Victory in the hard fought IRC 1 went to Piet Vroon’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3, also winner of the Jackdaw Trophy for coming second behind the overall winner of the series, IRC 2 boat Peter Rutter’s Quokka. Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix finished just a point adrift coming second in IRC 1, ahead of third placed Jonathan Goring’s Ker 40 Keronimo. This was a great result for Antix in the horrendous conditions where she was in a veritable David versus Goliath situation amongst the 40 foot and 46 footers. When the wind got up, and coupled with the Solent tide, there was no stopping the 46 footer skippered by the 81 year old Piet Vroon who scored four bullets in the last two days of racing.
Antix, however, had the satisfaction of finishing ahead of Michael Bartholomew’s King 40 Tokoloshe who finished in 5th place in the IRC Nationals but had beaten Antix in the Brewer Dolphin Scottish Series earlier in the season. Finishing behind Tokoloshe in 6th place was Antilope sailed by Bouwe Bekking who had skippered the V070 Telefonica Blue in the most recent Round the world Race.
The new Ker 40 Keronimo had been hotly tipped to take IRC Class One and was on the final run of the second and final race when she was nailed by a squall. Tactician Simon Shaw recounted what occurred: “A big black cloud was chasing us down the run and we’d just changed on to the No.4 and gybed to come into the mark when the front of the gust hit and the wind went from 26 to pretty much 40 knots… The boat instantly jumped into the wave we were following and the rudder was fully out of the water. It was a bit like watching one of those Extreme 40 capsizes – you are on top of the world looking down at the boat, holding on to the runners with your legs dangling down into the cockpit going ‘hang on I thought this only happened on catamarans!'”
Keronimo teetered in her pitchpoled position for what seemed like 10 seconds, her bow buried so deeply into the water that the instrument displays on her mast were submerged, until eventually the fitting at the end of her bowsprit exploded and the chute roared aft destroying all the stanchions along her starboard side. “We lost one guy off each side and one off the bow,” continued Shaw. “So we scooped everyone back in, wrestled the chute down over the back, pulled the jib up, bore away and carried on with the race.” Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.
With only seven of the boats finishing races in Class One yesterday and today, Anthony O’Leary and the crew of Antix can be justifiably proud of their sterling performance in the extremely heavy conditions counting scores of 1, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3, 2.
With a windy weekend forecast for the RORC IRC National Championships competitors have so far enjoyed breezy conditions with winds that at the peak of the sea breeze saw gusts into the low 20s on day one. Racing got underway yesterday (Fri) when three races were sailed. In Class One there was particular interest in the hot competition expected to be provided by Jonathan Goring’s new Ker 40, Keronimo. However, 2010 Rolex Commodore’s Cup winning captain, Anthony O’Leary and his Ker 39 Antix with son Nicholas on board, had claimed the first race in IRC One and after the first three races of the series, counted a 1,2 and 6, with old friend and Cork Week Patron Piet Vroon in Tonnerre de Breskens 3 scoring 8, 6, 2 and Keronimo with 10, 1, 1. Keronomo’s 10th place in race 3 was put down to en error of timing by the afterguard on board when they all set their watches one minute late resulting in their being 45 seconds late for the start. However, the brisk conditions favoured the new Ker 40, hanging on to the larger 46 footers, such as Piet Vroon’s much travelled Tonnerre de Breskens 3, upwind and able to get up on the plane on the downwind legs. According to Goring in 20 knots of breeze they were regularly seeing 15-17 knots. O’Leary said racing at the IRC Nationals is the most competitive he has seen so far this season and he said Keronimo won races 2 and 3 by an “incomprehensible amount”.
Speaking with Anthony after racing today(Sat) he described the conditions as “howling” with breeze of 18 to 30 knots. He would be hoping for perhaps a little less tomorrow – maybe 16 to 25 knots and a tiny bit of luck if the weather gods are watching.
Following today’s races 4, 5 and 6 of the series the 39 foot Ker, Antix, had scored a 2, 4, 2, with the 46 foot Tonnerre de Breskens on 3, 1, 1, and the 40 foot Ker Keronimo on a 1, 2 and 16.(DNF). After discard and going into the final day of racing tomorrow (Sun), Antix’ consistent results are paying off and she leads on 11 pts with Tonnerre de Breskens 3 on 13 pts and Keronimo on 15 pts. The Antix crew will need to be in their usual peak form tomorrow given the intensity of the competition and we wish them every success.