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For three days over the bank holiday weekend, the yachting world's eyes will be glued to the Solent as the Fast 40+ class makes its debut en masse at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener, the RORC Easter Challenge.

Between eight and 10 Fast 40+s will be competing and with the fleet expected to grow to 14 this summer, pundits are observing that this class represents the most competitive homegrown handicap inshore keelboat racing the UK has seen since the heyday of the Admiral's Cup.

To those unfamiliar with the Fast 40+, effectively it does what it says on the tin: Boats have an IRC TCC of 1.210-1.270 (although a lower limit of 1.191 is permitted for 2016). To put this into context, original Ker 40s such as Hooligan and Baraka GP represent the slowest, while Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, is at the upper limit, along with American Bill Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez, and Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus.

Otherwise Fast40+s must have:

- Hull length (LH) of 12.00-12.60m LOA (*<13.3m)
- Maximum draft of 3m (*3.15m)
- Displacement:length ratio of <90 (*<110 and <124 for 2016 season)
- Speed ratio of TCC²/LH =0.125< (*0.120< and 0.117< for 2016)
- Owner-driver
- 11 crew with a maximum weight of 950kg
- Up to five ISAF Cat 3 'pros' on board

*if launched before 1st September 2015.

Class rules have been broadened for this season to allow more boats in.

"I think it is a natural fit - we aren't trying to force anything, it has just evolved," explains Robert Greenhalgh, who is Fast40+ Class President. "It has taken a couple of years, but to get - all being well - 10 boats at the Easter Challenge, plus some new ones rolling in this season, is fantastic. All the owners have remained positive and are keen for it."

And the boats are fast. Greenhalgh, a former 18ft skiff and International 14 World Champion, and a Volvo Ocean Race winner, competes on Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. "The boat regularly hits 20 knots. We saw 23 last year when it was windy."

The largest contingent of Fast 40+s are former GP42s. At present three are entered in the Easter Challenge - South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II, Mark Rijkse's 42° South and Tony Dickin's Jubilee. The GP42 was originally the smaller, no less high tech brother of the TP52 and competed on the Audi MedCup briefly over 2009-2010.

On the secondhand market you get a lot of bang for your buck with a GP42, as South African Mike Bartholomew found when, just over two years ago, he acquired Tokoloshe II. This Botin & Carkeek design, as Madrid, won the final GP42 MedCup season.

"I think it is great for the development of the sport generally, because it has created a lot of enthusiasm," says Bartholomew of the Fast40+. "And this enthusiasm hopefully will be carried on to other classes as well. Last year there were three or four boats, but this year there is going to be at least 12, so it should be great fun."

Bartholomew adds that he enjoys the speed of his boat, but the racing is also ultra-competitive. "That was illustrated at Cowes Week last year, racing against Invictus and Rebellion. In one race, after four hours, we crossed the line within seconds of each other, having sailed the whole race changing lead and being in very close contract - it's like dinghy racing."
Tokoloshe Easter 2015 PW
South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II - © RORC/Paul Wyeth - pwpictures.com

Having successfully campaigned his Corby 36, James Neville has graduated up to the Fast40+ acquiring Richard Matthews' Oystercatcher XXX, a Judel-Vrolijk designed HH42. With a TCC of 1.228, INO XXX has the lowest rating of the Fast40+s competing at the RORC Easter Challenge.

"We are really looking forward it - to have 10 similar boats out, all taking it pretty seriously it really exciting," says Neville. "The HH42 is a little bit heavier and rates a bit better and should perform in the higher ranges."

In swapping boats, Neville has also had to increase the size of his crew from eight to 11, but enjoys the HH42's speed, having already touched 24 knots.

While boat contact with team RIBs is normally prohibited in the Fast40+, this rule has been eased for the RORC Easter Challenge as the class enters into the spirit of the event being the RORC's season shake-down, training regatta.

With Easter falling very early this year, so far there has been little opportunity for training, so teams are welcoming this event too. Neville is a Easter Challenge regular and acknowledges the worth of the free world class coaching it offers from legends such as Jim Saltonstall to America's Cup veterans such as RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and Andreas Josenhans of North U. Regatta Services. "We could be a bit rusty, but the coaches do a good job."

Racing at the RORC Easter Challenges takes place over 25-27th March with must-attend post-race debriefs occurring daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse, chocolate egg prizes on offer as well as high level coaching on the water and a socially acceptable finish time on Easter Sunday.

Published in RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London says a 'correction is needed' over information contained in an article following an ORC presentation at the ICRA Conference in Limerick, a week ago. Michael Boyd, the Commodore of RORC, says the offshore body 'read with interest', and 'some confusion', the press release by the ORC. Boyd says he feels 'very strongly' that information put forward by Dobbs Davis, Chairman of ORC’s Promotion and Development Committee, 'needs correcting'.

In a statement issued by RORC, who administer the rival IRC system, the club says: 

First, the numbers presented are wrong. Dobbs quotes the number of ORC certificates in total up until the end of the year, but only quotes the number of boats in IRC until the end of August of 2015. These are very different figures. Dobbs quotes 4958 for IRC in 2015 but the real number of certificates for the whole year is 7721. That makes the graph look very different and makes IRC the largest individual system in 2015 with ORC Club behind it at 7404 and ORCi trailing at 2492.

It should also be noted that both IRC and ORC are International Rating Systems recognised by World Sailing and IRC is currently in discussions with World Sailing about having its own World Championship. Rather than having two world championships for offshore boats, we are supporting the WS initiative to have one jointly scored IRC/ORC world championship which will allow the event to travel to other continents.

IRC is expanding with new territories in India and Taiwan, growth in Japan and China and very encouraging numbers for the start of the year from many Northern European countries.

IRC is also flexible and not limited to using time-on-time scoring - as has also been suggested. A simple time-on-distance calculation can be applied to create a time-on-distance value, should race organisers want to use it. Similarly, crew number or crew weight can be applied depending on the race organiser’s needs and wishes.

IRC is doing a great job for our sport – you only have to look at the style of boats that have developed since the demise of IMS (the basis of ORC) to understand that IRC is a progressive rule – with the latest generation of boats being fast, safe and fun to sail. Our goal is to ensure that we provide a first class service and develop a product that is constantly evolving to make sure that racing under IRC is as fair as is possible.

- Michael Boyd, Commodore, ROYAL OCEAN RACING CLUB

Published in RORC

The RORC Easter Challenge is the opening event for a long season of offshore racing. Designed as a 'training whilst racing' regatta, the RORC Easter Challenge is a great way to blow away the winter cobwebs and get world class on-the-water coaching from a team of experienced sailors under the guidance of Jim Saltonstall, and includes the North U Regatta Services coaching team from the USA.

Offshore Championship
April sees the start of the domestic RORC Season's Points Championship with the opening offshore race, the Cervantes Trophy from Cowes to Le Havre on the 30th April. The Cervantes is followed by the North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen on the 6th May and the very popular De Guingand Bowl which is a coastal race around marks in the Channel on 14th May. The Cervantes Trophy and De Guingand Bowl races will form part of the British team selection trails for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July.

RORC continue to experiment with Virtual Marks
As with ISORA, this season the RORC will continue to develop its experience with virtual marks. In an effort to even out the tidal effect on a yacht the RORC will vary the length of the course to suit different size and speed of yachts. Faster boats will sail a greater distance than smaller boats and the results will be based on average speed.

"This is a new initiative the club is trying in a couple of races this year," said RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. "The legs of the courses can be set in the same direction but with increased mileage for the faster boats; the hope being that boats sail in the same tidal conditions for a similar amount of time making the result fairer."

Busy season continues
The busy month of May continues with the Myth of Malham race on the 28th; a race from Cowes, around the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and back to Cowes. This replicates the first part of a typical Fastnet race and is very popular.

June has the Morgan Cup Race to Dieppe or for those seeking more adventure or the challenge of a classic offshore course; the Volvo Round Ireland Race on 18 June. The 704nm circumnavigation of Ireland is rewarded in the Points Championship with a 1.4 points factor, fitting for the tough course taking in the exposed Atlantic coast before pitching you into the Irish Sea. Starting and finishing in Wicklow the welcome will be warm and hospitable.

Cowes Week at the beginning of August is the highlight of the season for our club in Cowes. There are a host of social events being run for members and guests, including cocktail parties on Saturday 6th and Wednesday 10th and the annual 'Corinthian Ball' on Tuesday night, and firework party on Friday night.

New Race in RORC Programme
Following Cowes Week is the new Île d'Ouessant Race from Cowes to St Malo via the Wolf Rock and around Ushant on the north west corner of France. This 400nm race has already attracted much interest and looks likely to become a regular fixture in the RORC Calendar in a non-Fastnet year.

The beginning of September sees the culmination of a very busy season with the final offshore, the Cherbourg Race on 2nd September; an overnight sprint from Cowes to Cherbourg.

Published in RORC

Howth Yacht BAM skippered by Conor Fogerty has won Class 3 in RORC's Caribbbean 600 race after a tense battle over the last 24 hours where there were only minutes to spare against some international competition in the 600–mile race around 11 islands in the West Indies.

In a top set of results for the north Dublin Club, another Howth competitor, Southern Child, skippered by Kieran Jameson, finished third in IRC 2.

24 hours ago and with 87 miles still to sail, Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam was flying after some mid race set backs. The Dublin crew was level on the water with German Swan 44 Best Buddies, skippered by Susann Wrede with the HYC crew gaining the lead in IRC Class 3 yesterday afternnoon, and continuing to be second in CSA 2 signalling some fine silverware for the Irish. Bam took line honours in an elapsed time of 3 days 11 hours 1 mins 7 secs. Bam also won the class win after IRC time correction by just over six minutes. The team on Bam are all Irish, bar Welshman Roger Smith and all live in Dublin. Bam crew member, Simon Knowles has competed in five Round Ireland Races and one Fastnet: "Conor and all the team were over the moon; we have never sailed together as a crew before, so to come here and win our class is brilliant. As the smallest boat racing in IRC and an amateur team, we knew it was going to be tough and the most important thing was just to keep going. Best Buddies kept reeling us in on the upwind legs and we were faster downwind. At Redonda we had a six mile lead but we knew they would be eroding that. It was very tense at the finish, especially as there was confusion about the location of the finish line. From a navigational point of view this is the toughest race I have done, but the race course is fabulous and you are always thinking about the next move. We celebrated when we finished, but we still have something in the tank for tonight's prize giving."

The other Howth crew on Southern Child were 25th overall in IRC, taking a third in IRC 2.

Of all the Irish sailors involved, it is RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC who finished best in fleet, finishing 11th overall on the Grand Soleil 48 Belladonna which he is navigating for Andy McIrvine. The British yacht had an excellent fourth in class one when they got back to Antigua.

Published in RORC

UPDATE 2200hrs: The RORC Caribbean 600 continues to be a race of swings and roundabouts as different boats come to the fore depending on which part of this multi-island course they’re sailing along writes W M Nixon. There are stages where the only encouragement is in maintaining your class position, and this Wednesday evening at 2200 hrs, Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam from Howth Yacht Club has the excellent consolation for the Irish squad of leading CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Division 2, and holding on to second in IRC Class 3, despite slipping to 24th in the IRC overall rankings.

The big news may well be that Adrian Lee’s reliable steed, the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club, seems finally to have got her skates on, and she was pushing towards 14 knots to be lying 8th overall in IRC – her best placing to date in this year’s race – to have her second in the IRC canting keel division with 57 miles to go to the finish.

The situation is completely different back down the line off Guadeloupe, where Kieran Jameson & Co on the First 40 Southern Child are none too happy at barely 6 knots, and they’re back at 29th overall, though in the kindly CSA 2 they’re lying third in class.

At the top of the leaderboard, the Maxi 72s Proteus (George Sakellaris) and Momo (Diter Schoen) are finished and looking good for IRC first and second overall, but Piet Vroon’s Tonnere 4 is just 24 miles from the finish and could pip Momo yet, though Proteus looks secure.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Jim and Kristy Clark’s mega maxi Comanche. They went to an awful lot of trouble to get the big fat girl back from the Sydney-Hobart in time to do this race. And for sure, they did take the mono-hull line honours this morning. But their elapsed time was 33 minutes outside the course record set by George David’s Rambler 100 in 2011. That’s the very same Rambler which made an unscheduled visit to Baltimore in August of that year, when her canting keel decided to go walkabout at the Fastnet Rock. 33 minutes. Ouch.

Published in RORC

In 2016 the IRC Rating rule, administered by the RORC Rating Office (and owned by RORC in partnership with UNCL in France) will be used to battle out no less than eleven regional and special championships around Great Britain and the Channel Islands, including the annual IRC National Championship.  Unfortunately, the IRC Scottish Championships on the Clyde will clash with Howth Yacht Club's staging of the ICRA Irish National Championships from June 10-12.

This year's regional venues stretch from Jersey in the Channel Islands to the Clyde in Scotland and from North Wales to Kent, providing a rich variety of racing and conditions. Specialist IRC Championships include the Small Boat Championship to be held in Weymouth and the Double Handed Championship organised by the Royal Southampton YC and RORC.

Most of the Championships are held over two to six days but the IRC Solent Championship offers racing over six weekends between May and October with different clubs, with the best four results to count. The Championship calendar for 2016 also boasts two brand new additions in Poole and Brighton, giving IRC sailors even more opportunities to join in and pit their skills against each other for the title of Champion!

May-Oct - IRC Solent Championship
28-30 May - IRC Southern Championship, Poole *new*
11-12 June - IRC Scottish Championship, Mudhook YC, Clyde
18-19 June - IRC Sussex Championship, Brighton *new*
24-26 June - IRC National Championship, Cowes
15-17 July - IRC South West Championship, Plymouth
24-29 July - IRC East Coast Championship, Ramsgate
12-14 Aug - IRC Welsh National Championship, Pwllheli
3-4 Sept - IRC Small Boats Championship, Weymouth
9-11 Sept - IRC Channel Islands Championship, Jersey
16-17 Sept - IRC Double Handed Championship, Southampton

Published in RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has appointed Andrew Overton as the new General Manager of RORC Cowes. He has an extensive background in the hospitality industry with experience across a range of unique high quality new business ventures, acquisitions and integrations.

Andrew has built his experience from the bottom up, learning the trade at the Marriott Hotel group, developing his knowledge at the Pomme d'Or Hotel in Jersey, the Marine Hotel in Troon and more recently as the General Manager of the U.K. Trains operation for the Orient-Express company. He is delighted to have the opportunity to bring his experience to the benefit of RORC's clubhouse in Cowes:

"This will be an exciting challenge and one that I am very much looking forward to. The elevated position of the club with its stunning views over the Solent is hugely attractive and the open nature of the club in Cowes to welcome all sailors is something I am excited to develop. I understand the seasonal nature of the leisure boating market and, in particular on the Isle of Wight,but I do not see that as a barrier in developing fun and exciting activities during the winter months."

Michael Boyd, the Commodore of the RORC is delighted with Andrew's appointment, commenting:

"Andrew has huge experience in the hotel, food and beverage sector having worked in a variety of high profile businesses where the quality of the product and the quality of service are required at a very high standard. We know he will develop and maintain those standards at the club in Cowes giving his own brand of welcome to RORC's members and visitors."

Published in RORC

Michael Boyd, the Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and current holder of the Commodore’s Cup, will return to compete in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland race, marking the 20th anniversary of his win, with many of the same crew from his 1996 winning yacht, Big Ears.

The 18th Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race is set to be one of the most heated editions in the race’s history say organisers with a number of prestigious international sailing champions announcing they will contest this year’s edition.

 

Michael Boyd's choice of a J/35 as his first serious offshore racer was a shrewd decision 20 years ago. He won the Round Ireland in style with Big Ears and more recently the J/35 model has been one of the few exceptional boats to be inducted into American Sailing's Hall of Fame. In the 1996 race Boyd and his crew, minus one removed to hospital off Kerry with fractured ribs, played every tiny gain to beat Roy, Dickson's Beaumont Spirit on Channel handicap, the deciding system for determining the overall race winner.

Twenty years later, the race received a major boost before Christmas with Volvo Cars Ireland coming on board as title sponsor this year after four years without sponsorship.

Phillip Johnston has also confirmed that he will be entering the impressive Open 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, the current holder of the Round Great Britain and Ireland Race, under skipper Michael Ferguson.

The current holder of the Fastnet Race's Roger Justice trophy Rónán Ó Siochrú has also confirmed that he will be back to contest the Round Ireland for the fourth time.

At the end of 2015 internationally renowned sailor and US businessman, George David also announced his intention to enter his yacht Rambler 88 into the 2016 race. The canting keel maxi yacht would be a strong contender to break the Volvo Round Ireland Race record of 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds which is held by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 achieved in 2008.

Meanwhile, following the announcement that 2016 will be the first time that multihulls will be invited to compete, Team Concise have already indicated their intention to enter their world-class fleet. Ned Collier Wakefield, Team Director and Skipper for Team Concise, has indicated that they intend entering their 3 boats into the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland – the MOD 70 and their 2 Class 40 boats.

The Race only officially opens for entries next Monday (18th January 2016), however with the quality of entries already at such competitive levels, Race organisers expect the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland to be one of the most competitive and exciting races ever, attracting serious quality sailors and some of the finest yachts from across the world.

Race organiser Theo Phelan:

“We have further expressions of interest from some really exciting names that we hope to be in a position to announce in the coming weeks. Already the competition is heating up and we expect many previous race entrants to return to contest what is set to be one of the most exciting races ever.”

“The new Volvo Cars title sponsorship is a paramount development in the expansion of the race, which allows us to plan ahead for the significant growth of the race in the coming years.”

The 2016 Volvo Round Ireland departs Wicklow Bay on Saturday 18th June 2016 with the first start at 13.00 hours.

Published in Round Ireland

Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, this year's RORC Annual Dinner & Prize Giving will take place later this month in the spectacular setting of the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London. Prize winners, competitors, crews, members and guests will be out of their foul weather gear, spruced up for the black tie dinner and awards ceremony.

The 2015 RORC Season's Points Championship is the world's largest and arguably most competitive offshore yacht racing series. Over nine months, 13 races have been organised for 579 yachts with over 3,000 miles of racing in European and Caribbean locations. The RORC Annual Dinner & Prize Giving is the 'Oscars Ceremony' of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The sailors, the setting and the occasion will make for a truly memorable evening.

RORC Yacht of the Year
Ian Walker, the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race will be presenting the prizes, bar one. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team's Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, skippered by Walker, has been awarded the RORC Yacht of the Year. Winning the Volvo Ocean Race in a one-design boat, competing against equally experienced sailors over nine gruelling legs with conditions ranging from calm to storm force, has been recognised by the RORC Committee as a truly outstanding achievement and a worthy winner of the Somerset Memorial Trophy

RORC Season's Points Championship Winner
Géry Trentesaux, campaigning his latest Courrier, a brand new JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon has also had an astounding year, culminating in winning one of the most sought after trophies in offshore yacht racing: The Fastnet Challenge Cup for the outright winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race. For his achievements this year Trentesaux will add a further seven trophies to the bulging cabinet which includes the Jazz Trophy for best yacht in IRC Overall, the Grenade Goblet as winner of IRC Three and the Corinthian Meritorious Award.

IRC Canting Keel
Mikey Ferguson's Open 60, Artemis Ocean Racing has had a tremendous season battling mainly with another Open 60, Rosalba. With five race wins and line honours achievements in many of the races, Mikey and crew romped home to win IRC Canting Keel.

IRC Zero
Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 and Windward Sailing's Farr 60, Venomous dominated IRC Zero. Tonnerre 4's outstanding performance to take second place in class for the heavily weighted Rolex Fastnet Race being the difference. Piet and the team will be awarded the Europeans Cup for the best yacht in IRC Zero.

IRC One
In IRC One it came down to the Cherbourg Race, the last of the domestic season to decide the winner of the championship. After a top ten class result in his 17th Fastnet Race, past RORC Commodore, Mike Greville will collect the Trenchemer Cup for Ker 39, Erivale III, the best yacht out of 118 entries in IRC One, narrowly beating Vice Commodore, Steven Anderson sailing his Corby 40, Cracklin Rosie into second place.

IRC Two
Vincent Willemart and Eric Van Campenhout's MC34, Azawakh will lift the Emily Verger Plate as winners of IRC Two, which was one of the most competitive classes racing in the championship. Azawakh only managed one race victory all season, but their consistent performance and a second in class for the Rolex Fastnet Race secured her class victory ahead of three boats that all finished within a point of one another: Patrick Ponchelet in Eception with 471 points, Peter Newlands in Anticipation with 470.8 points and RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine in La Réponse with 470 points.

IRC Three
IRC Three was dominated not only by the new JPK designs, but also the French, with the top four being based just across the English Channel. Géry Trentesaux's Courrier Du Leon was victorious in class, followed by her sister ship, Arnaud Delamere and Eric Mordret's Dream Pearls. Third place went to 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Pascal Loison in his JPK 10.10, Night and Day and fourth, the very well travelled JPK10.10, Raging Bee. Louis-Marie Dussere followed up the Transquadra in January with the RORC Caribbean 600 in February, before returning to show very well in IRC Three and win the IRC Two-Handed Division for a second successive year.

IRC Four
In IRC Four, Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew made the podium on five occasions, winning three races in class to win the Cowland Trophy for the third consecutive year. Noel and his team were pushed hard all the way by Jonathan Rolls in his Swan SR 38, Xara (top Swan in the championship winning the Arambalza Swan Cup) and the 1934 S & S classic yawl, Stormy Weather of Cowes owned by Christopher Spray. Christopher wins the Freddie Morgan Trophy for top Classic Yacht in IRC for boats built before 1974.

Two-Handed Division
Over 100 yachts raced Two-Handed in the 2015 RORC Season's Points Championship and Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK 10.10, Raging Bee won the class despite being beaten in IRC Three by Pascal Loison's Night and Day, fellow Cherbourg-based Two-Handers. Raging Bee triumphed in the Two-Handed division due to competitors being spread across the classes.

MOCRA Class
The MOCRA Multihull Class has produced some fantastic competition across a number of the races and despite being slightly smaller, heavier and some might say more comfortable than some of her rivals, Peter Aschenbrenner's Nigel Irens 63ft Trimaran, Paradox has won the class from Lloyd Thornburg's record breaking MOD 70, Phaedo3 and Tony Lawson's MOD 70, Concise 10 skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield.

Class40
Also from Tony Lawson's Team Concise came the top two boats in the Class40 Division. Concise 8, skippered by Jack Trigger narrowly beating Concise 2 skippered by Phillippa Hutton-Squire.

This year's winning teams come from six different countries; Belgium; France; Great Britain; The Netherlands; United Arab Emirates and USA. 19 yachts will be awarded with trophies, including the Dennis P Miller Memorial Trophy for outstanding performance by a British Yacht Overseas; this year awarded to the J24, Il Riccio for winning the J24 World Championship. Other trophies reward consistent high performance, youth in offshore racing, seamanship and assistance rendered to other vessels during racing.

Published in RORC
A highly varied fleet with fascinating competitors will set off on 28th November from Lanzarote - the most eastern island in the Canary Islands chain - bound for the island of Grenada in the Caribbean in the RORC Transatlantic Race, organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The International Maxi Association.
 
Two MOD 70s will be locking horns in the 2015 RORC Transatlantic Race, aiming for line honours and victory in a highly competitive, high-speed duel: Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo^3 and Tony Lawson's Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield are capable of a top speed in excess of 40 knots and an average 25 knots for the race. Two of the world's fastest multihulls could complete the 3000 nautical mile course in just five days.
 
The two MOD 70s have raced each other twice. Concise 10 got the better of Phaedo 3 in the Artemis Challenge, around the Isle of Wight Race and Phaedo 3 squared the match, beating Concise 10 in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The RORC Transatlantic Race will be the first transoceanic race between two fully crewed MOD 70s for over three years and it is highly likely that the race will be incredibly close. In the last fully crewed Transatlantic Race featuring MOD 70s, three teams finished within two hours of each other.
 
Concise 10 was launched this summer and broke the RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Malo race record in its debut offshore race. Concise 10 crew includes the world speed record holder, Paul Larsen, who achieved over 65 knots in Sailrocket, IMOCA 60 sailor Jonny Malbon plus Wouter Verbraak and Andy Meiklejohn from the Volvo Ocean Race.
 
British sailor and RORC member, Ned Collier Wakefield has been with Team Concise since it was launched in 2006. At just 21 years of age, Ned started to race in the Class 40 division with immediate success, setting the 40ft record for Round the Isle of Wight, the RORC Caribbean 600 Class 40 record and winning the Class 40 World Championship. In 2011 Ned skippered a young team to win class in the Transatlantic Race and set a world record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Ned is still only 27 and is new to multihull racing:
 
"This has been a very steep learning curve. We are still learning every time we go out and we have been lucky enough to get a lot of sailing in this summer with structured learning sessions, but we still have a lot to learn," commented Ned Collier Wakefield. "It is totally exhilarating to be on the tiller of Concise 10. The whole team are able to drive at a high level and in certain conditions, we are changing over the driver very quickly. The speed that it is capable of is incredible and you have to keep your wits about you and stay on the ball, as you have the ultimate control over the power of the boat.
 
"On a reach, the apparent wind can be as much as 60 knots. That is a hell of a lot of wind going across the deck; you can't hear each other at all and the boat speed is 30 knots, it is amazing. The sensation on a reach is really violent, it is hard to move around the boat and you really have to hang on. We will be using the delivery down to Lanzarote as part of our training with the full race crew. It will be the longest and the furthest we have sailed on the boat. We will be getting to Lanzarote about 10 days before the start of the race and continue to practice intensively in the trade winds and Atlantic swell, which will be the conditions for the race. For sure we are out to win, but there is mutual respect between the two teams and Brian (Thompson) doesn't hold back when it comes to advice. It will be a full-on race but we are looking out for each other as well."
 
Phaedo 3 shot to fame in February this year breaking the RORC Caribbean 600 record which has stood since the first edition in 2009. During 2015, the records in the Caribbean just kept tumbling, including the Round Antigua and Round St. Maarten course records and the Antigua to Newport Record. Lloyd Thornburg's team includes Extreme 40 champion Pete Cumming, Figaro and Class 40 sailor Sam Goodchild, Warren Fitzgerald from the Hydroptère project and Miles Seddon, performance analyst for Team SCA. Phaedo 3 's co-skipper is Jules Verne record holder, Brian Thompson.
 
Brian Thompson started his professional career by winning the 1992 OSTAR single-handed transatlantic race in which he sailed his own 35' wooden trimaran Transient, and since then his record in offshore sailing speaks for itself, having broken an astonishing 30 world records and clocking up close to 300,000 ocean miles in multihulls alone. His greatest achievement to date was setting the current Jules Verne Round the World record in 2012, as part of Loic Peyron's crew on Banque Populaire V. Highlights of his achievements before the Jules Verne win would include winning the 2004 Quebec St Malo Race and in the same setting the Round the World Record on Cheyenne and winning the Oryx Quest Round the World Race in 2005.
 
"There is no difference in speed between the two boats and it will come down to tactics and navigation," explains Thompson. "The MOD 70 is the best boat in the world; super-fast, very strong and reasonably safe offshore. In terms of navigation, once we leave Lanzarote we will have to negotiate the Canary Islands which will be an interesting conundrum before heading towards Grenada. Then it is principally a downwind course, although at this time of year, there is the choice of going north to hook into a cold front or going south to find the trade winds. During the race, squalls are always a big factor and this is a very open race course, so we could be hundreds of miles apart, but we will be watching each other and I think this will be a really close race. The last few hours could be very interesting. Which side of Barbados to go will be in the mix and we could see some double bluffing going on. It is quite rare to have this opportunity and a big thank you to the RORC for organising the race. We are very glad to be supporting it and the RORC Transatlantic Race is the perfect way to arrive for the RORC Caribbean 600."
Published in RORC
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Featured Events 2021

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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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