Easter Challenge preview
There is less than a month to go until the RORC Easter Challenge, to be held, as usual, in the Solent over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The event is an ideal way to kick start a racing season, test new equipment and brush up on boat handling. With seven races scheduled over three days the regatta offers an ideal opportunity to get the boat up to speed and blow away the winter cobwebs.
Once again, the competitors will benefit from world class coaching. The rules on outside assistance have been relaxed for the regatta to allow the legendary Jim Saltonstall MBE and his team to provide free on-the-water coaching. This great opportunity to improve performance is always very popular.
After racing, Saltonstall delivers a video debrief which is extremely well attended by the competitors. Jim’s style is usually light-hearted but always first class and boats can be seen to do better as the regatta progresses.
Early entries for this year’s event show a quality fleet will be in attendance; Johnny Vincent’s TP52, Pace, is entered and there will be several Farr 45s competing in the regatta including a new edition of Rán, helmed by Niklas Zennstrom. The big boat class should provide some adrenalin pumping action.
Several crews will be tuning up for this summer’s Rolex Commodores’ Cup. From across the Irish Sea, Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix and Tim Costello’s Mills 43 Tiamat will be racing and will be taking their preparations very seriously. South African, Michael Bartholomew, will be competing with his King 40 Tokoloshe and past RORC Commodore and current Rolex Commodores’ Cup holder Peter Rutter will debut his new Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8.
The RORC Easter Challenge was first run nearly 20 years ago, originally it was a way of preparing teams for a season of offshore racing, but it has evolved into a popular inshore regatta in its own right. To encourage inshore boats to participate, the RORC have implemented some changes this year. RORC Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen explained: “We have relaxed the safety requirements to make it easier for smaller, inshore orientated boats to enter the RORC Easter Challenge. The RORC is well known for its high safety standards and is confident that these changes will not compromise safety for boats racing in the Solent.”
For this year’s RORC Easter Challenge boats will not have to carry a trysail or a deep reefing mainsail. The move is designed to encourage smaller yachts such as J/80s and also to attract yachts that have not entered in previous years.
“I think it’s a great move by the RORC,” commented Louise Morton, skipper of the Quarter Tonner Espada. “For many yachts, having a reefing main or a trysail is an unnecessary expense, as they do not sail outside the Solent and they are unlikely to go out at all if conditions warrant reefing or storm sails. Last year’s event was very popular with the Quarter Tonners and we hope that they will not be put off by the cold weather earlier this year”.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club are delighted to welcome back Toe in the Water this Easter, the sailing initiative for injured servicemen and women will have at least two boats competing at the RORC Easter Challenge. The A40 will be skippered by round the world yachtsman, Brian Thompson, who is an ambassador for the initiative.