Black Sheep wins RORC Cervantes Trophy

The overall winner of the RORC Cervantes Trophy Race after IRC time correction was Trevor Middleton’s Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep.  © Paul Wyeth/RORC
The overall winner of the RORC Cervantes Trophy Race after IRC time correction was Trevor Middleton’s Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep.  © Paul Wyeth/RORC

RORC Cervantes Trophy Race

Cowes – Le Havre (approx. 110nm)

Start 20 April 2024

The Cervantes Trophy Race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in association with the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Société des Régates du Havre.

RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole reported glorious conditions for the start off the Squadron Line with 14 knots from the north west giving a fast downwind sail through the Western Solent.  The 110-mile race to Le Havre was all off the breeze in Spring sunshine.  However, south of the Isle of Wight, the wind faded, causing the fleet to compress. The wind picked up mid-Channel to provide thrilling close finishes right through the IRC Classes.

Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep © Paul Wyeth/RORC

The overall winner of the RORC Cervantes Trophy Race after IRC time correction was Trevor Middleton’s Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep.  Second overall was Ian Hoddle’s Sun Fast 3300 Game On, racing with Ollie Wyatt. Game On was also the winner in IRC Two Handed. Third overall and second in IRC Two Handed was Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing with RORC Commodore Deb Fish.

Black Sheep’s Skipper Jake Carter commented about winning The Cervantes Trophy. “After a good start, we settled in for a great spinnaker run down the Western Solent,” commented Jake. “After the Needles we gybed inshore, keeping the kite flying, while other boats stayed on west with Code Zeros. This paid initially but the wind went east and the offshore boats gained back on us. When the wind died down, we had one of those dis-heartening moments when we stopped and everyone else kept going, but on Black Sheep our heads didn’t go down.  At the end of the race, we got further east than the competition, the tide had changed and we were not fighting it as much. We made a late gain there for sure.”

Congratulations to all of the class winners for the Cervantes Trophy Race including  Philippe Benaben’s Sun Fast 3200 Platypus, Samuel Duménil’s JPK 960 Casamyas and Didier Bouillard’s Dazcat 1295 Minor Swing. Gilles Fournier & Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia won their class, taking Line Honours into their home Port Le Havre.

2024 RORC Cervantes Trophy Race Results 

A13 Phosphorous II © Paul Wyeth/RORC

In IRC Zero, Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II took the win from Clipper Event’s Ambitious, skippered by Guy Waites. In IRC One, Gilles Fournier & Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia won their class. Second was Richard Powell’s First 40 Rogan Josh, ahead of Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog.

Sun Fast 3300 Game On © Paul Wyeth/RORC

In a 17-strong IRC Two-Handed fleet, Game On’s victory was very close. The reigning RORC Season’s Points Champion Bellino was under four minutes behind after IRC time correction. Simon Toms’s Sun Fast 3300 Zephyr, racing with Josh Dawson had an even closer battle for third. Winning by just nine seconds after IRC time correction from Gareth Edmondson’s JPK 1030 Insert Coin, racing with Ian Turnbull.

Game On’s Ian Hoddle was delighted to win his first RORC race of the season in IRC Two-Handed. “Ollie (Wyatt) and I are very pleased with result,” commented Ian. “ It was a tough race, especially as the weather didn’t correlate with any of our weather files until the end. I would say the defining decision was staying in a middle lane from the Needles for the shut downs off the island. The fleet closer to St Cath’s got hit hard and we increased our lead. We stayed close to the rhumb line as we crossed the Channel and stayed in a lead group including Pintia. I think we had good tactics and we are very pleased with our boat speed and manoeuvres.

In Hindsight, our only mistake was staying with our Code Zero in the final 15 miles. Blacksheep were on our tail and then popped up a kite and got ahead of us. We had a close fight with Bellino across the Channel but managed to pull away. As always, it’s never over until the line;  Bellino came in very fast at the end (probably with spinnaker) and closed the gap.”

Sun Fast 3600 Bellino © Paul Wyeth/RORC

In IRC Three, Philippe Benaben’s Sun Fast 3200 Platypus based in Le Havre was the victor. Jean-Lin Flipo’s J/99 Yalla! from Cherbourg was second. Francois Tirveilliot’s Sun Fast 3200 Aldebaran from Deauville was third. In IRC Four the winner was Samuel Duménil Casamyas from Le Havre.

Sun Fast 30 OD Cap Sela © Paul Wyeth/RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has chartered two Sun Fast 30 One Designs for the 2024 season, which will be raced by youth sailors as the RORC Griffin Teams. 300 sailors aged 18 to 30 applied. After Selections Weekends and further coaching, two selected Griffin Teams took part in the Cervantes Trophy Race. Cap Polaris, co-skippered by Charlotte Schneider & Joe Walters and Cap Sela, co-skippered by Rosie Hill & Matt Beecher. Both Griffin Teams completed the race with Cap Polaris the first Griffin Team to finish.

Sun Fast 30 OD Cap Polaris © Paul Wyeth/RORC

Charlotte Schneider commented after the race: “The biggest challenge was definitely dealing with the prevailing weather conditions,” commented Charlotte.  “Many hours went into preparing the navigation and we had a plan. But you learn that plans have to change quickly on the water when the wind comes from a completely different direction than expected. This was the first time we have sailed the boat in light wind, so we had to learn how to get the best speed during the race. Now we definitely know more! I think we can be satisfied with the result and we positioned ourselves well with the other Sun Fast 30 ODs.”

The next RORC offshore race will be the Myth of Malham starting from Cowes on the 4th of May. The 230-mile race around the Eddystone Lighthouse and back mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. The Myth of Malham Race is the fifth race of the RORC Season’s Points Championship,  the world's largest offshore racing series with trophies and races dating back over 100 years.

For more pictures of the 2024 RORC Cervantes Trophy Race. Visit the RORC Gallery

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