Thursday, November 13, 2014

J/122 RORC Season Championship IRC 2 Winner

J/111 sailing RORC offshore raceJ/111 Second RORC Season Overall!
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The RORC Offshore Season Championship has finally drawn to a close and all winners are looking forward to collecting their silver “pickle dishes” at the RORC Annual Dinner held at the spectacular InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane.

The Cherbourg Race, the penultimate race of the RORC Season Championship and the last race of the season across the English Channel, was a cliff-hanger for many of the top participants.  For many of the competing yachts, the 75-mile dash to Cherbourg was the final race of the RORC season and several class winners were determined over the weekend.

Following a gutsy performance in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, the Army Sailing Association's J/111 BRITISH SOLDIER was the overall leader for the championship going into the Cherbourg Race.  "It came as a bit of a surprise to us to be leading for the season but we are not getting carried away with that," commented British Soldier's skipper, Will Naylor. "For the Cherbourg Race we are especially looking forward to a battle with the J/122 RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH, which was our big rival in the last race and they are just ahead of us in IRC Two. However, we will just concentrate on our own performance, as it is the only thing we can influence. For the Cherbourg Race we will be back to a full crew of eight. Unlike the Round Britain and Ireland Race, we will be able to load up the rail and as it's a much shorter race, we will probably keep the crew there for the duration. BRITISH SOLDIER performs much better with a full crew hiking out."

As it turned out, the Cherbourg Race was a light winds affair and, consequently, would have a dramatic effect on both class and overall standings.  RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott explained, "The fleet had just enough pressure to get out of the Solent but the light breeze faded during the night. The breeze did not materialize until the morning and this year's race definitely favored the smaller yachts. The best performers were those that used the tide to their advantage and although it was a long and at times frustrating race, most of the fleet finished."

Winning the Cherbourg Race overall on corrected time was Blair Forsyth's J/97 HIGH JINKS. "The race conditions were great for our boat, and the other smaller boats in the race," commented Blair Forsyth. "The sail plan was straightforward; we had a 1.5 kite that worked really well and we only had to drop it and get the No. 1 jib back up when what wind there was shifted. I don't think we saw more than 10 knots of breeze the whole race, and even that was only fleeting at times. Thankfully, our kite was up for most of the crossing!  On Saturday night, when the tide shifted, we lost nearly all our apparent wind, but we didn't have to drop anchor, and the rest of the pack seemed to drift with us. Once it picked up we had a good run into Cherbourg, with the smaller boats."

It was HIGH JINKS’ first RORC offshore season during which the boat had been principally sailed two-handed. The Cherbourg Race was their first fully crewed RORC race of 2014 and the additional crew played their part in the success as Blair recounted, “this time we had four crew onboard, making the night watches much easier - particularly given the conditions!  Altogether a fantastic way to end our first offshore season, made particularly enjoyable by the great welcome form the Cherbourg Yacht Club, and the rest of the fleet."  HIGH JINKS not only won IRC Overall, but also won IRC 4 Class.

Because it was a “small boat” race, the overall leadership for the RORC Season Championship hung in the balance.  In the end, the balance tilted to one of BRITISH SOLDIER’s rivals in the same class.  By  finishing 12th and 16th overall, respectively, BRITISH SOLDIER was knocked into second place overall for the season, although merely by half a point!

In IRC 2 Class, the J/122 RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH sailed by David Richards continued their consistently top performances and managed to hang on their lead to take IRC 2 Class for the season.  BRITISH SOLDIER remained in 2nd for the season in this class, perversely also beating the IRC Overall Season championship winner, a 34 footer from Belgium!

In IRC 3 Class,  DIABLO-J, Nick Martin's J-105, took a 2nd place in the Cherbourg Race, propelling them third place overall in IRC 3 Class RORC Season's Points Championship.  In fact, and Nick Martin continued his feat of not finishing lower than 4th place overall in class since 2010.  Furthermore, Martin finished 4th in the IRC Two-Handed division for the season.  Other J/Teams did well in IRC 3 class, with Chris Palmer’s J/109 J-T’AIME taking 4th overall and another J/109, Kevin Armstrong’s JAZZY JELLYFISH taking 5th.

As well as winning IRC Overall, the J/97 HIGH JINKS claimed the win in IRC Four in the Cherbourg Race, vaulting them into 6th overall in IRC 4 for the season’s point championship.   Sailing photo credits- Rick Tomlinson   For more RORC Season Championship sailing information