RORC Cervantes Trophy

Team Tonic the fastest but Greenhalgh steals the show...

Tuesday May 7th 2002, Author: Nigel Cherrie, Location: United Kingdom
After several weekends battling around the inner Solent, the big boats were sent offshore this weekend in the RORC Cervantes Trophy from Cowes to Le Havre.

Nick Hewson's Farr 52 Team Tonic, skippered by Jeremy Robinson won the IRC division overall, plus IRC Super Zero and IRM 1, but Rob Greenhalgh’s pair of Mumm 30s stole the show as they were second and third in the 55 boat overall IRC standings.

Greenhalgh took charge of one Mumm for the 110-mile offshore with Duncan McDonald and Mike Broughton assisting on the tactics and navigation, while Mark Rushall made an impressive offshore debut on the other with Jeremy Elliot backing him up in the afterguard slot. "It was a downwind race and the Mumm’s are pretty good downwind," Rob told madforsailing after turning around and two-boat racing straight back from France to Hamble as part of the team's training programme.

Both Mumm’s had to bulk up their offshore equipment inventory just to meet the stringent but necessary RORC guidelines and qualify for the start.

While both crews were in full racing mode, the Cervantes Trophy provided the British Tour de France à la Voile team with a perfect opportunity to analyze a long list of items, situations and sails for their tilt at the big event later this year.

"We tried different sail combinations and all that but we pushed all the way. At the same time we learnt a lot, from boat organization, the crew understanding how much gear we can take, how to eat offshore with no cooker, different spinnaker and polars."

The race itself got underway at 08.00hrs on Saturday and was generally a light wind affair, with a force 4 kicking in towards the end as the yachts approached the French coast. "It was light off the back of the Isle of Wight and we reached along in light winds (northeast) until the central of the [English] Channel. I’d say everybody probably had that same wind," explained Greenhalgh. "Then everybody had a big hole in the centre of the Channel. We still had 4-5 knots of true [breeze] but the waves were big and really confused so the boats were just getting tossed around. We were down to zero boat speed for a while but we still had wind." The yachts then picked up a new breeze off the French coast that carried them over the line.

Team Tonic was the first yacht to complete the race, taking 14 hours and 29 minutes, which was upped to 19:06.13 with the time correction factor but still enough to give them the top prize in IRC by 12 minutes and two seconds from Greenhalgh’s leading Mumm 30. Greenhalgh finished seven minutes ahead of Rushall on the second Mumm in a time of 17:40.40, corrected to 19:18.15 on handicap.

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