The Red Funnel Easter Regatta was extremely well attended this year with over 70 yachts taking part. It is billed as a training Regatta by the RORC for the season to come and in that respect the event is run in an extraordinary good manner.
Jamie WILKINSON, Chief Race Officer for the RORC was on hand to give his running commentaries at the starts which is a real novelty and allows crews to analyse how good their start techniques are and were they can improve.
The team at RORC should be applauded for the time and effort they put into this with on the water tuition whilst racing and video debriefs afterwards for more in depth analysis, experienced and non-experienced crews gain an immense amount of knowledge from this in a short period of time. Jim SALTONSTALL and Mike RICHARDS put many long hours into this as did the whole RORC team and Easter would not be Easter without Jim's battle cry; "Come on you ferrets!"
As far as the weather conditions went, you can never be sure what the weather is going to throw at you in the Solent and Easter was a prime example, for virtually the whole regatta two different breezes were fighting it out and most of the time the stalemate resulted in fluky light airs. This was a great test for the crews, as finding clean air and breeze lines was always going to be difficult, the Solent is a great test of tactical awareness and more so in light airs with tides running as much as 3.5 knots.
Kit HOBDAY and Tim LOUIS with Bear of Britain won Class Super Zero, by far the quickest boat in the fleet they were often out on their own which to be honest does not make for interesting racing, but they showed considerable skill and application with 3 bullets. This was crew that had not trained together before the race and giving so much time on handicap and trying to pick the right way as scratch boat was never going to be easy in the fluky conditions.
Shaun FROHLICH with Exabyte 3 at their maiden regatta came second to the Bear but did win Class zero from Minnie the Moocher, Exabyte 3 got off to a nightmare start with an eighth in the first race but the team showed great courage (some of it 'dutch'!) to post two first and a third on day 2. The IMX45 has received virtually no optimisation since it wad delivered from Ireland and 'the Fro' and his merry men and ladies will be encouraged by a good result at the Red Funnel Easter Regatta.
In IRM1 there was a very impressive entry list of 4 IC45's, 2 Farr40's and 4 Ker 11.3's which was a welcomed site. Particularly good to see the Corels out after the disappointing cancellation of the Europrix early this year. The battle of the Corels and IRM1 was won by Peter MORTON and Aido STEAD in Atomic with a fantastic display of three first place.
Eamon CROSBIE racing Voodoo Chile won IRC2 with 5 bullets and in my opinion was the best performer at the Red Funnel Easter Challenge, Voodoo Chile is a one-off designed Ker 32 and is set to be the small boat in the Irish Commodore's Cup Team, quite frankly the yacht is a weapon and will definitely be one to watch this season. The boat has been cleverly designed by Jason KER and is highly optimised for IRC, the all Irish crew handled her extremely well and deserved their comprehensive victory.
The Red Funnel Easter Challenge was a great event to compete in and the number and quality of yachts is a good sign for the season to come, however the competitors did voice a couple of criticisms, one of which was that the courses set were not too demanding but in their defence I would say that with the fluky winds and tidal constraints this was always going to be very difficult, another suggestion would be the introduction of a few barrels of real ale on tap after the racing! However the £1000 put behind the bar by Red Funnel was a really good idea and one that this web site would actively encourage!
In all, well done to RORC and Red Funnel on a great regatta. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.