Start of season training regatta
Many of the UK's top IRC boats have signed up to compete in the RORC Easter Challenge. The three day long regatta helps blow the winter cobwebs away while the unique format allows crews to make use of some early training in preparation for the season to come.
"I am impressed with the quality of the early entries to our training weekend at Easter," comments Royal Ocean Racing Club's Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "There are the top UK race boats from the Solent, the East Coast and West Country, as well as overseas teams from as far away as France, Ireland and even South Africa. This is a great endorsement for the event which is designed as a training weekend for those keen to improve their overall performance."
Traditionally the first Solent-based event in the RORC's annual racing calendar, the rules on outside assistance are relaxed in order that coaching guru, Jim Saltonstall and a team of expert coaches - including past Olympian Barry Dunning - can actively participate and provide helpful tips to improve sail trim and boat handling while the boats are racing. The coaching team will be boosted again this year by the addition of sailmakers to provide sail trim and rig set-up tips.
"It's the only event of its kind in the UK and I've not seen it done anywhere else in the world," comments RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen who is also one of Saltonstall's coaching team. "Even the top teams with pro sailors on board are keen to get the view we have from the outside. It can be extremely effective, especially for the less experienced crew who often see an immediate improvement during the race."
After racing, Saltonstall de-briefs crews using video evidence to back up his thoughts. These sessions held after racing in the Event Centre at Cowes Yacht Haven are always packed out.
For the top boats, the RORC Easter Challenge is also a serious event and with the likes of RORC Vice Commodore, Anthony O'Leary bringing his Antix team from Cork and Niklas Zennström taking a break from the TP52 Super Series to race Rán, his Farr 45, the racing is all about winning: "While it's the first event of the season for us and we look forward to the input provided by the like's of Jim (Saltonstall) and Eddie (Warden Owen), we will be doing our best to win the event. There's some serious competition from the Ker 40s and from the South African Tokoloshe whose boat is very similar to ours. It's a brilliant format, great value and a well run event with nine races over the weekend," says O'Leary.
Last year the RORC introduced a second race course for the smaller boats and One Design classes such as J80s and there is the intention to do the same this year if there is sufficient demand.
Racing for all classes starts on Good Friday 29 April and runs until Sunday, 31 March. Entries close for the RORC Easter Challenge on 14 March - interested owners can find the details and enter online here.