With over 400 yachts crewed by thousands of sailors from over 30 different nations, the 2015 Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Season’s Points Championship has the largest fleet of offshore racing yachts anywhere in the world. This year the RORC is celebrating its 90th anniversary and a record attendance is highly likely.
The first race of the series in the English Channel was the Cervantes Trophy Race, which started on 2nd May 2015. Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with the Société des Régates du Havre and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the 114 yachts entered were set a 135 nautical mile course from the Squadron Line to Le Havre.
The first leg took the fleet downwind to Anvil Point and the DZB Buoy, with 20 knots of wind from the east. It was a terrific start to the race and with spinnakers set most yachts were enjoying double digit boat speed. The wind was funnelling through Hurst Narrows and the increased wind speed caused a good few broaches, but back under control, the competitors continued downwind to Anvil Point where it was spinnakers down and on to the wind for the 100 mile leg towards Le Havre. The forecast was showing a massive shift in the wind direction from easterly through the south to settle in the southwest. With this in mind most of the boats stayed on port tack and headed for the Cap de la Hague in anticipation of the change. With the forecast changing and rain squalls running up the channel the crossing of the Baiy de la Seine and negotiating the tricky tidal streams and shifty winds was to prove a crucial part of the race.
Géry Trentesaux’s new JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon was the overall winner, taking under 20 hours to complete the course. “This is the first time we have raced the boat and we are delighted with the performance,” smiled Géry. “We haven’t really tuned up the boat but she will be a nice fast boat once we have had some time on the water. IRC 3 is a very competitive class and it looks like this will be a really good season. The Cervantes Trophy Race had a lot of upwind sailing and I was very surprised how fast Courrier Du Leon was on the wind. The key area of the race was the approach to le Havre, we stayed south and tacked just off Barfleur, which was perfect. Courrier Du Leon will be taking part in the North Sea Race and I am sure I speak for all sailors when I say, we will all miss Piet Vroon, who is not sailing at the moment due to a back operation. We all wish him a speedy recovery.”
In IRC Canting Keel, IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing took Line Honours in 15hrs 23mins 58secs and the class win from Chris Le Prevost’s IMOCA 60, Rosalba, sailed by Andy Greenwood. Derek Saunders’ CM60, Venomous crewed by the Windward Sailing Team, was the winner of IRC Zero. Ned Collier Wakefield’s Class40, Concise8 took the Class40 win, 22 minutes ahead of David Pearce’s Forty Shades of Grey, with Bertrand Gregory’s Rififi third.
In IRC One, there was an emphatic win for Nick Jones’ First 44.7 Lisa, which won the class by nearly an hour on corrected time from Mark Emerson’s Rodman 42, Phosphorus. Edward Broadway’s Ker 40, Hooligan VII was third. In IRC Two, local sailor Gilles Fournier J/133 Pintia was the winner by just over ten minutes on corrected time and was also second overall Gilles was sailing with French legend Bruno Troublé who undoubtedly brought a lot of technical and tactical experience to the team. RORC Admiral, Andrew Mc Irvine’s First 40, La Réponse sailed by Jason Owen was second in IRC One and Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd on board, was third.
IRC Three was won by Courrier du Leon, just under ten minutes ahead of Eric Mordret’s JPK10.80, Raphaello. Holders of the Fastnet Trophy, Pascal Loison’s JPK 10.10, Night and Day was third, racing two-handed with his son Alexis. 25 yachts were racing in the Two-Handed Class for the Cervantes Trophy. Night and Day was the winner by just under 20 minutes on corrected time from Rob Craigie’s Sunfast 3600, Bellino. Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK10.10, Raging Bee, returned from the RORC Caribbean 600 to compete and placed third in the Two-Handed Class, just 31 seconds behind Bellino.
Harry Heijst’s S&S 41, Winsome revelled in the upwind conditions to win IRC Four, beating Noel Racine’s JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew by just over six minutes after time correction. Ludovic Melnyk’s JPK 9.60, Sous Mama Boulé racing Two Handed was third.
“The RORC Season’s Points Championship is the premier offshore sailing series in the world” commented RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. “The 2015 series will see the fleet swelled by yachts competing for the RORC blue ribbon event, the Rolex Fastnet Race, which once again has struck a chord with Professional and Corinthian sailors alike.”
At the beginning of May the yachts line up to get racing miles under their belts working towards the 300 nm offshore racing required to meet the experience qualification for the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as scoring points towards the Season’s Points Championship. The Cervantes Trophy had a terrific entry list and a big thank you to the Société des Régates du Havre that has once again hosted the finish, providing a fantastic welcome for all of the participants.”
Racing for the RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with the 181 nautical mile North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen, which starts on Friday 15th May.
more info and results …. rorc.org
by Louay Habib