RORC Easter Challenge faces Arctic winds

Despite Easter Sunday looming, the UK still remains in deepest winter with Arctic winds dropping the chill factor below freezing. After Friday's races RORC Easter Challenge regular Simon Henning and his Farr 45, Alice II, are the runaway leaders in IRC One, winning today's second race and third in the first. This year Alice II is in good company with two other Farr 45s to race, plus a trio of Ker 40s.

Fortunately with 13-17 knots of shifting easterly breeze blowing this Good Friday there was plenty of action to keep the crews busy in the two opening races of the RORC Easter Challenge, held in the central Solent off Hill Head.

On the water it has been the 52 footers leading the charge around the race course. The RORC Easter Challenge is the first competitive outing for 5┬░West, the former TeamOrigin TP52, helmed by Sir Keith Mills and featuring a studded crew led by Volvo Ocean Race sailor Robert Greenhalgh and with Laser Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison calling tactics.

5┬░ West currently lies in fourth place in IRC One after a disappointing opening race when they missed a wind shift. "It was a good warm-up day for us," said Mills, who admits he is on a steep learning curve helming. "Now we just have to get the crew topped up with anti-freeze for tomorrow and we'll be in good shape."

Chaos at RORC Easter ChallengeClick image for a larger image

IRC Two is being led by South African Mike Bartholomew's King 40 Tokoloshe, which won today's second race. However the first was claimed by another Mills design, Zero II. Previously campaigned as and in last year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup as Dignity, this 39 footer is now owned by the Cowes Race School and skippered by James Gair. Zero II's crew, experienced racers who are paying their way, was competing together for the first time today, so winning race one was a welcome result.

David Franks and his JPK 1010 Strait Dealer are lining up to repeat last year's record of straight bullets at the RORC Easter Challenge. They won both today's races and lead IRC Three from Peter Morton's Corby 33 Salvo and the Irish J/35 Bengal Magic, skippered by James Chalmers.

1. GBR2045R Alice II Farr 45 Simon Henning 1.215 4pts 3 1
2. GBR9181R Chaos Mills 43 Custom Mark Lloyd 1.172 6pts 1 5
3. GBR5955T Kolga Farr 45 British Keelboat Academy 1.215 8pts 4 4

1. GBR5940R Tokoloshe King 40 Michael Bartholomew 1.120 3pts 2 1
2. GBR60R Jeronimo J/133 Jackie Dobson 1.098 5pts 3 2
3. IRL39000 Zero II Mills 39 Cowes Race School James Gair 1.110 7pts 1 6

1. GBR1250N Strait Dealer JPK 1010 David Franks / Graham Sunderland 1.012 2pts 1 1
2. GBR73R Salvo Corby 33 Peter Morton 1.038 5pts 3 2
3. IRL725 Bengal Magic J/35 James Chalmers 1.014 5pts 2 3

1. GBR7712R Zarafa HOD 35 Peter Scholfield 1.000 2pts 1 1
2. GBR1444L Altura & Steamy First 34.7 Neil Cash / Nick Haigh 0.995 4pts 2 2
3. GBR8500R Brightwork X 332 Robert Baker 0.977 6pts 3 3