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Two weeks into the RORC Transatlantic Race, three more French teams have crossed the finish line outside Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Lady First 3 (FRA) finished under one hour ahead of Tonnerre de Glen (FRA) and in the early hours of the 22nd of January, the Volvo 60 Challenge Ocean (FRA), skippered by Valdo Dhoyer crossed the finish line, just over one hour ahead of Richard Tolkien’s Open 60 Rosalba (GBR). These close finishes, after many days and nights of racing, is indicative of the competition right through the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet. What is more, the overall winner has still not been decided. Several teams that are still racing in the Atlantic are capable of winning the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is 250 miles from the finish. Currently ranked first overall after IRC time correction, Scarlet Oyster is expected to finish the race on Sunday the 23rd of January.

“All OK out here, only 250nm to go! We can nearly smell the rum,” commented Scarlet Oyster’s Ross Applebey. “The Comanche to beat now …. We are not gaining, but importantly, not losing on our target. Finally, the wind came in three days ago, but with the cloud and instability that comes with it. We had a particularly squally night and finally found the upper wind limit of our old AP kite. With a loud bang we blew the head off it in a 30kn+ squall. Grenada is now 250 miles to the finish line and have until 17:25 UTC tomorrow (Sunday 23 January) to get there. If the wind holds, we have a good chance, but the forecast suggests lighter winds could slow us. I am hoping that the wonderful people at RORC can supply us with some well-earned drinks!

“Now just hoping for 15kn plus wind the whole way in. Amazing how after 15 days it can still be so close, tantalisingly so! The crew have been trimming and tweaking relentlessly, more akin to a 3-hour inshore race than a 15 day ocean race. Hopefully our biggest spinnakers can propel us at a little over the 8.6kn we require,” says Applebey in his blog to the race team.

Celebrating dockside with a cold beer - Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3 (FRA) team from the Yacht Club de France. Crew: Robin Caillol, Jean Pierre Dreau, Gilles Fournier, Olivier Gimmig, Jean Paul Mouren, Patrick Joly, Xavier Macaire, Sebastien Mathieu, Corinne Migraine, Christopher Pratt © Arthur Daniel/RORCCelebrating dockside with a cold beer - Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3 (FRA) team from the Yacht Club de France. Crew: Robin Caillol, Jean Pierre Dreau, Gilles Fournier, Olivier Gimmig, Jean Paul Mouren, Patrick Joly, Xavier Macaire, Sebastien Mathieu, Corinne Migraine, Christopher Pratt © Arthur Daniel/RORC

Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3 (FRA) is the first team to finish the race from the Yacht Club de France. Lady First 3 completed the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 2 hours 23 mins 32 secs. Jean-Pierre is a well-respected member of the sailing community in Marseille and spoke dockside in Port Louis shortly after the finish:

‘I am very excited to finish the RORC Transatlantic Race,” commented Jean-Pierre Dreau. “Lady First 3 performed well and the crew was excellent. Although the weather was a bit rough and difficult at the beginning, the weather improved in the last few days of the race to give excellent sailing. The warm welcome for arrival was very nice. The Yacht Club de France supports all members who race, both in France and overseas. This is my tenth Atlantic crossing and it is always an adventure with wonderful sailing. Racing for so long with a great crew is delightful. The RORC Transatlantic Race is very special for me because of Covid. For the last two years we have wanted to do this race, so I am very happy to have completed it. Lady First 3 will race in the RORC Caribbean 600 and then return to the Mediterranean.”

Dominique Tian’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen (FRA) finished the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 3 hours 18 mins 34 secs. After time correction Tonnerre de Glen is third in IRC Zero. As the all-French crew celebrated with cold beers, Dominique Tian spoke dockside at Port Louis. Like Lady First 3, Tonnerre de Glen is from Marseille:

“French sailors love offshore racing and the RORC Transatlantic Race is a good opportunity to continue to race after the season is over in the Mediterranean,” commented Dominique Tian. “Tonnerre de Glen will now race in the RORC Caribbean 600 and other regattas in the Caribbean. It is wonderful to race across rather than just deliver the boat, because that is boring. When you race, you are always concentrating on the trim and the helm. In a real race, it is challenging and much more interesting. There will be five boats from Marseille racing in the RORC Caribbean 600, which will be superb! The Tonnerre team have dreamt of racing across the Atlantic and I would encourage more French teams to do the RORC Transatlantic Race.”

Richard Tolkien’s Open 60 Rosalba (GBR) finished the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 21 hrs 5 ins 37 secs. Rosalba was racing with just three crew, Richard Tolkien, Frank Sturm and Neil Brewer: “We sailed as far north as the 31st parallel, while Neil (Brewer) was constantly maintaining our equipment. We did damage some essential sails which affected our performance. Frank Sturm kept our spirits up with excellent meals, especially black bread with avocado for breakfast. The close racing with the fully crewed Challenge Ocean kept us sharp. However, with a crew of three, it takes us about 10 minutes to gybe Rosalba. Well done to the RORC for organising a great race; it is wonderful to return to Grenada and I am looking forward to exploring the island.”

Eleven teams are still racing in the Atlantic Ocean towards Grenada. The next two teams expected to finish the RORC Transatlantic Race are Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L’Ange de Milon (FRA) with 145 miles to go, and Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II (GBR) with Irish crew onboard, 163 miles from Grenada.

Richard Tolkien’s Open 60 Rosalba (GBR) finished the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 21 hrs 5 ins 37 secs. Rosalba was racing with just three crew, Richard Tolkien (far right), Frank Sturm and Neil Brewer © Arthur Daniel/RORCRichard Tolkien’s Open 60 Rosalba (GBR) finished the race in an elapsed time of 13 days 21 hrs 5 ins 37 secs. Rosalba was racing with just three crew, Richard Tolkien (far right), Frank Sturm and Neil Brewer © Arthur Daniel/RORC

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On the thirteenth day of the RORC Transatlantic Race David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) and Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) crossed the finish line outside Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina to complete the RORC Transatlantic Race. The closest battle in the eight-year history of the race came to a dramatic conclusion. The Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi (AUT) has also finished the race, with news dockside from skipper Gerwin Jansen. OCR 50 Club Five Oceans (FRA) skippered by Quentin le Nabour also finished the race in the early hours of the 20th of January.

Billed as the closest battle within the record fleet for the 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race, IRC Zero did not disappoint. The dismasting of Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), which has safely made landfall in the Canaries, resulted in two hi-tech fifty-footers battling for class and the overall win.

Tala has won IRC Zero, completing the course in an elapsed time of 11 days 10 hrs 13 mins 9 secs. Tala is also ranked second overall, just over an hour behind the mighty Comanche after IRC time correction. Caro was just an hour behind Tala on the water - a virtual photo-finish after over 3,000nm of racing. Caro is a new Botin design taking part in only its second race and the first transatlantic. Caro is second in IRC Zero and third overall. Despite being disappointed not to win, the Caro team raised a cheer having completed the race. Caro and Tala are relishing the next battle, which will be in February at the RORC Caribbean 600. (NB: Video to follow)

Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) team: Mark Bartlett GB, Justin Ferris NZ, Ryan Godfrey AU, Maximilian Klink CH, William Mackenzie AU, Andrew McCorquodale CA, Ian Moore GB, Michael Mueller DE, Jonathan Swain USMax Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) team: Mark Bartlett GB, Justin Ferris NZ, Ryan Godfrey AU, Maximilian Klink CH, William Mackenzie AU, Andrew McCorquodale CA, Ian Moore GB, Michael Mueller DE, Jonathan Swain US

Tala is the first modified TP52 to even attempt the RORC Transatlantic Race, let alone win class, and is believed to be the first of its kind to complete a west-to-east race Transatlantic race. Tala has been a familiar competitor for the RORC for several years. However, the boat was specifically modified for the race.

Tala’s skipper and owner David Collins spoke dockside: “It all started when Pete Redmond (Tala crew) jokingly said let’s do the RORC Transatlantic Race and I said ‘why not?’ We have always dreamed of sending-it downwind for days, so I decided to do this race and then the RORC Caribbean 600.”

Once the decision to race was made, Tala was modified in her home port of Hamble UK, specifically for additional waterproofing. Work included making a bespoke main hatch enclosure and additional bilge pumps below decks. Tala was then sailed over 1,500nm to Lanzarote for the start.

“We did get to send it for a few days at the start and we enjoyed it,” continued David Collins. “A low-pressure system affected the race and our fleet had different views about what to do. Black Pearl went south and Caro to the north. Tala’s navigator, Campbell Field didn’t like the extra distance around the top, but we wanted the slingshot from the system, so he took the decision to just skirt the low, punching through the pressure band on the way in.”

Tala crossed the finish line of the 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race after a close battle for IRC ZeroTala Tala crossed the finish line in Grenada after the closest battle in the eight-year history of the race came to a dramatic conclusion, with Max Klink's Botin 52 Caro (CH) just one hour behind on the water © Arthur Daniel/RORC

Tala’s course was the most direct, but it meant the team and the boat would experience big conditions with 35 knots and confused seas and an erratic wind direction.

“Tala is a good boat, but she suffered. We were very confident that she would be able to cope with the conditions, but unfortunately the electronics on board were taken out by the water ingress. We lost just about all the electrical systems, including the YB Tracker, our ability to download weather data and the position of other boats. We were becalmed for a while, but we then reached out on a good shift and came powering out of the low into the trade winds.”

With the electronics compromised, Tala was effectively racing by compass and the weather they could eye-ball. The team had no information on their big rival Caro, as David Collins explains.

“We were utterly unaware of the position of any other boat. We were getting no weather reports either,” continued David. “We didn’t know` where Caro was until we got in cell phone range off Grenada. “When we found out Caro was behind us, we were astonished. My bet was they were 20 miles ahead, especially as we had a shocking final 24hrs. We made two back downs and Robbie (Southwell) as a swimmer, trying to clear weed from our rudder. I was really down, but then elated to find out that we had got the win.

“It was really nip and tuck with Caro and I am very sentimental about this race. Sometimes you get a great boat like Tala and you just want to do it justice. Tala is a cracking boat, a joy to sail but now it’s time to go back to my wife and two kids! We have a lot of work to get ready for the RORC Caribbean 600, but I am sure the lads will do it. The RORC have done a brilliant job organising this race, it has been a great experience. A massive think you to the Tala crew, they are a solid bunch of lads and we will enjoy a couple of days in Grenada.”

"Tala is a cracking boat, a joy to sail, but now it’s time to go back to my wife and two kids!" said David Collins after finishing the race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORC"Tala is a cracking boat, a joy to sail, but now it’s time to go back to my wife and two kids!" said David Collins after finishing the race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORC

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The 30.48m (100ft) VPLP Design/Verdier Maxi Comanche, skippered by Mitch Booth and with Cork's Justin Slattery as part of the crew has taken Monohull Line Honours in the 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race, winning the magnificent IMA Trophy. Comanche has set a new race record for the 3,000nm race from Lanzarote to Grenada of 7 days 22 hours 1 minute 4 seconds. Comanche’s new Monohull Race Record has beaten the previous race record by over two days. With the double achieved Comanche must wait to see if any of the remaining 21 teams racing under IRC can eclipse their corrected time to win the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy.

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the International Maxi Association (IMA), witnessed Comanche crossing the line and later presented the IMA Trophy at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina Grenada. Comanche’s record result in the RORC Transatlantic Race is the latest accolade to a phenomenal list of achievements, including the Monohull West-East Transatlantic record, race records and line honours for the Rolex Fastnet Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Transpac and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the IMA presents Mitch Booth, Skipper of Maxi 100 Comanche and Team Comanche with the fine vintage silver IMA Trophy awarded to the monohull line honours winner Photo: Arthur Daniel/RORCAndrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the IMA presents Mitch Booth, Skipper of Maxi 100 Comanche and Team Comanche with the fine vintage silver IMA Trophy awarded to the monohull line honours winner Photo: Arthur Daniel/RORC

Mitch Booth is Comanche’s skipper. In many ways he is typical of the international crew. Mitch is an Australian and Dutch national who lives in Spain. He has won two Olympic medals in the Tornado Class, world championships in F18s and Extreme 40s, as well as excelling in offshore racing. Comanche’s crew comes from 16 different nations and includes winners from the Olympics, round the world races and the America’s Cup.

“Comanche is an absolute weapon in the open ocean; the benchmark in non-foiling offshore monohulls. The team are just so privileged to have the opportunity to race this boat with the full support and trust from the owners. It's just a real thrill to be on board,” commented Mitch Booth. “The Comanche crew is a mix of very experienced offshore sailors, grand prix inshore sailors and a few newcomers. We are not in set roles; everyone is trimming and on the helm. We are mixing it up, having a great time. It's been really fun sailing together. Setting Atlantic records is iconic and very special. Comanche now holds records for both easterly and westerly routes.”

Record setters - The victorious crew on board the 30.48m (100ft) VPLP Design/Verdier Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth (AUS). The team eclipsed the previous monohull race record by 2 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes 7 seconds (My Song, 2018) © Arthur Daniel/RORCRecord setters - The victorious crew on board the 30.48m (100ft) VPLP Design/Verdier Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth (AUS). The team eclipsed the previous monohull race record by 2 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes 7 seconds (My Song, 2018) © Arthur Daniel/RORC

The mighty Comanche leads the fleet at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race off Arrecife's Marina Lanzarote, Canary IslandsThe mighty Comanche leads the fleet at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race off Arrecife's Marina Lanzarote, Canary Islands © Lanzarote Photo Sport

RORC Transatlantic Race fans that have been following the track of Comanche will notice that apart from earlier in the race Comanche’s trajectory has been close to the rhumb line. Comanche completed the course by racing just 3,063nm, which seems to suggest that the strategy was a simple one. In fact, the weather conditions made for a complex winning solution, as Comanche’s Australian navigator Will Oxley explains. Will has racked up 300,000 ocean miles, including three editions of The Ocean Race. His last win was in December as navigator for Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, overall winner under IRC for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

“This was an atypical transatlantic race, there was some low-pressure systems and instead of the normal south route, where you would gybe west in the sunshine, we had bigger waves, headwinds and really quite difficult conditions. Any team that finishes this race, especially the smaller boats, has done a pretty good job,” commented Will Oxley.

He continued: “Our route was governed by an Eastern Wave. It sounds like a complicated term, but they are lines of clouds that develop close to the coast of Africa and move west across the Atlantic. To the north of Comanche was a col, which is two areas of high pressure going in different directions forming a windless area. Our strategy was to wiggle our way between these two weather differences. We always try to point the boat at the mark, sailing the shortest course is probably going to go well in your favour. On board information about the weather is passed to the crew every three hours, this means they are aware of what we are trying to do.”

Comanche’s Australian navigator Will Oxley explains to Race Reporter, Louay Habib, the weather conditions which made for a complex winning solution © Arthur Daniel/RORCComanche’s Australian navigator Will Oxley explains to Race Reporter, Louay Habib, the weather conditions which made for a complex winning solution Photo: Arthur Daniel/RORC

A number of teams in the RORC Transatlantic Race chose to sail to the north to benefit from more wind from a low-pressure system. Will Oxley explains why Comanche chose not to take that option. “We looked at the northerly option and whilst it showed to be the fastest, there looked to be a very difficult exit strategy to this route to get back south. Looking at weather models days into the future comes with inaccuracies. So, there is a high chance that if you let it play out to the end, you may find yourself upwind to the finish. A big ‘thank you’ to the RORC, Puerto Calero and Port Louis; it has been a fantastic race and I am very much looking forward to seeing some of Grenada.”

Comanche’s next race will be the 2022 RORC Caribbean 600 which starts from Antigua on Monday 21st February. With the prospect of a goliath encounter against Club Swan 125 Skorpios, Comanche is relishing the prospect of a close race around 11 Caribbean islands.

“We know Skorpios is very fast in some conditions, but we believe the RORC Caribbean 600 suits us, as it is windy and has plenty of reaching. We are really looking forward to the next battle,” says Mitch Booth, Skipper of Comanche.

Comanche crew for the RORC Transatlantic Race 2022: Guillermo Altadill Fischer, Mitch Booth, Diogo Cayolla, Pete Cumming, Dom Davies, Damien Durchon, Shannon Falcone, Pavlo Kalynchev, Alexei Kapustin, Pavel Karachov, Campbell Knox, Petr Lipa, Lago Lopez Marra, Paul Magee, Will Oxley, Corrado Rossignoli, Louis Sinclair, Justin Slattery, Eduard van Lierde, Rudi van Velzen, Konstantin Vasilev, Daryl Wislan.

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Ireland's multi Volvo Ocean Race round the world champion Justin Slattery has added another line to his world-class sailing CV this morning by setting a new RORC Transatlantic Race Record onboard the maxi Comanche.

Five days ago Slattery predicted he would cross the finish line on Monday morning in Grenada but the 100ft Maxi has eclipsed that estimate by 24-hours to most likely win IRC Super Zero overall.

Comanche (CAY) – the 30.48m (100ft) VPLP Design/Verdier Maxi, skippered by Mitch Booth (AUS), crossed the Grenada finish line off Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina at 09 11 04 UTC on Sunday 16, January.

Comanche wins the magnificent IMA Trophy and sets a new race record.

Race Tracker here

Full race report to follow

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After an intense Atlantic battle, Giovanni Soldini's Multi70 (ITA) Maserati has crossed the finish line first in the 8th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race, finishing at: 05:51:41 UTC in Grenada on Saturday 15 January to take Multihull Line Honours.

Next to cross the finish line off Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada was Peter Cunningham's MOD70 PowerPlay at: 06 46 42 UTC.

Skipper Giovanni Soldini and crew (Vittorio Bissaro, Oliver Herrera Perez, Thomas Joffrin, Francesco Pedol and Matteo Soldini,) with Media man, Alberto Origone on Multi70 Maserati before the startSkipper Giovanni Soldini and crew (Vittorio Bissaro, Oliver Herrera Perez, Thomas Joffrin, Francesco Pedol and Matteo Soldini,) with Media man, Alberto Origone on Multi70 Maserati before the start

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On the sixth day of the RORC Transatlantic Race, a thrilling finish is shaping up for multihull line honours between PowerPlay, Argo and Maserati. The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is estimated to be over two days ahead of the monohull race record and win for the IMA Trophy for monohull line honours. All the crew are well on Black Pearl but there was sad news from the team mid-Atlantic. Plus, updates from Jangada and even poetry from Tonnerre de Glen.

In the light airs of day 5, the crew on Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) is getting ready for the return of the trade winds for the final push to the finish at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada. Paul Larsen sets the scene (12 January 2200 UTC), as the threat of losing the lead intensifies from astern.

“On the last daylight watch the wind hit double figures again. We gybed and headed south as Miles (Seddon) relayed the news that Maserati had overtaken Argo and was three knots quicker than us on the last sched. Nothing sharpens a racer’s focus more than news of lost miles. These light days suit us just fine... but there’s still 1,000 miles to go. With respect to our foiling hunters, never laugh at the crocodile until you cross the river…"

MOCRA

Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA) and Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) continue to stalk PowerPlay. Maserati has hit the turbo charge by way of their 4-point lifting foils. Hitting over 25 knots of boat speed, Maserati was significantly faster than PowerPlay.

Chad Corning reported in from MOD70 Argo that earlier in the race “the bottom portion of our port rudder broke away in the confused seas after it had been weakened following an impact with an object.” Chad continued, “We can’t push as hard on port, so we are trying to find the balance between safety and speed, looking for opportunities to get onto starboard to let the boat rip. Not much in it in the last pos. report; all 3 MODS within 39 miles now.”

The three 70ft trimarans are expected to finish the race at around midnight UTC on Friday 14th January. PowerPlay has led from the start, but the victory is very much in the balance.

The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is estimated to be over two days ahead of the monohull race record and win for the IMA Trophy for monohull line honoursThe 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is estimated to be over two days ahead of the monohull race record and win for the IMA Trophy for monohull line honours  Photo: James Mitchell/RORC

The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is estimated to be over two days ahead of the monohull race record and win for the IMA Trophy for monohull line honours © James Mitchell/RORC

IRC SUPER ZERO

Volvo 70 LF Trifork (DEN) with Joern Larsen at the helm is under 1,300 miles from the finish and is ranked first in class and overall after IRC time correction. L4 Trifork has slingshot around a low-pressure system and heading south towards Comanche’s position. L4 Trifork is unlikely to overtake Comanche, but the Danish Volvo 70 is liable to narrow the margin, and the next 500 miles has a forecast of tricky, lighter conditions. Volvo 70 I Love Poland (POL) and The Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi (AUT) have a battle to the north of the class leaders and have both turned their bows south. Riding the wind and waves south with the air temperature rising will be luxurious compared to the battering they have experienced in the cold north.

IRC ZERO

Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II (GBR) is leading the class after IRC time correction. Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) leads the class on the water. Caro and Phosphorus II slingshot the low-pressure system to the north and stayed in the pressure to broad reach southwest. David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) passed the low south taking a shorter route, but Caro and Phosphorus II look to have made a big gain.

At 15:32 UTC 12 JAN – Botin 56 Black Pearl contacted the RORC Race Team to retire from the race. "We are retiring from the race due to a broken mast. All onboard are OK. We are 800 miles west of the Canary Islands and trying to make our way there under jury rig with engine." The RORC Race Team has established communications with Black Pearl and will standby to give assistance if required."

An image from on board JangadaAn image from on board Jangada

IRC ONE

Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada (GBR), racing Two-Handed with Jeremy Waitt, is having a distinguished race. Jangada is ranked top boat after IRC time correction in a highly competitive class. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is ranked second. The pair have passed the low-pressure system just to the south, resulting in the wind going well forward of the beam with a significant increase in sea state. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) is leading on the water and ranked third after IRC correction. Pata Negra is just north of the rhumb line battling into headwinds! Far to the north, Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L’Ange de Milon (FRA) has slingshot over the top of the low and is undoubtedly getting ready to hoist downwind sails and blast south.


The 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race is proving to be a very competitive, highly complex race. However, the spirit of racing across the world’s second largest ocean is an emotional experience for every sailor. Typified by François-Xavier Li, racing on the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen:  “Poseidon sent us a slew of dolphins that played with the bow of the boat for several minutes ... a magical dance! Zeus sends us a moon that lights up our nights, extraordinary rainbows and clouds that look like cotton candy. We still do not have the famous trade winds or the conditions of a usual transatlantic in January ... we will have to complain to the travel agency ;-) Life is good and we are enjoying ourselves!”

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The RORC Transatlantic Race enters the fifth day with the potential for a real twist of fate at the front of the fleet. Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) still leads the multihulls, but as the first boat into an area of light winds, the ‘hunters’ are catching up with their prey. Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) and Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA) are homing in on PowerPlay. The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is over 100 miles ahead with one hand on the IMA Trophy. However, Volvo 70 L4 Trifork (DEN), helmed by Joern Larsen is reeling in Comanche. L4 Trifork is riding on better pressure from the northwest. News from the fleet includes the latest from Gunboat 68 Tosca (USA), co-skippered by Ken Howery & Alex Thomson.

Comanche’s navigator Will Oxley (2100 UTC 11 JAN): “1,680nm to go. It has been a very messy Atlantic weather pattern and that looks set to continue into the finish. So far so good. We are happy with our more southerly approach in comparison to L4 Trifork. For the moment they are sailing very fast in close proximity to the low. It looks quite difficult though to extricate oneself from the north; one of the reasons we rejected this option. We watch with interest to see how it plays out. The low does seem to be playing havoc with the fleet. We are sailing in 10-15 knot northerlies with the low still disrupting the trade winds. We think we can join the dots into the finish OK but we will have to be careful to avoid some very light air on the 13th. ETA still 16th January.”

MOCRA

Paul Larsen on board MOD70 PowerPlay (01:00 UTC 12 JAN): “Protecting the exits. That’s the strategy on PowerPlay at the moment with respect to our hunters and the narrow band of pressure we are in. So far so good today; we’ve seen some pretty glamorous sailing with clear blue skies and a warm, clear moonlit night. All the while we coax PowerPlay as deep downwind as every wave, puff and shift will take us. We don’t mind too much if it gets a bit light as that suits our more conservative foil configuration nicely. The band of wind that takes us across this mid-latter stage of the course is narrow. We try and keep ourselves between Argo and the westerly extreme of this breeze. Life onboard is very pleasant and even leads to stupid talk like – I wonder if you could cruise on one of these? Offshore sailors have such short memories!”

Two ORC50s are competing in the RORC Transatlantic Race: Club Five Oceans (FRA), skippered by Quentin le Nabour and GDD (FRA) skippered by Halvard Mabire, racing Two-Handed with Miranda Merron. The pair are having their own private duel within the MOCRA Class. Club Five Oceans leads by over 50 miles. GDD racing is playing catch-up after a big issue at the start, as Miranda Merron reports from on board GDD:

Miranda Merron on board ORC50 GDD (23:00 UTC 11 JAN):

“We made a conservative start as we are new to the boat. We had the fractional spinnaker up for no more than two hours when the spinnaker sock strop broke and the whole lot ended up being trawled in the sea. Apart from the halyard, which is obviously still up the mast and needs retrieving when the sloppy sea-state abates, the spinnaker survived intact, but we need to make a new sock strop. Soaking wet on the first day from the wet spinnaker and the sheer effort of getting it back on board! Beautiful starlit night on GDD tonight though!”

Ken Howery has reported on his Instagram feed that the boat and crew of Gunboat 68 Tosca have safely arrived in The Azores. The boat had taken on water which meant they “could not run the basic electrical systems necessary for the safety of the crew,” Howery concluded. “We hope to be back on the way to Grenada in the next few days.”

IRC SUPER ZERO

L4 Trifork is now estimated to be leading IRC Super Zero after time correction from Comanche. The Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi, skippered by Gerwin Jansen is ranked third after gybing southwest after making a big gain to the north.

L4 Trifork’s navigator Aksel Magdahl contacted the RORC media team, giving an insight into the complex weather for the RORC Transatlantic Race: “Suddenly we got a routing dilemma today. I have all the way been looking at ways to get south without waiting until the last low pressure. As with the last one, we have to take what we get. This afternoon weather models suddenly showed an opening to cut south ahead of the fleet. I don’t like to jump onto a sudden change in the models, but it was an interesting opportunity at the same time as the west and north routing was looking slightly more upwind to get south to Grenada.”

IRC ZERO

The decaying low pressure system in front of the teams racing in IRC Zero has caused a real change to the ranking in IRC Zero. Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II (GBR) has made a massive gain north of the low and is estimated to be leading the class after IRC time correction. The most southerly boat, Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentzsch, is still leading on the water, and looks to have made a big gain on their close rivals Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) and David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR). Caro is set up to slingshot north of the low; which way Tala will go is as yet undecided. The British team are perilously close to the wind void at the centre of the low.

Christopher Pratt checked in from Jean Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III (FRA). The team are representing the Yacht Club de France in the RORC Transatlantic Race:

“At the start of this fourth evening aboard the beautiful lady we are grappling with calm, which should occupy us a good part of the night before attacking the ‘big chunk’ of this crossing of the Atlantic: the depression which disturbs or rather destroys the trade wind since our departure ...We are trying to make repairs to the sails that we damaged at the start of the race, but the manoeuvre is not easy when everything is soaked after a whole afternoon under a downpour ... The Atlantic in January, this is not really what it used to be!

IRC ONE

Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada (GBR) racing Two-Handed with Jeremy Waitt is still estimated to lead the class after IRC time correction. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is still ranked second, but by a bigger margin of 12 hours. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) is leading on the water and ranked third after IRC correction. The next conundrum for the leading boats in IRC One is how to manage the decaying low pressure system in their path. The problem is that the weather change is coming to them and in a state of flux. Choosing the correct course to activate a chosen strategy is far from perfect science. Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L’Ange de Milon (FRA) has made his decision; the Atlantic veteran from the Yacht Club de France has gone just north of the systems trajectory - time will tell who will make the right decision.

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Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) is over halfway and just two hours outside multihull race record pace. The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth, and with Cork's Justin Slattery onboard, is 1,900 miles from Grenada and well inside monohull race record pace. The majority of the RORC fleet are north of the rhumb line. To the south, an area of light winds stretches about 1,000 miles across the direct route. Four days into the RORC Transatlantic Race and the sight of land is now just a distant memory for the 29 teams racing to Grenada. The crews have settled into life at sea, rolling in the deep, their boat speed the metric for success.

Comanche’s navigator Will Oxley (0900 UTC 10 JAN) reported: “All going well on Comanche. Our goals are a safe boat and crew, line honours and a new race record. We felt we could achieve these goals without heading far north and crossing the front in big seas and strong winds. So, we have been threading the needle between a col (transition zone) and an easterly wave (atmospheric trough), trying to find enough pressure to make our way west. We had a slow 12 hours, but we hope we are through the worst of it now. We expect to cross the front around 0300 UTC on the day four. At this time, we will have a good idea whether our plan has been successful.” (At 0900 UTC on day four Comanche was doing 24 knots of boat speed!)

PowerPlay continues to lead the race on the water, over 50 miles ahead of Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) and Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA) © James Mitchell/RORCPowerPlay continues to lead the race on the water, over 50 miles ahead of Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) and Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA) © James Mitchell/RORC

MOCRA

PowerPlay continues to lead the race on the water, over 50 miles ahead of Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) and Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA). Paul Larsen, on board PowerPlay, shared his thoughts after the team crossed the northerly front and pointed their bows towards Grenada: “Squinting into the lashing rain whilst wrestling in a reef. We’re in the thick of crossing the front now. It’s hard to find the right gear between squalls. Our hunters (Argo and Maserati) are 65 miles back and will also have to tread this path. We are happy with where we are...but equally aware of how quickly these boats can demolish a lead.”

Two ORC50s are competing in the RORC Transatlantic Race: Five Oceans (FRA) skippered by Quentin le Nabour and GDD (FRA) skippered by Halvard Mabire, racing two-handed with Miranda Merron. Both teams have crossed an area of light winds and are bracing themselves for strong northwesterlys to come. Five Oceans leads by 55 miles, having taken a more northerly route than GDD. Miranda Merron contacted the RORC Media team (1000 UTC JAN 11): “Well done RORC for organising a race in phase with the lunar cycle! Each night we are treated to an hour more of ever-brighter moonlight. However, the weather department must be on holiday. According to the brochure, this race is supposed to be a downwind sleighride in the tradewinds, but there is a nasty little low, marked ‘gale’ on NOAA's synoptic map, which is spoiling the party and heading this way.”

GDD (FRA) skippered by Halvard Mabire, racing two-handed with Miranda Merron - "Well done RORC for organising a race in phase with the lunar cycle" Sent to the media team by © Miranda MerronGDD (FRA) skippered by Halvard Mabire, racing two-handed with Miranda Merron - "Well done RORC for organising a race in phase with the lunar cycle" Sent to the media team by © Miranda Merron

IRC SUPER ZERO

Comanche (CAY) is currently leading IRC Super Zero with Volvo 70 L4 Trifork (DEN), helmed by Joern Larsen, in second place. L4 Trifork’s navigator Aksel Magdahl contacted the RORC media team (0900 UTC JAN 11).

“Finally, we are through this front and the boat speed is back in the 20s again, with a gusty 30 knots sometimes,” commented Aksel. “We are finally heading more for Grenada, which is quite a relief. Looking ahead, it looks like the low pressure scenario will repeat itself, with us having to negotiate a wedge of light airs before we can get into the next cold front and low pressure system. All is good on board, everyone quite soaked and difficult to stay in the bunks at times. The food has been great, currently enjoying some jamon iberico in the nav station while the guys are getting smashed on deck!”

100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY) is currently leading IRC Super Zero - © Shannon Falcone @racingSF100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY) is currently leading IRC Super Zero - © Shannon Falcone @racingSF

IRC ZERO

The intense battle continues between three 50-footers in IRC Zero with David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) estimated to be leading after IRC time correction. Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentsch, is leading on the water but ranked second in class after time correction. Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) is ranked third after time correction. The three leaders are currently passing through a transition zone of lighter winds. Black Pearl has chosen a WSW course to get to the better pressure, while Tala and Caro are heading NW. The result of the difference in opinion will be revealed at the 1200 UTC sched.

About 90 miles behind the class leaders, Jean Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3 (FRA) from the Yacht Club de France, is battling with Dominique Tian’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen (FRA). François-Xavier Li contacted the RORC Media team and commented: “Tonnerre encountered a little less wind during the night, which allowed Lady First, our friends from Marseilles, to make an 11 mile gain to catch us up. The Marseillais sail together!”

An intense battle continues between Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH), David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) and Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentsch © James Mitchell/RORCAn intense battle continues between Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH), David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) and Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentsch © James Mitchell/RORC

IRC ONE

Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR), racing two-handed with Jeremy Waitt, is estimated to lead the class after IRC time correction. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is ranked second by less than an hour. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) is leading on the water and ranked third after IRC correction, by just 16 minutes from Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon (FRA), which is representing the Yacht Club de France. It will be an interesting 24 hours for the leaders in the class as they negotiate an area of light wind right across the racecourse. Pata Negra leads a pack of boats to the south, including Christopher Daniel’s J/122 Juno (GBR), Martin Westcott’s Swan 57 Equinoccio (CHI), and Carlo Vroon’s Hinckley 52 Diana (NED). If the southerly boats can find a way through the light winds, they will make huge gains on the boats to the north.

Remy Gerin’s 65ft Spirit of Tradition sloop Faïaoahé (FRA) representing the Yacht Club de France is back in the race. The two-handed team of Remy and Bernard Jeanne-Beylot suspended racing on day three to fix a problem with their auto-pilot, all within the race rules, and now Faïaoahé is back in action on the course.

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Cork's Justin Slattery is expected to cross the RORC Transatlantic Race finish time next Monday morning in Grenada and if the current pace from day two can be maintained then the the 100ft Maxi will win IRC Super Zero overall and break records to boot.

Comanche (CAY) skippered by Mitch Booth gybed southwest shortly after dawn on day two and has stayed on the same gybe all day. On a broad reach, Comanche has been unstoppable, achieving over 20 knots of boat speed hour after hour. If Comanche continues at this pace, the race record will be smashed by over three days. Volvo 70 L4 Trifork (DEN) is the most northerly boat of the RORC fleet and aptly the majority of the crew come from Scandinavia.

Max Klink's Botin 52 Caro (CH) is still leading IRC Zero, but only just. Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentsch, and David Collins' Botin 52 Tala (GBR) have all gybed west and are continuing their close battle. In reality, all three boats are vying for the class and overall lead, after IRC time correction.

In IRC One, leaving Tenerife to port initially worked out well for Richard Palmer's JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR), Jacques Pelletier's Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon (FRA) and Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR). However, Andrew Hall's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR), which went south of Tenerife, is now through the lee of the island and starting to increase in speed due to the good pressure.

Conor Corson of the National Yacht Club and Southampton based Callum Healy whose family hail from County Kildare are both sailing on Phosphorous II and lying sixth in the IRC One division.

Race Tracker

Published in RORC

By sunset on the second day of the RORC Transatlantic Race, the majority of the record fleet had raced into the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the Canary Islands in their wake. This would normally result in blasting southwest in the trade winds, but this year’s race has a very complex weather scenario for the days ahead. Right now, a low-pressure system to the north is affecting the front runners who chose this high road. To the south, the low road, the breeze is better than expected. The low riders look to have made the right call – for now.

Speed machines: Giovanni Soldini's Multi 70 Maserati and a local kite surfer enjoy the breezy conditions at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Lanzarote Photo SportSpeed machines: Giovanni Soldini's Multi 70 Maserati and a local kite surfer enjoy the breezy conditions at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Lanzarote Photo Sport

MOCRA CLASS
To the north, the leading multihulls have slowed down to under 20 knots as they enter the transition zone created between the low to the northwest and the trade winds to the northeast. Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) has been the dominant force so far and has taken up a westerly position compared to Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA), and Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA). Tactically, PowerPlay has positioned between the competition and the finish. The race is on to cross the transition zone and gybe onto the fresh breeze to the northwest.

IRC SUPER ZERO
The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY) skippered by Mitch Booth gybed southwest shortly after dawn on day two and has stayed on the same gybe all day. On a broad reach, Comanche has been unstoppable, achieving over 20 knots of boat speed hour after hour. If Comanche continues at this pace, the race record will be smashed by over three days. Volvo 70 L4 Trifork (DEN) is the most northerly boat of the RORC fleet and aptly the majority of the crew come from Scandinavia. Trifork’s navigator Aksel Magdahl contacted the RORC media team:

“Here on Trifork everything is well. I have some respect for I Love Poland since I’ve seen that the boat is very fast, so happy to be well ahead after the start. Now it’s a bit of a strategy game. It is tricky to find a reasonable way across to Grenada. We’ve chosen to trust the weather models a bit around the development of the low-pressure systems and head north. However, being aware of the risk of the models getting it wrong, we didn’t go for the most extreme route around the Azores, like the computer software recommended. All the boats with different sizes and speeds have different timing around where they will be affected by the low, so it’s hard to compare much with Comanche or the smaller boats, so we’re looking at the other Volvo boats. At the moment, the weather looks nice for Comanche who can sail a shorter distance than us, just with a little stop in a couple of days while we will battle two or three low pressure systems! We finally gybed towards the west now, Sunday afternoon. It feels good after pointing towards Greenland for 24 hours!”

IRC ZERO
Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) is still leading the class, but only just. Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentsch, and David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) have all gybed west and are continuing their close battle. In reality, all three boats are vying for the class and overall lead, after IRC time correction.

From Richard Palmer on Jangada “It has been a hard first 24 hours ,with a big sea state, so we have been hand steering. It’s settled down now so the Code Zero is up and the Autohelm is in charge.” © Lanzarote Photo SportFrom Richard Palmer on Jangada “It has been a hard first 24 hours ,with a big sea state, so we have been hand steering. It’s settled down now so the Code Zero is up and the Autohelm is in charge.” © Lanzarote Photo Sport

IRC ONE
Leaving Tenerife to port initially worked out well for Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada (GBR), Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon (FRA) and Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR). However, Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR), which went south of Tenerife, is now through the lee of the island and starting to increase in speed due to the good pressure.
Juno 9 Jan 22

Christopher Daniel on his J/121 Juno (GBR) reported in as the team passed south of Tenerife: “Juno had a good first 30 hours, with the North Atlantic giving us a welcome reception to remember. With winds ranging from 30 kts to almost nothing, we’ve already used every sail in the locker! Before the start we made the decision to err towards the rhumb line and have just rolled the dice to sail between Tenerife and La Palma. Not an easy call, and we’ll only ever know whether it was correct when we all re-converge to the west of La Palma’s wind shadow.

Two of the boats racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race have reported that they are heading for shore. Swan 58 OM II and the classic Faiaoahe. OM II has retired from racing and will sail to Antigua. Faiaoahe have reported that they have temporarily suspended racing but intend to resume racing. All are safe and well aboard both boats.

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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. 

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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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