Over 500 yachts are taking part in the 2017 RORC Season’s Points Championship. Over 5000 sailors from all over the world will race in the biggest offshore sailing competition in the world. While this year the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race is the showcase event, there are fourteen testing races that make up the championship, and every race has its own coveted prize for the overall winner and for class honours.
The 2017 RORC Season’s Points Championship destinations include the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Virgin Gorda, plus the Spanish island of Lanzarote. There are seven European destinations: Belgium, France, Great Britain, Guernsey, Ireland, Malta, and the Netherlands. Five races are to count for Class Honours and the highest total score will designate the winner Overall racing under IRC.
RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd will be racing Lisa, in IRC One. Owned by Suzi and Nick Jones, the British Bénéteau 47.7 was last year’s overall winner with Michael Boyd taking part in a number of races with the team.
‘The RORC Season Points Championship is seriously difficult to win especially in a Rolex Fastnet year when there are many boats and the competition is tough. This year, I have chartered Nick and Suzi Jones’ Lisa and we have put a squad together to take up the challenge and it is going to be hard to win again.” commented Michael Boyd. “This will also be my last season as Commodore of the RORC and I wish to pass on the honour with the club in good health. One of my key goals is to increase the activities of the club internationally. Over a third of our club members are from overseas and we have yachts racing under the club’s IRC rating rule all over the world. The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the great races to win but to win any of the RORC races throughout the championship will a moment to savour.”
Cervantes Trophy Race
Start: 29th April, 2017
Course: Squadron Line, Cowes – Le Havre
Distance: 110-160 miles (Channel Marks may be included).
The first European race of the 2017 RORC Season’s Points Championship will be the Cervantes Trophy Race, 100 yachts are expected to start from the Yacht Squadron Line.
Dutch Grand Master, Piet Vroon is back, as skipper of Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, taking another tilt at the championship in IRC Zero. In IRC One, Alan Hannon’s RP45, last year’s Best Overseas Yacht will be racing. In IRC Two, Michael Boyd’s Lisa is the highest rated boat, and sees Gilles Fournier’s French J/133 Pintia as one of the teams to beat.
“The Cervantes Trophy is our first race of the season and we will discover how good the competition is.” Commented Gilles Fournier. “We aim to do well in our class, as for the overall, luck is always an important factor. The Rolex Fastnet is attracting a big fleet, so winning our class as we did the last two years will not be easy.”
In IRC Three, a huge variety of yachts will be competing from elegant Swans to lightweight JPKs. With such a diversity in the fleet, the weather will play a crucial part in favouring races for displacement yachts such as Ben Morris’s Swan 55 yawl, Lulotte and light weight flyers like Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada. The armed forces will do battle in J/109s, the Royal Armoured Corps’ Ajax and the Royal Navy Sailing Association’s Jolly Jack Tar are bound to have a close conflict.
Frers 45, Scaramouche will be sailed by the Greig City Academy, to kick off their Rolex Fastnet campaign The school from Harringay, London will become the first State School to enter the Rolex Fastnet Race, if they complete their qualification requirements. Four Sixth Formers have received their RYA Day Skipper qualification and the rest of the crew will be selected after taking their RYA Day Skipper Course. Half of the crew must now race 300 miles to qualify and there are First Aid and Offshore Special Regs Requirements.
Gregg School pupil, Shabazz Patterson, is excited about the chance to race in the Rolex Fastnet:
“It’s a big challenge for us. You have to be alert all the time on deck, everything can be still with no other boats in sight and then there will be a sudden change in the direction of the wind and it all becomes very intense as you tack to change course. We’ll be working in shifts over the four days. You think you won’t sleep between shifts, especially if it’s choppy, but as soon as you get into the berth you fall asleep because you’re just so physically tired.”
IRC Four is expected to be the largest class racing for the Cervantes Trophy, last year’s class winner Noel Racine’s French JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew has the highest rating in the class for the Cervantes Trophy. Previous Cervantes Trophy winner, Winsome skippered by Harry Heijst, will be hoping for suitable heavy weather to challenge the lighter displacement yachts. 20 teams will be racing in the gutsy IRC Two Handed Class with a fleet of seven short handed Class40s also entered, including RORC Transatlantic Race winners, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron in Campagne de France.
Speaking on behalf of the Société des Regates du Havre, Christophe La Chevre promises a warm welcome in Le Havre for the finishing teams. “All competing sailors will be very welcome with free dockage for 24 hours. The club will stay open all night on Saturday. I recommend booking a table for Sunday lunch. The restaurant has a very beautiful view. It is also the 500th birthday of Le Havre City, so there are many things to explore.”
by Louay Habib