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2015 RORC Channel Race – A cracking race for a magnificent fleet
IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing Monohull Line Honours and winner of class by just six seconds - 2015 RORC Channel RaceRick Tomlinson ©

RORC Channel Race 2015 – A cracking race for a magnificent fleet

RORC Channel Race 2015 – Despite a light and shifty forecast, the Royal Ocean Racing Club provided a cracking race for a magnificent fleet of 87 yachts taking part in the race.

Effectively the 130 nautical mile course featured two windward leeward sections. The course took the fleet from the Squadron Line upwind into the Western Solent and up to the DZB Buoy off Anvil Point.

The second leg was downwind, south of St Catherine’s Point, past Owers and onto the Rampion Met Mast. The fleet then raced upwind, back to Owers, before a tight reach past Horse Sand Fort and a finish in the Eastern Solent at Darling Associates Buoy.

During the race, the wind speed varied from zephyrs up to 20 knots, producing a tactical race, where sail choice, manoeuvres, trimming and driving skills, were the keys to optimum performance. Class leaders and the overall lead changed hands on many occasions during the race with yachts enjoying skirmishes right through the IRC and Class 40 fleet.

Tony Lawson was on board his British MOD 70, Concise 10, taking Line Honours for the Multihull Class and completing the course in just over nine hours, hitting a staggering top speed of 37 knots. In IRC Canting Keel, Mikey Ferguson’s British IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing, had a full on 15-hour match race with Andy Budgen’s British Volvo 70, Monster Project. Artemis Ocean Racing finished just over seven minutes ahead of Monster Project to win after time correction by just six seconds.

In IRC One, Eric De Turkheim’s French A13, Teasing Machine scored the best corrected time under IRC to win IRC One and The Channel Race overall. Teasing Machine enjoyed a highly competitive battle, especially against the two Ker 40s; Andrew Williams’ British Keronimo and Harmen J de Graaf’s Dutch Baraka GP. The three yachts finished within seven minutes of each other.

‘Wow! I am still three-quarters asleep, so it is a bit hard to realise. …Amazing, I won this race once before in 1973!’ smiled Eric De Turkheim. ‘It was a very good race with a nice course, our usual competitors are the Ker 40s and we were very happy to beat them. It was not ideal conditions for Teasing Machine, she is very powerful, so a bit more wind than the mid-range conditions we had for this race, would be ideal. However, we stayed in the match, all the way, constantly keeping a watch on the competition, so we knew we had beaten the Ker 40s at the end but winning overall is something else. At the start we stayed inshore along the Isle of Wight and extracted ourselves from the Solent in a good position. Often with a south westerly wind you can get lifts along the island shore and there was relief from tide. Not many boats came that way, which was great as more traffic can make things complicated.

2015 RORC Channel Race – A cracking race for a magnificent fleet

Eric De Turkheim’s French A13, Teasing Machine – 2015 RORC Channel Race© Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com

We knew that the wind was going to fade near the finish, which would be a key aspect of the race, as finishing before the tide turned would be a great advantage and become a big hurdle for the boats behind. We came towards the finish, side by side with the Ker 40s and we just managed to finish using our Code Zero.

Teasing Machine was originally on the waiting list for the Fastnet but thankfully we have just been given a place. The boat was dismasted in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and it took some time with insurance and other factors to get her back in the water and hence originally we entered the Fastnet too late to get a place. We will be there for Cowes Week and the Fastnet and Laurent Pages will be joining us for those.’

Nick Jones’ British First 47.7, Lisa was second overall. The father of three from Chichester explains how victory slipped away from them. ‘At the start, the north shore looked like it has more breeze and when we went through Hurst Narrows, we looked at the boats around us and we knew we had done well’, explained Nick Jones. ‘The beat to Anvil Point was better than expected due to a good breeze. Downwind, we could pole back and sail straight at St Catherine’s, which the bow sprit boats couldn’t do and we felt we were really in with a good chance. Everything went really well until a few miles from the finish. The breeze started to fade but we were still doing nicely under Code Zero, until the wind completely left us. We were just half a mile from the finish, we parked up for 45 minutes and lost the overall win by 18 minutes, so it is pretty easy to do the maths. However, I don’t expect any sympathy from my wife, Suzi, who has just given birth to Toby Alexander. Even though I haven’t slept for 24 hours, I will be straight back to fatherly duties. It is a bit galling to lose out like that but it was a great race and excellent practice for the Fastnet, as Geo Ostergaard and the Danish sailors will be on board again for that. To be honest, I would rather that this happened in this race than the Fastnet, so maybe we will get better luck there.’

Notable performances in The Channel Race include Peter Newlands’ British First 40.7, Anticipation, which was the victor in IRC Two. Reigning Rolex Fastnet champion, Pascal Loison’s French JPK 10.10 Night and Day, was the winner of IRC Three and the Two Handed Class and Jonathan Rolls’ British Swan 38, Xara, won IRC Four.

Racing for the RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with the iconic Rolex Fastnet Race, on Sunday 16th August. The RORC Cowes Clubhouse will be a hive of activity in the build up to the race during AAM Cowes Week.

by Louay Habib

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