The 164-mile race to St Malo from Cowes is one of the most popular races in the RORC Season's Points Championship and this year 177 yachts entered the race. It was a spectacular start from the Squadron Line. The impressive RORC fleet got off to a flying start reaching across the line in an awesome display of power. The Race Committee elected to start the fleet to the East to avoid sending the fleet through Hurst Narrows where 30 knots of wind over tide and congestion may well have proved hazardous for the racing yachts. The wind persisted in direction and strength as the fleet sailed down the Eastern Solent to turn to the west and out into the English Channel.
"The wind was forecast to abate and veer to the West, which it did and those yachts that went West made big gains" commented RORC Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen. "The tricky decision was how far West to go and those that got their tactics right held the advantage. The breeze dropped as it veered but the wind held for most of the fleet until they got to Jersey. However, the faster boats had breeze all the way into the finish, this year, the conditions definitely favoured the faster boats."
Colin Buffin's Swan 62, Uxorious IV, was the overall winner of the race winning the prestigious Edward VII Cup. Uxorious IV was unable to come into St Malo as they had to get to Cowes the following day to register for the Swan European Regatta. Colin Buffin was amazed to find out that the team had won such a major race.
"We had no idea we had won such a marvellous trophy" exclaimed Colin Buffin. "The start was electric, with a jib top and a staysail, the boat really lit up but we couldn't match Tonnerre for speed, however we managed to hold our own as we went down the back of the island. Brett Aarons was navigating and he was spot on with the tactics and we came out in the morning ahead of Tonnerre. However, at the end they passed us using their code zero to good effect but we managed to win on handicap. We have only recently started racing the Swan 62 and I am absolutely delighted with the performance, she handled the heavy weather without any problems at all and now we are really looking forward to the Swan European Championship next week."
There was another good battle in IRC Zero, Franck Noel's Swiss TP52, Near Miss, took line honours and the class on handicap from Dutch skipper, Harm Prins' Volvo 60, Pleomax. The Volvo 60 got away well but the lighter TP52 came back in the lighter air to pass them in the latter part of the race.
Uxorious IV was the winner of IRC One beating two highly successful yachts. Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens was second and the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam claimed third.
In IRC Two Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8 raced by Sailing Logic enjoyed their first class win of the season, beating Michel Peritie's French A 40, Stamina III into second place. Nigel Wakefield's First 40, Carpe Diem sailed by Ed Broadway was third in class and will have enjoyed getting the better of all the other First 40s including Iritis and La Réponse.
One of the most impressive performances in the race was in IRC Three. The French A 35, Ame-Hasle won the class by nearly an hour and a half and was also second in IRC overall. Ame-Hasle skipper, Franck-Yves Escoffier was a very happy man, as he spoke just after the prize giving.
"A great result and a fantastic team, many of us have been together for the several of the races around France in the Le Tour Voile and that was the main reason why we did so well in our class. However, as the wind died at the end of the race so did our chances of an overall win."
IRC Three saw the top six places taken by French boats, including Didier Gaudoux's JPK 110, Lann Ael and Francoise Carluer's A 35, Agence Directe, which were second and third respectively.
IRC Four was won emphatically by the JPK 9.60, Whalalla, skippered by Yves Sale. The Cherbourg based team scored a memorable victory over Jean Yves Chateau's Nicholson 33, Iromiguy by over 5 hours on corrected time, Longue Pierre was third in class.
Of the 23 yachts that sailed the race two-handed Nicolas Gourio's IMX 40, Warhorse was the out and out winner. The French team flew around the course and it was over eight hours before another two-handed boat crossed the finish line. Paddy Cronin skipper of HOD 35, Psipsina, was second and RORC Season's Points Class leader in the Two-Handed Class, Matthias Kracht 's JPK 9.60 Ultreia! was third.
The RORC Season's Points Championship continues on 30th July with the Channel Race, starting in Cowes at finishing in The Solent. The Channel Race is the penultimate race before the highlight of the RORC season, The Rolex Fastnet Race, which takes place next month.
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