Paul Wyeth /

Courrier du Leon versus Philosophie

French heavyweight battle it out in the RORC's Myth of Malham Race

Tuesday May 26th 2015, Author: Louay Habib / RORC, Location: United Kingdom

Over the Bank Holiday Weekend, a tense, tactical and complex yacht race played out along the south coast of England. 141 yachts, racing in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Myth of Malham Race, enjoyed a dress rehearsal for the start of this year's famous Rolex Fastnet Race.

The start saw the boats heading down the Western Solent was a magnificent sight with over a hundred spinnakers flying, heading for the Eddystone Lighthouse, off Plymouth.

The complex tidal flow along the 229 mile coastal course, was a crucial part of the race. Before sundown on the first day, the larger high performance yachts seemed to have the upper hand, enjoying an advantage of water line length in positive tide, as well as rig height and sail choice more suited to light airs reaching. However, several smaller yachts made the crucial tidal gate at Portland Bill to stay in touch with the larger rivals. During the first night and the second day, light airs persisted and with the high performance yachts not able to achieve planing speed, the smaller yachts were in with a chance of overall victory.

The winner of the Myth of Malham Race was Géry Trentesaux's French JPK 10.80 Courrier Du Leon, racing with a highly experienced team including UNCL President, Marc de Saint Denis and the founder of the JPK Breton Boatyard, Jean-Pierre Kelbert. Courrier Du Leon had a tremendous battle with Nicolas Gaumont-Prat's French First 40.7, Philosophie IV. After over 36 hours of racing, Courrier Du Leon won by one minute and 26 seconds on corrected time.

“It is a great feeling to win this race, it was a very competitive, especially as there were 48 yachts on our start line.” commented Géry Trentesaux. “In our class we knew that making Portland Bill before the tide turned against us was just possible but we knew we would have to sail to the best of our ability to make the tidal gate. Our navigator, Marc (de Saint Denis) is our magician, judging precisely when to tack for Portland after leaving the Solent, making the best use of the current that was with us before turning for the headland. Only a few of the smaller boats made it to Portland Bill before the tide turned and that was a major point in the race. During the first night we concentrated on finding wind, we have a good crew on board with a lot of experience and everyone was looking for any signs of wind on the water or in the sky. On the first night, our tactic was to stay inshore but not too close to the land and we were encouraged by seeing big boats around us. I must congratulate the team racing Philosophie IV, it was an outstanding performance from them in a much older boat. We only won by a minute or so, one small mistake from us and they would have won, Philosophie IV sailed a great race and we had to work very hard to beat them.”

Nicolas Gaumont-Prat added: “It was a fantastic battle and to receive praise from Géry (Trentesaux) is very nice to hear. Philosophie went very well, literally match racing Courrier Du Leon for most of the race. However, on the way back, approaching Portland, Courrier Du Leon decided to go offshore and we preferred inshore, which was a good choice and we did make some gains there, so Portland was crucial on the return as well. However it was not quite enough to win the race but this has been a great start to the season for the crew. We have a crew of seven and for this race, we used our proposed Fastnet watch system; two watches of three people and myself, as navigator, out of the watch. One watch is all English and the other French, so there is plenty of competition but they all agree that their superb performance makes the navigator look like a tactical genius!”

The IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing took line honours in the race and the IRC Canting Keel Class by just over an hour and 20 minutes from Chris Le Prevost's IMOCA 60 Rosalba, skippered by Andy Greenwood. In IRC Zero, Piet Vroon's Tonnerre 4 was the winner from Windward Sailing's CM60 Venomous, skippered by Derek Saunders. In IRC One, South African Mike Bartholomew's GP42 Tokoloshe II, was the winner of this competitive class and placed third overall for the Myth of Malham. Steven Anderson's Corby 40 Cracklin Rosie sailed well to take second in class from former RORC Commodore, Mike Greville, racing his Ker 39 Erivale III.

In the 32-strong Two Handed Class, Louis-Marie Dussere's French JPK 10.10 Raging Bee was the winner, retaining the class lead for the RORC Season's Points Championship from Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 36 Bellino. Patrick Bauné and Jean-Eudes Renier’s JPK 10.80 Shaitan was third.

36 yachts were racing in IRC Two and the winner by less than 12 minutes on corrected time was Andy Theobald's J/122 R&W. Peter Newlands' First 40.7 Anticipation was second, just 11 minutes ahead after time correction from Simon Bamford's Arcona 410 Kestrel.

“The J/122 is a new boat for us and we are delighted with the boat speed.” commented Andy Theobald. “We chose to start on the island shore and stay away from the carnage at the pin end and in clear air we got away well. However, we knew we couldn't make Portland Bill before the tide changed, so we stayed offshore and found plenty of breeze, so it was a great start to the race. We did hit a big hole in the wind off Lime Bay, which was frustrating, but a pod of about a dozen or so dolphins were all around us, we could hear there blow holes and that cheered us up no-end, especially for Christine Allen, who was taking part in her first offshore. The crew on R&W is a mixture of the team from our previous Sigma 362 and people who work for my R&W Civil Engineering. It is really encouraging for newcomers to offshore racing to do so well and see such a fantastic sight as dolphins in the wild.”

On Monday evening a small number of boats are yet to finish and a number of protests have been received by the Race Committee. None of these will detract from Géry Trentesaux’s overall win, but there may still be some changes in other positions.

Géry Trentesaux's JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon is the new overall leader for the 2015 RORC Season's Points Championship, just a single point ahead of Rob Craigie's Sunfast 36 Bellino. Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK 10.10 Raging Bee is third overall and leads the Two Handed Class. Racing for the championship continues on 5 June with the De Guingand Bowl Race from Cowes to Cherbourg via Marks.


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