#COMMODORES CUP – Although Ireland is officially slated by the Royal Ocean Racing Club to be defending its 2010 title won on the Solent there is still no details of the compostion of an Irish team for July's Commdore's Cup.
Ireland face an uphill struggle to mount a credible defence, though Antony O'Leary's Antix is most likely to be a key part of any team, which is a major asset, there is still the job of completing the three boat line-up. A call to interested parties was made late last year by the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA).
ICRA Commodore Barry Rose says that despite the current difficult environment ICRA remains hopeful of mounting a serious defence and have waited until last October to allow the maximum time to those who may consider supporting the challenge but since then there has been no further news of the team.
The Commodores Cup takes place from 21st to 28th July 2012 based in Cowes. Ireland first won this prestigious International Trophy in 2010 .
Captain of the winning team Anthony O Leary told Afloat.ie: 'We finally won this great event in 2010 with a well organised campaign. Let's hope we
can return to defend it in 2012 learning further from that experience'.
Interest from teams wishing to stake a claim on the prestigious Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is running high with challenges from several nations including: England, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Hong Kong. Eddie Warden Owen, Chief Executive of organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), is very happy with the way things are shaping up for the 11th biennial event:
"It would appear that the new format of allowing teams to be made up of three boats of any size and the availability of good boats to charter, has prompted interest from outside of Europe too. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is shaping up to be a very competitive regatta."
Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Bouwe Bekking has been announced as Captain of the Dutch team, with the possibility of two Dutch teams and talk of a combined Benelux team of Dutch and Belgian boats.
"The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup (BDCC) is a great event. It is giving owners and their predominantly amateur crews, the ability to sail for their own country and in a real team event. The BDCC is nearly the only national team event left in offshore racing. It will provide tough competition and in addition, racing in the Solent will give the event that extra dimension that owners are looking for. For me, it will be the first time as Team Captain for the Netherlands. It sounds more prestigious than the role actually is. The fact is that the three boats have to perform well individually in order that the team can do well overall. But there are a lot of small aspects which can help make them a better team in my opinion. I will try to give them that extra support and insight from all the experiences I have learned from all the Admiral's, Commodores' and Sardinia Cups I have participated in," commented Bekking.
John van der Starre from The Dutch Class Organisation, Noordzeeclub based in The Hague: "We are very pleased that Bouwe will be Team Captain. He has great experience and will drive the team. We will have more news on boats and teams in February, but already have six yachts hoping to compete: Baraka GP, Display, Captain Jack, Redan, J Xcentric and TeamVanVuuren."
The Dutch selection procedure will take place during the two first big IRC events of the year, with trials at the Van Uden Reco Stellendam Regatta (21-22 April) and the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta (15/20 May), including the Vuurschepen Race (25/28 May) and RORC North Sea Race.
Teams from the Netherlands have competed in the biennial Commodores' Cup since its inception in 1992, only missing out in 2000 and 2010. They have not yet won the Commodores' Cup but finished on the podium in 1998 and 2002.
Strong Interest from GBR teams
In early January the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Selection Committee met with owners and representatives of 19 boats who were interested in participating in trials for the English teams to compete.
"We were delighted with the turnout for the initial meeting which was much better than I expected and great for the event, as well as for sailing in the UK," said Stacey Clark, the new Chairman of the RYA Council and Chairman of the Commodores' Cup Selection Committee.
John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager/Performance Director:"I am delighted to see so much interest, both from previous competitors and potential new team members in being selected for one of the GBR teams. This should provide an excellent trials series from which a team that can win the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup should emerge - as well as providing a competitive base for future events. There was a great atmosphere at the meeting and we look forward to taking on teams from around the world!"
The Selection Trial events have been confirmed for RYA Team GBR:
Offshore - the RORC Morgan Cup starting on 5th May. A 24-36 hour race round buoys in the Channel, starting and finishing in Cowes. Inshore - a Commodores' Cup rating band class in the Vice Admirals Cup on 18th -20th May, organised by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes.
The rules allow for up to four teams per country and one place has already been offered to Scotland who have until the end of February to confirm a team entry. If the Scottish sailors decide not to take the opportunity, then an additional three boats could make up a four team challenge from England.
In 2008 RYA Team GBR won the Commodores' Cup and narrowly missed out to Ireland in 2010. This year, the aim will be to pick four teams who have the potential to win this Summer as well as in future years.
2012 marks the 3rd consecutive challenge from Hong Kong for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup and the sailors in this southern most part of China are working hard to put together a strong team which will emulate or better their runners-up placing in 2010.
Possibly making a return to the fray is long-time stalwart of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), Keith Jacobs, who sailed in several Admiral's Cups with his Dubois-designed Bimblegumbie and has recently returned to the club from Australia. This time Keith is a co-owner of the Kerr 40, Signal 8 which has just launched in Hong Kong and is headed up by co-owners Jamie McWilliam and Patrick Pender, the latter of whom who will drive the boat.
Likely to skipper a boat as well is Nick Burns who campaigned the Mills 40 Mandrake in the Hong Kong 2010 team, and well known Cowes Etchell sailor, Ante Razmilovic - now living in Hong Kong - is also working to put together a crew with Chris Opielok who skippered the small boat Rockall in 2010. Also donning wet weather gear in the Solent this summer will be RHKYC Vice Commodore Joachim Isler, who will return for his third campaign on one of the boats along with his Hong Kong boat partner, Aussie Andrew 'Drew' Taylor.
"Hong Kong's sailors love the world's best big-boat team event and are determined to keep coming back until they win it," says Team Coordinator, Laurence Mead who was helmsman of Mandrake in the 2010 Hong Kong challenge.
Hong Kong has taken part in the Commodores' Cup three times in 1992 (7th), 2008 (5th) and 2nd in 2010.