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RORC Easter Challenge - Invictus rules on opening day

The RORC Easter Challenge, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener and coaching regatta, got off to an ideal start on the Solent Friday.

Star performer of the day was Sir Keith Mills' all-black Ker 40+ Invictus which scored three bullets in the five-strong FAST40+ class, racing within IRC One.

Outside of the FAST40+ yachts, it was former RORC Commodore Mike Greville whose well-travelled Ker 39 Erivale III stood out, finishing the day four points clear of Roger Bowden's King 40 Nifty.

Nifty is winning her match race with sistership Cobra by just a point, while behind them it is neck and neck between the two new Mark Mills-designed MAT 1180s, German Christian Zugel's Tschuss and Tor McLaren's brand new Gallivanter.

The biggest boat in the RORC Easter Challenge, the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa had a mixed day, winning the second race, but retiring from the final round the cans race.

Racing in IRC Two got off to a less than ideal start when Ian Smyth's 8 metre Miss U, didn't manage to live up to her name, severely T-boning Rob Bottomley's First 40 Sailplane during a pre-start port-starboard incident.

Strait DealerClick image for a larger image

Top performer in IRC Two Friday was David Franks' Strait Dealer with a 2-1-2, leaving the Cowes-based JPK 10.10 leading by four points from Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded, winner of today's first race.

The most diverse group of boats is competing in IRC Three ranging from Sigma 38s to Harry J. Heijst's venerable S&S41 Winsome to the speedy modern J/70s and J/92s, but some of the best racing is between the five Quarter Tonners.

Friday it was Aguila of past RORC Easter Challenge winner Sam Laidlaw that was not only top Quarter Tonner but leader of IRC Three after three races after winning today's final two races.

"It was great - fantastic sailing, we all had a good time," said Laidlaw. Aguila did especially well in the third race starting at the correct end of the line enabling her to fly a kite.

Louise Morton's past Coutts Quarter Ton Cup winner, Bullit, once against sailed by an all-female crew including 2013 Match Racing World Champion and Olympian Lucy Macgregor, suffered from an OCS in race one.

Louise Morton's Quarter Tonner, Bullit and J/109 Jolly Jack Tar - Click image for a larger image

However they were back on form for the subsequent races. Of the final race held in 20+ knots and lumpy seas.

Morton said: "It was a bit lively - downwind in these boats is exciting, but getting the angles and gybing right and picking the waves - it's all really good for your sailing."

The day concluded with the vital debriefing at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse run by head coach Jim Saltonstall and the team from North Sails.

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