Please select your home edition
Edition
Barton Marine 2019 728x90

Darkwood triumphs in RORC Channel Race

by Louay Habib 29 Jul 2019 00:06 PDT 27-29 July 2019

77 boats competed in the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club Channel Race. The international fleet experienced a variety of conditions and wind angles, testing boat handling and tactical skills. Perhaps the surprise overall winner, from a fleet including professional racing teams, was J/121 Darkwood owned by Irishman Michael O'Donnell. David Collins' British Botin IRC 52 Tala was runner up, and Dominique Tian's French Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen was third.

Michael O'Donnell last competed in the Channel Race in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, as a 15-year old nipper. His J/121 Darkwood was only launched this year, and four of the crew including Michael, race in the classic Solent-based XOD Class. Darkwood is very much a team of friends and family and will be competing in next month's Rolex Fastnet Race.

"I was basically a rope-puller on big boats such as Mike Slade's Leopard but I have learnt a huge amount in the XOD Class, especially from Steve Lawrence and Alistair Shaw who are part of the Darkwood team, "commented Michael O'Donnell. "We are pretty good at getting off the start line, but I have not done any offshore racing since 2013. I am glad that the RORC make us do the qualifying races before the Fastnet; you learn so much about the boat and how to sail together as a team. We made a lot of sail-changes especially during the night, which was hard work with just five on board. Rosie (O'Donnell) did a great job in the pit, and Jamie (Holmes) impressed on the bow. We are thrilled to have won the race, but we have a long way to go, I am sure that the wily teams in the Fastnet are not quaking in their boots just yet!"

In IRC Zero, it was joy and pain for David Collins' British Botin IRC 52 Tala, which missed out on the overall win by under three minutes after time correction. However, Tala beat an all-star class in IRC Zero including Peter Harrison's British Maxi72 Sorcha, Eric de Turckheim's French NM54 Teasing Machine, and Frank Niggeler's Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka 3.

"We pushed pretty hard, but I think that the string-drop system breaking at Owers cost us those 100 seconds in real time," commented Tala's Pete Redmond. "You are racing against the clock, and you can't leave anything out there on the water. Campbell (Field) and Paul (Wilcox) did a great job calling just about every shift, and the crew did a lot of peels, which were spot on. This was the first big Class Zero fleet we have raced since the RORC Caribbean 600, so it was good to check where we are. We feel pretty strong from this performance, but the weather conditions could be very different for the Fastnet."

The win in IRC Two went to Yves Grosjean's French J/133 Jivaro. Tom Kneen British JPK 11.80 Sunrise was second, just over 14 minutes behind after IRC time correction. With a crew from Northern Ireland, England and Hong Kong, Anthony Day's XC-50 Explorer was third.

"This result is very encouraging, as it has been an effort to get Jivaro back to the Solent to compete for the Fastnet," commented Yves Grosjean. "After the Channel Race, the team are in the right mood, we have great anticipation for the big race to come. At the start of the Channel Race, we were the only boat in our start to go inshore at the Squadron Line. It paid off as we led our class out of the Solent. Inshore after the Needles Fairway Buoy avoiding the worst of the tide worked well, and we had a good lead at the virtual mark. After that it was all about fighting to maintain our lead, but the big wind shift towards the end of the race was a nerve-racking moment, as we saw the JPK 11.80 Sunrise catch up, but we held on to win."

In IRC Three, Erik van Vuuren's Dutch W36 Hubo scored a narrow victory over Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600 Bellino. Both teams were racing Two-Handed, Craigie with his regular partner Deb Fish, and van Vuuren with the young apprentice Jochem Schoorl. British pair, Henry Bomby and Hannah Diamond, racing Sun Fast 3300 Fastrack XII, was third.

It was a fantastic race, everything was in it!" commented Erik van Vuuren. "Normally I race with my partner Yvonne Beusker but she is not able to join me for the Fastnet. Jochem is only 22, he has sailed all his life, has the right attitude and is full of energy. This was our first Two-Handed race together and it worked perfectly. From the start we battled with Bellino, and as in any race, you have to be keen and focused until the end. After St.Catherine's Point the forecast was correct; a big rain cloud arrived moving to the east. We kept to our plan, staying high of the next mark. We kept up good speed and that was the game-changer."

The next race of the RORC Season's Points Championship will be the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race. The race village on Cowes Parade will be open from 1100 BST on Thursday 1st August. The 48th edition of the epic offshore race, the Rolex Fastnet Race, will start on Saturday 3rd August from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes.

For more information visit www.rorc.org

Related Articles

Paul Larsen on RORC Time over Distance Series
The fastest sailor on the planet having clocked 68 knots in Vestas Sailrocket 2 Larsen has always been involved in cutting edge sailing projects and in this 45-minute interview he discusses foiling technology in both the Vendée Globe and the forthcoming Match in the 46th America's Cup. Posted on 4 Mar
Performance 40s set for Rolex Fastnet Race
One of the most popular 'classes within a class' with more than 50 entries In this August's Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the most popular 'classes within a class' will be the Performance 40. At present more than fifty of these racer-cruisers and cruiser-racers are currently entered in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's pinnacle event. Posted on 4 Mar
Ocean Safety's webinar to Fastnet Race competitors
The company's marine safety experts will be sharing the webinar platform. Ocean Safety are delighted to be working in partnership with RORC, organisers of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race, to share their marine safety knowledge with the competitors of the classic offshore race which will going ahead on 8th August. Posted on 3 Mar
RORC return to offshore racing
Some changes will be necessary for the early part of the season Following on from the UK Government's 'Roadmap out of lockdown' on Monday 22nd February, the RORC Committee, working with the RYA and Government, is confident that overnight racing will return for the 2021 RORC Season's Points Championship. Posted on 28 Feb
Pip Hare on RORC Time Over Distance Series
Sharing her highs and lows in an hour-long interview shortly after her Vendée Globe success The Royal Ocean Racing Club Time Over Distance Series continues with RORC member Pip Hare talking to Louay Habib just days after becoming the first British sailor to finish the 2020 Vendee Globe. Posted on 23 Feb
RORC partners with British Keelboat Academy
The BKA is a transition programme run by the RYA to help young sailors In a new partnership between The Royal Ocean Racing Club and The British Keelboat Academy, temporary RORC membership will be given to the Academy's young members. Posted on 17 Feb
IRC winners return for Rolex Fastnet Race
2017's victor Didier Gaudoux is at present the only one returning with the same boat It is inevitable that many past winners, be they of line honours, individual classes or of the main IRC overall prize, the Fastnet Challenge Trophy, should be among the record 400+ strong entry in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event in 2021. Posted on 10 Feb
Palanad 3 win 2021 RORC Transatlantic Race trophy
Seventh winner of the antique sterling silver trophy and first Class40 to do so Congratulations to Olivier Magre and his crew on French Class40 Palanad 3 as the overall winner of the 2021 RORC Transatlantic Race. Palanad 3 has posted the best elapsed time under IRC to win the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy. Posted on 26 Jan
IRC Rating opens for 2021
IRC is aimed at a very wide range of keelboats of all sizes and shapes The new season has got off to a positive start with applications coming in for 2021 IRC rating certificates and a steady stream of enquiries to the RORC Rating Office, the technical hub of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Posted on 25 Jan
Moshimoshi finish the RORC Transatlantic Race
The first team to finish the race in the IRC Two-Handed division Sebastien Saulnier's Sun Fast 3300 Moshimoshi crossed the finish line of the RORC Transatlantic Race on Sunday 24 January at 20:12 UTC in an elapsed time of 15 days, nine hours, 12 mins and 20 secs. Posted on 25 Jan
Official-Team-Gear-Red 728x90 BOTTOMUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer