Boats descend on Cowes for the RORC Easter Challenge

There’ll be a fantastic collection of boats in Cowes this bank holiday weekend as they gather for the RORC Easter Challenge.

Fastnet race - suzanne whitewood

Suzanne and Alan share this latest sailing update. Ed


Boats will be out on the Solent in force for the RORC Easter Challenge over 19-21st April and for many it will be the first sail of the year. A year, for many sailors, that will culminate in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

While the RORC Easter Challenge is on the one hand a training regatta offering free world class coaching from grand masters like Jim Saltonstall, it also kicks off the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s domestic racing season.

Halcyon period for inshore racing
At present inshore racing is going through a halcyon period in the UK with the return of grand prix racing in the FAST40+ class and the more attainable Performance 40s. Seven FAST40+s are expected in Cowes including 2018’s stand-out performer, Ran 7.

However, competitive boats are not just limited to the 40s. Top performances  can be expected from the likes of David Frank’s new J/112E Leon, to Sam Laidlaw’s Quarter Tonner, the relentless champion Aguila to immaculately sailed classics such as Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles-designed Whooper and Harry Heijst’s 1972 S&S 41 Winsome.

There should be some good competitive racing over the Easter Weekend and Easter Egg prizes to look forward to.

Impressive collection of offshore racing yachts
Several of the boats taking part in the Easter Challenge are entered for the Rolex Fastnet Race later in the year. A most impressive collection of offshore racing yachts from across the globe is set to gather off Cowes for the start on 3rd August.

Following the 340 available places in the IRC fleet selling out in just four minutes and 37 seconds when entry opened on 7th January, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, organisers of this, the world’s largest offshore yacht race, has provided a preview of the 2019 line-up.

Non-IRC boats
While the bulk of the fleet remains the IRC entries, competing for both their class titles as well as the overall Fastnet Challenge Cup, 2019 will see an unprecedented entry of ‘non-IRC’ boats, the majority from France.

Of special interest is the number of IMOCA 60s entered – 29 of them, making this one of the largest gatherings of these thoroughbred ocean racers outside of the race for which they are principally built – the Vendee Globe- a singlehanded non-stop round the world race.

Third biggest lineup
The Fastnet line-up is the third biggest in IMOCA history, after the 2016-17 and 2008-09 Vendée Globes, and is due to the Rolex Fastnet Race being a qualifier for the next Vendée Globe.  IMOCA 60s have been in the news in recent months too, as they are one of the classes set to be used for the next running of The Ocean Race (ex-Volvo Ocean Race) over 2021-22.

In the fight for monohull line honours, leading the way should be the Hong Kong entry, Scallywag 100, but she will face stiff competition from Rambler 88 of American George David, the Fastnet Race’s 2017 monohull line honours winner, and Ludde Ingvall’s CQS.

Ex-Volvo Ocean Race boats are well represented too with six VO70s taking part and the smallest boat race in this year’s event will be between the trio of Contessa 32s.

Wednesday, 17th April, 2019 9:05am

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Filed under: Cowes, Island-wide, Sailing, Sports

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