RORC Easter Challenge - Who gets the chocolates?

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic sailing season starts this Bank Holiday weekend with the RORC Easter Challenge.1965-built S&S 43 Firebrand -

This inshore event on the Solent promises a mix of windward-leeward and round the cans racing over three days, in 15-20 knots.

The event culminating in a prizegiving at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse on Sunday afternoon where a seemingly endless supply of Easter eggs are up for grabs.

As in 2017, all sizes of yachts are competing.

Longest is the Ker 46 Lady Mariposa while the smallest are the hotly competitive Quarter Tonners, Berry Aarts' Wings, Julian Metherell's Bullit and Sam Laidlaw's Aguila.

Aguila's crew are gunning for a third consecutive Easter Challenge class win.

In fact most of 2017's winners are back, including Roger Bowden's King 40, Nifty and Ed Fishwick's Sun Fast 3600, Redshift Reloaded.

Many teams are competing to try out new hardware. For example, from the Netherlands the de Graaf family have a new Baraka GP, the former Otra Vez, an all-carbon Ker 43.

Similarly the Goodhew family, long term campaigners of their Sigma 38 Persephone will be sailing their new (to them) Sun Fast 3200, Cora, previously Cifraline IV which designer Daniel Andrieu campaigned to Commodores' Cup victory in 2016.

The aim is to get up to speed this season ready for Tim to compete in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race doublehanded with his father Nigel. In the 2015 race, Persephone finished a creditable 19th overall of 309 starters.

Having a more challenging time will be Ramona-Ann Gale and Peter Cyriax with Firebrand, the former pride and joy of the late yacht designer Ed Dubois.

They have spent the last 18 months modernising Firebrand: Gone are the large overlapping genoas. Instead they have increased upwind sail area by raising mast height by a massive 3.3m.

This has also earned Firebrand an additional 30% downwind sail area, but, according to Cyriax, she manages to carry the added horsepower well.

All will be making use of the free coaching laid on for Easter Challenge competitors by the RORC, led by coaching legend Jim Saltonstall.

Saltonstall's team includes RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and Mason King, a strong posse from North Sails UK and the welcome addition of Australian international coach and Etchells sailor, Andrew Palfrey.

Coaching is available to all, large or small, experienced or newbie. Entrants must contact the RORC to request coaching and can even specify areas on which to focus (eg sailing technique, trim or equipment).

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