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Ireland has done it. After mounting multiple teams, considered favourite going into both the 2006 and 2008 events but failing to win either, so the Irish boats Antix, marinerscove.ie and Roxy 6 today secured the Rolex Commodores' Cup for the emerald isle.
"It is delightful to finally have a chance to get our hands on the trophy," declared Anthony O'Leary, owner and helmsman of the Ker 39 Antix, the Irish team's big boat. "For all three boats, the Rolex Commodores' Cup has been the absolute pinnacle of what we have wanted to do this year. While Antix and marinerscove have been around, it is a credit to the guys on Roxy because they had a new build and got the boat in the water, and then there were all the attendant things you have to do. Owner Rob Davies, in fairness to him, didn't take a huge amount of persuasion to sign up and make the extra effort required to do it. We owe him a huge debt."

winnwinners

 

Ireland's skippers pick up their winning medals in Cowes this evening. Photo: Kurt Arriga
David Dwyer and his marinerscove.ie team were equally ecstatic. "I bought this boat in 2006 and we have been waiting since then for the right time. This time it worked. It was absolutely brilliant."
Roxy 6's pro sailor Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell added: "We put in a massive effort and it is nice to have got the reward. Cowes is going to go ballistic tonight!"
The 2010 Rolex Commodores' Cup could not have finished on a better note. While the day dawned grim, with rain and visibility down to less than a mile, by start time at 10:30BST it was blowing 20+ knots and with the tidal effect this was churning up the Solent. With the weather mark not visible there was a distinct Irish hiccup on the first start when Antix collided with a French competitor and had to carry out a penalty turn.
"It was 110% our fault, but we are glad we got it out of the way," said O'Leary. "Fortunately with that amount of weather, there was always going to be a chance to have a come back."
And so it was on the run when, with the wind gusting to more than 30 knots and the sea seeming to come from all directions, that there were many instances of boats becoming overpowered and wiping out. This provided O'Leary and his crew with the chance they were looking for: "Down the first run Inis Mor tried to gybe, spun out and blew her kite to bits. White Heat had the same problem just ahead. Then we got to the bottom mark and our friends from Hong Kong trawled the kite, so we got inside them. Then we extended to the finish."
This was enough for Antix, despite her poor start, to post a second, typical of her scoreline this week, which has never featured a result lower than this.
One of the most dramatic scenes from the water today was of the Farr 45 Alice II in GBR White, streaming the top of her blown out spinnaker on the final upwind leg at the extent of the halyard.
"Coming into the leeward mark we saw 36.4 knots," recounted Alice II crewman James Read. "We were doing 17 knots in flat water and about one third of the chute was in the hatch and then thehead just caught the water and then 'zooop' it went out of the back, the sheets, the lot... We tried to blow the halyard but it wrapped up. So we flew it as a massive flag for the last beat! It was a bit of an air break."
In the two smaller classes, there were few boats that came off unscathed, other than the impeccable Irish. Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8 in GBR Red had to retire when the bottom of their mast buckled. On the downwind legs there were many many broaches, the most dramatic being that of François Blossier's A-35 RealAx in France Red, which ended up with her masthead almost in the water.
"It was a little bit windy," admitted Blossier, who sails with a completely amateur crew and raced the Rolex Commodores's Cup four years ago on Pierre Follenfant's TBS. "We had a problem, because we took the big black spinnaker and we probably should have taken the smaller one. When we gybed we had a little bit of trouble with the pole...and that was it."
On board Blondie IV with the Hong Kong teams, Jamie McWilliam found the conditions exhilarating. "It was a perfect day, brilliant. I wish it had been like that all way. The funny thing about it, it was very tricky to catch a set of waves that worked because they were coming from everywhere. It was very sporty coming down the last run. The tack shackle of our tack line on the kite, which has a working load of 4 tonnes, exploded in a 20 ton gust. It was magic!"
McWilliam's Hong Kong team finished second to the Irish, on 117.5 points to Ireland's 73.5. However McWilliam was satisfied with the result: "I think if we'd been second having cocked it up, it would have been irritating, but the Irish guys sailed with great style and great skill and I'm absolutely delighted for them."
Andrew McIrvine, Commodore of the RORC said that his Beneteau First 40 La Réponse had been pushed to the limit. "We shredded a spinnaker. All our jammers started slipping. We have never put them under so much load before - they were tested beyond their working strain."
Otherwise McIrvine was pleased with the outcome of the regatta. "It has gone very well, particularly for the Irish who very much deserved their win. It was a very exciting day. As the French said it was 'un peu agitée'!' The results are good. Everyone had a good day. Ireland deserved it. They got so nearly there before. Now they have a hot team and they have gone for it properly and they deserved to win."

 


Top Five Teams – Provisional Overall Positions after completion of 8 races

Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 73,5 / 1
Hong Kong / 117,5 / 2
France Blue / 136 / 3
France Yellow / 167 / 4
GBR red /175 / 5

Full results and team lists are available at http://commodorescup.rorc.org/

 

Additional PR issued by ICRA;

Ireland wins Rolex Commodores' Cup at Cowes

As winds gusted to Near Gale force, Ireland's three boats in the Rolex Commodores' Cup delivered their strongest result since last Sunday's first day with a first and two second places in the high-scoring series finale. The Irish Cruiser Racing Association team of Antix, marinerscove.ie and Roxy will be presented with the trophy at the Royal Yacht Squadron at 5.00pm today.

Mist and driving rain clouded the racing area for the duration of the 90-minute race but presented no obstacles to the trio. Team captain Anthony O'Leary at the helm of Antix was able to recover from a pre-start incident with a French entry by taking a penalty-turn seconds before the start to avoid a protest and went on to score second place in Class 1.

Both marinerscove.ie skippered by Dave Dwyer and Roxy 6 subsequently steered clear of other boats and started well to score a race win and second place respectively. Overall, Ireland increased its lead to a winning margin of 44-points with Hong Kong placed second and France Blue in third.

"We finally managed to do what we've been trying to do for quite a very long time," commented O'Leary at Cowes Yachthaven marina shortly after coming ashore. "Thankfully we got the conditions that suited the Irish boats better than others; we are strong in those winds as we're well used to sailing them at home."

The win is the first major international trophy at Cowes in almost four decades of successive Irish teams who have come close to overall wins in the Admiral's Cup in 1979 and 1987 also as more recently in the Rolex Commodores' Cup that succeeded it.

"If you go back 30-odd years, you had Denis Doyle, Clayton Love and Archie O'Leary bringing boats here to sail in the Admiral's Cup," said O'Leary. "The demise of the Admiral's Cup led to the start of this event and Ireland has been sending teams for a very long time.

"We've been winning races and in the hunt in both previous events but seemed to fall at the final hurdle or not have that vital bit of luck when it counted. This time round I think probably we've had the strongest team we've ever had, with good focus and it managed to work out well."

The three-boat team was supported by shore-crew and representatives from the Irish Cruiser Racing Association both in Cowes and with extensive assistance from home as well. "This is the result that we had set our sights on and through the dedicated and united effort of everyone, we have won the Commodores' Cup for Ireland and Irish Sailing," said Barry Rose, ICRA Commodore. "We look forward to bringing everyone together at home for a full celebration of our sailors' achievements in Cowes over the past seven days."

"The fact that there are 50-plus people here for a week, trying to win a sailing event is proof enough that we want it and we were prepared to work very, very hard to get there and thankfully it came off in the end," said O'Leary.

Published in Commodores Cup

Following good performances by Ireland's three boats in the Rolex Commodore's Cup in Cowes yesterday plus the reinstatement of Roxy 6 in the jury room, Ireland has extended its overall lead to 36 points with just the final, high-scoring race tomorrow (Saturday) remaining as the last hurdle to cross for the Irish Cruising Racing Association.

Now on 66.5 points to second placed Hong Kong's 100.5, the Irish team's position at the Rolex Commodores' Cup is looking all but unassailable. With just one inshore race to go today it would now take a major disaster in all three classes for the immaculate Irish to lose their grip of the trophy that has eluded them for so long.

Yesterday the 29 strong fleet (one down with Paul Turner's Artemis in GBR Black out of the competition with a damaged keel) sailed anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight, the results from this 55-nautical-mile carrying a points co-efficient of 1.5x. This was held in southwesterly wind that peaked at around 24 knots as the boats battled their down the western Solent towards the Needles in lumpy wind against tide conditions.

In the big boat class, Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix scored another win, her fourth this week, giving her by far the lowest points score of all the boats at the Rolex Commodores' Cup. She won on corrected by a minute, once again from her sistership, Bernard Gouy's Inis Mor racing in France Yellow.

"The start was very tricky," commented Dave Lenz, Antix' tactician and one of the crews two permitted professional sailors. "There was tide, not much breeze and while you weren't crossing the line on starboard, you wanted the left because of the effective bias there." Surprisingly only one boat, Inspara (RSA), was swept over the line by the tide and had to re-start.

Antix did well heading down the western Solent, managing to get into clear air which Lenz says was key. At the Needles the going got very bumpy thanks to the strong wind and tidal situation. "It was quite rough down there - we saw 23-24 knots and some short sharp pretty big waves." From the Needles the wind dropped to around 17-19 knots, but they were pushing tide which momentarily turned in their favour after they rounded St Catherine's Point, the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, turning foul again as they approached the eastern entrance to the Solent. "I thought it was going to be lower visibility, but it was alright," concluded Lenz.

"There was huge apprehension today but now we know where we are and we just have to hold it together," Dave Dwyer said last night. "There's no sense of winning, just get the job done."

"Tomorrow is a double-points day and full failure is 60 points," said Dwyer. "It would take three boats having full failure and though the odds are against that, we're going to be very, very careful and approach the race conservatively which is the approach since the start of the week."

"We had a good solid day," said Barry Rose, ICRA Commodore. "The Irish team will be taking the same approach we've had all week: hard work and grind out the best result possible."

In the medium and small boat classes, it was a good day for France with a win for Géry Trentesaux and Marc de Saint Denis' First 40 Coup de Coeur for France Blue in the former and Marc Alperovitch and Jerome Huillard's A-35 Prime Time for France Yellow in the latter.

Marc de Saint Denis, Commodore of the Union Nationale Course Au Large, said that they spent much of the race match racing their sistership, La Réponse co-owned by Peter Morton and Andrew McIrvine, Saint Denis' equivalent at the Royal Ocean Racing Club. "In general, it's him beating us. So today we managed to reverse the situation, - we managed to overtake little by little, especially at the finish where an important tactical decision had to be made between the winds and the tide."

The Coup de Coeur crew made their greatest gains on the reach to St Catherine's Point. "We didn't make so many mistakes today - it's not always like this, so we are very happy to be able to 'count' this race, a race that was interesting tactically, but also with a stunning landscape, which on the Isle of Wight is really special. The Solent is a splendid place to race, the wind conditions and current are very variable."

As to the level of competition this year Saint Denis thinks it is very good, but that now the Irish team is virtually untouchable.

Among the small boats today's winner Prime Time made a good start, but suffered on the leg from the Needles to St Catherine's Point when they did not go in close enough to the Isle of Wight to get out of the tide.

"At St Cats we weren't too bad and then we really pushed hard after that," said helmsman Jérôme Huillard. "And the reach on the way back went quite well and we worked really hard on the boat because we knew it was going to be down to seconds." In the event the small boat class today saw the closest finish with Prime Time correcting out just 18 seconds ahead of Francois Blossier's A-35 sistership RealAx, which scored her best result of the regatta. Unusually French boats took the top four spots in the small boat class today.

"The boat is going fast, not in all conditions but today was okay. On a reach we are not super good, but today we really worked hard," concluded Huillard.

South Africa continue to suffer at this regatta, now lying in eighth place overall. Small boat in the team is the J/109 Inspara, skippered by David Hudson. Hudson runs the Race Ahead, an organisation that aims to nurture sailing talent among under privileged youths in South Africa. Aboard for this regatta, his stars in the making are Wandisile Xayimpi and Marlon Jones.

Helping the Inspara team this regatta is also Mark Sadler, skipper of Team Shosholoza, South Africa's 32nd America's Cup challenger. "Dave Hudson who has chartered this J/109 asked me to come and help him out. He races Laser SB3s a lot with his guys, but most of them are dinghy sailors. So I'm here just to help them adapt to big boat sailing."

Sadler says while he competed at Cowes Week with the team, he hasn't sailed much in the UK before and today was his first lap of the Isle of Wight. "It was fantastic. Great tourism! This run has been fun."

They finished eighth today, and Sadler concedes that they haven't had the best regatta. He is not used to the Solent, and the boat has had its weak points compared to the competition. "It is okay. We are enjoying it, but I don't think we can do much better than where we are."

Tomorrow is the final day of the Rolex Commodores' Cup. This will be marked by a single inshore race in the Solent that scores double points. While the Ireland team is in good shape to take home the Trophy, the final places on the podium remain wide open with 8.5 points separating the second placed Hong Kong team from France Blue in third.

Top Five Teams - Provisional Positions after completion of 7 races

Team / Points / Place

Ireland / 64.5 / 1

Hong Kong/ 100.5 / 2

France Blue / 109/ 3

France Yellow /126 / 4

GBR Red / 128/ 5

 

Published in Commodores Cup

Two race wins and a third place for the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) team at Cowes have extended Ireland's lead by ten points overnight as the event reaches its penultimate phase tomorrow with the Round Isle of Wight Race. Strong winds  gusting to 25 konts are forecast and the team is focussed on avoiding damage.

Ireland has a 40.5 point lead over second placed Hong Kong and 49 points over third-placed France Blue.

Team Captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix won Class 1, continuing his consistent form of race wins and second places this week. Roxy 6 skippered by Andrew Creighton benefitted from an apparent navigational error by Hong Kong's Rockall III that was leading comfortably in Class 3 until a course change was missed and the Irish team boat won the race. Dave Dwyer's marinerscove.ie placed third in Class 2 in a race dominated by British boats La Reponse and Quokka 8.

"We have a very workman like approach to prepararing thoroughly for the 50-miler tomorrow," commented Barry Rose, Commodore of ICRA. "The course has lots of complicated corners and we expect it to be breezy. Its a big challenge that we're taking day by day; our plan goes on as it has from the beginning, concentrating on every detail to be as prepared as we can."

The race around the island counts for 1.5x bonus factor and will be especially tough in the forecast conditions. "The race around the Isle of Wight is going to be pretty long and pretty tough for the small boats," Maurice O'Connell, mainsheet trimmer on Roxy 6. "We're just going to keep doing what we're doing and hope that it all comes good."

A grim overcast start and lumpy wind against tide conditions gave way to brilliant sunshine and a summery finish off the Royal Yacht Squadron for the Rolex Trophy Day inshore race at the 2010 Rolex Commodores' Cup. Today's one race was held around multiple marks in the central western Solent starting in 18 knot southwesterlies with a wet beat through short chop before the tide turned and the wind dropped gradually through the race, ending at below 10 knots .

It was another solid day for the Irish team, leaders since the opening day of the regatta last Sunday. Their big boat, Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix and their small boat, Robert Davies' Corby 36 Roxy 6 both won their classes today while David Dwyer's marinerscove.ie posted a third. No other team was close to being as consistent today.

In the small boat class Roxy 6 came out on top partly thanks to a navigation error on the Hong Kong boat, Christopher Opielok's Corby 36 Rockall III [at the time of going to press this was subject to a protest for redress]. "We were very lucky," said Roxy 6's helmsman Andrew Creighton. "Rockall went to a wrong mark and they were ahead of us. With them making that mistake it obviously pushed us into first, although one of the French guys, Goa, came very close to us, but we had them by about 25 seconds."

Roxy 6 was only launched in April, but has had an intensive season at regattas throughout the UK and her native Ireland. Designed by Cowes resident John Corby, the 36 footer relished today's conditions. "The short Solent slap suits this sort of boat," said Creighton.

Back at Cowes Yacht Haven, Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Andrew McIrvine stepped off the boat he co-owns with Peter Morton in buoyant mood. His Beneteau First 40.7 La Réponse won the mid-sized class today by two and a half minutes on corrected time ahead of past RORC Commodore Peter Rutter's Quokka 8.

"We just went fast," said McIrvine explaining today's result. "Upwind we go higher and faster than we ought to for this size of boat if you consider it is a cruiser racer. Downwind we go quick too. It is a semi-standard production boat and it does go extremely well." McIrvine acquired the boat this year from past Rolex Commodores' Cup winner Géry Trentesaux and has changed the bulb keel back to a fin but kept the go-faster carbon fibre mast.

"Tactically we didn't make any mistakes. The crew are fantastic. All the gybe sets worked perfectly. There were no foul-ups on any of the manoeuvres. They are a very well tuned team now," added McIrvine.

Second behind Antix, Bernard Gouy's Inis Mor in France Yellow had their best day yet, making it a Ker 39 1-2 in the big boat class today.

"Our spinnaker legs were better today with the asymmetric [spinnaker]," stated Laurent Gouy, the owner's son. "We have some difficulty when it is really downwind and when it is wavy we can compensate to slide downwind a bit better."

Behind them in third, the Hong Kong big boat EFG Bank Mandrake posted their best result of the regatta today. "I thought it was superb," said Nicholas Burns, co-owner with Fred Kinmonth. "I think we sailed as good a race as we could have done. We tacked about 20 times on top of Antix and she still beat us! She is going very fast at the moment, so I think our tactics will change now. We'll just go for the best position we can and not try and knock the Irish back."

As to the regatta generally, Burns said: "Very challenging, superb sailing, all the competition is extremely good and we're really enjoying it. It is colder than we are used to. We are used to Asian temperatures of 29-33 degrees Celsius. We have lots of warm ski gear on, but it has been really good fun."

EFG Bank Mandrake, a Mills 40 design, previously raced at the Rolex Commodores' Cup in 2006 as an Irish entry under the name Tiamat. She was shipped to the UK from Palma especially for this regatta and will head to Hong Kong afterwards. "It is great fun," says Burns of the regatta. "It is nice to have a team race with three boats in different classes. It is a really good idea. You feel you are sailing some of the best sailors in the world which is challenging."

At the end of play today the Hong Kong team lies second to the runaway Irish, but have been knocked back due to their small boat Rockall III's mishap, causing her to finish ninth (depending upon the outcome of their protest). From being 30 points astern of the Irish yesterday, the Hong Kong team is currently 40.5 points behind them. However the regatta is far from over with a race around the Isle of Wight coming with a x1.5 points co-efficient tomorrow (Friday) and a double points scoring inshore race to conclude the regatta on Saturday.

As RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine puts it, "although the Irish have got away there is still almost half the points to play for. The weighting keeps the whole thing open right to the end of the event. At a lot of regattas by this stage it is signed sealed and delivered. We have still got a long way to go."

Conditions for the race around the Isle of Wight look set to be brisk with southwesterly winds gusting up to 25 knots forecast.

Crews competing at the Rolex Commodores' Cup will return to offshore mode tomorrow. The Irish will look to consolidate their dominance, whilst those chasing, particularly Hong Kong, will look to take advantage of any errors by the all but impeccably sailed leaders.

Top Five Teams - Provisional Positions after completion of 6 races

Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 47 / 1
Hong Kong / 87.5 / 2
France Blue / 96/ 3
GBR Red / 103 / 4
France Yellow /110 / 5

Published in Commodores Cup

The pre-event press release says 'no clear cut favourite but Irish eyes are smiling'. It's the kind of pressure Ireland's three boat team can do without after so many near misses in this event. But as they go afloat this morning for the first race there is no dismissing the fact that Ireland's single boat is seen as a major threat, especially if as forecasted, the winds on the Solent are moderate to strong.  (You can send team Ireland good wishes HERE.)

International entries from as far afield as Hong Kong and South Africa have descended on Cowes ready for the start of the biennial Rolex Commodores' Cup.

As usual the event is for teams comprising three boats in different IRC rating bands, the boats ranging from 35-45ft in size. Teams are national with at least 50% of the crew coming from the country they are representing. The Rolex Commodores' Cup is also strongly Corinthian: only two professional sailors are allowed on the Class 1 boats and just one aboard Class 2 and 3 entries.

This year, the tenth edition of the competition, 10 teams are competing, the largest contingent coming from France, who are fielding four teams; GBR has three teams and Hong Kong, Ireland and, for the first time, South Africa each with one. Whilst the team numbers are down from two years ago, "the top four or five teams are as good as they were last time," says Eddie Warden Owen, CEO of the event's organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

In terms of the form, Warden Owen thinks the Irish will be ones to watch, as they have certainly been in the past, although they have never won; "they are very competitive, they seem highly focused and they have some very good amateur sailors on board as well as professionals." The Irish team is led by experienced Rolex Commodores' Cup skipper Anthony O'Leary and his Ker 39 Antix.

docksidecowes

Dockside in Cowes for the Rolex Commodores' Cup. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

South Africa and Hong Kong also have strong entries, the latter having learned from competing here two years ago, again with the driving force of Jamie McWilliam behind them.

Warden Owen reckons that the dark horses at this event are the British and French teams. "The unknowns for me are the French teams because there are some good individual boats, but how they play out overall, I don't know."

Defending champions from 2008 are GBR Red, where the only return entry is former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter, this year skippering Quokka 8, the mid-sized yacht. Rutter's new vessel is a Grand Soleil 43, a sistership to the most successful yacht at the 2008 event.

Rutter was instrumental in picking his GBR Red team mates in Michael Williamson's Summit 40 White Heat, as the Class 1 boat and Jim Macgregor's Elan 410 Premier Flair in Class 3. "We are very much a tight team – we learned that from GBR Red last time. It is going to be an interesting regatta because it looks like there are going to be some very light days and some very heavy days."
The equivalent to GBR Red among the large French entry is France Yellow, which includes repeat entrants to this event, Philippe Delaporte and his J/122 Pen Azen and Marc Alperovitch and Jerome Huillard's A-35 Prime Time. They are joined by Bernard Gouy's Inis Mor - a British designed Ker 39 with an Irish name, points out skipper and owner's son, Laurent Gouy. While this is Inis Mor's first Rolex Commodores' Cup, the Gouys have for the last years been alternating Cowes Week and the Rolex Fastnet Race with Cork Week and the Round Ireland – this year moving on to this event.

Like GBR Red, France Yellow also organised themselves as a team and presented themselves to the RORC's French equivalent, the Union Course Au Large (UNCL), before Christmas. Inis Mor is one of the most successful IRC boats on the French circuit and usually podiums at the event in which she competes. As to how he thinks they will get on this week Laurent Gouy will not be drawn: "I would not dare to say! It is very complex."

The other French team that stands out is France Blue featuring Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau's familiar Codiam, a Grand Soleil 43, but also Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux's First 40 Coup de Coeur, although we understand the wily Trentesaux, a Rolex Commodores' Cup veteran and winner in 2006 will not be in Cowes until Friday. The weak link in France Blue could be Samuel Prietz' X-40 Goa, but only because the boat is still new, having been launched in May.

Making one of the greatest efforts to compete in this year's event is Philipp Gutsche and his Mark Mills-designed Landmark 43, Windpower, which was shipped up from the southern hemisphere to be the South African team big boat.

"It's on my bucket list! Why not at my age?!" says Gutsche of why he is here. "We have done very well this year in South Africa in IRC and we won the South African Championship, in May. We have a good crew and a good boat - why not test our mettle against everyone else for the fun of it?"

"As a team I hope we will do very well. We'll be starting off as the weakest of the three boats. Cowes and the Solent are not easy, especially for foreigners." Gutsche had never sailed here before he competed at this year's Cowes Week. "It has been great fun. We are looking forward to it."

The racing format over the next week remains the same as it was in 2008, with a mixture of inshore races in the Solent plus a 24-36 hour long offshore race starting on Tuesday and a race around the Isle of Wight on Friday. The event culminates in a double points scoring inshore race on Saturday.

Conditions this week are expected to be particularly difficult, with light winds on some days, combined with some of the most powerful tides of the year. For example, today (Saturday) the famous Brambles Bank cricket match took place; the one-day each year the tide is so low as to expose the sand bank in the middle of the Solent. As Simon Shaw, skipper of the GBR Red big boat White Heat points out "I have never seen so much tide – we've seen 4 knots!" Conditions for the first few days of the regatta look set to have the wind from north, typically an awkward wind direction in the Solent, and around 7-14 knots. "There is discrepancy about how windy. Some people think on Tuesday there is going to be a load more breeze. I'm not so sure. Expect it to be from the north, fickle and swingy," predicts Shaw.

Whatever the conditions, the spirit and camaraderie exhibited on shore over the past couple of days of measurement and registration bodes well for a hard, but fair fought week of competition.

e months to go to the 10th edition of the biennial Rolex Commodores' Cup, the international fleet has every prospect of being one of the more exotic in recent events. A noteworthy success in these straightened times. The headline foreign contingent is perhaps South Africa, participating at the regatta for the first time. Hong Kong has confirmed it will be back following its happy venture in 2008. Thereafter, the northern European teams – Ireland, France and the United Kingdom - that are the traditional backbone of the event - will be present in numbers. Organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, anticipate a total of 12 teams. Racing is from 15 to 21 August, with close of entry on 12 July.

The Rolex Commodores' Cup is a weeklong series mixing inshore racing on the waters in and around The Solent, the body of water separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland United Kingdom, with an offshore course that takes the fleet out into The English Channel and a course round the Isle of Wight. All of the racing is typified by one thing. Comprehensive knowledge of the tides and currents affecting these areas is essential. Furthermore, it has been proved time and again that is not just the team with the best boats or the best sailors that wins. It the team that is the best prepared in all aspects.

Take the Hong Kong team, led by Jamie McWilliam. Having finished fifth overall in 2008, surprising many of the more seasoned campaigners in the process, McWilliam and his teammates were resolute in their determination to return. Not just to participate, mind you, but to have a crack at winning. "In 2008 we arrived with a crew that had trained hard but which had never seen the boats before the regatta, as they were either charters or brand new. This meant that we spent quite a bit of important time just before the event working on the boats instead of working on our speed, and as a result we were still learning about the boats during the series. Our team this time was determined to avoid that mistake," comments McWilliam, explaining that this time, "all the boats are owned by Hong Kong owners and we therefore have much more time [to prepare]. Our full team will be at the UK IRC Nationals in late June and we are scheduling other weekends over the summer for the boats to have new sail trials."

It is a tall order to travel almost halfway around the world to participate in a three-boat team event. The three yachts needed to compete range in size, roughly, between 35 and 45 feet. There are crews to be identified, accommodation and travel to be arranged. McWilliam is clear that it is worth the effort, "it's always exciting going to an event where you think you have a chance to win but where you know you're going to have to really perform to achieve that. It provides a great combination of expectation, anticipation, and nerves. Combined with the knowledge that we are representing the small sailing community in Hong Kong, it's a really exciting deal."

The Hong Kong team is made up of Rockall III, a Corby 36 owned by Chris Opielok, in the small boat slot. 'Opie', as he is known, is a Hong Kong sailing legend, having won two Admiral's Cups for his native Germany. Rockall III is the former Rosie, which has a dominant history in UK & Irish IRC racing. The middle boat is Blondie IV, a Mills (King) 40 chartered by Anthony Day from Helmuth Hennig, both very well known Hong Kong racers. Blondie was 2nd in class in Rolex Commodores' Cup 2008 and has an exceptional track record under her former owner. The big boat is Mandrake, Nick Burns' Mills 40.5, formerly Ngoni and Tiamat. As Tiamat, she had an outstanding Rolex Commodores' Cup in 2006.

McWilliam acknowledges the difficulties involved for foreign teams, particularly getting the right boats in the right condition to the venue when they are located more than a delivery trip away. He clearly believes more countries should look more seriously at the possibilities, "I would definitely encourage other teams to participate. The Solent puts unique and intense pressure on crews and seemingly trivial moments turn out to be really critical, like a down tide bottom mark rounding where you've got to be perfect in order to hold your lane to get out of the current. I also believe that the best team here has always won the event, and that's the best recommendation I know for a regatta."

The Hong Kong team is looking forward to renewing rivalries with some of the teams it competed against in 2008. They are not here to make up the numbers, "we really enjoyed the event in 2008 and feel that the event is a good match for the type of sailing we do in Hong Kong, and therefore represents a great opportunity for Hong Kong to compete against peers and find out where we rank. We were happy with our 5th position in 2008 but saw it very much as an initial effort and unfinished business."

The Rolex Commodores' Cup will be held off Cowes, Isle of Wight, from 15 to 21 August. Entries, which must be made by Member National Authorities, close on Monday 12 July.

Irish crew list HERE

Entry List HERE

You can send team Ireland good wishes HERE

Published in Commodores Cup

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has released the final entry list for next week's Commodore's Cup on the Solent. 

Rolex Commodores' Cup Teams

Team: France Yellow

1 FRA35439 Inis Mor Ker 39Laurent Gouy

2 FRA122Pen Azen J 122 Philippe Delaporte
3 FRA34634 Prime Time A 35M Alperovitch & J Huillard

Team: France Blue
1 FRA36777 Codiam Grand Soleil 43N Loday & J C Nicoleau
2 FRA36689 Coup de Couer First 40M de Saint Denis & G Trentesaux
3 FRA27700 Goa X40 Samuel Prietz

Team: France White
1 FRA27967 Jivaro J 133 Yves Grosjean
2 FRA35950 Nutmeg J 122 François Lognone
3 FRA37311 Gaia JND 35 Bernard Moureau

Team: France Red
1 FRA34649 Finisterre Capital X 41 Patrick Baune
2 FRA36743 Jean Charl' A40 RC Jean-Marie Lessard
3 FRA21706 RealAx A 35 François Blossier

Team: GBR Red
1 USA52915 White Heat Summit 40 Michael Williamson
2 GBR2215L Quokka 8 Grand Soleil 43 Peter Rutter
3 GBR8410R Premier Flair Elan 410 Jim Macgregor

Team: GBR White
1 GBR2045R Alice II Farr 45 Simon Henning
2GBR42N La Réponse First 40 Andrew McIrvine & Peter Morton
3GBR1352R No Chance First 35 Chris and Hannah Neve

Team: GBR Black
1 GBR851R Cracklin Rosie Corby 40 Brian Wilkinson
2 GBR2643R Artemis Grand Soleil 43Paul Turner
3GBR8407R Encore First 40.7 Steven Anderson

Team: Hong Kong
1 HKG2282EFG Bank Mandrake Mills 40 N Burns & F Kinmonth
2 HKG2097 Blondie IV King 40 Anthony Day
3 GER6333 Rockall III Corby 36 Christopher Opielok

Team: Ireland
1 IRL3939 Antix Anthony O'Leary Ker 39
2 IRL39000 Marinerscove.ie David Dwyer Mills 39
3 IRL36000 Roxy 6 Robert Davies Corby 36

Team: South Africa
1 SA3737Windpower Phil Gutsche Landmark 43
2GBR5940R Tokoloshe Mike Bartholomew King 40
3GBR8809R Inspara Rick Garratt & Dave Hudson J 109

 

Published in RORC

Cruiser Racer insiders say it looks less positive now that ICRA will manage to produce a second Commodore's Cup team for August but at the same time sailing officials have not given up hope yet. Ireland's single team for August all hails from Crosshaven but yesterday there was still talk of a second team forming. "Clearly boats such as Tiamat, Rockabill and Jump Juice would all  be likely candidates" said one source. "What's imperative now is a good performance this weekend [at the ICRA Championships] to show that a second team has got the pace" he added.

Published in ICRA
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