Following 3 days of testing weather conditions and some exciting racing, Cowes-based Cape 31- Katabatic won its class at the RORC Easter Challenge Regatta which was sailed in the Solent over the Easter weekend.

On Good Friday, with strong gusty conditions in the Eastern Solent, RORC’s Easter Challenge got underway. It was the first European fixture of the Royal Ocean Racing Club 2024 programme  and was billed as a training regatta with Mason King’s coaching team strengthened by support from Ian Walker from North Sails and charter boat skipper Andy Middleton. Rules on outside assistance were relaxed, allowing the coaches to aid competitors  to kick start their season.

PRO Stuart Childerley set one race for the opening day for all classes with a Spring Tide going west for the duration. Friday’s IRC Class winners were: Derek Shakespeare’s J/122 Bulldog, John Smart’s J/109 Jukebox, and Simon Perry’s Cape 31 Jiraffe.  Derek Shakespeare’s crew, partly comprised of young sailors who Derek likes to support, did well to win their class.

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It was all change on Saturday with a light southerly wind of 10 knots. Off Lee-on-Solent, Stuart Childerley set 3 short, windward-leeward races for all classes. In lighter conditions, the complexity of The Solent’s tides were a big factor and names kept changing on the leaderboard.

After racing there were video debriefs for all crews, held this year at the RYS as RORC’s Cowes Clubhouse is being refurbished.

Sunday produced yet another variation in conditions with a medium-strong easterly breeze up to nearly 20 knots. A sturdy easterly going tide, built during the day, to create classic Solent conditions

After 2 intensive coaching days from Mason King’s team the focus moved to putting the lessons learned into practice and win those Easter Chocolates. Every class winner was decided in the very last race, producing a thrilling climax to the regatta.

Class winners receiving RORC recycled Keepers and Easter Eggs were the Mills 39 Team Hero on Zero II skippered by James Gair, Ed Mockridge’s JPK 1010 Elaine Again, and Lance Adams’ Cape 31 Katabatic.

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Speaking to us after racing, Lance Adams said how he loves sailing at Cowes and supporting the town and the Island. He had visited Cowes many times as a boy, accompanying his father who supported Cowes Week. He now regularly enjoys sailing in this regatta as well as Cowes Week and undertaking the Round the Island Race.

Like Derek Shakespeare, he supported young sailors who made up half of his crew. He said that a training regatta was excellent for the less experienced and something like this RORC regatta really helped those wishing to progress in a sailing career. Overall half of the sailors taking part in this regatta were young sailors.

Prizes and Easter Eggs were distributed by Richard Palmer (Vice- Commodore RORC).

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