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Gear Failure & Retiral Makes Challenging Start for O'Leary's Antix at British IRC Nationals

18th July 2015
Gear Failure & Retiral Makes Challenging Start for O'Leary's Antix at British IRC Nationals

#britIRC – Anthony O'Leary's defence of his British IRC title has got off to a difficult start in Cowes. After three races sailed the Royal Cork and Baltimore crew on the Ker 40 Antix lie tenth in IRC One from 15. After a solid start and a fourth in the first race, gear failure in the second meant they could not complete the course. The Irish crew were back in action for a  breezy third race on the Solent but unfortunately had to retire having left a mark on the wrong side approaching the finish. It's a 'disappointing' first day outcome O'Leary told, especially as Antix scored second in a high–octane race three. O'Leary will be looking for a better performance today to have any chance of keep his UK title defence alive.

With the southwesterly wind gusting over 25 knots, the 12th edition of the RORC IRC National Championship kicked off with three lively races in the Western Solent. There was little in the way of commercial shipping and pleasure craft, as the 45-strong fleet revelled in the huge expanse of open race track. Principal Race Officer, Stuart Childerley selected a mixture of tight round the cans racing and technical windward leeward courses, testing the mettle of the international fleet.


Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 leads the class scoring two bullets and a third. Michael Bartholomew's GP42, Tokoloshe II was in the hunt, equalling Tonnerre's score going into the last race. However, Tokoloshe II was too eager to start Race 3 and had to go back to start correctly. Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus, taking part in their first inshore regatta, is in third position.

Multiple world champion Jeremy Robinson, Tactician on Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 commented: "That was brilliant racing for us today. The tough conditions suit the way Tonnerre is set up. She is an offshore boat and sails well in 20 knots; full-on downwind. On top of that, the manoeuvres on board were good all day. Race two was our worst result but that was because we got a layline wrong. In this fleet, I would have taken a 1-3-1 this morning for sure. The RORC Race Team did a good job today, initially when they told us we were going to the Western Solent, I was not too happy. I thought it would be a very one-sided course, but the racing today was superb - we were wrong and they were right."

Steve Cowie's all-Scottish team racing First 40, Zephyr won two of today's races to top the class of a highly competitive fleet. A great start in the first race was rewarded by a win for Zephyr and that was followed up by a second victory by just four seconds on corrected time ahead of Alice. Simon Henning's Mumm 36, Alice won the last race of the day to trail Zephyr by a single point after three races. Jim Macgregor's Premier Flair IV is third, just a point and a half ahead of RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd & Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8."

Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Ian Budgen, tactician on First 40 Zephyr said: "It was an eventful day, especially when the tide turned and the waves got bigger. This coupled with some strong gusts coming through caused a lot of boats to Chinese gybe. We saw 28 knots and steep Solent chop and the combination made for very difficult conditions. Having said all that, it was a really good day for us. We got good starts and got around cleanly. The strong wind suits the boat and we kept things together, although we came close to spinning out a few times! Like me, the whole team comes from the West Coast of Scotland and we have known each other for a very long time, which makes it a lot of fun."

IRC Three

It is perhaps a disappointing outcome for RORC that there is not one J109, Archambault 35, JPK 10.10, JPK 10.90 or Corby 33 racing, which are some of the most competitive boats on IRC of this size. It seems like only larger boats are interested in the UK IRC nationals event.
The best set of scores for the day belonged to Peter Morton's JND 35, Salvo, the scoreboard reads three straight bullets in IRC 3 but two of the races were won by less than a minute after time correction and another race was saved by accepting a penalty from a near rival, Hot Cookie. Neal Martin's Sunfast 3600, Hot Cookie is in second place, just a point ahead of J/35 Bengal Magic, sailed by James Chalmers.

"Room for improvement" suggested a reserved Peter Morton, owner of JND 35 Salvo, having won all three races: "We infringed on another boat in the second race and we did our turns, so we had to come back from that. We have got to do it all again tomorrow, but I can't ever remember scoring three IRC bullets in a day in all the boats I have had over the years. I love it up in the Western Solent; it is more fun and there is more room and scope for setting different courses, especially with the wind angle we had today."

Three more races are scheduled for Saturday 18th July. Lighter winds from the southeastern quadrant are forecast with significant tide, which should make for a tactically challenging second day on the water. Provisional results from Day One of the RORC IRC National Championship can be found on the RORC web site here

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  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000