With a near perfect scoreline, Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 classic yacht Whooper was crowned 2017 champion at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC Nationals. Today, two windward-leeward races were held on the Solent in similar brisk southwesterlies to the first two days. This year's event may not have been an 'all-round test' weather-wise, but has been extremely challenging in terms of preparation and boat handling.
During the event Whooper, a classic Laurent Giles sloop that was previously IRC National Champion in 2004, scored six bullets, a fourth and a discardable DNF in the final race.
Whooper is no rating demon. She is optimised with modern sails and Belgrano has an experienced crew who do 60-70 races/year.
Elsewhere, the racing was extremely close. In the FAST 40+, Johnny Vincent's Pace fended off charges from Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film to win by a slender two points. Today Pace scored a 1-3 to Girls on Film's 2-1.
IRC One concluded with a dog fight for the lead between the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa and Ker 40 Keronimo. The larger boat held a two point lead going into the final race in which they suffered a major blow, being over the start line early.
Finally they managed to shake Keronimo off and were able to get up to speed until they had to make a last minute change to their lighter spinnaker, despite the wind building to above 20 knots. "We were praying that it would hold to the finish," recalled Hardy. Ultimately finishing fourth to Keronimo's second left them tied on points, claiming IRC One on countback.
In IRC Two there was a leader change with Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, leader all weekend, finally trounced by Adam Gosling's JPK 1080+ Yes! who came very close to successfully defending their IRC Nationals title.
As to relinquishing the IRC National title to Whooper, Gosling said: "Giovanni sails really well. He's campaigned Whooper for a long time. It is nice to see an old boat win."
Results are here