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August 20, 2010 11.45pm. Update: There has been a points change on the leaderboard in the Provisional Results.  Roxy 6 has been given one point for race 6 and Rockall lll has been given two points,  This now means that Team Ireland has a  38 point lead on 63.5 with Team Hong Kong on 101.5.

Report 9.30pm: Now on 64.5 points to second placed Hong Kong’s 100.5, the Irish team’s position at the Rolex Commodores’ Cup is looking all but unassailable. With just one inshore race to go to-morrow, counting for double points, it would now take a major disaster in all three classes for the Irish to lose their grip of the trophy that has eluded them for so long.

The result for the 50-mile race around the Isle of Wight today saw team captain Anthony O’Leary score a sixth win on Antix; Dave Dwyer’s stayed a place ahead of Hong Kong’s Blondie IV with a fourth; team small boat Roxy 6 skippered by Andrew Creighton was one place behind Rockall III, the runner-up team’s challenger in Class Three.

“There was huge apprehension today but now we know where we are and we just have to hold it together,” Dwyer said last night.  “There’s no sense of winning, just get the job done. Tomorrow is a double-points day and full failure is 60 points,” said Dwyer.  “It would take three boats having full failure and though the odds are against that, we’re going to be very, very careful and approach the race conservatively which is the approach since the start of the week.”

“We had a good solid day,” said Barry Rose, ICRA Commodore.  “The Irish team will be taking the same approach we’ve had all week: hard work and grind out the best result possible.”

Last night, Ireland was among several teams that presented appeals to the International Jury that awarded full redress to Rockall III of the Hong Kong team for missing a course change in Thursday race.  Initially, Ireland’s lead increased to 40.5 points but after redress was awarded, Hong Kong were 31.5 points behind going into today’s penultimate race.

Tonight, the International Jury was still hearing the appeals and after three hours of deliberations, at time of writing the outcome was still unknown.

Today the 29 strong fleet (one down with Paul Turner’s Artemis in GBR Black out of the competition with a damaged keel) sailed anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight, the results from this 55-nautical-mile carrying a points co-efficient of 1.5x. This was held in southwesterly wind that peaked at around 24 knots as the boats battled their down the western Solent towards the Needles in lumpy wind against tide conditions.
In the big boat class, Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39 Antix scored another win, her fourth this week, giving her by far the lowest points score of all the boats at the Rolex Commodores’ Cup. She won on corrected by a minute, once again from her sistership, Bernard Gouy’s Inis Mor racing in France Yellow.

“The start was very tricky,” commented Dave Lenz, Antix’ tactician and one of the crews two permitted professional sailors. “There was tide, not much breeze and while you weren’t crossing the line on starboard, you wanted the left because of the effective bias there.” Surprisingly only one boat, Inspara (RSA), was swept over the line by the tide and had to re-start.

Antix did well heading down the western Solent, managing to get into clear air which Lenz says was key. At the Needles the going got very bumpy thanks to the strong wind and tidal situation. “It was quite rough down there – we saw 23-24 knots and some short sharp pretty big waves.” From the Needles the wind dropped to around 17-19 knots, but they were pushing tide which momentarily turned in their favour after they rounded St Catherine’s Point, the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, turning foul again as they approached the eastern entrance to the Solent. “I thought it was going to be lower visibility, but it was alright,” concluded Lenz.

Marc de Saint Denis, Commodore of the Union Nationale Course Au Large, said the level of competition this year is very good, but that now the Irish team is virtually untouchable.

South Africa continue to suffer at this regatta, now lying in eighth place overall. Small boat in the team is the J/109 Inspara, skippered by David Hudson. Hudson runs the Race Ahead, an organisation that aims to nurture sailing talent among under privileged youths in South Africa. Aboard for this regatta, his stars in the making are Wandisile Xayimpi and Marlon Jones.   We last saw him in Cork Week 2008 when he won the SB3 fleet class and boat of the week.

Helping the Inspara team this regatta is also Mark Sadler, skipper of Team Shosholoza, SoutAfrica’s 32nd America’s Cup challenger. “Dave Hudson who has chartered this J/109 asked me to come and help him out. He races Laser SB3s a lot with his guys, but most of them are dinghy sailors. So I’m here just to help them adapt to big boat sailing.” Sadler says while he competed at Cowes Week with the team, he hasn’t sailed much in the UK before and today was his first lap of the Isle of Wight. “It was fantastic. Great tourism! This run has been fun.”

They finished eighth today, and Sadler concedes that they haven’t had the best regatta. He is not used to the Solent, and the boat has had its weak points compared to the competition. “It is okay. We are enjoying it, but I don’t think we can do much better than where we are.”

Top Five Teams – Provisional Positions after completion of 7 races

Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 64,5 / 1
Hong Kong / 100,5 / 2
France Blue / 109 / 3
France Yellow / 126 / 4
GBR red /128 / 5

The 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup concludes tomorrow, Saturday, with a single inshore race at 10.30 BST.

The final prize giving will be held at the Royal Yacht Squadron at 17.00 BST.

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