Paul Wyeth /

Tokoloshe fights back

Light shifty conditions for day two of the RORC IRC Nationals

Saturday July 18th 2015, Author: Louay Habib, Location: United Kingdom

After the opening day's wild west show, the serene Eastern and Central Solent was chosen as the combat zone for the second day of the RORC IRC National Championship. Blessed with sparkling conditions and a gentle southerly breeze, racing got away on schedule in a light southwesterly breeze. However during the course of the day the light breeze shifted a full 50°, which combined with a spring tide to provide a complex and ever-changing conundrum for competitors. Although one race start was abandoned, all three scheduled races were completed for all classes.


Mike Bartholmew's GP42 Tokoloshe II scored the lowest combined score in IRC One today, posting a 3-1-4 to make up ground on the class leader, Piet Vroon's Tonnerre 4. Vroon's Ker 51 won the first race of the day and was second in race 5, but the fickle breeze in the last race transpired against the Dutch yacht, which scored her discarded 11th for race 6. Tonnerre 4 still leads the class by three points from Tokoloshe II with Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus third.

Bastiaan De Voogd's Sydney 43 GTS Coin Coin had a great day on the water, scoring a third and a win to round the day off in style. Invictus struggled in the light, non-planing conditions, but owner-driver Sir Keith Mills was pleased when he reached the dock: "I am really happy with the boat and the crew work, but it will take a bit of time to get her up to full speed."

Pete Selby, navigator on Tokoloshe II added: "It was a very tricky day. Generally today the side to take was dictated by the tide. For the first two starts the tide was on the turn so inshore was going the other way to the deeper water. The island side seemed to have more pressure but a lot of the choice today was tidal. Our starts were very good and that was very important with the whole pack going the same way. If you didn't get away cleanly, you were in traffic all the way."


Simon Henning's Mumm 36 Alice is the new class leader despite not winning any of today's three races. Alice's 4-4-2 was enough to take pole position from Steve Cowie's Scottish First 40 Zephyr. Alan Meredith's Prima 38 Al Fresco scored a commendable 2-1-3 to claim third place, just half a point behind Zephyr. IRC Two looks to be going to the wire, with reigning class champion, Jim McGregor's Elan 410 Premier Flair and Michael Boyd and Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8, also in the hunt.

Alice's skipper Simon Henning commented: "I am more exhausted today in the light conditions than yesterday's wet and wild day. The racing was incredibly close and I have to hand it to the crew. My son Mike and the crew all went to Southampton University together and that long-time understanding and work ethic really worked wonders for us today. The team are delighted to be top of the class but we will have to sail extremely well tomorrow if we are going to stay there."

IRC Three

Mark Devereux's Ker 32 Raygun won the first race of the day, applying pressure on class leader Peter Morton's JND 35 Salvo. Salvo fought back to win Race 5 and claim their fourth bullet of the regatta and it was Giovanni Belgrano's Whooper that won the last race of the day. In all, five yachts made the podium including Bengal Magic, sailed by James Chalmers, which is now on equal points with Raygun for second place. Salvo is the clear leader of IRC Three and has also scored the lowest points score in the 45-boat fleet.

"Being rated as the fastest yacht in our class the light conditions today did not suit us," commented Salvo's Peter Morton. "Raygun sailed a great first race and their boat is very slippery in the light. They deserved their win. After the first race we played the shifts a bit better and a bit smarter downwind and timing the approaching gybe better for tide as well as wind angle was important. We couldn't have had two more different days; we have had all of the sails out."

After six races, two yachts have emerged as favourites for the prestigious overall prize for the IRC National Championship Tonnerre 4 and Salvo. Both of the yacht owners have been competing at the championship for many years but neither has won the overall prize before. Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II, Steve Cowie's Zephyr and Allan Meredith's Al Fresco also have a slim chance.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the RORC IRC National Championship when three more races are scheduled.


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