(Scheveningen, Netherlands)- A fleet of 52 yachts entered the 180nm RORC North Sea Race, the fourth race of the RORC Season's Points Championship. Starting from Harwich on the East Coast of England, the line was blessed with a 15 knot easterly wind, providing a true beat to the first turning mark of the course. The breeze was to fade during the race, which suited the big boats in general.
The J/105 DREAM MACHINE sailed by John Van Veen and Rob Vis were the overall IRC Double-handed Class winner amongst the fifteen teams competing from France, Belgium, Netherlands and the UK. Incredibly, after 36 hours of racing, they just edge out Chris Revelman & Pascal Bakker's J/122 JUNIQUE by less than a minute on correct time!
John Van Veen, who sails every evening out of his home port in Enkhuizen, North Holland, was overjoyed to learn of the win. "When we finished the race, it was very nice to find out it was so close, we didn't know but what a great feeling!" smiled Van Veen. "For a Dutchman to win class in the North Sea Race is absolutely fabulous. The race took us over 34 hours and was very tiring as we were constantly changing sails and concentrating on tactics all the time. Two-handed racing in Holland is getting more and more popular. When we started four or five years ago, we often raced with just two or three boats. We have a 50 mile race on Ijsselmeer, and now, this year, we had 70 boats racing two-handed! This is the biggest win ever and we are so happy with the result."
Their archrivals in the races, the J/122 JUNIQUE sailed by Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker, provided this report about their experience:
“We look back at two fantastic races. After 40 miles of Sunday delivery to Scheveningen for Vuurschepenrace, we were ready. After the start, we were well away with the J/133 Batfish and Il Corvo together with us.
Just before the NAM22 buoy (first mark of the course) the wind died. There was a lot of counter-current, so we anchored! After fifteen minutes or so, we were watching the breeze very slowly start to increase from the east. Quickly, we set the gennaker up and off we sailed. We retrieved the anchor just in time. Our focus still gave us a piece of the overall race lead on a number of other boats.
After the first NM4 buoy, we held a northerly course to stay in breeze. We regularly exchanged between the gennaker and Code Zero (our new weapon!). We are clearly still looking for the right sails to put up all the time. Further optimization off the sail “change-over” chart is high on the priority list. At the next marks, Mid NM4 and N Shipwash, we once again sailed south of the layline because we expected the wind would go out again.
Eventually, we found that the built-in margin of lead we had was not enough, as many boats behind us were caught in calms too. We fortunately had some “power-naps” so we could stay sharp. It’s tricky thing to do with double-handed sailing, but is very important. To the finish we caught some nice breeze and we finished 2nd in the IRC DH Class (double-handed) standings behind the J/133 Batfish. By the way, we also defeated the newly famous Volvo 65 Team Brunel!!
We then had a "day of rest" in Harwich, England- it was dominated by optimal preparation for The North Sea Race. We have two times in a row won the contest and were very keen on a 3rd victory. After the evening dinner, off we went to bed.
On the morning of the race, we had a great start after a “general recall”, hard to believe, isn’t it? A general recall for an offshore race?? Crazy! After starting, we went to the starboard side of the course as quickly as possible towards shallow water. We are just a little further over the shallows than the other competitors and that paid off in gaining meters overall.
Once at sea, we were not satisfied with our upwind speed. This year we are experimenting with our mast and settings that were too low for the wind. After experimenting for a while we made adjustments to the mainsheet and backstay, so finally we could sail to the target boat-speed.
After rounding Smith Knoll buoy, we immediately assumed starboard tack. The wind was forecast to turn to the north over the course of the day and to drop off. With this rate, we expect the decreasing wind were to continue with the gennaker to maintain speed. We stayed high of the fleet; this tactic worked out well for us. We got closer to the J/133 Batfish and were just behind at NM4 buoy/ turning mark.
Unfortunately for us, the smaller boats spent less time in the same windless period we had, so they got much closer to us on handicap time. It was a tough job for us to maintain sufficient distance ahead of them. We fought hard for the final stretch to grow our lead back, after 30 hours of sailing it was no picnic!! After finishing, it turned out that we corrected 58 seconds short of the first place! Moreover, that was after sailing for 32 hours on the sea with little sleep! In any event, we congratulated the J/105 Dream Machine team with their fantastic result!”
Taking fifth place in the IRC Double-handed class was Bart Desaunois’s J/133 BATFISH! A great outcome for these top three J/Teams sailing in a hyper-competitive double-handed fleet against some of the best British, French, Irish, Belgian and Dutch offshore sailors!
In addition to Revelman & Bakker’s J/122 JUNIQUE taking second in IRC 2 Class, the J/120 JAMEERAH from Great Britain, sailed by Richard Fawcett, took third overall on the podium!
The J team domination didn’t stop there. In IRC 3 Class, Paul van der Pol’s J/109 YETI took their class win over a well-known French JPK 1010 called So What. They not only beat them across the line boat-for-boat by nearly an hour, they corrected to a 20+ minute handicap win!
Finally, in addition to the amazing win by the J/105 DREAM MACHINE team in IRC 4, yet another J/105 took 4th place- Harry Rek’s HARPOEN from the Netherlands.
Looking at the IRC Overall results for all three fleets combined, these J/Teams accounted for 5 of the top 12, by far the dominant offshore brand in the race! The J/105 DREAM MACHINE took 5th, the J/122 JUNIQUE was 6th, the J/109 YETI was 7th and the J/120 JAMEERAH was 12th. Good show mates!
In the ORC 2 Offshore division, Floris Waller’s J/109 JETTJE sailed as well as her stablemates, taking third in class and 4th overall! For more RORC North Sea Race sailing information