Honours for Yeoman of Wight
The RORC fleet set off east under spinnaker for the start of the 122 mile race. Harry Heijst’s Winsome got probably the best start of the entire fleet hugging the island shore in the best of the early tide. Despite the fickle breeze the 98 yachts in the fleet made relatively good speed past Hurst Castle. However in the vicinity of the Bridge Light Buoy the wind faded away causing the fleet to compress. The high performance yachts watched their chance of overall victory evaporate; time was most definitely not on their side.
The leg to St Catherine’s was painful and as the new breeze filled in from the southwest it was those who were offshore that benefitted. There were several retirements but those that stuck it out were rewarded with some excellent sailing in a moderate breeze once they got to Bembridge Ledge.
The shy reach east to Saltdean Light Buoy (off Brighton) favoured the yachts carrying asymmetric spinnakers and by the time the fleet finished back in the Solent it was a glorious day with fair winds for a wonderful finale to the race.
David Aisher’s J/109 Yeoman of Wight crewed by the British Keelboat Academy were the overall winners in a large fleet taking the Channel Challenge Cup.
Yeoman of Wight’s skipper Henry Smith described the important factors in their win. “We got through Hurst in good shape. Leading our class, because we decided to go to the main land shore, which worked very well for us. Like the rest of the fleet, when the wind died we ended up kedging at Bridge.
"However for most of the race we had a spinnaker up and we were very meticulous about our watch system, making sure that we all stayed as fresh as possible, especially alternating trimmers and minimising disruption during hand overs by talking through the conditions as new crew came up on deck. We approached Saltdean Light Buoy with favourable tide and as we went around the tide turned in our favour and we knew we were in with a chance. It was a great team effort and we are absolutely delighted with our win.”
David Aisher commented: “I am very proud of their achievement. The average age of the team is just twenty one, and this is a great boost to their confidence before the Rolex Fastnet Race, which is just a few weeks away.”
In IRC Zero, Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace scored a notable victory over IRC Zero RORC Season’s points peader Venomous, skippered by Derek Saunders and Andres Soriano’s Mills 68 Alegre.
In IRC One, Mark Devereux’s Swan 42 Brevity claimed their first class win of the season beating the current RORC Season’s Points Championship leader Piet Vroon’s Tonnerre de Breskens. Jonathan Goring’s Ker 40 Keronimo was third in class.
IRC Two produced a titanic battle between two J/122s - Neil Kipling’s Joopster and Alain Catherineau’s Lorelei. Joopster won class by just under three minutes on corrected time. Quokka 8, sailed by Sailing Logic, took line honours for the class and was just five minutes short of eclipsing the winner after time correction.
IRC Three was won by Yeoman of Wight, second was Tor McLaren’s J/109 Inspara with Peter Olden’s A 35 Solan Goose of Hamble third.
IRC Four saw a clean sweep of podium places for French yachts. Nicolas de la Fourniere’s X-34 Exile/Mirabaud was first in both IRC Four and the Two-Handed Class. Frederic Waniart’s Aphrodite 101 Vim and Pierre Viard’s Prism 28 Adrenaline were second and third in IRC Four, respectively.
“What a difference a day makes” commented RORC Racing Manager, Ian Loffhagen. “Before the start drizzle and the fickle wind was not conducive to great racing but as forecast the breeze did fill in and those yachts that stuck it out enjoyed a great race in some beautiful conditions. The race took most of the yachts about 24 hours as planned and more importantly, fulfilled several yachts ambitions of completing the necessary qualifying miles for the Rolex Fastnet Race. I am sure that the competitors and also all of us at the RORC are now fully focused on the highlight of the season.”