The Royal Ocean Racing Club is expecting in excess of 100 entries for Race the Wight, scheduled to start on Saturday 1st August. All entry fees will be donated to the NHS Trust and the Scaramouche Sailing Trust. Race the Wight will be the first of a four-race RORC mini-series during August and September.
“As a charity, we rely on donations and grants. Every pound we receive goes towards getting more students from different backgrounds sailing,” commented Jon Holt, Scaramouche Sailing Trust. “Our next big goal is to be on the start line of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021. We are grateful for the ongoing support from RORC and proud to be named as one of the charities for the race.” The Greig City Academy will have upwards of a dozen students on different boats for the race.
IRC Classes for the 50nm race around the Isle of Wight are still to be confirmed. However, early entries indicate a fleet full of champions with any number of potential victors.
RORC Vice Commodore James Neville racing his HH42 Ino XXX and Ian Atkins’ Melges IC37 Icy are favourites for monohull line honours. The overall winner of the Race the Wight will be decided by time correction using the IRC Rating System. In big upwind conditions Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56 Noonmark IV, skippered by Mike Gilburt, will be a force to be reckoned with. Given the crew limitations and favoured wind conditions, Greg Leonard‘s Class40 Kite (Prev. Maxime Sorel’s V and B, winner 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race) should blast round the island.
“We are looking forward to it,” commented James Neville. “It’s been completely frustrating to have missed racing. We have been modifying the boat over the winter and part of this race will be to test and learn what can be done. The race will give us the experience to move on to the next steps in terms of how we can race the boat given the current restrictions. We have had one training session and it is certainly all on when we gybe. However personally, I wouldn’t go out if we were unable to use spinnakers because it is important to get the boat lit up. We will be racing with six and be taking all the necessary precautions.”
“I am beyond excited!” Exclaimed Ian Atkins. “The challenge now is whittling a crew of nine down to six, but we will probably rotate the crew during the mini-series. Everybody on board is very capable, so they should all get a chance to race during the series. You need all nine crew in a blow on a short windward leeward race, but round the Wight is perfect to stretch our legs without too many corners to negotiate.”
18 J/Boats have already entered the race, Tom Hayhoe and Natalie Jobling will be racing J/105 Mostly Harmless Two-Handed and both work for the NHS Trust. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood won last year’s RORC Channel Race and will be competing with a crew of five.
“With water ballast and a sail configuration designed for short-handed sailing, we are actually sailing with our optimum crew, even with the restrictions,” commented Michael O’Donnell. “The race around the Isle of Wight, starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron, is possibly the most iconic in the world - we just can’t wait to get out there.”
"The permitted crew can be up to a maximum of 6 people from any household or two-thirds of a boat’s IRC crew number whichever is the least"
Eight examples of Beneteau’s Sun Fast yachts have entered including the overall winner of the 2019 RORC Season’s Points Championship, Trevor Middleton’s Black Sheep and last year’s season runner up Bellino, raced two-handed by Rob Craigie and Deb Fish. Two Sun Fast 3300 will be racing, Peter Bacon’s Sea Bear and Jim Driver’s Chilli Pepper.
Five JPKs have already entered, including Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada, overall winner of the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race. Jangada will be facing new teams in similar designs. Peter Butters JPK 10.10 Joy, and JPK 11.80s; Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader and Astrid de Vin’s Il Corvo.
Vintage yachts abound through the fleet including some of the smallest entries, 2019 Quarter Ton Cup Champion Protis, with Ian Southworth on the tiler, will be able to gauge their performance against Tony Hayward’s Blackfun. Past RORC Commodore Peter Rutter will be racing his restored Half Tonner Quokka 9. Giovanni Belgrano is part of the structural design team for INEOS Team UK for the America’s Cup and his 1939 Giles one-off design Whooper has solid form for the race. Whooper is a past winner of the Gold Roman Bowl in the ISC Round the Island Race, beating over a thousand competitors. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster will also be in action and was in fine form recently winning class once again in the RORC Caribbean 600 and overall winner of 2019 RORC Cowes St Malo.
In the MOCRA Class, last year’s ISC race winner will also be competing, Simon Baker’s Dazcat 1495 Hissy Fit. Strong challengers in the multihull class include 2019 RORC Season winner, Ross Hobson’s Sea Cart 30 Buzz, and third in the 2019 RORC Season’s Points Championship, James Holder’s Dazcat 1295 Slinky Malinki.
Full details in the Notice of Race can be found in the Notice of Race but in summary: permitted crew can be up to a maximum of 6 people from any household or two-thirds of a boat’s IRC crew number whichever is the least.
Competitors are also reminded of the government guidance on social distancing and other Covid19 measures.