#rorc – Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix has won the prestigious British IRC Championship title on the Solent this afternoon. Despitere being one of the smallest boats in Class one the Munster crew continued their impressive display, winning the first two races of the day to secure the IRC One title, and third place in the last race of the regatta was just enough to secure the overall win. Antix was crowned RORC IRC National Champion to the delight of the Irish crew.
It's an important result scored at an important time only weeks ahead of the Commodore's Cup where O'Leay will captain a three boat Irish team against some stiff international competition. Tonight, O'Leary's result was being toasted at his Royal Cork Yacht Club but the international result was also saluted in Dublin where the Irish IRC and ICRA championships were concluding at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.
The most sensational finish in the 13-year history of the RORC IRC National Championship played out in the central Solent this afternoon. In the tightly packed combat zone, the prize of overall national champion was decided in the ninth and final race of the series. Three yachts swapped the overall lead during the last three races. Keeping in clear air and playing the shifts were the big factors towards a top performance but maintaining concentration, in an adrenalin packed final day, was just all important.
"Antix has been coming here for years, we have won class here before but this is the first time we have won the event overall - it is just tremendous," smiled Anthony O'Leary. "Dave Lenz did a phenomenal job on tactics and the rest of the crew have been together for many years and that understanding kept our manoeuvres clean. The combination of smart strategy and good boat handling was the key. As one of the smallest boats in our class, we knew that we would be dictated to at the starts, and on several occasions, we did have to tack away for clear air. However, our heads never went down, and many-a-time we were in good shape by the top mark. This is a confidence boost for the Commodores' Cup but our feet will be firmly on the ground and we will continue to prepare for next month's big event."
Cork's Antix in the lead on the Solent this aftenoon. Photo: Paul Wyeth
Mike Bartholomew's South African GP42, Tokoloshe II, was second in class and Marc Glimcher's American Ker 40, Catapult, finished the regatta in style winning the last race to place third.
Going into the last race, Jim Macgregor's British Elan 410, Premier Flair, needed to win to secure the overall IRC National title by just half a point. However, the team from Poole YC could only manage fourth. Premier Flair was class champion and second overall, winning the Jackdaw Trophy.
IRC Two produced a highly competitive fleet with seven yachts all scoring podium finishes and virtually every race was decided by seconds, so close in fact that Premier Flair and Adam Gosling's Corby 36, Yes!, scored a dead heat for Race 7. Kevin Miller's Scottish First 40, Zephyr, held on to second place for IRC Two. Yes! damaged their backstay in Race 8, ending any remote chance of a class win, but first in the last race of the regatta secured Yes! third in class.
"To be honest, if Yes! had not had their problems, we would have been beaten," admitted Jim. "The competition in our class this year was as good as I can remember and we are delighted to be taking the Jackdaw Trophy back to Poole YC. We had no idea we were in the running for the overall win, that comes as a bit of a shock for a Corinthian team. We were just taking it one race at a time, and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them."
David Franks' British JPK 10.10, Strait Dealer, won all three races today to secure the class. Scoring six bullets during the regatta, Strait Dealer was an outstanding performer. However, the smaller class size put the team from Cowes out of the running for the overall win. Last year's IRC Three champion, James Chalmers' British J/35, Bengal Magic, was second and Willem Schopman's Dutch Bashford Howison 36, Intention, was third.
"This is our second class win at the championship but every year it gets harder and harder," commented David. "The RORC have put on another excellent event, especially in difficult conditions, and that should not be underestimated. Each day was very different and all of the Solent came into play, at one stage or another, which kept us all thinking, as well as the race officer."
Peter Morton's Half Tonner, Swuzzlebubble, was the winner of the class but struggled today in the fresher breeze. Giovanni Belgrano's Whooper won the first race of the day and secured second overall. Sadly, Ian Southworth's Hamble based Quarter Tonner, Whiskers, was unable to race after yesterday's rig damage, but after being awarded redress, ended the regatta third in class. Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp, won Race 8 and last year's class winner, Nick and Adam's J/97, Indulgence, finished the regatta on a high, winning the last race.
"This is the first big regatta for the boat since it was re-launched and we have learnt a lot about how to sail her," commented Peter Morton, skipper of Swuzzlebubble. "We were joined this weekend by Tom Schnackenberg, who has won the America's Cup three times and knows a hell of a lot about these boats. I bought Swuzzlebubble for one euro, I have spent a lot of money on her, but about only half the cost of some of the boats racing this weekend. She definitely goes well in the light but against the displacement boats, we suffered in more breeze."
Racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club continues with the Morgan Cup Race on Friday 27th June, followed by the Round Ireland Race, Saturday 28th June.
Click HERE for full provisional results for the RORC IRC National Championship.