107 yachts have entered the RORC Morgan Cup Race. This is the third RORC offshore race this season where the number of yachts racing has exceeded a hundred, an unprecedented level of participation in the history of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
The course to Cherbourg should be a good test of the fleet’s ability to race at different wind angles and will undoubtedly call tactics into play, especially using the tidal effects of the English Channel to speed their passage to France. Rob Lutener and Martin Elwood’s TP52, Cutting Edge, will be favourite for line honours and Andrew Dawson’s Class 40, Spliff, will be hoping to keep them company in IRC Class Super Zero.
IRC Class Zero boasts 21 custom high performance yachts and fast production boats; Piet Vroon’s Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, has shown some electric form and the striking design of Henry Tinchant’s Lutra 42, Seawolf 2, is a likely prospect, especially if the forecast light conditions prevail. Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56, Noonmark VI, skippered by Mike Gilburt would probably prefer heavier weather, as will the two Challenger 72s owned by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Bill Blain’s J 133, Batfish III, has already chalked up a class win this season and may well be in the chocolates.
In IRC Class One RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine is racing Corby 36, Quokka, and has been in fine form this season. The class contains six First 40.7s; Graeme Lewis’ Below Zero will be looking to emulate their class win in the De Guingand Bowl and Peter Newlands’ Anticipation is also a very well sailed boat. There are four Reflex 38s and three vintage Swans in a highly diverse division of 25 yachts.
IRC Class Two is the largest fleet with 28 yachts pitting their wits against each other. Frenchman Noel Racine’s JPK 9.60, Foggy Dew, could well be the class favourite returning to RORC racing after a very impressive season last year. But this is a very accomplished class, previous RORC race winners include; David Walter’s J 39, Jackdaw, Nick and Suzi Jones’ First 34.7, Astarte, Nicolas de la Fourniere’s X 34, Exile/Mirabaud, and veteran RORC campaigner; the classic Humphreys 40, Old Mother Gun, owned by Philip Farrands.
David Lees’ High Tension 36, Hephzibah, won the Morgan Cup last year and the East Coast crew is back to defend the trophy but will be delighted to just win IRC Class Three which will be highly competitive. Chris & Vanessa Choules’, With Alacrity, is the form boat out of eight Sigma 38s entered. Jean Yves Chateau sailing Nicholson 33, Iromiguy, is a proven champion who won IRC overall in the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race and there is a huge amount of experience right through the class.
The Two – Handed Division boasts 12 entries; Mark Himsworth’s Contessa 32 Drumbeat showed fine form winning last time out, but the Two - Handed Division is probably the most competitive class racing this weekend. Nick and Suzi Jones’ Astarte, Mike Moxley’s Malice, John Loden’s Psipsina, Nicolas de la Fourniere’s Exile/Mirabaud and Nick Martin’s Diablo J are all past winners in a class that is bursting with talent.