The long weekend started with the Vuurschepenrace, part of the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta, a 100nm blast across the Channel from the Netherlands to Harwich, England. After a day of rest in Harwich, England, the classes sail back across the English Channel in the 180 nm race from Harwich to the Smith's Knoll Buoy off the North Norfolk Coast then across the eastern parts of the North Sea to Scheveningen.
On the initial leg across to Harwich, the J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER, sailed by the strong offshore duo of John van de Starre and Robin Verhoef from the Netherlands, managed a 4th overall in IRC Class, taking 2nd in the Double-handed Division. Just behind them was the J/122 JUNIQUE sailed by Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker.
On the return leg to Scheveningen, it was a completely different story for all of the teams entered. The 210 nm race from Harwich to Scheveningen looked like it could be a fast sleigh ride across the North Sea. Fresh southwesterly winds with gusty rain squalls were predicted, which could produce an ideal angle for an exhilarating race. Gusting over 25 knots with rain squalls, the early part of the race was not a comfortable one, but more settled weather in the latter part of the race with glimpse of sunshine coming through the cloud cover was welcomed by the 75 yachts that entered the race.
In the Two-Handed class the Dutch team of Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker retained the class title racing J/122 JUNIQUE. Chris Revelman & Pascal Bakker's Dutch J/122 won the IRC Two Handed Class last year and the duo are back to defend their win. "It is looking like we will have a fast race," commented Chris Revelman. "However, we are not making any special changes because of the conditions. We will have a good meal tonight and plenty of rest, as during the race we will get little sleep and eat simple bread and soup. Our objective will be to win the race and it will be a big part of our build up for the highlight of the season, the Rolex Fastnet Race." Their words could not have been more prophetic before the start of the race from Harwich back across the Channel to Scheveningen, the top two teams flip-flopped. This time the J/122 JUNIQUE took top honors and the J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER was second in the IRC Double class. Remarkably, in IRC Two Class (including fully crewed boats), the J/122 was 5th overall and the J/111 6th!
Following their lead were a small armada of other J's sailing both fully-crewed and double-handed in IRC 3 and IRC 4 divisions. Leading the charge in IRC 3 was the beautifully restored J/35 RAGAZZA led by the trio of Gabriel/ De Bie/ Malchair, taking 3rd in class! Fourth was Kees Mijs J/109 ARETHUSA and fifth was the double-handed duo on the J/109 YETI sailed by Paul & Mike van der Pol.
In IRC 4 Class, the J/105s performed well in the tough offshore conditions. It was Stan Fenton's well-known FAY J that took 2nd in class while the Double-handed team of Harry Roek in HARPOEN took third overall. For more Vuurschepen/ North Sea Race sailing information