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#COMMODORES CUP – Although Ireland is officially slated by the Royal Ocean Racing Club to be defending its 2010 title won on the Solent there is still no details of the compostion of an Irish team for July's Commdore's Cup.

Ireland face an uphill struggle to mount a credible defence, though Antony O'Leary's Antix is most likely to be a key part of any team, which is a major asset, there is still the job of completing the three boat line-up. A call to interested parties was made late last year by the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA).

ICRA Commodore Barry Rose says that despite the current difficult environment ICRA remains hopeful of mounting a serious defence and have waited until last October to allow the maximum time to those who may consider supporting the challenge but since then there has been no further news of the team.

The Commodores Cup takes place from 21st to 28th July 2012 based in Cowes. Ireland first won this prestigious International Trophy in 2010 .

Captain of the winning team Anthony O Leary told Afloat.ie: 'We finally won this great event in 2010 with a well organised campaign. Let's hope we
can return to defend it in 2012 learning further from that experience'.

Interest from teams wishing to stake a claim on the prestigious Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is running high with challenges from several nations including: England, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Hong Kong. Eddie Warden Owen, Chief Executive of organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), is very happy with the way things are shaping up for the 11th biennial event:

"It would appear that the new format of allowing teams to be made up of three boats of any size and the availability of good boats to charter, has prompted interest from outside of Europe too. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is shaping up to be a very competitive regatta."

Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Bouwe Bekking has been announced as Captain of the Dutch team, with the possibility of two Dutch teams and talk of a combined Benelux team of Dutch and Belgian boats.

"The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup (BDCC) is a great event. It is giving owners and their predominantly amateur crews, the ability to sail for their own country and in a real team event. The BDCC is nearly the only national team event left in offshore racing. It will provide tough competition and in addition, racing in the Solent will give the event that extra dimension that owners are looking for. For me, it will be the first time as Team Captain for the Netherlands. It sounds more prestigious than the role actually is. The fact is that the three boats have to perform well individually in order that the team can do well overall. But there are a lot of small aspects which can help make them a better team in my opinion. I will try to give them that extra support and insight from all the experiences I have learned from all the Admiral's, Commodores' and Sardinia Cups I have participated in," commented Bekking.

John van der Starre from The Dutch Class Organisation, Noordzeeclub based in The Hague: "We are very pleased that Bouwe will be Team Captain. He has great experience and will drive the team. We will have more news on boats and teams in February, but already have six yachts hoping to compete: Baraka GP, Display, Captain Jack, Redan, J Xcentric and TeamVanVuuren."

The Dutch selection procedure will take place during the two first big IRC events of the year, with trials at the Van Uden Reco Stellendam Regatta (21-22 April) and the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta (15/20 May), including the Vuurschepen Race (25/28 May) and RORC North Sea Race.

Teams from the Netherlands have competed in the biennial Commodores' Cup since its inception in 1992, only missing out in 2000 and 2010. They have not yet won the Commodores' Cup but finished on the podium in 1998 and 2002.

Strong Interest from GBR teams

In early January the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Selection Committee met with owners and representatives of 19 boats who were interested in participating in trials for the English teams to compete.

"We were delighted with the turnout for the initial meeting which was much better than I expected and great for the event, as well as for sailing in the UK," said Stacey Clark, the new Chairman of the RYA Council and Chairman of the Commodores' Cup Selection Committee.

John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager/Performance Director:"I am delighted to see so much interest, both from previous competitors and potential new team members in being selected for one of the GBR teams. This should provide an excellent trials series from which a team that can win the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup should emerge - as well as providing a competitive base for future events. There was a great atmosphere at the meeting and we look forward to taking on teams from around the world!"

The Selection Trial events have been confirmed for RYA Team GBR:

Offshore - the RORC Morgan Cup starting on 5th May.  A 24-36 hour race round buoys in the Channel, starting and finishing in Cowes. Inshore - a Commodores' Cup rating band class in the Vice Admirals Cup on 18th -20th May, organised by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes.

The rules allow for up to four teams per country and one place has already been offered to Scotland who have until the end of February to confirm a team entry. If the Scottish sailors decide not to take the opportunity, then an additional three boats could make up a four team challenge from England.

In 2008 RYA Team GBR won the Commodores' Cup and narrowly missed out to Ireland in 2010. This year, the aim will be to pick four teams who have the potential to win this Summer as well as in future years.

2012 marks the 3rd consecutive challenge from Hong Kong for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup and the sailors in this southern most part of China are working hard to put together a strong team which will emulate or better their runners-up placing in 2010.

Possibly making a return to the fray is long-time stalwart of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), Keith Jacobs, who sailed in several Admiral's Cups with his Dubois-designed Bimblegumbie and has recently returned to the club from Australia. This time Keith is a co-owner of the Kerr 40, Signal 8 which has just launched in Hong Kong and is headed up by co-owners Jamie McWilliam and Patrick Pender, the latter of whom who will drive the boat.

Likely to skipper a boat as well is Nick Burns who campaigned the Mills 40 Mandrake in the Hong Kong 2010 team, and well known Cowes Etchell sailor, Ante Razmilovic - now living in Hong Kong - is also working to put together a crew with Chris Opielok who skippered the small boat Rockall in 2010. Also donning wet weather gear in the Solent this summer will be RHKYC Vice Commodore Joachim Isler, who will return for his third campaign on one of the boats along with his Hong Kong boat partner, Aussie Andrew 'Drew' Taylor.

"Hong Kong's sailors love the world's best big-boat team event and are determined to keep coming back until they win it," says Team Coordinator, Laurence Mead who was helmsman of Mandrake in the 2010 Hong Kong challenge.

Hong Kong has taken part in the Commodores' Cup three times in 1992 (7th), 2008 (5th) and 2nd in 2010.

Published in Commodores Cup

The Royal Ocean Racing Club in London has awarded Niall Dowling's Royal Irish yacht Arabella (a J111)  the Alan Paul Trophy for consistent high performance in IRC, the Serendip Trophy for best series-produced Yacht in IRC, and the second place medallion in IRC overall for the 2011 RORC season.

Published in RORC
Ireland's 2010 Commodore's Cup winning captain showed his relief at the news that Hong Kong have been tipped as favourites for next July's event, The Irish Times reports.
The announcement was made this week at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London, and should lift a burden off an Irish squad which has long suffered under the weight of being pre-event favourites.
Ireland's concerns instead have turned to whether a team can even be assembled for next summer's event in light of the difficult economic environment - and despite the RORC opening the rating bands to allow for more flexible combinations of boat sizes.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) is seeking expressions of interest to form an Irish team and remains hopeful of mounting a serious defence of the title won by last year's Anthony O’Leary-captained squad.
The next Commodore's Cup - which also has a new title sponsor in Brewin Dolphin - takes place from 21 to 28 July 2012 in Cowes.

Ireland's 2010 Commodore's Cup winning captain showed his relief at the news that Hong Kong have been tipped as favourites for next July's event, The Irish Times reports.

The announcement was made this week at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London, and should lift a burden off an Irish squad which has long suffered under the weight of being pre-event favourites.

Ireland's concerns instead have turned to whether a team can even be assembled for next summer's event in light of the difficult economic environment - and despite the RORC opening the rating bands to allow for more flexible combinations of boat sizes.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) is seeking expressions of interest to form an Irish team and remains hopeful of mounting a serious defence of the title won by last year's Anthony O’Leary-captained squad.

The next Commodore's Cup - which also has a new title sponsor in Brewin Dolphin - takes place from 21 to 28 July 2012 in Cowes.

Published in Commodores Cup

After a record breaking Rolex Fastnet Race, the final race of the RORC Season's Points Championship takes place this weekend writes Louay Habib. After a scintillating season of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, current weather models pAfter a record breaking Rolex Fastnet Race, the final race of the RORC Season's Points Championship takes place this weekend. After a scintillating season of racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, current weather models predict a light airs race, in sharp contrast to a very windy season.

rorcimage

In IRC Zero Derek Saunders' CM 60, Venomous, has already clinched the class title but no doubt the team will be celebrating in style in Cherbourg, as this is their first series win with the yacht after three years of trying.

Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, has already wrapped up the class win in IRC One and after competing in nine races this season, the sky blue flyer is sitting out the race to Cherbourg. However, in IRC Two Neil Kipling's J/122, Joopster, needs to get a result against Ross Appleby's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, to be sure of the season win. Neither of these yachts has won their class for the RORC Season's Points Championship before but the conditions and the points favour Joopster to take their first RORC Season's Points Championship win.

Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew, has an unassailable lead in IRC Three after picking up maximum points in the Rolex Fastnet Race but the team from Le Havre are still competing in the final race of the season.

IRC Four has been incredibly competitive and after a long and exciting season, the class title looks like going to French JPK 9.60, Ultreia!, skippered by Matthias Kracht. However Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome, and Nigel Goodhew's Sigma 38, Persephone of London, are also racing to Cherbourg and will have a close battle for the runner up spot in IRC Four.

Matthias Kracht, skipper of Ultreia!, is a surgeon but he is obviously proficient in mathematics as he explained:

"By my calculations Ultreia! has a good enough points score in the Two-Handed Class to win the title for the season but we can still be beaten in IRC Four by two yachts, Jean Yves Chateau's Iromiguy, and also Ian Braham's Enigma, so we have decided to race to Cherbourg with a full crew to try to get a good result in IRC Four. Only two yachts have won both the Two-Handed Class and their IRC Class in the same season and they were both British yachts, Slingshot and Psipsina. So it would be a great achievement if we can add a French yacht to that."

Late entries for the RORC Cherbourg Race are possible until Thursday, 1st September, for more information visit: www.rorc.org <http://www.rorc.org>

Published in RORC
The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.
An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.
The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.
The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.
Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.
www.fastnet.rorc.org
Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

The largest, most diverse fleet of racing boats ever in offshore yachting set sail this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The biennial flagship event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a tradition since 1925, will take the fleet some 608 miles from Cowes on the Isle of Wight along the UK's south coast and across the Celtc Sea to Fastnet Rock off the Cork coastline, before returning past the Scilly Isles to the finish line at Plymouth.

An incredible 318 yachts are competing this year and they come in all shapes and sizes, from the 40m trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire to the 9.1m Rogers 30, Brightwork.

The majority of the fleet will be racing under the IRC for the Fastnet Challenge Cup, won by the crew that sails best to their rating. The weather will play a big part in this, as a fast start and slow finish favours bigger boats - so far today looks to be the opposite.

The 45-55 foot boats will surely provide the most competitive action, with past Fastnet winner Piet Vroon piloting his championship-leading Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens towards another victory.

Fans of the Volvo Ocean Race will also be watching the race live tracker intently today, as this is one of the only times many of the competitors will line up together before the start of the round-the-world yachting challenge.

Regatta News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fastnet

RORC's Round Eddystone Lighthouse race aka the MYTH OF MALHAM RACE is considered a good dress rehearsal as well as being a qualifying race for this year's Rolex Fastnet Race and 125 yachts braved a windy forecast to compete in the race.

With a west north west wind between 15 and 25 knots and yachts experiencing gusts of over 30 knots it was a tough test and an excellent warm up for the fleet who had to beat all the way to the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and experience a fast run back to the Solent.

French boats dominated the results taking three out of the top four places with Noel Rascine's Foggy Dew the overall winner. Foggy Dew, a JPK 10.10 and one of the smallest boats in the race, found the conditions very tough but finished the 240 mile course in 33 hours - seven hours behind the line honours winner, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens with her owner Piet Vroon on board. Second overall was another French yacht, the JPK 9.6 Ultreia!, owned by Matthias Kracht.

Amazingly, Matthias was sailing in and won the Two-Handed Class. Considering the weather conditions, this is a pretty special feat. Both Noel and Matthias were unable to comment today, as they were delivering their yachts back to France!

Third overall was Ross Appleby's 24 year old Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, and the winner of IRC Two. Ross was delighted with the result having pushed this old design very hard to achieve a podium place: "As we left the Solent we could tell by the boats around us that we were doing well. We got headed quite early and we changed our plan by heading into Lyme Bay.

We were a bit anxious about the move in case the breeze died on us however, the move really paid off," explained Ross "It was a ballistic run back from the Eddystone with gusts of over 35 knots off Portland. We managed to keep the rig on top of the boat but the kite had other ideas blowing up in one big gust and we ran right over it and then broke the pole! We used our jockey-pole on our No. 3 headsail, which was not as fast, but that did mean we could sail straight down the rhumb line in control and we still managed 20 knots on the surf."

IRC Zero saw an epic duel between two yachts: Derek Saunders' CM 60, Venomous, crossed the finish line a mere 11 seconds ahead of Jens Kuehne's Reichel Pugh 48, Sjambok. However after time correction, Sjambok was declared winner of the class.

Jonathon Goring's brand new Ker 40, Keronimo was the winner of IRC One and 5th in IRC overall. By all accounts, the new yacht from the drawing board of America's Cup designer Jason Ker is a real speed machine. Tonnerre de Breskens was second and previous Myth of Malham winner, Mike Greville's Ker 39, Erivale III put in a great performance to take third.

"Ten days out of the box and straight into a very breezy race was bit of a baptism of fire!" commented Goring: "A 120 mile beat to Eddystone and then a screaming run back in 30 knots of wind was a great test for this brand new design. We got a good start in the middle of the Squadron Line and we were chuffed to be the first of the big boats out of the Solent. The run home was brilliant and we had some amazing surfs on the tidal over falls at each headland with long periods where the speed was over 20 knots. At times there was white water past the mast but we didn't broach once for the whole trip."

Neil Kipling's J 122, Joopster was second in IRC Two behind Scarlet Oyster. RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponsewas third, after a close battle with another First 40, Edward Broadway's Carpe Diem.
As well as winning overall,Foggy Dew had a convincing win in IRC Three. James Heald's J 105, Flawless J was second overall with Peter Olden's A 35, Solan Goose of Hamble in third.

24 yachts competed in the Two Handed Class and only one of them did not finish the course; a testament to the seamanship of all the crews. The top three boats Ultreia!, Night and Day and Flawless J finished 2nd, 4th and 7th overall, which is a huge achievement in this top class fleet.

Two Class 40s enjoyed the fresh conditions, especially Cathrine Pourre's Earwenwhich took the class win from Mark Denton's MAXVMG.

Ultreia! won IRC 4, Pascal Loison was second in another JPK 960 Night and Day. In third place was Peter Diamond's Rapscallion, which also won the Sigma 38 class by nearly an hour, from Nigel Goodhew's Persephone of London. Jon England's Vitesse was third.

The conditions were tough and a good test for any serious offshore racer who has his eyes set on competing in this years Rolex Fastnet race. A number of boats had incidents including a man overboard, a dismasting and severe seasickness. This necessitated the emergency services being called out on three occasions.

The Myth of Malham counts for points towards the RORC Season's Points Championship and the overall leader is still Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens. Niall Dowling's J 111, Arabella is in second place and by virtue of his win this weekend Noel Racine's Foggy Dewmoves up to third overall.

The next race in the series is scheduled to start, next Friday 3rd June. The 180-mile North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen in Holland. The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races, which attracts an international and varied fleet. Trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge for the serious offshore sailor. This year the Championship includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht race in the world.

For the full RORC racing programme, results and more information go to: http://www.rorc.org/

Published in RORC
The Royal Ocean Racing Club season continues to be extremely popular with another bumper entry for the De Guingand Bowl Race starting on May 14th. Over 75 yachts are expected on the Squadron Line this Saturday morning, ranging from cutting edge custom yachts to traditional cruising yachts. Boats from all over Europe will be competing for class prizes and overall honours. The third race in the RORC Season's Points Championship starts and finishes in the Solent and exemplifies the variety of courses in this year's RORC Seasons Points Championship.

2010 Round Ireland Race winner Piet Vroon's custom Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, returns to RORC racing after winning her class at this year's RORC Caribbean 600. The sky blue flyer, which was RORC Yacht of the Year for 2010, has undergone some rig and sail modifications in Breskens before arriving in Hamble this week to continue their racing programme, leading up to the Rolex Fastnet Race this August.

Chaz Ivill's Grand Soleil 54, John B, won IRC One in last month's Cervantes Trophy Race. "John B will be competing in six RORC races this year, including the Rolex Fastnet Race," explained Chaz Ivill. "Competing in the De Guingand Bowl is just part of this year's offshore program. The core crew has been very successful and has been together for five years, this will be our third Fastnet campaign on the trot. However, John B has a blend of youth and experience and we have three sailors new to offshore sailing. Sam Cooper is just 18 and a student, Nathan Hanley is 22 and a sailmaker and Matt Mills has just finished University and is the son of regular crew, Tim Mills. Also William Broughton will be joining us this week for his first race on John B, William is eighteen and studying at Plymouth University."

RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse, won class in the Cervantes Trophy Race. McIrvine's crew are all friends with no professionals on board. "Jason Owen will be the skipper for the De Guingand Bowl Race, fresh from winning the Etchells Class in Bermuda," commented Andrew. "Jason is highly experienced but not all of the crew are; Tame Welsh has done very little sailing but has rowed across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and is also a PhD nurse." McIrvine's La Réponse can expect a close battle with another First 40, Guy Prest's Tarka II of Hamble, which should provide a close duel. Neil Kipling's J/122, Joopster, is also in fine form.

IRC Two also contains several First 40.7s, including Trevor Drew's Blue Juice, representing the Civil Service Offshore Racing Club.

"The CSORC has a long history as a club, with one of its first races being the 1979 Fastnet," explained Trevor Drew. "The emphasis is on having fun, with a friendly atmosphere. There is no minimum level of experience to sail with the club but the offshore crew has now completed the RYA Sea Survival and the ISAF Offshore Safety Course. We've been out on Blue Juice, getting in some team practice in the Solent and offshore. Our aim is to learn as much as we can and hopefully winning will come later."

Two-handed racing is becoming an extremely popular discipline within the RORC Season's Points Championship and fourteen yachts will be competing this weekend. Racing short-handed requires an all-round sailing ability and the class attracts a wide variety of people.

Kirsteen Donaldson and Judith Eastwood make up the all-girls team on X 332, Pyxis. Between them they have racked up thousands of sea miles including races from The Solent to La Trinité and Santander but Kirsteen is happy that the De Guingand Bowl Race will finish in the Solent.

"Previously, I would have preferred races that could be used as a feeder for a holiday. However, my sailing partner's husband is not keen on sailing and my 'other half' is not keen on long passages home, so finishing near where we started allows us to get a good sail into a weekend most diplomatically!"

Frederic Waniart and crew are the two-handed team in form, having won the Cervantes Trophy Race last time out. Vim is one of the oldest boats competing but has been meticulously prepared by the French team. The legendary Paul Elvström designed the Aphrodite 101 in 1977.

"We will be racing the De Guingand double handed, as part of our season racing with RORC and also the UNCL double handed series," explained Frederic Waniart. "One lawyer and one surgeon who have been sailing friends for quite some time. As for experience, it is my fourth season with the RORC in double handed sailing. I love racing with the RORC because there is a real competition, and the courses are very well organised."

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races, which attracts an international and varied fleet. For the serious offshore sailor, trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge. The Season's Points Championship this year includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht race in the world.

Published in RORC

There were mid fleet performances from Irish boats at RORC's Easter Sailing Challenge on the Solent where competitors not only head home wiser after three days of coaching, but also with suntans...so the July-like conditions continued for Easter Sunday, the final day of competition.

Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary was fifth from ten starters in IRC one and Niall Dowling's new J111 Arabella finished the same in IRC 2. Both boats moved up from sixth overall in yesterday's final day of racing.

Racing got underway in the morning with just enough northwesterly gradient coming out of Southampton Water for the race committee to set courses to the north of Ryde Sands. The first race was held in 5-10 knots while in the second, the breeze dropped off after the second start.

Despite a protest over their start in today's second race that might have cost them the top spot, Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw's Farr 52, Bob, won IRC 1 by a comfortable four points, the biggest boat in the RORC Easter Challenge fleet benefitting from clear air in the light winds.

Mike Bartholomew's King 40, Tokoloshe, had a disappointing day posting two fourths, dropping them to second. "It was thoroughly enjoyable, a great regatta, although it was a pity the wind got a bit fickle at times," said the South African skipper. "I think it was quite funny that we are one of the lowest rating boats in our class and we ended up second while the top rating boat won. There has been a lot of criticism of the IRC, so maybe it works! And the weather was beautiful. I don't live here all the time, but I have never seen England so good."

Mark Devereux's Club Swan 42, Brevity, slipped into third today after the British Keelboat Academy's Farr 45, Kolga, was OCS in today's second race. Kolga has British Keelboat Academy crew with RYA Youth Match Racing National Champion Mark Lees, 19, steering.

"For us it was a case of our making sure that all the fundamentals we've been working on in the manoeuvres and the communications on board were all clicking," commented British Keelboat Academy Head Coach, Luke McCarthy. "In the first race today it all came together and it was nice to get second on corrected in a pretty competitive IRC fleet."

In IRC 2, RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine was in his stride, scoring two wins aboard his First 40, La Rèponse. This left him tied in first with Andrew Williams' Prima 38, Max 'Ed Out! which won having one more bullet.
The scorers also had to resort to countback in IRC3 where Chris and Hannah Neve's First 35, No Chance, was pipped at the post by Louise Morton's MAT 1010, which had two wins today to gain the all-female crew (apart from Volvo Ocean Race winner navigator Jules Salter) the overall prize on countback.

No Chance's tactician Phil Lawrence, grumbling that his match racer daughter Charlotte aboard MAT 1010 had beaten him, said that in the second race their chances were scuppered when they got gassed by the J/109, Toe in the Water, led by round the world sailing legend, Brian Thompson. "There was much less breeze and we are not so quick in that and Toe In the Water, which has been sailed really well, got past us and dropped us back into the pack. We could just never catch them."

The regatta's only run-away leader was Grant Gordon's J/97 Fever. She finished 16 points ahead of Robert Baker's X-332, Brightwork, despite losing today's final race to Alistair Evans' immaculate Swan 37, Alvine XV, winner of the Prix d'Elegance (as chosen by the ladies on the committee boat).

Following on from Gordon's Swan 45 of the same name, the J/97 is being sailed by a new team that has been together since last Cowes Week.

"It has been very well organised by the RORC," continued Gordon. "They have done a good job and it is great to get feedback from the coaches. We got some good input on trimming the sails from Eddie Warden Owen, and being so light, the starts were quite challenging. It is a great way to start the season and it is much better to do it when there is a heat wave. Last year, we were sweeping snow off the deck!"

Published in RORC

Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary has had a disappointing start to the RORC Easter Sailing Challenge on the Solent today writes James Boyd.

Traditionally the Challenge has been an event for full oilskins and thermals to counter the freezing cold and driving rain For the first day of the RORC's annual European season opener, conditions were more like August, albeit with the wind cooled by the still chilly Solent. With this afternoon's first race held in six knots, followed by a puffy breeze gusting at times to an unforecast 12 knots during race two, combined with a building flood tide, it was a tricky day for the tacticians, but with the unseasonal sunshine there were no complaints.

In a class dominated by Ker designs it was the Mark Mills-designed King 40 Tokoloshe of South African Mike Bartholomew that posted two bullets in IRC One. Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw's perennial Farr 52 Bob, the biggest boat competing, led the way around the race course with a sufficient enough advantage in both races to finish the day with two seconds.

One of the pre-race favourites following her Rolex Commodores' Cup win last year, Antix, the Ker 39 of Anthony O'Leary, had a disappointing first race. "There would be a lot of beeping," said O'Leary when asked to describe what went wrong. "We had a terrible start. After that there was no place to recover, but the second race was fun and it was a lot more pleasant than the last two Easter freeze-outs. It was bloody cold and wet last year..." Antix, which has had no changes made to her since her Rolex Commodores' Cup victory, is currently lying sixth overall in IRC One.

In IRC Two it is even closer with three boats within a point of one another at the top. Tied in first with Andrew Williams' Prima 38 Max 'Ed Out!, is Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Réponse. "We got tied up on the first beat in the first race and we tacked into more tide against and more wind, but we made a good recovery," recounted the RORC's Commodore, "but the Prima had the best of it." McIrvine was pleased his newly formed crew is starting to gell. They plan to compete in all the RORC races this year, culminating in the Rolex Fastnet Race. "It was a lovely day sailing. You couldn't ask for better. It is like the middle of summer."

Proving his skill is not solely in racing giant multihulls round the world or singlehanded on IMOCA 60s, Brian Thompson is leading IRC 3 with his crew on the J/109 Toe In The Water. However Thompson's crew, that includes several recuperating servicemen, is just one point ahead of Chris and Hannah Neve's much campaigned Lymington-based First 35 No Chance, their team having three Commodores' Cups behind them.

Chris Neve, sailing with the experienced Phil Lawrence on mainsheet, was particularly pleased with their performance in today's second race when they port tacked the fleet and went on to win, despite putting in a penalty turn at the top mark when they tacked too close to another boat.

Leading the J/80s is Douglas Neville-Jones, a relative newcomer to the class, who co-owns his boat with Erivale III owner Mike Greville. Their reason for having the boat is to teach their sons and daughters. "The young ones usually just get sidelined and don't get to understand what's happening," explained Neville-Jones. "Do this [the J/80] and you get involved and that makes a huge difference, because they actually learn about why you are going this way or looking for shifts. Otherwise if you are on the weather rail of a big boat and the guys at the back are discussing whether they are on a shift or not – you aren't aware of that at all."

Throughout the day the coaching squad, led by Jim Saltonstall, has been out on the water in force, helping crews with their boat's tuning, their sail handling and manoeuvres, etc. With the rule preventing 'outside help' being dropped for this regatta, the coaches can get on board and help. Much video of the racing was taken and this was analysed in the Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre post racing.

"It is incredibly useful," said Mike Moxley of the coaching. His HOD35 Malice is mid-fleet in IRC Three. "Barry Dunning, who has come in to give us a bit of coaching, is always incredibly useful. He is very perceptive. You can see things going on with the sails 50m away that you can't see on board. He has taken trimmers off and put someone on the boat who has coached us directly. So good on RORC – it is very useful. Otherwise you always get good competition - there are some very good helms here and it is always hotly contested."

Racing continues tomorrow with three races scheduled with the first warning signal due at 0955 BST.

Published in RORC

Two big names in Irish offshore racing are among the 30-boat fleet preparing for the Transatlantic Race 2011 (TR 2011) this June. Last night the organisers, the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club, extended the deadline to enter the Race to March 31, 2011.

Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 from Dublin Bay and the Limerick Volvo 70 skippered by Ger O' Rourke's both make the entry list although the Shannon estuary's Chieftain is described only as a 'provisional' entry. For Entry list click HERE.

With the Transatlantic fleet now over 30 entries and many new inquiries following the success of the RORC Caribbean 600 - part of the companion Atlantic Ocean Racing Series - the organisers encourage those interested to enter the TR 2011 as soon as possible to secure a spot since the Notice of Race notes a maximum of 50 yachts for the race.

The TR 2011 will cover 2,975 miles from Newport, R.I., to the Lizard in England. The focus of pre-race activities will be the New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, R.I. There will be three staggered starts from June 26 to July 3. The awards ceremony on August 9th and other post-race activities will be held at the Castle, the home of the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England.

The fleet will include IRC Racing, IRC Racer/Cruiser, Classic and Open divisions with a minimum length overall (LOA) of 40 feet and no maximum. Competition is building within several segments of the diverse fleet, notably the 100' and up range which includes Sojana, Rambler 100, ICAP Leopard, and Maltese Falcon.

Tight racing is also expected in other classes and divisions, such as yachts in the under 50' range in IRC Racing and IRC Racer/Cruiser including the Class 40s - Concise 2, Dragon, and Kamoa'e, the Rogers 46s - Shakti and Varuna, as well as British Soldier ASA, Jacqueline IV, Sasha, Dawn Star, and Carina. For a complete list of entries click here.

All race documents are available HERE.

The TR 2011 is the centerpiece of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), and is organized in concert with the following clubs: Royal Malta Yacht Club, Annapolis Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Montego Bay Yacht Club, Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, Jamaica Yachting Association, Antigua Yacht Club and Real Club Nautico de Sanxenxo.

Two races in the AORS have been completed: the Pineapple Cup - Montego Bay Race and the RORC Caribbean 600. The Pineapple Cup, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to Montego Bay, Jamaica, a distance of 811 miles, was won by Genuine Risk, a 97-foot canting keel super maxi skippered by Hugo Stenbeck. In the RORC Caribbean 600, George David's Rambler 100, took line and overall IRC honors and set the monohull record of one day, 16 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds for the course's 600 miles.

Published in Offshore
Page 10 of 11

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