Monday, August 5, 2019

J/121 DARKWOOD Triumphs in RORC Channel Race

J/121 Darkwood- winner RORC Channel Race winners
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Seventy-seven boats competed in the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club Channel Race. The international fleet experienced a variety of conditions and wind angles, testing boat handling and tactical skills.

Perhaps the surprise overall winner, from a fleet including many professional racing teams, was the J/121 DARKWOOD owned by Irishman Michael O'Donnell. O'Donnell last competed in the Channel Race in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, as a 15-year old nipper. His J/121 DARKWOOD was only launched this year, and four of the crew including Michael, race in the classic Solent-based XOD Class. DARKWOOD is very much a team of friends and family and will be competing in next month's Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I was basically a rope-puller on big boats such as Mike Slade's LEOPARD, but I have learnt a huge amount in the XOD Class, especially from Steve Lawrence and Alistair Shaw who are part of the DARKWOOD team,” commented O'Donnell. “We are pretty good at getting off the start line, but I have not done any offshore racing since 2013. I am glad that the RORC make us do the qualifying races before the Fastnet; you learn so much about the boat and how to sail together as a team. We made a lot of sail-changes especially during the night, which was hard work with just five on board. Rosie (O'Donnell’s wife) did a great job in the pit, and Jamie (Holmes) impressed on the bow. We are thrilled to have won the race, but we have a long way to go, I am sure that the wily teams in the Fastnet are not quaking in their boots just yet!”

More good news for J/Aficionados! 
The win in IRC Two went to Yves Grosjean's French J/133 JIVARO! “This result is very encouraging, as it has been an effort to get JIVARO back to the Solent to compete for the Fastnet,” commented Grosjean. “After the Channel Race, the team is in the right mood, we have great anticipation for the big race to come. At the start of the Channel Race, we were the only boat in our start to go inshore at the Squadron Line. It paid off as we led our class out of the Solent. Inshore after the Needles Fairway Buoy avoiding the worst of the tide worked well, and we had a good lead at the virtual mark. After that it was all about fighting to maintain our lead, but the big wind shift towards the end of the race was a nerve-racking moment, as we saw the JPK 11.80 Sunrise catch up, but we held on to win!”

Notably in IRC Two, sailing well was Andy Middleton & Alex Fisher’s J/120 SUNSET, taking 6th in class and David Richards’ J/122 JOLLY JELLYFISH finishing in 8th.

The next race of the RORC Season's Points Championship will be the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race. The race village on Cowes Parade will be open from 1100 BST on Thursday 1st August. The 48th edition of the epic offshore race, the Rolex Fastnet Race, will start on Saturday 3rd August from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes.  For more RORC Channel Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.