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The RORC has instigated a new format to include the Commodores' Cup, a Corinthian team-based event within an IRC fleet racing championship which is open to amateurs and professionals. 

Ireland has twice won the Cup under the burgee of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. Captain Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club and his three boat teams sailed to victory in  2010 and 2014 but inspite of plans to field two teams to defend the Cup in 2016, no Irish defence materialised.

As announced earlier this year, the Cowes-based championship will be held from 8-16th June and will follow the successful Commodores' Cup race format, with a variety of different courses ranging from inshore, coastal and offshore - 10 races in all using the Spinlock IRC rating system.

It still remains to be seen, however, if these innovations are enough to galvanise Irish cruiser-racers into mounting a campaign for the Cup in eight month's time.

New for 2018 are the following:

1. Competitors wishing to enter the Commodores' Cup are invited to create teams of three boats with a rating between 0.995 and 1.270 with a max DLR of 210

2. Teams can represent a club, a region or a nation. For national representation, authorisation may be required from the appropriate MNA

3. The Commodores' Cup maintains its Corinthian ethos with only one professional sailor allowed on each boat

4. Boats that race with two females or two crew under 25, or one female and one under 25, are allowed an extra crew member

5. There is no crew weight limit, only the crew number limit on their IRC rating certificate.

The Notice of Race for the 2018 IRC European Championship, incorporating the Commodores' Cup, is now available.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) welcomes expressions of interest for the event, and online entry will be open from Monday 8th January 2018.

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 After a sensational week of racing, that included eight inshores, one 24 hour overnight offshore race and a round the Isle of Wight race held in 20-25 knots and brilliant sunshine, one race was held but ultimately abandoned on the final day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews.

As a result, yesterday's scores stand, with France Blue claiming victory in this Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup on 160 points, 35.5 ahead of Flanders North Sea. The first timers from Israel were fifth overall, beating both British teams and the Celtic team.

In a week of racing on varied courses, tidal states and wind strengths, consistency was tough to achieve, but the French Blue line-up of Eric de Turkheim's A13 rocketship, Teasing Machine, the Prietz family's Ker 39, GOA and yacht designer Daniel Andrieu on his Sun Fast 3200, Cifraline 4, achieved this best. Among the three French boats there were no weak links with Teasing Machine claiming one inshore and Friday's race around the Isle of Wight, GOA winning an inshore on Wednesday and Cifraline 4 scoring a further two.

Eric de Turkheim commented: "It was a great week with a good variety of courses, between the windward-leewards, round the cans and the offshore race, which was difficult for the big boats. But the team did well. It's been ten years since the last French victory in the Commodores' Cup."

The three French Blue crews also gelled holding a team meeting every morning and sharing resources. "There was a good team effort - everybody did a very good job," said de Turkheim.
Of the French, the Prietz' crew on GOA has spent the most years trying to win the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. This year they succeeded; inshore helmsman and skipper Sam Prietz was pleased their win coincided with the 10th anniversary of the last French victory: "We had very good team mates in Teasing Machine and Cifraline 4, which did so well in Class 2 and Teasing Machine is such a machine reaching or when the wind increases. It was a strong project with Daniel Andrieu, Eric de Turkheim and Laurent Pages - they are very experienced, smart skippers who know how to prepare for all the different conditions we've had this week. It was very challenging for us all, with the windward-leewards, the offshore, and the very fast round the island, which we achieved in less than six hours. It is an honour to write France's name on the Commodores' Cup again."

The top boat was Noel Racine's JPK 1010 Foggy Dew, competing in third-placed France White. Traditionally one of the stand-out boats in the RORC offshore races, this year Racine applied his skill to finish the 13th Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup on 20 points, while Teasing Machine scored 29, albeit in a fleet of 16, while Foggy Dew was competing in the eight-strong small boat class.

As to the reasons for his success, Racine said: "We are all-round, we can go fast in any conditions. Sometimes Cifraline is faster reaching, but otherwise we are the same speed or faster. Most of the time I race offshore, but in my crew, many have sailed the Tour de France à la Voile. So we have inshore specialists and for the offshore - it's me!"

On the final day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, two inshore races were scheduled, the second a double points-scoring grand finale. Sadly a single round the cans race was started, and was shortened as the wind began to die. A handful of Class 1 boats were then finished before the wind died across the race course completely.

Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley explained: "We shortened course because the wind was dying and already two boats struggled to get around the weather mark. I was keen to try and get in a race that was reasonably fair but the wind just died away so quickly that in the context of the event we didn't think it was fair."

The boats still on the race course had stood upright, going nowhere other than latterly with the tide for around 20 minutes when Childerley announced the race abandoned. "The progress I was viewing was non-existent and everyone was heading to Portsmouth pretty quickly and that is just not what you want after such a great week of really good racing."

The 13th Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup was viewed as providing a rich variety of racing and some of the best conditions on record for the event. The next event will take place in 2018.

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20-25 knot winds and glorious sunshine made for one of the most memorable races around the Isle of Wight on record for the penultimate day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. With a win for Eric de Turkheim's A13, Teasing Machine (despite destroying a kite), and a second for Daniel Andrieu's Sun Fast 3200, Cifraline 4, France Blue have leapt ahead in the overall results, now holding a 35.5 lead margin over the second placed Flanders North Sea Team.

France Blue's position is strong, but victory remains far from assured with two more inshore races tomorrow, the last scoring double points.

Today's anti-clockwise lap started from the Squadron line with a favourable ebb tide, but into a southwesterly that kicked up a short chop once into the western Solent, building into large exhilarating sea at the Shingles. From there, it was a tight spinnaker reach to St Catherine's Point, a run down towards Bembridge, before a port tack fetch back to Cowes.

Once again Andrew Williams' Ker 40 Dan, Israel (Keronimo), led the charge down the Solent ahead of the faster HH42, Ino XXX, locked in battle with Teasing Machine.

Williams described it: "We had a really difficult beat trying to play the tide and keep the boat speed and obviously there were a lot of shifts on both tacks. It was very lumpy out near the Shingles." Between the big boats the decisive moment came when the more stable Teasing Machine held her spinnaker all the way to St Catherine's Point while both Dan, Israel and Ino had to peel to Code 0s.

"It got up to about 26 knots, which was good for us," Williams continued. "Once we got round the forts it was follow-my-leader. Ultimately it was a quick rounding - just five and a half hours."
Sadly Dan, Israel ended up seventh in a race which, aside from the exceptional performance of Teasing Machine, mostly favoured the slower rated.

Of the eight teams France Red excelled, thanks to Andrew Hurst's JND 39 Stamina and Jean-Yves le Goff and Alexandre Korniloff's A35 Realax respectively finishing second and third in Class 1 and Marc Alperovitch's JPK 1080 Timeline coming third in Class 2. They have double jumped Israel and GBR Red and are now fourth overall, 10.5 points off the podium.

Seahorse editor Andrew Hurst enjoyed the race, although this week has been a learning exercise. "It was fun, but we have this problem that we can't wind the runners on enough, so our headstay is all over the place, but in those big waves it wasn't such a big deal because you were steering round them and the boat's really fast."

Unusually Realax, France Red's lowest rated boat, is in the big boat class. "We made two little mistakes, but in general we had a good race and good preparation with the current and the wind, so it wasn't bad," said tactician Francois Blossier. Jean-Yves le Goff said they lost time at the start but made this up by steering a good course through the rough seas approaching Southwest Shingles.

Realax last competed in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in 2010. Le Goff says he enjoys the competition: "We like the place, it is very technical with the current and the organisation of the racing is very good. Sailing for France puts some pressure on us but the racing is very fair."

Stand-out boat in Class 2 and across the entire fleet is Noel Racine's JPK 1010 Foggy Dew. A seasoned campaigner in the RORC's offshore program, this is his first Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup and today was his first race around the Isle of Wight. "It is a very nice course - you can see all the cliffs and the Needles. And we had great conditions today with 20-25 knots and sun - it was perfect."

Sadly British hopes this year are fading with deep results today. RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Réponse in GBR Red was going well until blowing up a spinnaker as they heated the boat up approaching St Cath's. However; subsequently hoisting their old heavy spinnaker paid "because the wind increased even on the run and we were still pretty stable."

Of the race around the Isle of Wight generally, McIrvine observed "That was the second fastest I've ever done it. It was great for the foreigners because it was the best sort- sparkling sunshine and great scenery. It was a really tricky first beat because it was rough, especially around Bridge. I was pleased we had two drivers. It was a really good sail."

Racing on the final day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup begins tomorrow at 1030 BST.

For results click here

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Breakfast time today saw some furious adding up to resolve the winning team in the high scoring offshore race for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews.

Initially France Blue, overall leaders after day one, looked strong with their two big boats, Eric de Turkheim's A13, Teasing Machine, and the Prietz family's JND 39, GOA, in front. As boats started finishing the Flanders North Sea team edged ahead. It wasn't until almost all the boats had finished that the roulette ball finally clunked home on France White, two slender points ahead of their European neighbours.

In fact France White cleaned up. Emmanuel le Men's First 40.7, Pen Koent, took honours in the big boat class while Noel Racine's JPK 1010, Foggy Dew claimed the small boat class. Sadly their third boat, Didier Gaudoux's JND 39 Lann Ael 2, didn't enjoy the same success leaving France White's offshore race score equal with that of Flanders North Sea, only bettered by France Red. 

The offshore race took the 24 competing yachts initially east down the Sussex coast to a turning mark - the Royal Sovereign light house south of Bexhill - before returning west, passing south of the Isle of Wight to the finish off Milford on Sea, a course of 153 miles. In the westerly wind, this course became a long leeward-windward, especially tactical with Rampion Wind Farm (south of Shoreham-by-Sea), in the middle of the course both outbound and on the return from Royal Sovereign.

While the big boats seemed to have the upper hand, with James Neville's HH42 Ino leading the way, the tide turning foul en route to St Catherine's Point allowed the smaller, slower boats to catch up, time the larger boats were unable to recover. According to Teasing Machine tactician, Volvo Ocean Race winner Laurent Pages, the land breeze had caused the wind to go right further than forecast, causing them to make better progress than anticipated but out of sync with the tide. "We were sailing very fast angles, Code 0 at full pace, but we could still see some smaller boats behind us, that would normally be 2 knots slower, still catching up."

The French White crews of both Emmanuel le Men's First 40.7, Pen Koent, and Noel Racine's JPK 1010, Foggy Dew, in Class 2 were delighted by their new lead, despite barely having had any sleep.

Le Men commented: "I am surprised that the big boats didn't win on handicap after a long windward-leeward with some waves and some strong winds. It is very good to get these results. We had very good speed on the windward leg and we passed some boats that were bigger than us. We were on top until the end."

Foggy Dew won Class 2 by nine minutes. Skipper Noel Racine, looking good on just 20 minutes sleep, said that after spending most of the race fighting Cifraline 4, their break had come playing the overnight right shift. "It was in the bay before Selsey Bill when we came back. We were expecting a shift that came and we tacked immediately, before everyone."

The Flanders North Sea team generally did well with both Frans Rodenburg's First 40 Elke and their small boat, Benoit D'halluin's A35, Dunkerque-Les Dunes De Flandre, finishing fourth.
Rodenburg said they had had been fast exiting the Solent but soon after had parked, dropping them to last place. The downwind leg was good for them, but the subsequent upwind, better. "Generally upwind in wind and waves, the boat goes really well. Also we got on the good side of the shift. When it came it was 30deg and we tacked at the right time - that worked great."

Leading British boat was Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Réponse which came home fifth, just ahead of their GBR Red team mates the Henning family's modified Mumm 36 Alice. According to Mike Henning, they had started badly, on the wrong side of the line in foul tide. Fortunately they managed to recover this lost time as they exited the Solent and then gained by staying inshore along the Sussex coast.

"Around Selsey Bill we had about 18 knots of breeze and we were surfing at 15-16 knots. The guys knew that the run was our strong point so all the crew were working hard to get the maximum out of the boat," reported Henning. "We knew that the beat was going to be our weak point." Sure enough they rounded the top mark among the fast 40 footers, but from then on were regularly suffering losses.

Racing continues tomorrow at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup with two more inshore races scheduled.

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Calling form on the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is hard, as for a team to be successful, all three of its boats must perform. This, plus the event's week-long duration and diverse race format, make the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial championship for Corinthian crews one of the pinnacle racing events internationally held under a rating rule.

If there is a favourite team for this 13th running of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, it is France Blue. New in 2014, Eric De Turkheim's A13, Teasing Machine has proved a weapon offshore with one of the busiest programs in international yachting. She is supported by the Prietz's Ker 39 GOA, back for their fourth go having finished third in 2014, 2010 and 2008.

France Blue 'small boat' is Cifraline 4, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 of Daniel Andrieu, the boat's designer and the lowest rated with an IRC TCC of just 1.001. For Andrieu, this will be his first time on the Solent since he won the 1989 Admiral's Cup with the British as designer of Graham Walker's One Tonner Indulgence, skippered by RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen.

"On paper Teasing Machine is a fantastic boat and GOA is very well sailed," says Andrieu, who is reluctant to acknowledge their form: "In the Solent, anything is possible."

Equally strong will be France White. Emmanuel le Men's First 40.7, Pen Koent, is back for third time. Noel Racine's JPK 1010 Foggy Dew is new to the event, but well proven in the RORC offshore series, having finished third overall in 2015. Also new to this event is Didier Gaudoux and his brand new JND 39, Lann Ael 2.

"I am here because I have a new boat and this is a competitive environment," says Gaudoux, who sails with his kids and their friends. "I enjoy the team aspect - we don't get too many opportunities to do that." Still on a steep learning curve with Lann Ael 2, Gaudoux hopes they won't let their team mates down.

France Red includes another JND 39, Stamina, campaigned by Seahorse editor Andrew Hurst, alongside Francois Blossier's A35, Realax, and Timeline, of Marc Alperovitch, competing here for the third time, albeit the first on his new JPK 1080. Why he's back? "The Commodores' Cup lasts seven days - there are not so many events where you get to spend so much time on the water. Secondly, the fleet is very competitive."

Among the top 'small boats' will be the A35, Dunkerque-Les Dunes De Flandre, skippered by Benoit D'halluin in the Flanders North Sea team, alongside the Goubau's First 47.7, Moana from Belgium and the Dutch First 40, Elke, of Frans Rodenburg.

Dunkerque competed two years ago, but has achieved most success in RORC offshores. Tactician Philippe Bourgeois, who rates France Blue to win, says that they like the mix of inshores and offshores and are likely to perform best in 15+ knots.

Another regional entry is the Celtic Team, led by sailor/adventurer Jock Wishart, comprising two Scottish boats, Wishart's JPK 10.80, Shaitan, and the Corby 37, Aurora, of Rod Stuart and Bill Ram and the French JPK 1010, Space Oddity, of St Malo-based owner, Gregory Bertrand.
"It is a top event, the top IRC event in Europe," says Space Oddity's mainsheet trimmer Pierre Boue of why they are competing. "It is a very good opportunity to race alongside the best and to learn fast. I expect to increase our level quickly."

Team Israel has three top UK IRC boats, all recently renamed - Andrew Williams Ker 40 Keronimo is now Dan, Israel, Peter Morton's JND 35 Salvo is now Daniel, Herzliya while David Franks' JPK 1010 Strait Dealer is now Carlton, Tel Aviv. Team leader, Omer Brand, sailing on Carlton, Tel Aviv says that they have been putting in a lot of training to try and integrate their Israeli dinghy sailors with the British big boat specialists. Helping with the coaching are tacticians Kevin Sproul, David Bedford and James Gair.

Team GBR is fielding two teams with RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine leading GBR Red with his First 40, La Réponse, alongside Alice, a much refined Mumm 36 of Simon Henning, with J/35 Bengal Magic, as small boat.

While McIrvine and Henning are old hands, Bengal Magic is a Commodores' Cup newbie. Skipper James Chalmers explains: "It's a race we've always followed and we're very lucky to get the opportunity to do it." The boat is 20+ years old and this is Chalmers' fifth season campaigning her, having previously won class in the IRC Nationals and in the Round the Island Race.

Bengal Magic has been able to enter because of the rating band widening this year. Chalmers says he is most concerned about the team aspect: "Before we've only really ever sailed for ourselves, so if you go out and have a bad day, you just go the bar, have a beer and not worry it. But if you've got two other team members who've put a lot of energy, effort and expense into it, you have to do well for other people."

Finally there is GBR Blue, comprising the Blair family's King 40, Cobra, and two of the highest rated boats - Tom Kneen's JPK 10.80, Sunrise, in the 'small boat' class and James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX, the fastest boat in the event by some 28 points.

"We are very excited about the Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup because of the mix of inshore and offshores and the opportunity to race against a different group of boats," says Neville, who competed two years ago on his previous Corby 36, Ino. "Watching the Ker 40s last time was what drove me to get a bigger boat. Hopefully being the biggest boat this time, we'll have a better chance to get away."

Racing gets underway tomorrow with three inshore races scheduled, starting at 1030 BST.

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With the deadline for entries into the 2016 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup now passed, eight three boat teams are set to contest the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial championship for Corinthian crews, taking place out of Cowes over 23-30th July.

Teams for the 13th Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, comprise three from Team France, two from Team GBR and others from Flanders North Sea and, for the first time, Israel. The last to raise its head above the parapet is the Celtic Team, comprising two boats from Scotland and one from France.

The Celtic Team has been masterminded by Scottish adventurer, Jock Wishart, who is campaigning Jean-Eudes Renier's JPK 10.80, Shaitan. Shaitan is joined by the Corby 37, Aurora, which co-owners Roderick Stuart and Bill Ram's raced in the Scottish team in 2014 and originally, when new was Eamonn Rohan's Blondie III and competed for Ireland in 2006. The Celtic team's small boat is a new JPK 10.10, Space Oddity, campaigned by St Malo-based sailmaker, Marc Noël.

Once upon a time a grinder on Lionheart in the  America's Cup, Wishart is best known for his epic expeditions. Way too numerous to list in full, these have included rowing across the Atlantic, the fastest circumnavigation of the globe in a powered vessel (Cable & Wireless Adventurer), rowing to the geomagnetic North Pole, various other expeditions to the North Pole, including, last year, the Arctic Rugby Challenge, a trek there to play the 'most northerly rugby match in history'.

Wishart has previously crewed in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, but this is the first campaign of his own. He admits: "It has always been one of those things that I've always wanted to do. Everything came together - I haven't got a big expedition on this year, so it was time to do a bit of sailing."

He took delivery of Shaitan just four weeks ago and, after two training weekends, has taken to the race course and in the recent RORC IRC Nationals, finishing ninth in the 19-boat IRC Two class. 

As to this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, Wishart observes: "There are no weak teams - they're all strong. It is going to be very, very competitive and that is good for the event."

 
Shaitan RTJPK 10.80, Shaitan in the recent RORC IRC Nationals Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORC

According to Aurora's Rod Stuart, their aim had been to field another Scottish team as in 2014, but they were unable to muster a small boat. He is pleased with the new arrangement: "Scots and French sailing together, it's an old alliance and should be a lot of fun. I don't think it will be as 'stiff upper lip' as being part of GBR!"

In his youth, Stuart raced a 30ft trimaran solo the 'wrong way' across the North Atlantic in the 1988 OSTAR, convincingly winning his class ahead of a young Royal Marine called Pete Goss.

His present campaign began six years ago aboard an Elan 410, EOS. "In the front of the boat were all young Laser sailors in their late teens from the RYA centre at Cumbrae," Stuart recounts. "We started pretty awfully, but four years later we were on the podium in the Scottish Series and in Dun Laoghaire, etc." 

They also raced numerous offshores such as Round Ireland, the Rolex Fastnet Race and the 2013 Middle Sea Race, in which they finished second in a 30-strong IRC Two. They acquired Aurora for the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup and have been 'learning the boat' ever since.

Stuart is a big fan of the Brewin Dolpin Commodores' Cup: "There are lots of special things about it - it is very intense and very tiring and you are sailing against a selection of the best boats from all these different countries."

The team aspect is also interesting. With Scotland two years ago "we all lived together, had our own briefings and our own weather guy and that made a big difference. We are planning to do the same again.
 

"For us this is a continuation of our learning process. We finished two years ago feeling that we could do better. On the way back home we decided we were going to come back again."

 However as Stuart observes: "Since the boat's called Space Oddity, he [Marc Noël] is clearly a Bowie fan, so he's got to be alright..."

AuroraRoderick Stuart and Bill Ram's Corby 37, Aurora competed as part of the Scottish team in the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup Photo: Rick Tomlinson/RORC
 

 Eddie Warden Owen, CEO of the RORC welcomed the eighth team: "As a Welshman I am delighted to see a Celtic team, which is the initiative of my good friend Jock Wishart. There is a good mix of teams this year; the standard is high and there's no stand-out team, so predicting a winner is impossible which is very good for the teams and the event. For sure I'll be rooting for the Celts."

Published in Commodores Cup

Two teams will represent Great Britain at the 2016 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in Cowes (23-30 July).

The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is a biennial team event organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), comprising inshore and offshore events over a seven day competition.

Teams comprise of three boats within the IRC rating 1.000 - 1.230, their combined points are added up as one to crown the overall winner. This is one of the only international events for national teams in big boats and was first held in 1992.
After a thorough selection process, the teams have been confirmed by David Aisher, RYA Chairman of Selectors.

Andrew McIrvine, La Réponse (First 40) will Captain Team GBR Red with teammates Simon Henning, Alice (Mumm 36) and James Chalmers, Bengal Magic (J/35).
Leading Team GBR Blue is Michael Blair, Cobra (King 40), joining him are James Neville's Ino (HH42) and Tom Kneen, Sunrise (JPK 1080). This will be Keen's first Commodores' Cup and he will draw on the experience of the others in his team.

Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Development Manager said: "We have been very lucky to have such a depth of talent take part in this year's trials for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores Cup.
"The selectors have worked incredibly long and hard to put together the best teams that we can field and I feel that these combinations give us the greatest potential.
"We are now working towards the event itself and have secured Jochem Visser to act as this year's team manager to assist the crews with preparation and on water support."

Visser praised the selected team members: "My observations of the boats on the water gave me a very positive impression of the British BDCC members. The teams have a broad base of experience and seem to have very good performances across a range of conditions. I'm looking forward to working with them and helping develop the great skills already present within the British teams to make sure they have the best chance of success."

Team GBR Red
La Réponse, First 40, Andrew McIrvine
Alice, Mumm 36, Simon Henning
Bengal Magic, J/35, James Chalmers

Team GBR Blue
Ino, HH42, James Neville
Cobra, King 40, Michael Blair
Sunrise, JPK 1080, Tom Kneen

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After another commanding performance in last year's Rolex Fastnet Race, France is lining up to claim further silverware from the Royal Ocean Racing Club's trophy cabinet - this time the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. A win for France would mark the tenth anniversary of their last victory in the RORC's biennial event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews, that this year takes place over 23-30th July. Although Ireland won it last in 2014 there will unfortunately be no Irish defence on the Solent.

According to Jean-Philippe Cau, President of the Union Nationale de la Course au Large (UNCL), which was tasked with selecting the France teams, initially they had around 15 interested parties wishing to compete and intended to have four teams. However he notes "in fact two French boats have joined other teams." Philippe Bourgeois' Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre is part of Flanders North Sea, and another has joined a team yet to be announced.

So this year France is fielding three teams:

France Blue

  • Teasing Machine - A13  (1.175) - Eric De Turckheim/Laurent Pages
  • GOA - Ker 39 (1.117) - Gilles & Samuel Prietz/Samuel Prietz
  • Cifraline - Sunfast 3200 (1.000) - Daniel Andrieu

France White

  • Lann Ael 2 - JND 39 (1.118) - Didier Gaudoux
  • Pen Koent - First 40.7 (1.046) - Emmanuel Le Men
  • Foggy Dew - JPK 1010 (1.002) - Noel Racine

France Red

  • Stamina - JND 39 (1.129) - Andrew Hurst/Joe Lacey
  • Timeline - JPK 1080 (1.047) - Marc Alpérovitch
  • Realax - A35 (1.027) - Jean-Yves Le Goff/ Alexandre Korniloff  

All three are strong, bristling with talent, but France Blue stands out.

At present Eric De Turckheim's powerful A13 Teasing Machine (just finished the Round Ireland Race this morning)  is one of the world's most well-travelled race boats. In December she was winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart until she ran into a hole off Tasmania dropping her to seventh overall, but still finished first in IRC 3. After some hurried shipping, she raced the RORC Caribbean 600 finishing third overall on corrected. Her action-packed schedule currently sees her competing in the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race.

Two years ago when Teasing Machine was new, she put in a mixed performance at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, winning the offshore race and an inshore race, but also suffering some deep results. This year we can expect no such inconsistency.

GOA RT
Gilles and Samuel Prietz's Ker 39, GOA racing in the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup 
© Rick Tomlinson

In France Blue, Teasing Machine will be racing alongside Gilles & Samuel Prietz's GOA. This will be the Prietz's fourth Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, following 2008, 2010 and 2014 when they achieved the third best individual boat score. Since then, they have traded their trusty A40 for a more Anglo-Saxon Ker 39. In this, they have enjoyed even more success, winning IRC 1 in last year's Rolex Fastnet Race, ahead of Teasing Machine.

Completing the France Blue trio is eminent French yacht and America's Cup designer Daniel Andrieu, campaigning a masterpiece from his own drawing board - a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200. Andrieu's Cifraline had much work carried out on her over the winter, including a mast and keel change. This seems to have worked: At Spi Ouest-France this Easter, her 1-1-2-2 scoreline blew the socks off the competition in IRC 3, ahead of a normally dominant flotilla of JPK 1010s.

As Cau observes: "Daniel has done a lot of work to optimise his boat and his results are very, very consistent. Now they are at the level of the best JPK 1010s or even better..."

Lann Ael
Didier Gaudoux's JND 39,  Lann Ael 2  © SNT (Société Nautique de La Trinité)

'Big boats' in both France White and France Red are new JND39s, a Joubert-Nivelt design, featuring a powerful hull and substantial chine. Didier Gaudoux, owner of Lann Ael 2 in France White, previously campaigned a JPK 110 in which he won his class in last year's ArMen Race, one of France's leading offshores. Meanwhile leading the charge in France Red will be Stamina, campaigned by 'well-known Frenchman' and Editor of Seahorse magazine, Andrew Hurst. The new Stamina is owned by RORC Committee member Michel Péretié, replacing his previous A40. Péretié is campaigning her in the RORC offshores this season, while Hurst has her for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup and IRC Nationals. Hurst is a previous winner of the Commodores' Cup, with Germany in 1998.

Pen Koent 2014 BDCC RT
Emmanuel Le Men's First 40.7 Pen Koent in the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup 
© Rick Tomlinson/

Racing alongside Lann Ael 2 in France White is another repeat Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup competitor in Emmanuel Le Men's First 40.7 Pen Koent - part of the France Red team that finished second two years ago.

Then there is the familiar JPK 1010, Foggy Dew, of Noel Racine, which finished third overall in the RORC's Season Points Championship both last year and in 2014 and was second overall in the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Foggy Dew Cervantes Trophy 2016
Noel Racine's JPK 1010, Foggy Dew racing in the Cervantes Trophy Race © Hamo Thornycroft
Timeline
Marc Alpérovitch will be campaigning his new boat, Timeline, a JPK 10.80 for France Red 
© Madeleine Sassy
Cifraline
France Blue: Consistent results for Daniel Andrieu's Sunfast 3200, Cifraline © 
Madeleine Sassy

 

Published in Commodores Cup
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Flanders has entered July's Commodore's Cup. The continental North Sea coast team has signed up today in a further expansion of the Cup's reach. It is the latest news for a reformatted 2016 competition. There is no information so far on an Irish team (or teams), other than the Irish Cruiser Racer Association has said it hopes to send two teams to the Solent.

Up against powerful multiple team entries from France and Britain in July's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, will be the newly announced Flanders Nord team. This will comprise three leading race boats from the continental North Sea coast: Frans Rodenburg's Elke from the Netherlands, Philippe Bourgeois' Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandre from northeasternmost France and François Goubau's well-travelled Moana from Belgium.

While the large British and French contingent is a little daunting, the Flanders team can relax slightly in the knowledge the defending champion, Ireland, won with a single team in 2014. Plus, many of the crew in the Flanders Nord team have past experience of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

Heavyweight of Flanders Nord, with what could be the longest boat competing this year, is François Goubau's 2001 generation Beneteau First 47.7, Moana. Goubau, who is Commodore of the Royal Belgian Sailing Club, has campaigned Moana in three previous Commodores' Cups, first with the Belgium team in 2002 and most recently with Team Benelux in 2012.

"We like the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup because its organisation is very professional and the level of competition is so high," says Moana's trimmer/tactician Luc Geirnaert. He adds that they also enjoy the unique 'team' aspect to the event and try to make a point of racing in the Solent at least once each season.

In addition to the Commodores' Cup, Moana has competed in eight Rolex Fastnet Races, won her class at Cowes Week, has twice been victorious in the Dutch IRC National Championship and its Belgium equivalent and was runner up at the 2012 UK IRC Nationals - "after a stupid false start in the last race," as Geirnaert remembers.

A typical Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup entry, Moana is a family affair and sailing on board with père Goubau, will be his wife Michèle Gelhausen and trio of sons Laurent, Mathieu and Alexis plus a group of friends. While the rules for this year's event have been amended slightly from 2014, now allowing up to six professionals (World Sailing Group 3 sailors) to compete across each three boat team (rather than one or two on each boat), Moana will be sailing with no pros on board.

"Our team is delighted to race the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup again," says skipper Philippe Bourgeois. "We are the 'southener' of the Flanders team, but it was a great pleasure to accept he proposition of Mathieu and François Goubau to be part of this Flanders team with Belgium and Netherlands boats."

Already there is some crossover between the Dunkerque-Les Dunes de Flandres and Moana teams with several Dunkerque crew having raced on Moana in past Fastnet races and in the 2012 Commodores' Cup.

If Moana is the Flanders team's 'big boat', Bourgeois' competitive Archambault A35, will be its 'small boat'. Bourgeois congratulates the RORC for responding to competitor feedback from the last race by providing the smaller boats (ie with an IRC TCC of 1.000-1.049) with their own starts at this year's regatta.

"We do like racing in the Solent," continues Bourgeois. "The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is a great event, very well organised and with high level competitors."

Prior to the event, Dunkerque-Les Dunes de Flandres will be back in the UK for the RORC's Myth of Malham Race in which she won her class in 2013 and for the UK IRC Nationals at end of June. "They will be a good training for our crew for our big event this season - the Commodores' Cup," concludes Bourgeois.

The third boat in the Flanders Nord team is Frans Rodenburg's First 40, Elke. Last year Elke competed in the North Sea Race and in the Rolex Fastnet Race, and is making her Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup debut this summer.

Welcoming the Flanders Nord team to the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen said: "This is a good team. Moana we know from previous Commodores' Cups is very well sailed and knows the waters; Dunkerque-Les Dunes de Flandres was very competitive at the recent RORC Easter Challenge and we know the First 40 is a good all round performer, so they will be a good team to watch and we are delighted to have them announce their commitment so early."

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is the club's biennial grand prix for amateur crews. Racing takes place over 23rd-30th July on a mix of inshore and offshore courses in the Solent and around the English Channel.

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As Ireland prepares to defend the Commodores' Cup, last night at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's St James clubhouse, the 2016 Commodores' Cup was formally launched. Ireland's plan is to field two teams; a 'full on' first team and an 'academy' team. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup will take place out of Cowes, Isle of Wight over 23rd-30th July 2016.

Outgoing ICRA commodore Nobby Reilly is looking after preparations for the Irish Cup campaign and both he and Barry Rose gave an update on Irish team developments when the ICRA executive met at the end of September in Portlaoise but little detail yet about team composition.

Next year will see the reintroduction of a small boat for the team competition next year. ICRA has sought expressions of interest from owners wanting to become involved in the Irish teams.

The first is the requirement of every team to have a small boat with a rating between 1.000 and 1.049. “Many teams in the last event believed that it was hard to be competitive without having three boats that were close to the top of the allowable rating band, as was the case of last year’s winning Irish team,” said RORC chief executive, Eddie Warden Owen. Lowering the rating band to 1.000 will make it easier for J109s to enter, to include boats like the JPK10.10, A35 and the new Sunfast 3200, and reduce the cost of competing.

First Israeli team
Something of a surprise was the first team officially to enter the 2016 event being not one of the regulars - France, Ireland or the UK - but Israel. Alongside judo, sailing is Israel's top Olympic sport, but to date this hasn't extended to big boats.

In addition to the Israelis, and the four UK teams, France is expected to mount a strong entry, having not won the event since 2006. The defending champion, Ireland, is expected to return, plus at least one Dutch team and possibly another composite Benelux team. Hong Kong has shown interest and there remains the strong possibility of a team from Canada.

This is the result of the RORC putting in extra effort to drum up more international competition, says RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen. "We have been more proactive about advertising the race worldwide, that it is a really international event and as a Corinthian, amateur event, it is worth winning."

The Israeli campaign is being spearheaded by British sailor Richard Loftus, well known for campaigning his Swan 65, Desperado. Under Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup rules, 50% of the crew must be Israeli nationals and Loftus has arranged with the Israeli Sailing Association to run a trials to select the best sailors. The intention is to start with 50 and whittle them down to the top 20, who will then train from March onwards.

Loftus says he will not be entering Desperado and he is also not expecting boats to come from Israel. "I am optimistic that I can find English or foreign owners with an Israeli connection who would like to enter the event. I can say to them 'you come with your crew, bring your bowman, etc, but I'll provide half the guys and they will be seriously good sailors. It is a good deal for both parties."

British hopes
The Royal Yachting Association again intends to field four teams - three English and one Scottish. The British team's Selection Committee comprises David Aisher, Philosophie owner Nicolas Gaumont-Prat and sailor Alex Gardner.

"At the moment there is a lot of interest - 12-15 boats," says Aisher, Chairman of Selectors. "Hopefully we'll put up a suitable team to win the trophy back from the Irish. Having competed three times myself, it is a great event to be part of - it puts together people, not only with their boats, but bringing them together as a team."

The selection process will take place at weekend trial events over April-May, plus the RORC's Cervantes Trophy and De Guingand Bowl races.

Britain and Ireland have alternated winning the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup since 2008. In theory next year is the turn of the British again.

New look event
Once again the race format will include an offshore race and around the Isle of Wight, but the number of scheduled inshores has increased from six to ten. Racing Manager of the RORC, Nick Elliott explains: "We appreciate the time and effort people put in to coming to the regatta - they want to be out there enjoying the Solent."

Whilst the rules for the 2016 event once again only allow teams to have one 'big boat' (i.e. IRC TCC between 1.150 and 1.049) each team must now have a 'small boat' (i.e. IRC TCC between 1.000 and 1.049) to increase the range of the boats taking part and make it easier for teams to create a team of three boats.

In 2014 the fleet started en masse to make it a spectacle. In 2016, in response to competitor feedback, the small boats will get their own starts. Warden Owen explains: "The masse start was tough on the small boats - they had to fight for clear air, against the bigger boats."

Similarly the number of ISAF Group 3 'professional' sailors in each team has increased to six, divided up across the three boats. Nick Elliott explains: "It is a Corinthian regatta, but the professional element helps to keep it at the very high level it is."

National Director of Brewin Dolphin, Rupert Tyler said Brewin Dolphin was pleased to be back for a third term as sponsor of the Commodores' Cup. "It has given us a great deal of pleasure to our directorate, our staff, all our employees, our clientele, our shareholders, and we are thrilled to be able to give you so much pleasure indirectly as well. It behoves me to wish everyone very good luck who is participating and in the organisation."

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Page 1 of 6

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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