Teams announced for Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup
With Monday's final deadline for challenges having passed, so seven teams are to contest this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, to be held on the Solent and English Channel waters over 22-28 July.
For the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup each team as usual must comprise three boats. This year the four British teams will be up against strong competition representing France, Hong Kong and Benelux, the latter comprising two boats from the Netherlands and a third from Belgium.
Chief Executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Eddie Warden Owen commented: "It is great to see such a competitive fleet of boats and although the numbers are down, the quality of the competition within the fleet will be very high. Of course it's disappointing that we do not have an Irish team defending the title they won in 2010. Anthony O'Leary said there was no lack of enthusiasm from the sailors, it was just a case of finding the money to support the teams campaign." O'Leary skippered Antix, the winning Irish team's big boat in the 2010 Commodores' Cup.
While the entry list of national teams is complete, the French have yet to reveal the boats they will be sending to the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.
This year the make-up of the teams has changed slightly as has the race format. Previously each team had a small, medium and big boat, each racing in its own group with its own start. Following feedback from competitors, this year all the boats will be racing together en masse with a single start. The rating bands of old have been opened up to make entry simpler. Boats must now have an IRC time correction coefficient of between 1.020 and 1.230, the only further requirement being that teams may field only one 'big' boat (with an TCC of 1.150-1.230).
Four teams have big boats in their line-ups and all of them are Ker 40s. Therefore we can expect the fight for the front of the fleet to be one of the most intense scraps we have ever seen in a Commodores' Cup.
Two teams, GBR Black and GBR Blue, do not have a big boat. GBR Black's fastest boat is Seb Blair's King 40 Cobra, with a TCC of 1.114, while their 'small' boat is David Aisher's British Keelboat Academy-crewed J/109 Yeoman of Wight, which has the lowest rating of all the boats taking part, at 1.029.
As a group the boats in GBR Blue have the tightest set of ratings, all towards the smaller end of the permitted band, ranging from ex-RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine's First 40 La Réponse at 1.086, to Paul McNamara & Tony Lowe's First 40.7 Incognito at 1.053.
Hong Kong has the fastest three boat line-up with their 'slowest' boat being Peter Rutter's 2011 IRC National Championship winner Quokka 8, chartered to Ante Razmilovic, with a TCC of 1.100.
Whether this will have any bearing on the outcome of the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup remains to be seen. More likely is the eventual winner being, as always, the team that has put in the most practice and sails the smartest.
Looking forward to July's event, to be held the week before London 2012, Brewin Dolphin Executive Chairman, Jamie Matheson said: "The preparation for the 2012 Commodores' Cup is going very well and we are delighted to welcome so many crews from around the world. The competition will be strong with boats from Hong Kong, France and Benelux amongst the teams. With everything going on in the Solent this summer, as well as the Olympics, this is a great year for sailing and Brewin Dolphin is thrilled to playing its part in so many events around the country - and the Commodores' Cup is a central fixture on our calendar."
Benelux: Baraka GP (Ker 40) Harmen Jan de Graaf/NED; Xcentric Ripper (J/111) Robin Verhoef/NED; Moana (First 47.7) François Goubau/BEL
France: to be confirmed
Hong Kong: Peninsula Signal 8 (Ker 40) Jamie McWilliam; Quokka 8 (Grand Soleil 43) Ante Razmilovic; EFG Bank Mandrake (Ker 39) Nick Burns
RYA Team GBR Red: Keronimo (Ker 40) Jonathan Goring; Dignity (Mills 39) Andrew Williams; Eaujet (Archambault 35) Mike West
RYA Team GBR White: Magnum III (Ker 40) Andrew Pearce; Joopster (J/122) Neil Kipling; Philosophie (First 40.7) Nicolas Gaumont-Prat
RYA Team GBR Blue: Incognito (First 40.7) Paul McNamara and Tony Lowe; La Réponse (First 40) Andrew McIrvine; Premier Flair (Elan 410) Jim Macgregor
RYA Team GBR Black: Cobra (King 40) Mike and Seb Blair, Salvo (Corby 33) Peter Morton, Yeoman of Wight (J/109) British Keelboat Academy