North Sea Race 2019

Posted: Friday, 7th June 2019

East Anglian Offshore Racing Association

RORC North Sea Race


There were eleven EAORA competitors in the 50-strong fleet contesting the RORC North Sea Race, which started on Friday May 31.


This 180-mile overnight marathon, from Harwich to Scheveningen in the Netherlands, via Smith’s Knoll, off the Norfolk Coast, and numerous wind farms, is a highlight of the EAORA calendar, particularly in Fastnet years, when it forms an essential part of the qualification process for East Coast-based racers.


Last year EAORA dominated the North Sea Race results, with Paul Scott’s Sigma 38 Spirit coming first overall, closely followed by Robert Leggett’s X-332 Apex, in a year when wind and tide conditions favoured the longer handicapped boats.


This year, in contrast, conditions suited the faster boats, the wind threatening to switch off completely before the final few finishers reached the line, and it was West Mersea-based Richard Matthews’ recent acquisition Oystercatcher XXXIII, custom Ker 51, which showed the way, taking line honours in a remarkable 17 and a half hours.


Oystercatcher XXXIII was also third overall on corrected time, and first of the EAORA representatives, in a field dominated by Dutch competitors.


Ross Eldred, from the Medway, also managed to beat the 24-hour barrier, in another recent acquisition, the Club Swan 42 Mercury, which revelled in the largely off-wind conditions, but he had to be content with third in the EAORA fleet on corrected time, beaten on handicap for second place by Chris Schram’s Scheveningen-based Corby 38 Double Edge, which was entered in the two-handed division of the race.


From Haven Ports YC, Cathy and Richard Brown’s Arcona 410, Brave, the East Anglian Sea School’s First 40, 40 Love, and Cassiopeia, the Fast 42 entered by Julia Rinck and Dominic Bucholz, enjoyed their own private battle, sailing in close company and changing places throughout the race, finally finishing in that order once handicaps were taken into account.


Also from HPYC, Apex and Spirit were frustrated by lack of wind and adverse tide in the closing stages of the race, and unable to repeat their triumphs of the year before.


They were followed in the results by Victoria, the Archambault 31 entered by David and Adrian Gibbons, from Colne YC, Flying Fish, a Medway-based First 40.7 owned by SFCP Ltd, and Burnham-based Lyra of London, Miles Delap’s Swan 431 which was training a young crew for its Fastnet entry promoting the Ausome charity.


But whatever their finishing position, all the boats enjoyed the unusually benign conditions for this race, which in some years represents something of a survival test. This time, with at times too-gentle south westerly breezes, flat seas and clear skies, the only real danger was sunburn.


After just a two-and-a-half mile beat to the first mark, it was off the wind nearly all the way, and the conditions particularly favoured lightweight flyers with asymmetric kites, happily playing the angles and finding speed in even the flukiest winds.


More traditional cruiser races with conventional spinnakers struggled to keep up, but enjoyed the challenge of trying, in largely champagne sailing conditions.

More photos at:

Thanks go to MS Amlin, which is sponsoring EAORA's anniversary year. The next event in the programme is the Jane’s Cup/Thames Estuary Race weekend, with the fleet racing from Burnham on Crouch to the Medway on Saturday June 15, and then from the Medway back to Burnham on Sunday June 16.

RORC North Sea Race EAORA Results:



1 Oystercatcher XXXIII, Richard Matthews, Ker 51 custom, West Mersea YC

2 Double Edge, Chris Schram, Corby 38, Scheveningen JC

3 Mercury, Ross Eldred, Club Swan 42, Medway YC

4 Brave, Richard and Cathy Brown, Arcona 410, Haven Ports YC

5 40 Love, East Anglian Sea School, First 40, Haven Ports YC

6 Apex, Robert Leggett, X332, Haven Ports YC

7 Cassiopeia, Julia Rinck and Dominic Bucholz, Fast 42, Haven Ports YC

8 Spirit, Paul Scott, Sigma 38, Haven Ports YC

9 Victoria, Adrian and David Gibbons, Archambault 31, Colne YC

10 Flying Fish, SFCP Ltd, First 40.7, Medway YC

11 Lyra of London, Miles Delap, Swan 431, Royal Corinthian YC


Class 1

 1 Oystercatcher XXXIII

2 Double Edge

3 Mercury

4 Brave

5 40 Love

6 Cassiopeia

7 Flying Fish


Class 2

1 Apex

2 Spirit

3 Victoria

4 Lyra of London


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