Gathering of the clans

Strong line-up expected for the Red Funnel Easter Challenge in Commodores' Cup year

Monday February 25th 2008, Author: Trish Jenkins, Location: United Kingdom
Over 6,000 miles of RORC organised racing kicks off this Easter with the 17th Red Funnel Easter Challenge. There is a mouth-watering prospect of a huge variety of yachts scheduled for seven races in just three days from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 March.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s new CEO, Eddie Warden-Owen is looking forward to his first regatta at the helm of the Club: “I have sailed at this regatta for many years and it has always been a great curtain-raiser for the Solent season, even more so in this, a Rolex Commodores’ Cup year. We are expecting an impressive turn out of UK-based boats, together with some top quality overseas yachts. The growing fleet of IRC optimised TP52s are expected in numbers which should make for an exciting spectacle.”

The Red Funnel Easter Regatta is particularly noted for its relaxed rules on outside assistance and the world class coaching provided by Jim Saltonstall, Barry Dunning and Cathy Foster who will be giving free, on-the-water tuition and full and frank video debriefings after racing each day.

The Red Funnel Easter Challenge organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club attracts a wide spectrum of entries; including production yachts and custom built designs. The impressive fleet of Farr 45s is expected to turn out in numbers, the fleet enjoy close racing and relish the tight Solent courses but this year, the growing number of modified TP 52s will be the fastest fleet on the course.

America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Steve Hayles will be navigating on board Rán, for the Red Funnel Easter Challenge. Rán an IRC-optimised TP 52, owned by Swedish born Niklas Zennström boasts an all star crew of America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Racers. There will be as many as ten of these carbon fibre flyers ripping up the Solent this year and at least five are expected to be competing at Easter for the first time including Serguei Shevtsov’s Russian entry, Valars and Stuart Robinson’s Stay Calm.

While the big boat line-up looks impressive indeed, there will be some great racing and interesting boats in all of the classes especially as the RYA have announced that they will be using the Red Funnel Easter Challenge as a trial event for selecting teams for this year’s Rolex Commodores’ Cup.

In 2007, there were 71 boats competing at Easter, the largest class was IRC 2 and Nick Jones’ Beneteau 34.7, Astarte, won it by a single point.

“The Red Funnel Easter Challenge is seen as the season opener for the Solent,” commented Jones. “I have done it for many years and it has always been good fun and very rewarding. The close battle we had last year with the Irish J/109, No Naked Flames, was a great way to tune up for the season.”

There will definitely be some well sailed Irish yachts competing at Easter: Eamonn Rohan’s brand new Mills 40, Blondie IV is entered for her maiden event and Colm Barrington’s new Ker 39 Silk Glove is also expected. Conor and Denise Phelan’s Ker 37, Jump Juice and Eamon Crosbie’s Ker 32, Voodoo Chile should be racing, making a very competitive Irish line-up.

There will also be a large contingent of J/109s racing under IRC at the Red Funnel Easter Challenge, including RORC Commodore, David Aisher, who will be racing Yeoman XXX at Easter for the first time.

The Red Funnel Easter Challenge is not restricted to RORC yachts, any yacht with a valid IRC certificate is most welcome and the owners and their crew will benefit from the superb coaching and the friendly atmosphere.

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