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Displaying items by tag: Offshore

The RORC Transatlantic Race enters the fifth day with the potential for a real twist of fate at the front of the fleet. Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) still leads the multihulls, but as the first boat into an area of light winds, the ‘hunters’ are catching up with their prey. Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) and Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati (ITA) are homing in on PowerPlay. The 100ft Maxi Comanche (CAY), skippered by Mitch Booth is over 100 miles ahead with one hand on the IMA Trophy. However, Volvo 70 L4 Trifork (DEN), helmed by Joern Larsen is reeling in Comanche. L4 Trifork is riding on better pressure from the northwest. News from the fleet includes the latest from Gunboat 68 Tosca (USA), co-skippered by Ken Howery & Alex Thomson.

Comanche’s navigator Will Oxley (2100 UTC 11 JAN): “1,680nm to go. It has been a very messy Atlantic weather pattern and that looks set to continue into the finish. So far so good. We are happy with our more southerly approach in comparison to L4 Trifork. For the moment they are sailing very fast in close proximity to the low. It looks quite difficult though to extricate oneself from the north; one of the reasons we rejected this option. We watch with interest to see how it plays out. The low does seem to be playing havoc with the fleet. We are sailing in 10-15 knot northerlies with the low still disrupting the trade winds. We think we can join the dots into the finish OK but we will have to be careful to avoid some very light air on the 13th. ETA still 16th January.”

MOCRA

Paul Larsen on board MOD70 PowerPlay (01:00 UTC 12 JAN): “Protecting the exits. That’s the strategy on PowerPlay at the moment with respect to our hunters and the narrow band of pressure we are in. So far so good today; we’ve seen some pretty glamorous sailing with clear blue skies and a warm, clear moonlit night. All the while we coax PowerPlay as deep downwind as every wave, puff and shift will take us. We don’t mind too much if it gets a bit light as that suits our more conservative foil configuration nicely. The band of wind that takes us across this mid-latter stage of the course is narrow. We try and keep ourselves between Argo and the westerly extreme of this breeze. Life onboard is very pleasant and even leads to stupid talk like – I wonder if you could cruise on one of these? Offshore sailors have such short memories!”

Two ORC50s are competing in the RORC Transatlantic Race: Club Five Oceans (FRA), skippered by Quentin le Nabour and GDD (FRA) skippered by Halvard Mabire, racing Two-Handed with Miranda Merron. The pair are having their own private duel within the MOCRA Class. Club Five Oceans leads by over 50 miles. GDD racing is playing catch-up after a big issue at the start, as Miranda Merron reports from on board GDD:

Miranda Merron on board ORC50 GDD (23:00 UTC 11 JAN):

“We made a conservative start as we are new to the boat. We had the fractional spinnaker up for no more than two hours when the spinnaker sock strop broke and the whole lot ended up being trawled in the sea. Apart from the halyard, which is obviously still up the mast and needs retrieving when the sloppy sea-state abates, the spinnaker survived intact, but we need to make a new sock strop. Soaking wet on the first day from the wet spinnaker and the sheer effort of getting it back on board! Beautiful starlit night on GDD tonight though!”

Ken Howery has reported on his Instagram feed that the boat and crew of Gunboat 68 Tosca have safely arrived in The Azores. The boat had taken on water which meant they “could not run the basic electrical systems necessary for the safety of the crew,” Howery concluded. “We hope to be back on the way to Grenada in the next few days.”

IRC SUPER ZERO

L4 Trifork is now estimated to be leading IRC Super Zero after time correction from Comanche. The Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi, skippered by Gerwin Jansen is ranked third after gybing southwest after making a big gain to the north.

L4 Trifork’s navigator Aksel Magdahl contacted the RORC media team, giving an insight into the complex weather for the RORC Transatlantic Race: “Suddenly we got a routing dilemma today. I have all the way been looking at ways to get south without waiting until the last low pressure. As with the last one, we have to take what we get. This afternoon weather models suddenly showed an opening to cut south ahead of the fleet. I don’t like to jump onto a sudden change in the models, but it was an interesting opportunity at the same time as the west and north routing was looking slightly more upwind to get south to Grenada.”

IRC ZERO

The decaying low pressure system in front of the teams racing in IRC Zero has caused a real change to the ranking in IRC Zero. Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II (GBR) has made a massive gain north of the low and is estimated to be leading the class after IRC time correction. The most southerly boat, Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), helmed by Stefan Jentzsch, is still leading on the water, and looks to have made a big gain on their close rivals Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CH) and David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR). Caro is set up to slingshot north of the low; which way Tala will go is as yet undecided. The British team are perilously close to the wind void at the centre of the low.

Christopher Pratt checked in from Jean Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III (FRA). The team are representing the Yacht Club de France in the RORC Transatlantic Race:

“At the start of this fourth evening aboard the beautiful lady we are grappling with calm, which should occupy us a good part of the night before attacking the ‘big chunk’ of this crossing of the Atlantic: the depression which disturbs or rather destroys the trade wind since our departure ...We are trying to make repairs to the sails that we damaged at the start of the race, but the manoeuvre is not easy when everything is soaked after a whole afternoon under a downpour ... The Atlantic in January, this is not really what it used to be!

IRC ONE

Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada (GBR) racing Two-Handed with Jeremy Waitt is still estimated to lead the class after IRC time correction. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is still ranked second, but by a bigger margin of 12 hours. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) is leading on the water and ranked third after IRC correction. The next conundrum for the leading boats in IRC One is how to manage the decaying low pressure system in their path. The problem is that the weather change is coming to them and in a state of flux. Choosing the correct course to activate a chosen strategy is far from perfect science. Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L’Ange de Milon (FRA) has made his decision; the Atlantic veteran from the Yacht Club de France has gone just north of the systems trajectory - time will tell who will make the right decision.

Published in RORC
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Romain Pilliard and Alex Pella set off on Tuesday January 4, 2022 on the Round the World Record Upside Down. The trimaran Use It Again !, the former Ellen MacArthur boat, crossed the starting line at 17 hours 36 minutes and 04 seconds between the Pen Men lighthouse on the Isle of Groix and the Kerroc'h lighthouse in Lorient. This Round the World Tour against the prevailing winds and currents has never been successful in a multihull, a real sporting challenge for Romain Pilliard and Alex Pella.

In a north-north-west flow of around twenty knots, at sunset, the bows of the trimaran Use It Again. crossed the starting line at 17 hours 36 minutes 04 seconds between the Pen Men lighthouse on the Ile de Groix and the Kerroc'h lighthouse in the east of Lorient.

In front of Romain Pilliard and Alex Pella, a 21,600-mile round-the-world tour on a direct route but nearly 30,000 miles in reality. During more than a hundred days of racing, the Franco-Spanish duo are determined to show concretely that it is possible to think about performance and to live exceptional adventures while minimizing its impact on the planet.

* Eighteen hours after the start, the Trimaran Use It Again! is progressing at 12 knots in the Bay of Biscay at the latitude of Bordeaux. As expected, Romain and Alex had to deal with a weaker southerly wind during the night but should touch up a stronger northwesterly flow during the day to get around the Spanish tip.

"It shakes this morning, the sea is rough. We reduced the sails to preserve the boat. "explained Alex Pella this morning.

"They had a rough night with a few grains and fired as expected in soft around 7:30 this morning. Everything is fine on board, for the time being they are faster than the initial routing". said Christian Dumard, shore-based router.

Published in Offshore
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With the three named Atlantic storms of Arwen, Barra and Corrie already logged and leaving behind trails of varying degrees of disruption in Northwest Europe, we in Ireland don’t need to be told that the winter of 2021-2022 has been registering as hyper-active in terms of adverse weather.

But at least for those of us snug ashore, most houses in Ireland are built to successfully withstand such conditions. Then too, increasingly sophisticated weather analysis and improved methods of predicting and accurately warning of the approach and track of such storms have made it a matter of taking timely precautions and remaining indoors if at all possible.

So what must it be like to find yourself in a sailing boat far out in the open North Atlantic – albeit in its more southern portion – when such winter weather starts to develop around you, and there’s no getting away from it?

Pamela Lee of Greystones is one of Ireland’s most dedicated offshore sailors. In 2021, her most recent success had been on November 19th in Genoa, taking second overall at the finish in a fleet of ten boats in the two-handed Nastro Rosa Race round Italy race (started at Venice) for Figaro 3s. But then as winter closed in on Europe, the approach of December found her in the Caribbean, in Martinique awaiting the finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre, as she’d been giving the dream commission of bringing one of the hottest boats, the Mach 40 Redman, back home to France.

Redman in “The Happy Place”, wind well free and making many knots - but still the spray flies everywhere.Redman in “The Happy Place”, wind well free and making many knots - but still the spray flies everywhere.

It was an opportunity not to be missed, as the Class40 has already committed to the 2022 Round Ireland Race in June, and in Martinique Redman was crowned as winner of Class40. So even though it would be mid-December, with average conditions they could hope to be back in La Trinite on France’s Biscay coast in time for everyone to be home for Christmas. But conditions weren’t to be quite normal. Pamela Lee takes up the story:

THE ATLANTIC IN WINTER

Around noon on Midwinter’s Day, Tuesday 21st of December, a slightly bedraggled crew of three French men and an Irish girl finally pulled into the Marina at Horta, Ilha do Faial, in the Azores. Although an originally unintended pit-stop on our way from Martinique to La Trinité while bringing the Class40 161 Redman back home after her victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre, we were pretty relieved to chuck the line to the very helpful - although masked-and-gloved - marina manager.

The trip from the Caribbean had taken us 12 days, much longer than anticipated on a boat that should comfortably average above 12 knots boat speed. A few factors played into the delay, not least that we spent 48 hours under only the Tormentin J3, which is essentially a bright orange storm sail, while we hunkered down waiting for the three massive low pressures to pass over us, and hoping that we’d stay upright while waves smashed over the top of the hull.

Where will it all go….? Provisioning a two-man boat for a crew of four presents special challenges.Where will it all go….? Provisioning a two-man boat for a crew of four presents special challenges.

Early stages in Caribbean conditionsEarly stages in Caribbean conditions

Unfortunately, prior to this, we had also suffered a small tear on the J1, and during the storms the same on the upper leech of the main sail, all of which contributed to a small window of wind angle and strength in which we could get anywhere near hitting our polar percentages.

This said, we still managed to squeeze in some incredible sailing and I really got a chance to witness this winning Mach 40.4 JPS Production at some of her best showings. And at some of her worst showings too, for the limits-pushing scow hull shape – to optimise waterline length and hull volume within the 40ft LOA limit – can be teeth-shattering to take to windward in a steep sea.

North Atlantic grey day, but great going….they managed 27 knots in one speed burst.North Atlantic grey day, but great going….they managed 27 knots in one speed burst.

You needed to get fully under the low-headroom cockpit shelter when the spray sheeted over like a hail of bulletsYou needed to get fully under the low-headroom cockpit shelter when the spray sheeted over like a hail of bullets

SPEED OF 27 KNOTS

On the plus side, at one point we topped out our boat speed on 27 knots SOG. TJV winner Antoine Carpentier (with Spain’s Pablo Santurde Del Arco as co-skipper) claims to have achieved 29 knots in the sprint westward, so we weren’t too far off. But whether we achieved this through sailing prowess, or should rather give credit to the exceptionally large wave that we happened to be surfing down at the time, well, that’s another question……..

For as you’d expect, with the scow bow hull shape, this interesting racing machine comes to life when off the wind – as soon as you can get the Gennaker up, you are in a happy place. While still in the Caribbean, we had some incredible sailing from Martinique up to St. Marten, with almost 24 hours averaging over 20 knots SOG in those wonderful trade winds.

A gap between the storms, with a selfie for Pam as Redman makes smooth progress under autohelmA gap between the storms, with a selfie for Pam as Redman makes smooth progress under autohelm

Yet even with the scow bow, it was still wet - very wet. The cockpit shelter is actually surprisingly low to minimise resistance in what is a very serious racing machine, so unless you are really tucked in underneath it you are getting a good dowsing on a regular basis. Similarly, on the helm, you are sitting abaft the cover and pretty much out in the elements. Although not really necessary in the Caribbean trade temperatures, dry smocks are a must onboard.

We had a few more wonderful runs with the Gennaker and some lovely sailing with the big Spinnaker, but as is the case with trying to get back across the Atlantic at this time of year, we were faced with a larger proportion of upwind angles to contend with. This boat, as with many, was not built for upwind, but the slamming or ‘Tappé’ as the French call it, is on another level when you try to attack the swell in any sort of unfavourable angle.

Life goes on – sail repairs and cooking under way in the cramped night-lit accommodation.Life goes on – sail repairs and cooking under way in the cramped night-lit accommodation.

For this reason, we spent the first third of the trip heading due East, and even sometimes Sou’east before we could finally wrap around the outside of a system and gain a favourable angle Northwards, though it did feel like Morocco might be the best pitstop option for a while, and we were glad to make the Azores on Tuesday this week to let further storm systems go through before (we hope) heading on for La Trinite on Sunday (December 26th)

This was my eighth time crossing the Atlantic, as through my career so far I’ve done it in a varied number of boats in both directions. This trip was motivated purely by gaining as much experience, on the water in the Class40 as possible, and what better boat to do this on than leader of the class and the winner of the TJV?

When a negative result is a positive – COVID tests rewarded with lemon tartsWhen a negative result is a positive – COVID tests rewarded with lemon tarts

Horta at last. Who would have thought a washing line could be such a beautiful sight?Horta at last. Who would have thought a washing line could be such a beautiful sight?

It has definitely been the most challenging of the trips so far (and we haven’t even finished yet, as I’m writing this from Horta on Christmas Eve). So even though I knew what I was signing up for, the contrast between leaving the warmth of the Caribbean and sailing towards the North Atlantic in December is dramatic and almost comical. Similarly, the intensity and speed of the weather systems that we had to navigate through was a different story and for me, it was an excellent opportunity to get back into ocean weather system analysis after two years mostly of coastal racing in France and Italy.

My role onboard is Watch Leader and second to the skipper Arnaud Aubry, so my goal of learning the boat and gaining useful miles onboard has certainly been achieved so far. Although not without its hardship including probably the biggest sea state I’ve experienced to date, not to mention sharing a bucket facility with three French guys and missing an intended Christmas at home, these feel like small prices for the bigger picture goal, and sometimes in offshore sailing, it’s good to be forced out of your comfort zone, just to remind yourself that even at the low points, you still love it – well, I certainly do anyway!

And if you have to miss Christmas at home, the deservedly legendary Peter’s Café Sport in Horta was as ever a home-from-home for Christmas Eve, even if there’s a shut-down from Christmas Day. But all being well, when that comes in we’ll be on our way.

It may not be Greystones for Christmas, but it will do very nicely…… Christmas Eve venue before the latest lockdown was the legendary Peter’s Cafe Sport in Horta.It may not be Greystones for Christmas, but it will do very nicely…… Christmas Eve venue before the latest lockdown was the legendary Peter’s Cafe Sport in Horta.

Published in Offshore
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Changes to the World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) coming into effect on January 1 2022, will mean an additional requirement for yachts taking part in races of Category 0 to Category 3.

In 2022, Irish fixtures such as June's Round Ireland Race from Wicklow and the inaugural Inishtearaght Race from Kinsale next May are Category 3 races.

The most significant change is the requirement for an out-of-the water structural inspection by a qualified person to ensure the soundness of the keel and its connection to the hull.

This follows a series of keel failures with, in some cases, loss of life.

The subject of examining keel bolts was taken up by Afloat's Tom MacSweeney in 2019 here

The inspection will involve checking the keel bolts and the internal arrangement as well as examining the external joins for stressing and cracking. Evidence of the inspection must be available to the race organisers.

The full text of the OSR can be downloaded below in a PDF

The OSR also says under (2.01 Categories of Events) Organizing Authorities shall select from one of the following categories and may modify the OSR to suit local conditions

This may allow them to drop the requirement or modify it if they see fit. The view from insiders is that it's not a hugely onerous task if they are being lifted for a scrub before a Cat 2 race.

Others, however, have criticised the new rule calling it unnecessary and yet more regs for offshore skippers to comply with. 

As far as the country's biggest offshore racing body is concerned, ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan told Afloat, "We are treating this as the responsibility of the skipper. We won’t be collecting forms".

The publication of the Notice of Race for both the Round Ireland Race and the Blasket Islands race from Kinsale is expected shortly and Irish offshore crews are waiting to see how the new rule is treated by Irish officials. 

Download the OSR below

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With less than a month to the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race, well over half of the record international fleet has arrived in Calero Marinas Puerto Calero in Lanzarote for the start of the 3,000 nautical mile race to Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada. Over 200 sailors from at least 22 different nations will be competing. The eclectic mix includes professional sailors from the Olympics, America’s Cup, Vendée Globe, and The Ocean Race, however, the vast majority are passionate corinthians.

Latest Entry List here

Double Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott will be part of Peter Cunningham’s crew racing his MOD70 PowerPlay. This will be Scott’s first-ever transatlantic, but he has a wealth of multihull experience as tactician for INEOS TEAM UK’s America's Cup campaign.

“The only offshore I have done previously was the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race on the same boat when it was Concise, so this is a bit new for me,” admitted Scott. “I am used to the speed that we will achieve, but clearly this will be very different; we are racing across the Atlantic and there are going to be some big waves. Hopefully, we will get good trade winds and it will be 3,000-miles downwind, which will be nice!”

Going offshore and looking forward to his first Atlantic race - Giles Scott will be on board Peter Cunningham's MOD70 PowerPlay in the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada in January 2022 © Cameron Gregory/ INOES TEAM UKGoing offshore and looking forward to his first Atlantic race - Giles Scott will be on board Peter Cunningham's MOD70 PowerPlay in the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada in January 2022 © Cameron Gregory/ INOES TEAM UK

The major difference for Scott will be racing offshore for a number of days and nights, something that he has not experienced in the Finn or the AC75. “I am fully into the unknowns here; it is a first step up into this world. I am looking forward to it, but I am nowhere near being an expert. I will be following the lead of the guys around me. I really don’t know what to expect in the middle of the Atlantic and this is almost a different sport. I hope I can perform to a high standard for the team. This is out of my comfort zone and that is why I want to do it. It will be an experience with a great set of guys and I am sure I will learn a lot,” concluded Scott.

With echoes of the Prada Cup in New Zealand earlier this year between INEOS, American Magic and Luna Rossa, the RORC Transatlantic Race features PowerPlay with a majority British crew, Argo from the United States, and Maserati from Italy.

“I am not sure about that analogy!” smiled Scott. “This race should be a real tussle; all three boats are set up differently. I am sure I can bring some experience to the team from the ‘Cup but I am not going to revolutionise anything. It doesn’t really matter what type of sailing you do, there is always parallel learning and this is a new area for me and why I am so keen to do it. My INEOS commitments don’t ramp up for a few months and since I stopped Olympic sailing, getting into offshore racing has been of real interest.”

One of several yachts racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club de France will be Jacques Pelletier’s Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon which is competing in the race for the first time © Paul Wyeth

The 2022 edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race has been organised in association with the Yacht Club de France and nine of the competing teams will be flying the French tricolour. French teams have lifted the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy on three occasions: Jean-Paul Riviere’s Nomad IV (2015) Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine (2017) and Olivier Magre’s Palanad 3 (2021).

Two stand out teams racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club de France will be Jacques Pelletier’s L'Ange De Milon and Remy Gerin’s Faiaoahe. Jacques Pelletier has lost count of the number of Fastnet Races he has competed in, including winning class in 2019, but this will be his first RORC Transatlantic Race with his Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon. Having suffered mast problems in the heavy weather at the start of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race, it is wonderful to see L’Ange De Milon has been repaired and is ready and waiting in Lanzarote. Designed by Jacques Valer of JPK fame, and with a highly experienced French crew, L'Ange De Milon will be a force to reckon with.

One to watch in the RORC Transatlantic Race - Tonnerre de Glen, Dominique Tian's Ker 46 One to watch in the RORC Transatlantic Race - Tonnerre de Glen, Dominique Tian's Ker 46 © Antoine Beysens

Dominique Tian loves ocean racing and his Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen is also one of the hot prospects from France. This will be the first RORC Transatlantic Race for the boat which has been meticulously prepared for the race. The team is full of experience, including navigator Oliver Kraus, who came second in the Multi 50 Class in both the TJV and the Québec St Malo:

“I am enthusiastic about my first Transat in this boat,” commented Dominique Tian. “It is one of the goals for 2022; the other being the RORC Caribbean 600. To finish with the crew and boat in good shape is always the most important thing. If we can also perform well, then we will achieve the best outcome possible.”

Taking on the RORC Transatlantic Race Two-Handed in his spirt of tradition classic - Remy Gerin's Faiaoahe, racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club de France © ROLEXTaking on the RORC Transatlantic Race Two-Handed in his spirt of tradition classic - Remy Gerin's Faiaoahe, racing under the burgee of the Yacht Club de France © ROLEX

Remy Gerin’s Faiaoahe is a spirit of tradition classic, built-in 2006 to sail around the world. The 65ft (19.8m) cutter-rigged sloop will be raced in the IRC Two-Handed class by skippers Remy Gerin and Bernard Jeanne-Beylot. Faiaoahe will dwarf another IRC Two-Handed competitor; Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada (overall winner in 2019), which is almost half the same length.

“Faiaoahe has been raced and cruised numerous times in the Pacific and Atlantic, including twice around Cape Horn, but this will be the first time we have raced her Two-Handed across the Atlantic,” explained Gerin. “Our first goal is to complete the race and then we are looking forward to welcoming our friends and family who will join us in the Caribbean.”

On the Volvo 70 HYPR - Gap year student fulfills his dream of racing across the Atlantic on the ocean racer On the Volvo 70 HYPR - Gap year student fulfills his dream of racing across the Atlantic on the ocean racer © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

For centuries, racing across the Atlantic Ocean has always been the centre of fascination for ocean racers, the opportunities to take part in an all-out race across the world's second-largest ocean is rare, especially for corinthian sailors. Of the 27 confirmed entries for the 8th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race, the youngest crew member on file is just 18 years old. Swedish sailor Filip Henriksson will be competing on the Volvo 70 HYPR skippered by Jens Lindner, which is one of 11 Maxis eligible for the IMA Trophy. Filip learnt to sail big boats with his family in the Gothenburg archipelago:

“My dream is to race across the Atlantic,” commented Filip. “2022 is my gap year and I saw HYPR when I searched the internet and I thought if I am going to do it, I may as well do it big. I am so excited to have got a position on board. I will be turning 19 during the race and my parents will be flying to Grenada to celebrate with me and have a holiday to explore the island.”

Published in RORC
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Charal's arrival completes the IMOCA podium but the racing rages on, especially for 4th and 5th between Initiatives Coeur and Arkéa-Paprec. The front of the Class 40 remains incredibly close with the current leader now just 600 miles from the finish. The Ultimes are now all safely in port.

A third-placed finish for the third time running for Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt.

The pair crossed the line in the early hours following a titanic cat and mouse chase with Apivia who finished second earlier in the day. The all-French crew also finished third in 2013 and the 2019 edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre race.

Charal and Apivia spent much of the time within sight of each other. It was only in the last 1,200 miles in the gybing battle along the Brazilian coastline, that Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat began to stretch ahead on Apivia.

Beyou and Pratt took 19 days 14 hours 59 minutes and 36 seconds to cover the 5,800 theoretical miles from Le Havre at an average speed of 12.21 knots, but they actually covered 6,574.22 miles at 13.96 knots. Her gap to the winner, LinkedOut, was 1 day 13 hours 38 minutes and 26 seconds.

Beyou said, "You have to be satisfied with a podium finish when there are great winners like Thomas (Ruyant) and Morgan (Lagravière), big congratulations to them. The gaps between the boats don't necessarily reflect the differences in level, the weather made things very difficult"

IMOCA fleet still thrilling

Can Briton Sam Davies in her 2010-built boat reel in the faster, newer Arkéa-Paprec to claim fourth place? That's the big question as the two boats race to the finish. Sébastien Simon and Yann Elies have a 20 mile advantage on Inititiatives Coeur with only 120 miles to the finish line.

Just a little further back in sixth is Davies' partner Romain Attanasio, who is in turn locked into a three boat battle with Italy's Ginacarlo Pedote on Prysmian Group and Corum L'Epargne.

Ultimes - and then there were five

The final Ultime competing, Sodebo Ultim 3 crossed the finish line overnight. It marked the end of a difficult and frustrating race for Thomas Coville and Thomas Rouxel. The huge multihull hit an object north of Madeira and despite stopping for repairs its co-skippers had to nurse the boat all the way across the Atlantic.

The pair took 19 days 14 hours 32 minutes 41 seconds to complete the race covering 9,573.33 miles at an average speed of 20,35 knots. The finished 3 days 12 heures 43 minutes 25 seconds behind the winning boat.

Class 40 - nailbiting stretch to finish line

The leading pack is keeping us on the edge of our seats. In the lead, Antoine Carpentier and Pablo Santurde Del Arco (Redman) have 600 miles to go to the finish line. The leading four boats are within only 40 miles of each other. As they approach Martinique the current angle of the wind will force the leaders to gybe. Benoit Hantzberg (Volvo) explains: "It's tricky because gybing is like going backwards, it takes us further away. We're going to head for Martinique as much as possible, because the first to gybe leaves the others free to take the podium."

The north-easterly trade winds are forcing the chasing pack to make a southerly course so that they too can gain some angle on the climb to the finish.

Published in Offshore
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Significant changes to the ISORA 2022 fixtures schedule (downloadable here) on the Irish Sea will be discussed online at this year's Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) Annual General Meeting.

The offshore body promotes offshore racing on both side of the channel, principally from Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay and Pwllheli in North Wales.

As Afloat previously reported, it is proposed to hold two Coastal Series, one on each side of the Irish Sea. Points for the Coastal series will not count for the Wolf’s Head. The Coastal Series will have its own signature trophies.

The AGM will be held virtually by 'Zoom' on Saturday 4th December 2021 at 11.00 hours.

The meeting is for the transaction of the following business:-

  • To approve the minutes of the previous AGM.
  • To approve the accounts for the year to November 2021
  • To elect Officers of the Association for the ensuing year.
  • To elect members of the Committee
  • To Agree the 2022 Race Management Detail and Proposed Race Schedule

The meeting is for the following categories:

  • 2019, 2020 and 2021 Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2022 prospective Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2021 Committee Members
  • 2022 Committee Members (proposed)
  • Yacht/Sailing Club Representatives

Voting will be restricted to one vote per ISORA participating boat.  Questions for the AGM are required to be forwarded to the Hon Sec before 2nd December 2021

Published in ISORA
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Afloat reported in August that the Irish duo of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee aboard RL Sailing had been denied a podium position in the Fastnet Race despite crossing the finishing line ahead of her class rivals.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) race jury later found that RL Sailing had unintentionally entered a commercial shipping TSS (prohibited zones under race rules) and awarded them a 10% penalty dropping them to last place.

Despite the team's protest and redress requests, the jury apparently relied on the screenshot of the Yellowbrick tracker that showed RL Sailing inside the RSS.

However, an Afloat investigation identified several other vessels that the Yellowbrick tracker put inside the TSS that were not penalised by the race jury.

Furthermore, screenshots from the tracking app appear to show boats missing out on rounding the Fastnet.

The yacht in this picture is clearly in TSS, but recorded as a legitimate finisher in 162nd place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Challenger II inside TSSA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing a yacht inside the TSS (displayed in a red tint) 

In the screenshot below the yacht, Horus seems to not only be in the TSS but her track suggests she failed to round the Fastnet. Results show her as a genuine finisher in 118th place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet RockA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet Rock

The J/125 Magic Wind was recorded finishing in 76th place, but the tracking screenshot suggests that she too missed the Fastnet and entered the TSS.

 A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet

Afloat is not suggesting that there was any wrongdoing by these vessels, but rather that the source of evidence relied on in the protest room - the Yellowbrick tracker - is questionable.

If this evidence was available to RL Sailing in the protest room, would the outcome have been different?

RORC did not respond when Afloat put these questions to them.

UPDATE: October 16 2021: RORC Racing Director Chris Stone responded as follows:

1. Was any action taken against these boats for what appears to be infringements of the SIs?

No further action was taking with regards Magic Wind, Horus & Challenger I (not Challenger II as you had referenced). Race Committee (RC) had concluded that none of the boats in question crossed into a TSS zone. For your information both Magic Wind & Horus had tracker failures (water ingress after a heavy couple of days) prior crossing the Celtic Sea and were put on AIS transmission. Both boats had received positions outside the TSS zone (clearly closer to land) and were then reported further down the course south of the Isles of Scilly and again when in AIS range closer to France. Both boats appear to have cut the course due to the dead reckoning between actual AIS positions. In the case of Challenger I on the western side of the Fastnet TSS, a failed satellite report and variations in boat speed meant that dead reckoning place them within the TSS zone while actually being outside. In cases where the RC cannot find evidence to prove a boat was outside the TSS zone, boats are scored with the standard penalty and asked to provide proof of their course, speed and heading to the international jury at the event, should they wish to.

2. If so was it a DSQ and reinstatement on the basis of evidence supplied?

None of the 3 boats identified were given a penalty because the RC had already determined they hadn’t breached the obstruction.

3. If not, was this because of any malfunction by the tracking system?

As noted above two boats had failed trackers and we were using AIS positioning as a safety precaution (which as we all know has very limited range). The third boat had a failed satellite transmission.

4. If the tracker malfunctioned on these three occasions, would it not be appropriate for those boats that were disqualified to request reinstatement?

No – individual tracking units failing or a failed satellite transmission doesn’t represent a failure or malfunctioning tracking system. In all cases, boats who have an issue with their penalty have the right of reply through an international jury. The jury is onsite at the event and open for this very reason (and other protest matters as well). In all cases where competitors wish to take the matter to the International Jury, they are asked to provide satisfactory evidence that they weren’t in the TSS zone (which is easy enough to do with ALL modern navigation technology) or alternatively show evidence that through no fault of their own they breach the TSS zone. For your information, all competitors are also made aware that taking a matter to an International Jury gives them no right of appeal after the decision of the international jury, as laid out in the Racing Rule of Sailing.

Some other points that may help in publishing further facts in relation to the matter around RL Sailing;

  • Satellite tracking is extremely accurate. YB trackers report multiple GPS fixes in a single satellite transmission, meaning that in one transmission (which is every 15 minutes at that point of the race) they can have up to 90 GPS fixes, if requested to do so.
  • The YB tracking system is set up specifically for Rolex Fastnet and the TSS zones are set up within the system as ‘poly-fences’. Any time a boat comes close to a poly-fence the YB tracking unit automatically requests higher frequency GPS reporting to monitor its approach into the TSS zone.
  • The RC also use a two box theory to identify boats within a TSS zone. 1 - being the outer box that is the actual TSS coordinates and then 2 - an inner box set some distance inside the outer box to allow for a higher degree of accuracy for a breach. Any boat with multiple GPS fixes inside box 2 will receive a standard penalty.
  • All penalties and protests for all boats can be found here https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com/en/competitors/race-documents/race-documents . Hearing 8 is the matter in relation to RL Sailing.
  • For your information there were only 4 boats in the Figaro III class, RL Sailing came 3rd after the penalty.
  • RORC and the RC made every effort to help RL Sailing after receiving a penalty, including allowing Pamela Lee to review the RC data about the breach and distances involved, and specifically identifying information required that would be useful in pleading her case with an International Jury.
  • From the hearing decision, RL Sailing appear to be unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.

RORC ‘s ongoing position remains the same, as it has done for more than a decade, the club elects for the purpose of safety and prudent seamanship, in what can be busy commercial shipping areas, to have TSS zones as obstructions within its sailing instructions. Those obstruction breaches receive a standard penalty and allow the RC to enforce any breach of an obstruction when there is suitable proof to do so. RORC regularly reminds competitors of the need to take a wide berth of areas of obstruction and allow for clearance when rounding marks or corners of any obstruction. These penalties and obstructions are clearly identified in ALL RORC race sailing instructions.

Additionally, Chris Stone emphasises RORC 'feels strongly' in representing the following facts;

  • For RORC this is a broad safety issue. The sailing instructions clearly state that TSS infringements will be penalised! This has been the case for a number of years and prior to 2020 the penalty was 20%.
  • YB Tracking (satellite tracking) is extremely reliable and the information is suitable any number of purposes, including determining breaches. As we are aware YB tracking is the industry standard for almost all major events (Vendee, Middle Sea, Hobart, Route du Rhum) and they all use YB tracking for similar purposes including identifying penalties.
  • The 3 boats raised in your email (and there were others) were all reviewed and identified as having sailed the course without entering an obstruction zone.
  • RL Sailing was NOT the only boat who received a 10% standard penalty for TSS infringement. There were several other boats across the entire fleet who received the same penalty.
  • RL Sailing did attend a hearing with the international jury and the jury found RL Sailing was unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.
  • There was no failure or malfunction of the tracking system that had adversely affected RL Sailing’s position in relation to a TSS zone. There were individual tracker failures which highlighted areas of further investigation which were reviewed by the RC.

The RORC are aware that this is an extremely disappointing penalty for RL Sailing however RORC operates fairly and without bias for all competitors in relation to the rules within the sailing instruction and we feel in the case of TSS infringements we have conducted ourselves appropriately.

Published in RORC
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Out of an entry list of 13 boats, seven will take part in the last offshore of the Musto ISORA Offshore Series on Saturday. 

The 'Long Offshore' will start from Pwllheli in North Wales at 10 am and sail a course to Dun Laoghaire Harbour to conclude the 2021 season.

While there are only seven boats taking part, they are the top boats of the year and the overall placings in the Irish and UK Musto ISORA Offshore Series will be decided by this race.

ISORA James Eadie race fleetISORA James Eadie race fleet

Known affectionately by ISORA sailors as the “James Eadie Race” it is traditionally the last race of the ISORA season.

As there were only two possible combined offshore races this season between the Welsh and Irish fleets, the Wolf’s Head Trophy for the Musto ISORA Offshore Champion, will not be awarded in 2021.

The race can be followed on the YB tracker app and on the ISORA website.

Published in ISORA
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club Season’s Points Championship concludes this weekend in the UK with the Castle Rock Race, the grand finale for the RORC season. The eleventh and final race for 2021 will decide the class winners for the world’s largest offshore racing series. Over 400 teams will have competed in the championship over the twelve-month series.

Tom Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise secured the overall championship win in last month’s Rolex Fastnet Race. However, the overall runner up for the season will be decided after the Castle Rock Race. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader is currently second, but three teams are very much in contention: ISORA's Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra, Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, and Dubliner Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood.

VME Racing’s CM60 Venomous © Carlo BorlenghiVME Racing’s CM60 Venomous © Carlo Borlenghi

In IRC Zero, VME Racing’s CM60 Venomous is in pole position but David Collins’ Botin IRC52 Tala is favourite to retain the IRC Zero title by completing the final race. Eric de Turckheim’s NYMD 54 Teasing Machine is currently third but a good result by Ross Hobson and Adrian Banks' Pegasus Of Northumberland will see them overtake Teasing Machine for third.

Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood © Paul Wyeth/RORCMichael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC One will have a new champion for the series, as neither of the top contenders has won the class before. Michael O'Donnell’s Darkwood has a five-point lead over Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra with both boats unlikely to be able to better their current scores. Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II had a superb Rolex Fastnet Race and is odds on to claim the final podium position, ahead of Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift.

Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Paul Wyeth/RORCRoss Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Paul Wyeth/RORC

In IRC Two Tom Kneen’s Sunrise is virtually unbeatable. However, Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster is looking strong for runner-up in the class with Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader assured of at least third place for the season.

Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two-Handed with Deb Fish © Rick Tomlinson/RORCRob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two-Handed with Deb Fish © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

A record 83 IRC Two-handed teams have been racing in the RORC Season’s Points Championship and the class winner will be decided in the Castle Rock Race. Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing with Deb Fish, leads the class for the season by just over seven points from Nigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. Bellino was the champion in 2019, Cora was second.

In IRC Three, there are four Sun Fast 3600 battling for the podium. Bellino looks set to win the class, having been runner-up in 2019 by less than two points. Bellino is only four points ahead of James Harayda’s Gentoo, racing Two-Handed with Dee Caffari. However, Gentoo has not entered this weekend’s race. Battling for the final podium position are the Army Sailing Association’s Fujitsu British Soldier and Nick Martin’s Diablo.

Nigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. © Rick Tomlinson/RORCNigel Goodhew’s Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by son Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews. © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

In IRC Four, the podium for the season looks to be decided prior to the Castle Rock Race. Cora has an unassailable lead and will win IRC Four for the first time. Renaud Courbon & Emmanuel Winsback, racing First Class 10 Shortgood, is in second place.

Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada, racing with Jeremy Waitt, is less than two points behind in third, but Jangada is en route to the Rolex Middle Sea Race and will not be competing in the Castle Rock Race.

Greg Leonard’s Class40 Kite © Paul Wyeth/RORCGreg Leonard’s Class40 Kite © Paul Wyeth/RORC

37 Class40 teams have competed in the championship. Greg Leonard’s Kite is entered for the Castle Rock Race for somewhat of a lap of honour having won class for the season. Sam Goodchild’s Multi 50 Leyton will be making a RORC debut, with plans to compete in next year’s RORC Caribbean 600.

Yachts taking part in the Castle Rock Race will start to gather off Cowes Parade from around 1800 on Friday 10th September. The full entry list and AIS tracking link can be found here and also via smartphones with the YB App. 

Once back in Cowes competitors will experience the warm welcome by the RORC Cowes Clubhouse where the prizegiving will extend to an evening of partying, with competitors and their guests enjoying all that the Clubhouse has to offer.

Published in RORC
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