The 2023 Royal Ocean Racing Club Annual Dinner and Prize Giving was held at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, London. Celebrating an impressive season of RORC racing, more than 250 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception and gourmet dinner at the magnificent five-star hotel in Mayfair. After the Prize Giving, renowned DJ Mark Covell was in full action with the dance floor alive with party revellers.
Guests came from all over Europe and further afield for a night of festivities with the RORC. A glittering array of prestigious prizes was presented to the season’s winners. With trophies dating back over a century, the RORC Season’s Points Championship is part of yacht racing history.
The 2023 RORC Season’s Points Championship featured 15 offshore races held in nine different countries. The exciting programme included the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the RORC Transatlantic Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, and the cornerstone of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Rolex Fastnet Race, celebrating its 50th edition.
The RORC Season’s Points Championship is the largest yacht racing series anywhere in the world. 722 boats competed in 2023 with 9223 sailors racing in an astounding variety of offshore certified boats. With 629 boats raced under the IRC Rating Rule, jointly administered by the RORC and the UNCL, competition was thrilling and close, right through the classes. While the overall winner is decided by IRC, the RORC Season’s Points Championship also awards prizes to Multihulls and Class40s as well as special awards.
RORC CEO Jeremy Wilton bid RORC Commodore James Neville to the stage, who gave a passionate speech about the RORC Season. RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole joined James Neville to invite prize winners to the stage to collect their awards and the applause from the RORC assembly.
Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, racing Two-Handed with RORC Rear Commodore Deb Fish was the overall winner under IRC for the 2023 RORC Season’s Points Championship winning The Jazz Trophy. Teasing Machine was runner-up and Sun Fast 3200 Cora, raced Two-Handed by Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews was third.
This was the first time Bellino has won the RORC Championship overall, having come third in 2022 and second in 2019. Bellino competed in ten scoring races over the season, a colossal effort and set of results for a double-handed corinthian team. Along with the Jazz Trophy, Bellino won the Boyd Trophy for winning the mixed IRC Two-Handed division, and the Serendip Trophy for Best Series produced yacht.
Deb Fish has a strong offshore racing background, having raced with the RORC since 1999 and has completed the Rolex Fastnet Yacht Race 11 times. “We just love the close competition and international nature of RORC racing,” commented Deb. “It’s great that anyone, young or old, male or female, professional or amateur, can compete and might win.”
Rob Craigie raced his Sun Fast 3600 Bellino with Deb Fish and took the overall 2023 RORC season championship© Rich Bowen Photography
Rob Craigie has been racing with the RORC for over four decades and is one of the club’s most experienced short-handed sailors. Rob highlighted preparation, consistency, knowing your co-skipper, and having fun, as keys to Bellino’s triumph.
“Breakages and problems happen but the more you have prepared for these, the more you can limit them and their effect on your performance,” commented Rob Craigie. “In our preparation we do pretty much everything on the boat ourselves, so when things start to go wrong, we have an idea of how to fix them. Good preparation creates consistency, we didn’t win a single race but our consistency meant that we won the series.”
“Racing Two-Handed you have really got to know each other,” continued Rob. “In a long race, you are bound to have times when one of you is a bit ‘off’. The person who is in better shape needs to know what to do, to know what the other person needs, maybe it’s sleep or food, or reassuring that if we give it time, the strategy will come good. You have to know what your co-skipper needs to keep them going. Above all else, you need to always be positive, and enjoy your racing.”
ORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim had a spectacular season with his NMD 54 Teasing Machine, winning the red-hot IRC Zero Class and came desperately close to winning the series overall. Teasing Machine won the 2022 Rolex Middle Sea Race, the 2023 RORC Transatlantic Race, and came second in the RORC Caribbean 600. The Somerset Memorial Trophy for RORC Yacht of the Year was part of a magnificent collection of prizes for Teasing Machine including the Stradivarius Trophy, the Europeans Cup and the Gordon Appleby Trophy.
This was the second occasion that Eric de Turckheim’s boat has won RORC Yacht of the Year, having won in his A13 Teasing Machine in 2016. “Winning RORC Yacht of the Year is different this time because we had to work hard on the evolution of this boat to reach this level of performance, while the previous Teasing Machine was almost a surprise with performance coming so quickly,” commented a delighted Eric de Turckheim. “For me winning a race or a trophy comes on top of having enjoyed competitive friendship at sea which is the most important aspect.”
RORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim whose NMD 54 Teasing Machine took the high honour of Yacht of the Year
and winning IRC Zero © Rich Bowen Photography
RThe Polish National Foundation’s Volvo 70 I Love Poland, skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski was the winner of IRC Super Zero, notably taking the class win and the IMA Transatlantic Trophy for Monohull Line Honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race. I Love Poland’s crew had many sailors under 35 years of age, many of whom have become RORC members. The Duncan Munro Kerr Youth Challenge Trophy was awarded to Borys Michniewicz for a youth crew member completing the most miles in the top three of their class. I Love Poland’s navigator Konrad Lipski represented the team at the awards ceremony. Second in IRC Zero for the series was Peter Morton’s Maxi72 Notorious, which also won the Meritorious Award for Best Keelboat performance by a RORC member. Third was Fundacja Sailing Poland’s VO65 Wind Whisper, sailed by Marcin Sutkowski.
The Polish National Foundation’s Volvo 70 I Love Poland skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski was the winner of IRC Super Zero and the Duncan Munro Kerr Youth Challenge Trophy.
© Rich Bowen Photography
Teasing Machine was the winner of IRC Zero. Niklas Zennstrom’s CF 520 Rán was runner up with RORC Commodore James Neville’s Carkeek 45 Ino Noir in third. Next February, both Rán and Ino Noir will be competing in Antigua for the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series and RORC Caribbean 600. Teasing Machine will be competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart this December.
Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader was the winner of IRC One by less than nine points from Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia. Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood was third in class. Dawn Treader was awarded the Trenchemer Cup and was also the winner of the Performance 40 Offshore Series, ahead of Richard Powell's First 40 Rogan Josh.
Dawn Treader was awarded the Trenchemer Cup and was also the winner of the Performance 40 Offshore Series
© Rich Bowen Photography
Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader takes the overall win in IRC One © Carlo Borlenghi/ROLEX
Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster was the winner of IRC Two winning the Emily Verger Plate as well as the Assuage Trophy. Bellino was second in IRC Two and Jim and Ellie Driver’s Chilli Pepper was third and best of the 11 Sun Fast 3300s racing this season. Chilli Pepper was awarded the Alan Paul Trophy for consistent high performance.
IRC Two winner Scarlet Oyster's crew collects the Emily Verger Plate and the Assuage Trophy © Rich Bowen Photography
Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora had a fantastic season, operating on a tight budget, Cora won the Psipsina Trophy for IRC Two-Handed and the Grenade Goblet for IRC Three. In IRC Two Handed, with the top five race results counting, Cora was the champion, second was Bellino. Nick Martin’s Sun Fast 3600 Diablo, racing with Cal Finlayson was third - their season was curtailed by a dismast in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
Cora won IRC Three from Mike & Susie Yates’ J/109 JAGO which was once again the winner of the J/109 Trophy and fourth in IRC Two Handed. In third place was Mark Brown’s JPK 1010 Jetpack.
Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora won the Psipsina Trophy for IRC Two-Handed and the Grenade Goblet for IRC Three.© Rich Bowen Photography
Sun Fast 3200 Cora is champion of the IRC Two-Handed series and IRC Three © Paul Wyeth / www.pwpictures.com
Chris and Vanessa Choules' Sigma 38 With Alacrity was the winner of IRC Four and the Cowland Trophy, as well as the Oldland Watts Aquadanca Trophy for Best Sigma 38, and the Dillon Perpetual Ladies Trophy for the best crew containing 30% women. Runner-up was Marc Willame’s JPK 960 Elma, just five points ahead of Henry and Edward Clay’s Contessa 38 Flycatcher of Yar, which was the winner of Concours' d’elegance and the Beken Trophy.
© Rick Tomlinson/https://www.rick-tomlinson.com
Racing well over 5000 miles in the RORC Season’s Points Championship, Erik Maris’ MOD70 Zoulou was the series winner by a narrow margin from Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70. Gunboat 68 Tosca, co-skippered by Alex Thomson was third. Zoulou is entered for then 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race for a battle with four 70ft trimarans for Multihull Line Honours. Zoulou Skipper, Ned Collier Wakefield collected the MOCRA Multihull Award at the Prize Giving
Ned Collier Wakefield collects his prizes for the success of Erik Maris' MOD70 Zoulou © Rich Bowen Photography