'Courrier Vintage - RORC Yacht of the Year 2013'
Peter Mumford-Beken of Cowes
The RORC Season's Points Championship is a series of offshore races run by, or in association with, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). The season begins in the Caribbean in February with the RORC Caribbean 600 and ends with the Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta in October, with the domestic season on the south and east coasts of the UK in between.
In 2013 the season included the Rolex Fastnet Race; this classic 600 mile race is considered to be 'the world's greatest offshore race' and this year's fleet of 337 starters was a record in its 88 year history. In total just under 500 different yachts competed in the 2013 RORC Season's Points Championship indicating the strength of offshore racing throughout the UK, Europe and Worldwide with almost half of the boats coming from overseas to race with the RORC.
Tonnerre de Breskens 3 during the 2013 RORC IRC National Championship - RORC/Paul Wyeth
All races are to count for the Jazz Trophy for IRC Overall in the Season's Points Championship. Winning this trophy requires dedication from skippers and crews, dedication which has rewarded Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, for the third time in the last four seasons, winning this trophy again in 2013 after holding it for 2010 and 2011. Tonnerre's crew completed nine offshore races in 2013 and veteran skipper Piet Vroon was on board for the majority of the races:
'Tonnerre de Breskens 3 is a Jason Ker and Associates designed 46 foot racer, with which we managed to win RORC's 2013 Season's Points Championship in the boat's fifth season. The boat has been continuously upgraded over the years. My international crew and I are extremely pleased with the result and I am more than delighted with the crew's efforts.'
Tonnerre also will be taking home the Stradivarius Trophy for best overseas yacht in IRC Overall and the Alan Paul Trophy for consistent high performance in IRC.
There is a separate class in RORC racing for boats that have canting keels and in 2013 this was won comprehensively by Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project. This was their first season with this boat and the crew adapted well to sailing one of the fastest boats in the fleet in a variety of weather conditions including the low wind Cowes Dinard St Malo Race in which less than a third of the fleet finished.
Pleomax (SWE) and Team Heiner One (NED) rounding the Fastnet Rock - © Rolex- Kurt
IRC Zero is the fastest of the classes that do not have canting keels. The major competition in 2013 was between two boats: Harm Prins' Volvo 60, Pleomax, and Windward Sailing's CM 60, Venomous. Venomous started their season with the RORC Caribbean 600 before heading home to the UK for the domestic season. Once the boats came together for their first race the competition was on with the boats swapping first and second places throughout the season. In the end it was Pleomax who came out on top but only with a narrow margin of 14 points.
The battle to win class in IRC One was intense with only seven points separating Andrew Pearce's Ker 40, Magnum III, in first place, from Bernard and Laurent Gouy's Ker 39, Inis Mor, in second. Third place was claimed by Tonnerre de Breskens who were looking strong for the top two positions in class until Magnum's class win at the Rolex Fastnet Race sealed their victory at the top.
Magnum have also won the Assuage Trophy, a championship for RORC members taking results from certain races in the domestic race season, and the Peter Harrison Youth Trophy. The Peter Harrison Youth Trophy is awarded to a boat with the best three results from an offshore race where at least 33% of the crew were under 25. The competition for this trophy was close as Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII, came in only six points behind Magnum. Andrew Pearce is a strong supporter of youth offshore racing:
'I am delighted with this award for the boat as I made the conscious decision to bring on more youngsters for this season to give them the experiences of big boat racing from the front of the fleet. Along with the youngsters such as Henry Sheppard, who at 19 must have been one of the younger crew on any boat this year, I also worked with the British Keelboat Academy and we worked up a very dedicated team of young 'players'. They are all incredibly enthusiastic and what they might have lacked in experience (e.g. for many it was their first Fastnet) they made up for in sheer guts and determination to drive the boat on at max speed, regardless of conditions, and they have been a significant contributory factor to our success this season.'
Courrier Vintage during the RORC De Guingand Bowl Race 2013 - Peter Mumford Beken of Cowes
IRC Two was the second biggest class in 2013 with 125 boats competing in at least one race of the season. Places at the top of the class were hard fought for but none of the other boats could touch Sam Marsaudon and Géry Trentesaux's MC 34 Patton, Courrier Vintage, as they sailed away with the class win overall. Courrier Vintage won IRC Two in five races in the 2013 RORC season, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, results which put them over 50 points clear of the other boats in their class.
Sam Marsaudon and Géry Trentesaux have worked hard on Courrier Vintage over the last two seasons to bring the boat up to a competitive level in IRC with modifications made to enhance performance offshore. It is an acknowledgement of this hard work and their performance in class this season that led the RORC Committee to award Courrier Vintage with the prestigious Somerset Memorial Trophy for Yacht of the Year 2013. Géry said of his season:
'Despite a disastrous beginning in 2012, 'Vintage' was modified last winter and the success has been 100%. This is with help from French Designer Marc Lombard, Yacht builder Marsaudon Composites(Sam Marsaudon), Mast Lorima (Vincent Marsaudon) and Sails made by All Purpose La Trinité (François Lamiot) and a 99% French crew, except for Bernard Wilmet from Belgium.
'We reached both of our two objectives from the beginning of the season, winning Spi Ouest and Fastnet in our class.
'Yacht of the Year is the cherry on the cake and it is an official recognition from the RORC of our season. I am thinking of my father, who was a member of RORC in the seventies and who died just before the start of the Morgan Cup.'
Géry also extended his congratulations to Piet Vroon and Tonnerre de Breskens 3 on their season. Géry and Piet have sailed together extensively in the past and enjoy the close competition between their boats during the season.
With Courrier Vintage safely ensconced in first place in IRC Two the pressure was on for second, third and fourth place. A class win for Ross Applebey and Sailing Logic's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic, in the RORC Caribbean 600 and a consistent performance in class during the domestic season clinched their position in second as well as the David Fayle Memorial Cup for the best Sailing School Yacht in IRC. RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse, and Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 46, Trustmarque Quokka 8, sailed by Philippe Falle and Deep Blue Racing, still had it all to play for once the domestic season was over. Both boats travelled down to Malta for the Rolex Middle Sea Race for one last race of the season and only once the results were in could La Réponse be confirmed as third in IRC Two with Quokka in at fourth.
Night and Day (FRA), overall winner 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Kurt Arrigo
2013 was the season for J-Boats in IRC Three with 11 of the top 20 boats in class hailing from this group. Despite very strong performances from the top J-Boats no one could quite compete with the performance of the eventual winner. Pascal and Alexis Loison's JPK 10.10, Night and Day, came late to the RORC season, with their first race not being until the end of June. However, the two-handed boat proceeded to win class in each of the five races they entered this season, including the Rolex Fastnet Race where they were also awarded with IRC Overall, the first two-handed boat to have ever achieved this win. This brilliant performance put them 100 points clear of the next boat in class.
Unable to catch Night and Day at the top of the class the heat was on for the second to fifth places. Even after a season of racing the boats were only separated by the smallest margin. Second place was awarded to Todd Wells' J/109, Je Vante, with Robin Taunt's J/109, JIBE, sailed by Fergus Roper coming in one point below them to take third place. Fourth placed Nick Martin and Andrew Boyle's J/105, Diablo-J, sailed two-handed, only beat Christopher Palmer's J/109, J-T'Aime, into fifth place by 0.8 of a point. Je Vante's performance as the best J/109 in the RORC season was awarded with the J/109 trophy.
IRC Four was the biggest class in 2013 with 135 boats competing, many taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The top four boats consisted of two JPK 10.10s and two Sigma 38s who battled it out all season long for a place on the class podium. In the end it was Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew, who came out on top with a healthy margin of points assisted by class wins in three races this season including the Rolex Fastnet Race. Noel and his team from France have raced with the RORC for years and this experience shows in their results.
The other JPK 10.10, Vincent Willemart's Wasabi, put in a great season, travelling from Belgium to races on both the south and east coasts and narrowly missed out on second in class, instead having to settle for third. The second and fourth places in IRC Four went to the Sigma 38s; Kevin Sussmilch's Mefisto and Chris and Vanessa Choules' With Alacrity respectively. The two one designs had close battles on the water throughout all the races this season but in the end Mefisto pipped With Alacrity to the post with a strong result in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Two-Handed Class within IRC has been going from strength to strength; the 69 boat fleet entered into this class in 2013 was the largest there has been since the class was introduced. The fleet encompasses a wide range of competitors, from experienced Corinthian sailors to the young skippers from the Artemis Offshore Academy training to be professional sailors in their fleet of Figaro IIs. The top three boats in the Two-Handed Class in 2013 show this variety with Sam Matson and Robin Elsey from the Artemis Offshore Academy coming third in class with Artemis 21. The 22 and 21 year olds had a good season but missed out on higher points in class as they raced their fellow Figaro IIs under class rules for the Rolex Fastnet Race.
Rob Craigie and Deb Fish had a great season with their J/122, J Bellino, culminating in a win in class in the Cherbourg Race, the last race of the domestic season. However, they were unable to beat the winning boat in class, Night and Day, who shot into the lead with class wins in all of their races entered apart from the Cherbourg Race. Pascal Loison says of the season:
'We are very happy with our season; the boat was built and optimised for shorthanded sailing; two rudders, carbon mast, the sails. Each item was optimised to try to get the boat to be as fast with two people as with a complete crew; we are very proud of the results which prove this optimisation was good!
'The choice of the JPK 1010 was good as well. The boat is able to win in very different conditions, upwind or downwind; we had very light winds in the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race, medium winds in the Rolex Fastnet Race and strong gusts at some moments of the Morgan Cup and Cherbourg Races. I am especially proud to win all these races with my son; it was for me a great thing. When he was a child I taught him to sail; now he is a professional sailor and teaches me a lot of things. When we won the Fastnet Race Overall and Two-Handed, some people said it was 'historic'. He is a good sailor, I think I am too, but when we are together it is very special. I think it is difficult for people who are not of the same family to have such closeness. In French we say `complicité' and `complémentarité'; I think it explains the exceptional results of this season.'
With a separate class in the Rolex Fastnet Race for Class40s, racing under class rules, there was some good competition in the qualifying races as well. Emma Creighton and Dan Dytch's Momentum Ocean Racing showed good form by winning two races, and with strong performances in the others, coming out to lead the class overall. Julian Metherell's Fortissimo and Roderick Knowles' Swish also had good seasons to come out second and third in class respectively with only eight points between them.
Some of the trophies awarded for the 2013 Season's Points Championship are for achievements other than those in class. Two of the trophies are for youth entries to encourage younger crew into offshore racing. Magnum III won the Peter Harrison Youth Trophy for a percentage of the crew under 25, however there is also a trophy for an individual crew member. The Duncan Munro Kerr Youth Memorial Trophy is awarded to a crew member, aged 25 and under, who has done the most miles this season on a boat that came in the top three of its IRC class. This year the trophy was awarded to Kent Mason, a 24 year old who races with the RORC Admiral on La Réponse. Kent raced over 1800 miles in the 2013 season to win this trophy including the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Races, beating the next youth crew member by 185 miles.
The RORC also has trophies that recognise achievements outside of the RORC season. The Dennis P Miller Memorial Trophy is awarded to a British Yacht Overseas and this year was won by Alex Thomson with the IMOCA 60, Hugo Boss. The Committee was impressed by Alex's achievement in coming third in the Vendee Globe in a close battle with his rivals in an older boat. He is only the third Britain to ever take a podium position in the race.
Another special award for 2013 is a Pera Award. These are not presented very often as they are only given to boats who receive redress for rendering assistance during a race. After the start of the Morgan Cup Race the fleet were sailing out of the Solent on a tight reach with spinnakers up. During a broach one of the Sigma 38s lost a crew member overboard. In a commendable act of seamanship Chris and Vanessa Choules in their Sigma 38, With Alacrity, who were racing nearby, dropped their spinnaker and headed back to recover the man overboard. The crew member was then transferred back to his own boat and both continued racing to Dieppe. The Protest Committee awarded redress to With Alacrity for their assistance given which concluded with them coming first equal in IRC Four for the race.
Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, was delighted with the 2013 season: 'This season has seen varied conditions from an exciting short blast across to Le Havre for the Cervantes Trophy Race to a test of patience and endurance to St Malo in the Cowes Dinard St Malo Race. All the races saw fantastic entry and competition across the classes peaking with the record fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Congratulations to all of our competitors on their achievements throughout the year and we look forward to seeing you all on the water in 2014.'
The Programme for the 2014 RORC Race Season has now been announced. The season starts with the RORC Caribbean 600 in February followed by the domestic racing season back in the UK, including the 1800 mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Completing the season will be the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October. Entries can be done via REMUS, the RORC's online entry system. Entry for the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600 is now open and entry for all other races will be from Monday 13th January 2014.
Outside of the RORC Season's Points Championship the RORC is organising the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the event for international three boat teams racing inshore and offshore, and the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to the Caribbean starting on Saturday 29th November 2014.
The full list of Trophy and Prize winnersTrophy and Prize winners can be found here.
All trophies and prizes will be awarded at the RORC Annual Dinner on Saturday 23rd November 2013 at The Royal Courts of Justice.
by Trish Jenkins
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8:45 PM Mon 11 Nov 2013GMT
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