#rorc – Over 50 yachts from Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Holland – but not Ireland – will contest the 180 mile race from Harwich, UK to Scheveningen, Holland. The North Sea Race is the fourth race of the RORC Season's Points Championship and has a weighted points score of 1.2 towards the series points tally.
The hot favourite for Line Honours will be the Dutch Volvo Ocean 65, Team Brunel. Skippered by Bouwe Bekking, this will be the first occasion that one of the new one-design racing yachts has raced with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Three other Volvo Ocean 65 are already confirmed for the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race this August.
"Racing is always better than training." commented Bouwe Bekking. "There is always that little bit of extra adrenalin flowing through the crew, that little bit of edge that will keep the momentum going, racing is a really good way to prepare for a big event. We have now announced the whole team bar one extra person and the on board reporter, so for the North Sea Race, the big part of the team will be together for the first time and we will continue our build up for the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in October."
Dutch Volvo 60 Pleomax makes its RORC racing debut for 2014, once again led by North Sea Race veteran, Harm Prims. Pleomax won IRC Zero in last year's North Sea Race to kick start a season, in which the Dutch team also won IRC Zero for the RORC Season's Points Championship.
In IRC One, a close battle is expected between four highly regarded yachts that have competed in the race before. Austrian ILC40, Visione, skippered by Nikolaus Knoflacher, is the scratch boat and will need to put some distance on Leon Westhoeve's BH41, Soulmate, which was a class winner last year. Two J/133s make up the class with British skipper, Angus Bates in charge of Assarain IV and Dutch skipper, Bart Desaunois, racing Batfish Two Handed.
Fresh from their win in last weekend's Myth of Malham Race. Vincent Willemart and Eric Campenhout's Belgian MC34, Azawakh will be racing in IRC Two. Azawakh will be ranked as one of the favourites for this race.
12 yachts will be racing in the Two Handed Class that are all based in Holland, including several that raced in the short handed discipline last year; Astrid De Vin's Il Corvo, Chris Schram's So What and Harry Rek's Harpoen.
Ian Ivermee's Sigma 33, Woozle Hunter will be racing in Class IRC Four and is one of the smallest yachts in the race. "I have done the race several times before but this will be the first time in my own boat." commented Ian, who is a member of the Marconi Sailing Club. "This is the first season with the boat and I have been putting the crew together, which includes my wife and a paramedic. I doubt that we will be able to keep up with Brunel but we might try to get on her quarter wave and hitch a ride! However in all seriousness, if it is a light airs race, we could do quite well after time correction, who knows?"
The start of the race will test the navigational skills of all of the yachts, with eight or more buoys to round off the coast of Harwich, before leaving the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm to Port and heading out into the open ocean to Smith's Knoll Buoy, where the fleet will head east to the finish, outside Scheveningen.