Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Royal Ocean Racing Club

#rorc – In another indication of the potency of this Summer's Irish Commodore's Cup team, the latest signing Quokka 8 skippered by Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, has finished second overall in IRC2 at last week's RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. Results here.

Last month, Irish team mates on the American Ker 40, Catapult, skippered by Peter O'Leary, achieved third overall in Key West regatta in Florida, leading Irish Commodore's Cup officials to conclude that Ireland has a winning combination for the Solent this Summer. 

In a month of building excitement for ICRA and its Cup plans, it was finally announced an American and a British yacht would join Royal Cork's Antix to form the 'Green Team' for Ireland

Although accurately predicted the team line up some week's beforehand, refering to the team as 'Irish sailing's worst kept secret', such predictions were dismissed by ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly as 'rumour'. Reilly took to's popular comment section: 'Worst kept secret? The contracts have only just been signed so Afloat's original report was just a rumour. Fact is ICRA had 4 very competitive boats to choose from', he wrote.

The three boat team is Catapult, a Ker 40 owned by Mark Glimcher of the United States; Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix from Royal Cork; and the RORC Yacht Quokka, a Grand Soleil 43, being chartered by Royal Irish sailors Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling.

Although there will be a strong Irish crew involvement on all three boats comprising of sailors who first won the Cup for Ireland in 2010. Crew list announcements are awaited.

Meanwhile in Antiqua, Wwith all 60 yachts accounted for, the Royal Ocean Racing Club announced that the winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the best yacht, overall in IRC on corrected time, was George Sakellaris' RP72, Shockwave. The trophy was presented to the Shockwave crew at  a Prize Giving held at the Antigua Yacht Club.

"I have a great crew and it was an excellent race, lots of wind and the racing was very close," commented Shockwave's owner/driver George Sakellaris, shortly after finishing the race. "I have done many offshore races but this is the first time I have raced this one and it was against tough opposition. I think the winds were favourable to us and the Shockwave team used that to our advantage. At the end of the day, winning yacht races is all about the team performance more than anything else."

"That is what ocean racing should be all about," commented Shockwave tactician, Robbie Doyle. "Beautiful racing between three very tough competitors, all fighting it out the whole way. A heavy-weight battle without a doubt - no question. I have had great moments in sail boats, but that was as much fun as I can remember. For 600 miles we were always in touch with each other, either up a few minutes or down a few minutes, and it all came down to the last beat to finish. It was like an epic tennis match. Every sail change was race critical. Bella Mente is a magic bullet when power reaching; we knew that before the start, so we set about minimising the time lost."

Robbie Doyle continued, "Bella Mente did a nice job getting through the lee of Guadeloupe by going inshore and at that time she had her time on us. All we tried to do was to stay in touch with her because we knew the race wasn't over. The critical point in the race happened just after Barbuda when Bella Mente got under a cloud and literally stopped and we sailed right up to them. After that we knew that if we just stayed in touch, the win would go to Shockwave - that's yacht racing for you, but what a fantastic experience."

"With all of the yachts now accounted for, the racing team can join the competitors at tonight's Prize Giving for a memorable occasion," commented RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "There have been some retirements, but we are delighted that there has been only minor damage to yachts. Apart from the expected knocks and bruises for a 600 mile race, everyone is safely ashore and looking forward to a great party."

Published in RORC

#rorcrc600 – High above the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent international fleet of yachts enjoyed a sparkling start of warm trade winds, Caribbean swell and brilliant sunshine. Ahead of the yachts lies a breath-taking course around 11 islands with more twists and turns than the Monte Carlo race track.

Two hours into the race and the entire fleet have passed Green Island and are now cracking sheets for the sleigh ride to Barbuda with Hap Fauth's JV72, Bella Mente leading the charge, pulling the trigger, spearing through Atlantic waves at 18 knots towards the only mark of the course.

CSA, Multihull and Class40
Nine boats were in the first start of the race and virtually the entire fleet chose to start at the outer distance mark. Gonzalo Botin's Spanish Class40, Tales II, with highly experienced navigator Nacho Postigo on board, got away to a cracking start followed by Derek Hatfield's Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure.

IRC Two & Three
With 18 yachts, this was the biggest start of the race; Bernie Evan Wong's Trustmarque Quokka 8 and Lt Col Paul Macro's Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club, on Southern Child, had a very close battle for the line, which resulted in Quokka being over and having to return to the line. Lancelot II, EH01 and Ballytrim were in the front row of the starting grid.

Despite sharing breakfast this morning, Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens III, and Colin Buffin's Swan 62, Uxorious IV, were both in an aggressive mood before the starting gun, engaging in a game of cat and mouse at the pre-start. However David Southwell's Morris 486, Kismet, had a perfect timed run and led the class at the start.

IRC Zero & IRC Canting Keel
Even before the start the expected battle of the Mini Maxis was on with Shockwave hunting Bella Mente. Shockwave, Bella Mente and George David's RP90, Rambler, were all in a perfect line hitting the start line at max speed with the Botin ITC 65, Caro; also a fast starter to leeward of this group. Johnny Vincent's TP52, Pace, was also a front runner looking to get inshore and stay out of the way and out of trouble.

The last start of the day produced the hair-raising sight of two enormous schooners match racing each other in the last few minutes to the start, bearing down towards the Pillars of Hercules at full speed, only a boat length apart. The 182ft Adela called for water from 203ft Athos, which duly obliged, putting in a smart tack, and all 300 tons of her went through the wind. The spritely 200 ton Adela smoked through the line with height and pace to effectively win the start -magnificent!

RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen was on the start line watching avidly: "This was amazing to watch, just incredible. The way they all have been pushing for the line. Especially Athos and Adela; with only a minute to go to the start, they were only a boat length apart. It is so impressive to see these two beautiful boats in these conditions: 18-20 knots of wind, big seas, crashing through the waves - it's spectacular.

The Class Zero start was unbelievable as well - they were really close, going all the way into the cliffs, calling water on each other. We could hear the screaming from the above the cliffs so there was a lot of adrenalin going on, a lot of aggression too. With the quality of this fleet it is exactly what we expected at the start; a top fleet and they're off, in some fabulous conditions. We wish them good sailing, and good luck."

Eddie Warden Owen continued, "This race has grown in stature and it is not just the boats but the number of professional sailors that are here. This gives you an idea of how important it is to win this race. However we've now got more local boats, more boats crossing the Atlantic from Europe and yachts coming down from America. 60 yachts starting the RORC Caribbean 600 - that's pretty impressive for a race that's only six years old."

Published in RORC

#rorc – This weekend over 170 yachts from six different nations will race across the English Channel to the famous walled port city of St Malo in Brittany, France. The 170-mile race pre-dates the Royal Ocean Racing Club by almost 20 years, with the overall winner taking the impressive gold plated King Edward VII Cup, presented by the British Monarch to the Club Nautique de la Rance at Dinard in 1906.The Cowes Dinard St Malo Race is the ninth race of the 13 race series for the RORC Season's Points Championship and bar next month's Rolex Fastnet Race, is likely to have the largest entry of the RORC season.

Four multihulls will be racing to St Malo including two French Multi 50s: Etienne Hochede's Pir² Port De Fécamp is a vintage trimaran built in 1983 but the hot favourite to take line honours in St Malo will be Loic Fequet's Maitre Jacques, which has finished in the top three in class for both the Route du Rhum and Transat Jacques Vabre. The Multihull record has stood since 2002, an extraordinary time of 5 hours 23 min 33 seconds was set by Maxi Catamaran Maiden 2 and Maitre Jacques is unlikely to beat that.

Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard returns to RORC racing for the first time since taking line honours in February's RORC Caribbean 600. ICAP Leopard set the monohull record for the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race in 2008, averaging 11.61 knots, and the 100ft canting keel maxi is very capable of improving on that. ICAP Leopard's current form in both the RORC Caribbean 600 and last month's record run in the JP Morgan Round the Island Race has them averaging over 13 knots.

"ICAP Leopard was built to set records and take line honours, but to do that we need the yacht in good condition, a top class crew and the right weather. Leopard is in great shape and the crew for the race is very capable, so we just need the third part of the recipe. At the moment, our weather routing is showing a slow start but we could see much more favourable conditions as the race develops, so record pace is a possibility." Mike Slade, ICAP Leopard.

There are 20 yachts racing to St Malo in IRC One including Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, and Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII, which are currently placed first and second overall for the 2013 season.

With 49 yachts entered, IRC Two is the largest class racing and Géry Trentesaux's MC34 Patton, Courrier Vintage, has been in superb form this season. Courrier Vintage was runner up last year by just seven minutes on corrected time and will undoubtedly feature in the race. Nine First 40.7s and seven First 40s will also feature in IRC Two enjoying a close battle within the class.

Chris Jackson, boat captain for First 40, Lancelot II Logic, spoke about their season. "Stacy Vickers and a number of his friends have chartered the yacht for a Fastnet campaign. Over half the crew have done the Fastnet before and we have high ambitions for the race. It is great to see seven First 40s racing to St Malo, I have never seen that many racing offshore before and the racing is incredibly close; we managed to get the better of La Réponse in the last offshore race by just nine seconds and it is really exciting to have so many boats around you. That pressure really raises the game. The St Malo race will be our last RORC race before the Fastnet and we are determined to get a good result."

In 2012 French yachts dominated the race winning four IRC Classes with Olivier Pesci and his crew on Grand Soleil 40, Beelzebuth 3, overjoyed to win the King Edward VII Cup for the best corrected time overall.

"It was a difficult race to win and we were all very tired but there were important decisions that needed to be made and we got our tactics right at key moments," commented Olivier Pesci "For a crew who come from Brittany, it was a fantastic experience to win the race. Although the firework display at St.Malo was to celebrate our national day, we enjoyed it even more because we were celebrating our victory in the St.Malo Race! For a Breton to win the King Edward VII Cup is a dream come true."

The race to St. Malo from Cowes is one of the oldest yacht races in the world and has always been a popular event with competitors racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The timing of the race coincides with the celebration of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, a symbol of the uprising of the modern French nation. Bastille Day is one of the biggest celebrations throughout France and the fortress village of St Malo will be a hive of festivities and cultural celebrations culminating in an impressive firework display.

Published in RORC

#RORC - The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Rating Office is launching an international competition next week to select the photograph that will grace the front cover of the 2014 edition of the RORC IRC Yearbook, published by Yachting World.

Entry to the 2014 Yearbook Competition, which kicks off on 15 July, is restricted to two submissions per person to be submitted by 30 August 2013.

A shortlist selected from all the entries will then be judged by Yachting World's racing and technical editor Matthew Sheahan, RORC's technical director Mike Urwin, award-winning photographer Ian Roman and marine leisure PR consultant Peta Stuart-Hunt.

The judges will be looking for an exciting image that reflects the club racing ethos of IRC rating. This may be round-the-mark action from one of your local club weekend races, a fleet shot from a weekday 'twilight' race, or perhaps a lucky catch from one of the offshore classics.

They will not be looking for the 'glamour shot' of a exotic, high-tech racing boat so much as something that encompasses everything IRC stands for - competitive racing for all.

The winner will be notified by 30 September 2013 and will receive a certificate, and have their photo featured on the cover of the 2014 RORC IRC Yearbook, with appropriate credit as agreed with the winner. There is no monetary prize.

The competition rules are available on the RORC Rating Office website HERE.

Published in RORC

#rorc – With many of the UK's top IRC boats signed up to compete over three days at the popular RORC Easter Challenge (Good Friday 29 March to Easter Sunday 31 March 2013), the regatta is turning into a practice session for the highly competitive IRC Nationals taking place later this summer.

But for the top boats, its also a serious event and with the likes of RORC Vice Commodore, Anthony O'Leary bringing his Antix team from Cork and Niklas Zennström taking a break from the TP52 Super Series to race Rán, his Farr 45, the racing is all about winning:

"Whilst it's the first event of the season for us and we look forward to the input provided by the like's of Jim (Saltonstall) and Eddie (Warden Owen), we will be doing our best to win the event. There's some serious competition from the Ker 40's and from the South African Tokoloshe whose boat is very similar to ours. It's a brilliant format, great value and a well run event with nine races over the weekend," says O'Leary.

"I am impressed with the quality of the early entries to our training weekend at Easter which starts on Good Friday, 29th April," comments Royal Ocean Racing Club's Racing Manager, Nick Elliott.

"These are the top race boats in the UK and include teams from the Solent, the East Coast and West Country, as well as teams from as far away as France, Ireland and even South Africa. This is a great endorsement for the event which is designed as a training weekend for those keen to improve their overall performance."

In a unique initiative and as the first Solent-based event in the Club's racing calendar, RORC relax the rules on outside assistance and invite coaching guru, Jim Saltonstall and a team of expert coaches - including past Olympian Barry Dunning - to actively participate and provide helpful tips to improve sail trim and boat handling whilst the boats are racing. The coaching team has also been boosted this year by the addition of sailmakers who will provide sail trim and rig set up tips.

"It's the only event of its kind in the UK and I've not seen it done anywhere else in the world," comments RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen who is also one of Saltonstall's coaching team.

"Even the top teams with pro sailors on board are keen to get the view we have from the outside. It can be extremely effective, especially for the less experienced crew who often see an immediate improvement during the race," continues Warden Owen.

After racing, Saltonstall de-briefs crews using video evidence to back up his thoughts. These sessions held after racing in the Event Centre at Cowes Yacht Haven are always packed out.

Last year the RORC introduced a second race course for the smaller boats and One Design classes such as J80's and RORC have the intention to do the same if there is sufficient demand.

Racing for all classes starts on Good Friday 29th April and runs through to Sunday 31st April. Entries close for the RORC Easter Challenge on 14th March; interested owners can find the details and enter online at

Published in RORC

#RORC – Round Ireland double winner Piet Vroon still has a chance of retaining the RORCs 2012 points series but as Louay Habib reports after the weekend's Channel Race it is going to be close.

Philippe Falle sailing Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 46, Trustmarque Quokka 8, won the 2012 Channel Race overall finishing the 145-mile in course in just over 26 hours. However a number of boats have requested redress as the mark, (CH1) off the coast near Cherbourg was not in place and some boats spent time looking for the mark before rounding its GPS co-ordinates and proceeding back to Cowes.

One of those who looked for the mark was Piet Vroon with his Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, who still has a fighting chance of retaining the title of RORC Season's Points Championship winner. He will have a fight on his hands and with one more race to go, the Cherbourg Race at the end of August looks set to be an absolute cracker. Laurent Gouy's French Ker 39, Inis Mor, has the upper hand but Nick Martin's British J/105, Diablo-J, racing Two-Handed is right in the mix.

Trustmarque Quokka's win in the 2012 Channel Race was the first outing for Philippe Falle's newly formed Deep Blue Racing Team and as such Quokka is not a contender for the championship but Falle has been RORC racing for ten years and knows just how tough it is to win the RORC Season's Points Championship.

"I have come very close to winning the championship but I haven't won it yet," said Philippe Falle. "It is an extremely tough series to win and takes a lot of dedication and determination over an 8 month period, I think it is probably the hardest sailing series to win anywhere. For the team on Quokka is was very satisfying to win the Channel Race as this was the first outing for a group of good amateur sailors that want to take their racing to another level. We will be competing in the Cherbourg Race before taking Quokka down to Malta for the Rolex Middle Sea Race, where we hope to challenge for class honours. Next year, we plan to kick off a full campaign with the RORC Caribbean 600 and of course the RORC Season's Points Championship. To start off our campaign with a win was fantastic."

Line Honours in the Channel Race went to Harm Prins' Volvo 60, Pleomax, sealing the Dutch team's class win in IRC Zero for the season. Inis Mor was the winner in IRC One and came 3rd overall to extend their lead for the series. Nick Martin's 5th overall for the Channel Race has moved the Two-Handed team up to second overall, whilst Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens could only manage a 13th overall.

In IRC Three and the Two-Handed class, Nick Martin's Diablo-J came out on top but it was far from easy. An excellent performance by another two-handed sailor pushed Diablo-J all the way. Flic Gabbay's Elan 380, Elixir, took line honours for both classes by just nine minutes but Diablo-J won after time correction. Nick Martin's win secured the Two-Handed Class for the season and also puts Diablo-J up to second place overall in the Season's Points Championship. Mike Moxley's HOD 35, Malice, was third in both classes moving the Hampshire sailor up to third overall for the season.

In IRC Four Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome, took a second class win of the season. The Dutch team now have an unassailable lead in IRC Four. Pierre Viard and Nicolas Siloret's Prism 28, Adrenaline, was the smallest yacht in the Channel Race. However, the French crew scored a second place moving the team up from 16th in class to 5th. Adrenaline is now very much in contention for the remaining two podium places in IRC Four, along with Kirsteen Donaldson's Pyxis, Jean Yves Chateau's Iromiguy and Paul Jackson's Wild Spirit.

The last race of the RORC Season's Points Championship will take place on Friday the 31st August with a sprint across The English Channel for the Cherbourg Race.

Published in RORC

#rorc –Fresh from success at last month's ICRA Nationals at Howth YC both the Irish Class zero and class two champions head for Cowes this weekend for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) British IRC Championships writes Louay Habib.

Anthony O'Leary's Zero champion, the Ker 39 Antix and the Class two champion Nigel Bigg's Checkmate IV will be looking for a British title too when well over 400 sailors from all over Europe gather in Cowes this weekend for the annual three day event on tight Solent courses. Close encounters are expected for four classes under tight rating bands.

Since the first edition in 2000, the annual RORC inshore championship has always attracted a highly competitive fleet and this year is no exception.

Also competing in Cowes is Round Ireland champion Piet Vroon from Holland who is heading back to defend his offshore crown in Wicklow in two weeks time.

The sizeable fleet boasts close to 20 yachts that are past or present competitors for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. Winning class at the RORC IRC National Championship is extremely tough and class victors will savour that moment for years to come.

IRC One has produced one of the most impressive fleets for many years. Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, should be the fastest boat around the track but there will be four Ker 40s nipping at the Dutch flyer's heels. Nigel Passmore's Apollo will be highly motivated to take a national title back to Plymouth. Whilst Andrew Pearce's Magnum III and Harmen de Graaf's Baraka GP will be racing each other for the first time, prior to representing Benelux and Great Britain in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. However, the depth of talent in this class is quite remarkable, including some notable proven winners: O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix, Michael Bartholomew's King 40, Tokoloshe, Andrew Williams' Mills 39, Dignity, and RORC Commodore, Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III.

"We expect some very challenging racing, which is exactly what is required if we are to continue to improve our performance," commentedMagnum III skipper, Andrew Pearce. "The championship will have some of the best competition from the South Coast and beyond, it will be a thorough test for all of us."

In IRC Two the UNCL President, Marc de Saint Denis, will be racing MC34 Courrier Vintage in good company. No doubt, former RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine, will give the Frenchman a warm welcome to Cowes but no quarter once they are out on the racecourse. McIrvine has been in fine form offshore this season but the class has many well-honed adversaries. Kirsty and David Apthorp's J/111 J-Dream came within a whisker of winning Spi Ouest this Easter and Nicolas Gaumont-Prat's First 40.7, Philosophie IV, and Jim Macgregor's Elan 410, Premier Flair, will both be representing Great Britain in next month's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. Philosophie IV was runner up in IRC Two last year and will be looking to go one better in 2012.

In IRC Three, Mike Bridges' Elan 37, Elaine, is back to defend their title but the class also boasts two teams representing Britain in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup: Peter Morton's Corby 33, Salvo, and the British Keelboat Academy's J/109, Yeoman of Wight, will both be looking to impress. From overseas, Philippe Bourgeois' A35, Dunkerque Plaisance is in fine form, having won their class earlier this month at Normandy Sailing Week and Dutch J/109, Captain Jack, skippered by Round the World racer Bert Visser, is relishing the event. "We cannot get this standard of competition in Holland," admits Visser. "It is well worth the effort to come over for the championship. It is an important event for us and we expect some very good racing."

In IRC Four, Nigel Biggs is a veteran of the championship and will be looking to come out on top with the beautifully prepared vintage Half Tonner, Checkmate XV. The small boat class also has a number of well-sailed modern bowsprit boats. Father and son team, Mike and Jamie Holmes racing J/97 Jika Jika, entered months ago, having identified the championship as a key event of their season.

'It will be a testing event for us," predicted Jamie Holmes. "We are expecting some extremely close racing, I think that key reasons for the popularity of the event are that there is usually a good range of conditions and the races are always well run, which attracts impressive opposition. The IRC National Championship is an excellent event to hone our skills for the J/97 UK Nationals in Guernsey this summer."

Published in RORC

#OFFSHORE – Solent winds finally came good for the last day of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC's) Easter Sailing Challenge on Easter Sunday with Irish boats from Royal Cork YC , Howth YC and Royal Irish YC, Dun Laoghaire finishing second third and fourth in class respectively.

Anthony O'Leary was second in IRC one sailing Antix with 15 entries, Dave Cullen's Half Tonner King One was third sailing in IRC IV class B with seven entries and Niall Dowling's brand new J111 Jazzband was fourth sailing in Class II with 10 entries.

With the wind backing into the south and building to double figures. To make up for yesterday's lack of wind, three races were held for all classes.

Runaway winner in IRC One was South African Michael Bartholomew and his well honed crew on the Hamble-based King 40 Tokoloshe. A 5-1-5 scoreline today saw them conclude the regatta with a nine point lead over Irishman Anthony O'Leary's 2010 Commodores' Cup-winning Ker 39, Antix. Tokoloshe is touted as a Cork Week front runner this July so there will be at least one rematch for the Antix crew on home waters this season.

Simon Henning's Farr 45 Alice was doing well, but was let down by a 13th place in today's second race  causing them to drop to third overall, just two points ahead of the British Keelboat Academy on their Niklas Zennstrom-owned sistership Kolga. The Ker 40 dust-up was close with Jonathan Goring's Keronimo finishing two and half points ahead of Andrew Pearce's newer Magnum III.

Despite a strong final push by Jackie Dobson and the crew of the J/133 Jeronimo winning today's two final races, Jim Macgregor and his Poole-based Elan 410 Premier Flair maintained their lead in IRC Two to win by three points. Andrew McIrvine, ex-Commodore of the RORC, came into his own today with his First 40 La Réponse finishing third in each race today.

"It was nice to have the breeze, although we didn't change gears that well," admitted Macgregor. "In the light wind this morning - we had that sussed and we got a win. We had not a bad second race, but we weren't properly set up for the third. There were lots of boats going around corners at the same time, but everyone was well behaved. It was a very enjoyable event and we are very grateful to the RORC and Eddie Warden Owen."

Of Jeronimo's late charge, Macgregor said: "She is going really well. It was tough when she ran aground on Friday. The plateau there did seem to be getting shallower. Perhaps it's the high pressure."

In IRC Three competition was tight. The outstanding performance today was that of David Franks and his new JPK 1010 Strait Dealer, which posted three bullets in as many races. Unfortunately after a slow start to the regatta this was not enough for them to catch David Aisher's British Keelboat Academy crewed J/109 Yeoman of Wight, which was top of the seven J/109s but one point shy of Peter Morton's MAT 1010 in the overall points.

"We loved it, we had a really good time. It was really nice to be back on the water," said MAT 1010's Louise Morton, making her return to competitive yachting for the first time since breaking her leg last June. On MAT 1010, today's races were steered by ex-British Keelboat Academy members Colette Blair and Mark Lees, the competitive juices flowing to ensure they finished ahead of their former colleagues on Yeoman of Wight.

After today's three races there was a leader change in IRC4A with father and son, Mike and Jamie Holmes and their J/97 Jika Jika overhauling sistership, Grant Gordon's Fever, to win by just two points.

"It was our first time out this season, so it took a while for us to blow away the cobwebs," admitted Jamie Holmes. "We led Fever during the race the day before a couple of times, but we threw it away through kedging badly!" Of today's race management on their course despite the powerful spring tide, Holmes added: "They did really well to get three fair races off, particularly after yesterday being so challenging. The tide was more of an issue yesterday, going backwards, than it was today."

According to Mike Holmes, their win came as a surprise as they hadn't expected three races to be held today - one more than scheduled.

IRC 4B was dominated by the Half Tonners, but by one in particular - the 1985 vintage MG30 Checkmate XV, skippered by Nigel Biggs - which completed the RORC Easter Challengewith a perfect scoreline.

"It was beginner's luck," said Biggs. "We only bought the boat a couple of months ago and it has had a massive refit at Corby's. We were working all hours over the last month to get it built. In fact on Friday morning it was a good job there was a postponement, because we were still drilling through the deck to put the deck gear on..."

"We have had some people with us," said Biggs of how they had done so well. "David Howlett [Ben Ainslie's coach] has been helping us a lot and John Corby and Mark Mills has done some design work on the boat. So a lot of thought has gone into it and as a group our Checkmate sailing team has been together for 15 years."

Biggs added that today was the first time they have sailed with the boat fully loaded up. "We were looking around to see what was going to blow up, but nothing did."

A worthy third was David Cullen's Irish team on King One, Paul Elvstrom's Half Ton Cup winner from 1980. "We got two 4s and a 3. That's two 4 o'clock in the mornings and a 3 o'clock...and our results reflected that," quipped Cullen, whose boat has remained in Cowes since the Half Ton Classics Cup last year when she broke her rig.

With a near perfect scoreline was Robert Larke in the J/80 one design class, dropping yesterday's one race to the Rachel Woods-steered Jumblesail. While Larke posted three bullets in today's races in the Northern Solent, so consistently second was William Goldsmith's Slam-sponsored team on Exess.

"Yesterday was frustrating to say the least," said Goldsmith. "Today it was a day of no mistakes or fewer mistakes. We struggled with starting earlier on in the week, but finished with a very good start and rather than J2X being off on their own, today we were keeping up with them and it was us and them and the rest of the fleet behind."

Goldsmith is with the British Keelboat Academy and is gunning with his team - average age 20 - for a good position in the J/80 Worlds to be held in Dartmouth later this year. "They will be huge and we want to try and stay up with the top of the fleet there. With the Worlds coming up its in our best interest to have all the British boats work together and that is part of the RORC Easter Challenge to get everyone coached."

At the prizegiving held in the Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre, Commodore of the RORC Mike Greville thanked the race officials before Easter eggs were handed out as prizes to all of the winners.

Published in RORC

Saturday proved a difficult one for both competitors and race officials alike at the RORC Easter Challenge Under a grey overcast sky, race three of the series got underway on time in light breeze, but on the second beat the wind turned inside out, causing the race to be shortened, finishing at the end of that leg. After this the wind resolutely failed to return, causing today's final two races to be cancelled.

In IRC One, 2010 Commodores' Cup winner Anthony O'Leary and his silver Ker 39 Antix won today's race. "We had a good start at the pin," the Irishman described it. "We got a little jump on our group of boats, we just rounded the top mark ahead of them. It just came and went all the way down the run and as we came around the bottom mark, the breeze had swung more to the west which hurt the guys ahead of us, while we were well ahead of our group anyway."

Dutchman Piet Vroon and his 2010 RORC Yacht of the Year, Tonnerre, were looking good at the end of the run, having overhauled the Farr 52 Toe in the Water. Unfortunately she and Toe In the Water lost out on the right side of the next beat as the breeze backed left. "At one stage, we were looking good, but we were nowhere at the finish," admitted Vroon. "It is not really representative of the sport to operate in such varying wind."

First to come in on the new breeze and hoist their kites upwind was the Farr 45 Espresso Martini (making up for her grounding yesterday) and she ended up being first home, followed in by Jonathan Goring's Ker 40 Keronimo, these two beating the two biggest boats in the RORC Easter Challenge fleet to the finish line on the water.

"When they [Espresso Martini] went around the leeward mark, the wind went left and they could reach to the finish," explained Brian Thompson, helmsman on Toe in The Water. "Anyone ahead of her was way off to leeward and hadn't made that much distance. The wind went maybe 90deg to the left. But it was good to get one race in and everyone was happy to come in early."

Overall leader in IRC One is now Michael Bartholomew's King 40 Tokoloshe, six points ahead of Keronimo.

In IRC Two Jim Macgregor and his Elan 410 Premier Flair have hung on to their overall lead after today's race, now just a point ahead of Niall Dowling's new J/111 Jazzband, although today's race was won by Joopster, Neil Kipling's J/122.

"The bias was swinging at the start and we were going for the pin end and then the bias went 10deg the other way, so we went back to the committee boat," Jim Macgregor described his start. "We weren't going fast at the gun, but we were going in the right direction and we spotted the pressure up on the left and those that went right lost on the first beat." Premier Flair led around the top mark and held on during the run.

On the second beat, matters were made all the more challenging for Premier Flair as there was a tide line just short of the weather mark. "There was east-going tide approaching and then for the last 50 yards, definite west-going tide," Macgregor continued. "What became a good layline suddenly became a bad another two tacks, but it was the same for everyone."

Finishing fourth today, Macgregor adds that he is finding the RORC Easter Challenge a good gauge of the competition lining up soon for the British team's trials for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

Elsewhere Peter Morton on his Mat1010 won today's race in IRC Three to take the lead from the British Keelboat Academy squad sailing David Aisher's J/109, Yeoman of Wight. In IRC Four A Grant Gordon and his J/97 Fever continued her unbroken run of bullets as did Nigel Biggs' MG30 Checkmate XV in IRC Four B. However in the J/80 one design class, Rachel Woods' Jumblesail won today's race breaking Rob Larke's previously perfect scoreline on J2X.

Round the world navigator Steve Hayles, racing with the British Keelboat Academy on the Farr 45 Kolga, felt that the race committee had made the right call to send the fleet home mid-afternoon.

"It was a bit confusing," he said of today's situation. "It wasn't really a sea breeze, there just wasn't much gradient about, so a bit of breeze funnels up the western Solent at 270deg, it funnels down Southampton Water and it comes off the north shore, so all it takes is a slight change in balance..."

But it was really the tide turning that finally killed the wind altogether today. "In theory that should have built the breeze a little, but I think it just held it back. To can it was the right thing to do."

As to tomorrow, Hayles (who also runs the weather forecasting company GRIB.US) says: "We hope it will go southwesterly...I was hopeful yesterday, but I'm not today. There is a bit of southwesterly out there, it is just whether it pushes up here. It could be the same again. I am a little more hopeful tomorrow. If it starts more left it will pull left."

Two races are scheduled for tomorrow with the first start due at 1000.

Published in RORC

#CARIBBEAN 600 – A plan to secure line honours at the Caribbean 600 race on the world's largest carbon composite sailing yacht includes four Irish sailors on the 29–man crew. The Royal Ocean Racing Club race route circumnavigates 11 Carribbean islands and begins on February 20th.

The crew on the 200 foot long yacht is composed of many Volvo ocean race and Americas cup veterans and also includes Irish sailors James Caroll, Johnny Mordant, Aaron O'Grady and Mark O'Reilly.

The 67–metre yacht Hetairos was launched on June 2011 in Finland and last year the massive entry won line honours and finished second overall in the IMA Superyacht transatlantic race between Tenerife and the BVIs.

Hetairos is 200 feet long and carries up to 4400 Square metres of sail area.

With less than one month to go, to the fourth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2012 programme kicks off with a sensational cast in Antigua.

The RORC Caribbean 600 is a truly international affair, with well over 500 hundred competitors from at least 24 different nations taking part. More than 30 impressive yachts are expected to take part in a high-speed, action-packed yacht race around 11 Caribbean islands. There can be few sporting events that can boast such a worldwide appeal with sailors taking part from all over the world including: Antigua, Australia, Austria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey and the United States of America.


The largest yacht in the Caribbean 600 fleet will have four Irish sailors onboard: The magnificent 67m Hetairos. Credit:Hetairos/Baltic Yachts

This astounding diversity of nationalities is matched only by the astonishing array of yachts and personalities. The largest yacht competing this year is the magnificent Hetairos with a waterline length of 200'. Hetairos is the world's largest carbon composite sailing yacht. The 29 crew on board is composed of many Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup and Jules Verne around the world veterans. Hetairos is among the favourites to take line honours, but there are several other yachts more than capable of finishing in front.

In 2011 American George David skippered Rambler 100 to smash the monohull course record, taking line honours and overall victory. David's team is back, this time with the Reichel Pugh 90, Rambler and they are unlikely to give up the title without a fight. The Spanish Volvo 70, Gran Jotti will be dwarfed by Hetairos, but the former Telefonica Black has a venomous turn of speed and is quite capable of out pacing the entire fleet. On board there is a huge wealth of talent in the form of Spanish America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors. These three are likely to be contenders for line honours, but overall victory under IRC is far more difficult to predict. A hot contender is Niklas Zennstrom's Judel/Vrolijk 72 Rán, which will be making its debut in the RORC Caribbean 600.

"For me it's very refreshing to tackle a new race and the Caribbean 600 is a real fascination," explained Hayles. "It's unlike any other offshore race in that the average leg is only about 40 miles and for a navigator there is a lot to consider. Normally, a race is all about the weather and strategy but in addition to all that, this race takes you back to the basic problem of navigating around so many rocks and islands. Looking through all the legs, there is a broad mixture of sailing angles; there is a fair bit of reaching, but it is wrong to think that is not a challenge, especially with the speed sensitivity of modern high-performance boats. The course is more like a whole stream of complex coastal races. I have to say that it is a pretty unique race."

A dazzling variety of yachts crewed by some of the world's finest will be racing this year. However, not all of the competitors are seasoned professionals. One of the smallest yachts competing this year is J/39 Sleeper, which will be raced two-handed by a father and son team. Jonty Layfield and son Jack are both RORC members and hale from Brighton, UK. Last year with a full crew, Jonty's won class at Antigua Sailing Week:

"Sailing Two-Handed with my son, I don't expect to be very competitive, we are not going to go flat out but treat the race more like a delivery trip," admitted Jonty. "I have raced double-handed with my son back in England and I have been sailing with Jack since he was about five years old, we are more like friends than father and son. The great thing about sailing is that you have to get on with it; you can't have any histrionics. Jack is working in Brazil at the moment and the RORC Caribbean 600 is a great way to spend a few days together."

Close duels are expected right through the fleet, none more so than in the Class 40s where a hard fought and close encounter is expected. Tradewind sailing provides perfect conditions for Class 40s, with long reaches and downwind legs, these pocket rockets are capable of surfing at speeds of up to 25 knots. Peter Harding's 40 Degrees has Hannah Jenner as skipper, the only female to skipper the Clipper Round the World Race. Hannah was in fine form last year, gaining a podium position in the Class 40 Transat Jacques Vabre:

"Antigua is a beautiful place to start the season with some winter sunshine and I have heard that Antigua Yacht Club provides a great party!" smiled Hannah. " The race course has plenty of activity with sail changes and the competition should be really close. Making the right tactical decisions will also be very important if we are to be the fastest Class 40 around the track. I am really looking forward to the race."

Hannah Jenner on Peter Harding's 40 Degrees in the 2011 Transat Jacque Vabre/ Credit: Alexis Courcoux

RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen believes that the RORC Caribbean 600 is especially attractive to larger yachts, however the ethos of the club maintains equal status to every participant.

"A wide spectrum of yachts and competitors has decided that this is an event that is not to be missed. The club is delighted that people from all over the world want to take part. There is a mixture of world class sailors and corinthian enthusiasts, but they all have one thing in common, a passion for offshore racing."

"This average length of yacht for this year's entry is over 70'. When the Royal Ocean Racing Club started this race in 2009, we felt it would appeal to larger yachts and that has proved to be the case. This year we have a significant number of Racing Maxis, Super Yachts and Spirit of Tradition yachts. However, every yacht competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 is governed by the same set of rules. All of the competitors receive a warm welcome from the Antigua Yacht Club, regardless of their finish time or place. Since 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club has promoted offshore racing for all and in many ways the RORC Caribbean 600 typifies that cause."

The 2012 edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club, will start on Monday 20th February 2012.

Past Results:


2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)

2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)

2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)


Multihull record holder - Region Guadeloupe in 40 hours 11 mins 5 secs (2009)

Monohull record held by Rambler 100 in 40 hours 20 mins 02 secs (2011)

Published in Offshore
Page 9 of 11

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating