Please select your home edition
CoastWaterSports 2014

RORC IRC National Championships - Day 1

by James Boyd 12 Sep 2020 08:36 BST 11-13 September 2020
Perfect scoreline for Niklas Zennström's FAST 40 Rán - scoring three bullets out of three races on the first day of the RORC IRC National Championships © Paul Wyeth /

The central Solent delivered on the opening day of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. The westerly wind started off light but built to a solid 18 knots, the September sun even putting in an appearance, as the three class fleet progressed through two windward-leeward races and one round the cans.

Despite it being so late in the year, for many competitors this is their first event of 2020 thanks to the hiatus caused by the pandemic. For some this meant blowing the cobwebs away after a year away from sailing. The challenge has further increased as to improve social distancing on board, crews are only permitted to sail with 80% of their usual number.

Nonetheless, in two of the three classes boats ended the day with perfect scorelines in this their first event of the year. For co-owners John Howell and Paul Newell and the crew of Arcus, this was also their first ever day racing their newly acquired A-35 (previously the Ireland-based Fool's Gold). To be leading IRC 3 so convincingly came as a shock. "We're delighted - it was a great day of racing, in fact it couldn't have been better," said Newell. "We went through a number of different wind strengths and we used almost the entire sail wardrobe! If everyone else enjoyed the day as much as we did, then thank you very much race committee."

Arcus' crew mostly comprises Howell and Newell and their respective sons. They have all previously sailed on the Dehler 36SQ Alaris and on the First 40 Dusty P. With their A-35 they are trying to step up slightly, explains Newell. "We managed to mess up the last race as much as we possibly could, mostly in front of the committee boat, so to still get a bullet was a surprise. We are delighted with the result. We are lucky to have inherited some reasonable regatta sails to take it forward." Upwind they are going well, he continues, but downwind they still have issues to resolve, mainly linked to unfamiliarity with the boat and having to adjust crew roles due to their sailing shorthanded.

Niklas Zennström's Rán has become the benchmark boat within the FAST40+ class. Despite having not raced her since the end of last season, sailing this weekend with less crew and having changed to a lighter keel foil in the interim, the Anglo-Swedish team seemed to have lost none of its slickness or boat speed. Of the first race, main sheet trimmer and project manager Tim Powell admitted they hadn't got the best start or first beat but had managed to dig themselves out on the run. "We got going in the right direction which allowed us to jump up the field." They opted for the left, Isle of Wight side of the race track where they gained some tidal advantage and beneficial shift.

With Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator leading the charge around the race track, the second windward-leeward saw Rán win by her biggest margin. Of this, Powell observed: "The boat seems to be going well and in some conditions it is a bit better. We are lighter than we were last year because we have reduced some weight from the fin, and I think because of that, downwind in the second race, we managed to get up on the plane whereas the others weren't able to."

In the third and final race around the cans in the central-eastern Solent, Powell said they had made the biggest gains making an early call to hoist the Code 0 on one of the legs.

Rán is sailing with nine instead of 11 which has required both Powell and navigator Steve Hayles to lend a hand in the pit. "Now you have to sail with your eyes open and back people up," Powell insists.

Conversely in IRC Two each race had a different winner - Robert Bottomley's fast-looking Mat 12 Sailplane 3 claimed the first, Ian Schenkel's Ker 39 Rumbleflurg won race 2 and Michael O'Donnell's J/121 Darkwood took the final round the cans. At the end of play (and subject to a protest), Darkwood leads on countback from David Franks' J/112E Leon.

Franks only came out of isolation today and will race Leon tomorrow. Today his tactician Graham Sunderland helmed. The IRC Nationals is their second outing of the year but as a team Franks and Sunderland have continued to race their beloved Etchells this summer. Unfortunately the maths of the crew reduction has not worked in their favour and they are sailing here with six rather than nine. Nonetheless they are enjoying it and are coming to terms with their new roles.

As to the conditions, the Winning Tides co-author Sunderland stated: "It was tough. It was never really up the middle and you weren't certain if it was right or left. The left was high risk and the right was stable but average. It was a difficult race track."

Racing resumes tomorrow when another three races are scheduled for the IRC Nationals in what the forecast indicates will be similar conditions to today. The event will also double in size with the start of the IRC Two-Handed National Championship which will run alongside for the remainder of the event.

Full results available here.

Related Articles

Sevenstar sponsor RORC Round Britain & Ireland
Their fifth consecutive title sponsorship of the race August 2022 will see the start of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's most tactically challenging offshore race as competitors in the non-stop Round Britain and Ireland Race set off on the 1,805 nautical mile marathon, run every four years. Posted on 11 May
World's fastest tris set for Rolex Fastnet Race
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild headlines the Ultimes taking part While the Vendée Globe grabbed headlines over the winter with a record fleet of 31 boats, France boasts a yet more extraordinary fleet of boats - the Ultimes. Posted on 5 May
RORC Spring Series Race 3 and 2H Offshore Race
Whooper and Jago celebrate in Cowes The Royal Ocean Racing Club organised two races over the May Bank Holiday weekend. 58 boats entered, including a 91nm race for IRC Two Handed, the first overnight race of the year. Posted on 2 May
RORC Two-Handed Offshore Race preview
48 yachts entered for overnight race on 1st May After a year and a half of disruptions to offshore racing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Ocean Racing Club is delighted to confirm an overnight race for Two-Handed teams starting on May 1st. Posted on 27 Apr
Rolex Fastnet Race - More than a race
Taking part to experience the challenge, a lifelong ambition, an adventure While Rolex Fastnet Race will be highly competitive, for many among the record-sized entry of 453 yachts, the objective of tackling the 695 mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg via the legendary rock off southwest Ireland is just to get round successfully. Posted on 19 Apr
RORC Crew Match goes live
Looking for a boat to race or looking for crew to join your team? The Royal Ocean Racing Club have launched an updated Crew Match portal that aims to simplify the process of matching boat owners and crew wherever they race in the world. Posted on 15 Apr
Rolex Fastnet challenge to fundraise for care home
Jonathan Moon will be raising money for St Cross Grange in Winchester Jonathan Moon, a Hampshire resident, is due to take part in the Rolex Fastnet Yacht Race Challenge, a 700-mile offshore race, to raise money for St Cross Grange care home in Winchester where his dad currently resides. Posted on 11 Apr
RORC Spring Series Race 2
Dawn Treader and Gentoo triumph The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Spring Series continued on Saturday 10th of April with the second race of the series. Posted on 11 Apr
RORC Spring Series Race 2 preview
Racing continues this weekend as teams get back to racing The Royal Ocean Racing Club Spring Series continues this weekend with Race 2 of the three-race series, designed to get teams back racing for the 2021 RORC Season. Posted on 9 Apr
Are you ready for the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race?
Ocean Safety, working in partnership with RORC, impart their marine safety knowledge Marine safety experts Ocean Safety are delighted to be working in partnership with RORC, the organisers of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race to impart their marine safety knowledge, alongside their ambassador and racing veteran Dee Caffari. Posted on 6 Apr