ROLEX COMMODORES' CUP DRAWS SOUTH AFRICA
There are only a few weeks to the close of entries at this year’s Rolex Commodores’ Cup. Whilst most teams have finalized their boats and crews, others are still engaged in discussions to determine their line-ups. For all teams, both settled and prospective, certain things are set in stone. Most importantly there must be three boats, one in each of the stipulated rating bands, and, all teams must be on the starting grid for the first race on Sunday, 15 August. At present, organisers’, the Royal Ocean Racing Club are expecting 11 teams representing France, Ireland, Hong Kong, South Africa and the United Kingdom to contest the international trophy.
The shaping field looks to be as competitive as ever. The sea battles that have been fought in recent weeks off the coasts of France and Ireland, and, of course, on the event venue waters of the Solent suggest that a no quarter given epic is in the making.
Neutrals, with an eye for the outsider, are likely to follow the progress of the South African team over the course of the Rolex Commodores’ Cup. 2010 marks the first time a team from the world’s second largest continent has participated. As with Hong Kong’s presence in 2008, for this to happen a number of stars have had to be in alignment.
According to Mike Bartholomew, skipper of the team’s Class 2 yacht, the King 40 Tokoloshe, “it was Eddie Warden Owen from the RORC who actually suggested to Rick Nankin and myself that we should consider putting a South African team together. The whole thing really just grew from there. We approached two others we knew well, Phil Gutschi and Rick Garratt, to see if they could join the party. Both were enthusiastic from the word go.” Gutschi owns the Landmark 43, Windpower, to be skippered by Nankin in Class 1, and Garratt has chartered the J-109, Zelda, to be skippered by Dave Hudson in Class 3.
The second catalyst, in Bartholomew’s opinion, has been having a South African owned yacht (Tokoloshe) eligible for the Rolex Commodores’ Cup sailing in the Solent for the past two years, “previously it would have been too much of an ask to put a team together and, in any event, there were not any really competitive boats in South Africa.” Bartholomew is being modest about Tokoloshe’s sailing. She has not just been competing, but has proved a force to be reckoned with in recent months, going head to head with some success against other Rolex Commodores’ Cup contenders on the Solent circuit.
The vast majority of the crews will be South African, easily meeting the strict eligibility criteria for the event, “most of the individuals are from Cape Town. Even Phil, who is from Port Elizabeth, keeps his boat there. The main exceptions are the navigators, Andrew Cape on Windpower and Rick Oswald on Zelda, and, of course, some of the regulars on Tokoloshe.”
Experience is essential for a good result at the Rolex Commodores’ Cup. Not necessarily just time on the waters of the venue, but in competing over a tight, but demanding series. Bartholomew is unconcerned by this aspect, “there is a fair amount of experience in the crews most of whom have had international exposure. Phil has campaigned a number of boats over the years. His skipper Rick Nankin is probably by far the most experienced South African in the mix. But Rick Garratt still remembers the good times of the 1995 Admirals Cup. He will have aboard Mark Sadler, the skipper of Shosholoza the South African entry in the previous Americas Cup.” All three boats will be in UK waters by Cowes Week and will use that regatta as a final serious warm-up.
One final element in the list of irresistible forces was the involvement of the Race Ahead project. David Hudson and his brother Roger have been part of the sailing scene for almost all their lives, and, both are very successful sailors in their own right. In 2008 they created 'Race Ahead', a project aimed at giving South Africa's young sailing talent a structured route into the international sailing world. The project has allowed young South Africans to compete in the highly competitive Laser SB3 circuit in the UK and Ireland. The effort has not been without reward: a top 10 overall finish at Cowes Week; followed by a class win at Cork Week and a second overall at the inaugural Laser SB3 World Championship in Dublin. For Garrett to have access to this pool of talent was a major motivating factor in his participation.
Just like Hong Kong, the South African team is not just coming along for the ride. Bartholomew is succinct on this point, “we will try to win.”
The 2010 Rolex Commodores' Cup will be held off Cowes, Isle of Wight, from 15 to 21 August.
At least 50%... of the crew of each boat on board in any race shall comprise individuals who are Nationals of the country of the relevant team or individuals who have had since 1 August 2009 had their principal residence in that country or individuals who were born in that country.
Further information about the Rolex Commodores' Cup may be found at: www.rorc.org
ROLEX COMMODORES' CUP 2010 TEAM LINE UP COMPLETE
Racing commences on Sunday, 15 August, with the first race scheduled for 10.30AM and, as one would expect, there has been no shortage of activity since close of challenges for the 10th biennial Rolex Commodores’ Cup.
Whilst the single team nations, Ireland, South Africa and Hong Kong, set out their stall early, identifying boats and team members, the multi-team nations, United Kingdom and France have faced more complex decision-making in defining the composition of their various line-ups.
Ten teams, comprising a total of thirty yachts spread over five nations, will be on the start line all fired up in anticipation of a highly competitive event. Teams are made up of three boats, one in each of three precise rating bands. The full National team listings are available on line at commodorescup.rorc.org/ and www.regattanews.com, and, here are some highlights:
Highest Rating: GBR2045R Alice II Simon Henning (GBR White) Farr 45 - Rating: 1.226
Lowest Ratings: GBR851R Cracklin’ Rosie Brian Wilkinson (GBR Black) Corby 40 - Rating: 1.110
FRA36777 Codiam N. Loday & C. Nicoleau (FRA Blue) Grand Soleil 43 – Rating: 1.110
Largest Yacht: GBR2045R Alice II Simon Henning (GBR White) Farr 45 – 13.8m
Smallest Yachts: FRA35439 Inis Mor Laurent Gouy (FRA Yellow) Ker 39 – 11.8m
IRL3939 Antix Anthony O’Leary (IRL) Ker 39 – 11.8m
Highest Rating: HKG2097 Blondie IV Anthony Day (HKG) King 40 – Rating: 1.119
Lowest Rating: GBR42N La Reponse A McIrvine & P Morton (GBR White) First 40 – Rating: 1.085
Largest Yachts: GBR2215L Quokka 8 Peter Rutter (GBR Red) Grand Soleil 43 – 13.25m
GBR2643R Artemis Paul Turner (GBR Black) Grand Soleil 43 – 13.25m
Smallest Yacht: IRL39000 Marinerscove.ie David Dwyer (IRL) Mills 39 – 11.88m
Highest Rating: GBR8410R Premier Flair Jim MacGregor (GBR Red) Elan 410 – Rating 1.074
Lowest Ratings: FRA21706 RealAx François Blossier (FRA Red) A35 – Rating: 1.030
GBR8809R Inspara David Hudson (RSA) J-109 – Rating: 1.030
Largest Yacht: GBR8410R Premier Flair Jim MacGregor (GBR Red) Elan 410 – 12.27m
Smallest Yachts: FRA34634 Prime Time M Alperovitch/J Huillard (FRA Yellow) A 35 – 10.59m
FRA21706 RealAx François Blossier (FRA Red) A35 – 10.59m
FRA37311 Gaia Bernard Moureau (FRA White) JND35 – 10.59m
The Rating Bands:
Class 1 1.110 – 1.230 DLR not exceeding 200
Class 2 1.075 – 1.119 DLR not exceeding 200
Class 3 1.025 – 1.074 DLR not exceeding 215
DLR = Displacement Length Ratio
In the battle of the designers, Mark Mills comes out on top with six of his designs participating.
The ten challenges lodged for the 2010 is the smallest fleet size since 2000 when seven teams contested the trophy.
The USA has won the event twice (1992 & 94), GBR twice (2004 & 2008), France twice (2002 & 2006), Germany once (1998), the Channel Islands once (2000) and England once (1998).
Hong Kong has competed twice before in 1992 and 2008. South Africa is competing for the first time. France has competed in every event since 2000.
Full details of the teams comprising these Challenges have been posted to commodorescup.rorc.org/ and www.regattanews.com.
The Rolex Commodores' Cup will be held off Cowes, Isle of Wight, from 14 August to 21 August 2010.
PROGRAMME & POINTS WEIGHTING
Saturday, 14 August Registration/Skippers’ briefing/Opening Reception
Sunday, 15 August 2 x Solent inshore races (1.0 each)
Monday, 16 August 2 x Solent inshore races (1.0 each)
Tuesday, 17 August Offshore race (2.5)
Wednesday, 18 August Offshore race continues
Thursday, 19 August Rolex Trophy Day 1 x Solent inshore race (1.0)
Friday, 20 August Round the Island race (1.5)
Saturday, 21 1 x Solent inshore race (AM) (2.0)
Prize Giving (Royal Yacht Squadron) 1700
Further information about the Rolex Commodores' Cup may be found at: www.rorc.or
August 15, 2010
Rolex Commodores' Cup, Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
IRISH SET FORMIDABLE PACE
Ireland grabbed the 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup by the throat on the opening day. With two windward-leeward races held in the eastern and central Solent, the three Irish boats won in each of their classes in the first race. In the second race, the team’s otherwise perfect scoreline was only tarnished by their mid-sized boat, David Dwyer’s Mills 39 marinerscove.ie, posting a second. With six days of competition left, the Irish, on 7 points, already hold a huge lead over the defending champions, GBR Red and Hong Kong, tied on 23. Previous experience will not allow the Irish to get carried away just yet.
The Solent started out grey and miserable today but the sun broke through mid-morning with a 10 knot northwesterly and a strong eastbound tide. For race two the Race Committee moved the race area to just east of the Brambles Bank to minimise the tide and for this the wind had veered into the northeast and built, at times gusting up to 20 knots.
In this opening day of competition for mainly Corinthian crews, with only one or two professionals allowed on each boat, some cobwebs were being blown out with a number of sail handling errors evident and even a collision during a port-starboard incident in race two between two mid-sized boats - Francois Lognone’s Nutmeg IV in France White and Paul Turner’s Grand Soleil 43 Artemis in GBR Black. The French subsequently admitted their mistake – explaining that they lacked steerage to avoid the incident. While they came out unscathed, unfortunately Artemis was holed and is having to be repaired overnight. Both yachts retired from race two.
Followers of this event will know that Ireland leading after day one is a regular feature of recent Rolex Commodores’ Cups. The Irish have been favourites going into the last three events, but they have never before made such a strong impression on the event so soon.
“We are delighted on a shifty day like today to make a start like that; you can’t ask for anything better,” commented Anthony O’Leary owner of the Irish team’s ‘big boat’, the Ker 39, Antix. “This is our third time doing it. I said to the guys yesterday – ‘we have never been as well prepared’.” In the Irish team Antix and Dwyer’s marinerscove.ie are both well campaigned while the small boat, Robert Davies’ Corby 36, Roxy 6, was launched this year, but already has had much regatta experience. This year Antix for example has won the Irish IRC Nationals in Dublin and their class at the Scottish Series.
O’Leary, a Rear Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, says that they have been building up to this regatta all year and after so many strong, but ultimately unsuccessful Irish campaigns previously it would mean a lot to win this year. “But don’t be thinking that after one day of low points racing,” he warns.
Sailing aboard the Hong Kong mid-sized boat, Blondie IV, Jamie McWilliam was pleased with his team’s opening-day performance; “I’d say we are in the hunt. It is a tough regatta to win, but everyone knows that and that’s what makes it worth coming. It is interesting but it is always the case here, because there is the variation in the courses that you race and in the conditions you get over the week. Trying to get the rig settings correct is impossible by definition so sometimes you are going really well and sometimes you are getting stuffed. Also, the longer boats with lower rating, the more cruiser racer types, they really go in the flat water.”
For the mid-sized Class 2 boat it ended up being a long day following three general recalls before race two got away successfully on the fourth attempt under the Z-flag.
France Yellow holds fourth place, largely due to the efforts of their big boat, Bernard Gouy’s Ker 39 Inis Mor which posted a 2-2 today. Their mid-boat is Pen Azen, from Saint-Quay-Portrieux in northern Brittany, and for owner Philippe Delaporte this is his third Rolex Commodores’ Cup, but the first aboard his J/122, that was RORC Yacht of the Year in 2008. Delaporte bemoaned their tactics today. “We had a 5 and 7 - we were not lucky in our choices of side. We have good speed, so the problem is us.”
This was not an issue of tides – they have big tides in Brittany - but the unstable wind direction. “We didn’t manage that very correctly.”
Some post-race appraisal will be going on in the South African camp tonight, as after day one they are lying seventh out of ten. Their highest place in race one was that of the small boat, Rick Garratt and David Hudson’s J/109 Inspara, with a 6, and even in race two the team’s results were little better.
“I thought we were going to do really well, but we had a shocking day,” admitted Andrew Cape, the much-capped Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup navigator, who is sailing on the team’s big boat, Philipp Gutsche’s Landmark 43, Windpower. “The 40 footers seem to be staying up with a 43 footer. I thought we were in for a shot after what we saw in Cowes Week.” Cape competed in the first Rolex Commodores’ Cup back in 1992 as part of the winning US team and hopes he can maintain his record. He regularly sails with Gutsche in South Africa. While there was a substantial cross-tide today, Cape believes this wasn’t the issue. “It was the wind that sorted out the winners and losers today, not the tide.”
The Rolex Commodores’ Cup continues tomorrow with a further two inshore races. The forecast weather is for Force 3-4 from the north west, with more sunshine than today.
Top Five Teams - Provisional Positions 15/8/10
Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 7 / 1
GBR Red / 23 / 2
Hong Kong / 23 / 2
France Yellow /28 /4
GBR White / 36 / 5
Full results and team lists are available at http://commodorescup.rorc.org/
TOUGH NIGHT AHEAD
The 30 strong Rolex Commodores’ Cup fleet shot off east down the Solent this morning with the wind and tide but under a grey rain-filled sky at the start of their high points scoring offshore race. The course for the 10 teams is full of zigzags taking them first out towards Selsey Bill while tonight they will be heading west along the bottom of the Isle of Wight en route for a mark off Poole Harbour. At this point the three classes will race slightly different courses before the run back east tomorrow morning that should see them finishing off a line to the west of Portsmouth Harbour sometime tomorrow afternoon.
At 17.00 BST Simon Henning’s Alice II, a Farr 45, and the longest, highest rated yacht in the race, was approaching the Owers turning mark, the easternmost on the course, while the chasing pack were spread five to thirty-nautical miles astern of her. It seems likely that Alice II will steal a march on her Class 1 rivals, as her rounding of the Owers should coincide with the tide turning westbound, while those behind will face a further hour or two punching into it. Already Alice II in the GBR White team looks to be leading the big boat class on corrected time.
The absent Géry Trentesaux, the Frenchman who was instrumental in his country winning the Rolex Commodores’ Cup in 2006 and 2002, would be proud. The First 40, Coup de Coeur, he co-owns with UNCL Commodore Marc de Saint Denis was leading Class 2 on handicap at 17.00 BST as part of the France Blue team. Meanwhile, in Class 3, it was the turn of the Hong Kong team to head the standings, with Christopher Opielok’s Corby 36, Rockall III.
The latest positions from the racecourse indicate that the Irish team is not only still leading overall in the 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup, but they have extended their lead albeit marginally. The 17.00 BST sched showed Anthony O’Leary’s Antix second among the big boats, David Dwyer’s marinerscove.ie second in the mid-sized fleet and Robert Davies’ Roxy 6 second among the small boats. With these results the Irish team would be on 44.5 points ahead of France Blue and Hong Kong tied in second on 71.5. GBR Red holds fourth on 86.5, followed by France Yellow in fifth.
In the small boat class, Marc Alperovitch’s A-35 Prime Time in France Yellow was holding fifth. Alperovitch said he had been pleased with their progress. Heading down the eastern Solent they had seen 20 knots but late in the afternoon the wind had dropped to 14 knots – less than forecast. “It has dropped earlier than planned,” he reported. “Normally when the wind drops we should have a clear sky, but that is not the case at all. But maybe there is less pressure.”
Just ahead of them, the crew on board Jim Macgregor’s Elan 410 Premier Flair, lying seventh on handicap, were contemplating the night ahead and the lumpy conditions this evening heading west with the wind against the tide. “It was quite unpleasant earlier: wet and windy and horrible – good British summertime stuff,” commented crew woman Jody Slater adding that on board they were seeing 16 knots from the southwest. “It is quite pleasant now. The wave action is a little uncomfortable, but apart from that is all right. It has stopped raining, which I am deeply happy about. Tonight hopefully won’t be too unpleasant. It is supposed to be wind against tide. Unfortunately as one of the people taking seasickness pills, I don’t look forward to the beating.”
Owner Jim Macgregor had not managed to achieve his plan to use his boat’s longer waterline length to shake off the smaller Corby designs. Macgregor, who pilots ships in and out of Poole harbour for a living and is father of the World Match Racing No.1 Lucy, said prior to the start that his crew, including Olympic 470 sailor Ben Saxton, comprised mostly inshore sailors. “Hopefully we’ll stay awake tonight!”
This morning Simon Shaw, skipper on Michael Williamson’s Summit 40 White Heat, the big boat in GBR Red, walked the course. “At around 5-6pm we get as far east as we are going to go and then it will be a long 12 hour beat all the way to Weymouth for us, around the back of the island. The tide is with us initially and then we are against on the mainland shore just under the Needles, so there will be a lot of tidal strategy in those areas and around Poole.
“It is going to be a really dark night. It is going to be wet – for us that beat is going to be the focus of the race really and the ability of crews to keep their boats trucking through the evening period. Our boat is a little tweaky so it will be doubly hard for us to keep it on the numbers in that environment.” Shaw reckoned that they might rotate the helm and the main sheet trimmer to ensure they remained alert. They are expecting the wind to veer from the southwest back into the northwest tonight before settling back into the southwest tomorrow.
This evening as the teams prepare for a sleepless night on the rail, the British crews will be picturing the French teams sitting down below for a lavish dinner. In fact, the British might be getting the better deal. On White Heat they have a casserole to heat up for dinner, which will be eaten from dog bowls. On Prime Time Marc Alperovitch says they will be eating less palatable freeze-dried. “I love it – it reminds me of the Rolex Fastnet!”
Two yachts have retired to date: Cracklin Rosie (Class 1) and Artemis (Class 2) both from GBR Black.
The 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup Long Offshore Race continues tomorrow, Wednesday, with the yachts expected to finish by the early afternoon. The forecast wind overnight is for 12 – 15 knots from the west and southwest. Tracking and provisional rankings available at: http://commodorescup.rorc.org/fleet-...-tracking.html
Top Five Teams - Provisional Positions after completion of 4 races (Long Offshore not included)
Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 24.5 / 1
GBR Red / 49 / 2
France Blue / 51.5 / 3
Hong Kong / 54 / 4
France Yellow /59 / 5
Full results and team lists are available at http://commodorescup.rorc.org/