SUMMER-LIKE FINALE FOR RORC EASTER CHALLENGEWednesday 4th May 2011
A RORC Easter Challenge 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.
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!”
Race report by James Boyd. Photos by Tom Gruitt.
Click here for all News and Specials for AntiguaNice Yachting Insider Newsletter