Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club is in the midst of a long, interesting and successful sailing career in which he first came to international prominence with the overall win in the 1996 Round Ireland Race on the J/35 Big Ears writes W M Nixon.
With the energy of ten men and widespread international business interests, he was the ideal and popular choice when he became Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London on December 4th 2014, and the two years since have been outstanding for the club, with the Commodore setting a prodigious pace both afloat and ashore.
This has been supported by having the hugely-experienced sailor and administrator Eddie Warden-Owen as the RORC’s Chief Executive Officer. The irony of it is that while Michael Boyd cut his sailing teeth in Dun Laoghaire where his father was a noted owner-skipper in the Dublin Bay 21 class, Warden-Owen learned his skills across channel just 54 miles away in Holyhead racing GP14s to international level, and at nearby Trearddur Bay sailing the local Seabird Half Raters.
Thus it’s a direct Irish Sea cross-channel linkup which is giving the RORC its current buzz, and the synergy and shared enthusiasm between these two dynamic people has seen the RORC moving on to greater achievement during the past two years, with the publication yesterday evening of the season’s overall Points Championship reinforcing the image of an international organization on top of its game.
The RORC Season's Points Championship 2016 is the largest and arguably most competitive offshore yacht series in the world. Starting almost a year ago with the RORC Transatlantic Race, it consisted of 14 races where over 300 yachts from 15 different nations raced over 6,500 miles. The modern version of the championship is far from domestic as it includes the RORC Transatlantic Race, RORC Caribbean 600, Volvo Round Ireland Race, the brand new Ile d'Ouessant Race, and Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Irish interest naturally focused most directly on the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June, but we also had close links to the RORC Caribbbean 600 in February and the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October, with Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth winning Class 3 in the Caribbean (which has since helped her to place third overall in class in the points championship) while the Middle Sea race saw Carrickfergus’s Ian Moore navigate the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino to a very clearcut overall win.
But with the Volvo Round Ireland in June, it was the RORC Commodore himself who set the Irish pace, as he campaigned the first two-thirds of the season in partnership with Nick & Suzi Jones on the First 44.7 Suzi while he awaited delivery of his JPK 10.80 Audrey (named after his late mother). Racing Lisa in the Round Ireland, Michael Boyd gave a master-class in showing how to get the best out of a standard production boat when set up against some very special machines, and his third overall not only made him top Irish boat overall, but also contributed a mighty heap of points to help Lisa become the RORC IRC Overall Champion 2016. This is a prodigious achievement, as the other points were accumulated in steady, frequent and successful participation in the RORC’s regular programme of shorter events manageable within a long weekend.
This overall win and the IRC I win means that the Lisa team will, be leaving the awards ceremony in London on Saturday November 19th with a mountain of silverware, while another boat prominent in the prize stakes will be the IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing, overall points winner of IRC Canting Keel, which has been skippered through 2016 by Mikey Ferguson, who originally hails from Bangor in County Down, and has risen steadily through the ranks in the Artemis Academy.
And while we’re on the more extreme machines, another special award on Saturday November 19th will go to Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo 3 from America, overall winner of the Multi-hull Class and also winner of the Beken Trophy for Concours d’Elegance. We got to know Phaedo 3 very well in Ireland, as she took second in the MOD 70s in the Volvo Round Ireland, and found the Irish course such an attractive challenge that she was back in July to have another go at the new record which had been set by Oman Sailing in the Volvo Round Ireland race, and succeeded in shaving it by upwards of an hour or so.
However, with all fairness to the many star boats in the RORC season which graced our waters at some time or another, there’s no doubting that the people’s choice was Eric de Turckheim’s unusual-looking but extraordinarily attractive A13 Teasing Machine from France, which spent quite a while here as she did the Volvo Round Ireland and then went down to Crosshaven for Volvo Cork Week, through which she cut a mighty swathe.
For those of us who found teasing Machine irresistible, the great news is that she has been declared RORC Yacht of the Year for 2016. The citation says it all:
RORC Yacht of the Year: Teasing Machine, A13, Eric de Turckheim (FRA)
Somerset Memorial Trophy: Awarded for outstanding racing achievement by a yacht owned or sailed by a RORC member as voted for by the RORC Committee.
It's been an incredible year in distance travelled and success for Eric de Turckheim's French A13, Teasing Machine. After crossing the line in 11th place and a class win at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the boat was shipped to Panama before being sailed 1,200 miles upwind to Antigua to be on the startline for the RORC Caribbean 600 in February. Another great achievement as the team clinched a class win in IRC One and finished third overall, only being beaten by two Maxi 72s. Teasing Machine was then shipped back across the Atlantic to compete in the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race for yet another class win and finishing second overall to an unbeatable Rambler 88. Following the IRC Europeans at Cork Week, it was on to Cowes to help secure a French victory in the biennial Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July, before an overall win in the inaugural Ile de Ouessant Race. This incredible season finished with another class win in the Rolex Middle Sea Race last month.
Class winners for the 2016 RORC Season's Points Championship
IRC Canting Keel: IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing, Mikey Ferguson
IRZ Zero: Ker 46 Shakti, co-skippered by Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen
IRC One: First 44.7 Lisa, Nick & Suzi Jones
IRC Two: J/133 Pintia, Gilles Fournier
IRC Three: JPK 10.10 Raging Bee, Louis-Marie Dussere
IRC Four: JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew, Noel Racine
IRC Two Handed: JPK 10.10 Raging Bee, Louis-Marie Dussere
Multihull Class: MOD70 Phaedo³, Lloyd Thornburg
Class40: Concise 2, owned by Tony Lawson