Friday, January 18, 2013

J Teams Sailing Rolex Fastnet Race

J/111 Xcentric Ripper- from Netherlands- sailing Fastnet Race (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)-  The infamous Fastnet Rock off Ireland has its fanatical, passionate followers.  It's a bit like British mountaineer George Mallory's famous quote about why he climbed the ginormous, challenging Mount Everest in Tibet (29,029 ft or about 5.5 miles above sea-level)-- he said, "because it's there"!  J/Teams love, even thrive, on the "call of the running tide" and the challenge of weather that often confronts the fleet in this 608nm classic.  Its reputation as the most grueling and tactically challenging of the classic offshore races is due to its course along England's southwestern coastline and criss-crossing the southern Irish Sea twice-- the boats go from the start line off Cowes, Isles of Wight, sail towards the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland (rounding it to port), then sail back around the outside of the Scilly Isles off southwest England (leaving them to port) and on to the finish line in Plymouth, facing massive current gates and gigantic whirlpools (literally) along the way.

For this year's 2013 edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, all 300 yachts "registered" in an astonishing 24 hours! The good news, is that a bunch of hot J sailors are in the mix, including the J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER from The Netherlands.  Looks like "the boys" are going to chase the Double-handed crown, again.  John van der Starre and Robin Verhoef are not to be denied.  Who can blame them??  For most of the Fastnet Race in 2011, they were winning the Double-handed Division by days (OK, maybe hours), and were one of the top boats overall in ALL IRC Divisions.  However, the RIPPER couldn't make it through the final wind/current gate literally a "stone's throw" from the finish-- having to wait nearly seven hours for the winds/current to re-build for their finish.  Imagine that!! Hard to believe they didn't go simply, stark, raving, mad!  Kudos to them for hanging tough knowing they'd be back for another go of it all.  Watch out, the RIPPER is much, much faster this time around having learned a lot about the best wind/ sail/ angle combinations.

Along with them will be a fair number of fellow J/Colleagues racing everything from J/133s and J/122s down to J/109s, J/105s and J/97s.  And at both ends of the spectrum these teams are known to be tough competitors, having fun while collecting silverware on the podium!  For more RORC Fastnet Race sailing information