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EAORA East Coast Race from West Mersea to Ostend

by Cathy Brown 7 Jul 13:39 BST 29-30 June 2019

The overnight RORC/EAORA East Coast Race is a vital qualifying event for East Coasters seeking to take part in the Fastnet, and this year 16 starters braved a forecast that promised headwinds more or less throughout the 125-mile course.

It began with a challenging beat all the way from West Mersea to North Shipwash, into a lively north easterly, which once the ebb was running provided a lumpy wind over tide sea as night fell.

Any hope of bearing away at the windward mark was dashed, as the wind headed, making the south-going leg too tight for spinnakers. And once again the tide was turning foul against most of the fleet, too.

By the time Long Sand Head was reached, the wind was heading south easterly, as the forecast had promised, and there were divided opinions about which was the right tack to take, avoiding the exclusion zones of the South Sunk TSS and the Galloper windfarms.

Once the main North Sea TSS was crossed, the breeze began to moderate - again as forecast - and at Goote Bank some boats found it had shifted sufficiently to try a reaching kite for the leg to D1. But they were soon hit by a massive shift, and once again were beating.

The dying breeze made it a long slog to the finish, once again against the tide. Richard Matthews' Ker 51 Custom Oystercatcher XXXIII, by a long way the scratch boat, took line honours, completing the course in 18 hours and 25 minutes, more than three and a half hours ahead of the next finisher, Ross Eldred's Club Swan 42 Mercury, but slow progress in the final stages scuppered the faster boats once handicaps were taken into consideration.

On corrected time, the first two places in the RORC race went to the two South Coast-based Sunfast 3600s, Rob Craigie's Bellino and Trevor Middleton's Black Sheep, which are vying for overall honours in the RORC season's points championship.

Top EAORA boat was once again Paul Scott's Sigma 38 Spirit, which finished two hours behind them, after more than 24 hours of racing. He now has a commanding lead in the EAORA overall season's points championship.

He was the winner of the EAORA Sunk Race, which is decided by the results of EAORA competitors within the East Coast Race.

For most of the fleet, the 2019 East Coast race will be remembered as an upwind marathon - especially as the wind turned west the following day, making for an upwind return home, too. But the reward for (in the majority of cases) rather more than 24 hours of dogged determination was qualification for the Fastnet.

Thanks go to MS Amlin, which is sponsoring EAORA's 70th anniversary year. The next event in the programme - the annual Offshore Regatta - will see competitors returning to Ostend, by a more direct route this time!

Overall Results:

RORC East Coast Race

Overall
1 Bellino, Sun Fast 3600, Rob Craigie
2 Black Sheep, Sun Fast 3600, Trevor Middleton
3 Spirit, Sigma 38, Paul Scott

Class Zero
1 Oystercatcher XXXIII, Ker 51 Custom, Richard Matthews

Class One
1 Double Edge, Corby 38, Chris Schram
2 Mercury, Club Swan 42, Ross Eldred

Class Two
1 Olympix, X4, Hugo Gommers
2 40 Love, First 40, East Anglian Sea School

Class Three
1 Bellino
2 Black Sheep
3 Flying Fish, First 40.7, Stephen Hendry

Class Four
1 Spirit
2 Victoria, Archambault 31, David Gibbons
3 Golden Fleece, S and S 41, Michael Wheeler

Two Handed
1 Bellino
2 Double Edge

EAORA Sunk Race

Overall
1 Spirit
2 Double Edge
3 40 Love

Class One
1 Double Edge
2 40 Love
3 Oystercatcher XXXIII

Class Two
1 Spirit
2 Victoria
3 Lyra of London, Swan 431, Miles Delap

Class Three
1 Golden Fleece

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