IRM's first international event, or just another Solent regatta?

Ed Gorman takes a slightly sceptical look at the Rolex Commodore's Cup
The biennial Rolex Commodores' Cup gets underway on the Solent this week, bravely setting out its store as the very first regatta on the world circuit to use the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) new grand prix rating rule, IRM. This year the event is compressed into one week and two weekends and amateur crews will be bolstered with up to 50% professionals. This should increase the attractiveness of a complex regatta which features three-boat teams all racing under handicap and with the extra confusion of two England teams, one "Blue" (the better of the two on paper) and one "Red". Partly because of its IRM basis, this year's Cup can barely lay claim to be a "corinthian regatta of international standing." Although there are seven teams racing, all but one of them are basically British. The exception being the "French" team which also includes a British component in the form of the Rob Humphries-designed Prefix 30, Bespoke, in the small boat slot. The dedicated IRM boats in the field are the Jason Ker-designed sister-ships, Shakermaker II and Quokka V, occupying the small boat slots for England Red and England Blue and the IRM 10.7, Roaring Meg II, which dismasted on its way home from Cork and is also a new design from Ker's board, which will sail for the "European" team. Another boat adapted to the new rule is David Aisher's Judel/Vrolik IRM 44, Yeoman of Hamble, a not entirely successful revamped IMS design with a new rig and a new keel, which sails as the big boat for England Blue. Elsewhere in the field are six Farr 40s in both big boat and middle boat slots with the "Channel Islands" team already looking like favourites because they have selected two of these one-designs which perform better than any other under