Preview RORC Cervantes Trophy Race

Cervantes Trophy Race

Cowes – Le Havre (110-160nm)

20 April 2024

The world’s largest offshore racing series, the RORC Season’s Points Championship, continues with the Cervantes Trophy Race starting on Saturday 20th April. The race of approximately 110-160nm starts from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line, Cowes IOW and finishes in Le Havre, Normandy France. 

RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole has confirmed that the course will be determined close to the start, taking account of weather conditions. The Cervantes Trophy Race is organised by RORC in association with the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Société des Régates du Havre, founded in 1838.

Arto Linnervuo’s Infiniti 52 Tulikettu (FIN) © Tim Wright/RORC

For the fourth race of the 2024 RORC Season’s Points Championship, early entries include two Line Honours favourites; Christian Zugel’s Volvo 70 Tschüss 2 (USA) and Arto Linnervuo’s Infiniti 52 Tulikettu (FIN). Both teams will be starting their 2024 campaigns with the Roschier Baltic Sea Race as the climax to their season this July. 

Every race in the RORC Season’s Points Championship had a famous prize for the overall winner after IRC time correction with more coveted trophies won for class honours. The Cervantes Trophy Race dates back to 1972 when the silver trophy was donated by Bob Watson. Named after his series of Sparkman & Stephens designed boats, one of which, Cervantes IV was part of the victorious British Admiral’s Cup team in 1971. Bob Watson’s daughter Liz was racing in ’71 and is believed to be one of the first women to race in the prestigious Admiral’s Cup.  

J/133 Pintia (FRA) © Paul Wyeth/RORC

Appropriately, the current holder of the Cervantes Trophy is J/133 Pintia (FRA), owned by another father and daughter duo, Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine. Both are lifelong members of the Société des Régates du Havre, Gilles Fournier has won the trophy four times.

"We have a special relationship with this race and it was especially great to win in 2023, as it has been sometime since we achieved that," commented Pintia's Gilles Fournier. "Under IRC, we are still very competitive, even though Pintia has had no modifications since she was built in 2005. I would encourage all of the competitors to join us at the Société des Régates du Havre. I can assure everyone of a very warm welcome.”

 Xp44 Orange Mecanix 2 (FRA) © Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Sport Nautique Club’s Xp44 Orange Mecanix 2 (FRA) will be once again skippered by Maxime de Mareuil. Orange Mecanix was fourth overall in the 2023 Cervantes Trophy. Orange Mecanix 2 has finished in the top ten in IRC One for five RORC Season’s Points Championships.

Nick Martin’s Sun Fast 3600 Diablo (GBR) © James Tomlinson/RORC

12 teams have already entered in IRC Two-Handed including last year’s double-handed winner Nick Martin’s Sun Fast 3600 Diablo (GBR). Nick will be racing again with Cal Finlayson. This will be their first RORC race since suffering a dismast in the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Stiff competition in IRC Two-Handed will come from 2023 Overall RORC Season champion Sun Fast 3600 Bellino (GBR) owned by Rob Craigie and co-skippered by RORC Commodore Deb Fish. Bellino was class runner-up for the 2023 Cervantes Trophy by less than six minutes after IRC time correction.

Sun Fast 3600 Elysium IV (GBR) © Max Walker

A new team will be racing in the Cervantes Trophy Race on Max Walker’s Sun Fast 3600 Elysium IV (GBR). “This year will be a full RORC UK series campaign and then through to Rolex Fastnet 2025,” commented Max.  “We have created a really good squad mix, include some youth racers who are trying to work their way into The Griffin Squad and have been part of the James Harayda Gentoo Sailing Team.” The young team is complimented by RORC member Max Walker who has been racing for many years and navigator Mike O’Dwyer who has completed 14 Fastnet and four Transatlantics.  

1987 Julian Everitt designed Wavetrain (GBR) © Rick Tomlinson

In IRC Three, four Sun Fast 3200 have already entered including third in class last year; Philippe Benaben’s Platypus (FRA). Racing in Sun Fast 3200s are Francois Tirveilliot’s Aldebaran (FRA), Chris Baldwin’s Hair of the Dog (GBR)  and Kate Cope’s Purple Mist (GBR). Gavin Howes’ 1987 Julian Everitt designed Wavetrain (GBR) is the only wooden boat in the race so far. The smallest boat so far entered is the IRC Four winner from last year: Samuel Duménil’s JPK 9.60 Casamyas (FRA) which is from Sport Nautique et Plaisance du Havre.


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