EAORA boats in the RORC North Sea Race
Of the 34 strong IRC fleet competing in the RORC North Sea race, 9 yachts were representing EAORA member clubs and competing for the Charlie Mills trophy.
With the wind in East and a beat from the Start thus assured, the race committee eschewed the use of a flexi-course and sent yachts directly to Cork Sand Yacht Beacon, the first mark of the course proper.
All yachts were away cleanly and a fierce battle began immediately between three EOARA Class 2 boats (racing in RORC IRC 4) up the first beat with Stan Fenton’s J/105 Fay-J, Tony & Chuffy Merewether’s Sunfast 3200 Amazon and Tim & Tony Cross’ J/92s Upstart all trading places and rounding the mark at the front of the fleet.
After the Cork Sand boats bore away slightly onto a close fetch past Roughs Tower and out toward the Long Sand. Angus Bates J/133 Assarain IV, which had started ten minutes after the slower boats, powering through to the south of the bunch.
The wind headed slightly as yachts approached Black Deep but the strong ebb tide helped vessels climb to the mark. The wind dropped below ten knots at this point and this, combined with a lumpy swell off the head of the Long Sand, provided some tricky sailing conditions.
It was on the wind past the Long Sand Head buoy and on to the South Galloper, before bearing away around the wind farm to GG East where reaching kites and Code Zeros were hoisted for the first time. From GG East yachts bore away further, settling into the long leg north past the Outer Gabbard buoy and onto Smith’s Knoll, approximately 60 miles to the North.
Yachts switched to running kites with the symmetric boats sticking close to the rhumb line and the sprit boats pushing offshore in search of hotter angles. The tide was now turning foul and ground speeds began to drop dramatically.
It was close to Smith’s Knoll with a gybe in the dark where Russell Walker’s Cosmic Dancer got a mega kite wrap which they eventually took down, but not until they had been swept nearly 7 miles north of the buoy, when they retired and headed to Lowestoft.
At Smith’s Knoll it was a 65nm cross tide leg to MSP. Some yachts opted to go north with the tide before coming back south once the flood started. Fay-J stuck to the rhumb line initially before bearing away into the tide when it turned south and hoisting a spinnaker, to great effect.
The sun came up and the wind freed on the approach to MSP with most of the fleet able to get their kites up, before coming back on the wind for the final leg to the finish off Scheveningen.
The prettiest boat in the fleet was Ben Morris’ Swan 55 yawl Lulotte from West Mersea in his first RORC race, which showed great speed on the reach across to MSP.
The wind freed again on this leg, with code zeros and reaching kites once again making an appearance. Unfortunately the slower boats ended up fighting a foul tide to the finish in a dying breeze with the last EAORA finisher, Peter Ward’s MG38 McGregor IV shortly before 1930 BST on the Saturday.
A superb performance from Fay-J saw them comfortably win the Charlie Mills trophy for the first EAORA boat, as well as winning RORC IRC 4 and coming second in the overall IRC standings.
Race tracking can be viewed at yb.tl/NorthSeaRace2012
EAORA IRC Overall
2nd Assarain IV
EAORA Class 1
1st Assarain IV
2nd Tonnerre de Breskens 3
EAORA Class 2
EAORA Class 3
1st McGregor IV