North Sails NEWS

December 2, 2019

BLACK SHEEP’S 10,000-MILE SEASON FINISHES ON A HIGH

Crowned IRC Overall Champions At The RORC Oscars

RORC Season's Points Championship

North Clients Win Seven Classes

IRC Overall

1 st

Congratulations

Black Sheep

IRC Zero

1 st

2 nd

4 th

5 th

Congratulations

Tala

IRC 1

1 st

2 nd

4 th

Congratulations

INO XXX

IRC 2

1 st

2 nd

5 th

Congratulations

Courrier Recommandé

IRC 3

1 st

2 nd

5 th

Congratulations

Black Sheep

IRC 4

1 st

3 rd

4 th

Congratulations

Foggy Dew

IRC Two-Handed

1 st

Congratulations

Bellino

* partial North Sails inventory

Trevor Middleton’s team onboard the Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep celebrated a busy and rewarding 2018-2019 offshore racing season at the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Annual Dinner and Prize Giving in London. As well as picking up first place in IRC Overall, the team won five other awards including Navigator and Consistent High Performance.

The RORC Season Points Championship comprised 14 challenging offshore races at locations including the Caribbean in Antigua and Grenada, Lanzarote, Malta and the Netherlands. Missing just the Isle of Man Race and the Cervantees (due to the ship transporting the boat breaking down), Black Sheep very much earned her place at the top of IRC Overall.

We talked with boat owner Trevor Middleton about their season success and when asked which race and venue was the highlight, there was little hesitation: “Definitely the Transat Race where we had all we could want – a really good race with fantastic downwind conditions. We averaged 200-mile days and even covered 240-miles one day, finishing the race just under 17 days. With regards to venues, what is not to like about leaving from Lanzarote and arriving in Grenada!’’

Naturally, the five-strong crew were slightly apprehensive about the Transatlantic Race on a 36ft boat, but three of them had been on a Clipper in the Southern Ocean in gusts of 86 knots so they were fully aware of what the ocean could serve-up. Trevor says “The feeling of satisfaction at the end of that race was immense.’’

Having started sailing 10 years ago, 26-year old skipper Jake Carter met most of the crew through the 2013-2014 Clipper and Rona Sailing Project. This year was Jake’s first full campaign with Black Sheep, “sucked in’’, he explains, “when Trev announced he was going for some trophies in 2019!’’

The team collecting their awards at the RORC Annual Dinner and Prize Giving in London 📸Sportography.tv

Rob Craigie and Deb Fish’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino was Black Sheep’s main rival throughout the year. We were interested to hear if Trevor felt they had an advantage or disadvantage being two-handed: “It varies by race; for a short race in lighter winds then I think two-handed crews have the advantage, whilst in longer, windier races (like the latter part of the Middle Sea), I think fully crewed boats are favored. However, I don’t think it always favors one or the other, especially as the boats have slightly different set ups – Bellino runs with symmetric and we run with asymmetric, which again hands different advantages for different races.’’

After buying the boat in 2016 with a plan of going for the overall win in 2019, the team focused their efforts in the first two years learning what worked best on the boat. “Good attention to detail helped us keep consistently good results this year,’’ Trevor explains, “as well as having a consistent, hard working crew and keeping the boat in top condition to reduce the risk of retirements. Jake did a great job of keeping us on our toes!’’

What are your key takeaways after the season? “Persistence – when all looks lost, don’t give up! We can also confirm that the 3600 is a great boat (we were thinking of changing but have now decided not to). Lastly, we have learned firsthand that nothing comes easily, you have to keep working at it.’’

Trevor confirms the sails performed well on the whole, despite some abuse from the crew. “The 3600 is very good at reaching’’ he says. “Our fastest leg had to be running downwind in the Transat with the A2+ pushing out 200+ mile days.’’

“Our fastest leg had to be running downwind in the Transat with the A2+ pushing out 200+ mile days.’’

The team’s Sails Expert, Ronan Grealish, explains “It is a testament to the durability of North 3Di Endurance that Black Sheep have used the same set of sails for three hard seasons, topped off in 2019 by their RORC season win. North Sails are looking forward to optimising Black Sheep for next season, with some new 3Di Raw sails being added to their inventory.’’ 

“It is a testament to the durability of North 3Di Endurance that Black Sheep have used the same set of sails for three hard seasons, topped off in 2019 by their RORC season win.’’

Jake comments “2020 is a real opportunity to set Black Sheep up well and we aim to apply what we have learnt this season to defend IRC3 and get some clear wins. After some great advice from North on our Superkote A2 in the past, we are now taking advice on 3Di Raw. The retained strength and weight saving of 3Di Raw is a big plus.’’

“The retained strength and weight saving of 3Di Raw is a big plus.’’

After completing a 10,000-mile season (including deliveries), it is time for both the crew and the boat to reset for next year, with Black Sheep having some repairs and refits to get her back where she needs to be. The plan for next season is still being developed, but Trevor hopes to shift his concentration on the upcoming RORC season.

Congratulations to Trevor Middleton and his crew for an epic, jam-packed year of superb racing. We look forward to seeing you on the water next year.

Black Sheep was equipped with an Offshore 3Di Endurance 780 Mainsail and a reefable 3Di J2+, Xi Code Zero, J1.5 NorLam Sport, J3+ reefable NorDac Radian, A2 Asymmetric in Superkote 60, A2+ and A5 in NorLon and an A0 in Norlam Code Xi.

Light winds and bright sunshine during the race from Cowes to Dieppe for the Morgan Cup 📸Rick Tomlinson/RORC