Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Day 2 Report
For the 24 competing yachts in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup today was the `big one'. Designed to last 24 hours or more, the offshore race is the longest in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews. A good result in it is vital as it comes with a 2.5x points co-efficient.
This year the race committee set a course of 153 miles (as the crow flies). Starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line the course is east down the Solent and along the Sussex coast towards the turning mark at the Royal Sovereign lighthouse south of Bexhill. The boats then return west south of the Isle of Wight and then past Needles Fairway Buoy and on to the finish at the North Head buoy off Milford on Sea. En route some tactical decisions to be made with boats obliged to avoid the large exclusion zone around Rampion Wind Farm, south of Shoreham-by-Sea and right in the middle of the race course both outbound to Royal Sovereign and on the way back.
The wind today has been largely in the west but this afternoon was gusting to more than 20 knots. It is forecast to veer northwest this evening, leaving a significant light spot to the southeast of the Isle of Wight.
This afternoon just three boats had taken the longer route south of the Rampion Wind Farm with the race's highest rated boat, James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX (GBR Blue) leading from Eric de Turkheim's A13 Teasing Machine (France Blue) and Didier Gaudoux's JND39, Lann Ael 2 (France White), the two leaders making 11-12 knots.
On the water Andrew Williams' Ker 40 Dan, Israel (Keronimo), was leading the fleet to the north of the wind farm with Seahorse editor Andrew Hurst on his JND 39 Stamina (France Red) second and Alice, the Henning family's much modified Mumm 36 screaming along in third.
On handicap Teasing Machine was holding a narrow lead mid-afternoon over Ino XXX followed by Alice, Dan Israel and Stamina, but later Ino XXX and Alice had pulled ahead.
On Dan, Israel tactician Kevin Sproul reported that earlier they touched bottom at the Owers, a series of sandbanks off Selsey Bill: "It slowed us down a bit. So we lost about 10 minutes on Teasing Machine and Ino. We had to drop the Code 0 and put the jib up and scraped round. There were a few inside us but they all luffed up pretty hard when they saw us put the jib up and going upwind."
Dan, Israel was following the two frontrunners offshore, but instead gybed inshore. "I think we got a lot more breeze inshore, because we are moving in front of Teasing Machine and we are much closer to Ino than we were. It was a good decision," Sproul reported. This afternoon Dan, Israel has been making 12-15 knots in 22 knot winds from 240deg. "It has been a good angle for the Ker as well. My gut feeling is that we've gained 3-4 miles in two or three hours."
The Preitz family on their Ker 39 GOA was relishing the 20 knot westerlies as they flew past Beachy Head under masthead spinnaker. "It is great fun, great conditions," reported Sam Preitz. "To leeward is Alice [GBR Red] which is flying. She is very efficient because she is light with a classic symmetric spinnaker she can go deeper than us. Moana [Flanders North Sea] is right behind us and she's good in these conditions. Nothing is finished yet and if we have a long beat in decreasing wind that could be good for us."
Also enjoying the broad reaching conditions was Rod Stuart, skipper of the Corby 37 Aurora (Celtic Team): "It is glorious sunshine, about 18 knots from 260°) and we're surfing along at 12-14 knots close to La Reponse and Alice. It is quite pleasurable, expect we have got to turn the corner in a couple of hours! But we are looking forward to turning the corner and going upwind because that should suit us a bit better."
The crews are now settling into a night at sea. In longer races, they would be getting into a watch system, but with just one night at sea most will just stay up all night. Stuart reported: "We are looking forward to our Pot Noodles and porridge and a late lunch in Cowes tomorrow."
On GOA, Sam Preitz said staying up all night was unlikely to be a problem as his crew has Tour de France a la Voile experience. But instead of the usual French `haute cuisine', dinner would be freeze dried. "The sooner we get to Cowes, the sooner we will get a decent meal!"
The race committee is expecting the first boats to finish at around 1000-1200 tomorrow. rail blazing run east, painful overnight beat west.