Team Ireland lead the way after the first day of the Rolex Commodores' Cup 27/6/06

Yesterday off Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the first day of the Rolex Commodores’ Cup started out in fickle Wintry conditions.

Despite the grey sky and torrential rain throughout the day, the conditions on the northern Solent off Hill Head did not dampen the spirits of the thirteen teams representing France, Ireland, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium and Russia participating.

The day began with a promising 15 knots, but with the rain’s arrival the wind dropped to 8 knots from the northeast prior to the start of the two inshore races. By the day’s end, the three powerful Irish teams topped the leaderboard ahead of the France Bleu team with the three GBR (England) teams holding the middle ground.

Leading the event overall is Ireland Green comprising Tim Costello’s Mills 40 Tiamat, the Corby 37 Blondie sailed by Eamonn Rohan with Adrienne Cahalan navigating, and the J/109 No Naked Flames; Ireland Orange lies second one point adrift.

Sailing his first Rolex Commodores’ Cup, Andrew Allen co-owner of No Naked Flames said: “We had two reasonably good starts and despite the wind dying away in the second race we were able to power away from the fleet.” Like most of the Irish team Allen and fellow owner Colm Monahan have campaigned their boat at every available regatta this season. Today their J/109 posted a third in the first race and first in the second. Allen went on to praise his tactician, former GBR Challenge America’s Cup crewman Chris Main: “In the second race we went right and everyone else went left and the right paid.”

Among the competitive mid-sized boat class, Eamonn Rohan’s Blondie posted two second places, while the Ireland Green big boat, Tiamat scored a seventh and fifth, disappointing after their class win the recent IRC Nationals. Tiamat owner Tim Costello commented: “I wouldn’t say it was the best start we had to an event. It was fairly shifty out there and the big guys managed to stretch their legs.”

At the start of race one, three mid-sized boats were carried over early by the tide. One of these, David Dwyer’s brand new Mills 39 2, went on to win both her races. Navigator on board, Peter Morton attributed their success to going the correct side of the first beat on both races but also due to creating the right size of boat to fit into the mid-sized class. “When we decided to build this boat we wanted to have it as the biggest boat in the class. It is nice to have that because you always have that ability to push ahead. We had clear air virtually all day.” Morton also believes the early success of the Irish comes down to their simply putting more effort into their campaigns than the other teams.

For the British team. the two Farr 52s Bear of Britain and Chernikeef 2 led the charge around the course among the big boats, followed closely by Colm Barrington’s new Ker 50 Magic Glove. Of the two Farr boats Bear of Britain held the upper hand, she benefited from clear air at the front of the fleet, comfortably beating Chernikeef 2 in both races. Bear of Britain helmsman Mark Campbell-James believes they benefit from having better sails and more experienced crew than Chernikeef 2. But Campbell-James is well aware of the threat posed by the Ker 50 Magic Glove in Ireland Orange.