Kicking off the 2023 season - On the first day of the RORC Easter Challenge crews made the most of the complimentary on-the-water coaching

 © Paul Wyeth/

Kicking off the 2023 season - On the first day of the RORC Easter Challenge crews made the most of the complimentary on-the-water coaching  © Paul Wyeth/

Spring Sunshine at RORC Easter Challenge, Day One


07/04/2023 - 20:56

A gentle start to day one of the RORC Easter Challenge had the RORC fleet basking in spring sunshine and super-light conditions. The first day of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's training regatta featured an hour of practice starts followed by Race One for all classes. Congratulations to today's class winners: Ian Atkins' GP42 Dark 'N' Stormy, Dave Bartholomew's Cape31 Tokoloshe 4, Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader, Alain Waha & Matthew Waite's Fareast 28 Go West and Ross Bowdler's J/80 Justify.

"It really was borderline to run the race today with such light air, but this fleet came here to train for the season ahead and the most important goal for the race team was to get them sailing," commented RORC Race Officer Stuart Childerley. "The race started at high tide with a short course off Lee-on-Solent where the best breeze was available. During the race, the competitors had to factor in the change in the tide and the wind direction."

 Out on the water, the RORC Coaching Team led by Mason King and the North Sails RIB with Neil Mackley on board, kept a watchful eye on all of the boats. Offering advice, as well as filming the boat set up and manoeuvres.

As the first RORC regatta in the Solent since last summer, there was a great atmosphere at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse after racing. Crews enjoyed cold drinks at the bar, swapping stories about their plans for the season ahead. The RORC Easter Challenge Debrief was extremely well attended. An hour-long video analysis by experts pinpointed areas for the boats to improve upon, as well as a bounty of tips and tricks to improve performance.

Solent sunshine and light breeze on the first day of the season opener - the RORC Easter Challenge © Paul Wyeth/

"Getting trimmers off the boat and into the coach rib to see their set-up is really valuable," commented Mason King. "Looking at the sail trim from astern gives the trimmer a better view of how the sail looks and how the shape can be improved. We had four trimmers come onto the coach boats today and they all learnt a lot from the exercise."

"I think there is a real tendency to inhaul too much when it goes super-light," commented North Sail's Ian Walker, who was racing on Dark 'N' Stormy. "In light airs, the wind has no energy, the air cannot get on the front of the sail unless it can get off the back of the sail, that's why you need twist. Until you get up to hull speed you must have twist to get the flow over the sail. As soon as you get moving then you can start to sheet on."

"Calculating time over distance is something that everyone needs to work on whether you are a top professional or an amateur, and that is not just about starting. Knowing when the right time is to drop your spinnaker approaching the bottom mark, for example," commented North Sails' Neil Mackley."

"In light airs, sailing in clear air is very important. In four knots of breeze, an extra knot is 20% more wind," commented Jack Fenwick. "Today, with a short racecourse and plenty of traffic, clear air is probably more important than wind and tidal considerations."

The RORC Cowes Clubhouse was packed with sailors after the debrief and a Crew Buffet was on the menu. Good Friday was Curry Night with teams tucking into Chicken Jalfrezi, Sri Lankan vegetable curry, accompanied by poppadoms and naan bred. The RORC Easter Challenge continues tomorrow, Saturday 8th April with more breeze forecast with a full day of racing scheduled.

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