Thirty nine teams honed their techniques and skills to kick start their 2023 season in the RORC Easter Challenge © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
RORC Easter Challenge wraps up in Cowes
Cowes, Isle of Wight: The RORC Easter Challenge, supported by North Sails featured seven races over three days, with the IRC Class winners announced at the Cowes RORC Clubhouse on Easter Sunday: Ian Atkins' GP42 Dark 'N' Stormy, Simon Perry's Cape 31 Jiraffe, Lance Adams' Corby 36 Oui, Nick Martin's Sun Fast 3600 Diablo, and John Smart's J/109 Jukebox.
Thirty nine teams racing 24 different designs under the IRC Rating Rule entered the RORC Easter Challenge. As well as world class race management, all of the competitors were offered complimentary on-the-water coaching and after racing video debriefs. Honing the techniques and skills to kick start their 2023 season is the ultimate aim of the RORC training regatta that has been run for nearly 30 years. The RORC Coaching Team led by Mason King was out in force, backed up by drone video from the North Sails Rib.
"We set out to give teams the opportunity to take advantage of the coaching on offer to reach their goals and have fun while they were achieving it," commented Mason King. "The RORC Race Team laid on excellent racing and the Clubhouse was well attended for the debriefs. Above all, we have had great feedback from the sailors that this has been an extremely useful regatta for their season ahead."
Ian Atkins' Dark 'N' Stormy was up against the De Graaf family's Ker 43 Baraka for the regatta, but the duel was had on the same race course as the other classes, bringing many more aspects into play.
"This is the first regatta of the season for Dark 'N' Stormy, so it's been really nice to get the team back together at a well-organised regatta," commented Ian Atkins. "The Dutch team on Baraka pushed us in every race which kept the level of racing up, so Easter has been very good as an opener for the season ahead. The big regattas for us this season will be defending our win in the Round the Island Race and the RORC IRC National Championship."
Simon Perry's Cape 31 Jiraffe won the class in the final race after IRC time correction by just four seconds. David Bartholomew's Tokoloshe 4 was second for the series on countback from Michael Wilson's Shotgunn.
"We are very pleased and to win was fantastic," commented Simon Perry who homed in on areas of improvement. "We have made a few changes to the crew set up and they seem to be working. We have much better control of the rig set up and also much better tactics. We will be racing in the Warsash Spring Series but the next big regatta for us will be the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup. We could see twenty Cape 31s at the Vice Admiral's Cup, including teams from Ireland and the USA taking on the UK fleet, so it's going to be a lot tougher!"
Lance Adams' Corby 33 OUI won five races to win IRC Two. VME Racing's Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero was second, skippered by James Gair with a crew from Bristol which races Simon Britten's Half Tonner Hero. "It's been a great weekend very enjoyable," commented Simon. "I set out to improve my driving skills and the crew have been working very well together on boat handling. The big regatta for us this year will be Falmouth Week and the RORC Easter Challenge has been excellent preparation for the sailing ahead, as well as a lot of fun."
RORC Treasurer, Derek Shakespeare racing his J/122 Bulldog was third in IRC Two. "Bulldog will be racing in the Rolex Fastnet Race this summer and our first offshore race will be the Cervantes Trophy Race at the end of April," commented Derek Shakespeare who will also be defending Bulldog's win as IRC One champion for 2022. "The RORC Easter Challenge serves as a good test for our boat handling and also our equipment for the offshore season ahead."
IRC Three was won by Nick Martin's Sun Fast 3600 Diablo, which he normally races offshore and Two-Handed. In second place was the British Army Sailing Association's Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, skippered by Henry Foster. In third was Lucian Stone's Vendetta which was the top Fareast 28 for the regatta.
"Having four on board allowed us to handle the boat better in manoeuvres and that has been a very good way to develop techniques for Two-Handed racing," commented Diablo's Nick Martin. "This has been a fabulous event; great organisation, plus the coaching and debriefs were superb. A big thank you to the RORC Race Team and the volunteers."
In IRC Four J Boats claimed all three podium positions for the regatta. John Smart's J/109 Jukebox, a former J/109 National Champion won the class. Rob Cotterill's J/109 Mojo Risin' scored three race wins to finish second in class and Ross Bowdler's J/80 Justify was third.
The RORC Cowes Clubhouse was packed with sailors for the Prize Giving. RORC Commodore James Neville presented IRC Class winners with engraved RORC decanters and performed the customary Easter Egg toss!
RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole summed up the RORC Easter Challenge: "The Club are really pleased with the regatta; the coaches and North Sails did a really great job and we were lucky to have excellent weather to give the boats fantastic racing. It looked like people were learning; we could see the improvements. I hope we have helped all of the teams, but especially those in IRC Three and Four; this was part of the mission for this regatta. They are the backbone of the RORC and helping them is good for the RORC in the long run."