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Chilli Pepper blast to victory in the RORC Morgan Cup Race 2022

by Louay Habib 19 Jun 08:23 PDT 17-18 June 2022
Jim & Ellie Driver racing Sun Fast 3300 Chilli Pepper - 2022 RORC Morgan Cup Race © Rick Tomlinson / RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's race to Dartmouth for the Morgan Cup started on the warmest day of the year in the UK and ended with the hottest finish so far for the 2022 RORC Season's Points Championship.

The RORC Race Team started the fleet to the east of the Squadron Line Cowes, around the southside of the Isle of Wight, and onwards to a finish line off Castle Ledge buoy, on the approach to the River Dart.

Jim and Ellie Driver racing Sun Fast 3300 Chilli Pepper in IRC Two-Handed was the overall winner by just 35 seconds from Shirley Robertson and Dee Caffari, also racing Two-Handed, with Sun Fast 3300 Rockit. Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews completed a clean sweep for double-handed teams, finishing third overall in Sun Fast 3200 Cora, and winning IRC Three.

Congratulations to Antoine Magre's team racing Class40 Palanad 3 for taking line honours and the win in IRC Zero. Thomas Kneen's JPK 1180 Sunrise was back in action, winning IRC One, and Francois Charles' Dehler 33 Sun Hill 3 was the winner of IRC Four.

The father and daughter combination; Jim and Ellie Driver on Chilli Pepper, had the narrowest of victories in an intense battle within the pack of nine Sun Fast 3300s in the race.

"We were neck and neck with Rockit for most of the race," commented Jim Driver. "The early part of the race had quite light winds and was very tactical. After Ventnor there were whisps of wind. A pack of boats made the most of it, and by St Catherines we were three miles ahead of the bulk of the fleet. It was a really clear night, and the boats were so close we could literally talk to each other. In the morning, the wind came in and we had glorious conditions. An hour from the finish we under a mile behind Rockit when a squall came in to give an exciting finish. It was blowing over 20 knots and Ellie was keen to get the kite up; we had the most amazing run to the finish, blast reaching towards Dartmouth at 18 knots."

Chilli Pepper narrowed Rockit's lead in the final miles of the race, crossing the finish line just under three minutes after Rockit, to win The Morgan Cup Race overall after IRC time correction. After nearly 19 hours of racing, the margin of victory was just 35 seconds. Ellie Driver is just 20 years old and had finished her university exams last week.

"We have had some close RORC races where we have lost out in the last couple of miles, so it is really rewarding to put it all together in this race and keep going to the end," commented Ellie. "We trust the boat and we knew it could handle the strong breeze at the finish. To catch up we had to do something different and hoisting the kite was the difference. As it is Fathers' Day tomorrow, I will be buying a fish and chips supper for my Dad tonight!"

"It was a hell of a race, I lost count of the sail changes, we couldn't get rid of Chilli Pepper!" commented Rockit's Dee Caffari. "Well done to Jim and Ellie, they worked hard for their win and took some bold calls! On Rockit, we have made good progress in improving our performance; beating the other eight 3300s on the water shows that we are moving in the right direction and making some good decisions. There is plenty to work, but this race has given us confidence in our pace, and that we can deliver."

The 2022 RORC Season's Points Championship continues with the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, which started on the 18th of July. The tenth race of the series will be the 350nm La Trinité to Cowes Race, which starts on the 3rd of July.

View full results here...

For more information about the Royal Ocean Racing Club: www.rorc.org

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