Competitors rose to the challenge on the first day of the RORC's IRC National Championships held in the Solent © Paul Wyeth/

Competitors rose to the challenge on the first day of the RORC's IRC National Championships held in the Solent © Paul Wyeth/

Spectacular Racing on Day One of the RORC IRC National Championships


24/06/2023 - 11:01

Sizzling conditions with an average wind of 16 knots and 20 in the gusts blessed the first day of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championships. A classic Solent day in a south-westerly with glorious sunshine. The competitors rose to the challenge with races decided by just a few seconds after IRC time correction. Three races were completed for all four classes on day one; two windward leeward races of about one hour and a longer round the cans race to finish of a spectacular day’s racing with the RORC. Congratulations to all of the race winners: TP52 Gladiator, GP42 Dark ‘N’ Stormy in IRC One. Cape 31 Gelert and Cape 31 Flying Jenny in IRC Two. JPK 1080 Yes! and A35 Arcus in IRC Three, and classic sloop Whooper in IRC Four.

Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark ‘N’ Stormy scored a 1-1-2 today to lead the class, but on countback alone from Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator. Dark ‘N’ Stormy won the two windward leeward races, the first by just 28 seconds after IRC time correction, but on the final, longer round the cans course, Gladiator was the victor. Third after the first day’s racing is James Neville’s Carkeek 45 Ino Noir, but also only on countback from Ker 46 ROST Van Uden skippered by Gerd-Jan Poortman.

Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator is back racing in the Solent and after the IRC Nationals the team intend to do both the Round the Island Race and Cowes Week. “We had a great day in fantastic conditions,” commented Tony Langley owner/driver of TP52 Gladiator. “We saw over 20 knots of boat speed, which is what you live for in these boats. It is great to be back out on home waters. The courses were good but we did have to keep an eye on the depth, which kept us on our toes.”


Six Cape 31s are racing under IRC at the Championships and the surfing conditions suited the downwind flyers on day one. Cape 31s occupying the first four places after three races. James Howell’s Gelert leads by a single point from Sandra Askew’s Flying Jenny. Simon Perry’s Jiraffe is in third, and Khumbu 2 skippered by Luke Cross is fourth.

“The appeal of the Cape 31 Class is that you can do one design racing but you can come and race under IRC and be competitive,” explained James Howell, owner/driver of Cape 31 Gelert. “A fantastic day in great conditions and in fairness, all of the Cape 31s sailed really well. When you have over 15 knots of wind and you are planing in one of these, it’s good fun surfing along at 18 knots! We have MAT 12 Sailplane and IMX 40 Xinska in our class and there are possibilities that you might get tangled up with those boats racing in a different mode, but the reverse is true as well; on the upwind leg they can grind us down and over take us. Although the boats are very different, it is still relatively close under IRC, so the rule is doing a good job.”

IRC Three

Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes! leads the class with a 1-2-1 on the opening day of the Championships, but it was far from straight forward with the first race won by just 27 seconds after IRC time correction. Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again is second having scored all podium results so far. Howell & Newell’s A35 Arcus won Race 2, but is third by a single point after three races.

“Really competitive racing and plenty of lessons learnt today, as every day we go out,” commented Adam Gosling, owner/driver of JPK 1080 Yes! “In the second race, we got stuck the wrong side of three Cape 31s downwind. The problem is that they sailed completely different angles to us and that took us way beyond the layline. We probably should have just slowed down a bit and let them go, so we could do our own thing. The important aspect of the Yes! team is that we enjoy racing and socialising together and the longer that goes on, the more we know each other, and how the whole thing works. Well done to the RORC Race team today; good courses which were run very efficiently and with stunning conditions; what more could you ask for?”

IRC Four

Giovanni Belgrano’s 39ft classic sloop Whooper had an outstanding day, winning all three races. John Allen’s X-302 Antix is second having scored all podium finishes. Chris Baldwin’s Sun Fast 3200 Hair of the Dog scored a second in the last race to finish the day on the podium, just a point ahead of Simon Clifton’s A31 Aztec.

“It’s all down to the crew,” commented Giovanni Belgrano, owner/driver of Whooper. “Also, the conditions today were just perfect for us.” Whooper’s performance on day one puts them as favourite to win the top prize at the RORC IRC National Championships. The overall win is decided by a published formula and Whooper is in pole position across all four classes.

After the first day of racing competitors enjoyed cold drinks on the Terrace at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse, followed by a three-course crew supper in the company of a special guest. RORC Commodore James Neville introduced the legendary sailing coach Jim Saltonstall to the audience, who gave an inspiring talk about his life and times as a sailing coach, including Team GBR, where Jim supervised the race training programmes of five Olympic gold, four silver, and two bronze medallists. After the rousing talk, Jim was happy to sign copies of his biography: My Life in a Blue Suit.

Racing at the IRC National Championships continues, Saturday 24 June, with three more races scheduled for the RORC Fleet on the Costa del Solent.

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