High performance racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club is back with the Vice Admiral’s Cup taking place in the Solent from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd May. The 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but over 50 teams have taken up the challenge for 2021. Eight classes will compete on technical windward leeward courses, with adrenalin-packed action for FAST40+, Performance 40, J/111, J/109, Cape31, HP30, Quarter Tonner and SB20.
The Grand Prix class returns to racing for the first time this year. Whilst the class follows a box rule, the carbon fibre flyers have very similar IRC Ratings. Niklas Zennström’s Rán is the boat to beat having won the class at the 2019 Vice Admiral’s Cup. Peter Morton returns to the FAST40+ arena with a new boat, Jean Genie which has been tricked up for action. In contention for the Vice Admiral’s Cup will be Christian Hamilton & Guy Gillon’s Khumbu with several rigging upgrades. RORC Commodore James Neville racing Ino XXX has innovative sails in the wardrobe. Ed Fishwick’s Redshift has a lower IRC rating as a result of modifications over the winter layoff.
“Rán have been out training in all conditions and it will be a breath of fresh air to be back out racing,” commented Rán’s Tim Powell, “The weather is looking changeable for the regatta, so we are keeping an open mind as to what the conditions will be. A lot of boats have spent time over the winter improving their boats. As this is the first race of the season it will be very interesting to see where everybody has got to in terms of performance.”The impressive sight of the Grand Prix FAST40+ fleet © Rick Tomlinson/https://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Performance 40 Class
The Vice Admiral’s Cup will be the first round of the 2021 Performance 40 Series. Under tight IRC Rating rules the class provides intense racing for a variety of performance cruisers. Teams will be racing designs from the drawing boards of Jason Ker, Mark Mills, Beneteau and X-Yachts. Proven winners include Michael Blair & Stevie Beckett’s Cobra, David Cummins’ Rumleflurg and James Gair’s Zero II. Past RORC Commodore and Admiral, Andrew McIrvine will be competing with La Réponse.
Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane 3 will be relishing the prospect of pure windward leeward racing as navigator Nick Jones explains: “We have set up Sailplane for windward leeward racing for the Bottomley family. Although the Rolex Fastnet Race is very important, the vast majority of the crew are youngsters that are into weekend racing. The biggest change for this event is that we are back to a full crew, which will change how we sail the boat. This should be a huge leap forward in slick manoeuvres and the way that the boat can perform.”Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane 3 will be competing in the Performance 40 class in the three-day Vice Admiral’s Cup © Rick Tomlinson/https://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Racing inshore and offshore, the J/111 class has been established in the Solent for about 10 years. The fast 36′ (11.1m) One-Design is recognised by World Sailing and will host their World Championship in the Solent in 2022. Competing at the Vice Admiral’s Cup will be UK National Champion Tony & Sally Mack’s McFly and J/111 World President Chris Jones, racing Journeymaker II with Louise Makin.
For 20 years the J/109 has been a familiar sight racing in the Solent. More recently the 35ft (10.7m) racer cruiser has been one of the largest one-design classes for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Top J/109 teams for the Vice Admiral’s Cup include Mike Yates’ Jago, David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish and Rob Cotterill racing Mojo Risin’.Tony & Sally Mack’s J/111 McFly is UK National Champion © Rick Tomlinson/https://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Designed and built for Table Bay, Cape Town, the 31ft (9.6m) Mills One-Design is a new class in the Solent. Four will be racing at the Vice Admiral’s Cup; the first official event for the 2021 Cape31 UK Series. Russell Peters will be on the helm of Squirt and the crew includes his daughter Suzy as navigator.
“It is an awesome boat to race,” commented Suzy. “So far, we have only raced in a mixed IRC fleet, but we have managed to hang in there to the top mark with the bigger boats and then wave goodbye at 20 knots downwind! We are so excited to have four boats out for a one-design regatta and we hope to have eight by Cowes Week.”
The HP30 Class has a box rule for powerful planing boats of around 30ft that race under a tight IRC Racing band. Exotic materials are restricted, making for thrilling racing at an affordable price. The Vice Admiral’s Cup will be Round 2 of the 2021 Championship Series. The fleet of HP30s in action include Farr 280s, FarEast 28s and one Lutra 30. Glyn Locke’s Toucan, with son Alex driving, is the defending champion from 2019.
Quarter Tonner Class
The first Quarter Tonner Worlds was in 1967 and since 2005 the diminutive keel boat has seen a resurgence in the Solent, racing under the IRC Rule. Nine teams have entered the Vice Admiral’s Cup, including three winners of the Quarter Ton Cup under IRC. Bullit, Espada, and Protis. Sam Laidlaw has won the Quarter Ton Cup twice in a previous boat and will be racing BLT for the regatta. Louise Morton’s Bullet was the class winner for the Vice Admiral’s Cup in 2019.
“I am really excited to race in the Vice Admiral’s Cup, especially after last year was cancelled. Bullet is inundated with crew which is always a good sign,” commented Louise Morton. “It is going to be very competitive; the standard in the class is very high. There is very little between us and short, sharp racing is what we all enjoy. The Quarter Ton Cup will follow this regatta so it will be fascinating to see where we all are.”
The British built 20ft (6.15m) keelboat has been racing in the Solent for about 20 years. Conceived by Tony Castro, the SB20 is designed for three or four crew with no hiking allowed. Weighing just 685 kg with a max. downwind sail area of 790 sq. ft, the SB20 is a pocket rocket capable of over 20 knots. 2019 Vice Admiral’s Cup champion, Breaking Bod is back to defend their title.
The Notice of Race for the Vice Admiral’s Cup reminds all competitors to comply with all Government regulations, Harbour Authorities and RYA guidance in respect of COVID19.
During the Vice Admiral’s Cup, the Royal Ocean Racing Club welcomes members and competitors to the RORC Cowes Clubhouse. A prizegiving will take place each day and tables will need to be reserved in advance.