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You can pay for new sails. You can pay for keel fairing and a good bottom job. You can pay a specialist to try and optimise your IRC rating. Any of the above will help you to get around the race track faster in a more successful manner. But none address the real issue - that boat speed gains, ultimately translating into performance on the race course, can come just as readily if you spend time not money. You can change the set-up and trim of your boat, and spend time on the water testing that while practising to improve your crew's skill-sets, boat handling and techniques. The fast track way to do this is by employing a coach - the reason why Olympic sailors and America's Cup teams have them full time. However competitors at the RORC Easter Challenge (Friday 19th-Sunday 21st April) - be they RORC members or not - can receive coaching for FREE from some top names.
This coaching is laid on by the Royal Ocean Racing Club to improve general sailing skills, and thus the tightness of the racing, both in its own fleets and more broadly. As a result it attracts crews from the continent too, notably this year the de Graaf family's Baraka GP from the Netherlands and the Goubau's First 47.7 Moana from Belgium.
Many crews use the event effectively to kick start their new season, to make both themselves and their boat race-ready after the winter break.

While the coaching may be FREE, it comes from some top names, notably 'the guru' Jim Saltonstall whose influence helped drive many of the top names in British yacht racing, like Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Chris Draper, on their way to their present success. Another integral part of the coaching effort is Eddie Warden Owen. He may spend more time in a suit these days as the RORC CEO, but he has been one of the UK's top sailors and also has a long CV coaching, including America's Cup teams such as Team New Zealand and Desafio Espanol. They are assisted by professional keelboat coach Mason King.

Once again North Sails is a partner of the RORC Easter Challenge and various sailmakers from the Gosport loft will be both helping with the on-the-water coaching, while others will be sailing on key boats in the fleet.

"For RORC Easter Challenge competitors, the coaching is optional," says RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. "You can just pitch up and treat it as a normal yacht race. Or you can ask the coaches to come over and look at something when you're out on the water. But better still, before the event let us know if there is anything specific you'd like the coaches to look at." This is could be seeing how well a change in trim is working or a new technique for manoeuvres, or checking new sails.

For those unfamiliar with the event, the coaching comes in two significant parts. On the water, the event is almost unique in having RRS 41 'Outside Help' relaxed. This permits coaches can climb on board to demonstrate something and/or crew can step off on to a coaching RIB to check trim... mid-race.

Post racing on the Friday and Saturday nights at the RORC's Cowes Clubhouse, the coaching team will examine lessons learned during the day, backed up with video from the race course. New for 2019 is that due to the breadth of the fleet and the introduction of a doublehanded class, the debrief session for the whole group will be followed by sessions for smaller groups, with, for example, Nikki Curwen leading the one for doublehanders.

The coaching is geared up for the complete range of experience. For example, the classic 1939 Laurent Giles sloop is skippered by Giovanni Belgrano, head of PURE Design & Engineering, one of the most respected marine structural engineering companies. As a two time, IRC Nationals winner Whooper's crew is one of the more experienced taking part.
"We will be going through the pain of trying to manoeuvre round the tight short courses to shake-off the rust, aiming to define our routines, and refine the settings to get up to pace for the season - always looking to improve. Coaching provides crucial feedback, and shared in an event is practical and efficient," explains Belgrano.

A repeat visitor is the J/109 Mojo Risin', campaigned by Rob Cotterill with a crew, largely from London Business School Sailing Club. The boat is heavily campaigned and she managed to finish 16th among almost 400 boats in last year's RORC Season's Points Championship.

"It is a great regatta," says Cotterill of the RORC Easter Challenge. "We treat it like a mini Cowes Week and spend a lot of time on the debriefs, which are really useful. We'll also be trying to get attention from the coaching boats. Last year they were able to compare how we were sailing against another J/109, Jubilee, looking at the trim differences, etc. which was really useful. We are all amateur sailors and this helps us to learn fast. The more help we can get, the better."

As usual the RORC Easter Challenge will conclude with a prizegiving mid-afternoon on Easter Sunday, where chocolate eggs in extreme quantities will be given out among the prizes.

Published in RORC

The 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 kicked off in spectacular conditions off the south coast of Antigua with the magnificent fleet starting the 600–mile non-stop offshore race in bright sunshine, full-on gusting tradewinds and two-metre high waves.

The 11th edition of the race featured 76 starting yachts from 20 different countries, none from Ireland this year but with at least three Irish sailors participating. As Afloat.ie reported last week, a young Irish trio comprising of the National Yacht Club's Will Byrne (25) and Chris Raymond (24) are competing with Kevin McLaughlin from Newport RI on his X-55 for a third year in a row. The Irish/American team will be hoping for further success this year after a third place in the C600 and a class win in the Newport to Bermuda race in 2018.They are currently 13th in IRC 1. Elsewhere in the fleet, Cliodhna Connolly (24) from Baltimore SC will be racing with White Rhino 2 the Carkeek 47 (lying ninth in IRC overall). Race tracker here

Aerial footage and spectacular shots from all the action on the water:

The 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 kicked off in spectacular conditions off the south coast of Antigua with the magnificent fleet starting the 600 mile non-stop offshore race in bright sunshine, full-on gusting tradewinds and two-metre high waves. The 11th edition of the race featured 76 starting yachts from 20 different countries. The Caribbean Classic made headline news before the start; MOD 70 Argo flipped during practice on Friday, but miraculously made the start line just three days later. The majority of the fleet are racing under IRC for the overall win and the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, plus a record Class40 Division and one of the finest multihull fleets ever assembled for the race. Early in the race for the overall win, Volvo 70 Wizard, TP52 Tala, and Botin 65 Caro are estimated to be the top three after IRC time correction. Bella Mente was the shock early retirement.

"Bella Mente was the shock early retirement"

In IRC Zero, Volvo 70 Wizard owned by David and Peter Askew (USA) got a great start and powered up the beat to be the first in class to Green Island. Fully launched downwind in a show of immense power, Wizard pulled out a substantial lead on superyacht JV115 Nikata. Wizard was caught on the YB Tracker speed camera doing well over 20 knots on a screaming reach. Hap Fauth's Maxi72 Bella Mente (USA) was a shock early retirement, pulling up just after passing Willoughby Bay to return to Antigua. In the big sea state, the new design showed phenomenal speed, but the pounding proved too much, and having shipped a ton or more of water down below, turned for home. All of the Bella Mente crew are safe and well.

Showing enormous respect for their opposition, Giovanni Soldini's Maserati Multi70 (ITA) agreed to a delay to the race by just two hours to allow Jason Carroll's Argo (USA) just enough time to finish repairs to their MOD 70. The match race kicked off two hours after the rest of the fleet. At the start, Argo got away well, but Maserati was soon snapping at their rivals, playing the bays along the coast of Antigua. Snarling into an epic duel with the gloves full off. At Green Island, Maserati hit the after-burners, aided by their fully-foiling set up, screeching away at over 30 knots of boat speed. Maserati made Barbuda in 107 minutes, averaging an astonishing 26 knots.

The Multihull Class racing under the MOCRA Rule got away well with the two Gunboats, Chim Chim, owned by John Gallagher (USA), and Arethusa owned by Phil Lotz (USA) hitting the line with pace. Beiker 53 Fujin, owned by Greg Slyngstad (USA) showed the fleet the way and at Green Island, Fujin was substantially ahead, unfurling downwind sails to blast towards Barbuda at over 20 knots of boat speed. Falcon skippered by Shannon Falcone (ANT) was in the mix at Green Island, having overhauled the two Gunboats on the water.

In the ten-strong Class40 Division, four French teams dominated the start. Catherine Pourre's Eärendil and Halvard Mabire's Campagne de France, skippered by Miranda Merron started on port. Smashing to windward in a ball of spray, Eärendil nearly cleared the fleet on port but had to bear away as Luke Berry's Lamotte - Module Création's red-hot hull headed them off. Berry and his team made a cracking start and was ahead of the two port flyers at Green Island. The chasing peloton includes Aymeric Chappellier's Aïna Enfance Et Avenir.

In IRC Two, after a text book start controlling the fleet inshore, Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) revelled in the upwind conditions and was the first to Green Island. Pamala Baldwin's Antiguan based J/122 Liquid skippered by Julian White (GBR) was going well. Performance Yacht Racing's Grand Soleil 43 Quokka, skippered by Christian Reynolds (GBR) was third to the first corner of the course.

In IRC Three, Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep owned by Trevor Middleton (GBR) nailed a very crowded pin end, but the lightweight flyer could not hold on upwind to Jonty and Vicki Layfield's Swan 48 Sleeper (GBR), blasting upwind to make Green Island first in class. Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson (USA) racing Swan 48 Isbjorn was third on the water.

"The RORC Race Team realise the great importance of professional race management and it was fantastic to see all of the fleet get away to a clean start," commented RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. "Up at Fort Charlotte the line was set for a 090 wind direction, and although we saw a shift during the sequence of about 10 degrees, the team did a good job, providing a good line with fair starts. The breeze was a little up on forecast with about 18-22 knots of wind. We will be tracking the fleet 24-7 via the YB Tracker and wish them all a safe and memorable race."

Published in RORC

Irish sailors are competing among the seventy-eight yachts have entered the eleventh edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, wherein an excess of 700 sailors from six continents and yachts from over 20 nations will compete in the thrilling race around 11 Caribbean islands starting on Monday 18th February.

A young Irish contingent will be making the trip to Antigua this year. The National Yacht Club's Will Byrne (25) and Chris Raymond (24) will be competing with Kevin McLaughlin from Newport RI on his X-55 for a third year in a row. The Irish/American team will be hoping for further success this year after a third place in the C600 and a class win in the Newport to Bermuda race in 2018. Elsewhere in the fleet, Cliodhna Connolly (24) from Baltimore SC will be racing with White Rhino 2 the Carkeek 47.

Howth Yacht Club's Conor Fogerty, who has sailed to so much success in former editions of the race, is not competing in 2019 as he prepares for challenges closer to home this season.

 

Other Irish crews from both the south and east coasts are competing and Afloat.ie is currently compiling an Irish crew listing for future publication. Any details to [email protected] are appreciated.

Winners from the Olympic Games, America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and multiple world champions have gathered in Antigua and will be competing alongside passionate Corinthian sailors, both young and old.

X55 RyeDun Laoghaire's Will Byrne and Chris Raymond are competing on Kevin McLaughlin X55 Rye

Ten multihulls will be racing, boasting phenomenal talent among the crews. Jason Carroll (USA) will be racing MOD70 Argo with Francois Gabart, winner of the 2012-13 Vendée Globe, and Jules Verne winner Brian Thompson (GBR). Giovanni Soldini's (ITA) Multi70 Maserati has been in fine form taking line honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the RORC Transatlantic Race. The 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 is the first time that Maserati and Argo have lined up. If the conditions are right, both teams are capable of eclipsing the Multihull Race Record set by Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 in 2016 (31 hours, 59 minutes, 04 seconds).

White Rhino 2	Carkeek 47Cliodhna Connolly from Baltimore is sailing on the Carkeek 47 White Rhino 2
Shannon Falcone (ANT), a two-time winner of the America's Cup is racing his foiling F4 catamaran Falcon, and back after last year's capsize is Greg Synstad's Fujin (USA) with America's Cup winner Peter Isler and Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan McKee on board. Two American Gunboats are likely to have a close battle; John Gallagher's Gunboat 62 Chim Chim and the Gunboat 60 Arethusa of Phil Lotz; the latter having the combined talents of Paul Larsen (AUS) and Jeff Mearing (GBR) on board.

IRC Zero is the largest class competing this year with 15 teams. The quest for Monohull Line Honours is wide open. A trio of Maxi72s are likely contenders to be first home and to win the race overall. Hap Fauth, two-time winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 (2015 and 2017) is racing the brand new Bella Mente (USA) with a stellar crew including; Terry Hutchinson (USA) skipper for American Magic in the 36th America's Cup. The formidable afterguard includes two-time Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper, Mike Sanderson (NZL), three-time round the world winner Brad Jackson, and Adrian Stead (GBR) who has been on winning teams for the '600 more than any other sailor.

George Sakellaris (USA) racing Maxi 72 Proteus in his fifth RORC Caribbean 600 has also won overall on two previous occasions (2014 and 2016). Proteus' crew includes Curtis Blewett (CAN) an America's Cup and round the world race winner, plus multiple Star Sailors League winner Mark Mendelblatt (USA), Volvo Ocean Race winner Dirk De Ridder (NED), and multiple world champion Andy Hemmings (GBR).

Peter Harrison's British Maxi 72 Sorcha will be lining up for the first time this season against the other Maxis and it will also be their first time in the race. The crew includes numerous past winners of the RORC Caribbean 600: Willy Beavis (GBR), Mo Gray (GBR), Steve Hayles (GBR), Andy Meiklejohn (NZL), Tim Powell (GBR), Freddy Shanks (GBR) and Niklas Zennstrom (SWE).

David and Peter Askew (USA) racing Volvo 70 Wizard will be skippered by Charlie Enright (USA) and three past winners of the Volvo Ocean Race: Simon Fisher (GBR), Phil Harmer (AUS) and Daryl Wislang (NZL).

The two largest yachts in the race; JV 115 Nikata and Will Apold's Canadian Southern Wind 96 Sorceress will be hoping for full-on conditions. Nikata and Sorceress are expected to have a magnificent superyacht battle around the 600-mile course.

British yacht Tala is vying to be the first TP52 to win the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. The relative minnows of IRC Zero include several yachts 50ft or less. Cookson 50s have won the race overall on two occasions and this year two will be battling for glory: Joseph Mele's American Triple Lindy and Franco Niggeler's Swiss Kuka 3, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race winner Chuny Bermudez (ESP). Carkeek 47 White Rhino 2, owned by Stuart Todd (USA) and British-based Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, sailed by Nigel King (GBR) are the smallest yachts in the big boat class.


The RORC Caribbean 600 is part of the Class40 2019 Championship and a record 10 pocket rockets will be on the start line. Catherine Pourre's Eärendil set the race record last year (2 days 13 hours and 15 seconds) and Louis Burton's BHB was runner-up in 2018. Three stand-out new French entrants are: Luke Berry's Lamotte - Module Création, third in the 2018 Class40 Championship, Aïna Enfance Et Avenir, skippered by Aymeric Chappellier who was runner-up in the 2017 Transat Jacques Vabre and 2018 Route du Rhum. Kito de Pavant, skipper of Made in Midi is a former Figaro winner and Vendée Globe competitor.

IRC One has entries from seven different nations; Gibb Kane's Swan 66 Bounty (USA) is the largest yacht in the class and the crew includes round the world sailor Mike Joubert (RSA). The fastest team on IRC rating is Godspeed 52 owned by Christian Kargl (SUI). Marten 49 Summer Storm, owned by Andrew Berdon (USA) includes Stu Bannatyne (NZL) who is the only sailor to have won the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race four times. Two Antiguan boats will also be competing in this class: Bernie Evan-Wong will be taking charge of his RP37 Taz and competing in his 11th edition of the race as skipper, and OnDeck's Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, skippered by Paul Jackson. Finnish hopes lie with the Swan 57 Lintu owned by Jyrki Maeki and Xp44 Xtra Staerk owned by Arto Linnervuo. Second in class last year, Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra will be raced by a team from Lake Constance, Germany.

IRC Two could be described as the clash of the British-based charter boats. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster will be taking part in their 7th race, winning class on six occasions. Performance Yacht Racing based in Cowes, Isle of Wight has three entries; Grand Soleil 43s Quokka and Jua Kali, plus Beneteau First 47.7 EH01. Two Beneteau First 40s from Hamble, Hampshire will have their own private battle: Yuri Fadeev's Optimus Prime and Sailing Logic's Rocket Dog 2, and Pamala Baldwin (USA) racing the Antiguan-based J/122 Liquid is back in action after completing last year's exceptionally windy race.

Three vintage Swans will be racing in IRC Three: Swan 441 Charisma will be sailed by Constantin Claviez (GER) who will be taking on two S&S Swan 48s; Isbjorn, skippered by Andy Schell (USA) and Sleeper X owned by Antiguan residents Jonty and Vicki Layfield (GBR). Also in class is Richard Oswald's British Elan 450 Emily of Cowes and Trevor Middleton's Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep (GBR) who was overall runner-up in the 2018 RORC Transatlantic Race.

Miramar Sailing's Grand Soleil 46.3 Phoenix, skippered by Antiguan-resident Pippa Turton (GBR) will be racing with an all-women crew from five different nations.

Three teams will be racing in the Two Handed class; Hanse 430 Avanti skippered by Jeremi Jablonski (USA) will race with Marek Mirota (POL). Swan 45 Nemesis skippered by James Heald (GBR) will race with Peter Doggart (USA). The smallest yacht in the race, Olson 35 Cabbyl Vane will be crewed by two brothers from the Netherlands, Johannes and Jankorf Gerssen.

Published in RORC

Once again the Rolex Fastnet Race has confirmed itself to be by far the world's largest offshore yacht race. After the entry for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event was opened at 1200 UTC, the 340 available places for boats in the IRC fleet were all taken within just four minutes and 37 seconds. This was just 13 seconds outside the record time recorded in 2017.

The first entry to sign up on the RORC's Sailgate online entry system for the biennial 605-mile race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, was regular competitor Derek Saunders and his Farr 60 Venomous. He narrowly beat the German Hamburgischer Verein Seefahrt club's Judel Vrolijk 52 Haspa Hamburg and Tom Kneen's JPK 11.80 Sunrise who were next fastest.

After the first two minutes, 180 boats had already been entered successfully. After the first frenetic four minutes and 37 seconds when the maximum entry limit was reached, subsequent requests were filtered through to the reserve list. Ultimately after the deluge subsided 440 boats had entered in total.

Yachts from 25 countries are due to take part this year: The bulk of these are from the UK, from where 201 boats were registered, followed by the dominant French (winners of the last three editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race) with 81 and the Netherlands with 33.

The entry includes a strong contingent of 16 boats from the USA, many making the passage across to the UK in the Transatlantic Race 2019. This leaves Newport, RI on 25 June bound for Cowes via the Lizard and is organised by the RORC in conjunction with the New York Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Storm Trysail Club. Entries from further afield have been received from Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong and Korea among others.

This strong entry shows that the change of date has made little impression on the desire to do the Rolex Fastnet Race: The start date was moved to Saturday, 3 August and for the first time it will be setting off before Lendy Cowes Week (rather than on the traditional Sunday immediately after it).

For the RORC's Australian Racing Manager Chris Stone this is his first Rolex Fastnet entry day experience since taking up his position in Cowes a year ago: "It has been unbelievably busy. Before 1200 we had about 500 people who were all on stand-by, logged into their accounts, which was a good indicator about how busy it was going to be. Then we went straight to 340 and on to 440, including the waiting list."

Among the entries is at least one 100ft maxi while Stone reckons that one of the top fights in the race will potentially be between the six Cookson 50s.

It should be noted that with the Rolex Fastnet Race the RORC has led the way among the organisers of the world's classic 600 milers in inviting other grand prix racing yacht classes to compete outside of the main IRC fleet. This has led to the race featuring some of the very best offshore racing hardware from yachts competing in the Volvo Ocean Race to the giant 100ft long French Ultime multihulls and the IMOCA 60s of the Vendée Globe. For 2019, an especially strong line-up of Class 40s is anticipated. "We are expecting around another 50 boats - thirty Class 40s and twenty IMOCA boats," forecasts Stone.

Meanwhile, for the fleet, there remains the qualification process that will take place over the course of the 2019 season, with teams required to gain adequate miles and experience in order to meet the Rolex Fastnet Race's stringent entry requirements. Competing yachts must complete more than 300 race miles with at least 50% of their Rolex Fastnet Race crew on board.

"I never thought it would so easy to have 400 boats appear on your desk in one day! I am really impressed by the numbers. I have never experienced anything like this," concludes Stone.

Published in RORC

Early entries for the 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 reveal a stunning fleet of famous professional teams taking part alongside passionate Corinthian crews. Famed for spectacular sailing conditions on an intricate and mesmerizing course, the 11th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 is set to be an absolute cracker.

Two months before the start of the race 50 teams have thrown down the gauntlet; over 10% more than the same time prior to the record entry of 88 yachts in 2018. The race is a truly international affair with teams from all over the Caribbean Islands, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.

For the first time in the history of the race, three ocean-going trimarans in the shape of Jason Carroll's Argo, Giovanni Soldini's Maserati and Peter Cunningham's PowerPlay will be battling for multihull line honours and the race record, set in 2016 by Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 in 31 hours, 59 minutes, 4 seconds.

The IRC fleet racing for the overall win and the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, boasts three magnificent yachts; the 203ft (62m) schooner Athos, skippered by Tony Brookes, the 115ft (35m) sloop Nikata, skippered by Tom Brewer, and the 96ft (30m) sloop Sorceress, sailed by Will Apold.

Two Maxi 72s will be locking horns; previous winner George Sakellaris' Proteus and the brand new Bella Mente sailed by Hap Fauth. American Volvo Ocean Race skipper Charlie Enright will be hoping for victory with the American Volvo 70 Wizard. In two previous editions, the race has been won overall by a Cookson 50. This year, two new teams will be hoping to increase the statistic. Franco Niggeler's Kuka3 is on a high from their overall win in the RORC Transatlantic Race and the highly experienced team racing Triple Lindy will be led by Joseph Mele.A record entry of Class40s is also expected to compete in the race. The 2018 Route du Rhum featured 53 of these pocket rockets, bound for Antigua's neighbour island of Guadeloupe. With another transatlantic race organised in March, 10 or more Class40 are likely to take part in the RORC Caribbean 600. Among the early entries is Catherine Pourre's Eärendil which set a new Class40 record for the race last year (2 days 13 hours and 15 seconds).

"We are delighted to be heading back to Antigua for the 11th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600," commented RORC Racing Manager, Chris Stone. "This coming year we are anticipating close to 100 boats from all over the world who will be coming to Antigua to enjoy the challenging racing and amazing weather. We are expecting an extremely good mix from within the fleet, seeing our smallest competitors tussling with the larger race machines for the prestigious IRC overall trophy. As usual, there will be a great welcome party and prizegiving event, plus every yacht will be met dockside with cold beers and a warm welcome from our wonderful team of volunteers."

Published in RORC

Two of this Summer's Scandinavian entries in the Round Ireland Race are set for the RORC Transatlantic Race next month. Henrik Bergesen's Norwegian Class40 Hydra plus the class one Round Ireland winner, Arto Linnervuo's Xp-44 Xtra Staerk, the all-Finnish eight-man crew.

Crew from all over the world will be competing in the 2018 RORC Transatlantic Race which sets off from Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife on Saturday, November 24th. The 3,000 nautical mile-long race to Grenada is the final challenge in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2018 calendar and is an ideal way to bond a team together for the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2019.

Franco Niggeler's Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka 3 is one of the favourites for the overall win decided by yachts racing under the IRC Rating Rule for the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy.

"This will be my first Atlantic crossing and the first part of a project including the RORC Caribbean 600, the Transpac and the Rolex Sydney Hobart," commented Kuka 3's owner Niggeler. "The first few days will be very important with difficult tactical choices which could decide the outcome of the race. Our aim is to do as well as possible as we have a competitive boat and it is up to us to get the best out of it."

Kuka 3 has a highly experienced crew, including Italian navigator Andrea Caracci (11 Mini-Transats) and Spanish Watch Captain Gonzalo Araujo (Volvo Ocean Race and TP52). Kuka 3 will be skippered by Spain's Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez de Castro who has raced 500,000 nautical miles, including seven round the world races, winning the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Teams from Scandinavia will also be racing in the 2018 RORC Transatlantic Race, including Henrik Bergesen's Norwegian Class40 Hydra (Oslo) and Arto Linnervuo's Finnish Xp-44 Xtra Staerk (Espoo).

Hydra is one of the latest generation Class40 designed by Owen Clarke. Launched in 2017, Bergesen's Hydra was 7th in the 26-strong Class40 fleet racing Two-Handed in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race. For the 2018 RORC Transatlantic Race, two British Class40 experts will be on board; Paul Peggs and Pip Hare. Skipper Tristan Kinloch, with plenty of big boat experience, will lead the Hydra crew.

Arto Linnervuo's Xp-44 Xtra Staerk has an all-Finnish eight man crew who have been sailing together since 2016. The overall goal of the team is to promote Finnish offshore racing by attracting more teams from Finland to race with the RORC. The team have even released a Spotify single - Olen Suomalainen (meaning 'I'm Finnish') - which was professionally produced in a Helsinki studio! Xtra Staerk bowman Tuomas is on lead vocals, skipper Arto is the chorus! https://open.spotify.com/track/5E3NL2CD53BvlVWMwrIuEk

"We won IRC One in our first race in the 2018 Volvo Round Ireland Race," commented Linnervuo. "We aim to race across the Atlantic fast, but safely. When racing, we always want to win, but also have fun, paying attention to keeping a good atmosphere on board. We expect tight competition offered by the great teams participating in the race. After the RORC Transatlantic Race the team is planning to participate in the RORC Caribbean 600, Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race."

Published in RORC

Representatives of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) met in Dun Laoghaire for two days of debate and discussion at the beginning of October. The IRC Technical Committee agreed on a number of developments for 2019 as a result of research throughout the year, while the IRC Policy Steering Group reinforced the good relations between the owners of the Rule, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL).

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, the annual Congress meeting always proves a good opportunity for delegates to share experiences and ideas between different countries and sailing cultures, and this year was no exception with representatives of IRC from around the world. The 34 Congress delegates came from Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South East Asia, Turkey and the USA; and from organisations including RORC, UNCL, the Royal Yachting Association, Irish Sailing, the Maxi Yacht Association and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) whose Chairman Peter Ryan gave a presentation on ISORA activity.

Reports were received from the international IRC Owners’ Associations and Rule Authorities, and from the organisers, competitors and technical committee of the 2018 Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship. In addition, delegates enjoyed an excellent presentation by the Irish Sea Offshore Sailing Association describing their history, activities and promotion. The IRC European Championship was confirmed as San Remo, Italy, 23-29 June 2019.

IRC rule changes were approved for improved rig dimension definitions, clarifying the number of spinnakers allowed and several housekeeping items. Software developments agreed by the Technical Committee for IRC 2019 include the treatment of draft, boats over 30.50m in length, cruisers and classics with relatively low sail area, and the rating of the number of spinnakers. Many of these changes will benefit cruiser designs and classic boats which form an important part of the IRC club fleet.

The 2018 Congress was the final meeting with Peter Wykeham-Martin in the Chair and he was thanked for his dedicated support and excellent leadership. The incoming Chairman of IRC Congress is Irishman Michael Boyd, past Commodore of RORC and an active IRC racer. In addition, Vice Commodore Alp Doguoglu, who has represented IRC at World Sailing, stood down as Vice Chairman and is replaced by Carl Sabbe from Belgium.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club

The Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London, Andrew McIrvine, has written to the President of World Sailing, Kim Anderson, seeking action from the World body over the prevalence of 'cheating' in sailing that he maintains is becoming 'a major disincentive to going racing at many levels'.

In a strongly worded letter, McIrivne, who is also the Secretary General of the International Maxi Association, says the ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

He claims it is a particular problem among some sailing 'professionals' who, he says, have a 'more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood'.

‘the culture of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent'

McIrvine's letter laments the fact that the 'sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly, he says, 'those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively'.

The RORC Chief says he wants the World Sailing organisation to take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out the culture. 'This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities'" he says.

World Sailing McIrvine's letter (dated 30th of January 2018) is posted on the World Sailing website on this link here and it is reproduced in full below: 

RATING INTEGRITY AND CHEATING

Dear President,

I am writing because of my deep concern over the rise of cheating within our sport and the lack of use of process and sanctions to deal with it.

This was prompted by the recent announcement by the J70 Class Association of the sanctions they were going to apply to those who had arrived at the 2017 World Championship with boats that had been deliberately altered such that they were no longer in class. They had been disqualified from competing at the event but now 4 months later the sanction applied was as little as a 4-month ban – covering the winter, mainly non-sailing, season.

This appeared totally inadequate as a sentence of this type will be ineffective as a deterrent to increasing flouting of the rules.

I am using this as an example as it is a class with which I have no involvement and am therefore seeing it from an independent stance,

An example from within my sphere was the case of ‘Scugnizza’ a boat eventually disqualified from the 2016 ORC European Championships by an International Jury for blatant measurement anomalies. ORC could do this and ban them from their events but no action was taken by either MNA or WS despite the boat being filled with ‘professionals’.

Bruno Finzi, Chairman of the Offshore Racing Council, supports me in our frustration with the lack of sanction from higher authorities.

Stan Honey, Chairman of the Oceanic and Offshore Committee shares our concerns.

This ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

It is probably associated with greater involvement of professional sailors who have a more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood.

Our sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively.

Only serious lengthy bans to individuals perpetrating these offences will have such an effect.

From communication with many sailors, it is clear that this lack of control is becoming a major disincentive to going racing at many levels.

We feel it is imperative that World Sailing as a whole take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out this culture. This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities.

We very much hope this can be put high on your agenda.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Andrew J McIrvine FRCS

Member, WS Classes Committee

Secretary-General, International Maxi Association

Admiral, Royal Ocean Racing Club

Published in RORC

A third light, tricky day with strong tides at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC Europeans and Commodores' Cup saw a lengthy round the cans course in the central Solent just completed before the wind shut down. After a wait, the skies darkened, the temperature plummeted as a southeasterly wind filled in, lasting just long enough for a singleton windward-leeward to be held for the three classes.

Ireland's sole entry in the competition, the Waterford Harbour A35, Fools Gold, skippered by Rob McConnell is lying fifth in IRC division three.

Provisional Results can be found here

A powerful flood tide off Osborne Bay, pushing boats down towards the pin presented some novel problems along the start line of today's first race. In the starts for each of the three classes, boats were called over early. In IRC One Robert Bicket's Club Swan 42 Fargo was OCS, but remarkably went on to win the complex course, criss-crossing the central-eastern Solent on different points of sail, in varying tidal states.
"We had a few things go our way - a Swan 42 is a great boat in 8 knots of breeze and flat water," observed Bicket, racing his new boat's first regatta with a crew, including several former Solent legends prised from retirement. Thanks to the variable winds and strong tides, there were a few park-ups around the race course and these seemed to work very much in the blue Swan's favour. "We had a few favourable compressions and some good mark roundings, but mainly we just stayed out of trouble," concluded Bicket.

Fargo's victory in race one came at Ino XXX's expense. "We thought we'd won the first race until the wind disappeared 100m from the line and everyone else came in with new breeze," observed owner James Neville. However he and the crew of his HH42 were compensated by winning today's second race, ahead of Mike Bartholomew's higher-rated Tokoloshe II. "We are having a good few days," Neville continued. "We just need more wind, but Stuart [Childerley - PRO] has done a good job keeping things on the road."
Nonetheless, the immaculately consistent Tokoloshe II continues to lead IRC One with no scores lower than second, leaving her five points clear of Andy Williams' Keronimo, with Ino XXX third.

While the First 40s were in the chocolates yesterday, the King 40s fought back in IRC Two today. A 3-3 for Nifty propelled Roger Bowden's team back into the lead, while the Blair family's Cobra managed a convincing win in today's first race, but bombed in the second, leaving her fourth. However the day belonged to Scots Rod Stuart and Bill Ram on their Corby 37 Aurora, which posted a 2-1 elevating her to second in class, three points astern of Nifty.

In the round the cans race, Cobra managed to speed away in clear air, but Aurora defended second well. "The windward start was good for us as we prefer windward-leewards," confided Stuart. "We rounded the first buoy in second in front of the First 40s. When we do that we can generally keep our position, although it's tough in a 12-year-old boat."
As in IRC One, the final tight reach back towards the Isle of Wight into even lighter airs compressed the fleet. "The lead we'd built up became challenged, but it was fine - we then had a great light beat against the tide," continued Stuart. "We are enjoying it, but the very light winds make it challenging."

IRC Three is developing into a two horse race between Michael Mollmann's X-37 Hansen and Didier Le Moal's J/112e J Lance 12. Today definitely belonged to the French who won both races. They now lead, one point ahead of the Danes who posted a 3-2 today.

Jean-Eudes Renier's JPK 1080 Shaitan, chartered to Scottish adventurer Jock Wishart was second in today's first race, but, showing a lack of consistency typical across this fleet thanks to the awkward conditions, was eighth in race two.

As was the case with Fargo in IRC One, so Shaitan was called OCS in today's first race but recovered well. "It was a pushy line," recounted jib trimmer Ruaridh Wright, who at 22 is one of several young Scottish sailors competing. "We fought our way through all the dirt, just finding lanes, got to the right side of the course and came out at the top mark in fourth or fifth. It was a constant battle to keep the boat moving. When we reached the other side of the Solent we managed to get away a bit, while the boats ahead fell into a hole in Osborne Bay. We managed to overtake another two boats on the way in- it was a scrappy fight, but we came out alright."

Kings High on the rise as the Celtic Team reasserts itself

In the Commodores' Cup, Jock Wishart's Celtic Team managed to build itself a cushion on day three of the competition and is now 19 points in front of Kings High, comprising the two King 40s, Nifty and Cobra, plus Mike Bridge's Elan 37 Elaine racing in IRC Three. This was despite the Celtic Team's Shaitan along with her team mates, the First 40 Adventurer and Andrew Williams' Ker 40 Keronimo all experiencing mixed results today.

A change of schedule for the remaining four days of the IRC European Championship and Commodores' Cup was announced this evening, with the offshore race, originally due to take place over Wednesday-Thursday now replaced by a race around the Isle of Wight on Thursday. This race was started yesterday but abandoned due to light wind.

Fortunately, good breeze is forecast from tomorrow afternoon for the remainder of the week, with the strongest set to coincide with the rescheduled lap of the Isle of Wight. Inshore races will take place on the remaining days.

Published in RORC

#RB&I - A record 10 Class40s have entered the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race and more are expected to take up the tough 1,800 nautical mile non-stop race this August.

Starting and finishing from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the course takes the fleet as far north as Muckle Flugga in the Shetland Islands on the 61st parallel — shared by Alaska and the Bering Sea.

The 2018 race is an official event for the 2018 Class40 circuit and since the class first competed in the race in 2006, only five have finished the gruelling challenge.

In 2006, Britain’s Phil Sharp became the first Class40 skipper to finish the race and he went on to win the Route du Rhum later that year.

Fast forward to June 2018 and Sharp with co-skipper Julien Pulve was victorious in the 1,000nm Normandy Channel Race, winning by just six seconds after six days of racing.

For the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starting on Sunday 12 August, Sharp will skipper Class40 Imerys and is one of the favourites to win the class.

“The diversity of racing around Britain and Ireland is a real challenge. You can get everything possible thrown at you. Just finishing gives tremendous satisfaction and makes you all the stronger for it,” Sharp said.

“We didn’t do very well in 2006, but it was my first proper race in the Class40 and it was invaluable for the win in the Route du Rhum.

“It is a coastal race but you rarely see land and the course takes you further north than just about any offshore race. The weather can get very extreme and very cold. Racing in howling winds, fully in winter gear, makes it very easy to forget it is August.

“Pushing the boat to the limits can be stressful, but it is an amazing experience, surfing down waves getting doused in blue water. A Class40 transforms itself into a dinghy, especially the modern ones which are highly optimised racing machines.”

The majority of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race fleet will be racing under the IRC Rating system with additional classes for Class40, MOCRA and IMOCA. This year’s race is also expected to have a record entry for two-handed challengers, among them Liam Coyne’s Lulu Belle.

All boats will carry trackers and full coverage of the race is available on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race website.

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland
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