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21 June 2004, 09:11 am
Bear Of Britain Victorious
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IRC British Nationals
Cowes, IOW

Bear of Britain were announced overall winners of the MeesPierson Yachting IRC Championship Trophy, consolidating her lead in the series with 12 points after competing in eight races over the three day regatta.
Racing consistently well in the Championship, Jonathan and Lisa GORING'S J109 Jeronimo were also awarded the Jackdaw Trophy at the overall prizegiving ceremony held after racing in Cowes Yacht Haven.

It was another exciting and challenging day out on the water with racing taking place in the Western Solent when predicted winds of around 250deg along with heavy showers came true. The first race of the day got underway in a strong easterly tide with a 10knot breeze and a number of moveable marks were laid to get the racing off to a good start. With about 25-30deg of port end bias, the boats were tempted down to the far end of the line and were evenly distributed.

However, around midday a vicious squall came through bringing rain and winds gusting to over 30knots, causing some problems out on the race course. By the last race of the day, the tide had turned and several more squalls came through causing Panther, the Mumm36 in IRC1 to lose her mast on the last downwind leg of the course. She broached into Passion who carried her forestay away as they parted. She was assisted by the Venturers Rescue Service and another boat went to help recover the mast. A medical emergency also occurred on board Leo Lady in IRC3 after an crew member suffered an eye injury caused by a shackle and they were aided by the Hamble Lifeboat.

In the first race for IRC0 Yes! was over the line at the start but rapidly dipped back and did not suffer a penalty with Flag 'P' flying. The remainder of the class got away without incident and I-Site managed a first place ahead of Bear of Britain and El Gringo after a good race, however the wind was then beginning to swing right causing some bias on the line.

Racing in IRC1, Magnum started close to the ODM taking a fourth place in the race although the majority of boats in the same class favoured the committee boat end despite their being a 15deg bias on the line to encourage boats out into the tide. Tundra led their class in this race closely followed by Tarka, Exabyte 2 and Magnum II.

The smaller boats in the fleet in IRC2 and IRC3 bunched up at the committee boat end of the line to keep out of the fast running tide and most boats short tacked up the mainland shore to keep out of the tide. Jeronimo led the fleet in IRC2 followed by Voodoo Chile and Civils with Flair but and it was Software Mistress who had a good start in IRC3 taking a 3rd position. However, Whooper continued to consolidate her lead and stay ahead of Exile.

A thunder storm and heavy squalls in the last half of the race with heavy rain and winds up to 31knots caused a number of boats to experience difficulty in the challenging conditions.

For the last race in the Championship, the tide had turned and the first boats set off in a gentle leeward going tide. In IRC0 El Gringo seemed late to the line but went on to take a good start as they hoisted their genoa whilst crossing the start line although only managed a 9th position with Minx taking the lead followed by Bear, I-Site and Exabyte III.

The squall came through for IRC1 and there were two boats over the line - Salvo and Shockwave. However, they both make a rapid return to the start and incurred a 20% penalty. Exabyte 2 finished in 1st place with close racing between Bare Knuckles, Tundra and Magnum II.

In IRC2 there was a general recall due to the majority of the fleet misjudging the fast turning tide and thus going over the line at the start. A 'Z' flag was flown giving a 20% penalty and all but four boats were penalised. The class re-started again at the end of the sequence and a Black flag was hoisted giving a clear start. Quokka led their class in this race with Capitali$m in 2nd place and a 3rd for Voodoo Chile followed by Jeronimo.

With the wind still swinging both ways, it was decided to move the line for the remainder of the classes and IRC3 completed the final race in extremely squally conditions finishing in 25knots of wind which was enough to cause several incident and boats to struggle with their spinnakers. White Mischief took a lead in the final race over Great Scot II and Whooper in third place but it was Whooper, Giovanni Belgrano's Laurent Giles design who took 1st place in class at the end of the Championship, with White Mischief in 2nd and Exile 3rd overall.

After a great regatta and three days of highly competitive racing for all the fleet, the RYA selectors for the GBR team for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores' Cup had seen the hopeful teams perform in a variety of conditions which should help make their final decision in the next few days.It was also a good opportunity for the Irish team to compete against their potential GBR competitors.

Full results are available on the RORC website at the address below.
Trish Jenkins
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