Boats have been returning to Cowes Yacht Haven throughout today, back from the offshore race of the 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup. With a 2.5x point co-efficient this race had the potential to provide a major upset in the results, but after four days of competition the Irish team hold an even more commanding lead, now up to 29.5 points.
Hong Kong has regained second place, this time with a 25-point cushion over the leading French team, which in turn is just 5 points ahead of GBR Red and 15 points ahead of France Yellow in fifth.
Hong Kong and Ireland scored equal points in the offshore race with the former’s Rockall III winning the small boat class while the latter’s marinerscove.ie claimed the mid-sized class. On the water Rockall III was first home in the whole fleet, crossing the line just to the west of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour at 10:40:41 BST, winning her class by almost one hour on corrected time. Owner Christopher Opielok said they faced stiff competition from the Irish team’s small boat, Roxy 6, “we focussed on sail trim and sailed extremely hard without any rest. We knew we could only beat Roxy upwind. We put all our effort into the 60-mile beat and then we tried to control them downwind. Luckily the tide went with us and pushed us even further than expected.” The tide was particularly beneficial on the final run into the finish.
Sailing on Rockall 111 and sharing helm duties for the offshore race was young David Kenefick of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Life is very sweet for David at the moment. Some ten days ago he won the overall trophy at West Cork Calves Week in Tiger, today he received his Leaving Certificate results and, la créme de la créme, he is now sailing in the Rolex Commodores’ Cup 2010.
Aside from torrential rain yesterday afternoon, conditions were not as bad as had been forecast. In the southwesterly breeze the sea was being kicked up by the wind against tide on the first beat out of The Solent and apart from the overfalls off St Catherine’s Point, the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, it was generally considered a pleasant race.
“It was great fun – the course had a fabulous variety,” commented Anthony O’Leary, who’s Ker 39 Antix corrected out to be second amongst the big boats. “Every corner we went around it seemed that the tide was against us, but that was part of the plan to give us a varied course with all the options and all the challenges – and there were plenty. Going into Poole Bar in the middle of the night and the Anvil in the dark is a challenge but thankfully we got away and managed to hold the thing together. ”O’Leary was thankful that the Irish team had cumulatively posted a solid result in this high scoring race. “You could easily lose the regatta if you had a disaster and in that respect it is certainly satisfying. But there is still plenty to do and there are still plenty of points available. We’ll keep on chipping away.”
David Dwyer’s marinerscove.ie maintained the impeccable Irish performance, first home in the mid-sized class, although by the slender margin of three and a half minutes over Anthony Day’s Blondie IV. Tactician on the Irish boat, Andy Beadsworth, commented that, “it was a really good race and it was nice to finish relatively early today.” The team enjoyed spending most of the night racing in company with the big boats. “It wasn’t that lumpy. We hardly had any water over the deck!” said Beadsworth.
Tomorrow the Rolex Commodores’ Cup returns to racing on The Solent with one inshore course scheduled for Rolex Trophy Day. Crews get a well-earned rest following their efforts of the past 24 hours or so, with the start scheduled for noon BST. With two high scoring races to follow on Friday (the x1.5 Round the Isle of Wight Race) and Saturday (a double-points inshore race) the teams at the top know this event is far from over. The Irish will sleep more comfortably tonight having cruised through the major test of the week, but undoubtedly will be on alert tomorrow to avoid the pitfalls encountered by previous compatriot teams.
The 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup continues tomorrow, Thursday, with one inshore race for the Rolex Trophy. The forecast wind overnight is for 10 – 14 knots from the southwest.
Top Five Teams – Provisional Positions after completion of 5 races
Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 42 / 1
Hong Kong / 71.5 / 2
France Blue / 84 / 3
GBR Red / 89 / 4
France Yellow /99 / 5