ICAP Leopard leads the field
This 170-mile race to St. Malo from Cowes, which dates back to 1906, has always been one of the most popular races in the RORC Season's Points Championship and with over 100 boats there will a spectacular send off from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line this Friday. The course takes the fleet around The Casquets off the northwest coast of Alderney. Weather forecasts predict a southwesterly breeze of 20-25 knots on Friday going westerly overnight, which should provide fast sailing conditions for the fleet.
Mike Slade's Farr 100 ICAP Leopard will be hot favourite for line honours. The powerful supermaxi holds the race record completing the course in 14hr 07min 42sec back in 2008.
Slade is a huge fan of the race, having competed in the St.Malo race for over a decade. "It is one of my favourite races and we've held the record in four different boats. Ocean Leopard took about 19 hours, Longobarda about 16 hours, Leopard of London about 15 hours and with ICAP Leopard we've got it down to 14 hours. If we can lay the Casquets in one tack then charge off towards St.Malo under spinnaker we have a very good chance of breaking the record again. If so we will be in St Malo for a late dinner and have an enormous celebration!"
There is a wealth of RORC trophies up for grabs and there will be some intense battles right through the fleet. Harm Prins' Volvo 60 Pleomax and Derek Saunders' CM60 Venomous are set for a close duel in IRC Zero. In IRC One, Frenchman Bernard Gouy's Ker 39 Inis Mor is in fine form having won the recent Round Ireland Race and could well take pole position for the RORC Season's Points Championship. Also participating are two yachts that will compete in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup: Hervé Borgoltz's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera and RORC Commodore Mike Greville's Ker 39 Erivale III, which has been chartered for the event by the Hong Kong Team.
A good battle is expected in IRC Two, especially between six First 40s which include former RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine's La Réponse. UNCL President Marc de Saint Denis' MC34 Courrier Vintage makes its debut for the championship, co-skippered by Géry Trentesaux. The French flyer must be counted as one of the favourites for the class. However, two former winners of the RORC Yacht of the Year will also be competing: Sailing Logic's Reflex 38 Visit Malta Puma and Philippe Delaporte's J/122 Pen Azen.
25 yachts are expected to be on the start line in IRC Three, including most of the Two-Handed Class. Nick Martin's J/105 Diablo-J is the current class leader for the season, Vincent Willemart's Wasabi is second and Noel Racine's Foggy Dew, third. All three are racing this weekend. Six A-35s will undoubtedly have a close battle, especially Franck-Yves Escoffier's Ame-Hasle, which won IRC Three in the 2011 race, and Peter Olden's Solan Goose of Hamble, a proven race winner. Diablo J and Solan Goose of Hamble are just two of the 17 yachts racing Two-Handed one of which is Charles Ivill's John B, a Grand Soleil 54.
IRC Four is the largest class racing to St.Malo with 32 yachts from all over Europe entered. Harry Heijst's Dutch S&S 41 Winsome is the current class leader and should be evenly matched on the water with some true classics including Charles Anthony's Two Tonner Cervantes IV, which was part of the victorious 1971 British Admiral's Cup team and Jean Yves Chateau's French Nicholson 33 Iromiguy, which won the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2005.