Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup spells the arrival of summer
With racing due to get underway at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup this Sunday, 22nd July, the 21 boats competing are making their final preparations for the pinnacle event of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's 2012 calendar.
A crucial element a team considers in planning for any regatta is anticipation of the weather, but the latest forecast is indicating conditions next week far from what teams have been expecting. After the wettest June in the UK since records began more than 100 years ago, and an equally rainy July, this weekend the weather looks set to break finally, and summer may begin. This change looks set to coincide exactly with the start of racing at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.
The long term forecast shows high pressure moving towards the UK this weekend with temperatures soaring into the high 20s next Wednesday. The sun putting in an appearance may be welcome, but of more consequence to the teams is that with high pressure comes light wind and at present the forecast is indicating sub-10 knot conditions for at least the first half of the week.
"We've definitely got more heavy wind settings than light off the back of a pretty breezy 2012 so far," said John Greenland, helmsman on Jonathan Goring's Ker 40 Keronimo, the 'big boat' in RYA Team GBR Red. "Of course the Ker 40 is much more exciting in 16+ knots, but we're going out to look at some new sails on Saturday, and our downwind inventory should be pretty good for lighter stuff."
Nigel King, who has been coaching the four GBR teams, says that his crews are going to have to dust off their numbers and settings for lighter conditions. "Everything recently has been windy, so it has been hard to train for the lighter stuff. We trained at the weekend and in one race they had both 6 knots and 27 knots and the conversation afterwards was that sometimes you haven't got a chance to get the optimum sails on to suit the conditions, so you have to make what you have got on work - because you know it is only going to last for 10 minutes - and then move on."
King observes that if it really does warm-up, as it may do on Wednesday for example, then there is the possibility of a good sea breeze developing.
Jamie McWilliam, one of the co-owners of the Hong Kong team's Ker 40 Peninsula Signal 8 had mixed feelings about the overdue arrival of the British summer. "Lighter breezes and sunshine would be very welcome after the "summer" we've seen so far, but obviously will make Hong Kong's task more difficult as the local knowledge can really pay off in the light stuff. I don't think it will make any real difference to our boat's performance - we have bigger boats than most teams, which should help us get clear air, but at the same time reduce our waterline length advantage over teams with smaller boats."
French teams stamp their authority
Peninsula Signal 8 is one of several boats to have been out honing their skills on the race course recently. The Hong Kong team big boat was competing on McWilliam's home waters at Cork Week. There they may not have been too happy about their new boat finishing third in IRC 0, but they were pleasingly 1.5 points ahead of Anthony O'Leary's Antix, the Ker 39 big boat in Ireland's winning Commodores' Cup team in 2010.
Back in the Channel, in this weekend's Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race, the French team made a clear indication of their Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup potential. Olivier Pesci's Grand Soleil 40 Beelzebuth 3 came out as the top overall boat in the provisional results with Hervé Borgoltz' Grand Soleil 44 R Eleuthera and the J/122 Nutmeg IV of François Lognoné, 11th and 13th overall respectively.
RORC Commodore Mike Greville's Ker 39 Erivale III, racing in the Hong Kong team as Nick Burns' EFG Bank Mandrake for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, finished 25 minutes ahead of Eleuthera beating the French boat to second place in IRC One.
Finally, one of the trio in RYA Team GBR Red has undergone a re-branding since announcement of their selection. Mike West's A-35 Eaujet is now to be skippered by Paul Worswick, previously West' doublehanded Class 40 transatlantic race co-skipper. The boat will now be called CNBC, after the team secured backing from the Consumer News and Business Channel - a neat fit with race sponsor Brewin Dolphin, one of UK's largest independent private client investment managers.
The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup' first races are two inshores, the first starting at 1030 BST this Sunday (22 July).