Sailed on the English Channel and the Solent, the RORC IRC Doublehanded Nationals was sailed over the first two weekends of September. The Dutch W36 HUBO dominated the IRC Doublehanded Nationals, which consisted of distance races the first weekend, including one from Cowes to Cherbourg), followed by course races on the Solent the following weekend.
Whereas the long-distance race to France had winds at a varied range of speeds, the dominant feature of the course races was spicy currents on the Solent. In the four inshore races, Erik van Vuuren and co-skipper Jochem Schoorl on the Waarschip 36 HUBO were nearly unbeatable with scores of 2-1-2 and a retirement that they threw out. Their scores for the series were 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, (Ret.).
“Every race was completely different,” said van Vuuren. “The opening race of the second weekend was the most intense. With a course east of Cowes and close to the Isle of Wight, local knowledge made the difference. Despite a good start, we missed some speed; it soon became clear that there was less wind than what we set-up the rig for. Regardless, we took second thanks our fast boat, well-executed maneuvers, and smart strategy.”
“Our spinnaker was up and flying much earlier than the competition’s,” said Schoorl. “Our jibes, in general, were unparalleled; our spinnaker handling on HUBO was the same as it would have been with a full eight -man crew.”
In the next race, van Vuuren boxed-out many boats at the starboard end of the starting line. “We created a wonderful congestion of competitors who couldn’t go anywhere, absolutely great! Twenty seconds before the start, we fell off, accelerated, and shot off at full steam on starboard with the entire fleet behind us. Very tasty! ”
After the Cherbourg Race and taking a second and first on the Saturday of the last weekend, the Dutch team was firmly at the top of the leader board. To protect their lead through the final day, the team planned to sail defensively; but this was a championship where no presents were handed out.
“It almost went completely wrong right away,” said van Vuuren. “In the first race on the last day we were over early. For a split second I could feel the championship slipping through our fingers. With two-and-a-half knots of current going toward the windward mark, our competition almost disappeared. Full concentration and never getting dispirited, we blasted away with our fast yellow barge! At the first mark, we saw everyone doing a standard bear -way spinnaker set; we had decided to do a gybe-set for better wind. We caught three boats while rounding the mark and immediately caught more wind on the left side of the course as we had planned. At the finish we had worked our way back to second!”
“It’s always an achievement to beat local sailors in their home waters!” said van Vuuren at the awards ceremony.