It's a fix!

Petit Bateau's Paul Peggs wins IRC prize in the Zurich Trust Solo Channel Week

Thursday August 7th 2008, Author: Jerry Freeman, Location: United Kingdom
Racing at Petit Bateau's popular Solo Channel Week was named this year for the title sponsor Zurich Trust ltd and the new course took the fleet of 18 singlehanders across the English Channel to the Channel Islands and St Malo. The six leg , 300 mile route visited Alderney, Jersey, St Malo, Dinard, and Guernsey, starting and finishing in Lymington.

Sailed in three Open classes and also under IRC all the prizes were hotly contested right up to the final overnight return leg, starting with a spinnaker run through the notorious Ortac channel between the Casquets and Alderney followed in the dark through the traffic with many a wrap to resolve in the confused seas and finishing with a spinnaker gybe into the Needles Fairway buoy across the sluicing spring ebb tide.

The main ZTL trophy for the big boats was decided on the result of a day race at Dinard between Rob Craigie's J/122 Jbellino and Chris Rustum's Stewart 37 Ding Dong both with two firsts and two seconds in the series. The tie was broken by Ding Dong's second place to Jbellino's third in the fickle breezes and the strong tides of the day race kindly organised by Dinard YC amongst the rocks off St Malo.

The IRC prize awarded across the whole fleet was won by Paul Peggs in his water ballasted JOD 35 Audacious ahead of Peter Olden in the J/92S Solan Goose who pipped Ding Dong by one point. Open class 2 for boats up to 35 feet was won by Mary Falk. In the evergreen QII now 18 years old, Mary demonstrated all her enthusiasm with five spinnaker peals to win the leg from St Malo to Guernsey. Second in class 2 was Audacious ahead of young Oscar Mead, also 18 years old, in the J/105 Juneau. Oscar also won the Rookie prize for best newcomer and placed second in the J boat cup behind Solan Goose - not a bad start!

Open Class 3 for boats up to 30 feet went to Solan Goose, with Jerry Freeman in the Figaro one Fluffy second and Karl Wilcock in Wee Bear third.

Racing in the Channel Islands with strong tides and plenty of granite hazards added a new dimension to the already testing solo format and there were some very tired skippers by the middle of the week when the unrelenting pace started to take its toll. The hospitality at all the yacht clubs was outstanding as always but there were not too many late nights as the skippers were kept busy with navigation and boat preparations for the next day's race to be done.

2008 has been the busiest year to date for the ' Racing at Petit Bateau' organisation, visiting Kinsale, Santander and Camaret in the bluQube Solo 1000 race and the Channel Islands in the ZTL Channel Week. Closer to home the organisation has completed the 4th edition of the RIOW Solo around the Isle of Wight and their next race is the Nab Solo on Sunday 17 August.

Encouraged by the growing number of skippers keen to taste solo racing and rewarded by the emergence of talented young sailors like Katie Miller and Oscar Mead Petit Bateau hope that solo offshore racing in the UK will continue to grow in 2009.

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