Friday, June 3, 2011
"The Practice Race for the Rolex Fastnet Race"
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The RORC's Myth of Malham Race is considered a good dress rehearsal as well as being a qualifying race for this year's Rolex Fastnet Race and 125 yachts braved a windy forecast to compete in the race. The race to the Eddystone lighthouse and back was a giant windward-leeward race course of 230 miles. With a WNW wind between 15 and 25 knots and yachts experiencing gusts of over 30 knots it was a tough test and an excellent warm up for the fleet who had to beat all the way to the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and experience a fast run back to the Solent.
The J's overall did well despite the challenging conditions, some teams reveling in the big breeze and big chop and making the right decisions on the long beat to weather. The critical decision was weather to play shifts up the beach "inshore" or go "offshore" and make the "longer, strategic play" for a frontal wind shift. If you got it wrong, it was horribly wrong. J's were in both camps on this decision!
Perhaps the most remarkable performance came from yet another J/105, sailing double-handed! Sailing FLAWLESS J was James Heald, getting scored in both IRC 3 and IRC Doublehanded. For the two-handed division FLAWLESS J was third overall, missing first by only 30 minutes on corrected in IRC-- not bad for a "non-IRC" 20 year-old design! In IRC 3, FLAWLESS J finished second overall, losing out to the overall race winner! On IRC Overall, FLAWLESS J finished seventh and were second J overall in the standings to a J/122. Congratulations to James and crew for a truly huge achievement.
Of the 24 yachts that competed in the IRC Two-Handed Class, five J's finished in the top 10 (e.g. J's were 50% of top 10) and 3x the number of any other brand in the class. Behind FLAWLESS J were Nikki Curwen's J/105 VOADOR in 6th (and 5th in IRC Class 3); Richard Palmer's J/109 JANGADA TOO in seventh (and 6th in IRC Class 3); veteran campaigner Nick Martin's J/105 DIABLO-J in ninth (9th in IRC Class 3); and Andrew Bird's J/109 JAMBALAYA in tenth (11th in IRC Class 3).
In IRC Class 2, it was a real battle between the J/122 JOOPSTER sailed by Neil Kipling and an Oyster 48. Winning line honors was Neil's JOOPSTER by over 12 minutes, but ended up on the short end of the stick on IRC handicap to finish second in class. Also sailing was Niall Dowling's J/111 ARABELLA. After choosing the wrong side of a 20 hour, 115 nm beat to windward in 15-25, gusting 30 winds, most pundits figured ARABELLA lost about an hour on the entire class and fleet. Rounding Eddystone Light, the J/111 set its big spinnaker and simply took off, chasing down the fleet in front of them at epic speeds. At the end, with runway running out on them, the boys on ARABELLA had to settle for a seventh in class and seventeenth overall. Nevertheless, Niall's team on ARABELLA are lying in second place overall for the RORC Season's Points Championship behind Piet Vroon's custom Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens 3.
As mentioned earlier in the IRC Double-handed results, the IRC Class 3 had a number of competitors sailing in both IRC 3 and Double-handed. Robin Taunt's J/109 JIBE was fourth overall, breaking the string of top five laid down by the two-handers! What's interesting is that the twelve J's in the top 25 constituted nearly 50% of the group and were 4x the number of any other brand-- quite a showing for J's in this class!
The next race in the series is scheduled to start next Friday 3rd June. The 180-mile North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen in Holland. The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races, which attracts an international and varied fleet. Trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge for the serious offshore sailor. This year the Championship includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht race in the world. Sailing photo credits- Hamo Thornycroft For more RORC Myth of Malham sailing information