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To do battle at the Fortis IC Championship

Monday May 15th 2006, Author: Louay Habib, Location: United Kingdom
The line up for this year’s Fortis IRC Championship is incredibly strong with quality right through the fleet. The Royal Ocean Racing Club will be hosting eight races in three days of intense activity with the first two day’s prizes being awarded at a party on Saturday night at the Royal Yacht Squadron. The final prizegiving ceremony will take place after racing on Sunday in the Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre.

Never before have two TP52s come head to head in the Solent, but that is about to change, as Benny Kelly’s Panthera and Charles Dunstone’s Red are both entered for the regatta. It should be quite a sight as these two rip up the Solent at speeds of over 20 knots.

David Bedford will be sailing on board Red as part of the afterguard: “This will be her first race and obviously we will need to get to know her before we can really be up to speed, but I know Charles Dunstone is very keen to drive her and see what she is capable of.”

However they are not the only big boats at the regatta, the long awaited debut of Colm Barrington’s new Ker 50 Magic Glove is expected and Farr 52s Chernikeeff and Kit Hobday’s well campaigned Bear of Britain are regular competitors. Ger O’Rourke’s canting keel Cookson 50 Chieftain will create a list of six boats over 50 feet for the first time in years.

Three DK46s are entered, Shockwave (Nick Lutte) and Fidessa Fastwave (Chris Brown) who are joined by Dark and Steamy (Nick Haigh). This will be Dark and Steamy’s first regatta and it will be interesting to see how she goes against the two well campaigned sister ships. John Shepherd’s powerful Ker 46 Fair Do’s VII will also be at the Championships.

The Fortis IRC Championships is not just about the big boat class and there are some stunning yachts entered throughout the fleet. Eamonn Rohan is back racing with his Corby 37 Blondie and is sure to have a great tussle with Conor and Denise Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice. They are joined by 2005 IRC 2 class winner Anthony O’Leary sailing his Corby 35 Antix and Andrew Allen with his highly competitive J/109 No Naked Flames.

Ian MacLean’s Ker 36 Software Mistress will be racing and they have steadily improved after much practice since the beginning of the season. Navigator Mike Broughton explains: “Ian Maclean is very passionate about the campaign, with two professionals onboard assisting the personnel from Ian’s company The Computer Bookshop. Personally I thoroughly enjoy seeing the team improve in skill level and confidence. Team work is so important in this type of racing.”

Perhaps a great example of how the IRC rule caters for a wide variety of boats is Stephen James’s exquisite Swan 48 Jacobite, even at 30 years old, she has been well maintained and well equipped and could cause a few upsets. John Brinkers of UK Sails, Hamble has been racing Jacobite for years and commented: “I get as much fun and enjoyment racing on Jacobite as modern boats. We have a tight knit team and our main goal this year is the Swan Worlds, having won the Europeans and come second at the Worlds, this is a team who are looking to going one better in Sardinia this September.”

The Fortis IRC Championships is an event that few can afford to miss as it offers competitors the chance to compete against some of the best sailed boats in the UK and Ireland. IRC racing offers a mouth watering blend of different designs and the regatta will be keenly contested.

All competitors will be welcome at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, the Island Sailing Club, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club and the Royal London Yacht Clubs. For details of accommodation and dining facilities please contact the individual club.

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