RORC IRC National Championship – 61 crews competing in the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship were eased gently into the regatta today initially with sub-10 knot conditions.
However by the time the fourth and final race was held, the breeze had built to 20+ knots in the gusts. This, combined with a short, sharp chop kicked up by a building flood tide, led to numerous wipe-outs.
Concluding day one, Mike Greville’s trusty Ker 39, Erivale in IRC One, holds the largest lead across the five classes. The former Commodore of the RORC ended the day seven points clear of Irish former Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup competitor Conor Phelan on his Ker 37, Jump Juice.
Currently Greville is onto a winning streak, fresh from overall victory in the Morgan Cup. ‘We loved it out there – it was nice, with tight little courses,’ said Greville of today’s racing. As to what is making the difference, he maintains this is partly Erivale’s new sails, but also ‘I think that after 11 years, we have learned how to sail the boat! It’s all come together and we have good crew work. Some of them have sailed with me for 10 years or more,’ he says.
With David Tydeman, CEO Of Oyster Marine, navigating, they scored a one – one – two – six, the unwelcome final race score due to their hoisting the S4 spinnaker, which, Tydeman explained was too small for the lulls in the wind.
Leading the charge in IRC One was the Ker 46, Shakti, of Germans Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen, winner of today’s brisk final race, while Andrew Williams’ Ker 40, Keronimo claimed race three and Jump Juice race two.
The largest class competing at the IRC Nationals is the 19-strong IRC Two. In this the competition is tight at the top, with Adam Gosling’s Yes! team scoring five – one – two – one today on their brand new JPK 10.80+.
‘It was okay – a learning experience,’ admitted Gosling. ‘This is only our second time out in the boat. We would be doing better, if I could get our starts right… I just haven’t done enough sailing.
Similarly in today’s brisk final race they weren’t certain how their French-designed and built yacht – a sistership to last year’s Rolex Fastnet Race winner – would perform. As Gosling put it: ‘Is it going to fall over? Should we be sailing with a bit of windward heel? We just don’t know…’
Gosling is up against three other JPK 10.80s in IRC Two, including Audrey of RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, being skippered here by his French equivalent, Jean-Philippe Cau, President of the Union Nationale de la Course au Large. However it is the new J/112, J Lance 12 of France’s Frederic Bouvier, plus the two Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup-bound First 40s – Frans Robenburg’s Elke (in Flanders North Sea) and RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine’s La Reponse (in GBR Red) which are looking most threatening to Yes!
In IRC Three, the stand-out performer is Benoit D’halluin’s A35 Dunkerque-Les Dunes de Flandres, but the final two races were won by the J/35, Bengal Magic, part of the GBR Red Commodores’ Cup team.
However all eyes are on the new high profile ‘box rule’ classes, the FAST40+ and HP30. In the latter, John Reivers’ Melges 32, Drop Bear M32 scored three bullets today leaving Phaedo MOD 70 trimaran owner, American Lloyd Thornburg, second on his Farr 280, Fomo.
In the former, as the breeze built, the FAST40+s put in an exception display of their downwind pace. Sir Keith Mills’ Ker 40+, Invictus was leading comfortably after race three. But then disaster struck.
Sir Keith was sailing as ‘guest’ on board today, but his helmsman son Alex explained: ‘Upwind – I didn’t quite get into it, we were a bit slow. And then we had a massive wrap as we went around the top mark and that caused us to have a wipe out and then we were mid-pack and then out the back. But we smashed the last downwind and pulled one place back.
With Invictus coming 10th in race four, the overall lead was taken by Peter Morton’s Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, winner of today’s second and fourth races (while Invictus claimed the first and third).
Tomorrow the wind is expected to be lighter, with 10-12 knots forecast from the southwest. Race Officer Stuart Childerley intends to stage one windward-leeward race and two round the cans. As he explains: ‘We want to get three races in, because on Sunday it looks quite light and there might be a slight delay too. I don’t want to leave more than two races on the table for Sunday, which is why we pushed hard for four races today.
by Trish Jenkins