After nearly 100 years, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has elected its first woman commodore. Dr Deborah Fish, OBE, takes over the role in 2024

It has taken nearly a century, but members of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) have elected its first woman commodore.

Dr Deborah Fish will take over the role from 1 January 2024, replacing James Neville.

Dr Fish has been racing with RORC since 1999, and has finished 11 Rolex Fastnet Races.

She sails the Sun Fast 3600, Bellino, which is owned by Rob Craigie. The pair won the 2023 RORC Season’s Points Championship.

A yacht with a white hull and black sails

Rob Craigie and Dr Deborah Fish race the Sun Fast 3600 Bellino and are RORC 2023 Season’s Points Champions. Credit: Rick Tomlinson

Dr Fish was previously elected Rear Commodore, chairing the Membership Committee and leading the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Griffin initiative, which aims to encourage and champion youth sailing.

From 2024, Richard Palmer will take up the role of Vice Commodore from Eric de Turckheim, and Andrew Tseng and Joe Lacey will become Rear Commodores.

During their tenure, both James Neville and Eric de Turckheim were responsible for introducing the RORC Nelson’s Cup series in Antigua and the new 635nm Roschier Baltic Sea Race. They have also been behind the redevelopment of the club’s Cowes clubhouse

The Royal Ocean Racing Club was founded in 1925, initially as the Ocean Racing Club, before being granted a Royal Warrant in November 1931 by King George V.

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Its aim is to encourage ocean, long distance and other types of yacht racing and to study and encourage the design of seaworthy and fast yachts.

As part of its centenary celebrations, the club will be reintroducing the Admiral’s Cup – seen by many as one of the most prestigious racing regattas in the world.

This biennial event started in 1957  – with just teams form America and Britain taking part – and ran until 2003. At its peak, teams from 19 countries took part and, the regatta helped push the envelope of boat design. Previous entries included Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud and Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick III.

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