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Virago wins the RORC Channel Race

80 boats for the 2021 RORC Channel Race © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Teams racing Two-Handed in IRC Four dominated the overall results for the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Channel Race.

Held in light to medium airs, the 98nm offshore race was won overall by Jeffrey Knapman’s MG335 Virago, racing with Tristan Kemp. Second overall was the Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced by Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews. Gavin Doyle’s Irish Corby 25 Duff Lite, racing with Alex Piatti, was third. Duff Lite was a slender 17 seconds ahead of William McGough & Christian Jeffery, racing J/109 Just So.

Jeffrey Knapman’s MG335 Virago, racing with Tristan Kemp. © Rick Tomlinson/RORCJeffrey Knapman’s MG335 Virago, racing with Tristan Kemp. © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Congratulations to all of the class winners, including Eric de Turckheim’s NMYD54 Teasing Machine, Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood, Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, Henry Bomby & Sam Matson racing Sun Fast 3300 Swell, and Class40 Manic, skippered by Brian Thompson.

Starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line on an ebb tide, the 80-boat RORC fleet beat to the west to exit The Solent. The ingenious course then required the fleet to pass a line of longitude, south of Bournemouth, before easing sheets and racing downwind past St Catherine’s Point. A second line of longitude, south of Littlehampton, was the next leg of the course. The RORC fleet then rounded the Nab Tower, before finishing at Stokes Bay East off Gilkicker Point.

“This is our first race as a Two-Handed team, although we have raced, together and against each other, as kids in dinghies.” smiled Jeffrey Knapman, who raced Virago to overall victory with cousin Tristan Kemp. “To be honest, the conditions really suited the set-up of the boat. The No.2 is our biggest jib and was perfect for the upwind conditions. This season we have a much bigger spinnaker, which does put our rating up, but really increases the horse-power.” Both Jeffrey and Tristan managed to grab two hours sleep each in the first half of the race. “It’s unusual to get that much sleep but it helped us to be proactive in the latter part of the race, especially staying alert for wind shifts and a confused sea state. When the Sun Fast 3200 Cora finished, we calculated they were three minutes ahead of us on corrected time. This was a real incentive to make up the time to win our class, but we were very surprised to win the race overall!”


Eric de Turckheim’s French NMYD54 Teasing Machine was the winner of IRC Zero after a fascinating battle with David Collins’ British Botin IRC 52 Tala, which took Line Honours for the race.

Eric de Turckheim’s French NMYD54 Teasing Machine © Rick Tomlinson/RORCEric de Turckheim’s French NMYD54 Teasing Machine © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

“We had a good race which was very interesting,” commented Teasing Machine’s Eric de Turckheim. “The lines of longitude were giving quite a lot of tactical options, especially the angle of attack and the relationship with the currents. Most routing software programmes work using waypoints, not lines of longitude, also you have to plan much farther forward for the next leg. On the first leg west, Tala was on one extreme south, and we were on the other extreme north, but we finished the race almost together. In the end, Tala was quicker than us to the finish, but this was a good race for Teasing Machine. Next we will do the Rolex Fastnet Race, and I am really looking forward to it.”


Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood was the winner or IRC One, three minutes and 42 seconds ahead after IRC time correction from Jacques Pelletier’s French Milon 41 L'Ange De Milon. Third was Colin Campbell’s British Azuree 46 Eclectic.

Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood  © Rick Tomlinson/RORCMichael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

“For us, L'Ange De Milon is a benchmark for our performance, given that they won the class in the last Rolex Fastnet Race, “ commented Darkwood’s Michael O'Donnell’s. “For this race they were always wily, and we spent the whole time looking over our shoulder. She was always in touch with us, right to the finish.  Pelletier’s team are formidable competitors, and on corrected time, they only give us seven seconds an hour. I am sure they will be one of the boats giving us a tough battle for the big race. We look at the FAST40+ as well, and we are competitive in conditions were they can’t plane, probably 14 knots of wind. Our opportunity comes when it is a bit lighter, and this season has been light airs so far. We would not be at all upset if those conditions continued for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Having said all that, you need to sail the boat well. The RORC racing in the Spring was really useful, as we got out every sail, raced around plenty of corners, and all in a variety of conditions.”


Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Rick Tomlinson/RORCRoss Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Ross Applebey’s British Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster was the class winner. A terrific battle for second place was fought between two British JPK 11.80s. Ed Bell’s Dawn Treader won the duel by just 17 seconds after IRC time correction, from Thomas Kneen’s Sunrise, sailed by Tom Cheney. Sunrise leads IRC Two for the season, but with the discard race rule kicking in, Dawn Treader and Scarlet Oyster have closed the gap in the class prior to the Rolex Fastnet Race.


Henry Bomby & Sam Matson won IRC Three racing Sun Fast 3300 Swell © Rick Tomlinson/RORCHenry Bomby & Sam Matson won IRC Three racing Sun Fast 3300 Swell © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

The Two-Handed pair of Henry Bomby & Sam Matson won IRC Three racing Sun Fast 3300 Swell. Mike Yates’ J/109 JAGO, racing Two-Handed with Eivind Bøymo-Malm, was runner-up, by just 26 seconds after IRC time correction. Third in class was Nick Martin’s Sun Fast 3600 Diablo. Nick Martin was racing Two-Handed with Calanach Finlayson and has moved up to fourth in IRC Three for the season.

The RORC Season’s Points Championship continues on Sunday the 8th of August with the 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Starting from the RYS Line Cowes, about 400 boats will set off on the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship offshore race.

Full results:

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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.