North Sea Race 2015

Posted: Wednesday, 20th May 2015

2015 North Sea Race Report - Belgians back in the Chocolates

North Sea Race Report from the RORC website
Start: Friday 15 May 2015
182 NM (Harwich to Scheveningen)

The 2014 RORC Season's Points Champion, Vincent Willemart and Eric Van Campenhout's Belgian MC34, Azawakh, was the overall winner of the 2015 North Sea Race, scoring the best corrected time under IRC, for the 182-mile race from Harwich to Scheveningen. Willem Schopman's Dutch Bashford Howison 36, Intention was second, just over a minute ahead, after time correction from Frans Rodenburg's Dutch First 40, Elke. Jan-friso Blacquiere's Maxfun 35, Blacq Magic was the overall winner of the ORC Class. Marcel Schuttelaar Dutch Maxi 1300, Ijsvogel was second and Willem de Jonge van Ellemeet's Dutch Dufour 40, Flying Dolphin was third in ORC overall.

74 yachts entered the 2015 North Sea Race, which was blessed with bright sunshine at the start. The Two-Handed fleet having been considerably swelled by the race being part of the inaugural Dutch Two-Handed National Championships. A moderate ten knots of breeze from the north provided a tactical beat against the tide up to Cork Sand Yacht Beacon via Outer Ridge before a gentle reach to the South Galloper Buoy. At dusk the wind speed reduced, providing very light and shifty conditions through the night. In the early hours of Saturday morning the leaders had made it to the most northerly part of the course, Smith's Knoll Buoy, and the wind started to fill in from the south west, giving exciting reaching conditions. As the fleet cracked sheets and hoisted downwind sails for a reaching across the North Sea, the final day of the offshore race provided fast thrilling racing for the fleet.

"We were very pleased to win and it was unexpected, the fleet was very strong." commented Eric Van Campenhout racing the overall winner, Azawakh. " The race had many different conditions, which suited us as we have good speed at many different wind strengths and wind directions. After last season, we felt that we needed to improve our performance in light winds and our experience with the boat and some modifications are definitely paying off. As we are Belgian it is nice to finish a race close to home and the North Sea Race has a beautiful start in the river and the course is very interesting with many different conditions and points of sail. We will be sailing the boat to Cowes this week to take part in the Myth of Malham, which is another great course and it is good practice for the start of the Fastnet.

John van der Starre & Robin Verhoef's Dutch J/111 Xcentric Ripper was the winner of the 18-strong IRC Two-Handed Class and winner of the ORC Two-Handed Class. This was the tenth North Sea Race for John van der Starre and by far the closest finish. After time correction, Xcentric Ripper won the class by four seconds from Erik Mayer-Martenson's Sun Fast 3200, Blizzard of Uz. Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600, Bellino was third.

" It was a tough but very nice race for us, with lots of reaching, perfect for a J/111, and winning the Two Handed Class, against very good opposition, was very satisfying" commented John van der Starre. "These days with AIS it is possible to see how well you are doing but you don't know how the weather will change for the boats behind you. In the delivery race to Harwich, Vuurschepen Race, the wind held up for the boats behind us but for the North Sea Race, that didn't happen. Myself and Robin have been racing together on the boat for four years, so we know our strengths and weaknesses. From the weather forecast we knew that we would have a point where there would be totally no wind on that first night but we know that would give us a good opportunity to gain on the opponents, we decided to stay more to the west, while our opposition went more to the east. The tactic really worked well for us with some good shifts. The wind was picking up, we were planing with about 12 knots of boat speed, it was fantastic but we did have one scary moment, as there were some large navigation marks which were not lit and we passed one by just 30 metres. When we got to Smith's Knoll Buoy we knew we were in a strong position but to win by just 4 seconds! One little mistake and we would have been second, the Two Handed Class at the Rolex Fastnet Race is going to be incredible but having won the class for the North Sea Race, 2015 is already a success for us."

The RORC Season's Points Championship continues Saturday 23 May with the Myth of Malham Race. The Bank Holiday Weekend race is 230 nautical miles from Cowes around the Eddystone Lighthouse and back to the Solent. Well over 100 yachts are expected to take part.

Full results for the North Sea Race can be found at the Royal Ocean Racing Club web site here

Full results for the EAORA fleet extracted from the North Sea Race overall results can be found at the EAORA web site here

 

Report from Laura Ivermee on-board the Sigma 33 'Woozle Hunter':

After milling around for quite a while, with numerous false starts from the classes before us, we finally got off ( first time!) with a good start from the middle of the line. 

We did very well upwind, keeping a lot of the faster boats behind us, then bore away, putting our colourful kite up. A great leg, spinnaker all the way in the sunshine. Perfect sailing weather. Later in the day the wind slackened, so down came the kite, and lots of boats bobbed around trying many different tactics to eke out the last little waft of wind. As night fell, the wind picked up from a new direction, and off we zoomed, reaching up towards Smiths Knoll, which we rounded at 04:47, with over 88 nautical miles to go. The following leg was a long rolling run to Holland. We decided to hoist the kite again, which, due to the rolling of the boat, proceeded to wrap itself securely around the forestay, in the dark, and wind, and rain!! All hands on deck, (dressed or not) discussing many retrieval options as we headed downwind with the preventer on. The final decision was to hang on the bottom of the spinnaker, tugging like maniacs, which, with a lot of rope juggling, finally freed it, a long while later. Unfortunately, this did slow us down, allowing some of the faster boats that we had kept behind us until then, to creep past! Tried lots of tactics & ideas, including poling out the headsail, which worked extremely well, kite up, kite down and anything else we could think of as the wind gradually faded. As we turned back on the wind for the final dogleg out, the wind died, the smoke from the Rotterdam chimneys going straight up! We fought to keep the kite flying with sheer willpower, and gradually, and very slowly, eased over the finish line. Beer was calling loudly at that point.

On the way back, the wind was directly on the nose for much of the journey, making for a bumpy and rolling ride, until we could finally get the main up to stabilize the boat. As we approached England, the wind warnings began, Force 8 – 9 coming soon!! At this stage, with the seas becoming wilder, we made the decision to head to Shotley rather than try to get home to Marconi Sailing Club, and collect the boat another day!

Thank you to the brilliant crew, who all worked together brilliantly and did a superb job on a wild and wet weekend. Ian, Laura, Ian D, Antony, Abraham and Stuart.

When the results came in, we finished well down the fleet on the water, due to our spinnaker shenanigans, but had a great weekends sailing. However, we are now 3rd overall in EAORA, and 15th in IRC4 in RORC, out of 50 boats. An excellent start to the season. We have now completed 60% of the qualifying needed for the Fastnet. Next EAORA race in 3 weeks.

You can see all the photos from the races on our Woozle Hunter Facebook page. Click on the link here   You do not have to have a Facebook account to read and view these, but if you do have an account, click LIKE on the page, and you will also be able to comment on the posts and photos and get updates each time we post new details or pics.

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