Thursday, June 5, 2014

Classic RORC Myth of Malham Race

J/105 sailing RORC offshore series (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Over the May Bank Holiday the third event in the RORC Season’s Point Series was the challenging 230 nm Myth of Malham Race. A fleet of approximately 40 yachts, from five different nations, took part with 10 yachts racing in the Double-Handed class.  The course can be a described as a long windward-leeward, starting from Cowes with the top mark as the Eddystone Lighthouse, approximately 12 miles SSW of Plymouth Sound, and finishing in the Solent. The lighthouse was built between 1878 and 1892 and is mentioned in Herman Melville's epic novel “Moby Dick.” At 49 meters (161ft) high, Eddystone's light is visible from 22 miles and, along with Bishop Rock, it is the tallest lighthouse managed by Trinity House.

The end of May is typically a time of changeable weather in the UK and the Myth of Malham Race shaped up to be a real tactical challenge. The south coast of England has complex and significant tidal flows, measuring as much as five meters at the Eddystone Lighthouse and weather forecasts are predicting varied wind speed and direction along the route. Correctly anticipating whether to stay offshore or come inshore will be a big factor in any team's performance.  As it all turned out, this year’s event was a “classic” Myth of Malham Race.

The fleet started from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line under grey skies and a south-westerly wind of ten knots. All 40 yachts got away to a good start with the Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club's J/109 WHITE KNIGHT 7 and Christopher Palmer's J/109, J-T'AIME, judging the line close to perfection. In the second start Chris Radford's J/122, RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH also got away well. Ahead of the fleet was a beat of well over 100 miles to the Eddystone Rock and the somewhat gentle conditions at the start were later replaced by a strong breeze with foul tide causing a significant swell, especially on the first night near Poole Bay. However, the fleet enjoyed a blistering run back to the Solent, with big breeze and warm sunshine providing wonderful conditions.

As one of the sailors described it, “The beat was slightly testing near the start in about 15-20 knots but later we saw up to 24 knots on the beat, which was hard work but that was worth it for a very quick reach home in about 12 hours from Eddystone to the finish. We had foul tide from Portland on the return and to escape the current at St. Albans Head we were just 200 yards from the cliffs surfing the overfalls in 20 knots of wind. It is usually a tactical race out to Eddystone and more often than not we have a fast run or reach home in waves and interesting tides which make it memorable. All in all making a classic race."

The dozen or so J’s enjoyed the conditions, reveling in the winds and seas for the long first beat out to the Rock.  Sailing very well in the incredibly competitive IRC 2 Class was the J/122 RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH sailed by James George. She took 3rd in class and 9th overall!

As for IRC 3 Class, it was pretty clear the six 35 foot J’s had a smashing good time.  Top of the heap was the J/109 JUMBUCK sailed by John Allison, taking 3rd in class and 8th overall!  Just behind him were the J/109 J-T’AIME skippered by Chris Palmer in 5th, the J/105 DIABLO-J skippered by Nick Martin in 6th and also taking 5th in Double-Handed Class.  In 7th was the J/109 ME JULIE helmed by Dom Monkhouse at Summit Sailing; 8th was J/109 JUMPING JELLYFISH helmed by David Richards and in 9th was the J/109 WHITE KNIGHT 7 crewed by the Royal Armoured Corps YC.  Thanks for the article contribution from RORC’s Louay Habib.   For more RORC Myth of Malham Race sailing information