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#commdorescup – Although Ireland will be setting sail for Cowes as a potent Commodore's Cup force this July it will only be a single team as a second 'corinthian' team could not be mustered. At the Spring meeting of the ICRA executive, Commodore's Cup team manager Barry Rose made a detailed report on preparations. The meeting heard the team will sail without the support of sponsorship, in spite of major effort by the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) to secure a team sponsor none had been found.

Anthony O'Leary has been confirmed as team captain, a position he also held in the 2010 Commodores' Cup winning Irish team.

As has been widely reported the three boat Irish team consists of Catapult, a US based Ker 40 which had been shipped to the Solent and was due to be enter the water to start her training programme on the 1st May.

Quokka, a Grand Soleil 43, had been chartered by Royal Irish sailors Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling. O'Leary's Antix, a Ker 39, completed the line-up.

The services of meteorologist Mike Broughton had again been secured on an exclusive basis to provide local tactical and Solent tidal support to the team. 

Published in Commodores Cup

#rorc – In a show of early season strength, Irish IRC champion Antix has won RORC's Easter Challenge regatta on the Solent. Anthony O'Leary's Royal Cork team on the Ker 39 was the class act of the regatta posting a 1-2-1-1, to finish 9.5 points ahead of James Gair's Cowes Race School crew on Zero II, the only boat in IRC One, to claim a point off the Irish former Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winners today.

Blistering sunshine, great visibility and a stiff, consistent breeze - sadly none of this featured on the final day of racing at the RORC Easter Challenge. As a slow moving front passed overhead, the Solent received a relentless deluge with the visibility dropping off enough to make it hard to see the weather mark. Conditions then deteriorated further with the deluge becoming a torrent, many crews turning on their yachts' navigation lights, despite it being lunchtime. Nonetheless, the wind held during the day allowing PRO Stuart Childerley and the RORC race management team to lay on four races in the central/eastern Solent.

"We have got good upwind speed in our fleet," observed tactician David Lenz. "In IRC One there is a big mixture of boats - some like Tokoloshe get up and go downwind. Some days will suit them and some days won't."

Lenz said that Antix's crew had benefitted this weekend from the coaching laid on by Jim Saltonstall, his colleagues and, from across the pond, the North U Regatta Services team of Andreas Josenhans and Chuck Allen. "They helped us with our starts and we are able to hold a lane for a good few minutes, even though it is hard against the faster boats. But we had good speed - high and fast, so we were able to mix it with the big boats."

Finishing in sixth place in IRC One was Ed Broadway's black Ker 40, Hooligan VII. "We did better today because we like a bit more wind," said Broadway. "Apart from the weather it was very exciting racing - particularly the last race where Baraka and us finished within a boat length of one another, under kite - a final high"

This is the Hooligan team's second season in their boat, and the crew is currently gunning to get selected for the British team in this summer's Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup.

Also scoring three bullets today was Peter Morton's new Salvo, the JND35, raced previously as the French-owned Gaia of Bernard Moureau. However this performance in IRC Two was not enough to topple Simon Henning's Mumm 36, Alice.

"It wasn't the most pleasant conditions, but at least there was breeze and they did really well to get four races in," said Mike Henning, the Alice owner's son, who was racing on board.

While Alice has been in the Henning family since 1996, over the winter it has been modified with a new rig featuring swept-back spreaders and increased sail, that has also shed its runners and overlapping jib. This is the first major IRC regatta the boat has done since these modifications. "We had some discussions with Mark Mills, who was involved in the mods," continued Mike. "We have got more optimisations that can be done, but we are quite pleased with it so far."

A third boat to score three bullets in today's four rainy races was David Franks' former IRC Nationals winning JPK 10.10, Strait Dealer, that ended up claiming IRC Three ahead of Benoit D'Halluin's A-35 Dunkerque Plaisance - Gill Racing Team.

This was the Strait Dealer crew's first 2014 outing on their boat and Franks said that the RORC Easter Challenge had provided a good warm-up. "We started a bit slow, but we got faster. The Easter Challenge is a lovely warm-up for the season and it has a nice feel to it. This year it was rainy, but we had the wind and the Race Committee did a good job with some pretty big shifts to deal with."

After being the dominant force of the first two days of the RORC Easter Challenge, Louise Morton's crew on their Quarter Tonner Espada, had an off-day while Ian Braham's Parkstone Yacht Club team on their 22 year old MG 346 Haven Knox Johnston Enigma, was another to score three wins in four races, causing them to close to within 1.5 points of Espada.

"We had a great day - there was a little bit more wind, which suits us," said Braham. "We struggled a bit on the first two days with the Quarter Tonners that are really quick in the light stuff. We are a bit heavier and today that allowed us to stretch our legs and get going a bit."
Braham said that this was the first RORC Easter Challenge they have sailed in about six years and they enjoyed the training being laid on. "We went to the post-race briefings and there was some interesting things that we learned particularly about starting which we were applying today and yesterday."

RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen, who was also part of the coaching team for the Easter Challenge, felt the regatta had gone well, even though today's conditions were miserable. "The wind was challenging for the new race officer Stuart Childerley and his team. But they did a very good job and I think everyone has had a great time.

"This is a regatta where there's training with racing and we fully appreciate North Sails for their support in bringing two very good technical guys from America to help with the setting up of the boats. Everyone has appreciated that and I think the general standard has risen. I really believe that this Easter weekend should be much bigger."

Full results here

Published in RORC
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#commdorescup – An American and a British yacht will join Royal Cork's Antix to form the 'Green Team' to win the Commodore's Cup for Ireland it has been officialy announced. The three boat team is Catapult, a Ker 40 owned by Mark Glimcher of the United States; Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix from Royal Cork; and the RORC Yacht Quokka, a Grand Soleil 43, being chartered by Royal Irish sailors Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling. There will be a strong Irish crew involvement on all three boats comprising of sailors who first won the Cup for Ireland in 2010. Crew list announcements are expected to follow.

In what was sailing's worst kept secret of the year so far the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) finally announced this morning the Irish team line–up for this Summer's Cup. Details of the team were previously reported on Afloat.ie

ICRA has been working for some time to assemble a top level Irish Team for this year's event, taking place off Cowes, Isle of Wight between 19th and 26th July 2014.

Catapult has won the US IRC Nationals, Cork based Antix is a seasoned and successful campaigner and a winning Commodores' Cup team member in 2010. Quokka is an extremely competitive IRC boat with a strong track record. The Team's campaign will begin with the Warsash Spring Series in the Solent followed by various other regattas including the UK IRC Championship in mid-June.

ICRA Commodore, Norbert Reilly welcomed the development of such a high calibre team. ICRA also say they have serious interest from a fourth boat to form a second team and are inviting interest from another two boats to form Ireland Orange Team.

Published in Commodores Cup

#Fastnet – After the first night at sea in the 2013 Fastnet race, two of 12 Irish yachts are showing the potency of Irish offshore sailing with top five performances in the 335–boat fleet. Clidfen Boat Club's Inismor sailed by the French Guoy brotherrs are lying fourth and Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary in Irish champion yacht Antix lies fifth. Both boats are Ker39 designs with a proven offshore performance capability. Inismor is the current Round Ireland champion. 

 

The 335 competing boats still have over 475 nautical miles to go in this offshore challenge from Cowes to the Fastnet rock and back but already the signs look like a rerun of May's Myth of Malham race for the top Irish boats. So far Chris Tibbs weather forecast is being borne out on the race track and this will favour the 35-40– foot boats.

Read WM Nixon's Fastnet Yacht Race preview on the Irish entries here.

Currently lying 25th overall, skipper Aodhan Fitgerald reported from Discover Ireland at 02.25 this morning: 'Light winds now as we approach start point. We are amongst the northern most in our class so recent knock may pay dividends. Beautiful moon and star lit night off south coast uk. Very comfortable with dry decks which is nice but doesn't suit us! All well otherwise had some fun getting around Portland bill in the inner channel'.

Fastnet race tracker here: 

Published in Fastnet
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RORC British National Champions are decided, but Ireland's sole contender, Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix has to make do with seventh after a frustrating conclusion to the weekend series yesterday, writes Louay Habib.

Race 6 provided the final twist in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. There was a tense end to a fascinating encounter for 54 yachts from seven different countries competing at the regatta. All classes got away off Gillkicker Point but a substantial shift in the light breeze was too much to provide fair racing and the race was abandoned shortly after the start.

Several yachts will have been frustrated by the decision, especially, the Irish national champion, Antix, Tim Thubron's First 40.7, Puma Logic, and Adam Goslings, Corby 36, Yes!. However the wind shift was more than 50 degrees and ending the championship in that manner would have been unfair.

At 1200 the Race Committee put an end to racing for the RORC IRC National Championship and as the gun sounded a big cheer went up from Andrew Pearce's British Ker 40, Magnum 3, which won a highly competitive Class One. Andrew Pearce and his crew were all smiles at the prizegiving especially as Magnum 3 was also crowned Overall RORC IRC National Champion 2013.

"Absolutely thrilled we have had two cracking days of racing," smiled Andrew at the prizegiving. "Despite the light weather the wind direction over the two days we raced was consistent and everybody has had a really good time. We are just so very pleased to have won against the best opposition we have ever encountered. The boat and the crew have done so well and in conditions that aren't favourite for a Ker 40. Last year we won our class on the last race, this year to lead from the start and win overall has been a dream come true."

Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, was second in IRC One and received the Jackdaw Trophy for second overall under IRC. Magnus Leask's British Swan 42, Magical Mystery Tour, was third in class.

The battle of the British TP52s went to Johnny Vincent's Pace scoring four wins out of five against Sir Keith Mills' 5 West. "We started this regatta as the underdogs so it has been very satisfying to win," commented Johnny. "We have also seen how well the crew and the boat are performing. No doubt we will be racing against 5 West at Cowes Week next month and we expect just as good competition."

The French flag was proudly flying from Olivier Pesci's Grand Soleil 40, Beelzebuth 3, after winning IRC Two. Former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter racing British Grand Soleil 43, Trustmarque Quokka, was second and Adam Gosling's Cowes based Corby 36, Yes! was third.

"This was our first time at the IRC Championship and we are very happy, the organisation and the sunny weather has been a real joy. We are delighted to have won and proud to represent France at the regatta," commented Olivier Pesci.

James Chalmers' Weymouth crew on board J/35, Bengal Magic, scored the lowest net points of any yacht at the regatta and was crowned IRC National Champion for IRC Three. Last year's overall winner David Franks' JPK10.10, Strait Dealer from Cowes, was second in class just half a point ahead of Peter Morton's Lymington based Corby 33, Salvo.

"It has come as a complete surprise to win our class!" commented an ecstatic James Chalmers. "We have been racing against some well sailed boats but now and again everything clicks together and that has been the case this weekend. We are absolutely thrilled to be national champions. I have just spent a fortune with Spinlock, so I am delighted to hear that we will be receiving some prizes from them, as well!"

National Champion in IRC Four was awarded to Nick and Adam Munday racing J/97, Indulgence, who won three of the five races sailed. Richard Sparrow's J/92, Who's to No and Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp, tied on points but second place was awarded to Who's to No on countback.

A packed crowd attended the RORC IRC National Championship prizegiving where class winners were awarded with RORC decanters and event sponsor Spinlock, represented by James Hall, provided Spinlock Deckvest LITE liejackets, Deckpacks and Kneepads as prizes.

Full results here 

Published in RORC
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#rorc – Two Irish linked Ker campaigns – among seven such designs in the top ten – showed the potency of Irish offshore sailing in a marathon edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) Myth of Malham race with both Ker 39 sisterships finishing in the top ten. 2012 Round Ireland race winner Inismor (Bernard Guoy) sailing under French colours but with links to Clifden Boat Club and Royal Cork's Commodore's Cup winner Antix (Anthony & Peter O'Leary) were sixth and seventh respectively in IRC overall in the 120–boat fleet.

After last year's extremely windy Myth of Malham Race, this year's edition provided a far more tactical race for the fleet in the 230-mile race around the Eddystone Lighthouse.

Staying in the breeze and calculating the best route for tides made all the difference. The wind conditions ranged from zephyrs during the first night to 25 knot gusts on the last day of racing. Most of the fleet used the full complement of their sail wardrobe and, as many crews were exploiting the race route as a Rolex Fastnet qualifier, the Myth of Malham Race was a fine test of man and machine.

Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII, was declared overall winner after time correction under IRC. Broadway has been a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club for over 20 years but only started campaigning his Ker 40 this year.

"We were the last Ker 40 out of the Solent," admitted Broadway. "We chose to play the island shore and the two other Ker 40s, Magnum andBaraka, went to the mainland shore and they were both just ahead at the Hurst Narrows. However, we caught up and virtually match raced all the way to Eddystone with Magnum. This is the first season with our Ker 40 and it is such a fantastic boat to sail; really responsive and very fast. I am an old man but just about all the crew have come from the British Keelboat Academy, including Aaron Cooper who has built the sails.

I can't really single out any defining moment in the race, save Magnum's kite ripping, which was a big gain for us. However, my crew were magnificent; totally committed and extremely respectable sailors. Between the three Ker 40s, after three RORC races, each one of us has come out on top, it looks like a fantastic season ahead."

Hooligan VII was also the winner of IRC One for the Myth of Malham, Andrew Pearce's Ker 40, Magnum 3, was second by less than 15 minutes and Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, was third in class but still retains the overall lead of the RORC Season's Points Championship, albeit by just 2.4 points.

With 31 yachts IRC Two was the largest class in the race. RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse, took line honours for the class but after time correction missed out on a podium place by less than two minutes. Patrick Ponchelet's French X40, Exception sailed a stunning leg back from Eddystone to over take two British First 40.7s to win the class. Ifan James' Cheeki Rafiki was second by just over 19 minutes on corrected time, whilst Peter Newlands' Anticipation took third.

Benoit D'Halluin's A35, Dunkerque Plaisance, took line honours in IRC Three and the class win on corrected time. "We had a great start out of the Solent, we were really pleased with our performance and the boat was going really well. However, between Start Point and Eddystone, we had foul tide and the wind faded. It was difficult and frustrating because as we are one of the highest rated boats and the fleet around us was gaining all the time. Once round Eddystone we went inshore at Start Point on the way back and it really worked for us, especially as the tide changed in our favour a little earlier than predicted. The run to the finish was dead downwind and we used our symmetrical spinnaker to great effect, whilst the J/109s in our class could not. All of the crew is absolutely delighted with our result."

Richard Palmer's J/109, Jangada Too, was second in IRC Two and won the highly competitive Two-Handed Class. With Jeremy Waitt as co-skipper, Jangada Too won against a 22 strong fleet containing many proven race winners in past RORC and Transatlantic races. "A very tough race, I doubt whether either of us got more than two hours sleep," admitted Richard. "The wind was so fickle that we were constantly raising and dropping the spinnaker and we didn't use the autopilot at all. The race was very stop-start and required a huge amount of mental concentration to work out the ever-changing scenario, especially with regards to the tide. It is great to get our first win of the series."

The runner up in the Two-Handed Class was Bernie Bingham's Rogers 30, Brightwork. A terrific battle for third place was won by Rob Craigie's J/122, J Belllino, by just seven seconds on corrected time from Simon Mitchell's Sunfast 3200, Roxanne. The racing in the Two-Handed class was incredibly close with less than an hour, after time correction, separating 2nd place from 10th.

The Class40 division produced a photo-finish: after 230 miles of racing Yvon Berrehar and Stephan Theissing racing Al Bucq were just 32 seconds ahead of Emma Creighton and Dan Dytch's Momentum Ocean Racing.

In IRC Four this was the first RORC race of the season for Jean Yves Chateau's Nicholson 33, Iromiguy, and the French crew won class ahead of Christophe Affolter's French Sigma 33, 4 Déci. Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew, was third. The podium finish was just enough to put Foggy Dew at the top of the leader board in IRC Four for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

The Championship continues on Friday 14th June with the De Guingand Bowl Race from Cowes to Guernsey.

IRC Overall

Sail No Boat Type of Boat Owner
GBR741R Hooligan VII Ker 40 Edward Broadway
GBR39R Magnum III Ker 40 Andrew Pearce
NED46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3 Ker 46 Piet Vroon
GER6840 Sjambok Reichel Pugh 48 Jens Kuehne
NED40010 Baraka GP Ker 40 Harmen J de Graaf
FRA35439 Inis Mor Ker 39 Laurent Gouy
IRL3939 Antix Ker 39 Anthony O'Leary
GBR5355N Phosphorus Rodman 42 Mark Emerson
GBR236R Erivale III Ker 39 Michael Greville
FRA6770 Iromiguy Nicholson 33 Jean Yves Chateau
FRA19630 4 Déci Sigma 33 Christophe Affolter
FRA35080 Dunkerque Plaisance - Gill Racing Team A 35 Benoit D'halluin
FRA37310 Foggy Dew JPK 10.10 Noel Racine
GBR4733 Baloo Sigma 33 OOD Jonathan Power/Rob Harnan/Ben Redhead
GBR8537R Jangada Too J/109 Richard Palmer
GBR8352 Mefisto Sigma 38 Kevin Sussmilch
GBR8338 With Alacrity Sigma 38 Chris Choules
BEL1383 Wasabi JPK 10.10 Vincent Willemart
FRA25767 Exception X 40 Patrick Ponchelet
GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki First 40.7 Stormforce Coaching
GBR1509R JIBE J/109 Robin Taunt
RUS1 Monster Project Volvo 70 Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn
GBR3111N Mostly Harmless J/105 Tom Hayhoe
GBR521R Toe in the Water Farr 52 Toe in the Water
GBR7041R Anticipation First 40.7 Peter Newlands
GBR42N La Réponse First 40 Andrew McIrvine
GBR1264 Marinero Swan 46 David Gower and Ken Newman
GBR3234L Relentless on Rocketdog 2 First 40 Sailing Logic/James George
GBR9030R Brightwork Rogers 30 Bernie Bingham
GBR9868T J Bellino J/122 Rob Craigie
GBR2539L Roxanne Sun Fast 3200 Simon Mitchell
GBR8380R Elixir Elan 380 Felicity Gabbay
GBR2091R Je Vante J/109 Todd Wells
GBR4690R Fastrak IX Sun Fast 3200 Nigel de Quervain Colley
GBR8191R British Soldier J/111 Army Sailing Association
GBR7848T Storm Trooper Sun Fast 37 Stormforce Coaching
GBR9205R Diablo-J J/105 Nick Martin
GBR8146 Vitesse Sigma 38 Jon England
GBR7909R Jolene II J/109 Philip Nelson
GBR6709R J-T'Aime J/109 Christopher Palmer
GBR5963T Pyxis X 332 Kirsteen Donaldson
GBR8275 Pandanova II Sigma 38 Andrew Gordon
GBR9956 Draig O'R Mor Dehler 36 Kay & Kevin Stibbs
GBR8809R Inspara J/109 Tor McLaren
GBR7383R Puma Logic Reflex 38 Sailing Logic
GBR3708R One Life Sun Fast 37 James Pearson
GBR1415R Kokomo Prima 38 Steve Trigwell
FRA38485 Courrier Vintage MC34 Patton Sam Marsaudon and Géry Trentesaux
GBR6525N Revive Prima 38 Paul A Farrands
GBR979R Malice HOD 35 Mike Moxley
GBR9503T Jamira J/109 Mark Tracey
GBR1921L Yoda Sigma 38 Trevor Hails
GBR3142L Zonpuka JPK 9.60 Giles Mayley
GBR8367 Rho Sigma 38 Nick Woolven
GBR7382R Jaguar Logic Reflex 38 Sailing Logic
GBR8529R Jazzy Jellyfish J/109 Kevin Armstrong
GBR5464R Right Royal Of Upnor Dehler 32 REYC
GBR922R Juno X 34 Charles Whittam
GBR8643T Arcsine Arcona 370 Kathy Claydon
GBR3135L Jumbuck J/109 John Allison
GBR9939 Flame Sweden 38 Martin Fordham
GBR7360T Quinta First 40.7 Stan Davies
GBR9885T Profile Logic First 40.7 Sailing Logic/Barclays Capital
GBR6504N Talisman Prima 38 Simon Harwood
RUS6262 Krasotka Sinergia 41 600nm Racing Club
GBR1346R Belladonna Grand Soleil 46 Andrew Howard
GBR1715T Breakout Swan 42 Simon Crawford
GBR1575L Pure Attitude X 37 Pure Latitude Ltd
GBR8908R Annika Malo 43 Classic John Burns
GBR9388R Lion Logic Reflex 38 Sailing Logic
GBR8799T Wild Spirit Sun Odyssey 40 Paul Jackson
GBR1603R Jubilant Moody S38 Martin Johnson
21 Artemis 21 Figaro II Artemis Offshore Academy
GBR43 Artemis 43 Figaro II Artemis Offshore Academy
GBR9383R Intuition Reflex 38 Yuri Fadeev
GBR735R Comedy Of Errors HOD 35 Tony White
GBR2460L Run First 35 David Mossman
RUS404 Knyaz A 40 Artem Brum
GBR641 Hope & Glory/UNICEF Humphreys 50 Custom Robert Gibson
GBR9109T Red Arrow J/109 RAFSA
GBR6388T Marta Sigma 38 Brian Skeet
GBR1329R Thumper Grand Soleil 39 Julian Johnson
GBR4709R Jambo! J/109 Stephen Morris
GBR9029 Rainmaker Oyster LW395 James Porter
GBR4973T Exocet IMX 38 Janet Pilkington
GBR9023T Arcadian Arcona 370 Simon Grigg
GBR9481R Lancelot First 40.7 Simon Boulding
GBR4001N Sunsail 4001 First 40 Girls For Sail
GBR6643R Nightfall Arcona 430 Tom Sperrey
GBR7657T Castalia Sun Fast 37 Andrew Butler
GBR1385L Buccaneer Logic First 40.7 Sailing Logic
GBR5236R Rare Figaro II Ian Hoddle
GBR1602R Parallel Blue First 40.7 Ivan Snell
GBR3L Me Julie J/109 Dom Monkhouse
GBR7388R Leopard Clipper Reflex 38 Mark Osborn
GBR8972T Inseyandra Bavaria 46 C Solent Sail Ltd
GBR7950R Loco Sydney 40 John Reivers
GBR809 Lutine Swan 53 Lloyd's Yacht Club
BEL11111 Djinn J/111 JUST 4 SAILING
GBR3390T Gentle Zephyr Bavaria 390 Neal Martin
GBR8520R Flying Fish Hot Stuff First 40.7 Andy Hunt
US43545 Echo Zulu Frers 45 David Rider
GBR8750R Bella of London Grand Soleil 50 Mike Surridge
GBR2899 Freebird Sadler 34 Jonti Clews
GBR2311L Zephyr First 45 Marinos Pappas
GBR6944R Smoke N' Oakum Grand Soleil 44 Race Steven Winstanley
GBR8873R Challenger 3 Challenge 72 Tall Ships
GBR8871R Challenger 1 Challenge 72 Tall Ships
GBR8874R Challenger 4 Challenge 72 Tall Ships
GBR7732T Mardy Gras X 332 Fred Mundle
GBR6687T Skywave Elan 333 Royal Signals Yacht Club
GBR6995T Javelin Sweden 390 Peter Hurley
NED118 Winsome S&S 41 Harry Heijst
GBR981R St Barbara V Rustler 42 Royal Artillery Yacht Club
FRA36859 Stamina III A 40 Michel Peretie
GBR8633R Jings J/133 David Ballantyne
Published in RORC
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#rorc –Fresh from success at last month's ICRA Nationals at Howth YC both the Irish Class zero and class two champions head for Cowes this weekend for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) British IRC Championships writes Louay Habib.

Anthony O'Leary's Zero champion, the Ker 39 Antix and the Class two champion Nigel Bigg's Checkmate IV will be looking for a British title too when well over 400 sailors from all over Europe gather in Cowes this weekend for the annual three day event on tight Solent courses. Close encounters are expected for four classes under tight rating bands.

Since the first edition in 2000, the annual RORC inshore championship has always attracted a highly competitive fleet and this year is no exception.

Also competing in Cowes is Round Ireland champion Piet Vroon from Holland who is heading back to defend his offshore crown in Wicklow in two weeks time.

The sizeable fleet boasts close to 20 yachts that are past or present competitors for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. Winning class at the RORC IRC National Championship is extremely tough and class victors will savour that moment for years to come.

IRC One has produced one of the most impressive fleets for many years. Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, should be the fastest boat around the track but there will be four Ker 40s nipping at the Dutch flyer's heels. Nigel Passmore's Apollo will be highly motivated to take a national title back to Plymouth. Whilst Andrew Pearce's Magnum III and Harmen de Graaf's Baraka GP will be racing each other for the first time, prior to representing Benelux and Great Britain in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. However, the depth of talent in this class is quite remarkable, including some notable proven winners: O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, Michael Bartholomew's King 40, Tokoloshe, Andrew Williams' Mills 39, Dignity, and RORC Commodore, Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III.

"We expect some very challenging racing, which is exactly what is required if we are to continue to improve our performance," commentedMagnum III skipper, Andrew Pearce. "The championship will have some of the best competition from the South Coast and beyond, it will be a thorough test for all of us."

In IRC Two the UNCL President, Marc de Saint Denis, will be racing MC34 Courrier Vintage in good company. No doubt, former RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine, will give the Frenchman a warm welcome to Cowes but no quarter once they are out on the racecourse. McIrvine has been in fine form offshore this season but the class has many well-honed adversaries. Kirsty and David Apthorp's J/111 J-Dream came within a whisker of winning Spi Ouest this Easter and Nicolas Gaumont-Prat's First 40.7, Philosophie IV, and Jim Macgregor's Elan 410, Premier Flair, will both be representing Great Britain in next month's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. Philosophie IV was runner up in IRC Two last year and will be looking to go one better in 2012.

In IRC Three, Mike Bridges' Elan 37, Elaine, is back to defend their title but the class also boasts two teams representing Britain in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup: Peter Morton's Corby 33, Salvo, and the British Keelboat Academy's J/109, Yeoman of Wight, will both be looking to impress. From overseas, Philippe Bourgeois' A35, Dunkerque Plaisance is in fine form, having won their class earlier this month at Normandy Sailing Week and Dutch J/109, Captain Jack, skippered by Round the World racer Bert Visser, is relishing the event. "We cannot get this standard of competition in Holland," admits Visser. "It is well worth the effort to come over for the championship. It is an important event for us and we expect some very good racing."

In IRC Four, Nigel Biggs is a veteran of the championship and will be looking to come out on top with the beautifully prepared vintage Half Tonner, Checkmate XV. The small boat class also has a number of well-sailed modern bowsprit boats. Father and son team, Mike and Jamie Holmes racing J/97 Jika Jika, entered months ago, having identified the championship as a key event of their season.

'It will be a testing event for us," predicted Jamie Holmes. "We are expecting some extremely close racing, I think that key reasons for the popularity of the event are that there is usually a good range of conditions and the races are always well run, which attracts impressive opposition. The IRC National Championship is an excellent event to hone our skills for the J/97 UK Nationals in Guernsey this summer."

Published in RORC

Royal Cork's Antix skippered by Anthony O'Leary has finished as runner up in the IRC 1 division at a heavy weather staging of the British IRC Championships this afternoon.

With eight bullets in eight races, Peter Rutter and the crew of the Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, comfortably secured the 2011 IRC National Championship title as well as victory within IRC 2.

"I am incredibly proud - my crew have really worked their hearts off," said Rutter. "I have never been able to win this regatta before and I said to them 'we have to nail it this time' and they have worked their cotton socks off. So I am very very pleased and it is nice to have got this one finally put away. The boat is going well, the sails are good and the crew work has been stunning."

Matters were made no easier for the crew after Quokka 8's skipper unwisely chose light and moderate weather kites for this regatta, which has typically seen the wind rarely drop below 20 knots. Rutter paid his respects to the RORC race committee for laying on a good series, also admitted that being one of the fastest boats in Class 2 also helped. "It was the place to be, in winds of this strength - it helped you get clear wind. But keeping the boat under the rig was the important thing in this regatta!"

One of the favourites in IRC1, Jonathan Goring's new Ker 40, Keronimo, put this to the test today when on the final run of the second and final race, she was nailed by a squall, causing her to re-enact the famous pitchpole of Silk II (as captured on camera by Beken of Cowes). Tactician Simon Shaw recounted what occurred: "A big black cloud was chasing us down the run and we'd just changed on to the no4 and gybed to come into the mark when the front of the gust hit and the wind went from 26 to pretty much 40 knots...

"The boat instantly jumped into the wave we were following. The rudder was fully out of the water. It was a bit like watching one of those Extreme 40 capsizes - you are on top of the world looking down at the boat, holding on to the runners with your legs dangling down into the cockpit going 'hang on I thought this only happened on catamarans!'"

Keronimo teetered in her pitchpoled position for what seemed like 10 seconds, her bow buried so deeply into the water that the instrument displays on her mast were submerged, until eventually the fitting at the end of her bowsprit exploded and the chute roared aft destroying all the stanchions along her starboard side. "We lost one guy off each side and one off the bow," continued Shaw. "So we scooped everyone back in, wrestled the chute down over the back, pulled the jib up, bore away and carried on with the race." Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.

antixirc

Royal Cork's Antix finished second in Cowes this afternoon. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Victory in the hard fought IRC 1 was deservedly scooped up by the winner of both today's two races, Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3, also winner of the Jackdaw Trophy for coming second overall under IRC. Anthony O'Leary's Antix finished just a point adrift in second in IRC 1, ahead of third placed Keronimo.

Another equally unusual incident occurred prior to the start of today's first race on board Peter Morton's MAT 1010, one of the contenders in IRC 3, when her port cabintop window imploded. The exact reasons for this remain a mystery. but Morton believes the window was weakened by a barber hauler block repeatedly rapping against it and broken terminally when the weight of one of the crew was applied to it. In the brisk conditions they were forced to retire.

In IRC3 today's winner, claiming both races, was Michael Brough's Bavaria Match 38 Steady Barker, but even this fine show left them three points adrift of Mike Bridges' Elan 37, Elaine, the class victor.

Brough, who has been toughing it out since he twisted his knee during racing yesterday, says Steady Barker enjoys light or heavy airs and in this regatta they have seen more than their fair share of the latter.

Their racing today was also not without incident. "Before the start of the second race our mainsail ripped luff to leech," said Brough. "We just got it down, put some duck tape over it and it managed to make it all the way." Fortunately when the squall hit on the last race they were sailing upwind and the most they saw was 32 knots. Even so they decided to play it safe on the final run and chose not to hoist the kite. "We thought we'd see if anyone blinked before we put the kite up," admitted Brough. "Fatjax tried it and went over on her side. Even so we were doing 10.5-11 knots without the kite."

IRC 4 saw Adam Gosling's Corby 30 Yes! claim two bullets to win their class overall, albeit just three points ahead of Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp.

Generally of this RORC IRC Nationals Brough observed: "The races have been great. Everyone is absolutely shattered on the boat, including the bowman. It has been hard racing and I'm glad RORC stuck with it rather than just canning it."

Published in RORC

With a slow moving front passing across the Solent today, the fleet competing at the RORC's IRC Nationals were subjected to one of the windiest days they have seen so far this season.

Three races were held on the central Solent and with the wind gusting into the 30s for today's final encounter, there were a multitude of DNSes and DNFes. While there were at least two dismastings on the Solent, fortunately the carnage in the IRC Nationals fleet was limited principally to sails and fittings, while those that did last the course were to be commended for their prudence, the majority for example choosing not to hoist the kites in the blustery final race.

Former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking, competing on board Willem Wester's Grand Soleil 46, Antilope, in IRC 1, said the most wind they saw was 32 knots. "That's fun and it is good that they keep us racing in that, because it brings seamanship back to everyone." Bekking said that they continued to use their spinnaker today but the lighter weight asymmetric boats, able to hoist large genoas on the reaches, were able to sail four or five knots faster than they were. For the most part today Antilope came away unscathed, although they suffered a small rip in their mainsail.

Antilope was one of only five boats in IRC 1 to complete the final race. Crucially one of the DNFs was Jonathan Goring's overnight leader, Keronimo, so the lead in the highly competitive IRC 1 has now passed to Anthony O'Leary and his Irish Rolex Commodores' Cup winning crew aboard the Ker 39, Antix.

Of course loving today's brisk conditions was Dutch salty seadog Piet Vroon, skipper of Tonnerre de Breskens 3, who's 3-1-1 scoreline was the most consistent of the day. His blue hulled Ker 46 now holds second place in IRC 1 two points astern of Antix and two ahead of Keronimo.
This is not the first time the well-travelled Tonnerre has encountered such conditions. "The boat goes better with a lot of wind," admitted Vroon. "And yes, we have seen these conditions occasionally. The boat did everything that was expected. Whether the crew did or not...!"
With more breeze forecast for tomorrow, Tonnerre could be in with a good chance of repeating her IRC Nationals class victory from two years ago, when she was just four weeks old.
While Johnny Vincent's modified TP52, Pace, continued her unbroken string of wins in IRC 0 against Rob Grey and Sam Laidlaw's Farr 52, Bob, both choosing to stand down from today's final race, so in IRC 2 Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, now has scored a phenomenal six bullets in as many races. Fighting for the remaining podium positions going into tomorrow's final two races are Nicolas Gaumont-Prat's First 40.7, Tradition Philosophie IV, Jim Macgregor's Elan 410, Premier Flair, and Richard Fildes' Corby 37 Impetuous.
Unfortunately in today's second race Jim Macgregor's Premier Flair suffered a contretemps with Peter Morton's MAT1010 sailing in IRC3. Morton recounted the incident: "They went around the top mark, hoisted and did a massive roll to windward - they almost did a Chinese gybe on top of us! We were on port and they were on starboard, but we were a long way away but they did this huge roll to weather and hit the top of the rig."
MAT1010 retired from that race but bounced back to win today's breezy third. In one gust Morton said they had seen 34 knots and at one point when they had the kite up they clocked 19 knots - not bad for a 33 footer.
With Chris and Hannah Neve's No Chance disqualified from yesterday's second race due to a start line infringement that ended up in the protest room, followed by an OCS in today's second race, so the leader in IRC 3 is now Mike Bridges' Elan 37, Elaine.
"We were just trying to keep it safe today," admitted Bridges, so says that for this regatta they are sailing with a mixed crew and don't have their usual amount of hiking weight on the rail. "We just wanted to get around and stay close to people."
Bridges says that Elaine likes "anything between 12 and 20+ knots, but 30 is probably a bit much!" Today they managed to avoid too much carnage although the conditions did take their toll and they blew out a fitting for the vang. "We had to replace that on the way. Otherwise there was nothing major," said Bridges.
In IRC 4 Adam Gosling's Corby 30, Yes! has been propelled into the lead following bullets in today's final two races, while yesterday's leader Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp, was one of four boats in the class to bow out of today's final race, dropping her to second.
A final two races are scheduled for tomorrow and at the forecast at present is showing at least as much wind as we have seen today

Published in RORC
Tagged under

Anthony O’Leary’s Corby 35 ‘Antix’ won sailing's Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club, and Paddy Gregory’s Elan 31 ‘Benola’ the Portcullis Trophy.  Eamon Conneely’s Transpac 52 ‘Patches’ was the winner in Division 0 IRC, gaining National Champion title for that Division and the Saab Trophy for IRC.

‘Antix’ was the yacht deemed by the organising committee to have put in the best overall performance under IRC across the four fleets.  She and Eamon Crosbie’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ had quite a duelling match in Division 1, with ‘Antix’ emerging as National Champion.  ‘Benola’ finished first overall in both IRC and Echo in Division 2, winning double National Championship titles.  Neil White’s Sigma 400 ‘Barafundle of Mumbles’ was the Division 1 winner and Champion.

Photos of the 2007 event by Bob Bateman BELOW:

Published in Sovereign's Cup
Page 2 of 4

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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