Online entry for The Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2014 season is now open and Ian Walker's Volvo Ocean 65 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was fast off the mark to confirm its participation with Azzam (Determination) in the RORC's toughest race of the year - the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race
The 1802nm course, starting on Sunday 10th August, is the ultimate test of endurance for sailors and has been supported by leading Dutch specialist yacht transport company Sevenstar since 2006. Starting and finishing in Cowes, Isle of Wight, the race takes competitors non-stop around the breathtaking coastline of Britain and Ireland. Memorable landmarks include the most northerly lighthouse - Muckle Flugga, a small rocky island north of Unst in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.
Britain's two time Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker will skipper the Volvo Ocean 65, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race prior to their second successive Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015: 'This will be my first Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race and I can't wait to take part in our new Volvo 65. It will be an excellent training run just before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race which starts in October. Racing is always more demanding closer to land with headlands, tidal issues, wind effects and all the resulting sail changes. This will be a tough test for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at just the right time,' comments Skipper, Ian Walker.
The organisers of Volvo Ocean Race confirmed that the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is part of their pre-race programme. This will give all teams the chance to compete for the first time against each other, offering valuable crew training and boat preparation before the start of their round the world race from Alicante, Spain in October 2014.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing returned to the water in last summer's Rolex Fastnet Race, coming from behind to cross the line ahead of future Volvo Ocean Race rivals, Team SCA, which will be the first all-women's team to compete in the race since 2001-02. The all-female crew will also participate in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race as part of their pre-race training.
Coming only two months before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race is a fairly critical 'fixture' in the Team SCA training calendar.
'The Team has been training in Lanzarote, Canary Islands since January 2013, taking advantage of the excellent conditions,' commented Joca Signorini, Team SCA Coach. 'With so few opportunities to race against other Volvo Ocean 65s, it will be great to be able to train and compete against other Volvo teams as well as other big boats entered in the race,' continues Signorini.
The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race appeals to experienced ocean racers, seasoned RORC members and those less experienced sailors looking for a fulfilling adventure and sailing challenge. Enthusiasm for the race is high and over 30 boats are expected on the start line, with interest ranging from the Class40 fleet in the UK and France; IMOCA 60s and regular RORC racers ready for one of the toughest and most challenging endurance tests they will face during the 2014 RORC race season.
In the 2010 edition Class40 Concise 2, with a crew of six, set a new Round Britain and Ireland record for the 40ft Category, completing the race in just 9 days 13hrs 32mins 20secs which was ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. The team have entered the 2014 edition with their new Class40, Concise 8:
'We have a good group of around eight Class40s who will base themselves in the Hamble for the coming season and I expect quite a few of them to compete in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race as well as a few French boats. The race is much more interesting and demanding than a transoceanic race because of all the headlands, tidal considerations and shipping that we encounter in the race. My aim is to beat the record I set in 2010 which will be tough to do,' commented Ned Collier Wakefield.
Other entries in the race include Scarlet Oyster, run by Sailing Logic who have won the Best Sailing School Yacht in IRC every year since 2005 in the RORC's annual awards. Based in Hamble, UK, Sailing Logic will offer individual places on Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, raced as Scarlet Logic for the non-stop race. It is the longest offshore race offered by Sailing Logic and the race will push everyone hard both mentally and physically.
Ross, owner and skipper of Scarlet Oyster, comments: 'Sailing Logic run such an efficient shore-side operation I can really focus just on the racing. In the past two years we have collected a fair amount of silverware together and I am really looking forward to the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - and hopefully another trophy!'
From Germany the JV53 Bank von Bremen will be skippered by Carol Smolawa who competed in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race and will be joined by other Fastnet veterans.
Its unfinished business for Keith Gibbs' Corinthian crew racing on the C & C 115, Change of Course. Made up of club sailors, the team will be back to complete the tough course having pulled into Dingle on the west coast of Ireland with a broken forestay in the 2010 race.
Alicia, Jonas Sandberg's First 50, competed in the 2010 race with one of Sweden's largest sailing schools, Styrbord Yachting. Skipper Jonas Sandberg, a radio DJ, charter skipper and glider pilot, has notched up over 10 Round Gotland Races in the Baltic Sea as well as numerous RORC races and is looking forward to the challenge once again.
Interest has also been received from Stormforce Coaching's First 40.7, Cheeki Rafiki. Principal Doug Innes was part of Ger O'Rourke winning team in the 2006 race on the Cookson 50, Chieftain.
Further information and race entries can be found at: Round Britain and Ireland