French victorious on 10th anniversary
After a sensational week of racing, that included eight inshores, one 24 hour overnight offshore race and a round the Isle of Wight race held in 20-25 knots and brilliant sunshine, one race was held but ultimately abandoned on the final day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event for three boat teams with Corinthian crews. As a result, yesterday's scores stand, with France Blue claiming victory in this Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup on 160 points, 35.5 ahead of Flanders North Sea.
The first timers from Israel were fifth overall, beating both British teams and the Celtic team. In a week of racing on varied courses, tidal states and wind strengths, consistency was tough to achieve, but the French Blue line-up of Eric de Turkheim's A13 rocketship, Teasing Machine, the Prietz family's Ker 39, GOA and yacht designer Daniel Andrieu on his Sun Fast 3200, Cifraline 4, achieved this best.
Among the three French boats there were no weak links with Teasing Machine claiming one inshore and Friday's race around the Isle of Wight, GOA winning an inshore on Wednesday and Cifraline 4 scoring a further two. Eric de Turkheim commented: "It was a great week with a good variety of courses, between the windward-leewards, round the cans and the offshore race, which was difficult for the big boats. But the team did well. It's been ten years since the last French victory in the Commodores' Cup." The three French Blue crews also gelled holding a team meeting every morning and sharing resources. "There was a good team effort - everybody did a very good job," said de Turkheim.
Of the French, the Prietz' crew on GOA has spent the most years trying to win the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup. This year they succeeded; inshore helmsman and skipper Sam Prietz was pleased their win coincided with the 10th anniversary of the last French victory: "We had very good team mates in Teasing Machine and Cifraline 4, which did so well in Class 2 and Teasing Machine is such a machine reaching or when the wind increases. It was a strong project with Daniel Andrieu, Eric de Turkheim and Laurent Pages - they are very experienced, smart skippers who know how to prepare for all the different conditions we've had this week.
It was very challenging for us all, with the windward-leewards, the offshore, and the very fast round the island, which we achieved in less than six hours. It is an honour to write France's name on the Commodores' Cup again." The top boat was Noel Racine's JPK 1010 Foggy Dew, competing in third-placed France White. Traditionally one of the stand-out boats in the RORC offshore races, this year Racine applied his skill to finish the 13th Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup on 20 points, while Teasing Machine scored 29, albeit in a fleet of 16, while Foggy Dew was competing in the eight-strong small boat class. As to the reasons for his success, Racine said: "We are all-round, we can go fast in any conditions. Sometimes Cifraline is faster reaching, but otherwise we are the same speed or faster. Most of the time I race offshore, but in my crew, many have sailed the Tour de France à la Voile. So we have inshore specialists and for the offshore - it's me!"
On the final day of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, two inshore races were scheduled, the second a double points-scoring grand finale. Sadly a single round the cans race was started, and was shortened as the wind began to die. A handful of Class 1 boats were then finished before the wind died across the race course completely. Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley explained: "We shortened course because the wind was dying and already two boats struggled to get around the weather mark. I was keen to try and get in a race that was reasonably fair but the wind just died away so quickly that in the context of the event we didn't think it was fair." The boats still on the race course had stood upright, going nowhere other than latterly with the tide for around 20 minutes when Childerley announced the race abandoned. "The progress I was viewing was non-existent and everyone was heading to Portsmouth pretty quickly and that is just not what you want after such a great week of really good racing." The 13th Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup was viewed as providing a rich variety of racing and some of the best conditions on record for the event. The next event will take place in 2018.