High winds ensure hectic final day of Solent regatta

Spray obscures the bow of the Ker 40 Keronimo during the IRC National Championship. Picture: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
Spray obscures the bow of the Ker 40 Keronimo during the IRC National Championship. Picture: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com
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In what’s becoming a recurring theme this sailing year, the weather made its presence felt during the IRC National Championship.

The three-day Solent regatta produced some tight racing and a cliff-hanger of a result in at least one class.

But that was only after the heavy breeze on day one became a gale on the middle day, with racing abandoned amid numerous shredded spinnakers.

In response, Royal Ocean Racing Club organisers bumped up the number of final day races to three, around tight Solent courses which tested crew work.

There was no doubt, however, about the overall winner – David Franks’ JPK 1010 Strait Dealer racing in IRC3 took the title with seven straight wins.

‘I understand that we are the smallest yacht ever to win this prestigious trophy and I will get to keep it for a whole year,’ said Franks.

‘It might seem like this was an easy win but far from it – we just made fewer mistakes than anyone else.’

In contrast, the result in IRC1 was turned on its head on the final day.

The Dutch yacht Tonnerre de Breskens looked to have the class sown up with a clear overnight lead.

But it then recorded a ninth and a 13th – their worst result of the weekend – in the first two races.

They came back to win the final race of the regatta but the damage was done as they dropped from first to fifth.

François Goubau’s First 47.7 Moana came into the running with a win in the first race of the day.

But the Belgian yacht was early at the pin end of the last race and failed to return, scoring an OCS when class victory was in sight.

Anthony O’Leary’s Irish Ker 39 Antix was consistent all weekend and came close but, for the second year running, was runner-up – this time by a single point to Andrew Pearce’s Ker 40 Magnum III.

‘We have put in six months of dedication and hard work to improve the team’s ability and to become national champions is such a joy,’ said Pearce.

‘In the team brief our tactician Andy Beadsworth said not to worry about the points but to just sail as best as we could.

‘It is a great feeling to win. I can safely say this is the biggest win I have ever had in the sport.’

In IRC2, Jim Macgregor’s Elan 410 Premier Flair took the class by 1.5 points from Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Réponse – the fraction coming from Premier Flair’s dead heat with the J122 Joopster in race six.

‘I think that the results speak for themselves, we have had three days of incredibly close racing,’ said Macgregor. ‘I have to take my hat off to the RORC for organising such a well organised and enjoyable regatta under difficult conditions.’

In IRC4 Grant Gordon’s J/97 Fever rattled off a series of wins to take the class by seven points clear of Mike and Jamie Holmes’ similar J/97 Jika Jika.