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New J/121 Triumphs in RORC Channel Race! 

We are thrilled to congratulate Michael O’Donnell and his J/121 crew, overall winners of the RORC Channel Race! We handed Darkwood over to Michael just a few months ago, when the team immediately entered and won their class in the JOG race to Cherbourg.

Upon finishing the RORC race today, Michael identified the aspects of the boat that contributed towards the win. Not least the simplicity in needing fewer crew who feel more involved and subsequent weight saving of kit. Michael also likened the foredeck layout to “that of an Imoca 60, to give many sail combinations.”

Congratulations also to Yves Grosjean’s French J/133 Jivaro, winner of IRC2!

This report from RORC.

77 boats competed in the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club Channel Race. The international fleet experienced a variety of conditions and wind angles, testing boat handling and tactical skills. Perhaps the surprise overall winner, from a fleet including professional racing teams, was J/121 Darkwood owned by Irishman Michael O’Donnell. David Collins’ British Botin IRC 52 Tala was runner up, and Dominique Tian’s French Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen was third.

Michael O’Donnell last competed in the Channel Race in the 1983 Admiral’s Cup, as a 15-year old nipper. His J/121 Darkwood was only launched this year, and four of the crew including Michael, race in the classic Solent-based XOD Class. Darkwood is very much a team of friends and family and will be competing in next month’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I was basically a rope-puller on big boats such as Mike Slade’s Leopard but I have learnt a huge amount in the XOD Class, especially from Steve Lawrence and Alistair Shaw who are part of the Darkwood team, ”commented Michael O’Donnell. “We are pretty good at getting off the start line, but I have not done any offshore racing since 2013. I am glad that the RORC make us do the qualifying races before the Fastnet; you learn so much about the boat and how to sail together as a team. We made a lot of sail-changes especially during the night, which was hard work with just five on board. Rosie (O’Donnell) did a great job in the pit, and Jamie (Holmes) impressed on the bow. We are thrilled to have won the race, but we have a long way to go, I am sure that the wily teams in the Fastnet are not quaking in their boots just yet!”

Three J/121s are entered into this year’s Fastnet Race, which starts Saturday 3rd August.