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It was all change on Saturday, the second day of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge. The big breeze on the first day had moderated to a light southerly of about ten knots, and Spring sunshine had broken through the clouds.

Off Lee-on-Solent, PRO Stuart Childerley and the RORC team set three short, energy-sapping, windward leeward races for all classes. Race Four, the last race of the day, had the novelty of a downwind start. Hitting the ‘B’ of the bang for race starts and finding clear air were the keys to a good performance. With race legs of about half a mile, it was rush hour on the race course. Boat-on-boat tactics came into play, as did nailing the manoeuvres, especially at mark roundings.

In lighter conditions, the complexity of The Solent’s tides were a big factor. A strong easterly tide was present for the morning, changing on the ebb to a complex tidal stream around midday. By the end of the day’s racing, a strong westerly tide, set tacticians a new set of puzzles.

Congratulations to today’s race winners: Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again, The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier skippered by Henry Foster, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox, Simon Perry’s Cape 31 Jiraffe, Blanshard & Smith’s Ker 36 Skermisher, Lance Adams’ Cape 31 Katabatic, and Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II, skippered by James Gair.

After racing a video debrief was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion. The coaching team presented to a full turn-out of competitors eager to learn. Below are some of the key takeaways. North Sails UK General Manager Ian Walker - Golden Nuggets.

Wind speed transition - When the breeze goes from 6 to10 knots, the crew need to change from weight in board, or to leeward, to getting weight onto the high side. trimmers have to change the shape of the sails in the puffs and lulls.

Avoid the layline - If you take the boat all the way to the layline you can get tacked onto. it is better, in most cases, to tack before the layline, letting other boats go beyond you. You can then double tack and put them in your dirt.

Think about the tide - Today, light airs and big tide changed the laylines. This affected where to start and also the approach to mark roundings.

Positioning on the race track – when it’s light, clear air is really important for speed. There will be a lot of disturbed air in the middle of the course, especially if there are three fleets like today. You have to be bold and choose a side, going up the middle rarely works. Often both sides can pay, but choosing the right side for positive wind shifts and good pressure is the key.

Tacking in light airs – the crew need to think about moving their weight, staying on the old side to induce heel and then moving over together as a unit. This will help the driver as shifting weight together will aid the boat through head to wind, meaning less movement of the rudder.

Trim Set Up – Think about your trim through the tack, easing before the helm goes over just a few inches, will keep the boat speed up through the turn. After the turn, counting the speed build before sheeting on will accelerate the boat after the tack.

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The 2024 RORC Easter Challenge got underway in ‘sporty’ conditions on Good Friday with strong gusty conditions in the Eastern Solent.

The first European fixture of the Royal Ocean Racing Club 2024 programme is billed as a training regatta with Mason King’s coaching team strengthened by support from Ian Walker from North Sails and veteran charter boat skipper Andy Middleton. Rules on outside assistance are relaxed, allowing top coaches to aid competitors in kick starting their season.

Cape 31 Katabatic on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Cape 31 Katabatic on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

PRO Stuart Childerley set one race for the opening day for all classes with a Spring Tide going west for the duration.

Congratulations to today’s race winners in the IRC Classes: Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox, and Simon Perry’s Cape 31 Jiraffe.

Giles 39 Classic Whooper on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Giles 39 Classic Whooper on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Race One was held in brilliant sunshine with a stiff wind from SSW gusting well over 20 knots. A course of six legs from every point of sail, tested boat handling plus the ability to judge lay lines in a building cross-tide. After racing, a video debrief was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion. The coaching team presented to a full turn-out of competitors eager to learn.

“For the majority of the crews racing at the RORC Easter Challenge, this was an opportunity to sail together as a team for the first time since the winter lay-off," commented Mason King. “In 25 knots of wind and at the start of the season, the important areas to focus on are boat handling and that is positively affected by good crew organisation and communication. Teamwork is all important for getting the manoeuvres right but we did see a number of boats spinning out today, especially when gybing.”

North Sails' Ian Walker on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth North Sails' Ian Walker on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Ian Walker, UK General Manager for North Sails was out on the water in a coaching role. Ian is a double Olympic medallist and winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race, but also coached Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton for the Yngling gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.

RORC Easter Challenge Debrief after day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth RORC Easter Challenge Debrief after day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

Ian Walker commented at the debrief. “For teams that are just getting the boats and themselves back on the water, that was a pretty tough day. However, teams that got out there have made progress, not just for this regatta but for the season ahead.”

Just some of Ian’s ‘golden nuggets’ at the video debrief:

“When it’s windy it is hard to accelerate at the start because if you bear away, you haven’t got the righting moment to gain speed, you have to stay high so you don’t fall over. In terms of sail set up, It was gusty and shifty, so a forgiving trim set up is what you want. You need to get rid of the heeling moment with twist in the sail, especially at the top but not the whole sail as you need to be able to point.”

“The wind was shifty today, so you probably don’t want to get too near lay lines upwind, because the chances are that it is not going to stay lifted on one tack or the other all the way to the mark. It is probably better to stay in the middle of the course and play the shifts.”

Ker 36 Skermisher on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth Ker 36 Skermisher on day one of the 2024 RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent Photo: Paul Wyeth 

“Downwind, calling the gusts was very important, and the team needs to react. Just coming down five degrees is a simple solution, but you have to have a crew member calling the gusts and emphasising the big bullets of pressure.”

Racing continues at the RORC Easter Challenge tomorrow, Saturday 30 March.

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In 2024, the International Rating Certificate (IRC) celebrates 40 years of yacht racing around the world.

Back in the early 1980s, most boats were racing under the International Offshore Rule (IOR), but it was starting to be more concentrated on racing boats and leading to extreme type-forming and pinched sterns, causing “too much rock and roll” in the words of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore at the time, the late Robin Aisher. In 1983 he and the Commodore of l’Union National de la Course au Large (UNCL) Jean Louis Fabry, whilst enjoying an evening out in Paris, decided that a rule was needed that would rate any size and shape of boat. Follow-up conversations, usually held at the end of an RORC cross-channel race, and included RORC Racing Manager Alan Green, clinched the deal. A brief summary of the idea was jotted down on the back of an envelope, and the RORC-UNCL joint venture, Channel Handicap System (CHS), was born to allow cruiser/racers to compete with a simple but mathematical rating rule while IOR continued to cater for the top end racing boats.

Cal 40 Huey Too Photo: Arthur DanielCal 40 Huey Too Photo: Arthur Daniel

The first CHS certificates were issued in 1984 and the system evolved into IRC in 1999. It became a World Sailing (ISAF) international recognised rating system in 2003. Over the last 40 years IRC has continued to rate a huge variety of monohulls including IOR, production cruiser/racers, superyachts, sportboats, classics and cutting edge race boats, always with the fundamental policy of protecting the existing fleet. It has been at the forefront of permissive development taking an early stance on rating features such as retractable bowsprits, asymmetric spinnakers, canting keels and water ballast. For decades IRC has been used for the major trophies in world-renowned inshore and offshore events and continues to provide a simple, inexpensive foundation for competitive sailing around the world.

In the early days CHS certificate processing was a laborious process, unlike the user-friendly systems in place today. Two decades of development later it became possible to import application data into the database and certificates were available as PDFs. The current application system was developed by the current Director of Rating, Dr Jason Smithwick, and has allowed improvements such as the certificate boat data page including an image of the boat, and IRC data published online.

Carkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim WrightCarkeek 52 Rán Photo: Tim Wright

The stability and endurance of the IRC rating system and its development owe much to the unparalleled continuity within its team, both past and present. The RORC Rating Office in the UK prides itself on longevity of service and depth of experience, boasting a combined 70 years of service amongst its current four-person technical team, and similar long-term experience is seen across the Channel in France at the Yacht Club de France Centre de Calcul IRC, and on the IRC Technical Committee. The unwavering dedication and collective experience of this international team underscore the resilience and longevity of the IRC rating system, ensuring its continued fairness, relevance and effectiveness in the world of competitive sailing.

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It’s the middle of a foggy night in the North Atlantic. The breeze is fickle and there is nary a star or land sight to guide the yacht. It’s the sort of weather that drives helmspeople insane as they chase the compass this way and that, trying, often in vain, to find some semblance of equilibrium. Unless, of course, the steering is being handled by autopilot.

To date, one of the maxims of fully crewed American offshore racing has been that there must be, at all times, a human hand on the helm. For the Transatlantic Race 2025 this will not be the case as a new amendment to the Notice of Race for the ocean-crossing adventure will allow for autopilots throughout the fleet.

“The Transatlantic Race 2025 is a bucket-list race for many experienced racers and racer-cruisers and this decision targets that second group,” says Dan Litchfield, co-chair for the race. “We are keenly aware of the planning and logistics that go into supporting a crew, and this difficulty scales up with crew size. The main motivation for allowing autopilots is to encourage participation by enabling boats, especially in the racer-cruiser division, to compete safely and effectively with fewer team members.”

The Transatlantic Race 2025 is organized by the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, with support from the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Storm Trysail Club. The race will start from Newport, R.I., on Wednesday, June 18, 2025, and finish off Cowes, England, one to three weeks later. The competitors will cover a distance of approximately 3,000 miles. IRC handicap scoring will determine the winners in each division. The 2025 edition will be the 32nd Transatlantic sailing competition organized by the New York Yacht Club. 

Click here for the current entry list.

Autopilots have been around for centuries, evolving from the simple act of tying off the tiller to the windvane-controlled steering systems pioneered by round-the-world racers in the 1960s to computer-controlled systems that rely on supplied power and are integrated into the design of a yacht’s steering assembly. For foiling ocean racers, which leap across huge swaths of the sea in unthinkably short times, the algorithms powering state-of-the-art autopilots have become more complex and better able to adjust to changing conditions and sea states and rapid changes in boat speed. But the majority of the boats that will take advantage of this amendment will be sailing more traditional ocean racing yachts with autopilots that rely primarily on heading and wind direction inputs to keep the boat on track.

In England and the rest of Europe, the use of autopilots for similar races is more common. The Rolex Middle Sea Race Rolex has allowed them at least since 2018. The Rolex Fastnet Race added the permission for all boats to utilize autopilots to its NOR for the 2023 edition.

Yachts in IRC 3, including (L to R) Carina, Hiro Maru and Kiva cross the starting line for the Transatlantic Race 2019Yachts in IRC 3, including (L to R) Carina, Hiro Maru and Kiva cross the starting line for the Transatlantic Race 2019

"The RORC has found that the introduction of auto pilots has helped boats with less crew to take part in our longer distance races," says Steve Cole, racing manager for the RORC.

The United States has lagged when it comes to this tweak to Rule 52 of the Racing Rules of Sailing. And while that may continue to be the case for many of the races in the United States, a 3,000-mile race that could take some teams as long as three weeks to finish is the best event to test out a change to the paradigm.

Fresh off a victory in The Ocean Race—sailing a foiling IMOCA 60 with a crew of just five—2023 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Charlie Enright knows well the value of autopilots when it comes to reducing the number of crew required to race hard for long stretches of time.

"Allowing autopilots will help increase entries and ensure that boats don't need bigger crews, if that's something they're looking to avoid," says Enright. "Autopilots are commonly used in many types of sailing, racing and cruising, and should not be feared."

The amended NOR for the Transatlantic Race 2025 is online and registration is currently open. An early registration discount is available for all boats that enter by September 1, 2024. Click here for entry information

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PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) owned & skippered by Chris Sheehan has been awarded the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy, presented by former RORC Commodore and Admiral Andrew McIrvine at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada. While 11 boats are still racing, none of the competitors at sea can beat Warrior Won’s corrected time under IRC to win the race overall. Warrior Won completed the race in an elapsed time of 11 Days 5 Hrs 18 Mins and 28 Secs.

Warrior Won has been on a five-year programme of racing, including winning the 2022 RORC Caribbean 600 and competing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Rolex Sydney Hobart and Rolex Fastnet Race. For Warrior Won’s owner Chris Sheehan, winning the RORC Transatlantic Race was the ultimate ambition.

Warrior Won Crew: Christopher Sheehan, Chris Welch, Collin Leon, David Gilmour, Dylan Vogel, Isamu Sakai, Matt Humphries, Richard Clarke, Sam Hallowell, Stu Bannatyne, and Tristan Louwrens.

“We raced more than 4,000 miles to complete this race. I am so thrilled to have raced the Atlantic. It has been a fantastic race in amongst a really great crew. At no point throughout the 12 days was there any tension or problems, and the boat performed phenomenally - just total jubilation!” commented Chris Sheehan. “This race has been on the schedule for five years and my crew asked me what the goal was. Normally I say let’s win our class, but having looked at the given forecast, I was audacious and told them, I want to win overall, and we delivered, which is phenomenal!”

PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) is owned and skippered by Chris Sheehan Photo: Arthur DanielPAC52 Warrior Won (USA) is owned and skippered by Chris Sheehan Photo: Arthur Daniel

Chris Sheehan's PAC52 (USA) Warrior Won arrives victorious in Grenada Photo: Arthur Daniel/RORCChris Sheehan's PAC52 (USA) Warrior Won arrives victorious in Grenada Photo: Arthur Daniel/RORC

Warrior Won Strategist and Watch Captain was Stu Bannatyne, the only sailor to have won four round the world races in a Whitbread Maxi, Volvo 60, Volvo 70 and VO65.

“The biggest strategic decision before the start was whether to go north and take on the low-pressure system, or go south and take on the somewhat weaker tradewinds," commented Bannatyne. "The initial routing for the first three days showed that the northern route could be faster, but it came with problems, including managing the boat in a big sea state and also the potential inaccuracy of the forecast later in the race to get south. Working with our navigator (Matt Humphries) and working with our polars, we concluded it was a touch-and-go decision. We ultimately decided that we could push the boat a lot harder on the southern route. Warrior Won loves to go downwind so we made the call to go south.

Stu Bannatyne - Warrior Won Strategist and Watch Captain Photo: Arthur DanielStu Bannatyne - Warrior Won Strategist and Watch Captain Photo: Arthur Daniel

“Confidence in the routing was improved during the race as the weather grib files downloaded proved to be very accurate. We have done a lot of racing miles with Warrior Won so our polars were spot on. We were confident that we were going to deliver what the routing was predicting on the racecourse. So, then it was balancing risk versus reward, short term versus long term strategy, and going with what we could see relative to the forecast. We were often sailing what I called the edge of the ‘Grand Canyon’; the big area of light winds to the north. It was high risk to go right to the edge, so we stepped a little bit further south and that worked well. Essentially, after that the boat did the work for us with a great team of drivers and trimmers that know the boat very well. These boats are not really designed for comfort, it was hot and wet on deck and below, so we were all pretty drained by the finish," concluded Bannatyne.

Warrior Won Crew: Christopher Sheehan, Christopher Welch, Collin Leon, David Gilmour, Dylan Vogel, Isamu Sakai, Matthew Humphries, Richard Clarke, Sam Hallowell, Stu Bannatyne, Tristan Louwrens Photo: Arthur DanielWarrior Won Crew: Christopher Sheehan, Christopher Welch, Collin Leon, David Gilmour, Dylan Vogel, Isamu Sakai, Matthew Humphries, Richard Clarke, Sam Hallowell, Stu Bannatyne, Tristan Louwrens Photo: Arthur Daniel

Warrior Won Tactician - Richard Clarke Photo: Arthur DanielWarrior Won Tactician - Richard Clarke Photo: Arthur Daniel

Warrior Won Tactician was Richard Clarke who has competed in five Olympic Games for Canada and won the Volvo Ocean Race with Illbruck in 2002.

“As a tactician you are often in a battle with other boats around you, but for a lot of this race we were on our own. So, for me as tactician, it was a more traditional role; taking the information from the navigator and trying to stay two moves in advance of mother nature,” said Clarke. “You think the RORC Transatlantic Race is going to be a downwind tradewinds surf, but this race was much more of a challenge. Just when you thought the unusual conditions were behind you, another challenge would crop up.

“Dividing the race into four quarters. First of all, the downwind section along the African coast, dodging the commercial and fishing traffic, but it was really pleasant racing south. Through the Cape Verde Islands it was really shifty, but we got through a light air ridge. Entering the third part of the race we had good downwind pressure, but along came the sargassum weed everywhere, it was like salad! Then there was the nasty side-swell from the big system up to the north which made driving at night very challenging. The last few hundred miles we had a lot of squalls, up to 30 knots of wind and rain. It was a race that just kept on giving, but what a rewarding race and so great to win!”

PAC52 Warrior Won is the first American boat to win the RORC Transatlantic Race and the second smallest boat to do so. Congratulations to Chris Sheehan and his team on Warrior Won.

Live Results HERE

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The RORC Transatlantic Race entered the eleventh day, with the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) skippered by Chris Sherlock, leading the monohull fleet 200 miles from Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada.

PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) is estimated to be winning overall under IRC, with Leopard second and Richard Fromentin's JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) third. Normal service has resumed for all of the 18 boats still racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race, with solid tradewinds producing double-digit boat speed for the entire fleet.

The race leaders 17 January at 1400 UTC: Monohull Line Honours & IRC SZ - Leopard 3 (MON). IRC Overall & IRC Zero - Warrior Won (USA), IRC One - Cocody (FRA), Class40 Sensation Extreme (FRA), and IRC Two Handed Tigris (GBR).

Multihull
Adrian Keller's Nigel Irens 84 Allegra (SUI) has 550nm miles to go to cross the finish line. While the overall win after MOCRA time correction for Allegra is out of reach, the team can still make the podium if they can make up about 8.5 hours time correction on MOD70 Limosa (FRA).

IRC Overall
Chris Sheehan's PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) has lit the blue touch paper. Warrior Won has found its sweet spot, barrelling downwind in a ball of spray averaging 17 knots of boat speed and surfing up to 25 knots. Warrior Won is 400 miles from Grenada with a healthy overall lead after IRC time correction.

Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Chris Sherlock is revelling in the tradewinds, but in terms of winning overall after IRC time correction, Leopard doesn't have the runway left with 200 miles to go.

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London's Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has big plans to promote youth sailing in 2024.

Over the years, through the generosity of RORC members, the Griffin Fund has assisted in providing race boats and experienced sailors to improve young sailors’ understanding of offshore racing. An exciting evolution has started with quite a bang for 2024.

Nearly three hundred sailors, 18-30 years of age, contacted the RORC with 200 attending a Griffin Zoom Webinar held on January 11th by the Griffin Project Team.

The panellists were Chair Jim Driver, Charles Darbyshire from FourthCape, and RORC Commodore Deb Fish.

The plan going forward is to select 40 young sailors to join one of two 3-day selection weekends in The Solent on the new Sun Fast 30 One Designs. 20 of those sailors will be chosen to form 4 crews that will train and compete as the RORC Griffin Teams of 2024. Each team will race two RORC races, and either the Cowes – St Malo or the Drheam Cup.

Sun Fast 30 One DesignSun Fast 30 One Design

Griffin24 Coach Dee Caffari - Dockside after completing RORC Transatlantic Race as co-Skipper of MOD70 Limosa

“We have had a fantastic response to our webinar and we are receiving applications from sailors from far and wide and not just UK,” commented Griffin Chair Jim Driver. “Having spent years amongst the ‘Oppie fleet’ as a ‘dad’ , I know there is a huge amount of talent that hasn’t yet stepped onto an offshore boat. We’d love to have dinghy and sportsboat sailors apply, and with a strong performance-sailing background you’d have a good chance of being invited to selection.”

The closing date for entries in this stage of Griffin24 Selection is January 31st at midnight.

Coaches supplying their own time free of charge for the training weekends in March are expected to include Shirley Robertson, Dee Caffari, Steve Hayles, Ian Walker and top sailors from North Sails.

Apply to join a Griffin24 Training and Selection Weekend here

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The battle for Multihull Line Honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race is expected to be decided on Saturday, 13th January. MOD70 Argo holds the advantage, but Zoulou is closing in on the race leader.

Ranking 12 January at 1500 UTC: Multihull Line Honours & MOCRA - Argo (USA), Monohull Line Honours & IRC SZ - Leopard 3 (MON). IRC Overall & IRC One – Cocody (FRA), IRC Zero – Warrior Won (USA), Class40 Sensation Extreme (FRA) and IRC Two Handed Tigris (GBR).

Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) leads the race and is 683nm from Port Louis Marina in Grenada. Erik Maris’ MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) is second. Both MOD70s have been recording close to 30 knots of boat speed, making the difference between them paper thin. In the last three speed updates Zoulou has been four knots quicker. Multihull Line Honours are likely to be decided before sunset in Grenada on Saturday, 13th January.

Alexia Barrier’s MOD 70 Limosa – The Famous Project (FRA) is over 500 miles behind the leaders. Both Argo and Zoulou have a fully foiling configuration which is much faster than the original foiling package on Limosa. Adrian Keller’s Nigel Irens 84 Allegra (SUI) is about 2,000 miles from Grenada and has a lot of time to make up for the challenge for the corrected time win in the MOCRA Class.

Leading the Monohulls on the water is the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Chris Sherlock and a favourite for the IMA Transatlantic Trophy. Leopard crossed the 1,000-mile mile geo-fence just after dawn on Day 6. An area of light wind north of Leopard is still affecting her boat speed. Chris Sheehan’s PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) is just 40 miles astern. However, the wind is due to increase for Leopard before Warrior Won, so expect Leopard to stretch that lead in the next 24 hours.

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club, after consulting with various meteorological experts, has amended the course for the 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race. The requirement to leave the Canary Islands to port has been removed. Race Director Steve Cole commented: “Now we are only 48 hrs away from the start of the race, it has become apparent that the established course will send the very diverse fleet into two unusually deep depressions with the possibilities of winds exceeding 40 knots and a potential wave height of eight metres. This decision allows boats to still take that route if they wish but opens an option for boats to head immediately South after the first mark if they choose to do so.”

Lisa McDonald from PredictWind foretells a calm before the storm for the race start at 1200 UTC 07 January: “Looking ahead to Sunday’s sunny start from Lanzarote; most of the models are in agreement that the wind will generally be out of the NNE quadrant and anywhere from 6 - 10 knots in the morning, with acceleration to 12 -14 knots in the afternoon and going into the early evening. There will be a significant wind-shadow effect to the south of the island with very light and variable wind at times.

“The faster boats may be able to get away before the weather GRIBs show that wind will decrease considerably on Monday, and large areas of light and variable winds will start to appear to the west due to the unstable air mass and series of low pressure systems to the north. The fleet can look forward to navigating a large and variable area of light winds going into the start of the week before the next weather front system arrives.”

Crews are making final preparations for the race at Marina Lanzarote Photo: Robert HajdukCrews are making final preparations for the race at Marina Lanzarote Photo: Robert Hajduk

Weather Dock Talk

The Farr 100 canting keel maxi Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Chris Sherlock is the hot favourite for monohull line honours and has the potential to set a new race record for the RORC Transatlantic Race. Leopard 3’s navigator, Will Best commented that sea state for a northerly route will be the deciding factor for Leopard 3’s trajectory across the 3,000 mile course. Predictions of a wave height in excess of 8 metres on the northerly route will massively affect the speed of Leopard 3, but it is not just the wave height, but the wave direction that will decide Leopard’s strategy for the race. The low pressure systems from the north are expected to introduce a cross current that may create a messy sea state for the 2024 race. The Monohull Race Record for the RORC Transatlantic Race is 7 days 22 hrs 01 mins 04 secs, achieved by Comanche in 2022. Mitch Booth was the skipper for the record run and Mitch is part of highly experienced crew on Leopard 3 for the 2024 race.

Farr 100 canting keel Leopard 3 Photo: Kurt ArrigoFarr 100 canting keel Leopard 3 Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Three MOD70s in the race are favourites for Multihull Line Honours. Skipper of MOD70 Limosa (FRA), Alexia Barrier, believes that that the disruption to the tradewinds will increase their chances of success for the race. Limosa is in original MOD70 configuration, but their immediate competition, Jason Carroll’s Argo (USA) and Erik Maris’ Zoulou (FRA) both have lifting foils midships and on their rudders. Argo and Zoulou are potentially much faster reaching in normal tradewinds.

“It's a very complex weather system; we have a lot of things still to be decided,” commented Limosa’s Alexia Barrier. “There will be a lot of transition for us, but as we are not the ‘king of the class’, I think we have more chance to be at the front because there will be many big choices to be made. The northerly route is looking very dangerous for the MOD70s with waves predicted over 8 meters. The three MOD 70 skippers are having a discussion and we hope to have an agreement before the race start, that we will all go south of a GPS waypoint.”

Alexia Barrier, skipper of The Famous Project's MOD70 Limosa Photo: James MitchellAlexia Barrier, skipper of The Famous Project's MOD70 Limosa Photo: James Mitchell

Christopher Sheehan’s PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) has a stellar crew, including Canadian tactician Richard Clarke. Warrior Won must be considered as one of the favourites for the overall win under IRC. However, the complex weather is bound to create a race with numerous strategic conditions.

“The weather is looking brutal; a stormy North Atlantic,” commented Richard Clarke. “The greatest challenge is to keep the foot on the gas in a race of this length; to continue to focus and to battle the elements. Looking at the forecast, it is a massive accomplishment to race across an ocean and the Warrior Won team is prepared to pull it off, that is the number one task.”

Warrior Won tactician Richard Clarke Photo: Robert HajdukWarrior Won tactician Richard Clarke Photo: Robert Hajduk

Hanno Ziehm’s Marten 49 Moana (GER) will be taking part in its debut RORC Transatlantic Race. Hull #3 of the Carbon Nomex design built in New Zealand, Moana will have a German crew skippered by Lorenz Pinck. “We are really focused on preparing Moana in the days before the start, making sure the boat and the crew are ready for the race. We are monitoring weather updates which will be used to decide our route, especially if we will go north or south.” commented Hanno Ziehm. “This will be our first ocean race and after, Moana will race in the Nelson’s Cup Series and the RORC Caribbean 600, but our adventure starts with the RORC Transatlantic Race.”

Hanno Ziehm’s Marten 49 Moana (GER) Photo:  James MitchellHanno Ziehm’s Marten 49 Moana (GER) Photo:  James Mitchell

Gavin Howes’ Sun Fast 3600 Tigris (GBR), racing Two-Handed with Maggie Adamson is exceptionally well-maintained and has successfully finished the last two editions of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Gavin sees the weather forecast as quite challenging, but the doublehanded team are determined to finish the race: “Tigris is the smallest and lowest IRC rated boat in fleet and it's very important that we don't sail too many extra miles seeking different weather scenarios,” commented Gavin Howe. “Obviously the weather is moving all the time and we're reviewing every update. At the moment we're looking at initially a route close to the rhumb line and then managing the low pressure systems as they come through. We don't want to be going upwind in 35 knots, because to succeed in the race we need to cross that finish line. Our route will be a compromise between the fastest theoretical route, while avoiding the worst of the weather. Also with a little bit of personal comfort in mind, as well speed.”

Gavin Howe and Maggie Adamson on Sun Fast 3600 Tigris Photo: Robert HajdukGavin Howe and Maggie Adamson on Sun Fast 3600 Tigris Photo: Robert Hajduk

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Entries are now open for the fifth edition of the Drheam Cup, which will take place from 11-21 July 2024 between Cherbourg-en Cotentin and La Trinité-sur-Mer in north-western France.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, 11 classes — including for the first time the new Sun Fast 30 one design — will take part in the event, the second race in the IRC Two-Handed European Championship, with all results also counting towards the RORC Championship.

In addition, the race will be part of the 2024 European Trophy, along with the Spi Ouest-France, Armen Race and CIC Normandy Channel Race.

Mayor of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, Benoit Arrivé, said he is delighted to welcome the start again in 2024.

“From Cotentin to South Brittany, La Drheam-Cup/Grand Prix de France de Course au Large is one of the most beautiful regattas that you could imagine, between two sea-going regions, two great French marinas: Cherbourg-en Cotentin and La Trinité-sur-Mer.

“One hundred boats were at the start in the last edition in 2022 and we are expecting the same number or more in 2024. The spirit of the event is what best attracts skippers: a race between big names in international sailing and dozens of amateur crews in a festive and popular atmosphere.

“It is of course a great time of gathering on the quayside of a town that will come alive with preparations until the start, between the outer harbour and the coast of La Hague. We all have great memories of the 2022 edition and we are eagerly looking forwards to 2024 and the start of the summer season.”

For more details see the Drheam Cup website HERE.

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Sailability gives access to sailing for people living with disabilities or disadvantages. This Charity also provides kayaking. The aim is to train, educate and encourage more people with disabilities or disadvantages in getting on the water with a qualified dinghy, powerboat and first aid instructors.