Preview: 2019 RORC North Sea Race
The Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2019 North Sea Race has attracted 79 boats for the 1100 BST start on Friday 31 May.
Hosted by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in their fabulous modern clubhouse, the North Sea Race starts outside Harwich and meanders around the Galloper wind farm before heading north to Smith’s Knoll Buoy and across to the famous sailing city of the Hague and the Scheveningen Yacht Club. The majority of the teams come from the Netherlands, teams from Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, France and Germany will also be racing.
Fast downwind conditions are predicted providing exhilarating conditions for approximately 450 sailors racing across the North Sea. Oystercatcher XXXIII, is favourite for monohull line honours. Oystercatcher XXXIII is sailed by Richard Matthews (GBR), who has won the race overall on at least two previous occasions. His newly acquired Ker 51 was formerly Piet Vroon's Tonnerre 4.
Last year's conditions in the North Sea Race favoured the smaller yachts with the three top teams all from IRC 4. The top three teams from last year will be in action this weekend: Overall winner of the 2018 North Sea Race, Sigma 38 Spirit, sailed by Paul Scott (GBR) will be racing with the same team. Second overall X-332 Ape-x, sailed by Robert Leggett, and third overall X-362 Extra Djinn, sailed by Michel Dorsman (NED), will all be racing to Scheveningen.
For the 2019 North Sea Race, the fast downwind conditions may be to the advantage of yachts racing in IRC Zero. Volvo 60 Boudragon, sailed by Hans Bouscholte (NED) is the largest yacht competing in a very competitive big boat class including: Oystercatcher XXXIII, 2017 Overall winner, Ker 46 Van Uden, sailed by Volvo Ocean Race navigator Wouter Verbaak (NED) and Ker 43 Baraka GP, sailed by Harmen Jan De Graaf (NED).
The full 2018 North Sea Race class podium will be in action: Grand Soleil 43 Il Corvo, sailed by Astrid De Vin (NED) will be racing fully crewed, defending their victory. Last year's class runner up, Corby 38 Double Edge, sailed by Chris Schram (NED) and Raymond Roesink (NED), will be racing Two-Handed. A13 Phosphorus II, sailed by Mark Emerson (GBR) will be competing with a crew all in their twenties.
J/122 Ajeto, sailed Two-Handed by John Van Der Starre (NED) and Robin Verhoef, will be defending their 2018 class win, and also hoping to win IRC Two-Handed after losing out by just one minute on corrected time last year. Formidable opposition comes in the form of class winner of the Myth of Malham Race last weekend, JPK 11.80 Courrier Recommande, sailed by Gery Trentesaux (FRA).
Dehler 39 Griel, sailed by Robert Jockin (NED) is back hoping to go one better than second in class last year. Notable competitors this year include two British Sun Fast 3600s: Black Sheep owned by Trevor Middleton (GBR), and Bellino which will be racing Two-Handed with Rob Craigie and Deb Fish. Proven race winners in the class include, MC 34 Patton Azawakh, sailed by Vincent Willemart (BEL), and X-37 Checkmate, sailed by Peter de Ridder (NED).
“All of the competing yachts, and the RORC Race Management team, have been offered a warm welcome at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club,” commented RORC Deputy Racing Manager Tim Thubron. “The North Sea Race dates back to 1946, and it has always been a highlight of offshore racing on both the East Coast of the UK, and the Netherlands. It is encouraging to see that this year we have competitors from all over Europe taking part. The North Sea Race is part of the RORC Season's Points Championship, and for many of the teams, a qualifying race for the Rolex Fastnet Race.”