If you pay any attention to the red-hot IRC racing in the UK, it’s hard not to notice what the GP 42 Dark n’ Stormy has been doing. So we thought we’d have an (e-mail) chat with the owner, Ian Atkins
SA: You have been crushing it in your GP 42 Dark n’ Stormy. Tell us a bit about you.
IA: Lifelong sailboat racer. More time for racing since selling the company I ran for 16 years (Boats Group, online marketplaces including YachtWorld and Boat Trader). Have graduated from J80/J70 campaigns to larger IRC yachts just in the last few years.
SA: I am impressed by your success with this boat. What have you done in terms of modifications to the boat and sail plan?
IA: Before we bought the boat it had a lengthy racing career since being built in 2008. She won the GP 42 circuit as Porto Calero. She then went to Germany and raced ORC under the name Hispana. She came to the UK and was named Zephyr, she then had a deeper keel, new bulb and rudder and a new Hall spar rig.
Sold to Peter Morton she became Jean Genie and a new deck was made along with some structural reinforcement to take higher runner loads. Now Dark N stormy she has a new rudder fitted and some structural reinforcement of the mast.
With regard to the sail plan we have upped the jib area and added helix structures to the new jibs. Next year will most likely see a slight increase in spinnaker area.
SA: How do you guys go about sailing the boat? Do you sail with Pros?
IA: We have 2 Cat 3 guys who manage and prepare the boat. We also have been lucky enough to race with Ian Walker as tactician. Jules Salter and Mark Chisnell have shared the navigator duties.
SA: What are the boat’s strengths and weaknesses, especially compared to the Fast 40’s?
IA: She was/is part of the Fast 40 circuit. Probably best in light/medium conditions against other F40’s although we won class Zero in Cowes Week across all wind conditions. She is also strong downwind in all wind strengths.
SA: Who is your sailmaker and why?
IA: North sails has always been my choice since I worked for the company in the early 80’s.
SA: There is a new class, the GP Zero Class, and you are in charge! What can you tell us about it and why start a new fleet?
IA: It’s really being led by our boat manager, Nick Bonner. We are simply trying to stay engaged with the ex Fast 40 community and add similar race designs. Class Zero this year ranged from Melges IC37’s to a Ker 46.
SA: What would you do after Dark n’ Stormy?
IA: Excellent question. I’ll get back to you!