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Displaying items by tag: Cowes

#commodorescup – Ireland's team of 31 sailors are making final checks prior to the start of racing in the biennial Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in Cowes, Isle Wight on Sunday morning.

Anthony O'Leary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club will again captain the Irish Cruiser Racing Association team of three boats on his own 'Antix' with the aim of winning the coveted trophy for the second time.

Marc Glimcher of the United States has provided 'Catapult' as the team second boat while Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish Yacht Club have chartered 'Quokka' for the week-long series.

All three boats were in action recently at Volvo Cork Week where crews had their final competitive practice before returning to Cowes.

The Commodores' Cup series will comprise six inshore races and a long offshore concluding on Saturday 26th July.

Crewlist for IRL 3939 Antix

Fred Cudmore - Ireland; Rosscoe Deasy - Ireland; Jamie Donegan - Ireland; David Lenz - United Kingdom; Ross McDonald - Ireland; Derek Moynan - Ireland; Darragh O' Connor - Ireland; Clive O Shea - Ireland; Robert O'Leary - Ireland; Anthony O'Leary - Ireland;

Crewlist for USA 1253 Catapult

David Bolton - Ireland; Grady Byus - United States; Alan Curran - Ireland; Garth Dennis - United States; Geoffrey Ewenson - United States; Marc Glimcher - United States; Tom Murphy - Ireland; Dan O'Grady - Ireland; Peter O'Leary - Ireland;

Crewlist for GBR 2215L Quokka 8

James Allan - United Kingdom; James Bendon - Ireland; Michael Boyd - Ireland; Laura Collister - United Kingdom; Ben Daly - United Kingdom; Niall Dowling - Ireland; Jarrod Hulett - United Kingdom; Tom Whitburn - United Kingdom; Nelson Moore - Ireland; Maurice O'Connell - Ireland; Nicholas O'Leary - Ireland;

Published in Commodores Cup
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#classicboats – Cowes produced near perfect conditions for day three of Panerai British Classic boat Week where Squadron Racing Ltd ran two more excellent races in the Central Solent for the 52-strong fleet. With hot sun, a balmy sea breeze that built from sub 10 to almost 20 knots and more gleaming varnish and brass than you can shake a stick at, it was a spectacular day's sailing and great fun was had by all. With four of the seven race series now completed, the overall standings are shaping up and we can expect the next three days to be full of excitement.

In Class 3 Christine and Giovanni Belgrano's Whooper continues to dominate, winning both of today's races to make it four straight wins overall. Andy King's Gluckauf took second in both races and Rob Gray and Sam Laidlaw's Clarionet was third in both. In the overall standings Whooper unsurprisingly leads Class 3 with just four points. Although Gluckauf was the better performer today she is counting a Did Not Compete from yesterday's Around The Island Race and so Clarionet is lying in second overall on eleven points with Gluckauf two points behind them in third.

Mikado, owned by Michael Briggs, also claimed two first places today in Class 4 and so jumps into the lead overall with a seven point margin. After a lacklustre start to the regatta, Bob Gatehouse's Erida found her form this morning to finish second in race three, just ahead of David Foster and Ben Gillett's Leopard who also favoured this morning's lighter conditions. This afternoon Jonathan and Scilla Dyke's Cereste took second from David Messum's Nausicaa. In the overall standings Mikado is leading with seven points, Nausicaa is second on fourteen points and Cereste is third on twenty-two points.

Sean McMillan's Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford was once again the most consistent performer in Class 1, adding a first and second to their score card. Stephen O"Flaherty's Soufriere won race four and having claimed third in race three she now lies in second place overall, just three points behind Flight of Ufford. Michael Hough's Chloe had another good day with a second and third so lies just two points back in third overall.

In Class 2 race three proved to be somewhat controversial. There was a start line port starboard incident between David Murrin's Cetewayo and Ebsen Poulsson and Ed Dubois' Firebrand that later resulted in the Protest Committee awarding a 4% penalty against Firebrand. Then Cetewayo misjudged their approach to Gurnard Ledge and made contact with the buoy requiring them to take a 2% penalty. Jamie Matheson's Opposition was the clear winner of the race and after all the penalties were applied Firebrand was scored second and Cetewayo third. Race four was decided entirely on the water with victory going to Cetewayo with Opposition second and Firebrand third. In the overall standings Class 2 is now led by Firebrand on eight points, Cetewayo is second on nineteen points and Opposition is just one point further back in third.

In the 8 Metres the opening race of the day went to Christopher Courage's Helen who was also looking very good in race four until they became aware that the boat, which they only took possession of last week, was taking water fast. Unable to immediately trace the source of the water they pulled up on the final beat allowing their fellow competitors to sail on by. Back ashore they discovered the offending problem was a faulty bilge pump which was back filling. Christopher, who currently counts two wins and two retirements, joked that, "If we could just finish the races we'd be winning the regatta!" Whilst Helen had her dramas Murdoch McKillop's Saskia was proving to be the most consistent boat of the day with a pair of second places, while Athena finished third in race three and went on to win race four. In the overall standings Saskia now leads the 8 Metres by a single point from Athena with Helen two points behind in third.

This evening the participants are making the most of the wonderful weather with an Open Boats Dock Party sponsored by Classic Boat and Wight Vodka. This event is a perennial favourite as not only does it give you a chance to take a look at your competitors boats, but its also the perfect opportunity to compare battle stories and swop tips on the restoration and maintenance of these wonderful yachts.

Tomorrow will feature race five in the main points series followed by the Ladies Race, where the boats must helmed by lady. The first start will be at 10.00 from the Royal Yacht Squadron line with the second race following on. After sailing the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club will host the traditional crews party.

Racing continues until Friday 18 July and the event will conclude with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00 on Saturday 19 July.

Published in Historic Boats

#classicboats – Panerai British Classic Week 2014 got off to a spectacular start off Cowes today with an opening race in dappled sunlight under scudding clouds and a variable west to northwesterly wind ranging from sub ten to almost twenty knots. For the fifty-one participating teams there was plenty of action as they enjoyed a round the cans romp that started and finished on the Royal Yacht Squadron line and took them down into the Western Solent. It was a challenging day for the navigators with an exceptionally strong ebb tide running making judging laylines extremely difficult.

First away from the line were the Modern Classics of Class 1, which includes the Spirit class yachts and yachts that the Committee of the British Classic Yacht Club consider to be built with the appearance of "a classic". From the off it was a three way battle between the Spirit 52s Flight of Ufford, owned by Sean McMillan, and Chloe, owned by Michael Hough, and Spirit 54 Soufriere, which is owned by Ireland's Stephen O'Flaherty, but is perhaps better known to the general public as the yacht James Bond sailed up Venice's Grand Canal in Casino Royale. Having traded tacks and gybes all the way round the course it was Soufriere who claimed first blood, beating Flight of Ufford by 12 seconds with Chloe only half a minute behind in third.

In Class 2 David Murrin's 1955 Laurent Giles designed Cetewayo got the upper hand early on and extended her lead on each leg to win the race by over eight minutes on corrected time. Behind her there was a splendid battle for second between Jamie Mattheson's Opposition, the former Morning Cloud II, and Ebsen Poulsson and Ed Dubois' Firebrand, a 1953 Sparkman and Stephens design. Firebrand finished well ahead on the water but her crew had an anxious wait for the lower rated Opposition to come in. Quick action with the calculator confirmed that Firebrand had taken second place by eight seconds with Opposition third.

"A fabulous day's sailing. Just perfect." enthused David Orton of St David's Light, the 40' Illingworth and Primrose designed one off masthead sloop built in 1963 by Souters of Cowes who finished fourth in Class 3. First place in Class 3 went to Christine & Giovanni Belgrano's 1939 one off sloop Whooper, with Andy King's 1929 International 30 Square Metre Gluckauf, fondly known in the fleet as the flying toothpick thanks to her exceptionally long and low profile, second and Rob Gray's Clarionet, the legendary Lallows' built, Sparkman and Stephen's designed 1966 fin and skeg One Tonner, third.
In Class 4, just 30 seconds separated first placed Cereste, a 1938 Shoreham Ten Tonner designed by Robert Clark and owned by Jonathan and Scilla Dyke, and second placed Mikado, Sir Michael Briggs' 1904 Fife designed 30 Rater, one of the oldest boats in the regatta. The sloop Danegeld, owned by Robert Veale, designed by David Cheverton in 1958 took third place. One owner very happy with his boat's performance today was Jason Fry of the 1946 Philip Rhodes designed sloop Shantih. Jason only took ownership of the boat last week and has been rushing around desperately to get ready for the regatta. He wasn't able to get a spinnaker sorted in time for the week, but despite this they finished a very creditable fifth in Class 4 today.

In the 8 Metres Christopher Courage's 1936 built Helen was the victor from the 1949 Erica, owned by David Myatt, with Murdoch McKillop's 1931 Fife Saskia third. After racing David Myatt confirmed they had enjoyed their day, but were mildly frustrated having misjudged their final mark rounding in the strong tide and allowed Helen to slip through and get away from them.

Tomorrow the boats will be taking part in the Around The Island Race sponsored by EFG International, which starts to the East from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at 08.00. The 8 Metres will not race around the Island, but instead will have a Solent race starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 10.00. The forecast is for lots of sunshine and a north northwesterly wind of circa 10 knots in the morning, backing southwesterly and increasing into the high teens through the day.
This evening the competitors will enjoy a Welcome Reception at the Royal Yacht Squadron and tomorrow morning the Panerai Lounge will open from 06.30 to serve coffee and croissant to the competitors before they leave the dock.

Racing continues until Friday 18 July and the event will conclude with a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green at 11.00 on Saturday 19 July.
Full results and further information about Panerai British Classic Week can be found at the regatta website www.britishclassicyachtclub.org/regatta. Those wishing to receive further information about the regatta should contact Mary Scott-Jackson on [email protected]

Published in Historic Boats
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#classicboat – Charles Stanley has announce it has agreed headline terms of sponsorship for the 2014 Cowes Classics Week sailing event. The regatta, organised by the Royal London Yacht Club, is one of the highlights of the Classic sailing circuit and this year will hopefully see over 150 yachts with some 700 crew competing in the Solent.
The event will run from the 21st- 25th July 2014 and this year will draw entries from a wide-range of yachts and dayboats from ex-America's Cup 12-Metres to the smallest boats, the two-man Flying Fifteen Class. The ever popular day boats including the XODs, Darings, Sunbeams and Classic Day boat class traditionally draw the largest fleets whilst the Classic Cruiser/Racer division will be boosted by the inclusion of the SCODS, Twisters and Stellas, and the glass Nicholson 32's and 36's and Rustler 31's – now 50 years old. Furthermore, both the XOD and Sunbeam fleets will be using the event as a significant championship in 2014.
The 8 Metre Class Association is also confident of significant attendees and 6 Metres will continue to support the event, making the 2014 Charles Stanley Cowes Classic Week a 'must-do' event on the South Coast yachting calendar. Family entries are encouraged and the event looks forward to welcoming previous competitors in this, its seventh year of establishment. On the Solent there will be five daily courses run by the Royal London Yacht Club supported by the Royal Corinthian YC, Royal Victoria YC, Island Sailing Club and Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club.

Published in Historic Boats
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#cowesweek – Royal Cork's Nicholas O'Leary, and a number of crew from the Irish IRC champion yacht Antix, enjoyed glorious sunshine on board Adam Gosling's Yes (Corby 36) today in the second day of Cowes week, Britian's biggest regatta. O'Leary helped the British entry into the lead in the 34-boat IRC 4 strong class.

Temperatures already reaching 20 Celsius by mid morning, and a wind that's slowly building in strength are giving another day of excellent racing in the Solent. By late morning the breeze had built to 8-12 knots inshore close to the Island, but up to 15 knots with occasional stronger gusts in the central Solent, although it was still very shifty, with the mean direction varying through 30 degrees.

A good dose of sun and wind that slowly built in strength from 8-12 knots for the early starts to gusts of more than 20 knots during the early afternoon gave more great racing for Family Day at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. The breeze was very shifty, with the mean direction varying through more than 30 degrees and big lulls that saw the wind speed drop by more than 50 per cent between the gusts.

This both challenged competitors, who had to constantly change gear to keep their boats moving at optimum pace, and gave the course setting teams a challenging morning to provide fleets with the best chance of decent upwind legs, despite the changing conditions. By the time the early Black Group yachts were finishing, the wind had built to give large gusts off the shore, treating competitors to quick spurts of downwind speed and spectators to a number of classic broaches and near misses as boats lost control.

Among the mishaps today were son and father team Rupert and John Mander, who have consistently won the two-person Flying 15 class in Men Behaving Badly for many more years than most can remember. During today's race John fell out of the front of the boat – Rupert turned round and rescued his Dad without losing too much time, but the duo had to settle for an uncharacteristic second place, 28 seconds behind Nick Clarke's Black.

Close competition in Black Group

Yesterday the 25 entries in the J/109 class proved that competition between these boats remains very close, with an average of just 43 seconds separating each of the first 17 boats. Today the class was all clear at the start, despite an ebb tide sweeping them over the line. Starting towards the northern end of the line William Edwards' Sardonyx lX initially appeared to be best placed and benefited from clean air. However, it was the boats that started at the Island end of the line that gained the overall advantage.

By the finish it was Jonathan Calascione and Jonnie Goodwin's Harlequin, last year's class and Black Group overall winner that took the win, after another closely-contested race. Tor Mclaren's Inspara finished second, just 16 seconds later, with Ross Walker's Juno taking third another 42 seconds after that. There was also tight competition further down the fleet – at the end of the three and a half hour race little more than two minutes separated the eight boats in places 8 to 15.

This year the Contessa 32 class has a slightly larger fleet than for some time, with a number of boats returning to the race course for the first time in several years. Today, yesterday's winner Ray Rouse's Blanco, led them away from the start. However he was overtaken by Eldred Himsworth's Drumbeat, which finished a shade over two and a half minutes ahead of Rouse.

The next start on the Bramble line was for IRC Class 6, which saw two boats over the line at the gun. One of these was the largest boat in the fleet, David Glasgow and The Earl of Cork and Orrery's classic varnished International 8 Metre Athena, which swiftly tacked onto port in a gap between boats after the gun to return to restart from the correct side of the line. One of the lowest-rated boats in the class, Rory Fitzwilliams' 37 year old Three-Quarter Tonner Simplicity had another good start, but was unable to save her time on line honours winner, Bob and Jon Baker's X332 Brightwork, or Justin Leese and Mark Brown's Figaro 1 Black Diamond, who respectively took first and second overall on corrected time.

White Group

The J/80 fleet was much more cautious at the start than the Darings had been 10 minutes earlier. At the gun Chris Body's Swallow and Mark Greenaway's Peloton looked best placed at the outer end of the line. However, long-standing Cowes Week competitor Colin Simonds' Doolalli, who sails with different family members every day, started further inshore, tacking on the line just before the gun. He was soon passing the leaders to windward, pointing higher and appearing to sail faster than the competition through the gusts, holes and shifts off the Green, as the fleet made its way upwind to the first mark. Simonds' early lead helped him secure his second second place in two days, but yesterday's winner, Chris Taylor's J.A.T., finished almost four minutes ahead to take another win.

The Dragon class started closer to the line than the J/80 fleet, with most boats approaching on starboard, before tacking immediately onto port. Graham Bailey's Aimee was best placed towards the inshore end of the line and in clean air, getting away quickly from Chris Brittain's The Old Bailey on her leeward quarter. Simon Barter's Bertie, a newcomer to the Cowes fleet this year, having previously raced a very successful Sonar of the same name, was sailing higher and faster than Brittain and pulled into second place just three minutes after the start.

When a lull combined with a 25 degree unfavourable windshift slowed Aimee, it looked as though she would lose her early advantage, however, her crew changed gear with perfect coordination in the next lifting gust and pulled comfortably ahead again. At the finish of the two-and-a-half hour race Aimee crossed the line 52 seconds ahead of Gavia Wilkinson-Cox's Jerboa, to take a second consecutive win.

In the RS Elite class Martin Wadham's Kiss looked best placed of the boats at the offshore end of the line. However, it was Jono Brown's Aeolus, tacking onto port in the middle of the line at the gun that initially appeared to hold the advantage over the fleet as they negotiated the many puffs, lulls and windshifts off the Green. Yesterday's winner, Crauford McKeon's Kandoo lll, just to leeward of Aeolus, managed to keep pace and only fractionally lost height despite her relatively disadvantaged position. Kandoo lll continued to push hard around the 15.8 mile course, finishing more than a minute ahead of Wadhams, who took second place and Jonathon Proctor's Wombat in third.

Sport for all in the Sonar class

The 13 boats in the Sonar class this year has a wide mix of competitors, including the Paralympic Girls Team of Hannah Stodel, Megan Pascoe, Carol Dugdale, Bella Walsh and Megan Harris and Spare Part, a boat crewed by former soldiers undergoing rehabilitation, including a triple amputee and two double above the knee amputees who have been training with the support of RYA Sailability and the Andrew Cassell Foundation.

In today's race Alistair Barter (son of Simon, who is racing his new Dragon this week) and Ed Suckling's Bertie was best placed of the boats that started towards the outer end of the line. David Peerless' Miscreant, one of the nine Sonars available for charter from the Island Sailing Club, started mid line. For the first couple of minutes she trailed the pack a little, but was then first to hook into a favourable windshift, gaining a useful advantage over the rest of the fleet.

However, by the finish it was Andy Cassell's (who won the gold medal in the class at the 1996 Paralympic sailing demonstration event) Jenny that crossed the line first, 80 seconds ahead of Barter and Suckling, who are themselves starting a Paralympic campaign, and took second place today. The Paralympic Girls Team took third, pushing Peerless into fourth place, just nine seconds ahead of Rosy Jones, who was sailing another ISC boat, Biscuit.

Spare Part took eighth place today, narrowly missing out on a much better position after breaking a jib halyard block. "The team had a fantastic race and the course was really good," says RYA Paralympic Development Coach Matt Grier, who was on board for today's race. "It's still early days for the team – they are only part way through rehab – and it was Craig Wood's [a triple amputee] first experience of helming with the spinnaker up."

Published in Cowes Week
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There may have been no sailing on the opening day of a British Classic yacht week in Cowes, but that didn't stop the competitors having a fabulous time. The schedule called for the Panerai Classic Around The Island Race, with a 7.30am start time, but with little or no wind forecast the Race Committee wisely opted to change the programme and instead proposed a Solent inshore race. Although the morning brought hot sunshine, conditions over the mainland were hazy and the sea breeze stubbornly refused to develop. By 13.00 it was clear the situation was not going to improve and racing was reluctantly called off for the day.

Whilst the lack of racing was disappointing, Panerai British Classic Week is as much about the boats and their owners as it is about the race results, so great fun was still had by all. Cowes Yacht Haven's south basin is awash with gleaming varnish and highly polished brass work and there is nothing classic boat owners love more than a chance to check out each others boats, compare stories and exchange tips, so today gave them the perfect opportunity to indulge.

With nothing to trim or hoist, the cooks in the fleet turned their attentions to lunch and some spectacular cockpit picnics were enjoyed, all washed down with copious quantities of Pimms and well chilled champagne. For others the lure of a swim in Osborne Bay was overwhelming and a number of the crews headed off to the delightful anchorage off Queen Victoria's summer home for a cooling dip.

For Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray's Sparkman and Stephens designed Clarionet, today's delay was rather welcome as the boat only went back into the water after a major refit this week and there are still plenty of small jobs to finish. Built by Clare Lallow's yard in Cowes, Clarionet is one of the most successful racing yachts of all time. In her opening season of 1966 she won or came second in almost every race she took part in, including winning Cowes Week and the RORC St Malo Race overall. But she was more than a one-season wonder, going on to win hundreds more races in her 47 year career including the 1987 RORC Channel Race, where she beat off the entire 42 strong Admiral's Cup fleet and her class in the 2001 Fastnet. Even at 43 years young she still finished 3rd in class in the 2009 Fastnet racing against some of the hottest modern race boats of the day! After her refit at David Heritage's Cowes yard she is looking as stunning as ever and everyone will be watching eagerly to see if she also retains her winning ways.

Just getting to Cowes has been a major achievement for some of the competitors including Simon Field's Swanilda, a 1960 Nicholson bermudan sloop built by The Berthon Boat Company, and James Kelman's Croix des Gardes, a 1947 Henri Dervin bermudan cutter built by Bonnin Arcachon, both of which sailed across the Atlantic to be here. Croix des Gardes left the 2012 edition of Panerai British Classic Week heading for the Panerai Transat Classique. At the end of that race she cruised through the Caribbean and up the east coast of the United States, before sailing back across the Atlantic just in time for this year's event. As if that wasn't an impressive enough achievement in its own right Croix des Gardes' crew for the entire trip included James's children Elizabeth, six, and Matthew, eight, both of whom were rather disappointed not to be able to race today.

Tomorrow's forecast looks more promising with 10+ knots from the north-east and hot sunshine, which bodes well for EFG International Race Day which will feature one race starting at noon. The regatta continues until Saturday 13th July with racing every day until Friday and a Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron on Saturday.

For further information and details about the Panerai British Classic Week please visit www.britishclassicyachtclub.org/regatta.

Published in Historic Boats
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#RTIR - Winning tactical advice from some well-known names and faces associated with the Round the Island Race has been posted online ahead of the latest edition of the iconic annual event at the Isle of Wight.

Later today (31 May) will also see the official pre-race press conference on the eve of the 2013 JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, the 82nd anniversary of one of the most prestigious events on the world sailing calendar.

A terrific line-up of guests including Dame Ellen MacArthur and Alex Thomson will be on hand for the presser, which will be streamed live online and will also feature a tribute to the late Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, whose memorial service and private funeral is also being held today. The Island Sailing Club will fly the ensign at half-mast this afternoon.

Later this evening, the race competitors will meet for the all-important weather briefing. Racers will be given the latest weather and tidal information luve, coboned with tactical advice from Met Office-trained professional meteorologist Chris Tibbs.

In addition, competitors can evaulate the weather prior to the race by viewing the course overview and tidal strategy videos at the Raymarine website.

Among this year's competitors are Yvonne Margerison and her long-term partner Mike Flint, who are racing in their 20th Round the Island Race.

The couple entered their first back in 1993 in their boat Charis and have taken part almost every year since, apart from one when their mast was broken awaiting repair, and another when they sold Charis and were waiting to buy their new boat Gernee (S31) which is entered this year.

Margerison and Flint are passionate about sailing, have been very active members at Rutland Sailing Club - Flint is a past commodore - and both are former commodores at the Newparks Cruising Association Club.

While there's been talk of their retirement from racing - let's hope that won't be till after tomorrow's race, where race organisers hope they'll put in a strong showing.

How to follow the Round The Island Race action

The action begins tomorrow morning 1 June at 5am, and spectators can keep fully up to speed on the racing as it unfolds via the official Round the Island Race website, with features from the live blog to live race tracking, weather updates, and the latest news and results.

The race Facebook page and Twitter feed will also be maintained with the latest happenings. For those wishing to contribute to the Twitter news as the racers sail around the island, use the hashtags #RTIR and/or #RaceForAll to raise another £1 for the official charity, The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Published in Offshore

#FastnetRace - UK-based Global Sailing is offering what it calls a "unique opportunity" to race in the 2013 edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

"Forget the concept of 'just taking part' and join a team dedicated to racing hard," says the company's website. "We do not require any previous experience but we need enthusiasm, commitment and fitness."

Full training in racing and sailing techniques comes with the race package, from helming and sail trim to boat handling and preparation, tactics and navigation.

For a crew berth fee of €3,840 (€4,489), prospective crew will take part in a training weekend in the Solent in April, as well as four qualifying races - including the Cervantes Trophy between Cowes and Le Havre - and the Fastnet Race itself.

The fee also covers a sea survival course, return passage to Cowes, use of all safety equipment and foul weather clothing, all food and drink on board during training and racing, and other general expenses.

Full details are available at the Global Sailing website HERE.

Published in Fastnet

#commodorescup – At 1000 the 21 competing yachts set off on the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup 24-36 hour long offshore race, the most highly scoring segment in this series for international three boat teams with amateur crews.

While conditions this year have been mainly blustery, the start today was in the same summery conditions as yesterday, with brilliant sunshine but precious little wind.

The race management team has set up a complex course for the offshore race, taking the boats east out of the Solent and through the Forts, before heading south to a virtual mark 17 miles out into the Channel. Once round this the boats retrace their steps north towards the Outer Nab mark, before taking a long leg east to the CS1 mark, 15 miles south of Brighton and back. In total the proposed race is 154 miles long, but it seems highly likely it will be shortened.

"I think we will drift down on the tide and we'll drift back up on the tide with some intermittent kedging!" summarised Andrew McIrvine, skipper of La Réponse in RYA Team GBR Blue of how he reckoned the race would pan out. But he also observed that the prescribed route allowed the race management team plenty of scope to shorten course if required.

Having just emerged from the meteo briefing with the Team GBR forecaster Chris Tibbs, McIrvine said that they were expecting possibly as much as 10 knots of wind this afternoon. "If we can get the north-south bit done, then at least if we do kedge we can get up closer into the shore. But kedging round the Owers when the tide is running at 4 knots isn't much fun."

Mid-afternoon the boats were still struggling to make headway down to the waypoint out in the English Channel, due south of Bembridge. With the tide due to change from eastbound to westbound at 1430 BST, all the boats were getting their easting in early with La Réponse taking the most extreme easterly route south as the faster Ker 40s, anticipating an earlier rounding, were playing out a braver strategy on a shorter more direct route to the mark.

A small problem is that this virtual mark is described as a 'port rounding' and this could prove challenging, as tactician Phil Lawrence on the Hong Kong team's EFG Bank Mandrake observed: "The big issue is that we're going to a mark out in the Channel, and we're on spring tides at the moment, and when we get there the tide will be ebbing very strongly [ie westbound], the wind will be a very light easterly, and we've got to get round it to port, which may prove mission impossible. I'm expecting a lot of issues there..."

So if crews find themselves becalmed down tide of the mark then they will be forced to kedge. On the dock prior to leaving there was much talk of this - first finding the kedge anchor and then determining how much line they should attach to it. McIrvine reckoned he could rustle up 130m on La Réponse. On CNBC in RYA Team GBR Red, skipper Paul Worswick said they were taking two 100m lengths which would allow them to set the kedge in 50m of water. "We are going to need that," he advised.

At 1600 BST Magnum III, Andrew Pearce's Ker 40, in RYA Team GBR White, was closing on 'Waypoint 1' with sistership Jonathan Goring's Keronimo on her hip and the Hong Kong team's Peninsula Signal 8 a little further behind.

The two lowest rated boats in the fleet - CNBC and the British Keelboat Academy on David Aisher's J/109 Yeoman of Wight, overall leaders RYA Team GBR Black - were also doing extremely well for their size and speed.

While the Ker 40s suffered in the 8-10 knot winds yesterday, Andrew Pearce reckoned that in the lighter conditions forecast for tonight the four near one designs competing should come into their own again. "5 knots is fine because we are so light for our sail area. In 8 knots, we can't get far enough away from the chasing pack."

Assuming that the boats get around Waypoint 1 successfully, then they will have to sail north with a building easterly tide to get back to the Outer Nab mark before heading east to the CS1 mark. This will be a case of making the best of the tidal gates and the available zephyrs off the shore. Fortunately while the virtual mark is too far offshore for competitors to experience a sea breeze the legs east and back might be close enough to shore for the crews to see a land breeze tonight.

McIrvine shared his predictions for this evening: "I think there will be a bit of a land breeze at night, or even some drainage winds from the harbours if you get in close enough. But there are also quite big spring tides at the moment with interesting shallow bits, so I think it's going to be a challenge."

CNBC's Paul Worswick said that the time at which they got back north to the Outer Nab mark would be crucial. "If we can't get around there to go off to CS1 we'll be kedging and then I think it will be game over for us. If we get around there with positive tide and some breeze then there's a possibility. At some stage everyone in the fleet is going to be kedging which is great for us as the second slowest rated boat."

Phil Lawrence was forecasting that the boats might see 2-5 knots during the night. "It's going to be more of a tidal race than a weather routing race - you've got to stay on top of what you've got, so very local. My prediction is that a Ker 40 or Yeoman will win."

McIrvine pointed out that in such light conditions it is much harder on the crew than when there's a lot of breeze. "It's fun to have some sun. We have been out in masses of breeze, so we have almost forgotten how to do this..." But these winds also present their own issues as the crew can start to get a little "ratty and frustrated", so a skipper has to demonstrate his or her own management skills.

Before leaving Magnum III's skipper Andrew Pearce agreed: "Tactically it is going to be very crucial getting it right, because in these light conditions a couple of miles apart between different boats you can get different winds and all sorts can happen. So the crew has to be ultra-aware for the complete duration of the race about what is going on around them. Races like this can be more taxing than even the Myth of Malham which was a tough race, but tough for different reasons. So it is going to be an interesting one."

The boats are expected back into Cowes tomorrow afternoon.

Published in Commodores Cup
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#commodorescup – Although it sets sail this morning without its defending champions from Ireland the seven international teams are ready for action at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup that runs until next Saturday at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

On one of the first days of this summer when crews have been able to wear shorts and sunglasses, the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup fleet is in Cowes Yacht Haven preparing to go racing tomorrow in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's unique international three boat team competition for mostly amateur crews.

Skippers attended a briefing for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup today at the Royal Yacht Squadron

After an Opening Party at the Royal Yacht Squadron tonight, racing gets underway for the seven three boat teams at 1030 on Sunday with two inshore races. This is followed on Monday by the offshore race, designed to be 24-36 hours long, its scoring weighted by a 2.5x co-efficient.

On Wednesday there is a single inshore race, two more inshore races on Thursday, a Round the Isle of Wight race on the Friday, with a 1.5x co-efficient. A single inshore race rounds off the series on Saturday.

"We have sunshine!" exclaimed Chief Executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Eddie Warden Owen. looking aloft. "All summer we have seen strong winds and this week we are going to have a variety of conditions and that is the most important thing you want in an international competition which is a serious regatta."

The latest forecast indicates that conditions, particularly on Tuesday and Wednesday, will be very light, but building towards the end of the week. But this may not be the case. "Depending on the way the high pressure works we could have good strong sea breezes," says Warden Owen. "If we have a lot of sunshine it could be 18-20 knots - so it is more a high pressure forecast than a light weather one."

However the RORC CEO admits overnight on Monday the racing will be challenging. "But that is part of the fun and it does mean that if there is one very strong team, they know it is going to be very difficult. You can't control the weather and therefore it doesn't matter how good a team you have, you still have to sail well as a group and keep an eye on each other."

Coming from furthest afield, the Hong Kong team has put in the biggest effort to be here. Ante Razmilovic, one of the charterers of the Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, in the Hong Kong team, says they have had a slight scrabble to get to the start line after their boat was dismasted two months ago. "The new rig went in about a week ago. It sailed for a couple of days before we took delivery, so we are looking forward to going sailing and not doing boat building!"

Despite being based in Hong Kong, Razmilovic is a highly experienced Solent sailor and agrees with Warden Owen that despite the light forecast they will still get breeze over the course of the week. "The models never show the thermal effects properly so provided it is out of the right direction I'm sure we'll have half of this regatta in 12-18 knots - we'll just see how we go."

Hong Kong is this year fielding one of the strongest teams, this being the third time they have competed having finished runner up to the Irish in 2010.

The French team raised some eyebrows last week after their strong performance in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo race. "I am very happy to participate here because Cowes is the Mecca of sailboat racing," said Olivier Pesci. "We are proud to represent France in this very high level competition. It is the fifth time we have participated and I think France has won two times - so why not a third?"

As to the light forecast, Hervé Borgoltz thinks the Grand Soleils will be just fine, although their J/122 may suffer slightly.

The Dutch crew on Harmen de Graaf's Baraka GP racing as the 'big boat' in the Benelux team is wishing they had more preparation time. The boat only arrived a few weeks ago and in addition to getting the boat ready they have sailed the Round the Island Race but have otherwise only managed to snatch a few hours of training and none of it in light conditions.

However the crew is experienced. "We have had five hours of sailing with this boat and we feel quite comfortable, but in a year's time we will have another opinion," admits Baraka GP's Dirk de Graaf, eldest son of owner Herman. The whole crew is looking forward to the Ker 40 one design dust-up with sisterships featuring in the Hong Kong, GBR Red and White teams.

One team relishing the light forecast is the British Keelboat Academy racing David Aisher's J/109, Yeoman of Wight, in GBR Black, the smallest, lowest rated boat in the whole Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

"The lighter airs suits us and we are moded for a light airs event," says the BKA's Luke McCarthy. Lower rated boats tend to perform well in light air - as one observer commented: "It doesn't matter how big you are, everyone drifts at the same speed...."

McCarthy continues: "We are rated with the larger headsails, so that suits us and some of the 40.7s have bigger jibs. I think from a team point of view in GBR Black, we have another small boat in Salvo, so if there is any lighter air park ups in some of the offshore races, it is conceivable that the smaller boat ends up being a little bit more favoured, if there are any lighter air sections in any of the longer races."

In GBR White Nicolas Gaumont-Prat, skipper of Philosophie IV, was also happy with the forecast. "The First 40.7 has always been very competitive and it has a good rating. Normally we are pretty fast in light wind, although we were pretty fast last year when we had some heavy conditions as well. The 40.7 has some overlapping jibs, so although she is a pretty heavy boat she tends to do pretty well in light winds."

While Gaumont-Prat doesn't sound English, he has been based in London for 12 years, is a member of the RORC and has been racing in the UK throughout this time. His crew is a mix of French and English.

Jamie Matheson, Executive Chairman of Brewin Dolphin, was looking forward to the week ahead. "I think everything is set fair. It looks like we are going to get decent weather and nice sea breezes, which is what the sailors want and that will make for a successful regatta. It is good to see the boats here and the whole place looking alive, so I am very encouraged.

"This is our first year of sponsoring the regatta. It is part of a three edition deal that we've done. We are not unfamiliar with sponsoring sailing, but this is a new venture for us and we are very excited about it. It is a different type of regatta from that which we have done in the past, but we are all looking forward to it."

Further details of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup can be found here.

Crew lists and teams can be found here.

Published in Commodores Cup
Page 3 of 7

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