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RORC Vice Admiral's Cup 2023 winners announced

by Louay Habib / RORC 22 May 15:46 BST 19-21 May 2023

Racing at the Royal Ocean Racing Club Vice Admiral's Cup concluded on Sunday 21 May after a second superb day of racing in The Solent. The north easterly breeze wicked up to 20 knots at times, but was once again variable in speed, giving a complexity to the one-design and IRC-rated action.

Three races were held for all classes on the final day, completing the six-race series. Congratulations to the five class winners at the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup: Cape 31 - Shotgunn, J/111 - McFly, J/109 - JAGO, HP30 - Assassin, and Quarter Tonner - BLT.

Cape 31 Class

The Cape 31 fleet at the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup is the largest assembly in the short history of the class. 25 Cape 31s duked it out for six electric races, with nine teams making race-podium finishes in the regatta. The glitterati of the sailing world was sprinkled through the Cape 31 fleet. Olympic medallists, Volvo Ocean Race winners and one-design world champions racing with owner drivers.

The winner of the Cape 31 Class was Michael Wilson's Shotgunn by four points from Nick Phillips' Poole team on Chaotic. James Howells Cowes based team racing Gelert was third having scored an impressive three bullets out of six races completed. Anthony O'Leary's Royal Cork team was the top corinthian Cape 31. RORC member Anthony O'Leary shared the driving with son Robert with Nicholas O'Leary on Main Sheet.

Isle of Man sailor Michael Wilson has an extraordinary crew racing Shotgunn: Ben Batchelor, Mike Wilson, Stu Bithell, Dave Chapman, Phil Hardisty, Simon Potts, and Peter Greenhalgh. Such was the level of competition, Shotgunn did not win a single race, but after discard, their lowest score was fourth. Michael Wilson comes from a dinghy racing background including Flying Fifteens, 505s and National 18s.

"Busy, frenetic, and intense," summarised Shotgunn's Michael Wilson. "Winning was about putting a series together, being conservative, rather than trying to win every race. Thank you to RORC for putting the weekend on and providing the lovely weather! This is my first regatta helming Shotgunn, and it is part of an addiction to boats! I saw the Cape 31s when they were first launched in Cape Town, and as soon as they came to the UK, I said I have got to have one of those. In my opinion the Cape 31 a really nice boat to transition dinghy sailors into keelboats."

The Cape 31 Class are expected to return to RORC Racing at the IRC National Championships starting on the 23rd June. American Cape 31 Flying Jenny, with Sandra Askew on the helm, is the first Cape 31 entry with many more expected to be racing under IRC with RORC.

J/111 Class

Going into the last day, Tony and Sally Mack's McFly held a two point lead after three races from Louise Makin and Chris Jones' JourneyMaker II. McFly continued their winning ways taking Race 4 by just 28 seconds, then there was a JourneyMaker comeback.

JourneyMaker crossed the line first in Race 5 by just 3 seconds, but after racing, JourneyMaker II was protested by McFly and disqualified. JourneyMaker II won the final race by 18 seconds. After six races, McFly was the winner of the J/111 Class from JourneyMaker II. While the battle for the J/111 victory was fierce, so was the battle for the final podium position. Paul Griffith's Jagerbomb held off a spirited challenge from Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug to finish third by a single point.

HP30 Class

Malcolm Offord's Fareast 28 Assassin scored two more bullets on the final day, to add to the two on Saturday, winning the HP30 Class by six points. Second in class, with all podium finishes after discard, was Andrew Peake's Fareast 28 Resolute. Geoff Poore, Ian Watkins, and Imogen Whitam racing Mako, made it a full complement of Fareast 28s on the podium, taking third by the narrowest of margins. Mako won the last race of the series to edge out Jamie Rankin's Farr 280 Pandemonium on countback.

"I only got to race Assassin after five years of Etchells education!" joked Malcolm Offord, who had his 'Plant Hunter' Etchells team racing on Fareast 28 Assassin. "I have absolutely loved the Vice Admiral's Cup; we have had two spectacular days of weather and really close racing. The Fareast 28 requires a lot more action on the tiller than an Etchells but still requires feel and subtle movements. Also, we don't reach in an Etchells so that has been a new experience, especially playing the angles in the puffs and lulls. When we were on the plane, it felt like 55 knots!"

J/109 Class

Going into the final day, Mike and Susie Yates' JAGO was two points behind Charles & Rosie Berry's Jenie at the top of the leaderboard. JAGO scored a hattrick of bullets on the last day to win the J/109 Class by four points with Jenie in second. David Richards' Jumping Jellyfish scored all podium finishes for the regatta to take third.

"It was brilliant especially winning!" laughed Mike Yates, who also races J/109 JAGO with the RORC offshore in IRC Two-Handed. "Despite the small fleet, we were all very competitive, it was great to see our young crew winning and the young team on Jenie have really picked up some pace. The racing was mega-shifty, which creates loads of opportunities and snakes and ladders on the course. Well done to the RORC for running everything perfectly to time, and the courses were spot on. I especially enjoyed the round the cans races in the mix, which made tactics and boat handling a bit different. Maybe with our offshore experience we had a bit of an advantage on the long courses."

Quarter Ton Class

Sam Laidlaw's BLT won the Quarter Ton Class for the third regatta in a row for a hat-trick of victories at the Vice Admiral's Cup for the Cowes based team. Louise Morton's all-women team racing Bullet finished the regatta with a win in Race 6 to take runner up, just 2 points behind BLT. Third was Jan Thirkettle's Olivia Anne VI.

"We had a cracking weekend, great racing in perfect conditions, with a good ding-dong with Louse (Morton)," commented BLT's Sam Laidlaw. "Mid-May is a great time of year as it starts to warm up a bit and the breeze is decent. The regatta was very well organised, and I hope that we will have more Quarter Tonners enjoying it next year, I think the small turn-out was due to a lot of the crew racing in the Cape 31 Class. As always, BLT is a team effort and I can't thank the crew enough; Brett Aarons, Tom Forrester-Coles, Ed Lynch, and Ryde School sixth-former Killian Boag on the bow."

The Prize Giving for the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup was held on The Terrace at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse with RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole joined by RORC Commodore James Neville to award prizes.

"Many thanks to the hard working race team and the Clubhouse staff for their contribution to a successful Vice Admiral's Cup," commented Steve Cole. "Above all, thank you to the boat owners and competitors for racing with the RORC, we have had some exciting racing and we hope that you have enjoyed the hospitality at the Cowes Clubhouse. We hope to see all of the boats return for our next inshore event, the RORC IRC National Championships, which will be held in The Solent from 23rd to 25th of June."

The Royal Ocean Racing Club return to offshore mode next weekend with the 235nm Myth of Malham Race, starting on Saturday 27th May from the RYS Line Cowes. 162 boats have entered the Myth of Malham, whose start mirrors the Rolex Fastnet Race, which will be run in July.

See full results

For information about the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup and the Royal Ocean Racing Club:

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