Big breeze Myth of Malham Race
The Myth of Malham Race is considered a good dress rehearsal as well as being a qualifying race for this year's Rolex Fastnet Race and 125 yachts braved a windy forecast to compete in the race. With a WNW wind of 15-25 knots and yachts experiencing gusts of over 30 knots, it was a tough test and an excellent warm-up for the fleet, which had to beat all the way to the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth and experience a fast run back to the Solent.
French boats dominated the results taking three out of the top four places with Noel Racine's Foggy Dew the overall winner. Foggy Dew, a JPK 10.10 and one of the smallest boats in the race, found the conditions very tough but finished the 240 mile course in 33 hours - seven hours behind the line honours winner, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens with her owner Piet Vroon on board. Second overall was another French yacht, the JPK 9.6 Ultreia!, owned by Matthias Kracht. Amazingly, Kracht was sailing in and won the Two-Handed Class. Considering the weather conditions, this is a pretty special feat. Both Rascine and Kracht were unable to comment today, as they were delivering their yachts back to France.
Third overall was Ross Appleby's 24 year old Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, and the winner of IRC Two. Appleby was delighted with the result having pushed this old design very hard to achieve a podium place: "As we left the Solent we could tell by the boats around us that we were doing well. We got headed quite early and we changed our plan by heading into Lyme Bay. We were a bit anxious about the move in case the breeze died on us however, the move really paid off. It was a ballistic run back from the Eddystone with gusts of over 35 knots off Portland. We managed to keep the rig on top of the boat but the kite had other ideas blowing up in one big gust and we ran right over it and then broke the pole! We used our jockey-pole on our No. 3 headsail, which was not as fast, but that did mean we could sail straight down the rhumb line in control and we still managed 20 knots on the surf."
IRC Zero saw an epic duel between two yachts: Derek Saunders' CM 60 Venomous crossed the finish line a mere 11 seconds ahead of Jens Kuehne's Reichel Pugh 48 Sjambok. However after time correction, Sjambok was declared winner of the class.
Jonathan Goring's brand new Ker 40 Keronimo was the winner of IRC One and 5th in IRC overall. By all accounts, the new yacht from the drawing board of America's Cup designer Jason Ker is a real speed machine. Tonnerre de Breskens was second and previous Myth of Malham winner, Mike Greville's Ker 39 Erivale III, put in a great performance to take third.
"Ten days out of the box and straight into a very breezy race was bit of a baptism of fire!" commented Goring: "A 120 mile beat to Eddystone and then a screaming run back in 30 knots of wind was a great test for this brand new design. We got a good start in the middle of the Squadron Line and we were chuffed to be the first of the big boats out of the Solent. The run home was brilliant and we had some amazing surfs on the tidal over falls at each headland with long periods where the speed was over 20 knots. At times there was white water past the mast but we didn't broach once for the whole trip."
Neil Kipling's J/122 Joopster was second in IRC Two behind Scarlet Oyster. RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Réponse was third, after a close battle with another First 40, Edward Broadway's Carpe Diem.
As well as winning overall, Foggy Dew had a convincing win in IRC Three. James Heald's J/105 Flawless J was second overall with Peter Olden's A-35 Solan Goose of Hamble in third.
24 yachts competed in the Two Handed Class and only one of them did not finish the course; a testament to the seamanship of all the crews. The top three boats Ultreia!, Night and Day and Flawless J finished 2nd, 4th and 7th overall, which is a huge achievement in this top class fleet.
Two Class 40s enjoyed the fresh conditions, especially Cathrine Pourre's Earwen which took the class win from Mark Denton's MAXVMG.
Ultreia! won IRC 4, Pascal Loison was second in another JPK 960 Night and Day. In third place was Peter Diamond's Rapscallion, which also won the Sigma 38 class by nearly an hour, from Nigel Goodhew's Persephone of London. Jon England's Vitesse was third.
The conditions were tough and a good test for any serious offshore racer who has his eyes set on competing in this years Rolex Fastnet race. A number of boats had incidents, including a man overboard, a dismasting and severe seasickness. This necessitated the emergency services being called out on three occasions.
The Myth of Malham counts for points towards the RORC Season's Points Championship and the overall leader is still Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens. Niall Dowling's J/111 Arabella is in second place and by virtue of his win this weekend Noel Racine's Foggy Dew moves up to third overall.
The next race in the series is scheduled to start, next Friday, 3 June. The 180-mile North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen in Holland. The Royal Ocean Racing Club's Season's Points Championship consists of a testing series of races, which attracts an international and varied fleet. Trying to win the Season's Points Championship is a real challenge for the serious offshore sailor. This year the Championship includes the tactically and physically challenging Rolex Fastnet Race, the oldest and most prestigious offshore yacht race in the world.
More photos from Rick Tomlinson/www.ricktomlinson.com