Admiral in the Chocolates
While Invictus Challenge remains top scoring boat at the RORC Easter Challenge, today the scoreline of Sir Keith Mills’ immaculately sailed FAST40+ was matched in IRC Two by La Réponse, skippered by Admiral of the RORC, Andrew McIrvine.
Day two of the RORC’s domestic season opener and training regatta, saw three races held on the central Solent, with a round the cans followed by two windward-leewards, due to the tidal state. As yesterday, conditions came good, starting in a chilly, overcast 7-8 knot northwesterly, finishing in brilliant sunshine and winds gusting to 20 knots.
Despite shifty conditions and the contrary tidal state across the race track, La Réponse and Invictus showed impressive consistency, both scoring 1-2-1.
For La Réponse today was a bounce back after rounding the wrong mark while leading yesterday’s opening race. "I have new crew and really good foredeck crew," explained McIrvine. "The boat handling was superb and we fiddled with the rigging a lot last weekend and the boat’s flying." Race three went particularly well, La Réponse’s tactical team calling the giant left hand shift correctly.
In IRC Two Ed Fishwick’s brand new Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded (the only boat to take a race off La Réponse) has nudged David Frank’s JPK 10.10 Strait Dealer off the top spot. Fishwick, who usually races a Figaro 2, has acquired the 3600 to sail doublehanded under IRC with former Match Racing National Champion turned solo offshore sailor, Nick Cherry.
Ed Fishwick's Redshift reloaded won today's second race in IRC Two © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
Redshift Reloaded pulled out a second in race one, despite a contretemps with the mainland. "We were cheating the tide off the North Shore and we hit because the instruments aren’t properly calibrated yet," admitted Fishwick. "It took us about a minute to refloat and we only lost by 12 seconds…"
In race two they nailed the pin end start perfectly, putting them into clear air for the remainder of the race. But in the final race Fishwick said they found the shifting breeze tough and they got mixed up with traffic from IRC One.
Steve Cowie's Zephyr was the only boat to claim a race of Sir Keith Mills' Invictus in the FAST 40+ class © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
In the FAST40+ class, the Scottish boat, Steve Cowie’s Zephyr, followed three last place finishes with victory in today’s second race, finally blemishing Invictus’ perfect scoreline. "It was about getting all the fundamentals right - we had a good start and we went the right way and there was a big difference between getting the tactics right and wrong," recounted tactician Ian Budgen. "There were big gains on the right side upwind where the tide had already turned and there was also more pressure and right shift. Every time we got to the right of somebody we made gains." On the second lap this tactic enabled Zephyr to overhaul Invictus to take the bullet.
"It was really nice for the crew because everyone was really frustrated yesterday," continued Budgen. In the final race Zephyr was over early but managed to recover to finish third. This again was due to the Scottish team positioned themselves correctly for the giant left hand shift. As Budgen observed: "The Solent is a weird place and a race isn’t over until you cross the finish line…"
Mike Greville and his beloved Ker 39, Erivale III, won today’s first race in IRC One and maintained her string of podium positions until the tricky final race. "We had a good start in the first race, but the last race was a bit funny because the wind was all over the shop and there were big shifts," summarised Greville, former Commodore of the RORC. Erivale III is looking in good shape with a fresh paintjob and with 100kg lopped off her bulb this winter.
Close racing in IRC Three © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
In IRC Three, top scoring boat of the day was Bullit, posting a 4-1-4 to leave Louise Morton’s all-female crew in fifth place overall, just 1.5 points astern of another Quarter Tonner, Bullet, steered by husband Peter. Among the pint-sized former IOR racers, Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila continues to lead IRC Three after another consistent day, 5.5 points ahead of Ian Braham’s MG346, MS Amlin Enigma.
Also on the ascent among the Quarter Tonners is Cobh Pirate, skippered by Ben Daly. In only his second season in this highly competitive class, Cobh Pirate won their first race (among the Quarter Tonners) yesterday and followed this up with another solid performance today, scoring 6-4-2. "We are comfortable up to 14 knots and today we were in the sweet spot for the boat," said Daly. They might have done better in the first race had they not got stuck in traffic with bigger boats. Their top result in the final race was once again due to choosing the favourable side of the course for the giant shift. "It was fun sailing in sunshine. All the Quarter Tonners finished within a few boat lengths of each other," concluded Daly.
The RORC Easter Challenge concludes tomorrow with three more races scheduled prior to the prizegiving where competitors will be appropriately rewarded with Easter eggs.
Head coach Jim Saltonstall shares his wisdom at tonight's post-race debrief © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
Peter Rutter and crew on board the Half Tonner Quokka 9 © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com