Big boats ready to roll in IRC Zero of the RORC Fastnet Race

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IRC Zero represents the glamorous end of the keelboat fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race. It’s likely we’ll see the line honors go back to one of the maxes in the class, possibly the reigning 88 foot line honor champion George David Rambler 88 (USA), if she can keep it. the freshly launched ClubSwan 125 Skorpios (MON) from a distance.

Traditionally, IRC Zero produces the highest number of winners. Over the past 10 editions, half have been won by IRC Zero competitors, including two-time winner Niklas Zennstrom, Ran 2, while David and Peter Askew’s VO70 Wizard has taken IRC and Fastnet honors. Challenge Cup in 2019.

Besides the fully professional teams competing on board ‘no excuse to lose’ maxi-boats, there is a growing rental market for the Volvo Ocean 65 and Volvo Open 70 boats. These tilting keel flying machines were considered to be cutting edge technology less than a decade ago, and were initially considered too powerful and not reliable enough for the amateur crew wanting to charter a quick trip to the Rock. However, attitudes have changed as avid sailors have learned the ropes of high powered racing boat racing in a safe and seaworthy manner, and a number of paid crews line up for the adventure of a lifetime. on board.

While there are huge kudos for being the first to cross the finish line in real time, every racing navigator knows that the real battle is time corrected in IRC. Winner of another prestigious RORC offshore race, the Myth of Malham – covering the first part of the course up to the Eddystone Light and therefore a strong form indicator for the Rolex Fastnet Race – things seem to be in favor of Tala (GBR), although owner David Collins says that on this occasion his Botin-designed 52-footer got a fair amount of luck. “We sailed well, but doing the last tidal barrier in a dying breeze is what gave us the result in Malham’s Myth. It is certainly not an indicator for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Our goal for the race is, as always, to sail without errors and to keep the boat fast. “

Part of the key to Tala’s success is consistency of staff. “It’s a pretty stable crew now,” said Collins, whose sailor is experienced Campbell Field. “Three will be Volvo Ocean Race veterans. We have some good trimmers and some talented amateurs. Two families make up five of the crew.

Tala, 52 feet designed by David Collins Botin, finished third overall in IRC and best British in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 © Paul Wyeth

The teasing machine of vice-comodore Eric de Turckheim of RORC, here finishing the RORC transatlantic race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel / RORCRORC vice-comodore Eric de Turckheim’s teasing machine, here finishing the RORC transatlantic race in Grenada © Arthur Daniel / RORC

Other boats to watch in this size class include the very competitive Teasing Machine (FRA). Designed by Bernard Nivelt and Alexis Muratet and built by King Marine in Spain, Eric de Turckheim’s Teasing Machine is a powerful 54-footer with flexible bilges and a cockpit fully optimized for crewed offshore competition.

At the heart of the Teasing Machine campaign is project manager Laurent Pages, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011/12. Over water, the 54-footer has strong similarities to a VO70 or VO65, with a similar deck plan and dual descents with the pit in between. But Teasing Machine is designed to compete under IRC. The main area of ​​optimization is her heavy fin keel and a number of concessions to onboard comfort, including hot water, an oven and two refrigerators.

From the battle-proven example to the barely touched on-water example of Sir Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a custom 52-footer designed by Carkeek. While this may be the boat’s first foray into the Rolex Fastnet Race, it is Sir Richard’s 24th assault on the Rock: “For us this is the pinnacle of our race and to 72 years old is a challenge and an experience to enjoy during the race and after.

24th Fastnet race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a 52-footer designed by Carkeek © Paul Wyeth / Round the Island Race24th Fastnet race for Richard Matthews competing in his new Oystercatcher XXXV (GBR), a 52-footer designed by Carkeek © Paul Wyeth / Round the Island Race

Nicolas Groleau's Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 © Pierre BourasNicolas Groleau’s Mach 45 Bretagne Telecom finished second in IRC Zero and overall in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 © Pierre Bouras

If ocean racing is a game that rewards experience and nautical miles, the Bretagne Télécom group of sailors from La Trinité-Sur-Mer will once again be one to watch for the palm. Second in the IRC general classification in 2019, the manufacturer and owner of this Mach 45 with tilting keel, Nicolas Groleau campaigned for Bretagne Télécom (FRA) during the last six editions of the race. She has won her class twice and has been on the podium on every occasion except one, so a victory in the general classification is surely only a matter of time and perseverance for Groleau and his band of committed Breton enthusiasts.

What will Katrina Westphal, a 25-year-old architecture student, be able to accomplish as the skipper of the carbon fiber racing Grand Prix, the Carkeek 47 Störtebeker (GER)? Boris Herrmann’s meteoric success in the Vendée Globe has made the IMOCA 60 a household name in Germany, and the “Boris effect” is sparking renewed interest in offshore activities across the country. Not that Westphal is a newcomer to the Rolex Fastnet, as this will be his third time racing and his second time as a skipper. Thanks to the crew training initiative of her yacht club, Hamburger Verein Seefahrt, this ambitious sailor and her equally young crew are in charge of a successful racing yacht that could really make waves in the overall standings.

Promoting youth participation - the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden © Van UdenPromoting youth participation – the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team on the Ker 46 Van Uden

Another entry with a strong focus on promoting youth participation is Dutch Ker 46 Van Uden (NED), with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd Jan Poortman looking to turn his 18-25-year-old crew into offshore sailors from world class. “Our team, the Youth Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team, trained every week and did a lot of night offshore training, but like my kids in the Optimist, we are a bit fed up with training and we want to run! We have been preparing for the Rolex Fastnet Race for two years and if the weather is right for us we are aiming for victory.

“We’re a small boat in IRC Zero, so it’s often a big boat race or a small boat race. When it comes to a small boat race, we are up to the challenge; we have trained hard, have good equipment and talented sailors. Our crew has very little racing experience, but we think we’ve trained more than the average team over the past two years so hopefully that will make a difference.

The De Graaf family are one of the most loyal teams in the Rolex Fastnet Race and return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED). Olivier De Graaf comments: “Since the creation of the Baraka Sailing Team 17 years ago, I have sailed with my father and with my two brothers as well as with friends that we know from the sailing world. This will be our sixth Fastnet together as a team and our second time with this boat. Arriving in Cherbourg adds a new complexity to the course, which will make the final race to the finish even more important, especially after already three days of racing.

COVID restrictions prevented their multinational team from meeting to train outside of the Hamble in the Solent, so they got together for online boat handling sessions through Microsoft Teams. Olivier admits he has yet to see if these dry maneuvers will prove effective in the salty reality of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Sixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family who return this year in their Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.comSixth Rolex Fastnet Race together as a team for the De Graaf family which returns this year in its Ker 43, Baraka GP (NED) © Paul Wyeth

Seven VO70s and four VO65s are registered in IRC Zero, including that of the Polish National Foundation - I Love Poland © Robert HajdukSeven VO70s and four VO65s are registered in IRC Zero, including that of the Polish National Foundation – I Love Poland © Robert Hajduk

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