Friday, July 25, 2014

MAGIC J/35 Enjoys IRC Nationals

(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- For over a decade, the RORC IRC National Championship has produced great racing and this year’s was an absolute cracker. The open event features yachts from six different countries, crewed by 400 sailors from all over the world. Bolstered by nine yachts competing for the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the international fleet, of nearly 50 yachts, had an intense three-day battle on tight Solent courses.

In IRC Three James Chalmers' J/35 BENGAL MAGIC, was back to defend their class win. Last year, the team from Weymouth Sailing Club had a close battle with the overall winner in 2012, David Franks' Strait Dealer.  "It will be nice to line up against Strait Dealer again; they are always going to be strong in their home waters," commented James Chalmers. "We had to sail well last year but the light airs contributed to our victory so we will be praying for more of the same. There is a lot of talent right through our class - we will just have to see how we go."

IRC Nationals startThe largest and most diverse class racing at the RORC IRC National Championship was IRC Four, with most of the class comprised of Quarter and Half Tonners, immaculately restored for racing.  Meanwhile, father and son team Nick and Adam Munday, were back to defend their title onboard their J/97 INDULJENCE.  "It is definitely a tough class this year and we will have our work cut out for us," commented Adam Munday. "This is one of the big regattas of the year and we have been training hard right through the winter. I share the driving with my dad throughout the season but dad will be driving all three days and we have a couple of new sails for the regatta, which we are really happy about. The conditions will play a big part in deciding the winner; the Quarter Tonners are hard to beat in the light and when the breeze gets up the heavier boats, like Winsome, have `get up and go' - it's going to be a hell of a challenge."

Here is how it all went down for the two J/Teams participating.  For the first day of sailing, the hottest day in the UK this year caused a delay to the start but it was well worth the wait. Once a sea breeze had fully developed in the Western Solent, three races were completed: two windward leewards, followed by a round the buoys race back to the central Solent. The stable westerly breeze of 10 knots lasted all afternoon, building for the last race, to give a late but great finish to the first day of action for the RORC fleet. The boat-on-boat action was intense with a wall of boats arriving in unison at mark roundings and results decided by seconds. The Western Solent is famed for its tidal race and with Spring Tides in force, the effects were accentuated. Reading the tide today was a crucial factor towards performance.

J/35 offshore sailboatThere was a dramatic start to the championship with reigning class champion, James Chalmer's British J/35 BENGAL MAGIC coming last in the first race. After hitting a mark in a crowd of yachts, BENGAL MAGIC took a penalty and couldn't recover.

Three vintage yachts dominated the podium with every race winner being decided by a matter of seconds. Reigning class champion, Nick and Adam Munday's J/97 INDULJENCE struggled against the opposition on the windward leeward courses but came back in the last round the cans race to lift the team to fourth in class.

The Eastern Solent provided a fascinating combat zone for the second day of racing. A fickle northerly breeze at the start provided shifty conditions before clocking east and building to a solid 15 knots of pressure. During the final race a massive rainsquall brought a short sharp intensity to the final race with over 20 knots of wind and driving rain, testing the endurance of the teams. The second day of the championship was full of incident and intense boat-on-boat action. The teams that handled their yachts well, in close quarters and rapidly changing conditions, were the outstanding performers of the day.

The best performer of the day in IRC Three was Chalmers' J/35 BENGAL MAGIC, which won the first race of the day and followed up the victory with two second places. Their performance kept them solidly in second place.

The Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE experienced somewhat of an “off” day, posting a 10-14-6 to likely take them completely out of contention for a podium finish.

The last day of racing was critical for a number of boats.  Most importantly, keeping in clear air and playing the shifts were the big factors towards a top performance, but maintaining concentration, in an adrenalin packed final day, was just all important.

In IRC Three, last year's IRC Three champion BENGAL MAGIC posted three solid races on the last day (2, 3.5, 2) to finish second overall— losing their on-going annual battle with their friends on David Franks’ Strait Dealer.

In IRC Four, the Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE finished the regatta on a high, winning the ninth (and last) race after posting an equally impressive 2nd in the 8th race.  A bit late finding their “high gear”, but nevertheless good enough for them to capture fourth overall.   Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth   For more RORC IRC Nationals sailing information