COWES, ISLE OF WIGHT, 25 JUNE 2023: The IRC National Championships has been the battleground for close victories in the past, with Rán winning last year by 0.005 of a point. However, the 2023 Overall IRC National Champion was decided by an even smaller margin. Adam Gosling’s JPK 1080 Yes! scored second place in Race 8 by four seconds after IRC time correction. This gave Yes! the overall IRC National Championships by 0.004 of a point.
“It doesn’t get closer than that; races were won by seconds and when you are up against other good boats, that level of competition makes you sail better,” commented Adam Gosling. “Arcus sailed really well in our class and really challenged us, as did John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox. Today, Elaine Again pulled a real blinder; well done to Ed Mockridge and his team. The RORC and the volunteers have given us three days of sunshine, wind and other people to sail against. Thank you, it has been a great regatta, see you again!”
Giovanni Belgrano’s 39ft classic sloop Whooper was the overall runner-up, winning the Jackdaw Trophy as well as IRC Four. Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator made a welcome return to Solent racing winning IRC One. James Howell’s Cape 31 Gelert was the winner of IRC Two and the Roger Grainger Trophy for the best performing RORC boat.
Spectacular conditions prevailed for the final day of the IRC National Championship. The RORC Race Team delayed the start of racing to allow a solid south-westerly to establish and it was well worth the wait, as 16-18 knots arrived in the combat zone. Congratulations to all the race winners on the final day: TP52 Gladiator, MAT 12 Sailplane 3, Cape 31 Gelert, JPK 1010 Elaine Again and the classic sloops Cetaweyo and Whooper.
Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator won both races on the final day, making it six guns for the regatta. Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark ‘N’ Stormy was second in both races to finish a strong runner-up. The young Dutch team on Ker 46 ROST-Van Uden, skippered by Gerd-jan Poortman pinched out to make the class podium by three points from RORC Commodore James Neville’s Carkeek 45 Ino Noir.
“Absolutely champagne sailing,” commented Gladiator’s Tony Langley. “For two days we saw 20 knots of wind, that is wonderful; The Solent really delivered. There are a few new crew on Gladiator and they have gelled really well together; racing these boats is all about a process. Getting everybody signed-up for the manner in which we sail Gladiator needs a crew that is fully committed.”
James Howells’ Cape 31 Gelert won IRC Two by the narrowest of margins and with a touch of drama in the very last race. Rob Bottomley’s MAT 12 Sailplane 3 won Race 7 to lead the class and was the provisional winner of Race 8. However, Sailplane was disqualified from the last race, dropping the team to third for the series. This resulted in a tie on points between Gelert and Sandra Askew’s Cape 31 Flying Jenny. Gelert won IRC Two on countback by virtue of more race wins in the series.
We had a tight battle with Flying Jenny all weekend and when the conditions were more favourable for Sailplane they got away from both of us,” commented Gelert’s James Howells. “On the last day, it all came down to the final race and there was an incident at the very last mark with all three of us involved. After it was sorted out, we picked up the chocolates, which made us very happy. It was a great weekend of racing with the RORC doing a superb job of organising everything. One of the reasons I decided to get into the Cape 31 Class was because of the success of Cape 31 Tokoloshe under IRC. Winning this weekend shows that they are not just a one-design class, but also good under IRC. We plan to be back next year to defend our win.”
Adam Gosling’s Yes! was the winner of IRC Three by two points from Howell & Newell’s A35 Arcus. The two teams had swapped the lead throughout the regatta, but there was no mistaking the best scoring boat on the last day. Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again won Race 7 and Race 8 to finish the series just a point behind Arcus, and three points from the Overall IRC National Champion Yes! The intense competition was evident from the series results. Elaine Again made the race podium for seven out of eight races, but finished the Championships third in class.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 39ft classic sloop Whooper scored a 2-1 on the final day to win IRC Four. However, two bullets would have secured Whooper the overall win for a third time. Simon Clifton’s A31 Aztec and John Allen’s X-302 Antix tied on points, and for number of race wins. The class runner-up was decided by the number of second places in the series, which went to Antix, with Aztec third.
“I feel really happy,” commented Whooper’s Giovanni Belgrano. “This event has been very constructive and useful for us to keep improving our sailing. The wind dropped on the first leg of the first race today, otherwise we would have won the race and maybe overall. It was very, very close, but no cigar! It doesn’t matter, it’s all about going in the right direction and we will keep developing the boat and the team.”
The Prize Giving for the IRC National Championships was held at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse which had been regatta central for the long weekend, with competitors enjoying a full social programme. RORC Commodore James Neville and RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole awarded the trophies and RORC ‘keepers’ to the winning teams.
Next year, the RORC IRC National Championships will be going on tour! Held at the International Paint Poole Regatta over the Spring Bank Holiday, 25 – 27 May 2024.
For more information about the RORC: www.rorc.org
ENDS/.. Louay Habib/RORC