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20 June 2004, 08:01 am
Good Breezes And Challenging Day For IRC Fleet
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IRC British Nationals
Cowes, Isle of Wight

Starting with light north-westerly breezes veering to the south-west and building up to 20 knots, the fleet racing on day two of the MeesPierson Yachting Championship were faced with variable wind shifts and interesting sailing conditions.
This caused challenging conditions for both the competitors on board the fleet of 66 boats and the Race Committee alike.

Race 4 was run in a light but unstable North Westerly breeze, with lots of holes and shifts making life difficult for even experienced navigators. Starting at half tide, the start line was laid on the Ryde Bank, but finished on the Hill Head plateau once the tide had risen sufficiently. There was also an incident at the first weather mark where Bear was seen attempting to mount Richard MATTHEWS Flirt from astern.

Race 5 was then started close to Fastnet Insurance on a wind direction of 310º. In the first start, IRC0 had a general recall under the Z flag resulting in 6 yachts incurring a 20% place penalty carried forward to the restart at the end of the sequence. When the race was restarted, there were another two OCS boats who both restarted correctly (at the 2nd attempt), but incurred 20% penalties for the original infringements. One of these, El Gringo, was one of the original 6, thereby incurring a double penalty for this race. Halfway through this race, the wind backed 40-50º, turning the course into a procession and the race was immediately shortened, allowing the OCS boats El Gringo and I-Site little chance to recover.

Race 6 was then started close to Navigators & General in the strengthening WSW wind on approx 260º. Before the end of the start sequence, the wind had backed further to 245º and strengthened to over 20 knots, making the course somewhat one sided. The course was rapidly changed to accommodate this - too rapidly for some, and considerable confusion resulted with the new mark laid only as the leading boats approached it. The Race Committee were also confused so much so that the course change was not signalled correctly to the IRC3 class, and their race was eventually declared void. With the increased wind, this race was full of incident, with many yachts struggling to keep up with their spinnakers, and one dramatic rescue of a man overboard from another boat by Minx, assisted by a RIB. This rescue cost Minx a considerable period of time, and she was subsequently awarded 7 minutes redress by the Protest Committee - putting her into first place in this race - a position she was clearly in contention for before the rescue.

Watching on the water as Chairman of the selectors for the GBR teams in the Rolex Commodores' Cup was David AISHER: "We've seen some great racing over the last couple of days and we have been able to assess how boats are performing and coping in the different conditions. There's been quite a few changes in position and we are getting a good idea of how these boats react and deal with varying conditions. This Championship has been very interesting so far for the selectors."

In IRC0, Bear of Britain has consolidated her lead despite a 16th in the shortened Race 5 - which she will be able to discard. She is being chased by the Irish Rolex Commodores' Cup team entry Flying Glove, with a significant gap before Adam Gosling's Yes, Richard MATTHEWS Flirt and Nick HARTSHORN'S El Gringo all vying for 3rd place.

In IRC1 Andrew PEARCE'S Magnum II are just leading their class, followed closely by Robert Gateshill's Bare Knuckles. However Salvo, Tundra and Exabyte II are almost equal only a couple of points behind.

Jonathan & Lisa GORING'S Jeronimo have moved a couple of points clear of the second Irish Rolex Commodores' Cup team boat the Ker 32 - Voodoo Chile in 2nd overall, closely followed by Peter RUTTER'S Quokka who are being scrutinised for a place in the GBR team.

IRC3, Whopper, the Laurent GILES design, had a good day out on the water are now placed in 1st position overall in IRC3, only one point ahead of Nicholas DE LA FOUNIERE'S Exile and Andy HIND & Mark HARRIS' White Mischief.
The IRC Championship is supported by MeesPierson Yachting. Directors Steve MALLEY and Alex MCBARNET invited guests to join them for the racing on board Rum Jungle. RORC General Manager, Peter WYKEHAM-MARTIN was also on board to help give an overview of the racing and said: "With good weather and a large fleet of highly competitive yachts to watch, the Championship provided an exciting spectacle. Everyone was happy to see people enjoying themselves and it was a great day on the water."

Yesterday evening a prizegiving ceremony supported by MeesPierson Yachting, was held in the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion for Class Winners, with prizes for two days of racing. The RORC IRC Championship Trophy along with the Jackdaw Trophy, Class prizes and RORC Medallions will be presented to competitors after the final two races today.
Trish Jenkins
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