Photos: Hamo Thorneycroft

Small boat domination

Breeze fills in for the tail-enders in the RORC Cervantes Trophy

Tuesday May 6th 2014, Author: Louay Habib, Location: none selected

The domestic season for the RORC Season's Points Championship kicked off with a test of tactics and endurance for the Cervantes Trophy, between Cowes and Le Havre. The main tactical conundrum was a windless area in the middle of the Channel. After over 24 hours of racing, a large number of the fleet were compressed in a tight pack, flying spinnakers into the finish line with many yachts finishing within minutes of each other. The last boat home finished within three hours of the leader.

Gaetan Bourdeaux's team racing French Sunfast 32, Callipyge was one of the last yachts to finish, but after time correction was declared the overall winner of the race and lifted the Cervantes Trophy for the first time. Bourdeaux is from Brittany and bases his yacht in Deauville. Callipyge is a family boat, and although the owner and his brother have sailed the boat since 2002, it is the first time they have competed it in a major offshore race.

“Are you serious?” responded Bourdeaux when he heard of his victory. “That is hard to believe, but great news! We are a team of four - I sail with my younger brother Gabriel and two friends. This is our first proper offshore race, but we race Dragons, which is a good school to learn how to sail. Everybody took the helm and we all slept enough, so we were not too tired and as we are all back to work tomorrow, that is a good thing! I think our tactic to keep up the best boat speed worked well for us.

"On the water, we were behind everybody and we knew that we would be one of the last to finish but we knew that if we could stay near the other boats we would do well. Also we had the fortune of a favourable current towards the finish, whilst other yachts had current against them. We will definitely be celebrating with a good meal and fine wine tonight!”

Line Honours went to to Rob Lutener's Ker 40 Cutting Edge with Ed Broadway's Hooligan VII just behind as the pair match raced for the line. Cutting Edge put in a text book light airs gybe to cross the finish line first just 20 seconds ahead, but on corrected Hooligan VII beat Cutting Edge by just over four minutes. Both of these yachts are vying for a place to represent England in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

In IRC One, Steven Anderson's Cracklin' Rosie was the winner, beating a field of very slippery boats including the two Ker 40s, the Mills 39 Zero II and King 40 Cobra. Cracklin' Rosie's big race this season will be the RORC Transatlantic Race and the majority of the crew are planning to take part.

“Especially around Bembridge and in the middle of the Channel, we were a good sign post for holes in the wind,” said Anderson. “But it was an interesting race, there were plenty of decisions to be made and we were very pleased that we managed to get the boat going so well and stay in touch with the yachts in our class, as we are rated the slowest yacht in IRC 1. It was very rewarding to get good boat speed, we got passed a lot of the competition using our very small VMG kite, which we only took at the last minute. It kept us going, keeping its shape in the light airs and we sailed the shifts well after Cussy Buoy. We are really pleased, it is a great way to start the season and thank you to the yacht club in Le Havre for a warm welcome and an excellent seafood lunch!”

In IRC Two, Belgium's Vincent Willemart and Eric Van Campenhout racing the MC34 Azawakh were the winners. Jim Dobie racing Sailing Logic's First 40 Lancelot was second with Richard Patrick's First 40 Dusty P third.

“This is our first race and to win IRC 2 is great news!” commented Van Campenhout. “Vincent and myself bought the MC34 almost by chance. We were on the ferry after last year's Cherbourg Race and spoke with Sam Marsaudon, the builder of the boat, and I knew that this was the boat for me. Vincent and myself have raced against each other for many years and we decided to unify our teams together and start a new campaign on Azawakh. In October, to get ready for a new RORC campaign, we sailed the boat to Belgium and started our winter training.

"The Cervantes Trophy Race was very light at the start and the tactic we used to make an advantage was to take a trajectory that was not in a straight line but to the east, curving below the other boats. We knew that our Code Zero is an excellent sail and this line would allow us to use it. Also, with this position on the course, the predicted loss of wind mid-Channel would probably fill in from the east first and we would be closer to the new wind than the other boats. The Code Zero proved to be an excellent weapon and we took the advantage in the middle of the Channel.”

In other classes - John Allison's J/109 Jumbuck was the victor in IRC Three, beating fellow British J/109 Diamond Jem, skippered by Robert Stiles by just seven minutes on corrected time. Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK 10.10 was third in class, racing Two Handed.

In the 15-strong Two Handed Class three French yachts made up the podium: Jean-Louis Stalain's First 31.7 Max was victorious, followed by Philippe Auber's JPK 9.60 and Pierre Viard and Nicolas Siloret's Prism 28 Adrenaline third.

“The Société des Régates du Havre have been tremendous hosts.” commented RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. “The club was willing to keep the bar open all last night and was open at 5am for breakfast, even though we didn't get any finishers until midday. Their enthusiasm was terrific. Yachts were finishing so close together, you could see them from the balcony, a mass of spinnakers on the horizon descending on the Committee Boat. Well done to everyone who completed a light, challenging and tactical race. It was fantastic to see the persistence of the fleet with very few retirements and lots of boat on boat action. The RORC have received very positive feedback, the Cervantes Trophy Race has been a great start to the domestic season and the warm and sunny weather has definitely helped.”

A prize giving for the Cervantes Trophy Race will be held at the London Clubhouse of the Royal Ocean racing Club on Thursday 5 June, all competitors will be welcome. The next race in the RORC Season's Points Championship will be the points weighted Myth of Malham Race, starting on Saturday 24 May from Cowes around the Eddystone Lighthouse.

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