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2024 RORC Easter Challenge wraps up in Cowes

by Louay Habib / RORC 1 Apr 05:11 PDT 29-31 March 2024
2024 RORC Easter Challenge © Paul Wyeth / RORC

The final day of the RORC Easter Challenge produced yet another variation in conditions with a medium-strong easterly breeze piping up to nearly 20 knots. The sturdy easterly going tide, built during the day, to create classic Solent chop.

After two intensive coaching days from Mason King's team ably assisted by North Sails, the focus moved to putting the lessons learnt into practice and literally win the Easter Chocolates. Every class winner was decided in the very last race, producing a thrilling climax to the regatta.

Class winners receiving RORC recycled Keepers were Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II skippered by James Gair, Ed Mockridge's JPK 1010 Elaine Again, and Lance Adams' Cape 31 Katabatic.

RORC Vice Commodore Richard Palmer welcomed all the teams to the RORC Easter Challenge Prizegiving. Richard thanked the RORC race team for their excellent organisation and also the Royal Yacht Squadron for hosting all the teams at The Pavilion, while the RORC Clubhouse was under construction. Richard Palmer started the customary Easter Egg Toss with every team getting in the chocolates on Easter Sunday.

RORC Easter Challenge Results

For the final day of racing, PRO Stuart Childerley and the RORC team set up a windward leeward course between The Brambles Bank and the North Channel for two tactical races. This was followed by a round the cans race, at every point of sail, with a finish towards Cowes for the RORC Easter Challenge Prize Giving.

Congratulations to Easter Sunday race winners: Giovanni Belgrano's Giles 39 Classic Whooper, Ben Pritchard's Cape 31 Akheilos, The Army Sailing Association's Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier skippered by Henry Foster, Ian Watkins' Fareast 28 Mako, Derek Shakespeare's J/122 Bulldog, and Lance Adams' Cape 31 Katabatic.

IRC Two

Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II won the regatta by a single point. J/122 Bulldog won the last race but after the discard came in that was not enough. Sun Fast 3600 British Soldier was third by just two points.

"We cleaned up all the mistakes we had on the first two days and by the last day we were on it," commented Zero II tactician Guy Sherbourne. "We knew we had to stay in touch with Bulldog and it came down to just the one point. We had some really great information from Ian Walker, we took that on board and we got our trim to where it was supposed to be. Those little incremental pieces of advice make the difference, it is where we got our speed from."

IRC Three

JPK 1010 Elaine Again was the most consistent team at the regatta, scoring all podium race finishes to win the class by two points. John Smart's J/109 Jukebox was just two points behind in second. Giovanni Belgrano's Giles 39 Classic Whooper won the last three races to finish third by just two points.

"Before the regatta the main aim was to get the boat and the crew dialled in," commented Elaine Again's Ed Mockeridge. " We have a new J1 and we got that out on Saturday, which was very useful. The crew have been together for a long time but we wanted to check that we are as quick as we were, as this is the first inshore regatta for us since last summer. We had excellent competition from Jukebox and Whooper and this has been a really good regatta to kick start our season, we have the Warsash Spring Champs in three weeks' time and we will be at the IRC Nationals in Poole later this year."

Cape 31

The Cape 31 Class went right to the wire, Katabatic eventually taking the regatta win by winning the final race by just eight seconds after IRC time correction. Simon Perry's Jiraffe won the first three races but was pipped to first in class by a single point. Ben Prichard's Akheilos scored two race wins to finish the regatta in third.

"More than half our crew are new this year, there are a lot of things we have been working on so this training regatta is a great event to try them out," commented Katabatic's Lance Adams. "We have found a number of areas that can be improved, which is important and the whole point of coming to the regatta. When we go training, we can really sort out manoeuvres but you don't have the intensity of a start line and boat-on-boat, moding, all that kind of stuff. Those are the key areas that you can get by coming to the RORC Easter Regatta - all boats should do it really, it is so beneficial for the rest of the year, this has been a tough battle"

This year's RORC Easter Challenge featured many new teams using the training regatta to kick start their programmes including Jonny Hewat & Lucian Stone's Cape 31 Narwhal, the Royal Navy Sailing Association's Corby 29 Cutlass, Alain Waha's J/99 Further West, Julian James' A31 Thunderbault, and Max Walker's Sun Fast 3600 Elysium IV.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club was delighted to see more young sailors than in previous years including the Greig City Academy racing Quarter Tonner Cote. RORC Treasurer Derek Shakespeare's J/122 Bulldog had seven crew in their twenties and on windy Easter Friday, when it was too much for the Quarter Tonner Cote to race, Bulldog invited two of the Cote team on board to race.

"It keeps me young!" commented Derek Shakespeare about his youth crew. "I have been very lucky to put together a crew of fantastically talented youngsters that race around the cans and go offshore and we all love it. They bring huge enthusiasm and energy and hopefully they are learning a lot as well. The RORC have been running the Griffin Youth Project since the 1940s.In recent years we have seen a real drive. The Club has put more money into the programme and Griffin Chair Jim Driver has produced a really well-organised campaign. The Club has had huge interest with 300 sailors under 30 applying for the Griffin Project. Other Club Members are also encouraging you such as Gavin Howe and James Harayda. Youth is the future of our sport. We have to get them on board and give them a chance to learn and have a good time with friends of their own age."

The RORC Easter Challenge WhatsApp group was full of praise from the sailors for a great regatta. The Royal Ocean Racing Club has organised the Easter Challenge for over 20 years.

"As always, huge thanks to the RORC Racing Team and volunteers for their commitment and also to Mason King's Coaching Team and North Sails for passing on their knowledge to the sailors during the weekend," commented RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole. "There is no overall winner for the RORC Easter Challenge, the aim of the regatta is for every team to kick start the season and work on improving their performance for the racing ahead. We hope to see many of the teams joining us for the first European offshore RORC Race for 2024. The Cervantes Trophy Race to Le Havre starts from Cowes on Saturday 20th April."

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

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