The Irish team have a half a point lead over the Netherlands

Another day of light winds allowed the Race Committee of the Rolex Commodores’ Cup to hold one windward/leeward race just to the east of the Brambles Bank yesterday morning. Following this race the Irish team have taken first place overall holding a half point lead over the Netherlands team. In third place is the top British team, GBR Black, comprising John Shepherd’s new Ker 32 Fair Do’s VI, Shaun Frolich’s IMX45 Exabyte III and Adam Gosling’s new Yes! while the French defenders, France Blue including Gery Trentesaux’s Courrier d’Ile de France are currently sixth.

In a 6-7kt zephyr from the north-north-west it was Kit Hobday and Tim Louis’ Farr 52 Bear of Britain, with Stuart Childerley at the wheel, that got off to the best start at the pin-end of the line. The biggest boat in the fleet with the highest rating, Bear of Britain was able to tack on to starboard into clear air and get away. However, disaster struck for them as they hoisted their spinnaker and headed off downwind having rounded the wrong weather mark.

“As we approached the mark I started to think about the run and I was sitting on the cockpit floor looking at the computer and working out the laylines and stuff. And we went around the mark, Stuart called hoist and I looked back and I thought ‘hello, we’ve been around the wrong one here’.” Admitted Bear of Britain’s navigator Peter Morton.

This left Nick Hartshorn’s Ker 11.3 El Gringo in GBR Blue to lead around the weather mark followed closely by Exabyte III. By the finish Andrew Ritchie’s Minx had pulled up to second, but it was the Dutch Grand Soleil 44 Holmatro skippered by Hans Horrevoets who won the big boat class on handicap.

“We are not a light wind rocketship so it was nothing to do with the rating today that is for sure,” said Horrevoets. “We just sailed well, had good downwind tactics and our start was okay. Not everyone had a great start and it was very important on a short race like this.”

Holmatro is fresh from her overall IMS win in the Baltic’s leading offshore race, the Gant Gotland Rund race, and is a previous competitor in Skandia Cowes Week and the Rolex Fastnet Race. Based out of Ymuiden, near Amsterdam the boat is run by Horrevoets, Peter Tans and Gideon Messink who previously raced together on board Brunel Sunergy, the Dutch entry in the 1997 Whitbread Round the World Race, but the rest of the crew are all young.

“The philosophy of the sponsor is to give young people the opportunity to sail on grand prix boats. We started this program two years ago,” says Horrevoets.

Among the medium-sized boats Tarka Lee Peck Greenfield was closest to the pin, but two boats away Colm Barrington’s new Ker 39 Flying Glove in the Irish team was showing better pace. After one lap of the course Flying Glove, the highest rating class two boat, had opened out a three minute lead over France Blue’s Sinergia 40 Paprec Recyclage – enough to win comfortably on handicap.

French cunning got the upper hand in the small boat division where first to finish was John Shepherd’s brand-new Ker 32 Fair Do’s VI, but with the French J/109 Pen Azen close enough behind to take victory on handicap. The French boat has America’s Cup veteran Laurent Cordelle at the helm and former 470 Olympic sailor and world champion Christine Briand calling tactics.

“It is a good boat with good speed,” said Briand of her boat. “We were second on the line, so we had a good start, but then the wind was very light so we were looking for the pressure all the time. We were lucky on the first beat and at the end of the race it was possible to win but it was not easy as we had a boat just to leeward of us. I thought that the wind would go right but Fair Do’s VI had more pressure to the left so he won, but his handicap is bigger.”