The offshore race provided a challenging start to the European season for the RORC Season's Points Championship. A bitter northerly wind, with squalls gusting over 30 knots, produced a challenging race for the impressive fleet of 108–boats. Starting from the Squadron Line, the fleet headed east out of the Solent passing No Man's Land Fort and into the open waters of the English Channel. After passing south of the Nab Channel, the fleet headed east, blast reaching to Owers, followed by an upwind leg to Littlehampton Outfall. Cracking sheets and hoisting downwind sails, the fleet headed south for a 77-mile dead-run across the English Channel. An energy-sapping upwind leg of over 20 miles, from Cussy Buoy to the A5 Buoy, further tested the fleet, before a downwind section to the finish.
Ed Fishwick's maiden offshore race in British FAST40+ Redshift winning the 2019 RORC Cervantes Trophy Race. With a top class crew including Hannah Diamond and Dave Swete from the Volvo Ocean Race, along with Figaro skipper Nick Cherry. Redshift completed the 160nm course in just under 15 hours taking Line Honours and the overall win after IRC time correction. Lars & Birgitta Elfverson's Swedish Ker 40 Keronimo was second overall with Kenny Rumball and Cork Harbour sailor Barry Hurley both onboard. Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden, skippered by Gerd-Jan Poortman, was third.
“It was amazing - an awesome experience!” enthused Redshift's owner Ed Fishwick. “It was very wet, we had to bail out the boat constantly. We started late and sailed on our own down the Solent but we caught the back of the fleet at the Forts. We hoisted a fractional Code Zero, and by the time we got to the Nab, we were in the top three on the water. We already had a reef in the main for the beat up to Littlehampton, then turned downwind for an 85-mile sensational downwind ride across The Channel. We were doing 18-22 knots all the way, a complete blast but we were taking on a lot of water, bailing like mad. We were swapping out trimmers and drivers regularly, and talking through the gybes well in advance. The beat up to A5 was really tough, gusty with a cross-sea, and then up with the A3 to the finish. The crew work was brilliant, especially from the experienced professionals, but also the rest of the crew, who are all amateurs and many of whom are great young talents. The overall strategy was about keeping focused, changing people around before they started getting tired.”
33 teams started the race in IRC Two-Handed, and two thirds of the fleet completed a tough test of shorthanded boat handling and tenacity. Louis-Marie Dussere's French JPK 10.80 Raging-bee² took class line honours in just under 20 hours, and was the winner after IRC time correction. Deb Fish & Will Taylor racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino was second in class, and Julien Lebas' French A31 Gaya was third.
Louis-Marie Dussere, was racing Two-Handed with Eric Leroi, Vice President Yacht Club de Cherbourg.“We are proud to win IRC3 and Two-Handed!” smiled Dussere. “We had a perfect start, reaching down the Solent. After a good Spinnaker choice (A3) at No Man’s Land Fort, we got away from the class. It was lots of fun with big surfs (16kn top speed)! Waves, sun and big wind; just like trade winds single handed in the Transquadra! Upwind from Cussy to A5 was very hard; it was cold and we were tired. A bad spinnaker choice near the end was a problem, in 25 knots we struggled to keep the boat under control.”
In IRC Zero,Van Uden was the class winner, Windward Sailing's British CM60 Venomous, sailed by Derek Saunders was second, and Lance Shepherd's Volvo 70 Telefonica Black third. In IRC One Redshift, and Keronimo took the top two places, Mark Emerson's British A13 Phosphorus II was third.
In IRC Two, Thomas Kneen's British JPK 11.80 took Line Honours for the class, and after time correction won the class, also placing fourth overall. In IRC Three, Raging-bee² was the class winner. Peter Butters' British JPK 10.10 Joy, sailed by Dave Butters, was third.
Noel Racine's JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew made a great start to their defence of their IRC Four win last year, taking Class Line Honours and the win on IRC corrected time. Emmanuel Pinteaux's JPK 10.10 Giola was second and Chris Choules Sigma 38 With Alacrity completed the podium, after winning a great duel with Harry Heijst's S&S 41 Winsome. With Alacrity was third by less than six minutes after nearly 23 hours of racing.
In the Multihull Class, two teams racing 30-something footers completed a tough challenge. Joel Malardel's French Normanni 34 Tancrède took Line Honours and the win after time correction. 2018 Multihull champion, Ross Hobson's Seacart 30 Buzz, was second.
RORC Transatlantic and RORC Caribbean 600 Champion, Catherine Pourre's Eärendil, was the winner in the Class40 Division, beating Christophe Coatnoan's Partouche.
“The direct route to Le Havre would have been a fast one-sided reach across the Channel, the course provided was much tougher,” commented RORC Deputy Racing Manager, Tim Thubron on duty in Le Havre. “As a Rolex Fastnet Race qualifier, the RORC had an opportunity to give the fleet a test of their skill and equipment in a challenging scenario. Many thanks to the warm welcome and first class assistance from the Société des Regates du Havre, especially President Hélène Taconet and Commission Voile Christophe Lachèvre. Well done to all of the class winners in the race, a special mention to the young team racing Scaramouche, owned by the Greig City Academy which had crew as young as 13 on board, and finished the race sixth.”
The fourth race of the 2019 RORC Season's Points Championship is the Myth of Malham Race, starting from the RYS Line on Saturday 25 May (0800 BST). The 256nm course mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, as far as the Eddystone Lighthouse, followed by a return leg to a Solent finish. A substantial international fleet is expected.