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The weather will play a significant outcome in determining the overall results of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Winning your division is more within each team's control, and here we'll look at the top three IRC handicap categories in terms of size and speed. IRC Zero is where the biggest boats congregate and is likely to produce the monohull line honours winner. However, you have to go back to the 2009 and 2011 editions of the race to find the last Maxi to win overall - on both occasions the impeccably sailed Rán 2.

IRC One produced the last edition's winner in 2017, and Lann Ael 2 is back to defend her title, although victory in this hard-fought division will be no picnic for the French crew. IRC Two is also capable of delivering an overall winner, and it is here where the 2015 winner Géry Trentesaux is returning with his new boat, Courrier Recommandé.

Let's take a look at some of the runners and riders, and speculate on who might emerge victorious in 2019

IRC Zero

The biggest boat in IRC Zero is the 100-footer Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 100, owned by Seng Huang Lee from Hong Kong. The international crew is led by experienced Australian sailor David Witt, former 18ft skiff sailor and skipper of the Scallywag team in last year's Volvo Ocean Race. She will be relying on a windy start and light airs conclusion to have a chance at winning on handicap.

RamblerGeorge David's American Rambler 88 Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Closest rival in terms of speed through the water is Rambler 88, George David's canting-keeled sloop from New York. The 88-footer has clocked up some impressive results which include overall winner of Les Voiles de St Barth, line honours winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as well as third on the water in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Rambler 88 also took monohull line honours in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, so has the raw speed, thanks to an experienced crew that numbers many of the America's Cup winning Alinghi crew in its ranks, not least former Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth. This will be David's fifth time of competing, and the ambitious owner still hankers for the overall win: "Too often we have been bridesmaid, which could be what brings us back - along with the great traditions and scenery of this classic race."

Expect to see a tough battle between the Maxi 72s Lucky and Sorcha (formerly the two-time Fastnet winner Rán 2) along with Jethou which was extended over the winter from a 72-footer to 77ft. Lucky was previously the Maxi 72 World Champion Bella Mente now in the hands of American owner Bryon Ehrhart, following in the footsteps of his 63ft Reichel Pugh design and before that the TP52 in which he scored a series of strong results. Lucky has already demonstrated her class with some strong performances in the Mediterranean including Capri Sailing Week, the Rolex Giraglia Race, Palermo to Monaco and the Maxi Worlds. Ehrhart has twice competed in the Fastnet, so knows some of the pitfalls along the way, not least from running aground on the Shingles bank not long after the 2015 start, which forced his RP63 out of the race. No wonder then that Ehrhart identifies the start as one of the most critical parts of the course, where he believes the key to success will be "picking lanes through smaller, slower boats in restricted waters. We'll aim to sail safe, sail hard and sail fast."

Quite a few ex-Volvo Ocean Race boats show up in this division, with Volvo 60s, 65s and 70s all hoping for some fast downwind sailing to make the most of their round-the-world design pedigree. Perhaps the most competitive of these is the VO70 Wizard, formerly Franck Cammas' 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race winner Groupama 4, now owned by Baltimore brothers, David and Peter Askew. Recent winner of the Transatlantic Race 2019, Wizard keeps on clocking up significant victories, notably the RORC Caribbean 600, Chicago Mackinac, Bayview Mackinac and Newport - Bermuda Race, along with a class win at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Not so surprising when you learn that the team includes a couple of Volvo Ocean Race veterans - former winner Rob Greenhalgh from the UK, two-time skipper Charlie Enright of the USA and Australian navigator Will Oxley.

Further down the size range are a bunch of competitive 50-something-footers, including David Collins' Botin IRC52 Tala (formerly Interlodge and Spookie) which recently claimed line honours victory in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham race. Tala will enjoy a good battle with Outsider, a purpose-built offshore TP52. Expect a tight fight between five Cookson 50s, including the Italian team Endlessgame owned by Pietro Moschini, which includes past America's Cup helmsman Paolo Cian in the crew. Watch out for Ron O'Hanley's Privateer as the pick of the bunch after finishing runner-up to Lann Ael 2 in the overall standings for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race.

A couple of other boats in this size range are Oystercatcher XXXIII, owned by east-coast racing veteran, Richard Matthews, who this year will be celebrating his 23rd Fastnet Race, and exactly 50 years since he and fellow crew member, Alan Brooke, first raced around the lighthouse. Oystercatcher XXXIII is a Ker 51 which was previously campaigned by Dutch race veteran Piet Vroon, best known for his series of Tonnerre yachts. Among the crew is the 470 Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, Saskia Clark, who hails from the same part of the country as Matthews.

Teasing Machine is a NMYD 54 which has recently completed the slowest ever Transatlantic Race, after which 600 miles of Fastnet racing will seem but a sprint. Eric de Turckheim is the French owner of a boat which was designed specifically with distance races in mind. Teasing Machine has already proven her pedigree with third overall in the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race, winning the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race and the 2018 Atlantic Anniversary Regatta. De Turckheim has similarly impressive results in his previous Fastnets, 2nd in IRC2 in 2013 and 3rd in IRC1 in 2015. The crew are a mix of amateurs and professionals, including some Volvo Ocean Race veterans, led by Laurent Pages.

IRC One

As outright winner of the last Fastnet Race in 2017, Lann Ael 2 must be considered a hot favourite to win IRC One. After Didier Gaudoux skippered the JND 39 to a near-perfect race in 2017, the Frenchman and his mostly Corinthian crew will be hoping for another set of perfect conditions for their yacht. A lifelong sailor who did his first RORC races in 1978, Gaudoux says the yacht was designed with the Fastnet in mind. "You have to be a bit lucky with the weather to win, but I am very proud to have designed a boat with Bernard Nivelt to win the Fastnet."

Philippe Frantz and his NMD 43 Albator will be one of a number to give Lann Ael 2 a run for her money. Launched in 2017, Albator went on to win class in the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 and the 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race, where she also finished 3rd overall. This is the first time Frantz has attempted the Fastnet Race and he is wary of the weather, conditions and speed, but is nevertheless focused on the win. The yacht comes well prepared, with a crew comprising a mix of dinghy sailors, a Figaro sailor and previous competitors from the Route du Rhum, America's Cup, Half Ton Cup and Trophée Jules Verne. If anyone could win at his first attempt on the Fastnet, it's Frantz.

Conor Fogerty RAW 4649Conor Fogerty's new foiling Figaro 3 Raw Photo: Afloat

Competing in the 138-boat Myth of Malham Race this season was the HH42 Ino XXX raced by James Neville who was second on corrected time in the 30-hour race. Sixth overall in the 2017 Fastnet, Ino XXX will find herself competing against the recent third-placed Myth of Malham finisher, the Ker 40 Keronimo raced by Lars & Birgitta Elfverson (SWE).

If the conditions come right for Raw, one of the new foiling Figaro 3 keelboats, then former Irish Sailor of the Year, Conor Fogerty, could be lighting up the Celtic Sea. Fogerty is intent on an Olympic campaign for the new doublehanded offshore event in Marseille 2024, but is sailing four-up for the Fastnet.

Based on sheer experience in the Fastnet, the crew of Lutine from Gosport must be considered as a contender. Neil Armstrong is skippering the X-55 this year, and he's looking forward to the amateur crew showing what can be achieved with a concerted training programme.

Another crew that never misses a Fastnet is Moana, a First 47.7 skippered by François Goubau who races with his wife and three sons. This will be the Belgian boat's 10th Fastnet Race and one of the three sons, Mathieu, will be steering the boat as he has been since the age of 16; this is his 11th Fastnet yet he's still only 38 years old. Over the years Moana has been a RORC race regular, ranging from the Commodores' Cup (second in 2016) to the IRC Nationals and Cowes Week (class winner) and has taken three podium places in class at the Fastnet.

IRC Two

The most likely winner of IRC Two will be Géry Trentesaux, who won the race in a JPK 10.80 in 2015 and won last year's Rolex Middle Race in his present boat, JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé.

Gery Trentesaux Courrier Recommandé Gery Trentesaux's JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommandé Photo: Paul Wyeth
Having spotted the success of the JPK designs and Trentesaux in particular, Tom Kneen bought a JPK 11.80 last year with a view to winning the Fastnet Race at his third attempt. From a comedy of errors in his first Fastnet just four years ago, the Plymouth businessman has proven a fast learner with his Sunrise crew. "The biggest challenges are the tides between the Solent and Land's End - we have lots of decisions to make," says Kneen, whose team are almost all RORC Under 35 crew and three of whom are members of the RORC Youth Griffin Committee. Additional expertise comes from the young navigator Tom Cheney who works for INEOS Team UK.

Christian Teichmann and Hugh Brayshaw are racing Abu 43 in the doublehanded fleet but could threaten for a division win. Formerly owned by the Artemis Offshore Academy, Abu 43 is an enhanced Figaro II, optimised for racing under IRC. Teichmann, a German investor, is competing in his first Fastnet while this is Brayshaw's second assault on the Rock. Young, but with a wealth of offshore experience, Brayshaw is optimistic about their chances. "I think this time racing shorthanded will mean the latter stages of the race could be hard. But last time we rounded the Rock with a clear sunrise and all these boats around us. We are hoping to finish amongst the top of the Figaro IIs, however, if conditions are right then we could see ourselves towards the front of our class and two-handed."

Another double hander worth watching in IRC Two is Ajeto!, a J/122 sailed by joint owner-skippers, Robin Verhoef and John van der Starre from the Netherlands. The engineer and dentist from The Hague have been Dutch IRC champions four times, and were European J/111 champions in 2015 with a previous boat, Xcentric Ripper, with which they won class in the 2015 Fastnet. It's the fourth Fastnet for another J/122, Junique Raymarine Sailing Team, specially adapted for shorthanded sailing and a proven performer in the hands of Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker who took 3rd in class at the 2018 Round Britain and Ireland race.

The First 40 and First 40.7s will be out in force for IRC Two but whether any can threaten the more optimised boats in this division is another matter. The First 40, Sailplane, is owned by Rob Bottomley and skippered by Nick Martin, and will be hosting Catherine Keohane and her friends and family. It will be Keohane's second Fastnet and this time she is driving a more competitive entry. "We decided to choose the crew and the boat to be more competitive. It is a challenging race attracting a world-class fleet from around the world and it gives us a 'kick' to be taking part alongside professional and amateur sailors alike." With seven out of the 10 crew having completed one or more Fastnets, this is an experienced Corinthian crew.

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2019 IRC National Championship has been won out of the blue by a first timer not from the Solent. The 22 boat IRC Two fleet was led from the outset by Stuart Sawyer's J/122 Black Dog, rounding off the series today with a final bullet to win ultimately by 15 points from the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. As Afloat reported earlier, Dublin sailor Shane Hughes of North Sails Ireland was tactician on the winning entry from Falmouth.

Today was the third in this three-day event where the race committees ventured out into the Solent uncertain of whether they would get racing in. Today it was grey, with sub-10 knot winds and drizzle, and yet two windward-leewards were held on the Hill Head plateau enabling PROs Stuart Childerley and Steve Cole to compete the full schedule on their respective courses.

While the form was firming up in most classes, oddly the opening race saw a new winner in every class, partly caused by a significant shift on the final run. In IRC 1, it was the turn of French owner Dominique Tian on the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen to prevail, while in IRC 2 it was Performance 40 season leader Christopher Daniel's J/122E Juno. The IRC 3 (and HP30) bullet went to Malcolm Wootton's modified Farr 30 Pegasus while Jubilee and Whooper were both upstaged in both today's races by the Southworth's Quarter Tonner Protis. Even in the FAST40+ class Tony Dickin's newly acquired Carkeek 40 Mk3 Jubilee managed to break the unbroken string of bullets of Peter Morton's Girls on Film.

Nonetheless, after the mathematics were applied, Black Dog was determined to be the worthy recipient of this year's IRC National Championship title.

"We haven't sailed that much this year, so when we came up we said we'd be aiming for the top five and we'd be delighted by top three in our class. To win overall is incredible!" said Stuart Sawyer, his Black Dog also securing the Performance 40 prize. While the team has been sailing out of Falmouth on several boats for the last nine years, Sawyer admitted that they feel isolated racing in Cornwall. Previously they campaigned their J/111 around the Solent, but coming from Cornwall this proved too difficult so, according to Sawyer, he sold it and bought the J/122 "to take it easy. But then after we won Dartmouth Royal Regatta last year we thought we had to come here to see how we'd do..."

Compared to racing in Falmouth, there was more of a chop than a swell to deal with on the Solent but also the tides were far more complex. For the event the regular crew was assisted by North Sails' Shane Hughes plus a copy of the Winning Tides book. "And you are constantly having to change gears, but my crew has been amazing - I have never seen them hike harder," said Sawyer who also paid tribute to the late J/Boats dealer and Solent racing guru Paul Heys: "The one person who would have loved to have seen this is Paul. He would have been so chuffed to see both a Cornish boat and a J Boat do this."

In IRC 1 all four boats won races, but ultimately it was Tony Langley's highly polished Gladiator crew, including the likes of Iain Percy and Jules Salter, that prevailed. Despite being a prolific TP52 owner, simultaneously campaigning three boats, this was Langley's first IRC Nationals. "I love it - it is nice to come home," he said. "It was good to have some boat-on-boat action with Tala this weekend. We knew we had a bit on because she is a bit faster. They sailed it well." The UK Gladiator was also Langley's first. "I have quite a soft spot for this boat. We have won the Round the Island and Cowes Week and St Tropez last year on her and now this."

The closest competition for Black Dog's overall IRC Nationals win came from David Franks' J/112e Leon. Her otherwise perfect scoreline was broken twice today, by Pegasus and then in race two by Bruce Huber's Xanadoo, one of two sisterships to Leon competing. "He got his boat this year to come on to give us some competition, but now he is starting to bite our neck," observed Franks, who was the IRC National Champion with his previous boat Strait Dealer in 2012.

One of the tightest battles occurred in IRC 4 where Nigel Goodhew's Sun Fast 3200 Cora and defending champion Giovanni Belgrano on Whooper both suffered disappointing days enabling the Southworth-powered Protis to leapfrog them into second overall. However, winning overall by five points with a consistent 2-2 today was Christopher Preston's J/109 Jubilee.

"It was great fun," observed Preston. "We were very pessimistic about whether we'd all be racing at all today, but then the wind came in and the race committee got it going at the right time and we had two very nice, interesting races with the turn of the tide in the second which made it tactically interesting. It was a much better day than we had dared hope."

As to why Jubilee won, Preston attributed it to being "well prepared with a good crew who sail well together. It helps being at the top end of the rating bracket with a boat that is extremely good and a wide envelope to windward. We had consistently good starts and boat speed that enabled us to use our tactics, which was a big advantage." It was also possible that today's lighter breeze didn't suit Whooper.

Dominating the FAST40+ class was Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film. "We had a pretty good weekend with seven firsts and a second," acknowledged boat captain Nick Butt, who reckons he has done most IRC Nationals since the event started. Owner Peter Morton was not on board today, and the only point they dropped was in today's first race. "We weren't where we wanted to be at the start," said Butt. "We went around the first mark second and it got really light on the second beat and the fleet compacted. Then coming down the run we got mixed up with all of the classes on the shorter course, so there was a lot of bad wind and we were all compacted again. So Jubilee got us by seven seconds."

The HP30 fleet raced in IRC 3 and was won, with the exact same scoreline as Girls on Film, by Locke family's Farr 280 Toucan. With the absence of his father Glyn this week, son Anthony was in charge together with brother Alex. "It was a great regatta," Anthony said. "We were really pleased with the organisation. It felt like we sailed well and we had great racing with all of the HP30 boats. Today was heavily challenging - very puffy and the pressure was up and down a bit. The race committee did a good job getting two races in because I didn't think it was going to happen." Generally of the three day event he said: "We had a bunch of situations where things went our way - which was great. The other boats were sailing really well and it was really great racing. It was fantastic HP30 racing." Toucan currently leads the HP30's 2019 championship.

Prizes were presented to the class winners this afternoon at the RORC Cowes clubhouse.

Full results can be found here

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The most competitive class at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship has an Irish leader in that Howth Sailor Shane Hughes of North Sails Ireland is a tactician on the J122  Black Dog.

IRC 2 is also the biggest fleet with 22 boats, including the whole Performance 40 fleet. 

Overall, Stuart Sawyer's Falmouth-based IRC Nationals first-timers on their J/122 Black Dog continued to score well. A 1-4-2 today has left them with a 15 point lead ahead of the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. The Goubau family from Belgium had an excellent day on their Beneteau 47.7 Moana, posting a 4-2-4, while also on the ascent was Adam Gosling's fine crew, including double Olympic 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers, on the JPK 11.80 Yes! whose 5-3-1 today has elevated them to fourth overall.
Yes!

"It was more our conditions, a slightly more orienteering-type course and the boat is good on that," said Gosling, who over the winter has had Yes! twin rudders replaced. Gosling also paid tribute to Black Dog: "It is great to see such a well-sailed boat. It is good they are winning."

Today's third winner in IRC 2 was the all-star cast, including Andrew Cape and Jerry Hill, on board Robert Bicket's Fargo. Yesterday their Swan 42 shone in race two finishing second and today was the same, sandwiched by otherwise deep results. Bicket described their moment in the sun: "It was a tricky start at the boat end and we managed to just get away and stretch our legs on the beat to get clean air. So it was all the usual classic stuff. It is a difficult fleet with 20+ boats, so you have to get a good start. It is basically about not making mistakes. If you do, you are in the mid-teens."
He added: "There's a great fleet of IRC boats here - well done to the RORC for getting so many to come and race."

Maurice O'Connell, also of North Sails, is tactician on another Class two entry, Tor McClaren's MAT 1180 "Gallivanter". 

Conditions came good on day two with a less severe tidal effect on the Solent due to a later kick-off time and a breeze that peaked at 16 knots. This allowed both race committees (IRC 3-4 run by the RORC racing team's own Steve Cole and Stuart Childerley PRO for the larger classes) to run two windward-leewards rounding off the afternoon with a longer round the cans race. The windward-leewards for the bigger boats was on the Brambles bank with the course for the smaller classes set further west.

While in some classes the leaderboard remains tight going into tomorrow's final day, in others there are some exceptional, stand-out performances. In the six-boat FAST40+ class, for example, Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film holds a perfect six bullet score line. Glyn Locke's Farr 280 Toucan has the same tally in the seven-strong HP30 class, leaving the likes of Malcolm Wootton's modified Farr 30 Pegasus and Richard Woof's J/90 Jo 90 to scrabble for the last podium positions.

One of the tightest fights is taking place among the biggest boats in IRC 1 where today the tables were turned with David Collins' IRC 52 Tala getting the better of Tony Langley's Gladiator, posting a 1-2-1 to the polished 52 Super Series team's 2-1-2.

"It was nice sailing - less one-sided than yesterday and a lot of options," explained Tala's tactician, Brett Aarons. "Yesterday, being a higher-rated boat, it was hard to extend enough away from Gladiator and we were still getting used to racing the boat inshore. Today we got over any issues we had.

"We are a little bit faster than Gladiator, with a slightly deeper keel and a slight taller mast. In shorter races you don't extend enough, but the races today and wind strength allowed us to use our extra power and, together with some good sailing, that allowed us to get away.

"David [Collins] is new to the TP, but he did a great job driving today. In the starts he was not afraid of getting the boat into some small gaps..."

The most competitive class here is also the biggest - IRC 2, with 22 boats, including the whole Performance 40 fleet. Overall Stuart Sawyer's Falmouth-based IRC Nationals first timers on their J/122 Black Dog continued to score well. A 1-4-2 today has left them with a 15 point lead ahead of the Blair family's King 40 Cobra. The Goubau family from Belgium had an excellent day on their Beneteau 47.7 Moana, posting a 4-2-4, while also on the ascent was Adam Gosling's fine crew, including double Olympic 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers, on the JPK 11.80 Yes! whose 5-3-1 today has elevated them to fourth overall.
Yes!

"It was more our conditions, a slightly more orienteering-type course and the boat is good on that," said Gosling, who over the winter has had Yes! twin rudders replaced. Gosling also paid tribute to Black Dog: "It is great to see such a well-sailed boat. It is good they are winning."

Today's third winner in IRC 2 was the all-star cast, including Andrew Cape and Jerry Hill, on board Robert Bicket's Fargo. Yesterday their Swan 42 shone in race two finishing second and today was the same, sandwiched by otherwise deep results. Bicket described their moment in the sun: "It was a tricky start at the boat end and we managed to just get away and stretch our legs on the beat to get clean air. So it was all the usual classic stuff. It is a difficult fleet with 20+ boats, so you have to get a good start. It is basically about not making mistakes. If you do, you are in the mid-teens."
He added: "There's a great fleet of IRC boats here - well done to the RORC for getting so many to come and race."

One point off having a perfect scoreline is the leader in IRC 3, David Franks' J/112E Leon, which today scored straight bullets, despite having one of her crew Medevaced off with a head injury. Leon's six point lead is still vulnerable, but the dominance of the 2012 IRC National Champions is such that sisterships, Xanadoo and Happy Daize, plus the First 40.7 Incognito, are most likely to be left fighting for the remaining podium positions.
On a roll after his exemplary 1-2-1 yesterday is Christopher Preston's J/109 Jubilee. However, while they posted a third bullet today, they are facing increasing ferocious competition from defending IRC National Champion, Giovanni Belgrano's and his 1939 vintage Laurent Giles-designed classic Whooper.

Preston admitted that their scoreline was let down today by a 7-5 in the opening windward-leewards. "We had a problem in the first race with a twisted kite, but we had really good starts all the way through. With a J/109 it is a problem when it is wind against tide, because the beats become very short and the JPKs are faster downwind. We got most of it right. We have got a great crew and are having a great time. We had 2-3 knots more wind than yesterday. It made for lovely racing."

Preston was pleased to observe that at this national championship for the RORC and UNCL's jointly owned rating system, the standard of racing is noticeably higher than other events in which he typically competes.

Racing continues tomorrow with a third and final day with an impossibly light forecast when 'no racing can possibly happen'. The common hope is that the race officials will defy the wind gods for a third successive occasion.

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A strong line-up, ranging from TP52s, FAST40+s and Performance 40s, down to nimble HP30s and the cruiser-racers majority will take to the Solent this Friday for three days of intense competition at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. The event returns after a year's hiatus when the RORC hosted the IRC European Championship in the Solent.

Leading the charge around the race track this weekend in the four boat IRC 1 class will be the match racing 52s - Tony Langley's Gladiator and a boat new to the Solent this season. David Collins acquired the Botin IRC 52 Tala just prior to this year's RORC Caribbean 600. Formerly Interlodge/Steve Benjamin's Spookie, the boat is engineered to race offshore and was bought to do this, but can be remodelled for inshore racing. "We thought it would be fun to race Gladiator and partly to race the boat inshore," Collins explains of his participation this weekend.

As to how well Tala will do against the experienced Gladiator, Collins is realistic: "I would imagine they are more polished than we are. We're focussing on keeping the boat upright and getting round corners. I don't expect it to be anything other than challenge." However, he is delighted with the boat. "It is lovely to sail. Having sailed boats before that are always compromised, to sail one that isn't is wonderful." Around half of the crew will be pro including tacticians Brett Aarons and Paul Wilcox.

Following IRC 1 are FAST40+ for whom this will be the third event of their 2019 championship. Six examples are competing with the form boat likely to be Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film.
The most competitive class this weekend has to be IRC 2. At the top of the class will be a match race between Tor McLaren's Gallivanter and her MAT1180 sistership Leeloo of Dutchman Harold Vermeulen. Vermeulen raced at Cowes Week on his previous 48ft cruiser racer but this will be his first IRC Nationals and also his first time back on the Solent since acquiring a race boat. "I love sailing there. Also the opportunities for racing other performance-orientated boats in Holland is limited," says Vermeulen.
Gallivanter

The remainder of IRC 2 brings together the substantial Performance 40 class. The P40 class is open to boats with a TCC of 1.075-1.150 (plus 11.15m-14.1m length, 125-205 DLR and 2.7m max draft). The P40 class this year comprises of 17 boats and the IRC Nationals is the third event in their 2019 championship, where Christopher Daniel's J/122E Juno leads having won the first two events.
Daniel has owned Juno for the last four years and competed in last year's IRC Europeans. Their performance in that event, he admits, was disappointing, but they are turning this around now. "We have spent a lot of time over the winter training and refining processes on the boat and just developing it which is what is paying dividends now," Daniel explains.
June RT

While the King 40s - Roger Bowden's Nifty and the Blair family's Cobra - are also regular Performance 40 podium placers, Juno showed both a clean pair of heels at the Vice Admiral's Cup. Despite that Daniel warns: "It is very tight and competitive, so you take absolutely nothing for granted. IRC 2 will be a tough fleet: There is a good contingent of Performance 40s, all of which I treat with the utmost respect, then we have the likes of Fargo - a great boat - and Elke from Holland, which did well in the IRC Europeans last year and Moana, the 47.7 - she is a well-sailed boat too."

Juno is crewed purely by amateurs, largely friends and family, mostly under the age of 25, including three women. This weekend she will also face a match race as another J/122, Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog, is making the trip up from Falmouth to compete.

If the stars align as they did two years ago when Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper became IRC National Champion, then a low-rated boat might claim this weekend's IRC title. The very lowest rated this year is the Hustler 32 half tonner Hullabaloo XV, which owner David Evans has brought down especially from her base at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Built 41 years ago and owned by Evans for the last 21, Hullabaloo is one of a long series of boats of this size Evans has owned since the early 1970s. Over the years he has won most of the silverware available on the East coast and Hullabaloo XV is a regular competitor at the Classic Half Ton Cup. "We won the IRC East Coast Championship a few years ago, but there is a big difference in boats between the south coast and the east coast and as much as anything else I wanted to find out whether the IRC rule really does work. And to do something a bit different," he says of why he is competing.
Racing Hullabaloo XV will be a family affair, Evans joined by his brother George and sons Edward and Nicholas. As to the two light days forecast, David says he is not worried: "We don't mind it when it's light, so long as there is a bit of wind. She is quite heavy for a half tonner so once she gets some way on, she doesn't lose it and will carry you through light patches. Short tacking along the shore in light weather, it's not great. But in 30 knots upwind in a stiff breeze under full main and no3, she is phenomenal."

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Howth Yacht Club’s Laura Dillon is among six women profiled by the Royal Ocean Racing Club ahead of their participation in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

While crew lists for August’s race are not yet finalised, at present just over 10% of those competing in the biennial voyage will be women — more than double the rate of races in the 1990s.

The RORC cites role models such as Tracy Edwards, Ellen MacArthur and Dee Caffari as a reason for this increase in female participation — but notes that opportunities for women at all levels to go sailing are increasing “too slowly”.

For 40-year-old Laura Dillon, it was a high competitive drive from a young age that saw her progress from dinghies to 1720 Sportsboats to Beneteau Firsts in both the Round Ireland and Fastnet races.

This year she swaps the helm of Harry J Heijst’s S&S 41, Winsome, for a place on the four-strong crew of Conor Fogerty’s Figaro Beneteau 3, Raw — one of only three of the new offshore class in the race.

She observes that women’s participation in the Fastnet as enjoyed a considerable step up in the last generation — but says there is a direct parallel with women’s positions in the business world, and believes it will take another generation yet before their numbers increase substantially.

The Rolex Fastnet Race website has much more on this story HERE.

Published in Howth YC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's race to Dieppe for the Morgan Cup started in the Solent on midsummer's day in superb conditions. The RORC fleet enjoyed a spectacular downwind start off the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, heading east for the English Channel. During the night, the wind evaporated and as high pressure enveloped the race course, competitors were searching for the best of the breeze and tidal conditions. By morning, clear skies and an early sunrise conspired to enhance sea breeze conditions, giving a fantastic downwind finish for the fleet into Dieppe. The slow-down during the night meant that the race to the finish was a close one, with many classes being decided by minutes, even seconds. The 2019 Morgan Cup Race was notable for British yachts which won all seven classes.

William McGoughand Christian Jeffrey, racing J/109 Just So in IRC Two Handed, won the 2019 Morgan Cup Race, winning overall in a fleet of 86 yachts racing under the IRC Rating System. McGough and Jeffrey are both corinthian sailors in their 30s, and this is their first season racing Two-Handed. Monohull Line Honours for the race went to Botin IRC 52 Tala, skippered by Robbie Southall. After time correction, IRC Zero was won by Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Nigel King. Joel Malardel's Normanni 34 Tancrède took Multihull Line Honours.

The top three yachts in IRC Overall for the Morgan Cup Race were all racing Two-Handed. Just So won by 27 minutes from Sun Fast 3200 Cora, sailed by Nigel & Tim Goodhew. Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, sailed by Rob Craigie & Deb Fish, was third by less than a minute.

“We have been sailing together for 11 years with fully crewed teams in RORC races but this is the first time we have won a RORC trophy so we are absolutely delighted,” agreed McGough and Jeffrey, the Two-Handed team racing Just So. “We got one of the best starts along with Bellino and we were going well out of the Solent. Probably the biggest tactical decision that paid off was to go east. If you look at the results of the pack of boats that went that way, they have all done well. When we finished the race, we looked at the boats around us and knew we had done well, but to win overall is amazing! Just So will be competing in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race fully crewed but this was the last race before we take on the Rolex Fastnet Race Two-Handed.”

In IRC One, Corby 45 Incisor, skippered by James Gair and sailed by the Cowes Race School, was the winner. Didier Gaudoux's 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race champion, JND 39 Lann Ael 2 was second and proven winner Maxime de Mareuil's XP-44 Orange Mecanix2 was third.

In IRC Two, Gavin Howe's Hamble, UK based Sun Fast 3600 Tigris was the winner racing Two-Handed with Sam Cooper. After IRC time correction, Tigris was ahead of 2015 Rolex Fastnet champion Gery Trentesaux racing JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande, and 2017 IRC Two champion, Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia.

The podium for IRC Three was all British yachts, Bellino was the winner. Trevor Middleton's Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep, sailed by Jake Carter, continue to lead the RORC Season's Points Championship with second in class for the Morgan Cup. The Royal Navy Association's J/109 Jolly Jack Tar, skippered by Tom Thicknesse, was third in class for the Morgan Cup. In IRC Four, Just so, and Cora took the top two places. Cooper & England's Dehler 38 Longue Pierre was third in class, and just four seconds off the podium for the Morgan Cup.

The eighth race of the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship will be the East Coast Race, organised by the West Mersea Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The 125nm race across the North Sea finishing in Ostend, Belgium will start on Friday 28th June 2019.

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 The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship continues this weekend with the Morgan Cup. The seventh offshore race of the series will start on Friday 21 June at 7 pm from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line. Bound for Dieppe across the English Channel, 95 teams have entered the race to the fishing port on the Normandy Coast.

20 teams have entered in IRC 3 including the top two teams in the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship: Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep, sailed by Trevor Middleton, and Sunfast 3600 Bellino, sailed Two-Handed by Rob Craigie & Deb Fish.

Monohull line honours for the Morgan Cup are likely to be contested by three teams racing in IRC Zero. Volvo 70 Telefonica Black, sailed by Lance Shepherd, has the highest IRC rating in the fleet, Botin IRC52 Tala, sailed by David Collins is the class leader for the season. Ker 46 Lady Mariposa, skippered by Nigel King, returns to RORC racing after a highly successful Caribbean season.

12 teams have entered IRC One, including the class leader for the season, A13 Phosphorus II, sailed by Mark Emerson. The much in form FAST40+ Redshift, sailed by Ed Fishwick, returns. Xp44 Orange Mecanix2, sailed by Maxime de Mareuil, will be hoping to go one better than second in class for the race last year.

With 29 entries, IRC Two is the largest class in the Morgan Cup and the entry list boasts proven winners and reveals battles within the class. Last year's class winner, Scarlet Oyster sailed by Ross Applebey, will be racing after taking overall victory in this month's De Guingand Bowl Race. 2019 IRC Two leader, JPK 1180 Sunrise, sailed by Tom Kneen, will size up against JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande, sailed by Gery Trentesaux. Eight Beneteau First 40s are entered, including five from Sailing Logic. Skylander sailed by Yuri Fadeev, which is the top First 40 for the season so far, will also be racing. 2018 RORC Season's Points Champion, X-41 British Soldier sailed by the Army Sailing Association, is also bound for Dieppe.

22 teams racing 18 different types of yacht have entered IRC Four. The top three teams for the 2019 season are all racing: Sigma 38 With Alacrity, sailed by Chris Choules. Sun Fast 3200 Cora, sailed Two-Handed by Tim & Nigel Goodhew and JPK 1010 Foggy Dew, sailed by Noel Racine. Traditional designs racing in IRC Four include the classic yawl Cetewayo sailed by David Murrin. Contessa 32 Assent, sailed by the Rogers family, S&S 41 Easyglider, sailed by Oliver Hughes, and Swan 41 Ithaka, sailed by Giovanni Mazzocchi.

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Last year's Round Ireland Race Champion winning yacht, the Ker 43 Baraka GP (skippered then by Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish Yacht Club) has this weekend won the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club's North Sea Race sailed by Harmen De Graaf (NED). However, victory in the 180nm race from Harwich UK to Scheveningen Netherlands was mighty close. Ker 46 Van Uden, sailed by Wouter Verbaak, was under two minutes behind after IRC time correction. Ker 51 Oystercatcher XXXIII sailed by Richard Matthews (GBR) took Line Honours and corrected out to finish third overall.

Overall winner of the 2019 North Sea Race was Baraka GP skippered by Harmen De Graaf with crew: Lennard Bal, Douwe Broekens, Olivier De Graaf, Dirk De Graaf, Amy Prime, Piers Tyler, Arianne van de Loosdrecht, Bart Van Pelt, Steve Aiken, Mees De Graaf, and Lily Lower.

Fine weather and solid breeze provided fast downwind and reaching conditions for the fifth race of the RORC Season's Points Championship. The Baraka GP team, containing four members of the De Graaf family, celebrated in style in Scheveningen.

“My father has been racing in the North Sea since he was a teenager, and we were all brought up racing from a very young age,” commented Dirk De Graaf, one of three brothers on board Baraka GP. “Our plan at the start of the North Sea Race was to try and keep in touch downwind with the bigger boats in our class, and then set our fractional zero (Fr0) when we went onto the reach. This meant that the whole team was hiking hard as we were very high with the Fr0. Baraka GP has some very talented young sailors on board, and this dynamic has had a very positive effect on how hard we can push the boat. The big race for us is the Rolex Fastnet Race, and our ultimate goal is to join the small number of Dutch boats that have won the Fastnet Trophy over the years.”

In IRC One, Grand Soleil 43 Il Corvo, sailed by Astrid De Vin (NED), won class for the second year in a row. A13 Phosphorus II, sailed by Mark Emerson (GBR), with a crew all in their twenties, was runner-up. ILC 40 Visione sailed by Nikolaus Knoflacher (AUT), completed the podium, by under a minute after time correction from Corby 38 Double Edge, sailed by Chris Schram (NED).

IRC Two and IRC Double Handed was won by J/122 Ajeto, sailed by Robin Verhoef (NED) & John Van Der Starre (NED). The Dutch duo scored a memorable victory in IRC Two ahead of JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande, sailed by Gery Trentesaux (FRA), and J/122 Junique Raymarine Sailing Team, also sailed Two-Handed by Chris Revelman (NED) & Pascal Bakker (NED). Ajeto also scored a notable win over one of the Netherland's top short handed sailors Erik van Vuuren (NED) racing W36 Hubo.

“Gert Trentesaux and Erik van Vuuren are two of the world's best but they are getting used to new boats and we know all about that. However that will not stop me telling my grandchildren about this victory!” smiled Ajeto's John Van Der Starre. “As always, we pushed Ajeto really hard together. It is wonderful to race with Robin, the atmosphere when we sail together is just fantastic. We will be racing in our fifth Fastnet later this year. It will be a really tough competition, but win or lose I know we will both enjoy the challenge.”

In IRC Three, W36 Hubo was the winner, Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, sailed Two-Handed by Rob Craigie (GBR) and Deb Fish (GBR) was second. Third was Sunfast 3600 Black Sheep, sailed by Trevor Middleton (GBR) and skippered by Jake Carter (GBR). Black Sheep have now extended their lead in the overall ranking for the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship.

In IRC Four, the podium was all teams from the Netherlands, X-362 Extra Djinn, sailed by Michel Dorsman, took class line honours and was the winner after IRC time correction. Standfast 43 Blue June, sailed by Henk Zomer was second, which will be encouraging for their Rolex Fastnet campaign. Varianta 37 Sailselect, sailed by Jeroen Koninkx, completed the podium.

The 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship continues Saturday 8th June with the De Guingand Bowl Race. Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, rounding marks and waypoints, and taking in the headlands of the central English Channel, before returning to the Solent to finish

Full results here

Published in RORC
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham Race, with 138 boats competing, produced a thrilling finish for overall victory. Botin IRC52 Tala took up the early running, but having led for much of the race on corrected time, the breeze picked up for the chasing pack, turning the advantage towards two FAST40+ yachts. Redshift and Ino XXX, both based in Cowes, battled throughout the 230 nautical mile race with no clear advantage between the two. In the second half of the 30-hour race, having rounded the Eddystone Lighthouse off Plymouth, a high-speed duel developed on the run back to The Solent. In strong downwind conditions, the two teams resorted to hand-to-hand combat to decide the bout, knowing that the winner of the duel would most likely win the race overall. Executing numerous gybes to gain the upper-hand, at times with over 20 knots of boat speed, and just inches apart, the battle was won by Redshift, crossing the finish line just 20 seconds ahead of Ino XXX.

Red shift crewThe overall winner of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham Race was Farr 42 Redshift raced by Ed Fishwick (GBR) and crew: Quentin Bes-Green (GBR), Hugh Brayshaw (GBR), John Coffey (IRL), Hannah Diamond (GBR), Henry Foster (GBR), Donal Ryan (IRL), George Thompson (GBR), Arianne van de Loosdrecht (NED), Mason Woodworth (USA) Photo: Alexia Fishwick

“An amazing race and an awesome feeling to have won it,” commented Redshift's Ed Fishwick. “The Redshift crew were unbelievable, just sensational! It was a long battle just to get to the lighthouse. We made a good rounding and could see Ino, from then on we were gybing across each other all the way down the track. By Christchurch Bay we were a boat length apart. Ino made a great call going all the way into the bay and pulled away. We went into low mode across the bay and eventually made it back. The last ten minutes were crazy, a match race, just inches apart.”

HH42 Ino XXX raced by James Neville (GBR) was second by just four minutes on corrected time. Ker 40 Keronimo raced by Lars & Birgitta Elfverson (SWE) with Dublin Bay sailors Kenny Rumball and Barry Hurley on board was third. Monohull Line Honours was won by Botin IRC52 Tala, skippered by Robbie Southwell (GBR). The overall winner of the Multihull Class after MOCRA time correction was Dazcat Slinky Malinki raced by James Holder (GBR). Multihull Line Honours was won by Shuttle 39 Morpheus raced by Andrew Fennell (GBR).

In IRC Two, JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande sailed by Gery Trentesaux (FRA) started their 2019 Rolex Fastnet Campaign with a class win by nine minutes after IRC time correction. J/133 Pintia, sailed by Gilles Fournier & Corinne Migraine (FRA) was second. J/122 Juno, sailed by Christopher Daniel (GBR) was third.

In IRC Three, the podium was made up of yachts racing Two-Handed. JPK 10.80 Timeline, sailed by Marc Alperovitch (FRA) was the winner. Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, sailed by Rob Craigie (GBR) was second by just under 22 minutes after IRC time correction. JPK 10.80 Shaitan, sailed by Jean-Eudes Renier (FRA) was third.

Marc Alperovitch has won class in many high profile races fully crewed including the Rolex Fastnet Race. However, this is Marc's first Two-Handed campaign with Jerome Huillard D'Aignaux. “I suppose you could say this was first time lucky!” smiled Marc. “I decided to make a fresh start with a new boat and the new dynamic of racing two-handed. We had a few problems with gear, which really takes it out of you. Off Portland Bill our headsail became detached in rough seas and it was sometime before we fixed the problem. As we are a new team, we had no pressure to win, but to come out on top in our first race has certainly brought the pressure on!”

In IRC Four, JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew, sailed by Noel Racine (FRA) was the winner by just over 30 minutes after time correction with 41 yachts in class. Emmanuel Pinteaux (FRA) racing JPK 10.10 Gioia was second and Chris Choules (GBR) racing Sigma 38 With Alacrity was third.

Noel Racine's winning streak with Foggy Dew as IRC Four champion dates back to 2013. So what is the secret to Foggy Dew's success? “It is not a secret,” smiled Racine. “You need a good boat, a good crew and you need to make less mistakes than the others. We made a mistake at the beginning of this race when we ran out of wind and watched the fleet sail away. However, we kept focused, kept our concentration, and one by one we caught the competition and passed them to win the class.”

The Myth of Malham Race was the fourth of the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship. Second overall in the RORC Transatlantic Race, Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep, sailed by Trevor Middleton (GBR) is the overall leader for the series. After winning the last two races overall Redshift moves up to second for the championship. Cookson 50 Kuka 3 sailed by Franco Niggeler (SUI) is now third. The fifth race of the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship will be the North Sea Race starting from Harwich on Friday 31 May bound for Scheveningen, Netherlands.

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This UK bank holiday weekend, 140 yachts, with over 900 crew from all over the world, will be competing in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham Race. A huge variety of yachts will be taking part including; hi-tech racing yachts and multihulls, performance cruising yachts and classic designs. World Class professional sailors and passionate Corinthians will be taking part, and 36 teams will be taking on the offshore race Two-Handed.

A notable entry for the Myth of Malham Race is the 53ft ketch Gipsy Moth IV, which will be raced by Ricky Chalmers. In 1966-67, Sir Francis Chichester circumnavigated with Gipsy Moth IV in 274 days, setting the fastest voyage around the world by any small vessel. Aptly for the Myth of Malham Race, Gipsy Moth IV was co-designed by John Illingworth, who commissioned the Laurent Giles 37'6” sloop Myth of Malham, winning the Fastnet Race in 1947 and 1949, and in 1957 was part of the winning team for the first Admiral's Cup.

2017 IRC Zero winner, Windward Sailing's CM60 Venomous, will once again be sailed by Derek Saunders. In IRC One, the 2017 overall race winner James Neville's FAST40+ Ino XXX will be racing, and will have strong opposition from 2018 overall race runner-up, Edward Broadway's Ker 40 Hooligan VII and this year’s Cervantes Trophy race winner Ed Fishwick's Redshift. Botin IRC 52 Tala was second overall in this year's RORC Caribbean 600, and will make their UK debut in the Myth of Malham, skippered by Robbie Southwell.

The 2019 Myth of Malham Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line on Saturday 25 May 0800 BST. Spectators can watch the spectacle from the Cowes Parade and The Green, and fans can also follow the progress of the fleet via YB Tracking on the RORC website.

“The forecasts for the Myth of Malham Race are predicting light winds at the start,” commented RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. “Unfortunately, the tidal conditions may favour the faster boats out of the Solent, but without starting the race at 5 a.m. that cannot be avoided. The forecasts are suggesting that the wind will go to the west later in the race and strengthen, which should give some good results in the small to medium size and boats and good conditions for the sail back from the Eddystone Light.”

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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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