Image: Kelvin Rawling's Sun Fast 3300 Aries © Rick Tomlinson
The Royal Ocean Racing Club 2021 season got underway on Easter Saturday with an inshore race in the Solent of approximately 38 nautical miles, the first of three races in the 2021 RORC Spring Series.
The top three boats included the fastest and slowest rated boats under IRC as well as the top Two-Handed team. RORC Commodore James Neville, racing HH42 Ino XXX took line honours and the overall win after IRC time correction. Kelvin Rawlings racing Sun Fast 3300 Aries, Two-Handed with Stuart Childerley, was runner up by just six seconds on corrected time from Sam Laidlaw’s Quarter Tonner BLT. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was just 44 seconds off the podium.
James Neville and the Ino XXX crew were enjoying the sunshine in Cowes Yacht Haven after the race. “It was a good day out in great conditions, and you can’t win and complain!” laughed James. “We had a reduced crew of nine which we are trying out as our offshore configuration. We have much the same team as before and we practised for a couple of days before the race. I was a pity not to race the Easter Challenge which has been going strong for 30-years, but everyone was desperate to get out after a long winter and it was fantastic to see all the boats out. All credit, especially to BLT, it was pretty choppy in places with wind against tide and that would have been a hard race in a Quarter Tonner.”
Starting downwind from the Royal Squadron Line, the fleet split evenly between the island and mainland shores. Sailplane, Tigris, Stormwave and Just So got away well close to the Squadron Platform. A north easterly breeze of 13 knots built during the course of the race, gusting up to 20 knots. After a slack tide at the start, the incoming tide produced ever-increasing, classic Solent chop. With eight legs at every point of sail, the RORC Race Team set a course that tested boat handling, as well as tactical skills.
Aries was the winner of the IRC Two-Handed Class, James Harayda’s Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, racing with Dee Caffari was runner-up and Rob Craigie’s Sunfast 3600 Bellino, racing with Deb Fish was third.
“It was all down to Stuart Childerley, I am only the labourer on the bow!” joked Kelvin Rawlings after Aries won the 13-strong IRC Two-Handed Class with a combined crew age of 126 years. “Our aim was to win it by sailing as best and as hard as we can. The race was really good in terms of the course and the conditions – I enjoyed every second of it. We feel confident in our tactical ability, but our boat handling is not very special, and we need to improve on that.”
“40 miles is a long old way in a Quarter Tonner, especially when it’s windy” commented BLT’s Brett Aarons. “The beats were pretty bumpy, wet and cold. Having said that it was great to get racing again. Competing in a fleet of bigger boats can be frustrating at times, but it is a good way to really improve our positioning on the racecourse and that will raise our performance against other Quarter Tonners.”
The RORC Spring Series continues with the second race, scheduled to start on Saturday 10th April. The Notice of Race requires that all crew shall comply with current Covid-19 guidelines, and with respect to social distancing at all times.