With three months to go until the biennial event, the international fleet has every prospect of being one of the more exotic

There are just three months to go to until the 10th edition of the biennial event, the Rolex Commodore’s Cup, and it’s shaping up to be a world-wide occasion.

The headline foreign contingent is perhaps South Africa, participating at the regatta for the first time. Hong Kong has confirmed it will be back following its happy venture in 2008. Thereafter, the northern European teams – Ireland, France and the United Kingdom – the traditional backbone of the event – will be present in numbers.

Organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, anticipate a total of 12 teams. Racing is from 15 – 21 August, with close of entry on 12 July.

The Cup is a weeklong series, mixing inshore racing on the waters in and around The Solent, with an offshore course that takes the fleet on a course round the Isle of Wight. Comprehensive knowledge of the tides and currents affecting these areas is essential. Furthermore, it has been proved time and again that is not just the team with the best boats or the best sailors that wins. It the team that is the best prepared in all aspects.

The Hong Kong team, led by Jamie McWilliam finished fifth overall in 2008, surprising many of the more seasoned campaigners in the process. McWilliam and his teammates were resolute in their determination not just to return, but to win. “In 2008 we arrived with a crew that had trained hard but which had never seen the boats before the regatta, as they were either charters or brand new,” explained McWilliam.

“This meant that we spent quite a bit of important time just before the event working on the boats instead of working on our speed, and as a result we were still learning about the boats during the series. Our team this time was determined to avoid that mistake. This time all the boats are owned by Hong Kong owners and we therefore have much more time [to prepare].”

The Hong Kong team is made up of Rockall III in the small section, a Corby 36 owned by Chris Opielok. ‘Opie’, as he is known, is a Hong Kong sailing legend, having won two Admiral’s Cups for his native Germany. Rockall III is the former Rosie, which has a dominant history in UK & Irish IRC racing. The middle boat is Blondie IV, a Mills (King) 40 chartered by Anthony Day from Helmuth Hennig, both very well known Hong Kong racers.

Blondie was second in class in Rolex Commodores’ Cup 2008 and has an exceptional track record under her former owner. The big boat is Mandrake, Nick Burns’ Mills 40.5, formerly Ngoni and Tiamat. As Tiamat, she had an outstanding Rolex Commodores’ Cup in 2006.

“The Solent puts unique and intense pressure on crews and seemingly trivial moments turn out to be really critical, like a down tide bottom mark rounding where you’ve got to be perfect in order to hold your lane to get out of the current. I also believe that the best team here has always won the event, and that’s the best recommendation I know for a regatta,” concluded McWilliam.

For more, visit www.rorc.org