Ireland remains the runaway leader after day two of the 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup. Those chasing, led by 2008 winners GBR Red, with strong competition for second from France Blue in third and the potent Hong Kong team in fourth, did a good job to minimise the damage inflicted today: the Irish managing to extend the gap over the second-placed team, but only by 2.5 points.
“It was a great days racing with tough conditions this morning in 18 knots of breeze,” commented Barry Rose, ICRA Commodore. “We had a bit of a fight in some of the classes and we dug out three results with a very strong performance in the afternoon. All in all, it was a great day’s work in sometimes tricky conditions.”
Conditions were perfect for today’s two races with brilliant sunshine and more breeze – 14-17 knots from the northwest for the first, dropping off to 10-15 for the second. First up was an inshore race around the length and breadth of the eastern Solent, followed by a shorter windward-leeward course set off Hill Head on the mainland shore.
In the big boat class race one saw a rare corrected time tie between Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix (IRL), maintaining her perfect scoreline for the Irish team, and Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau’s Grand Soleil 43 Codiam in France Blue. While Antix remains the boat to beat among the big boats, it was Codiam that scored two bullets today. “I think the conditions were ideal for our boat, which is a bit heavy and ideally needs about 15 knots,” commented Nicolas Loday, racing his fourth Rolex Commodores’ Cup, but his first in the Grand Soleil 43. “It is a boat that goes very well with flat water. It is not at all a boat that goes fast in the big waves or the choppy seas you get in the Channel. So today the conditions were perfect for this boat.
Perhaps it was coincidence, but in Class 2 another Grand Soleil 43 shone today with former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter’s Quokka 8 (GBR Red) scoring two bullets ahead of UNCL Commodore Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux’s Coup de Coeur (FRA Blue) and Ireland’s marinerscove.ie, belonging to David Dwyer.
In the flat water and moderate conditions, the smaller higher-rated boats did seem to suffer today. Marinerscove.ie the Class 2 boat from the all-powerful Irish team struggled to post a 4-2. “We are in a 39-foot boat racing against 43-foot boats which rate significantly lower than us – it is very hard for us especially in the medium to upper wind ranges,” commented her tactician, former America’s Cup helmsman Andy Beadsworth. “After the first race we said ‘we sailed well, for sure we could have done some things cleaner and smarter, but we were never going to beat those guys’. That was the reality. ”In the second race Beadsworth was particularly pleased when his call to go left up the first beat came good, despite dissenters on board. They ended up reaching the weather mark a minute ahead of the competition.
In Class 3 Marc Alperovtich and Jerome Huillard’s A-35 Prime Time won today’s first race for France Yellow, while Robert Davies’ Roxy 6 took the second for the Irish. But once again it was France Blue that came to form with Samuel Prietz’ X-40 Goa claiming second in both today’s races. However, in the second race of the day in Class 3 it was Team Ireland Roxy 6 that took first place.
Tomorrow, the complexion of the Rolex Commodores’ Cup changes with the start at 10.30 BST of the 24-36-hour offshore race. The weather is also expected to take a turn for the worse with the passage of a front tomorrow afternoon. According to meteorologist Mike Broughton, working with the Irish team, this will bring with it 20-plus knot winds, before conditions lighten on Wednesday night, and then fill in again on Thursday. “It means it won’t be a complete lottery. There will be no thermal switch off,” he advises.
Offshore in waves with a mix of wind conditions, along with the rigours of racing at night, maintaining focus with little or no sleep, perpetually on the rail, after up to 36 hours of racing – will a new group of boats come to the fore? Past experience indicates that the French and British teams have proved strongest in the Rolex Commodores’ Cup two-and-a-half points scoring offshore race. And, if there are stronger gradient winds – will the Irish continue to be the class act? We will not have the final answers to these questions until Wednesday, but by tomorrow night we may some pointers.
Top Five Teams – Provisional Positions 16/8/10
Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 24.5 / 1
GBR Red / 45 / 2
France Blue / 51.5 / 3
Hong Kong / 54 / 4
France Yellow /59 / 5