the formidably-focused and proven talent of Thomas Ruyant of Dunkerque.

ocoineen ruyant4Enda O’Coineen and Thomas Ruyant

But Hosford and Hutchinson have been in the inside track for quite a while. As for other names, Joan Mulloy and Tom Dolan are having mixed fortunes in the Sardinha Cup, the opening salvo of the Figaro Solo season, which will bring the fleet to Kinsale in early June as a stopover in La Solitaire URGO Figaro 2019 itself, the Golden Jubilee.

Aboard with Dolan for the Sardinha is Damian Foxall, who is head and shoulders above all other Irish sailors in the success of his career which emerged from the French professional sailing structure. Yet Foxall turns 50 next year, and while the 73-year-old Jean-Luc van den Heede proved with his victory in the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee in January that age is not necessarily a matter of chronology, Foxall is showing involvement in other areas such as the environment which may become his dominant interest.

damian foxall5Damian Foxall, Ireland’s mega-race superstar

But for now, with the clock ticking remorselessly towards 8th November 2020, the likelihood of an Irish skipper in charge of a truly competitive IMOCA 60 seems increasingly remote. Yet as the underlying sense of excitement builds up, there are always new talents emerging over the horizon to whom the Vendee Globe and other major events call. So what would we say to some young, ambitious and talented Irish sailor who is thinking of moving into this unforgiving yet sometimes highly rewarding big-time offshore scene?

Basically, you’ve to face up to the French reality. France holds a unique position in world sailing, with a distinctive strength and status in the sport which often enables it to dictate the international agenda. And when world maritime attention focuses – as it does with increasing frequency – on a selection of major French events, they somehow manage to seem accessible, yet in their ultimate manifestations are clearly the sailing of superstars.

For the most ambitious young Irish sailors, this French hegemony presents a dilemma, and it’s not for everyone. Rather than being sucked into it, you can, of course, avoid the French power-pull, and instead take the standard Irish international performance sailing route, which is based around World Sailing’s global programme, with the glitter of the Olympics inevitably at its core. Theoretically, you are supported along the way, but resources often seem scarce, and the close public attention can be stressful in itself

On the other hand, you can strike out with any outstanding ability in the less structured Anglo-Saxon word of major events, in which wealthy individual owners are always on the lookout for special talent – three notable successes in this category are skipper/helmsmen Harold Cudmore and Gordon Maguire, and navigator Ian Moore, of whom it has been said that having him on a Transatlantic race is as good as narrowing the ocean by at least 150 miles.

superyacht perseus6The 212ft Ron Holland-designed superyacht Perseus, skippered to success by Nin O’Leary

This line of approach may then overlap into high profile happenings like The Ocean Race - formerly the Volvo – while in a different direction, the growth of very private superyacht regattas means that an Irish sailing star who has shown he or she can make the glossy giants sail well is going to be very much in demand, but discretion is expected. Nevertheless, we did manage to find out that in one example, Nin O’Leary was called in to get the best performance out of the 212ft Ron Holland-designed sloop Perseus (that really is 212 feet, and she really does have only one mast), and he did the business to leave an owner very happy indeed.

Equally complex in its way is the America’s Cup where – despite continuous reassurances of its relevance to everyday sailing and the benefits of the trickle-down effect of the technology it develops – the feeling is inescapable that you’re in a parallel universe rather than an integral part of the world sailing scene.

But in France, because of the corporate nature of the social structures, and the way that harbour towns, regions and national utilities are expected to promote themselves with commercial vigour, there’s a unique maritime setup in which top-end sailing is very much part of national life.

2024 Sailing Olympics

For those who would wish to make their way in it as a career, it is by no means a bed of roses. It is tough – very tough. But nevertheless it most definitely is there, it provides a recognizable path of progress, and a few Irish sailors – a very few, admittedly – have found fulfilment through the French system.

mulloy roy dolan7Focal point of world sailing. The Paris Boat Show, December 2018, and Joan Mulloy, Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, and Tom Dolan are in town for the draw for the new Figaro 3s for the 2019 season. Photo: Rosemary Roy

It’s not a potential career path which will lessen any time soon, for France is going to host the 2024 Olympics. And as it was a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who is generally credited with re-inventing the ancient Greek games in the beginnings of their modern form in 1896, the French can have a somewhat proprietorial attitude towards the Olympics. This will particularly manifest itself in the sailing, for boat change is always in the air with the long four-year Olympic cycle, and when possible, hosting nations do everything to promote boats from their own designers and builders for the accolade of Olympic selection.

It’s a mixed blessing, for at the moment only the venerable Laser manages to be both an Olympic class and a popular boat at grass roots level. But nevertheless we’ve already had the report in Afloat on testing for a new women’s single-hander, and while the tests may have taken place in Valencia in Spain, you couldn’t help but notice that a French boat was very much in evidence.

This approach is much more apparent in the intriguing new development with introducing offshore racing as an Olympic discipline, the proposal from the World Sailing Equipment Committee being that the new boat - which is not to be a foiler – is to be sailed by a woman and a man.

Currently, the new boat which has been grabbing the headlines is the foiling Figaro 3, whose current debut with the Sardinha Cup has been sending out very mixed messages. The boat has tremendous potential, but the excessive occurrence of rig failures this past week shows there is much work to be done before the fleet launches into the Golden Jubilee Figaro itself in just six weeks time.

marcus hutchinson8Marcus Hutchinson recently presented proposals for an adapted version of the Figaro 3 as an Olympic offshore training boat
Meanwhile, others have been thinking beyond this current Figaro, beyond the Fastnet, beyond the Vendee Globe, and on to the possibilities which the introduction of an offshore racing class in the Sailing Olympics at Marseille in 2024 will offer, and this month in France, Marcus Hutchinson presented a discussion document on realities and possibilities for developing Olympic two-handed mixed gender offshore teams to the Figaro Beneteau 3 Academy.

It’s high-powered stuff, and you can reach your own conclusions and queries from studying it in its raw form. But for the inevitable and instant “How much?” query, the answer is that bringing a qualified crew to the required offshore racing level for realistic participation in the 2024 Olympics, you’ll be looking at a basic budget of €800,000 a year.

And as for the suggestion that there might usefully be a de-foiled version of the Figaro 3, may that’s not such a bad idea. In its current form, the FB3 has no less than five appendages sticking out under the bull. Just ask Tom Dolan and Damian Foxall what happens when you get that particular bag of tricks in among some abandoned fishing gear…….

Huthchinson notesMarcus Hutchinson's presentation is available to download below in PDF format

Published in Vendee Globe
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World Sailing has announced that the L30, a 30-foot one design keelboat, has been selected as the supplied equipment for World Sailing's Offshore World Championship from 2020.

First tested in November 2015, the L30 boat concept was drawn up by Olympic medallist and Volvo Ocean Race competitor Rodion Luka. Andrej Justin, designer of RC44, brought the L30 to life, combining all round offshore performance, ease of logistics, a strict one-design model and global, ready to race, affordability.

The Championship will be a two-person mixed competition (one man, one woman) between nations, featuring 20 boats. The boats will be chartered by the national teams and allocated to sailors one week ahead of the Championship via a boat draw before sailors have time to test and prepare for the challenge that lays ahead of them. Held alongside the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the competitors may be required to sail the full course or a reduced course depending on the weather conditions.

The Offshore World Championship will engage countries new to double-handed offshore sailing by providing a full fleet of L30s that are ready to use at the event venue. L30s will also be available to charter in Europe for training from the summer of 2019.

Kim Andersen, President of World Sailing, commented, "The L30 Class share our ambition to grow double-handed offshore sailing globally. The boat is well designed to cater for the demands of offshore sailing and will provide the sailors competing in Malta next year with a stern challenge.

"The boat has been trialled by some of the world's leading sailors including Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Ian Walker (GBR) and Abby Ehler (GBR). Their feedback has been crucial in the development and progression of the boat following the first concept.

Rodion Luka, CEO of L30 One Design, said, "Our team is proud to be a technical partner of World Sailing's and to support the Offshore World Championship. I have no doubt that this event will bring our sport to a new level, engaging a wider audience and opening new horizons for offshore sailors around the globe.

The 2020 Offshore Sailing World Championship will be organised in collaboration with the Royal Malta Yacht Club and World Sailing.

Originally earmarked to be held in 2019, World Sailing postponed the hosting to 2020 to allow a full qualification system to be developed, allowing ample opportunity for Member National Authorities to qualify and prepare for the event.

More on the L30 here

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Two years to the day that Ireland's Embarr team won the Melges 24 Worlds in Miami, Conor Clarke and Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell were back on the water for the 380–mile Round Jamaica Race on Mark Shield's Beneteau 35s5 "Breakaway". Mark is Commodore of the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club which is now Conor's home club. Prof takes up the story of a circumnavigation that ended suddenly

We were going very well, vying for first place on corrected time when, 15 miles from the finish in 25 knots of wind in tough upwind conditions, the starboard rod cap shroud failed at the turnbuckle and we were dismasted. We had a No. 2 genoa and a reef in the main at the time. It happened at 6 am yesterday morning.

We systematically cut all the lines, halyards, electrical cable and shrouds and sent the broken rig and the two sails to the ocean floor - including a brand new North Sails 3Di mainsail! Had we had more time, we would have tried to recover it all and bring it back onboard but we were drifting to a lee shore and had to move fast. It was an odd feeling - once the rig and all the bits had gone, there was an eerie silence which you wouldn't expect. Quite strange.

The good news is that it all went pretty smoothly, nobody was seriously hurt. En route home now via Miami.

Published in Offshore

The ninth day at sea in the 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race saw the second capsize in this 11th edition of the four-yearly classic when a 50ft trimaran flipped over about 1,000 nautical miles east of Guadeloupe.

The first capsize came at the end of day two of the 3,452-nautical mile race a week ago when one of the biggest yachts in the 123-strong fleet, Banque Populaire IX, turned over after a major structural failure in a gale midway between the coast of Spain and the Azores. The boat’s skipper, Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h, was quickly rescued by a Spanish fishing boat.

This time the yacht going upside down is the Multi50 class trimaran Arkema skippered by Lalou Roucayrol, another French sailor who is based near Bordeaux. Roucayrol is one of the most experienced solo offshore racers in big multihulls and was competing in his fourth Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

In an initial message to his shore team he said the boat became over-powered by a sudden and violent spike in the easterly trade wind as he ran downwind towards the finish at Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe. He did not have time to stop his yacht tipping over but was able to keep safe within the main hull.

Giving further details today, the Team Arkema spokeswoman, Marie–Astrid Parendeau, said Roucayrol spent about four hours cutting the rig away from the boat and had spent time in the water doing this. The hull has not been damaged by the mast and Roucayrol has managed to salvage one of his sails. He is now safely back on board and has enough food for three or four days and water supplies for 10 days.

Ms Parendeau said a cargo ship has been diverted to his position but Roucayrol has made it clear he does not want to be rescued and is staying with his boat until a tug chartered by the team from Martinque reaches him in four days time.

Roucayrol was racing in fourth place at the time of the capsize and was about 400 miles behind the class leader, Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat. Tripon on his brown trimaran is now just over 500 miles from the finish and is expected at the line at around mid-day Universal Time tomorrow.

He has also been experiencing alarming variations in windspeed and has elected to take it easy to avoid suffering a similar fate as Roucayrol. "It could be better,” said a tired Tripon this morning. “That has been the most complicated, difficult night I've had since the start with gusts of 33-34 knots under gennaker. The sea got big quickly; it was really hard, so a tense night. So this morning, I rolled away the gennaker and it is away until the seas subside - it is a really difficult end to the race.”

About 12 hours after Tripon is expected to reach the line, the next finisher is expected to be Britain’s Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who has led the 20-strong IMOCA monohull class almost continually from the start on November 4th. Thomson is just over 700 miles from the finish and about 160 miles ahead of his nearest pursuer (Paul Meilhat of France on SMA) and can’t wait to complete what will be his first victory in an IMOCA race.

"I am on my final gybe,” he said in a radio call this morning as Hugo Boss surfed at up to 20 knots in the boisterous trade winds. “I managed to get a bit of sleep over the night, not that much but I am really looking forward to getting in. There is not long now, less than a couple of days. That’s one Fastnet, one Fastnet race, that is all that is left. I should get in in daylight which is good timing really.

“I am a little nervous, yes, but the gap should be big enough,” added Thomson who has a group of four boats chasing him. “I am just trying to sail my normal race really, trying not do anything differently and keep things in the best shape I can. I don't need to push; on the other hand these boats do go fast. It is quite hard to make them go slow. I am not going to go super-slow; I will sail my normal race and I look forward to getting round the island and in." 

A long way behind him the only Finnish sailor in the IMOCA fleet and indeed in this 40th anniversary edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Ari Huusella on Ariel II, has provided more detail about the brief and glancing crash between his boat and the monohull of French sailor Sébastien Destremeau who is lying in second place in the Rhum Mono fleet.

The incident happened in the early hours of yesterday in darkness as Huusella was heading west and Destremeau on board Alcatraz It FaceOcean was crossing his path while heading south at a position about 400 miles west-southwest of the Canary Island.

The Finn admitted today that he could see Destremeau approaching using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that all boats in the race carry, but he had his screen on the wrong setting and did not realise how close the Frenchman – who was asleep and under auto-pilot – would be until it was too late.

“I was inside the boat and saw on the AIS that there was some traffic coming,” said Huusela who, like Destremeau, has been able to continue racing. “I saw the name of the boat and I knew who it was. I called him three times on the VHF but there was no reply. I checked that we were not going to hit on the AIS but our speeds were varying a lot because of the gusts. Sometimes we were going 10 and sometimes 17 knots – it was the same for both boats.

“The thing I did not realise was the scale on my AIS was only at 0.75 miles so the full screen was at less than a mile when he came into my screen. Normally I use the 15-mile scale. I was a bit tired and a bit disorientated and did not realise he was so close. When I realised he was so close, I went outside and I saw the nose of his boat coming at me at 17 knots. I thought ‘oh god, this is going to be the end.’ But luckily I managed to get under him so he hit the back corner of my stern, his bowsprit came into my pushpit, and it came off.”

Huusela said he initially thought the damage to his rigging might bring his mast down but he released the mainsail to ease the load and managed to save it. The sailors then spoke on VHF and Destremeau told him he had been asleep at the time of the crash and that he had some damage to his bowsprit. “We exchanged some e-mails last night and we are both happy,” added Huusela. “We are lucky because it could have been so much worse.” 

In the Class40 fleet the lead remains firmly in the hands of Frenchman Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC who has a margin of around 100 miles over second-placed Aymeric Chapellier on Aina Enfance Et Avenir. Chapellier reported today that he blew-up his spinnaker in a squall and has had to spend hours repairing it, turning the inside of his boat into a sewing workshop.

The 38-year-old sailor from La Rochelle was asleep when the boat broached in about 18 knots of breeze. “The sail literally exploded. I had to transform the interior of the boat into a sailmaker’s workshop and I worked on it all day, from sunrise to sunset. It was not easy because I had to leave the boat under the autopilot, with the big spinnaker,” he said.

“But I managed to repair my spinnaker and it held this morning when I used it. That being said, I walk a little on eggs now. I am trying to preserve all my spis, especially in this strange seaway. At times, it is really very short and it requires a lot of manoeuvres, which tires a little man.,” Chappellier added.

Published in Offshore
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 A new offshore series of races that will come to Irish waters has been launched in the UK called the Formula Foil Ocean Racing (FFOR) with a first prize of £50k.

Racing in identical Beneteau Figaro 3 yachts FFORC has been launched by a new business created by Stuart Greenfield. The championship will run from Spring 2020 until February 2021, and then yearly, the winner will be declared in Antigua. The championship is open to any Beneteau Figaro 3 with a minimum crew of 4 and maximum crew weight limit of 500kg. The yachts will be hand steered and be strictly one design.

The concept will begin with 10 identical yachts being made available to the first 10 teams entering on a fully managed basis. The yachts will run by the new company from a single base on the Isle of Wight and offered to teams on a fully ‘step-on and race’ basis for £75,000(+ VAT) * for the championship. This includes full use of a race prepared Beneteau Figaro 3 yacht and a set number of training and leisure days plus all maintenance and race entries. Teams may be amateur, sponsored, or fully professional. Amateur teams, if needed, will be provided with training and relevant first aid, sea survival and radio VHF courses to achieve the necessary qualifications to meet the Category 1 standard to which the races will comply. All races will count towards the results with no discards. 

"The yachts will be hand steered and be strictly one design"

The race programme will provide a range of offshore races in the English Channel before venturing on longer races to Ireland, Lanzarote, and finally a transatlantic race. The race program will ensure that all crews build up their experience in longer more challenging races over the 10-month championship. There will also be a small inshore element to include races such as Round the Island.

The race management will include race training and coaching, where necessary, to ensure crews reach the highest proficiency. The yachts will be equipped to World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations Category 1. The schedule is uniquely designed so that most racing is at weekends and to compete teams will only have to set aside a normal standard employed holiday commitment to compete in all races thereby ensuring that team members can remain fixed over the full period. Of course, it is also envisaged that teams could be made up of a squad of members and this is also an acceptable format. The aim is to enable teams to compete at the highest standard in the world’s newest and most exciting foiling yachts and still have a day job. 

The £75,000 package enables an amateur crew of 5 people without sponsorship to race for 10 months, every week if they wanted, for £15,000 per head per year. This concept offers one of the most exciting opportunities to race in the most innovative foiling mono-hulls without having to buy, run or maintain the yacht themselves. For sponsors, the opportunity to promote their brands to an international audience will be fulfilled by the very latest, tracking, drone and satellite communications fitted to every yacht. For the English Channel races, the fleet will be followed day and night by a high-speed offshore motorboat fitted with drone and satellite upload capabilities to bring a completely immersive experience for online followers. For new and younger teams this also adds an element of safety to the format.

Companies wishing to enter the championship for promotional and brand development or for corporate incentives for staff will be offered full access to the FFORC marketing and communications teams to ensure that there is a measurable return on investment delivered. FFORC will also provide racing skippers and qualified team members if required by corporate teams. 

Offshore racing is currently growing in popularity especially in smaller yachts with a focus towards fewer crew. This gives each member of the team more to do and more excitement with a focus on adventure. The Formula Foil Ocean Racing Championship (FFORC) format provides all these key selling points with none of the downsides of owning and maintaining a race yacht.

First prize for the championship will be £50,000 with £25,000 for second and £5,000 for third prize. The prize money will be given to the registered team and there will be no distinction between professional sponsored entries and personally financed challenges. Championships will also be held in 2021 and 2022. 

With the minimum of 10 boats for the 2020 championships any team with a one-design Figaro 3 wanting to take part will also be accepted into the championships. The entry fee will be £5,000. There will also be special options for privately owned yachts wishing to make use of the championship base in Cowes which will be very competitively priced. 

Stuart Greenfield commented “The launch of the new Beneteau Figaro 3 provides a unique opportunity for the FFORC to bring an exciting format to the UK offshore racing community… and hopefully internationally. Ocean racing continues to grow in interest with the numbers of yachts competing on the increase. There is trend for smaller more exciting yachts with less crew doing more with the focus on adventure with the bonus of less time just sitting on the rail. It is also clear that sailors want to race in teams without the hassle of boat maintenance and depreciation, they also want to race together as equals against the best. FFORC delivers this with the excitement of the races growing in length and difficulty as the 10-month cycle rolls out. Ensuring the format is compatible with non-professional weekend orientated sailors provides a unique opportunity and this combined with coaching and race training and a significant prize winning will, I hope, also attract professionals and fully sponsored teams… if you’re ready for an adventure this is definitely the new ‘fforc’ in ocean racing!"

The Yacht

As Afloat.ie previously reported, the Figaro Beneteau 3 is the first production foiling one-design monohull ever to be designed. A distillation of technology and innovation. It results from a collaboration between Group Beneteau’s best experts and the Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP) office, the architects of the two last boats to win the Vendée Globe

Title Sponsorship

Each team may be sponsored by any number of companies or individuals. FFORC is currently inviting title sponsorship from businesses or organisations. The opportunity includes yachts, website, event, and social branding across all media.

Published in Offshore
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Waterford Harbour's Rob McConnell sailing the Archambault A35 'Fools Gold' is lying 18th from a fleet of 49 after the first two offshore races in Class C of The Hague Offshore Sailing World Championships 2018.

Full results are here.

After over 24 hours of sailing in light air off the Dutch North Sea coast, the opening act of The Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship has now concluded and the leaders are now known in each of three classes before the second stage of inshore racing begins tomorrow.

Scoring has been for a long race of 155 miles for Class A with a scoring gate at 70 miles, and a long race of 135 miles for Classes A and B with a scoring gate at 60 miles. Thus each class has two offshore races in their results: a short race worth 1.0 points weighting and a long race worth 2.0 points weighting.

After a start postponed until 12:30, each fleet started off in light 6-9 knot conditions that varied in strength and direction for the rest of the day and evening, reaching a high of about 12 knots at sunset before dropping again into single digits towards morning. With shifting breeze and currents at near springs in strength, it was a challenging night for all.

"It was a good course and a good test," said Eddie Warden-Owen, guest strategist aboard Tilmar Hansen's TP 52 Outsider. "We did not have the sail inventory options that Beau Geste had, and had to make some compromises - like going west of the windfarm on the final long leg to the finish - but it was a good race with lots of elements to make it interesting."

Outsider spent most of their race in lock-step behind Karl Kwok's Pac 52 Beau Geste, who won both races by a comfortable margin, with Outsider second and the Ker 46 Van Uden youth team in third, led by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerdjan Poortman and Dutch 470 Olympian Lobke Berkhout as coaches.

The racing in the top of Class B closely resembled that of Class A, with two boats leading the pack and pushing each other throughout their 135-mile track.
Claus Landmark's Landmark 43 Santa took an early lead and was clever to hold on to it throughout the race, due in no small part to the strong navigation skills of another Volvo veteran, Roger Nilsson, who has logged 7 Volvo and Whitbread races around the world.

"It was quite challenging, wind was shifty and we're not very used to the currents you have here, so it's good we had Roger's help," said Landmark "But we kept the boat moving, and since the Worlds in Copenhagen two years ago we have upgraded our rudder with a new design so the boat is going well."

It was another Norwegian Landmark 43, Torkjel Valland's White Shadow, that was never far from Santa and kept the pressure on throughout the race.

"We had some ups and some downs," said Valland. "After the start we got stuck on one of the buoys, and when we got loose, most of the fleet had passed us. But we managed to sail up to the front of the fleet again, until we reached Santa. After that it was back and forward with them. We tried to stick with them, but they continually found a gear and pulled away every time we got to them again. But overall we had a super race, and it gives great promise for the rest of the week. I think the top of this fleet will have some very close racing."

Rounding out the top three in Class B was Michael Berghorn's X-41 Halbtrocken 4.0 from Germany. All top three teams scored 1-2-3 in each of the two races.

Class C was more interesting, with no clear dominance in the results like in the other two classes. Instead there were different leaders in the results of each race, sometime with dramatic differences in scores.

In scoring at the gate for Race 1, a local designed and built 35-footer, Jan Boort's New Frontier, was ahead of the pack on elapsed time by over seven minutes yet corrected to third place, while Gideon Messink's J/112E J Lance 12 corrected to first and Michael Mollman's X 37 Hansen was second. But in the last long leg of the race this was all to change.

Just northwest of the harbor at Ijmuiden in the mid-morning breeze, about 25 miles from the finish, J Lance 12 and Hansen on rhumb line managed to get ahead of New Frontier, who was hedging a little closer to the beach to the east. Like a car wreck on the highway, J Lance stops, followed by Hansen and the pack of 3 other boats around them: the Farr 30 Cheyenne (SWE), the Melges 32 Old Jug (GER) and the Cussutti 36 Katariina II (EST). New Frontier shoots into the lead, but then strays west away from the middle track just west of Ijmuiden and starts to slow too.

Meanwhile, like a passing train, the Waarschip 36 Hubo (NED) came on fast from nowhere to grab the lead and never let it go for the remaining 20 miles to the finish. Others seeing Hubo do this end-around jumped on the train too, leaving those to the west helpless, with only Katariina and Hansen able to get out of the trap.

"We did not do very well in the first part of the race," said skipper Eric van Vuuren, "but we did have a game plan to hit the beach hard on the final leg and pick up the offshore breeze."

"Besides the weather forecast and knowing the tides, we also used the AIS system quite a bit to see what the others were doing," said Hubo navigator John van der Starre.

The results were spectacular, slinging Hubo and others in their wake into the lead to finish well ahead of many other rivals who were ahead of them at the scoring gate. And while Hubo still had to settle for a 4th in corrected time in this race, this was much better than the 34th earned in the first race

So, after all this drama in Class C it should be no surprise that a team who is a consistent performer from years of championship sailing currently has a six-point lead based on their scores of 6-1: Patrik Forsgren's modified First 36.7 Pro4U (SWE). In second is Heiko Pasler's X-362 Sport Static Electric (GER) on scores of 8-3, and currently in third is Alain Bornet's J/109 Jai Alai (NED) on scores of 5-6.

Phase two of the competition at the Offshore Worlds resumes tomorrow with the start of the first of seven planned inshore races. The teams will be given a respite tonight after the long race with a planned start time tomorrow in the afternoon at 1300 local time.

Published in Offshore
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The 120–strong fleet of boats will today set off on the biennial drag race from Newport to Bermuda. Light winds and strong Gulf Stream affects are the main topics of pre-race conversation as a slow route lies ahead for all competitors.

Among the international field of sailors are at least five Irish, all of whom are looking to continue previous success on the east coast of America.

William Byrne of the National Yacht Club will be competing with the young team onboard J/V50 ‘Crazy Horse’ owned by Irish American, Kevin McLaughlin. The same team raced to a 3rd place finish in this years Caribbean 600 whilst also being the youngest team to finish the race.

This being the 3rd Bermuda campaign for Crazy Horse, the team will be aiming for a strong finish after their 2nd place in Class in the 2016 race.

Ben Lynch will be competing onboard a modified Volvo70 ‘Warrior’, (Previously Camper in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race). This team is hoping to ride their hard-earned success this season after a 1st place finish in the Antigua to Bermuda race, Antigua Sailing Week, Around Antigua Race and 2nd across the line in the Caribbean600 just behind Rambler 88.

Ben Fusco will be aiming for a repeat performance of an overall CSA win in the Caribbean600 onboard Cookson50 ‘Privateer’. This time competing on an X483, Fusco will be taking on responsibility as navigator, no easy task in this race.

James Carroll is Boat Captain onboard Carkeek47 ‘Black Pearl’. Carroll has helped set this team up for continued success in recent years. Notable wins such as the Cape to Rio Race and podium finishes in multiple events on the east coast will have this team hungry for a class win sailing into Bermuda.

Sean McCarter, a native of Donegal, Ireland, currently living in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, is a crew on one of the more technologically advanced boats in the fleet, Maverick, which will easily stand out on the water with her Union Jack sails. “Excitement levels are high,” said McCarter of the mood onboard. McCarter has done his fair share of offshore sailing, including twice around the globe, but he was especially looking forward to his first Newport Bermuda Race with its great mix of history and tradition. “It’s one that yachtsmen and women aspire to. As one of the three classic offshore races in the world, along with the Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Newport Bermuda Race can give you a mixture of anything. Sometimes you can get hit hard at the start and have a light wind finish into Bermuda and other times you can get it the other way around. This time it looks like we’re going to be a little lighter most of the way there.”

“Maverick is a stripped-out race boat, with no comforts whatsoever. Basically, we built this boat two years ago and the brief was to design the fastest 46-foot yacht in the world and they achieved that very well. We keep up with boats twice our size, which is almost unheard of, thanks to the side foils which give us a huge amount of righting moment while allowing us to remain very lightweight… sort of skimming across the water.”

Maverick will sail in the Open Division, for boats with experimental designs or equipment. Also at the upper end of the spectrum is Warrior, a Volvo Open 70, sailing in the Gibbs Hill Division, which includes elite professionals and cutting-edge technology.

The race can be tracked online at the link here

The list of Irish sailors competing is: 

Warrior  

USA60063

Volvo Open 70

Ben Lynch

Benekerry

Bermuda Oyster  

BER435

Oyster 435

Christian Pollard

Dublin

Black Pearl  

GER7007

Carkeek 47

James Carroll

Dublin

Bounty  

USA61266

Swan 66

Marcus Spillane

Fountainstown

Maverick  

GBR4945

Infiniti 46R DSS

Sean McCarter

Donegal

Published in Offshore
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The 39th Middle Sea Race starts on the 20th October 2018. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of this remarkable offshore race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) is anticipating its highest entry yet. Some 30 yachts from 14 countries have already registered, well ahead of the usual pace. The record fleet stands at 122, set in 2014, and the RMYC has ambitions to topple this number.

The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of eight yachts cross the start line. Both race and organizing club have come a long way since that time. “This is an important year for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Royal Malta Yacht Club”, says Commodore Godwin Zammit. “Both club and race have grown enormously in stature since 1968. We are now regularly attracting over 100 boats from all corners of the world. Our proven ability to host a globally representative fleet demonstrates the strength of the RMYC, the extraordinary challenge of the racecourse and the attraction of offshore racing in general.”

"The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of eight yachts cross the start line"

Wishing to celebrate the special birthday, the RMYC is planning a number of efforts aimed at showcasing the rich history of the race, including the boats and people that sailed them, and the charm of the event’s island home. Malta. “We aim to mark the occasion in an indelible fashion,” advises RMSR Organizing Committee member, Georges Bonello DuPuis. “Our first success has been to secure the attendance of Josian, the Swan 36 that won the first race skippered by our club president, John Ripard. Josian’s current Italian owner, Eugenio Alphandery, was enthusiastic to return her to the scene of her most famous victory.” Reuniting former owner Ripard and Josian on Marsamxett Harbour will surely be an emotional highlight of the event.

Coincidentally, Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will feature strongly in the calendar of events supporting this initiative. The Valletta 2018 mission nicely reflects an essential spirit of the race: “When you live on an island, the horizon always holds the promise of new and exciting connections to be made, while the shore draws you back home to a wealth of detail that’s just waiting to be explored.” A key feature of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has been its ability to capture the imagination and to draw crews back time and again to participate. Each race is different, each participation adds to the experience. George David, who has taken Line Honours five times and hold the current course record, is forthright in his appreciation. Shortly, after crossing the finish line in 2017 he remarked: “This is the best racecourse in the world. It’s already on our calendar for 2018.”

As usual, the RMYC is looking forward to welcoming the perennial mix of professional and Corinthian crews, those making a welcome return as well as those on their first appearance. Currently, the most spectacular entrant is Nikata, the JVNB 115, which at 35-metres will be the biggest boat ever to start the race. Josian and Swedish entrant, the J/111 Blur, at a mere 11-metres provide a striking contrast. Other entries of note include the German Maxi72 Momo and the double-hander, Mandalay, which boasts Austrian two-time Olympian and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp as one half of its two-man crew.

Published in Offshore
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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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