Last year’s Super Zero class winner, Niklas Zennstrom, is back in TP52 Ran to defend his title with an impressive all-star professional crew.
“We enjoyed the very tight racing in last year’s IRC Nationals and are looking forward to an equally challenging competition this year,” commented Zennstrom.
Peter Harrison’s Farr 52 Chernikeeff II will be attempting to compete with Ran in the Super Zero Class. Crewed by a youth team from the UK Sailing Academy, they have had a fine start to the season winning their class in the Red Funnel Easter Challenge and overall winners of the RORC’s Myth of Malham offshore race. Strong competition will also come from two other TP52s: Lutener and Elwood's Cutting Edge, which has been sharpening up at several regattas this season and the RYA Keelboat Programme’s John Merricks II, which is also crewed by a team of youth sailors.
In IRC Class Zero, there is a highly diverse range of yachts who have virtually all tasted success, inshore and offshore. This class is brimming with talent and on paper this is probably the most competitive class at this regatta. Michael Bartholomew’s King 40, Tokoloshe, won class at the Red Funnel Easter Challenge this year and John Shepherd’s Ker 46 Fair Do’s VII is the current holder of the IRC National Champion for Class Zero: “This is our first inshore event since returning from the Caribbean and whilst our focus this year is on the Rolex Fastnet, the IRC National Championship is an event we take very seriously and I think this year’s competition will be extremely tough. Any number of boats are in with a chance,” commented Shepherd.
In IRC Class One, there is an international flavour with Dave Dwyer’s highly successful, Mills 39 MarinersCove.ie over from Ireland; Nadia Ifticene’s Sydney 39 Allard from Belgium and Frenchman, Nicolas Gaumont-Prat, racing his First 40.7 Tradition Philosophie IV. Ex-RORC Commodore, Peter Rutter will also be racing on the Corby 36, Quokka.
In IRC Class Two, a strong fleet will enjoy some interesting private battles: Jonty Layfield’s Sleeper and David Walters who will also be joined by RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine on Jackdaw, are both J/39s. Mike Moxley’s Malice and Roy Morgan’s Sir Ducktion are both HOD 35s. David Aisher’s J/109 Yeoman of Wight will be in close competition with Andrew Given’s J/109 High Tension. A brace of X-332s will do battle in the shape of Neville Hodkin’s Extra Djinn and Peter Hodgkinson’s Xcitable and four First 34.7s will be swapping tack for tack: Chris Neve’s No Doubt, Peter Morton’s Salvo, Patrick Snowball’s Mongoose and Bernard Wilmet’s Ship Shop Aquaholic.
In IRC Class Three, Louise Morton’s all girl crew on quarter tonner, Espada is a past winner but in a highly diverse class, but David Collins’ Swan 43, Cisne may be difficult to beat if the conditions are windy.
Eight races are scheduled around tight Solent courses, from Friday 5 June to Sunday 7 June, to decide the RORC IRC National Champions for each class and the overall title.