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New multihull sportboat class for the Vice Admiral’s Cup

Diam 24od Team Maverick will compete in the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup

Having helped rejuvenate the Tour de France à la Voile in 2015, Diam 24 one design will make its debut on the Solent over 19-21st May at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Vice Admiral’s Cup.
The 7.25m by 5.62m one design is from the drawing board of VPLP, who has penned many top offshore multihulls such as the MOD70 and all recent Jules Verne Trophy record holders. Significantly the Diam24od is the first multihull class to be invited to compete in the Vice Admiral’s Cup, the annual one design/level rating regatta, celebrating its 12th birthday this year.

2017 vac diam24 fleet photo stan thuretThe Diam24od fleet will be in action at the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup - Credit Stan Thuret

Five Diam24ods from the UK are entered in the Vice Admiral’s Cup, plus another two coming from the boat’s builder in France, where the boat has struck a chord with fleet numbers in the Tour de France, rapidly swelling. Now the boat is taking hold in the UK, the present embryonic fleet mostly sailing out of Hamble Point Marina. "They can do around 25 knots, maybe a little more in flat water," says UK importer, Paul Wakelin of Fluid Boat Services, explaining their appeal.

Among the Diam24ods entered in the Vice Admiral’s Cup is Team Maverick SSR, campaigned by Piers Hugh Smith, bowman on the Infiniti 46, Maverick. This summer he will be leading the first British team in the Tour de France à la Voile for at least a decade, with his boat sailing with the RORC as its nominated club.
Team Maverick SSR is a youth team, meaning that their oldest sailor is 27. Smith, who is currently at university in Portsmouth, and his crew are either students or have recently graduated.
While the Diam24od held their first regatta in the UK at Poole Week last year, the RORC’s Vice Admiral’s Cup will be their first official outing on the Solent. "This will be our first formal race having been sailing the boat for just under a year," says Smith.

Peter Morton with his wife, Louise, originally created the Vice Admiral’s Cup for one design and level rating classes or tightly grouped handicap classes, or as he puts it: "To fill a gap that the Admiral’s Cup left behind. With the handicap classes, we wanted to try and narrow it right down so there was more boat-on-boat racing."

Classes are invited to complete at the Vice Admiral’s Cup and over the years they have moved with the times, the Diam24od being the event’s very latest class.

Both Mortons are competing once again this year. The event was supposed to have marked the debut for Peter’s brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, in the FAST 40+ class. However the boat’s arrival has been delayed, so for the Vice Admiral’s Cup Morton has chartered Andrew Pearce’s Ker 40+, Magnum 4. "It’s the first scoring event in the FAST40+. Fortunately points are attributed to owners and teams rather than individual boats, so we can carry the points over," he explains. The boat is likely to be remained Girls on Magnum for the event while also providing Morton with the opportunity to see how the other half live on a Ker (rather than Carkeek) design.

2017 vac invictus photo rtSir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus will go into the VAC on top form - Credit Rick Tomlinson

FAST40+ Class President, Robert Greenhalgh is expecting 10 FAST40+s at the Vice Admiral’s Cup. As to the form boats, Morton can never be discounted, while the boat Greenhalgh sails on, Sir Keith Mills’ Ker 40+ Invictus, won the RORC Easter Challenge and Morton’s 2016 boat, now Bas de Voogd's Hitchhiker, won the FAST40+ Spring Regatta. "It looks like it will be a competitive fleet," says Greenhalgh. "There are plenty of boats and they’re all trying hard. This year you could easily get a tenth in a race, because every boat is so good."

Louise Morton will once again be campaigning in the Quarter Ton class. While her Bullit is the defending Coutts Quarter Ton Cup champion, Louise has not had it her own way so far this year with Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila winning both the RORC Easter Challenge and the Warsash Spring Series. "They are putting a lot of time and effort into it - they are always out there sailing," Louise observes. However she is confident of the prospects of her all-female team that includes Paralympic medallist Helena Lucas and Women’s Match Racing World Champion Lucy Macgregor. At least ten Quarter Tonners are expected to compete at the Vice Admiral’s Cup, including Aguila and Bullit plus a couple of new additions to the fleet. As to the event which they conceived, Louise says: "We were very proud of it and we like to keep an eye on it!"

2017 vac aguila photo rtSam Laidlaw's Aguila will compete in the Quarter Ton Class - Credit Rick Tomlinson

Other classes competing at the Vice Admiral’s Cup are the J/109 and J/111, the Impala and SB20.

RORC De Guingand Bowl Race Preview

Ker 46 - Lady Mariposa will be the scratch boat for the 2017 De Guingand Bowl Race - photo Waterline Media

Start: Saturday May 13, 2017
Flexi-Course starting from Royal Yacht Squadron Line

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's offshore racing season continues this weekend with the 4th race of the RORC Season's Points Championship. Over 80 yachts are expected to take part with the vast majority of the crews made up of passionate Corinthian sailors with their own set of goals.

Designed to last 24-36 hours, the De Guingand Bowl Race starts and finishes in the Solent and is a flexi-course allowing the Royal Ocean Racing Club to design a bespoke course. "Without the constraint of finishing the race in a totally different location, we concentrate on the weather and tidal conditions to decide the course," explains RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "We try to get all of the fleet to finish the first beat in the same tidal vector, so as to avoid a tidal gate early in the race."

In IRC Zero, Daniel Hardy's Ker 46 Lady Mariposa is the fastest yacht rated under the IRC rating system. However, several yachts in IRC One could challenge Lady Mariposa for Line Honours including Alan Hannon's RP45 Katsu, Edward Broadway's Ker 40 Hooligan VII, and Tor McLaren's MAT 1180 Gallivanter.

In IRC Two, Richard Neocleous' Ocean 55 Julia returns after its debut in last season's championship. The crew come from Hertfordshire and 18 year old Louie Neocleous will skipper Julia as he did last year.

2017 dgb julia rorc racing photo richard neocleousRichard Neocleous' Ocean 55 Julia returns after its debut in last season's championship

"2016 was a great opportunity to put the team together and we all learnt a huge amount throughout the season" commented Louie. "This year we are back to race much more competitively, we have a permanent race crew of 8. The remaining 6 crew are all friends, the boat's mate, Simon Jackson and I have crossed the Atlantic together and built a great relationship for the races. Last year, we were just beginners in terms of racing, our best result was 25th out of 86 boats in the Cervantes Trophy. This year, we hope to achieve better results on a consistent basis."
In IRC Three, Trevor Sainty and Simon Forbes Jalenko is one of many J/109s that will be racing with the RORC this season. The crew have been together for about ten years and did their first Rolex Fastnet with Jalenko in 2015. The De Guingand Bowl Race is part of the teams programme for another crack at the Rolex Fastnet.
"All amateurs and we are all friends, most of the time" smiled Trevor. "I am a veterinary surgeon working with horses, Simon works in the City, and the rest of the group are from the South of England and London, working in banking and IT. Our aim is to be top J/109 this season and improve our Fastnet finishing position by winning it of course. This will be my eighth consecutive Fastnet and last! - I said that last time."
In IRC Four Dave Cooper & Paul England will be racing their Dehler 38 Longue Pierre. This will be their first RORC race this season, as part of their 2017 RORC Season Points Championship campaign.
"2017 is the 10th anniversary of us having won the great bowl overall" commented Dave Cooper. This race will continue our rivalry with the Swan Xara. In 2016, we finished on equal points in JOG and the rivalry continues in both JOG and RORC this year. Longue Pierre is approaching her 30th birthday and has spent all of the last 30 years RORC racing."

The 2017 De Guingand Bowl Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, Cowes on Saturday 13th May.

Dr. Jason Smithwick to become Director of Rating for IRC

Dr. Jason Smithwick, the new Technical Director of IRC

The Lymington (UK) based Rating Office, headquarters of the world’s most popular rating system IRC, is to be managed by Dr Jason Smithwick. Following on from academia, roles in the research industry and sailing’s international federation Smithwick will take up his post at the head of a team of four full-time staff and several external consultants on 3rd July this year.

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Pintia Retains Cervantes Trophy

The start of the 2017 Cervantes Trophy Race - photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson

The European season of offshore racing with the Royal Ocean Club started with 100 yachts competing for the Cervantes Trophy race organised in association with the UNCL and the destination yacht club Société des Regates du Havre. The 160 nautical mile race started on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line to the east. Leaving Owers to port, Rustington to starboard, A5 then General Metzinger to port and finish.

Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott reported: “The start was delayed by ten minutes due to a container ship going through then they all got away. A southerly wind of ten knots increased to about 15 knots giving a fast passage to Owers. As the fleet passed Owers the wind began to fade before building to 20 knots from the east.”

It was Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia who took Class 2 line honours and was the class and overall winner of the Cervantes Trophy on corrected time. Gilles races with a crew of family and friends based in Le Havre so the Cervantes Trophy Race is a firm favourite and as ever they proved most popular winners in their home club. Having won the class trophy 3 times, Gilles joked with the RORC Commodore at prize giving about how many times he would have to win the trophy before he could keep it!

Last year's overall champion, First 44.7 Lisa, sailed by RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd was second in IRC Class 2 edging out Ed Fishwick's Two Handed entry Redshift Reloaded.

2017 cervantes pomeroy swan ricktomlinsonPaul Kavanagh's Swan 44, Pomeroy Swan, winner of IRC Class 4 and second overall in the Cervantes Trophy Race - photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson

The top three yachts in IRC Four excelled in the race, finishing with site of each other and likely to be aware that the class winner would have made a strong challenge for the race win overall. Noel Racine's JPK 1010 Foggy Dew crossed the line just over 16 hours into the race. Just 15 minutes behind Foggy Dew, Paul Kavanagh's Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan was locked in a duel with Harry Heijst's S&S 41 Winsome. Pomeroy Swan crossed the line just a minute ahead of Winsome to take the IRC class win and second overall in the Cervantes Trophy Race.

“I bought the boat three years ago with the intention of cruising her with a bit of racing, we have a couple of good guys on board including Andy Greenwood who is a professional but the rest are very much family and friends” commented Pomeroy Swan's owner, Paul Kavanagh. “I did the Fastnet Race about ten years ago with a charter company and I have always fancied skippering a Fastnet boat myself, so that is the aim this year. Unfortunately, we couldn't spend the time to stop in Le Havre after the race and turned back after the finish. I got my head down and when I woke up the crew told me we had won. To be honest, I was brutally surprised, this is the first offshore race the boat has ever done!”

The 20 strong IRC Two Handed Class featured an epic battle for the class win and podium positions. Ed Fishwick's Sunfast 3600 Redshift Reloaded took line honours by just over two minutes but on time correction it was not enough to better Rob Craigie's corrected time racing Sunfast 3600 Bellino, along with crew Deborah Fish. Stephen Hopson's JPK 1080 Blue Note was third.

“For us the key moment in the race was staying high on the reach to Owers, i looked like a flyer but paid off when the wind headed.” revealed Rob Craigie. “Why do we race Two Handed? Well we find it much more satisfying, as we are always fully engaged with both the boat and the racing and it also removes the overhead and stress of a bigger crew!”

The cold but brisk easterly wind provided for a fast broad reach across the English Channel, Derek Saunders CM60 Venomous took Line Honours and IRC Zero, completing the course in just over 13 hours. The seven Class40s racing had an epic speed battle with the entire fleet finishing within 42 minutes of each other. Adriaan van Oord's Moonpalace sailed by Roeland Franssens took the gun for the Class40s by just over three minutes from Maxime Cauwe's Espoir. Peter Harding's Phor-ty, sailed by Pip Hare was just 39 seconds behind in third.

In IRC 1, Jack Pringle's first RORC race in his First 50 Avatar was a memorable one. The British team were beaten to the line by one second by Maxime de Mareui's xP-44 Orange Mecanix2. However, after time correction Avatar was the winner by less than two minutes. Edmund Hall's MAT 12 Night Owl II was third.

In IRC 3, Ben Morris' swan 55 yawl Lulotte revelled in the reaching condition to win the class. Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600 Bellino was second with Thomas Kneen' JPK 1080 Sunrise third.

The RORC Season's Points Championship continues with the De Guingand Bowl Race, starting on Saturday May 13, 2017.

2017 cervantes trophies c lechvreThe Cervantes Race Trophies ready for presentation in Le Havre - photo Christophe Lechevre

Giant international gathering for Rolex Fastnet Race

Yachts from around the world will converge on Cowes for the start of the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race in August  © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

August's Rolex Fastnet Race remains on track for a record-sized fleet. Currently 390 boats are entered: 338 competing for the main IRC handicap prize; the remainder racing for their own trophies in the Class40, IMOCA 60, Volvo Ocean 65 and Multihull grand prix classes.

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Nifty work as RORC Easter Challenge concludes

Tokoloshe leads the FAST 40+ fleet at the RORC Easter Challenge but star performer throughout the regatta was  Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. © Paul Wyeth/

Sailors at the RORC Easter Challenge left Cowes this Easter Sunday sunburned, full of chocolate and brimming with freshly acquired wisdom about their sport.

Across the 50 boat fleet competing at the RORC’s three day long domestic season opener, that doubles as its annual training regatta, it was close across most classes, but none more so than IRC One. In this, Mike Greville’s sparkling Ker 39, Erivale III managed to lose her three point lead in today’s opening round the cans race and the victor was only decided on the final, head down, charge for the finish line in race two.

Ultimately Roger Bowden’s King 40, Nifty (ex-Tokoloshe 1), claimed first overall, two points ahead of Erivale with another King 40, Cobra, another point behind. As Nifty’s skipper Sam Cox recounted: "Coming into the finish [of race 2], Zero pipped us and we had Erivale III and Zero II stacked up right behind us. All weekend we’ve been having really good boat-on-boat racing between us - it was fantastic."

ech17d2 1161 niftyClose racing in the RORC Easter Challenge. Roger Bowden's King 40, Nifty (ex-Tokoloshe 1), claimed first overall in IRC One © Paul Wyeth/

Three races were scheduled today, but the wind dropped as the new breeze attempted to settle towards the end of the first race, causing the course to be shortened for IRC Two and Three. With the wind shifting dramatically, it took three attempts to get what was to be the second and final race underway.

Within IRC One, there was a match race between the two Mark Mills-designed MAT 1180s. Tor McLaren’s two week old Gallivanter got its first taste of glory, winning today’s opening race, However sistership, Christian Zugel’s Tschuss, finished seven points ahead overall.

McLaren appreciated the coaching laid on by the RORC, spearheaded by Jim Saltonstall and Eddie Warden Owen and supplemented by North Sails UK staff: "We were very happy with the way we performed. We were together upwind - which we weren’t on day one. The groove is very narrow and main and runners have to be trimmed in sync. The crew work at the front is really good and our tactics were great."

ech17d3 949 jim coachingJim Saltonstall offers his expert advice. Crews appreciated the coaching laid on by the RORC and the team at North Sails UK © Paul Wyeth/

Star performer throughout the regatta was Sir Keith Mills’ Invictus in the FAST 40+ class, racing within IRC One. With a 1-3 today, the black Ker 40+ won the regatta by a mighty 11 points. However it was not easy and all five of the FAST 40+ had their moments with Tony Dickin’s Jubilee looking particularly strong today, leading the opening stages of race two, which was eventually won by Mark Rijkse’s 42° South.

"The first race was tough," recounted Mills. "We were third at the first mark, but managed to climb back and get a comfortable win. Then, in the second race, we didn’t get the greatest start but we kept our place all the way round and we had a photo finish - 42° South got it, but there was half a boat length between three boats, which made it really interesting."

ech17d2 618 invictusSir Keith Mills' invincible FAST40+ Invictus. © Paul Wyeth/

In IRC Two, a late charge from RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine on La Réponse was enough to get his First 40 onto the podium but not enough to make an impression on the race for the lead between David Franks’ JPK 10.10 Strait Dealer and Redshift Reloaded, the Sun Fast 3600 belonging to Ed Fishwick.

ech17d3 689 redshift reloadedVictory in IRC Two for Redshift Reloaded, Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 © Paul Wyeth/

While La Réponse claimed today’s first race and Strait Dealer the second, Redshift Reloaded posted a 2-3 to win overall by three points from Franks’ yacht. "The first race was tricky," recounted Nick Cherry, with whom Fishwick will be racing doublehanded for the remainder of the season.  "It went light and at one point we were looking pretty bad and La Réponse ditched us. In the last race, we only had to finish five points behind Strait Dealer, although we were worried we were OCS. Also there were some big shifts, but they were reasonably predictable."

For the Redshift crew, winning on this the boat’s first major competitive outing is a big achievement: "We are very pleased," summarised Cherry. "The boat was going quick. The crew did well and it was nice tight racing."

Fishwick praised the RORC Race Committee: "It is a well organised regatta and they did a really good job."

ech17d3 747 aguilaIRC Three winner, Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner, Aguila © Paul Wyeth/

Aside from Invictus, the most consistent performance was from Sam Laidlaw’s Quarter Tonner, Aguila. The RORC Easter Challenge defending champion today put in a race win and a 2.5, to reclaim IRC Three by 7.5 points from Ian Braham’s MG 346, MS Amlin Enigma.

"It was fantastic conditions - it couldn’t have more different to last year when it was very windy," said Laidlaw. "This year it was light and puffy and quite difficult. Today was challenging with the wind up and down and in the second race we had a good ding-dong with Bullet – they sail really well. It has been close racing all weekend."

The regatta wound up with a prizegiving at the RORC’s Cowes clubhouse where the winners left laden with trophies and Easter eggs.

ech17d3 1136 invictus loade dup with eggsSir Keith Mills and son Alex receive their prizes for Invictus' FAST40+ victory. © Paul Wyeth/

Admiral in the Chocolates

Andrew McIrvine's La Réponse leading in IRC Two © Paul Wyeth/

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.

1ech17d2 746 redshift pwEd Fishwick's Redshift reloaded won today's second race in IRC Two © Paul Wyeth/

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.

ech17d2 827 zephyr pwSteve Cowie's Zephyr was the only boat to claim a race of Sir Keith Mills' Invictus in the FAST 40+ class © Paul Wyeth/

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. 

ech17d2 1569 irc three pwClose racing in IRC Three © Paul Wyeth/

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.

ech17d2 1739 debrief pwHead coach Jim Saltonstall shares his wisdom at tonight's post-race debrief © Paul Wyeth/

1ech17d2 1544 quokka pwPeter Rutter and crew on board the Half Tonner Quokka 9 © Paul Wyeth/

Three bullets for Invictus on opening day

Three bullets for Invictus on opening day of  RORC Easter Challenge
The RORC Easter Challenge, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener and coaching regatta, got off to an ideal start on the Solent today. Three races were held, the first of two windward-leewards off Lee-on-the Solent starting in a relatively benign 7 knot southwesterly. After gently easing the boats into the regatta, the breeze slowly built until it was gusting to 20+, which, combined with a lumpy wind-against-tide sea state, made for a challenging final round the cans race. This featured an America's Cup-style reaching start, eventually taking the 50 competing yachts back towards Cowes.

Star performer of the day was Sir Keith Mills' all-black Ker 40+ Invictus which scored three bullets in the five-strong FAST40+ class, racing within IRC One.

Sir Keith Mills came ashore buzzing: "It was lovely conditions - we got up to 16-17 knots downwind. It is always fun with a reaching start - some went for kites and we went for a Code Zero. 42° South overtook us right on the mark and we spent the race catching them up, which eventually we did. With these close races, and particularly in the FAST 40+ fleet, you can't afford to make a mistake because you get punished immediately. Crew handling is everything, but fortunately we have a great crew."

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Royal Ocean Racing Club - since 1925

The RORC was founded in 1925 to encourage long distance yacht racing and the design, building and navigation of sailing vessels in which speed and seaworthiness are combined. Today the club encourages ocean, long distance and other forms of yacht racing and yachting activity.