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120 boats competed in the 2021 Cowes Dinard St Malo Race. The historic race which dates back to 1906, was won overall by RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was second and Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift was third. In the modern era, James Neville is the first RORC Commodore in office to win the King Edward VII Cup.

“Some amazing sailors have been Commodore of the RORC, so this is a proud achievement,” commented James. “We got a fantastic start and held onto Teasing Machine up the Solent. It was a challenging race for the navigator Coriolan (Rousselle), especially to judge how far west we could go to hedge our bets with the tide. Then when the wind went very unstable, we stuck to our plan and cracked off for speed. The tactic worked as we were lifted to get ahead of Redshift. We are really happy about our performance because light winds beating is not really our best conditions, it is not what we are set up for, but we really played our hand very well.”

Line Honours for the MOCRA Class was taken by Francis Joyon’s IDEC. Line Honours for monohulls ,and winner of IRC Zero, was Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine. Congratulations to all the class winners: Nicolas Jossier’s Class40 La Manche #EvidenceNautique, Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader, Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee², and Elizabeth Wallis’ Albin Express, Expressly Forbidden.

Full Results here

By the morning of the race, 40 French and Dutch boats had sailed to Cowes to compete. On receiving YB Trackers delivered by RORC RIB, all of the overseas teams were delighted by the warm RORC welcome. The club was equally delighted that so many overseas sailors teams had made the effort in these unusual times.

The 150 nautical mile race started off the Squadron Line in brilliant sunshine and light airs. Race fans enjoyed a spectacular view from Cowes, as the majority of the fleet started on the island shore as the tide began to turn favourably to the west. A building south-westerly breeze arced up the boats in the Western Solent for an impressive send-off past The Needles and into the English Channel. Conditions offshore were extremely unstable, the prevailing wind was a light southerly, but the fleet experienced significant changes in wind strength and direction, which coupled with strong tide provided a complex conundrum. Managing the changing conditions was rewarded with a top performance.

 Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan DehayesFrancis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan Dehayes Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

MOCRA Class

Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Yves Le Blevec’s Ultim Actual, sailed by Ronan Dehayes, had an extraordinary dial up for the start of the race. The two giant trimarans circled each other match racing for position. Actual seemed to win the start, racing to windward of IDEC in a controlling position. IDEC was just ahead of Actual at The Needles and eventually pulled away. A westerly breeze kicked in as IDEC rounded the Casquets, ramping up the trimaran to over 20 knots of boat speed. IDEC took Multihull Line Honours and the win in the MOCRA Class. Andrew Fennell’s Morpheus was the third to finish and second in the MOCRA Class. James Holder’s Dazcat 1295 Slinky Malinki completed the MOCRA podium.

Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine and Ultim Actual cross tacks at the startEric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine and Ultim Actual Photo: Paul Wyeth/RORC

 IRC One Start at the RYS Line CowesIRC One Start at the RYS Line Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

IRC One

RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX and Ed Fishwick’s GP42 Redshift had yet another close battle in IRC One. Ino XXX eventually winning the class by approximately five minutes after time correction. David Cummins’ Ker 39 Rumbleflurg was the early leader but finished third in class, just ahead after time correction of Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood retains the class lead from Redshift. Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra is third.

Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. © Paul Wyeth/RORCEd Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Two

Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was the winner, scoring an impressive victory over Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise by nearly two hours after time correction. Dawn Treader was very close to winning the race overall, just over two minutes behind Ino XXX after time correction. Christopher Daniel’s J/122e was third in IRC Three.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Sunrise is still the overall and IRC Two Class leader. Dawn Treader is second in both overall and class.

Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee²Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee². © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Three

Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-Bee² was the first boat in class to finish and was the winner in IRC Three after time correction. Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO, racing Two-Handed with Eivind Bøymo-Malm, was second and Noel Racine’s JPK 1030 Foggy Dew was third.

“I have always wanted to win class in the St Malo Race, but this is the first time I have achieved that,” smiled Louis-Marie Dussere. “We know that Raging-Bee² is a good boat for upwind but so is the J/109 JAGO. Noel Racine (Foggy Dew) is a good friend ashore but a fantastic enemy offshore. So, we are really happy with this win, and it has been wonderful to race with the RORC again. At Les Hanois, I think we were about fifth, but the wind disappeared, and we had a re-start. Raging-Bee² put in a really good finish, and to be honest the wind stopped again just after we crossed the line. This was a great race against really good opposition.”

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship in IRC Three and IRC Two Handed, Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing with Deb Fish, is the new leader. James Harayda’s Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, racing with Dee Caffari, is second, and Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris, racing with Maggie Adamson, is third.

IRC Three start at the RYS Line Cowes. © Paul Wyeth/RORCIRC Three start at the RYS Line Cowes. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Two Handed

31 teams started the race in IRC Two Handed Elizabeth Wallis racing her Albin Express Expressly Forbidden with Bryn Phillips, revelled in the light upwind conditions to win by approximately seven minutes after IRC time correction from Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO. Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews, racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora was third. Elizabeth Wallis and Bryn Phillips are both under thirty and taking part in their first RORC race of the season. Expressly Forbidden, with an overall length of 25ft was the smallest boat in the race.

120 boats compete in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race. © Paul Wyeth/RORC120 boats compete in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race. © Paul Wyeth/RORC

IRC Four

Expressly Forbidden was the winner with Cora second. Jonathan Rolls' Swan 38 Xara had an excellent race following on from the overall win for the De Guingand Bowl. Xara was third in class for the St Malo Race. The classic yawl Amokura, sailed by Paul Moxon & Steve Jones, was the last boat to finish the race. With great tenacity, the team did not waiver from their goal to finish the race, taking nearly two and a half days to complete the course.

For the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Cora leads IRC Four by just over five points from Stuart Greenfield’s S&S 34 Morning After with Xara third. 

The Royal Ocean Racing Club Season’s Points Championship continues with The Channel Race, scheduled to start on Saturday 24th July. 

Published in RORC
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Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox's J/109 Mojito were winners of the Tremadog Bay 'pop up' Regatta at Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales.

This Welsh regatta was organised over the same days as the cancelled Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta - hence its “pop up” moniker.

It produced a great local fleet of 14 offshore boats with IRC racing for Class One and two and inshore boats.

There were four days of 'Round the Cans' races as well as a day to take in the sights of Tremadog Bay.

Published in ISORA
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IRC Zero represents the glamour end of the keelboat fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. It’s likely that we’ll see line honours go to one of the maxis in the class, perhaps George David’s 88ft defending line honour champion Rambler 88 (USA), if she can keep the freshly launched ClubSwan 125 Skorpios (MON) at bay.

Traditionally IRC Zero produces the most overall winners. Over the last 10 editions, half have been won by IRC Zero competitors, including Niklas Zennstrom's two-time winner Ran 2, while David and Peter Askew's VO70 Wizard won overall IRC honours and the Fastnet Challenge Cup in 2019.

Aside from the fully professional teams competing aboard the ‘no excuse to lose’ maxis, there is a growing charter market in the Volvo Ocean 65 and Volvo Open 70 boats. These canting-keeled flying machines were thought to be cutting-edge technology less than a decade ago, and initially were considered too powerful and not sufficiently reliable for the keen amateur crew looking to charter a fast ride to the Rock. However, attitudes have shifted as keen sailors have learned the ropes of racing high-powered race boats in a safe and seaworthy manner, and a number of pay-to-play crews are lining up for the adventure of their lives aboard them.

While there are enormous kudos in being first across the finish line in real-time, every racing sailor knows that the real battle is on corrected time under IRC. As winner of another prestigious RORC offshore race, the Myth of Malham - covering the first part of the course to the Eddystone Light and therefore a strong indicator of form for the Rolex Fastnet Race - things appear to be in Tala’s (GBR) favour, although owner David Collins says that on that occasion his Botin-designed 52-footer enjoyed a large dose of good fortune. “We sailed well, but making the last tide gate in a dying breeze is what gave us the result in the Myth of Malham. It is certainly no indicator for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Our aim for the race is, as ever, to sail error-free and keep the boat moving fast.”

Part of the key to Tala’s success is the consistency of personnel. “It’s a fairly settled crew now,” says Collins, whose navigator is the experienced Campbell Field. “Three will be Volvo Ocean Race veterans. We have a couple of strong trimmers and some talented amateurs.” Two families make up five of the crew.

David Collins Botin-designed 52-footer Tala was third overall in IRC and top British finisher in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comDavid Collins Botin-designed 52-footer Tala was third overall in IRC and top British finisher in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Paul Wyeth

RORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine, seen here finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORCRORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine, seen here finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel/RORC

Other boats to watch in this size bracket include the ever-competitive Teasing Machine (FRA). Designed by Bernard Nivelt and Alexis Muratet and built by King Marine in Spain, Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine is a powerful 54-footer with soft chines and a cockpit that has been fully optimised for crewed offshore competition.

At the core of the Teasing Machine, campaign is project manager Laurent Pages, a Volvo Ocean Race winner in 2011/12. Above the water, the 54-footer bears strong similarities with a VO70 or VO65, with a similar deck layout and twin companionways with the pit in between. But Teasing Machine is designed to compete under IRC. The major area of optimisation is her heavy fin keel and a number of concessions to comfort onboard, including hot water, an oven, and two fridges.

From the battle-proven to the barely-touched-the-water example of Sir Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed custom 52-footer. While this may be the boat’s first foray into the Rolex Fastnet Race, for Sir Richard it is his 24th assault on the Rock: “For us, it’s the pinnacle of our racing and at 72 years old, it is a challenge and an experience to enjoy during the race and afterwards.”

24th Fastnet Race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed 52-footer © Paul Wyeth/Round the Island Race24th Fastnet Race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a Carkeek-designed 52-footer © Paul Wyeth/Round the Island Race

Nicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Pierre BourasNicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race © Pierre Bouras

If offshore racing is a game that rewards experience and sea miles, the group of sailors on Bretagne Telecom from La Trinité-Sur-Mer will again be ones to watch for the overall prize. Second overall on IRC in 2019, boat builder and owner of this canting-keel Mach 45 Nicolas Groleau has campaigned Bretagne Telecom (FRA) in the past six editions of the race. She has twice won her class and stood on the podium on all but one occasion, so an overall race victory is surely only a matter of time and persistence for Groleau and his committed band of Breton hotshots.

What will 25-year-old architecture student Katrina Westphal be able to achieve as skipper of the carbon fibre Grand Prix racer, the Carkeek 47 Störtebeker (GER)? Boris Herrmann’s runaway success in the Vendée Globe turned the IMOCA 60 sailor into a household name in Germany, and the ‘Boris effect’ is generating a resurgence in offshore interest across the country. Not that Westphal is a newcomer to the Rolex Fastnet, as this will be her third time in the race and second time as a skipper. Thanks to the crew training initiative of her yacht club, the Hamburger Verein Seefahrt, this ambitious sailor and her equally youthful crew hold the reins of a high-performance race yacht that could really make waves in the overall standings.

Promoting youth participation - the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden © Van UdenPromoting youth participation - the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden 

Another entry with a strong focus on promoting youth participation is the Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden (NED), with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd Jan Poortman looking to turn his crew of 18 to 25-year-olds into world-class offshore sailors. “Our team, the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team, has been training every week and done a fair bit of overnight offshore training but like my kids in the Optimist, we are getting a little tired of training and we want to race! We’ve been preparing for the Rolex Fastnet Race for two years and if the weather is right for us, we will go for the win.

“We are a small boat in IRC Zero - so often it’s a big boat race or a small boat race. When it is a small boat race we are up to the challenge; we have trained hard, have good equipment and talented sailors. Our crew has very little racing experience, but we think we have done more training than the average team over the last two years so we hope that makes the difference.”

The De Graaf family are one of the most faithful Rolex Fastnet Race teams and return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED). Olivier De Graaf comments: “Since the start of Baraka Sailing Team 17 years ago, I have sailed with my father and with my two brothers as well as with friends we know from the world of sailing. This will be our sixth Fastnet together as a team and our second time with this boat. Finishing in Cherbourg is adding a new complexity to the course, which will make the final run into the finish even more important, especially after three days of racing already.”

COVID restrictions have prevented their multinational team from meeting up for training out of the Hamble in the Solent, so they have been meeting up for online boat handling sessions via Microsoft Teams. Olivier admits he has yet to see whether these dry manoeuvres will prove effective in the salt-water reality of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Sixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family who return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comSixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family who return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth

Seven VO70s and four VO65s are entered in IRC Zero, including The Polish National Foundation's - I Love Poland © Robert HajdukSeven VO70s and four VO65s are entered in IRC Zero, including The Polish National Foundation's - I Love Poland © Robert Hajduk

Published in Fastnet
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Reigning ISORA Champion Rockabill VI Paul O'Higgins leads this season's ISORA Irish points series after Saturday's 64-mile offshore race from Dublin. The Royal Irish JPK 10.80 also leads in the overall combined UK and Irish ISORA league.

As regular Afloat readers know, ISORA organisers have been forced to separate the Musto sponsored leagues for a second year given the ongoing restrictions due to COVID that rules out cross channel racing. 

Last Saturday's line honours winner of race eight at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the J122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club is 32.3 points behind Rockabill VI overall with John O'Gorman's Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie from the National Yacht Club in third place.

The overall Irish Series position is here

The Welsh Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do (Mark and Jo Thompson) trails Rockabill VI by just 6.1 points in the overall combined UK and Irish league. Third is former ISORA Champion, the J109 Mojito of Pwllheli Sailing Club (Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox)

The overall combined UK and Irish position is here

Published in ISORA
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Howth ISORA debutante Outrajeous was the winner of Saturday's 35-mile training event following a recalculation of IRC rating results.

The impressive performance of the north Dublin J109 crew came to light on Sunday evening after it was discovered the boat was 'racing under an incorrect handicap', according to ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan. 

Results have now been updated from the potent outing of the Dublin Bay offshore fleet that saw defending coastal champion, the JPK 10.80, Rockabill VI relegated to fourth place in the season opener.

Provisional IRC results released by organisers on Saturday showed John Gorman's Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie with the IRC win but that has now been updated to put Richard Colwell and John Murphy's second-placed Howth entry as the top performer with O'Gorman second. Andrew Algeo's J99 Juggerknot II of the Royal Irish Yacht Club remains in third place. See corrected results below.

The Impressive tightly packed start of the first Viking Marine sponsored ISORA coastal event with winner Outrajeous (IRL 191909) to leeward and second placed John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie (GBR 7536R) The start of the first Viking Marine sponsored ISORA coastal event of 2021 with eventual winner Outrajeous (IRL 19109) to leeward and second-placed John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie (GBR 7536R) to weather both clearly in the front row of a tightly packed line

Although a training event, the first coastal event of the season turned out to be an impressive outing for the 13-boat fleet with an opening beat for about two hours – dead to windward – followed by two tight reaches and a dead run with the opening 2021 fixture fortunate that the forecast for the breeze to drop completely in the afternoon not materialising.

With just one more ISORA training event (29th May) before the D2D on June 7th, these offshore excursions are important form indicators, with the top four all entered for the Dingle Race.

ISORA 2021 - Results are provisional as of 18:51 on May 16, 2021ISORA 2021 - Results are provisional as of 18:51 on May 16, 2021

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ISORA has a potent cruiser-racer fleet of 14 entries and possibly more for Saturday's first training event of the 2021 season from Dublin Bay.

In an exciting development for Irish offshore crews, the ISORA fleet will be joined for the first time by Frank Whelan's new Greystones Sailing Club J-boat, Kaya.

It's a sister ship of the top performing Royal St. George J/122 Aurelia skippered by Chris Power Smith that is also slated for training on Saturday. 

The J/122 design is a 40-foot sloop conceived as a versatile, stable and simple-to-sail modern cruiser and racer.

Training as part of the Viking Marine Coastal Series will see a Dun Laoghaire to Dun Laoghaire Coastal route of 35 miles, representing the first training for next month's 320-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race from the National Yacht Club on June 9th.

JPK 10.80 Rockabill VIJPK 10.80 Rockabill VI

The new Wicklow J122 will meet defending Royal Irish ISORA champion, the JPK 10.80 of Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) for the first time along with Andrew Algeo's J99, George Sisk's XP44 WOW and two Howth Yacht Club J109s Outrajeous of ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell and Simon Knowles' Indian.

J122 Kaya is prepared for Saturday's ISORA debut at Greystones HarbourJ122 Kaya is prepared for Saturday's ISORA debut at Greystones Harbour

See the entry list to date below.

ISORA Chief Peter Ryan told Afloat that he expects the Dun Laoghaire Harbour start could reach 20 boats but admits 'everything is running very late' as a result of the COVID delayed start to the 2021 sailing season.

 J/99 Juggerknot IIJ/99 Juggerknot II

The final training course will be made at midday on Friday and, as Afloat previously reported, Figaro offshore campaigner Kenny Rumball is providing a tactical Zoom briefing on the course tomorrow evening. More here.

ISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on Saturday, May 15thProvisional Dublin Bay ISORA fleet  - race training begins on Dublin Bay on Saturday, May 15th

Published in ISORA

Dun Laoghaire Harbour sailor Kenneth Rumball a previous successful competitor on the ISORA circuit, along with teammate Pamela Lee has been competing in the toughest offshore sailing circuit, the one-design Figaro circuit in France. This circuit has produced some of the worlds greatest sailors including Jean Le Cam, Armel Le Cleach and Mike Golding to name a few.

In the past 18 months, the pair under the banner of 'RL Sailing' has been racing, training and coached by the most experienced French coaches in the training hubs of Lorient and St Gilles Croix De Vie.

The aim of RL Sailing is to qualify and represent Ireland in the mixed double-handed offshore class at the Paris 2024 Olympics

RL Sailing has similar aims to grow the sport of sailing in all disciplines in Ireland and here the pair explain their latest initiative.

Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in FranceKenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in France

A key ethos for the enjoyment of the sport is understanding. If more crews and skippers alike have a better understanding of the sport, they are more likely to enjoy their time on the water and will want to spend more time on the water. 

RL Sailing in conjunction with a sponsor of the team are offering pre and post-race analysis of the two ISORA training races pre the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and also a pre-race briefing for the D2D race. These sessions will be delivered via Zoom unless restrictions ease to allow briefings to be held in an outside well-ventilated area such as a marquee.

Pre-Race briefings will be conducted to look specifically around the wind and tides to be expected during the training races and also to look at some generic boat set up discussions.

Different weather models will be discussed along with local weather trends such as sea breezes, tidal variances and current changes.

However given the wide variety of boats sailed in the ISORA races, specific boat type settings and setups will not be discussed. These briefings are standard practice in the Figaro circuit to help skippers and crews discuss and understand the weather ahead of them to give a better understanding of the race and racecourse.

The post-race analysis will be a led discussion centring around which weather models were most accurate, the course and route taken by the leading boats, sail selection and options for different boats.

A certain amount of this discussion will be prepared from the Yellowbrick trackers to give skippers and crews an understanding of boat speeds and courses taken by each boat.

Once again this information sharing is a key training tool used in the Figaro circuit. While we are all competitors on the water, for all sailors to improve, information is shared and discussed to build knowledge.

We believe that training like this is invaluable to all skippers and crews and will only lead to a better understanding of offshore racing which will improve the standard of sailing and the performance of Irish offshore sailors both in home waters and abroad.

These sessions are currently subsidised by a generous RL Sailing sponsor to all ISORA sailors competing in the training races on the 15th and 29th of May 2021 and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, however, in due course, there will be a modest fee for later races for this service.

The initial weather briefing for the race commencing on the 15th of May will take place on the 14th of May at 20:00 hours and will last for approximately 1.5 hours.

Zoom link here;

Topic: ISORA Training Race 15-5-21 Pre Race Weather Briefing
Time: May 14, 2021 08:00 PM Dublin

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87838370799?pwd=ZHpQZU44UWtHa2ROT2lTY0Q3Q1RqUT09

Meeting ID: 878 3837 0799
Passcode: 297492

Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee

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Following an update on COVID-19 compliance and revised restrictions, the Royal Western Yacht Club in the UK has postponed the OSTAR & TWOSTAR race.

The 60th-anniversary race entry list will officially re-open on May 9th. The date is particularly symbolic as it was going to be the start day for the race. The new start date is confirmed as Sunday 15th May 2022.

As regular Afloat readers know, Howth solo sailor and mixed offshore sailing campaigner, Conor Fogerty was an Ostar class winner in 2017.

Race director, Adrian Gray said; "Whilst postponing the race was a huge disappointment to all concerned, this has uncovered a significant number of entries who could not prepare for this year due to COVID restrictions not allowing them to visit and prep their boats or allow the opportunity to qualify themselves for the race, whether that be completing the various safety and first aid courses, or the sailing miles required to enter the race. Some current entries have rolled into next year's start and we have been in constant communication with those who have expressed an interest in entering. Considering the number of sailors who we are in contact with, this Iconic race clearly continues to hold the imagination of the short-handed Corinthian, oceanic sailing world. We look forward to receiving entries from Sunday onwards."

The Royal Western Yacht Club says it is delighted to confirm that the OSTAR2022 will remain as a recognised qualifying mile builder for the Global Solo Challenge (GSC) 2023/24.

Further details can be found on the Event website here

Published in Offshore
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COVID-19With six months to go to the start of the 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday, 23 October, the Mediterranean’s premier 600-mile offshore classic looks well set. Some 47 yachts from 17 countries have entered, currently ranging in size from the mighty 42.56 metres (140 feet) ClubSwan 125 Skorpios down to the 9.14m (29.12 ft) Pogo 30 One & Only. Following last year’s successful running of the race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is quietly confident that not only will the 2021 edition take place, but it is on track to do so with a sizeable fleet, COVID-19 allowing.

The headline contest looks to be between the soon to be launched Skorpios and the 30.4m (100 ft) racing Maxi Comanche, which will also be making its race debut. On paper, both are more than capable of challenging the elusive monohull race record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds, which has stood firm since 2007. An intriguing tussle should be in store and there will be more on this story in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has always been a melting pot of nations, just as the island of Malta itself. A quick look at the Double-Handed Class confirms this. The division has steadily grown over recent years, in keeping with the global offshore racing trend. So far, nine entries have made the commitment. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are currently represented, with some creditable teams in the list.

The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021.The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021. Photo: Rolex Kurt Arrigo

British entrant, Richard Palmer and the JPK10.10 Jangada’s experience of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is less than positive. Forced to retire on Jangada's only previous appearance at the race in 2018, Richard will be hoping for a result more in keeping with his racing efforts in 2020. Last year, Jangada took the overall win under IRC at the RORC Transatlantic Race (racing two-handed), as well as winning the IRC Double-Handed Class at the RORC Caribbean 600 and capped it off by taking home the RORC Yacht of the Year.

Gerald Boess & Jonathan Bordas, crewing Jubilee, the French J/109, have form of their own having won the John Illingworth Trophy for first in the Double Handed Class on corrected time under IRC at the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race. “Preparation is very important, especially sailing double-handed,” explain the pair. “Everything from stowing the provisions on the boat to organising a watch system. You also need to be thinking ahead about what is coming. Trust in one another is also very important, so you can have proper sleep during the race!”

Another French yacht with potential to push for the podium is Ludovic Gérard’s Solenn for Pure Ocean. The JPK10.80 has appeared twice before at the Rolex Middle Sea Race, both times racing fully crewed. In, 2018, Solenn finished second in IRC 6, following up this impressive debut by winning IRC 6 in 2019 by four seconds on corrected time. Ludovic has some solid short-handed results to back up this pedigree with a second in the Rolex Giraglia and a third in the Quadra Solo-Duo Méditerranée

Beppe Bisotto with the Fast 42 Atame from Italy have been regular attenders for many years, mostly racing fully crewed to good effect. More recent efforts have been in the Double Handed Class. Beppe’s best result to date is a third in 2015, and for that he should not be discounted. Björn Ambos and Mandalay (GER), Peter Luyckx and Blackfish (BEL), Sergio Mazzoli and Nuova (ITA), Leonardo Fonti and Ultravox (ITA), and, Sergey Pankov and One & Only (ESP) round out the double handed entries for the time being.

Over the years, Maltese crews have consistently punched high above the relative weight of their country, taking on the larger sailing nations and securing some spectacular results on time correction. The first ever race was won by local boat Josian and the past two races have been won by Elusive 2, another yacht representing the island state.

Jonathan Gambin has yet to add his name to the list of overall winners, but it is not for want of effort. Jonathan has raced the course 13 times since his debut in 2008 with his Dufour 44 Ton Ton Laferla. Finishing eleventh overall in his first appearance, he has experienced the highs and lows of the race: ranging from retirements to third overall and first in IRC 5 in 2020.

“I love this race!” enthuses Jonathan. “Often, it marks my first “days-off” after a gruelling summer of work. I am fortunate to race with a good crew. They are all amateurs, mainly work colleagues and friends, but proven sailors. What they lack in experience with this type of race they make up for with attitude even when the going gets difficult. ”

“My favourite part of the race is the leg from Favignana to Pantelleria,” continues Jonathan. “It is usually a fast fetch in rough seas. As well as my crew, I am lucky to have a very supportive sponsor in Laferla. This year we will have a complete suit of sails for the first time. This will stand us in good stead and hopefully help us to an even better result than last year.”

Can Malta make it three wins in three year? The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021.

Published in Middle Sea Race
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ISORA will be running training events this month ahead of the first big Irish offshore fixture of the season, the 320-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race on June 9th. 

The training events, starting on the 15th of May, will allow boats to get boats up to speed for the biennial offshore race, which is run under the auspice of the National Yacht Club.

As ISORA Chief Peter Ryan told Afloat last week when government restrictions were eased; "It's all systems go!"

ISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15thISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15th

16 Races

The offshore body has a busy 2021 season planned with a total of 16 races on both sides of the Irish Sea and a new title sponsor signed up; Musto.

Six Offshore (Qualifying Q1-6) races are scheduled, with the best five to count for the Championship title and the prestigious Wolf's Head Trophy, which was not awarded in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Coastal Series

ISORA also have two Coastal Series running concurrently:

  • Viking Marine Irish Coastal Series - Five races best four to count
  • Plas Heli Welsh/UK Coastal Series - Five races best four to count

The first coastal race was held in North Wales on Saturday in accordance with ISORA's COVID-19 protocol with crew limited to 80% of the IRC crew number. The race was tracked using a new AIS system.

Updated Calendar

An updated ISORA 2021 calendar is being prepared to take account of last Thursday's government announcement and Saturday's disappointing news that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has been cancelled.

Published in ISORA
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