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28 March 2005, 11:45 am
Heads Out Of The Boat
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The Red Funnel Easter Challenge 2005
Cowes, Isle of Wight, Great Britain

The third and final day of the Red Funnel Easter Challenge was another beautiful warm and sunny day in the Solent with high pressure providing light and tricky conditions for the competitors to hone their skills for the season to come.
Although starts are important in any race, today was a day where the wind speed and direction was very variable, boats that could use these shifts in direction of the wind and strength to their advantage were the ones that came out on top.

Although many yachts use sophisticated equipment to analyse wind strength and direction, there is no replacement for the tactician and crew keeping their 'heads out of the boat' spotting yachts around them in breeze and avoiding the holes. A good start is important but in these conditions the front runners have few yachts to gauge the spots where the wind dies, yachts further back can see these more easily and avoid them.

Nick and Annie HAIG, winners of IRM1 & 2 on Too Steamy commented: 'I have to say that the IRM fleet had lots of professionals racing. It was interesting to see the different boat speeds with all the Farr 45's together and the Farr 52's and ourselves with the other Farr 40 and the Ker's.' Annie HAIG said: 'We have a fantastic team and it's been a really good weekend, all the more so as it didn't snow as it has done in previous years!'

2004 Olympic Gold medallist, Shirley ROBERTSON (GBR), tactician and helm on Patches-Team Tonic, winner of IRCSZ & Z commented: 'We came to the Red Funnel Regatta to practice for the TP52 that is being built to compete in this years RORC Admiral's Cup. We just really wanted to get the crew together and start racing. A lot of the Irish guys haven't sailed in a yacht of this size. It was good for us really as there were some tricky weather conditions and the competition with Bear of Britain, the other Farr52 has flagged up some areas for us to work on. For us it was training and it was good to kick start the season. I haven't actually sailed all winter and neither have many of the crew. I really enjoyed racing the Farr52 as although I have done big boat sailing in the past, it was on the more cruisie type. Eamon CONNEELY has not been intimidated by the power of the Farr52 even though he has never sailed anything over 35ft. I know he is really looking forward to getting the Transpac 52 Patches very soon.'

Kevin SPROUL, helmsman on Peter MORTON's Mumm 30 Salvo, winners of IRC1 said: 'The main event for us this season is the Mumm 30 Worlds and we highlighted this regatta as a training event for that. It's early on in the season and it's a good opportunity to get people out there and shake away the cobwebs of the winter. As we were the smallest boat in the class it was really hard for us to find clear lanes. The guys sailing on the boat have all sailed together on Peter's previous boat a Bashford 36 but this is the first event we have done together on the Mumm 30. We got a lot out of the event in particular managing to ascertain what sails need to be replaced or changed.'

Ex-RORC Commodore Peter RUTTER won IRC2 with his Elan 37 Quokka. RUTTER commented: 'This year's Red Funnel event was the best racing we have done with boat since last year and we were particularly interested in improving our downwind trimming and used the expert skill of Jim SALTONSTALL out on the race course to improve this area.'

Once the fleet were safely docked in Cowes Yacht Haven, an overall prize giving ceremony for the regatta was held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. After a successful three-day regatta, the crews of the winning boats were presented with the customary Easter egg prizes.

Overall winners in all classes were then awarded etched glass tankards by the RORC and prizes from the regatta sponsors were presented by the Managing Director of Red Funnel Group Ltd, Tom DOCHERTY and Commercial Director Colin HETHERINGTON who commented: 'We are delighted to be associated with this long-running regatta and support it as part of our on-going commitment to sailing. The regatta has been a great success and we hope it will provide an auspicious start to a new seasons racing.'

The Red Funnel Easter Challenge Prix d'Elegance Trophy will be awarded to Misha MOURATOV's Swan 45 Murka 2 at the RORC's Annual Dinner in London in late November.

Louay Habib (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Bear Of Britain:© Hamo Thornycroft
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