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O'Leary's Royal Cork 'Antix' is Fifth (and Top Corinthian) at Cape 31 Vice-Admiral's Cup on the Solent

22nd May 2023
Irish Cape 31 champion Anthony O'Leary chases the overall winner in Shotgunn (Michael Wilson) at the Vice-Admiral's Cup on the Solent
Irish Cape 31 champion Anthony O'Leary chases the overall winner Shotgunn (Michael Wilson) at the Vice-Admiral's Cup on the Solent Credit: James Tomlinson

Irish Cape 31 champion Anthony O'Leary finished fifth overall – and top Irish entry – at the weekend's six-race Vice-Admiral's Cup on the Solent.

As Afloat reported earlier, it was the biggest-ever gathering of the new sportsboat class with a 25-boat fleet that included five Irish boats. 

Royal Irish skipper Niall Dowling was the overnight leader after four races, but a 16.0 and (23.0) score on Sunday dropped him to eighth overall.

Consistent sailing from O'Leary's Royal Cork crew saw them in the mix for the podium on Saturday evening in fourth place and but for a final race 18th; the result may well have been higher than the highly prized top five overall.  O’Leary shared the driving with son Robert with Nicholas O’Leary on the mainsheet.

O'Leary also claimed the Corinthian prize. David Cummin's Flurg and Charlie Whelan's The Bodfather secured second and third positions, respectively, on the Corinthian leaderboard.

Without winning a race, the overall winners, Michael Wilson's Shotgunn crew, representing the Isle of Man, produced a consistent performance (6,4,4,2,2,3); only once were they out of the top five, with a sixth in the first race. 

Wilson has an extraordinary crew racing Shotgunn: Ben Batchelor, Mike Wilson, Stu Bithell, Dave Chapman, Phil Hardisty, Simon Potts, and Peter Greenhalgh. Such was the level of competition, Shotgunn did not win a single race, but after discard, their lowest score was fourth. Wilson comes from a dinghy racing background, including Flying Fifteens, 505s and National 18s.

Despite a challenging start to the weekend with inclement weather on Friday resulting in no completed races, the Solent provided an exhilarating playground for the Cape 31 fleet over the next two days. With shifty, puffy, and demanding conditions, the teams faced gusts of up to 20 knots and lulls as low as 9/10 knots, leading to numerous position changes and opportunities for thrilling comebacks.

The Class also had sunshine for the Mount Gay Launch Party with DJ Mark Covell on the decks. There was plenty of rum and debriefing from the day at the Apres Sail-style party at Hamble Yacht Services.

Over the course of the three-day event, PRO Paul Jackson successfully initiated six races, and the fleet witnessed four different winners. James Howell's Gelert secured the first race of the year and went on to claim two more victories during the weekend. The remaining three race wins were clinched by Niall Dowling's Arabella, Tony Dickin's Jubilee, and Lennard van Oeveren's Fast Motions.

Another impressive performance came from one of the fleet's newest teams, Nick Phillips Chaotic; after easing themselves in they were on the podium for 4 out of 6 races. This secured them second place overall. Completing the overall podium was James Howell's Gelert, boasting an outstanding trio of race victories, although their tale might have taken a different turn had they not been U Flagged in the second race.

However, it was Michael Wilson's Shotgunn that truly stole the show with an outstanding performance. Wilson and his team demonstrated the significance of consistency in a fleet of this size. Having taken delivery of their boat in early 2022, the Shotgunn crew has been in the mix since winning Round 1 of the 2022 Race Circuit.

Reflecting on their success, Wilson shared,

"Winning in this fleet is made much easier by the team you have around you. When the team positions you well, it makes a massive difference. We've invested time in training, and with this being our second season in the boat, those factors have definitely played a role. Winning races is not the sole focus; it's about putting together a series of events, and that's precisely what we set out to do."

Stuart Bithell, Olympic Gold Medalist and a key crew member on Shotgunn, added, "The level of competition out there is exceptional. Despite a few challenging starts, credit goes to our tactician David Chapman, who skillfully navigated us out of difficult situations and ensured we rounded the windward mark in a strong position. Michael's accurate calculations propelled us forward, and we never looked back."

The thrilling start to the season has left everyone eagerly anticipating the upcoming Nationals, scheduled to take place from June 8th to 11th at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. With the addition of several more boats to the fleet, the competition promises to be even more intense.

The results are here.

Cape 31 Vice Admiral's Cup 2023 Photo Gallery 

Photos by Paul Wyeth, James Tomlinson and the class association

Published in Cape 31, Royal Cork YC Team

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At A Glance – Cape 31

LOA 9.56 m
Draft 2.45m
Beam 3.1 m
IRC Rating 1.15

Yacht Builder Mills Design
Model Cape 31
Performance Level Performance Racer

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