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RORC Morgan Cup Race Victory for Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek CF 520 Rán

18th June 2023
Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek CF 520 Rán was the Morgan Cup Race winner from Cowes to Dartmouth
Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek CF 520 Rán was the Morgan Cup Race winner from Cowes to Dartmouth Credit: Rick Tomlinson

91 boats crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron Line for the RORC Morgan Cup Race from Cowes to Dartmouth. A weak sea breeze and a favourable tide got the fleet away to a smooth start to the east, but as the front runners reached No Man’s Land Fort the wind shut down, causing the first, and by no means the last, park up of the race. Windless holes were a feature right through the 112nm race to Dartmouth. The keys to top performance were avoiding the lulls and making the most of the puffs. In the 91-boat fleet, after IRC time correction, the top ten came from all seven IRC Classes. 

Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek CF 520 Rán was the overall winner under IRC, RORC Commodore James Neville, racing Carkeek 45 Ino Noir was second and Noel Racine’s JPK 1030 Foggy Dew was third. Congratulations to all of the IRC Class winners, including Chris Choules & Nancy Gould, racing Sigma 38 With Alacrity, Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise III, and Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews, racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora. Peter Morton’s Maxi 72 Notorious took Line Honours for the third race in a row.

Peter Morton’s Maxi 72 Notorious took Line Honours in the The Morgan Cup Race for the third RORC race in a rowPeter Morton’s Maxi 72 Notorious took Line Honours in the The Morgan Cup Race for the third RORC race in a row

Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 CoraTim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora

Rán navigator Steve Hayles gave an insight into their overall win in The Morgan Cup Race; this was the first RORC race for Rán since the RORC Caribbean 600.

“It was a complicated race with a lot going on for different boats and different times. Sometimes you can go out racing with a really solid plan, but for this one, you had to have a bit of an idea and be very reactive to what was happening around you,” commented Steve Hayles. “People might say that this was a big boat race, but well done to Sigma 38 With Alacrity; fourth overall is a great result for them. You look through all of the fleet, and the level is really high, and it’s great to be back racing in the English Channel.”

A weak sea breeze and a favourable tide got the RORC Morgan Cup Race fleet away to a smooth start to the eastA weak sea breeze and a favourable tide got the RORC Morgan Cup Race fleet away to a smooth start to the east

“Christian Dumard’s weather briefing (freely available to all competitors) got everybody clued up. As he predicted, a high pressure ridge followed by a low pressure trough. Strategically both of those are tricky, so I don’t think anybody would have sailed a perfect race. There were a few thunderstorms around that were not particularly violent but they had a big effect because the gradient breeze was so light. At one point we were looking on for a Line Honours win, but it flipped the other way and Notorious got away. It was good to get back into racing, and we had one eye on the Fastnet. This has been a really good use of the weekend, it’s great to be back RORC racing.”

Chris Choules & Nancy Gould, racing Sigma 38 With AlacrityChris Choules & Nancy Gould, racing Sigma 38 With Alacrity Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Chris Choules & Nancy Gould racing the 35-year-old Sigma 38 With Alacrity, had an outstanding race: Fourth overall, winner of IRC Two-Handed and IRC Four.

“A Sigma 38 is not renowned as a light wind weapon, but we were determined to get to the finish and the result was lovely as well,” commented Chris Choules. “It was quite a strategic race, especially by looking at the boats around you, mapping out the big holes ahead, and then sailing around them. From that point of view it was a very intense race. You also need luck and near the end, we headed for the shore looking for thermal wind, and found ten knots, giving us seven knots of boat speed towards Dartmouth. I think we did about 30 sail changes, so we worked our cotton socks off, every quarter of a mile mattered, but With Alacrity is definitely a cruising boat, we did have a few ice-creams on the way round!”

Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise IIITom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise III Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise III was the winner of IRC One. This was Sunrise’s first race since returning from Australia, having won their class in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

“This was the first time I had raced the boat this year, so I was really worried that we would not be up to speed racing in such a competitive fleet. So to get such a great result is really positive,” explained Sunrise’s Tom Kneen. “In many ways, with a light race, you have to work much harder. Before the race, we knew what we were in for, but mentally, this was a real challenge. Especially as we sailed into a wind hole early on and spent the next 30 hours trying to catch up. For years, I have thought that light wind racing is a lottery but the same people seem to win them every time! You just have to keep working really hard, so much of it is actually brain-power and seeing it through. I am relieved that the boat is still fast, but let’s hope we have a windy Fastnet; I wouldn’t like to sail in that mode for 700 miles!”

The vast majority of the 500 plus sailors competing in The Morgan Cup are amateurs, and due to time constraints, including work on Monday morning, many boats retired from the race. However, well done to those who showed the tenacity to finish. None more so than Olly Bewes & George Beevor’s Sagitta 35 Ugly Duckling, which was racing with Tom Chicken, Lisa McCrindle, Matt Thornton, and Daryl Reis-Day. Ugly Duckling was the last boat to finish The Morgan Cup Race in an elapsed time of 1 day 21 hrs 05 mins 54 secs. After IRC time correction, Ugly Duckling made the podium in IRC Four.

The Morgan Cup Race is part of the 2023 RORC Season's Points Championship, the world's largest offshore racing series. Racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club switches to inshore mode next weekend with the IRC National Championship held from Friday, 23 - Sunday, 25 June in The Solent.

The RORC Season’s Points Championship continues on Sunday, 02 July, with the 350nm La Trinité-Cowes Race, which will also feature the first race of the inaugural IRC Double-Handed European Championship.

Morgan Cup Full Results here

Published in RORC
Louay Habib

About The Author

Louay Habib

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Louay Habib is a Maritime Journalist & Broadcaster based in Hamble, United Kingdom

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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