#commodorescup –The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup ended with a more typical Solent day, finally providing sailors with some fresh conditions and waves for the last double points scoring race of this week long series for international three boat teams and their amateur crews.
With a 66 point lead going into the final race, RYA Team GBR Red were in a strong position but there have been several occasions in the past when a dominant team has lost this competition in the last race.
Today's final bout got underway on time, but the first attempt had to be abandoned when, cruelly, the wind dropped off to nothing as the leaders closed to within 200m of the line. As the week's first cloud line eased across the Solent, so a westerly filled in and when the Race Committee went to sail the race again the wind was up to 17 knots and slowly built into the low 20s by the final beat.
Despite the wind being with the tide, a chop developed in the central Solent as the crews had to change gear to accommodate the stiffer breeze. This resulted in several incidents, boats being washed down on to the weather mark, another boat ended up on Brambles Bank and there was even a broach.
Today's race belonged to Hong Kong with Nick Burns' Ker 39, EFG Bank Mandrake, winning with a two and a half minute lead on corrected time from their teammates Joachim Isler/Andrew Taylor/Ante Razmilovic on their chartered Grand Soleil 43 Team Ambush Quokka 8.
"We started off a bit frustrated, because we were leading the first race on handicap until the breeze dropped away and the Race Committee did the sensible thing to abandon," said EFG Bank Mandrake tactician Phil Lawrence. "Then we went down to the Lee-on-Solent shore and a fantastic sea breeze came in. As it was the last race we really hammered into the start at flying speed, got the tack done and then just crossed the first boat and then crossed each boat by more and more and more. That was the end of the race really. It has been good for the Hong Kong boys to have come so far and had such a character building week to have finished on a high."
Throughout the race EFG Bank Mandrake managed to stay in the pack chasing the speedy Ker 40s that really came into their own downwind in the stronger conditions.
Commodores' Cup Victory for Team GBR Red
But the series belonged to GBR Red, who managed to maintain their position ahead of second placed GBR White to claim the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup with a 63 point margin.
"It is fantastic and we had some wind today - what a day, it was a great day's racing," said Jonathan Goring, owner of the GBR Red Ker 40, Keronimo. "We had a solid 14-18 knots of breeze which is ideal for the Ker 40. It was our sailing weather."
As usual Keronimo spent the duration of the race locked in a match race with Andrew Pearce's equally rated Ker 40 Magnum III in GBR White. Magnum led for the first lap until she was overhauled by Keronimo on the second beat.
This is the second time Goring and his tactician Kevin Sproul have been part of a winning team following their victory in 2004. "It is a fantastic event and I just hope we can persuade people to come back again and again," he said.
For Dignity, it was the boat's second back-to-back win in this event having previously raced as marinerscove.ie with the winning Irish team in 2010.
Owner and helmsman Andrew Williams admitted that they had made hard work of it today. "We were very disappointed about the first race being abandoned as we were looking like a second probably, but at the end of the day you have to keep plugging away." In the re-sailed race Dignity was attempting to shoot the weather mark with a boat outside her but ended up touching the mark and had to carry out a 720 penalty turn. They also suffered an impressive broach on the second downwind leg.
"We had a new code 3 which we hadn't used all regatta because of the light winds and that dug us out of a hole really," said Williams. "We trucked upwind, took out boats and gained a lot of time. The boys did very well to recover from what was looking like quite a difficult race for us.
"Keronimo sailed fantastically all week. We have had a very up and down week, we have posted some very good results and some shocking results, with a lot of bad luck on the offshore, but I am very pleased to be part of a winning team."
Also in GBR Red was Mike West's A 35 CNBC being skippered by Paul Worswick, which also had an up and down week, but excelling in the offshore and yesterday's round the island when Worswick believes that at one point they held a 30 minute lead on corrected time: "The race got quite exciting with 22-23 knots down the last run, but the crew work - we were going around the corners really well, we were taking boat lengths on the hoists and the drops, so really happy."
Generally of their week Worswick said: "It has been really exciting. We've had a bit of argie bargie. We have learnt that in 5-7 knots the boat doesn't go upwind. After the elation of the offshore, the inshores we had were shocking."
The victory for GBR Red as a team occurred yesterday when they posted a 2-4-5 after the park-up just prior to the finish. "The fact that Keronimo and Dignity finished and then we all had to wait an hour or two to get across meant that the team result was fantastic," said Worswick. "It is not about individual glory it is about the team. It is a great competition. The event is fantastic - we just need more boats to come and do it."
Of this week Chief Executive of the RORC, Eddie Warden Owen, summarised: "The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup overall has been a success. Generally you have a variety of conditions, but this week has been predominantly light and very light, with today being medium to strong. So we ended on a high note with this last race, which was absolutely fabulous."
Warden Owen pointed out that winner RYA Team GBR Red had succeeded due to their being consistent. "Even when one of their boats was having bad results, the other two were hanging in there and today they came good. But by no means has it been easy for them - they have had to work hard and they have had to have incredible patience and persistence."
Jamie Matheson, Executive Chairman of Brewin Dolphin has been in Cowes most of the week watching the racing. "We have been delighted," he said. "We have clearly had to deal with the wind occasionally being awkward but the race management team has done a fantastic job in dealing with that and the competitors have sailed very well indeed.
"It has been all sorts of different things - we have had sunshine, good breezes most of the time and we had the extraordinary visit of Her Majesty The Queen, the background of the superyacht, Athos! Cowes at its best."
A selection of pictures from the final inshore day at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores Cup by Rick Tomlinson are below.