The offshore race starts this Saturday from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line. It is a 230–mile race from Cowes, round the Eddystone lighthouse and back to the Solent and marks the Irish Commodore's Cupper's offshore debut.
"Antix is entered for the Fastnet this year. We will have a good test in Ireland with the Dún Laoghaire to Dingle Race but the quality of the opposition and the route for the Myth of Malham is ideal for our preparations. O'Leary said. 'Looking at the long-term weather forecast, it looks like a northeast wind, which will suit the reaching machines more than us but forecasts can change ' he said.
'We are very happy with the changes we made to the boat last year but the best way to truly find out if you are fast is to race against the best' he added.
The RORC Season's Points Championship continues over the May Bank Holiday weekend with one of the longest races of the season. Fresh from victory in the North Sea Race, Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, is the scratch boat in IRC One but will surely be under tremendous pressure from three Ker 40s: Harmen de Graaf's Baraka GP, Edward Broadway's Hooligan VII and Andrew Pearce's Magnum III. Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III, is a former winner of the race.
120 yachts have entered the Myth of Malham Race and no doubt many teams see the race as a dress rehearsal for the first part of the Rolex Fastnet Race. However, the race from Cowes, around The Eddystone Lighthouse and back to the Solent, can be extremely tough, as the competitors in last year's race can testify.
In IRC Four Harry Heijst's Dutch S&S 41, Winsome, was one of only three yachts to complete last year's race, coming second overall and winning class. The veteran Dutch skipper will be racing agin this year and commented: "I am 67 years of age and I have done a lot of racing; round Britain and Ireland, the Fastnet, the Sydney Hobart and I remember a very tough St. Malo Race but I have to say that the 2012 Myth of Malham Race was one of the hardest races Winsome has ever done. The waves were five metres high going past The Needles and the cockpit filled up with water on several occasions. This year looks like it will be a colder race but hopefully in 20 knots less wind." For this year's Myth of Malham Race, Winsome will be defending their class title against 35 other yachts, including a gaggle of seven Sigma 38s and proven race winners, such as Jean Yves Chateau's Iromiguy and Noel Racine's Foggy Dew.
Two-Handed racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been going from strength to strength and 17 teams will take part in the Myth of Malham with just two crew on board. Robin Elsey is just 20 years of age and won his first ever RORC Two-Handed race last month, racing Figaro II Artemis 21 in the Cervantes Trophy Race with Sam Matson.
"Winning class in the Cervantes Trophy Race was just brilliant," commented Robin, " but the Myth of Malham is a very different race, it is very tactical with all of the different tidal issues along the headlands and it is a much longer race but it is so long that you can really get into a rhythm. It will be important for us to get the balance between going flat out and backing off just right but personally I am also looking forward to the race because I come from Cornwall so I will be racing in my own home waters."
Todd Wells' Je Vante is one of ten J/109s entered for the Myth of Malham. "The big entry shows that a lot of yachts are using the race as a significant part of training for the Fastnet. Depending on the weather, this will be a particularly sanitizing event for crews at all levels. Last year was incredibly tough but that is part of the attraction of offshore racing, you either talk about it in the bar or get on with it."
John Allison will be racing J/109, Jumbuck, for the first time but John and the vast majority of his crew are experienced offshore sailors. "In my honest opinion, the first 24 hours of any ocean race are easy, the next 24 the hardest, and then one normally settles into a pattern that gets progressively easier as each day passes. So maybe there is a case for saying overall, the Fastnet is not as hard as the Myth of Malham," commented John. " Having said that the race will be a good training exercise for the Fastnet, as it allows one to get familiar with that coastline in race conditions. As Jumbuck is a new boat for us for the race, it will bring the pleasure of bringing a crew and new boat up to speed, not just against other yachts, but also against weather and routing conditions."
Capstan Sailing's Yuri Fadeev is the skipper of Reflex 38, Intuition. "It's the first Fastnet for most of the crew, so we are taking qualifying races very seriously to get into shape. The crew is from UK, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine with a great mix of abilities but some of the guys have sailed with us for a few seasons now. As most of the races we do are on a commercial basis, safety is paramount, and most of the preparation effort goes into that, although we do like to give the competition a bit of a challenge, so making sure the boat is fast is always a good thing. I am sure the guys will know all about beating by the time we round Eddystone!"
Line Honours favourite for the race will be Andrew Budgen's Volvo 70, Monster Project. "This is the first time we have entered this race and dependent on the weather it could be quite hard but it is much shorter than the Fastnet Race and there is no Celtic Sea to worry about. The start mirrors the Fastnet but the weather at this time of year will be very different but saying that, the tide areas will be very similar. The crew is mostly friends that have previously sailed on our Volvo 60, all good amateur sailors. As always, the race will be a test of mental as well as physical strength."