by Louay Habib
Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) Season's Points Championship 2013 began with the RORC Caribbean 600 in February, however on May 4th the European season kicks off with The Cervantes Trophy Race from Cowes to Le Havre.
Shaun Frohlich’s IMX45, Exabyte III - RORC Season’s Points Championship 2013
The RORC’s Season's Points Championship is set for the biggest turnout since the series began in 2000. Every edition of the Championship has attracted hundreds of yachts, however this year buoyed by the Rolex Fastnet Race, over 400 yachts will be racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
Whilst the Rolex Fastnet Race is the showcase race of the 2013 series, there are 13 testing races that make up the championship with the best five results counting for the overall winner. Trying to win the RORC Season's Points Championship is a real challenge but every race has its own coveted prize for the overall winner and class honours.
Since 2000 only one yacht, Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens, has won the Season's Points Championship twice (2010 and 2011) and only two times has it been awarded to a yacht 50' or over. (2005 -TP52, Fidessa Fastwave & 2006 - Cookson 50, Chieftain). More often than not, a production yacht, crewed by amateur sailors, wins the RORC Season's Points Championship, arguably the most competitive and popular offshore series in the world.
In 2004 Shaun Frohlich's IMX45, Exabyte III, had a fantastic year winning the Cervantes Trophy, De Guingand Bowl, Morgan Cup, The Assuage Trophy and the Alan Paul Trophy but Exabyte III didn't win the championship overall, Chris Bull's J/145, Jazz, scored an impressive performance in the Round Ireland Race to tip the balance in their favour.
'It was a great year with a completely amateur team,' commented Frohlich. 'Although we didn't win overall, it is lovely to think back and remember the anticipation before every single race; it is a delicious excitement. Even when you finish in the wee small hours, tired and hungry, all you want to know is the result. As each boat crosses the finish line a picture develops, just like in an old fashioned darkroom, and you want to know if it is a cracking picture or not.'
'The championship is a brilliant combination of the excitement and immediacy of each event. However because it is a series, if you have a bad race there is still more to fight for. Taking your best five results means that more often than not, the chance of winning stays alive until the very last race,' continued Frohlich.
2012 saw one of the closest championships ever with three boats vying for the overall prize going into the last race, a 78-mile sprint from Cowes to Cherbourg. Piet Vroon thought he had won the title for a third time when his Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, won the race. However Laurent Gouy's Ker 39, Inis Mor, managed fifth overall in the Cherbourg race to win the seven month series by a single point. Also in 2012, a remarkable run of form by Nick Martin's J/105, Diablo-J, was rewarded with third overall, a massive achievement as Diablo-J had been racing two-handed against fully crewed yachts.
One notable change this year is that the RORC have altered the points system for scoring the Season's Points Championship and competitors are only allowed to count the bonus points from one race towards their overall score. Bonus points are awarded to five of the 13 races with the Rolex Fastnet being the highest scoring race with a factor of 1.5.
'In the past, with no restriction on how many high points factored races a boat could count towards their overall score, a big advantage was to be gained by boats that were capable of travelling to places like the East Coast and Ireland,' commented RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen on this year's change to the points system. 'Now with RORC races in different parts of the world scoring a high points factor, such as the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race, both tough extended offshore races, the Club did not want the majority who chose not to travel to be at a disadvantage. Points from these races can still be counted but boats can only count the high points score from one race, most likely the race with the best result.'