Anthony O'Leary's Antix is the sole Irish entry in the RORC Channel Race on Saturday, the last RORC offshore race prior to the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Antix lines out against Round Ireland winner Tonnerre de Breskens III in a race which will last between 24-36 hours on a flexi-course. It comes just three weeks before the rest of the Irish team join Antix in the Solent for the Commodore's Cup, which starts on August 14.
Now Cork Week is over Antix is heading for Cowes. Photo: Bob Bateman
Having started the season on a flyer, Antix had to settle for third on their home waters at Cork Week, tying with Gloves Off on points but winning out on countback.
The top boat under IRC will win the Channel Challenge Cup and there are plenty of contenders.
In IRC Super Zero Derek Saunders' CM 60, Venomous, will be hoping for strong winds to propel him to victory but John Merricks II are on a roll having just won the Cowes Dinard St Malo race and will be hard to beat.
Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens 3, who is leading the Season's Points Championship by a country mile, is back after winning the Round Ireland Race earlier this month. However John Shepherd's Fair Do's VII, Chris Radford's Relentless on Incisor and Charles Ivill's John B will also be looking for a good result in IRC Zero. All of these boats go head to head in IRC Zero for this race and the 1760 mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race next month.
Scratch boat in IRC One is Neil Kipling's J 122, Joopster, and they have some well known competition including RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine and Peter Morton's First 40, La Réponse. Andrew McIrvine is a seasoned offshore sailor and will also be campaigning his First 40 in this year's Rolex Commodores' Cup. He had this to say prior to the Channel Race: "Many of the entries are using this race as a precursor to the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, the biggest offshore race in the club's calendar this year. It is a long hard race, last time out the boats beat nearly the whole way around the 1760 mile course; it tests the mettle of everyone."
The Army Sailing Association's A 40, British Soldier, and Sailing Logic's Reflex 38, Visit Malta Puma, are fighting it out to lead IRC One in the Season's Points Championship and will both race round Britain and Ireland.
The top of IRC Two is dominated by two handed boats. In the Channel Race John Loden's Psipsina and Peter Olden's Solan Goose of Hamble will be looking for more success in the competitive class.
All three boats in IRC Three are at the top of the leader board. Matthias Kracht's Ultreia! the Phoenix Yacht Club's Spellbinder of Wytch, and Jean Yves Chateau's Iromiguy are sure to have a close battle.