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21 March 2005, 03:55 pm
Curtain Raiser For British Season
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Red Funnel Easter Challenge 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) racing season kicks off on Friday 25 March with the 14th edition Red Funnel Easter Challenge at Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain.
The regatta is the curtain raiser for what is sure to be a marvelous season of sailing; this is an Admiral's Cup and Rolex Fastnet year which is bound to attract some of the most awe inspiring yachts to the waters around Great Britain and Ireland.

The Red Funnel Easter Challenge is billed as a training regatta, top Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructors will be on hand with on the water tuition whilst racing and there will be video debriefs afterwards which will give more in depth analysis. The coaching team will be lead by Jim SALTONSTALL ably assisted by Mike RICHARDS.

SALTONSTALL has coached virtually all of Britain's Olympic sailors, Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB, Ben AINSLIE, Aido STEAD, Iain PERCY... the list goes on.

'I would describe the Red Funnel Easter Regatta as the first real event of the year,' said SALTONSTALL, 'it is the ideal way for new crews to come together and build a team, an opportunity to do a whole weekend's training for the major events to come later in the season.'

There will be a huge variety of boats competing at Easter with hundreds of crew from all walks of life from novices to top professional sailors.

Mike BROUGHTON, the internationally known navigator will be racing on Murka: 'This will be the first regatta for Murka, a brand new Swan 45 and the first time Murka's owner driver Misha MOURATOV (RUS) will have a taste of one design racing, the crew came together earlier in the month and as a result of our training we have made some refinements to Murka and the crew have had the opportunity of working together as a team.'

Communications on Murka are never going to be easy as BROUGHTON goes on to explain: 'We are really looking forward to the Easter regatta, an extra challenge for our crew is simply to call gybe set with six Russians, four Brits and an Iraqi on board! We often revert to hand signals to get the message over. But don't get me wrong the Russians are very keen and warm hearted and great fun to sail with.'

Keith MILLER's Swan 45 Crackerjack will be competing with a very impressive line up of top professional sailors many from the GBR Challenge America's Cup Team, including Paul BROTHERTON, Richard SYDENHAM and Nick PEARSON.

Another Swan 45 competing is Fever. Stuart MILLER runs the boat and will be trimming headsails for the regatta. He explains what Fever are aiming for this Easter: 'Our goal on Fever for the Red Funnel is to bed in a new crew, we will also be looking at rig settings and sail shape, in the hope of making some refinements for better boat speed, this is also the first event in the North European Swan 45 circuit and we understand that a very strong Crackerjack team owned by Keith MILLER will be participating.'

The buzz from the competitors is that the Red Funnel Easter Challenge heralds the start of the RORC sailing season, there is a mood of expectation amongst the competitors and the event will be a platform for them on which to build the season ahead.

Louay Habib (bangthecorner.com). Image, Crew From GBR Challenge Will Be At The Event:© 2004 GBR Challenge
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