Rick Tomlinson Photography / www.rick-tomlinson.com

Antix is RORC Yacht of the Year

As the Belgium MC34 Patton Azawakh is the Season's Point Championship winner

Wednesday November 12th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The Ker 39 Antix has been announced at the RORC Yacht of the Year, for which owned Anthony O'Leary receives the Somerset Memorial Trophy for outstanding racing achievement by a RORC Member.

O'Leary did not enter any offshore races this year, but his exceptional season in Antix, winning class in the RORC Easter Challenge, the IRC National Championship overall and being part of the winning Irish team in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, was recognised by the RORC Committee as an outstanding achievement.

O'Leary was disappointed not to be able to defend the Commodores' Cup victory of 2010 in 2012 but avowed to come back in 2014 with a competitive team and, by enlisting the support of Marc Glimcher's Ker 40 Catapult and Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling who chartered Quokka 8, O'Leary crowned an already successful season with a consistent performance in Antix to win the Commodores' Cup.

Anthony O'Leary was thrilled with the news: "I must confess to complete surprise - and absolute delight for my crew!"

2014 RORC Season's Points Championship

The RORC Season's Points Championship consists of a selection of races, both UK and abroad, that test the skill and endurance of offshore sailors. In addition to the domestic season of 10 races, including the record-breaking Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, there were three races based overseas in 2014: the RORC Caribbean 600, Round Ireland Yacht Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

While these longer races carry the highest points factor for the Championship, boats that do not travel outside of the domestic season still have a chance to win their class as only one high points factored race can count for the class trophies, with all other completed high points factor races reduced to a normal factor of 1.0. With this in place it is notable that this season the boats who successfully campaigned to win their class only competed in races with a points factor of 1.0 or 1.2.

Highlight of the domestic offshore season was the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, a truly record-breaking race with five World and Race Records set in what transpired to be a challenging test of endurance in difficult conditions.

In total 360 boats competed in the RORC Season's Points Championship, a strong testament to the allure of offshore racing even in a year without the RORC's flagship offshore event, the Rolex Fastnet Race.

While class prizes for the RORC Season's Points Championship are decided by the best five offshore races, the Jazz Trophy for IRC Overall is awarded with all offshore races to count. This means that dedication from the crew and skipper is required as well as sailing skill. This is demonstrated by the number of races entered, on average seven out of the 13 season's races, by the top 10 boats in IRC Overall for 2014.

Top boat was Vincent Willemart and Eric Van Campenhout's MC 34 Patton, Azawakh, new to the Belgian team after her successful 2013 season sailing as Courrier Vintage. Going in to the final race of the Championship, the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Azawakh was only 0.5 of a point ahead of the second placed boat, the Army Sailing Association's J/111, British Soldier. An entry into the Rolex Middle Sea Race by one of the other boats at the top of the leaderboard could have toppled them from the top spot with such a narrow margin of points, fewer than 100 points between the top 10 boats, but luckily Vincent and Eric had already made the decision to enter the final race of the season and take the boat to Malta.

Sadly, after a slow and windless start to the race, the fleet was hit by gale force winds and many boats, Azawakh included, succumbed to the elements and had to retire from the race. Nevertheless, with other boats either not entering or completing the race, Azawakh maintained her lead in IRC Overall to claim the Jazz Trophy, with British Soldier in second and Noel Racine's Le Havre based JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew in third place.

IRC Canting Keel: Monster Project, Volvo 70, Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn
IRC Zero - Europeans Trophy - Shockwave, Mini Maxi 72, George Sakellaris
IRC One - Trenchemer Cup Tonnerre de Breskens 3, Ker 46, Piet Vroon
IRC Two - Emily Verger Plate - Relentless on Jellyfish, J/122, Team Relentless sailed by James George
IRC Three - Grenade Goblet - Raging Bee, JPK 10.10, Louis-Marie Dussere
IRC Four - Cowland Trophy - Foggy Dew, JPK 10.10, Noel Racine
Two-Handed Class - Psipsina Trophy - Raging Bee, JPK 10.10, Louis-Marie Dussere
Class40 - Concise8, Ned Collier Wakefield

Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, was delighted: "The 2014 Season's Points Championship has been another closely fought battle across the classes. The RORC Caribbean 600 continued to grow in popularity attracting 60 yachts from around the world to the warm sunny climate of Antigua while the northern hemisphere was in the depths of winter. Spring in the UK brought the beginning of the domestic races and saw a good entry into the Cervantes Trophy, swelled by the GBR Trials for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. Challenging conditions are a feature of offshore yacht racing and they were no more clearly defined than by the Cherbourg Race, only 75 miles but a real marathon in the extremely light conditions, and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The Rolex Middle Sea Race started in very light conditions and the fleet spent the first few days searching for zephyrs of breeze and drifting, but then the wind arrived and it finished in ballistic conditions with many of the yachts testing their storm sails.

"Congratulations to everyone that took part in the racing during the season, it has been a fun and competitive series and we all look forward to a bumper year in 2015."

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