Another trophy for Tonnerre

New Ker 46 claims the RORC's De Guingand Bowl

Monday June 15th 2009, Author: Louay Habib, Location: United Kingdom
When you have been hand steering for six hours through the night, going backwards on the tide, you need a sense of humour and the RORC fleet knows how to make the best of things. This may not have been a high octane, adrenalin pumping yacht race, however the fleet showed tenacity and made the most of the conditions.

Piet Vroon’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens was competing in her maiden offshore race and Vroon was understandably delighted to have won IRC Class Zero and to win the De Guingand Bowl Race overall on corrected time.

“We are so very pleased with the boat; it was a good decision to get Jason Ker to design her. Over the years I have known many yacht designers but Jason has done a great job and Tonnerre is showing great promise for the season ahead.” Jason was on board and intends to do a lot of events with Tonnerre this year.

“To be honest I have not had the time to do much sailing in recent years. I think the last offshore that I did was on Aera in 2003 but I have the opportunity at the moment and I am really enjoying it,” commented Ker, the former Team Shosholoza principle designer.

Further down the track there was a titanic battle for second place in IRC Class Zero between two J/133s and Yves Grosjean’s Jivaro pipped Neil Martin’s Jammy Dodger by less than two minute on the water.

In IRC Class Super Zero Derek Saunders’ CM 60 Venomous won class for the first time this season. In second place was the RYA Keelboat Programme’s TP 52 John Merricks II.

“It may have been a light winds affair but I am delighted for the crew” commented the skipper of Venomous Derek Saunders. “The vast majority of the team are paying guests training for this year’s Rolex Fastnet. They are dedicated and very competent sailors that come from all walks of life. Martin Helfstein for example travels for each race from Switzerland. Most of the crew enjoy the fact that Venomous is a race prepared and exciting boat to sail, especially when we get more wind!”

In IRC Class One, Graeme Lewis’ First 40.7 Below Zero won by a handsome margin on corrected time and also won line honours for the class. Racing in a highly competitive fleet Below Zero beat Michael Birmingham’s Corby 34 Oxygen III into second place and Mike Theobald’s Elan 410 Inspire into third.

In IRC Class Two, Nick & Suzi Jones were sailing their First 34.7 Astarte two-handed and corrected out to win Class Two but not the Two-Handed Division. This is Nick & Suzi’s second season sailing two up and they have definitely not lost their sense of humour. “You have to love this sport when you go through a night like that, I am beyond tired,” explained Suzi. “It was a bizarre situation,” continued Nick. “As the night came in so did the fog, and we started to go backwards on the tide. Reversing a 34.7, through anchored boats, while blowing up a radar reflector was certainly not in the brochure and when I found out that Suzi had not packed the breakfast, it was the icing on the cake! However we are delighted to have won the class and will be back for more fun in the boat.”

Simon Curwen, who was also racing two-handed, came second in IRC Two in his J/105 Voador.Fergus Roper racing J/109 Jibe claimed third place.

In IRC Class Three, David Lees’ High Tension 36 Hephzibah was the victor by a slim margin on corrected time and was also second in IRC overall. Mark Himsworth’s Contessa 32 Drumbeat was less than four minutes behind on corrected time and Simon Grigg & Anne Jackson’s First 325, Dans La Rouge was third.

While Drumbeat just missed out on a Class Three win, Mark Himsworth will be delighted to win the Two-Handed prize. In a large and very competitive fleet, Drumbeat won the Two-Handed Division by some margin from Nick & Suzi Jones’ Astarte with Simon Curwen’s Voador claiming third. Drumbeat was also third in IRC overall.

The Sigma 38s are racing in significant numbers for their one design offshore championship and as such have their own class. The top seven boats all finished within one hour of each other but Chris & Vanessa Choules’ With Alacrity have extended their lead in the class by winning the Sigma 38 Class in the De Guingand Bowl. Nigel Goodhew’s Persephone of London was second and Nick Gale’s Zanzara was third. “It was great to see so many Sigma 38s racing with the RORC” commented Chris Choules. “The decisive moment for us was when leaving the Solent through the Forts in fourth place and being the last boat to catch the new breeze.”

The Race Committee designed a course that took the fleet East out of the Solent to the Nab Tower then west to East Shambles buoy near Portland Bill. This was followed by heading back east to North Head off Hurst, then Poole No 1 buoy and back to North Head to finish, giving a total distance of 126 nautical miles.

With the lack of wind the Race Committee took advantage of their ability to shorten the course as the fleet approached North Head for the first time. This reduced the course length to 100 miles.

“It is always difficult to design a course when very light winds are forecast” commented RORC’s Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen. “With boats needing qualifying miles for the Rolex Fastnet Race we wanted to give them as long a course as we could but we also wanted them to be able to finish rather than having to retire because of work on Monday. The fleet was delighted with our decision to shorten course and we had very few retirements. One boat near the back of the fleet was so pleased to learn that he did not have to go to Poole and back that he declared that he loved me!”

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