Red and BlueChairman of selectors, Iain Macdonald Smith surprised no one when he named the nominated boats for the two English Commodore's Cup teams at the Royal Southampton YC today.
The Red Team is topped by Kit Hobday's Bear of Britain with Chris Bull's Ker 11.3 Kerisma filling the mid-sized boat slot. The small boat of the red team (actually bigger then the Ker 11.3 but lower rating) is David Scanlan's Beneteau First 40.7 Fandango.
In the Blue Corner we have Nick Haigh's Farr 40 Too Steamy and yet more Ker 11.3s in the form of Nick Harshorn's El Gringo and John Shepherds Fair Do's V.
In the end the teams were selected largely on merit with the top five boats in the trial all finding places in the two teams. The one note of controversy in an otherwise unremarkable announcement was the non-selection of Fastwave II, the Beneteau 40.7 that finished sixth on points in the trials. "A spirit of cooperation was a condition of entry in the trials," remarked Macdonald Smith who went on to suggest that an uncooperative attitude from the owners of Fastwave II lay at the centre of her non-selection.
While the Red Team is entirely conventional, with big, medium and small boats keeping the options open in rating terms, the Blue team is somewhat unconventional in its make up. Too Steamy though fast for her 40 feet will struggle to keep up with the higher-rated boats on a long beat against the tide while the two Ker 11.3s will by their very nature have very similar performance profiles. Success of the Blue Team will be dependant as much on the weather as the skill of the crews.
Perhaps surprisingly there was little of the usual razzmatazz and few bold claims of the 'we can win it this year' kind of bravado that has often hindered British teams in the past. Instead there is a realisation that the core of both the Red and Blue teams form the basis of two strong teams, with plenty of work to do before they can take on and beat the World's best.
RYA Racing manager John Derbyshire sees his involvement with the team as just the start of a much bigger project to get young sailors into bigger boats and help improve the quality of their sailing to the point where keel boat sailing reaches the lofty standards already set by the Olympic team.
It is hoped that up to twelve teams will be competing in July in what has by default become the only International big-boat team competition held from Cowes.