Morgan Cup 2011 participants will face a tough race to Cherbourg in the RORC Season’s Points Championship when it continues this weekend.
There will be 100 yachts competing in the cup with the hopes of claiming victory in a race dating back to 1929. The solid silver trophy is one of the oldest and most prestigious prizes. But the fleet may have to battle against strong winds to reach Cherbourg.
Weather models are predicting a wet beat to Cherbourg; it could well suit those yachts and crew that can best handle the tough conditions. Tactical weather expert Mike Broughton will be in the afterguard of pocket rocket Keronimo for the race.
'A large area of low pressure has been stationary 200 miles west of Ireland all week. By Friday morning it looks like a secondary low pressure system will be riding around its southern flank, moving like a slingshot towards the south western approaches. There will be gales in the western channel with Force 6/7 in the central channel from the westerly quadrant.
However, it all depends on the final track of this system; even a little change in its direction will make a big change in the conditions for the race. It certainly looks like being windy on Saturday morning with potentially 25 to 30 knots from the west at dawn. If the low pressure system tracks south or intensifies, we could see significantly more wind and a difficult sea state,' commented Broughton.
IRC Zero will be a match race between two high performance racing yachts: Derek Saunders’ Venomous and Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw’s Bob. IRC One could well be a skirmish between Piet Vroon’s Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, and Jonathon Goring’s Ker 40, Keronimo. However Chaz Ivill’s Grand Soleil 54, John B, and Mike Greville’s Ker 39, Erivale, are also proven race winners.
IRC Two has 32 yachts entered and the largest class could probably be described as the most competitive racing to Cherbourg. Nial Dowling’s J/111, Arabella currently leads the class for the season but is not competing in the Morgan Cup. However, RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine’s First 40, La Réponse will, no doubt, be in fierce competition with Neil Kipling’s J/122 Joopster.
They are currently second and third in IRC Two. IRC Two has a wide variety of well-sailed boats including ten First 40.7s who will also have their own private battle. IRC Three has eleven J/109s racing, and they are fast exciting boats; especially off the breeze. However this race looks like it could well favour the heavier displacement boats.
The current holder of the Morgan Cup is John Loden’s HOD 35, Psipsina, who looked back at last year’s race with fond memories. 'Absolutely elated and very surprised to win!' exclaimed John. 'My co-skipper Paddy and I knew that we had won the Two-Handed Class but we had no idea that we had won the race overall until we went for a beer in the yacht club bar. I have been racing double handed for eight years and I am delighted to see the class is becoming so popular.
To do well, it is very important that the boat is well set up; this allows you to concentrate on sailing rather than fixing problems. It gave us immense satisfaction to win the prestigious cup last year, we had never set out to win overall but it just shows that everybody has a chance.'
Seventeen yachts are entered in the Two-Handed Class. Nick Martin’s J/105, Diablo-J, leads the 2011 Season’s Points Championship with Matthias Kracht’s JPK 9.6, Ultreia!, lying second. The Le Havre based Ultreia! will be looking to continue their winning ways, having won class and second in IRC overall in last month’s Myth of Malham Race.
RORC Racing Manager Ian Loffhagen believes that heavy weather sailing experienced this season by the competitors has provided ideal preparation for the highlight of the championship, the forthcoming Rolex Fastnet Race. 'The Morgan Cup Race is the seventh race of the RORC Season’s Points Championship and nearly all of them have been tough. Many of the yachts competing this weekend will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race,' commented Loffhagen.
'The Club’s Notice of Race clearly states that each yacht shall exercise her responsibility under RRS Fundamental Rule 4 and decide whether or not to start or to continue to race. The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.'
The Morgan Cup Race starts at the Squadron Line at 1900 BST on Friday June 17th. Late Entries are possible until Thursday 16th 1900 BST. RORC website