Mark Heuchen's Beneteau 40.7 won the second weekend's RYA selection Trials for the 2002 Rolex Commodores’ Cup

The Royal Thames Yacht Club Inshore Racing Weekend, Cowes, made up the second weekend of the RYA selection Trials for the 2002 Rolex Commodores’ Cup over the weekend of the 15-16 June.

Fourteen boats competed in the weekend all aiming to better their scores from the Morgan Cup Race and looking to finish in the top six, in the hope of being selected to represent the English team in the 2002 Rolex Commodores’ Cup.

The format for the weekend was a combination of windward/leeward races on Saturday and then a double-point Solent inshore race on Sunday. The seven-mile windward/leeward course was set off Beaulieu in a good breeze of 15-18 knots. Racing got underway with Kit Hobday’s Farr 52 ‘Bear of Britain’ getting a good start and leading the way to the finish. However, unbeknown to them, they were scored as OCS (on course side) for starting the race prematurely and the race win went to ‘Fandango’ a Beneteau 40.7, owned by David Scanlan, with the Ker 11.3 ‘Fair Do’s V’ in second place.

A slightly shorter 1.5-mile beat was set for the second race and again it was the smaller boats that took charge. ‘Fair Do’s V’ was quick out of the starting blocks and sailed well to add a race win to her second place in race one. The Beneteau 40.7 ‘Fastwave II’ finished second on corrected time, with her sister ship ‘Fandango’ in third place.

An incident on ‘Bear of Britain’ which saw her mainsail fall down halfway up the beat due to a breakage in the main halyard, resulted in a score of DNF (did not finish). This added to the OCS from race one, meant that she would have to pull out all the stops for the rest of the weekend.

The next race went her way, after a general recall at the start due to some over eager helmsmen, ‘Bear of Britain’ scored a first place in race three of the day to put her back in the points. Second was the Ker 11.3 ‘Kerisma’ owned by Chris Bull, followed by ‘Fair Do’s V’.

‘Bear of Britain’ continued this good form through to race four, notching up her second race win of the regatta in front of two Ker 11.3s, ‘El Gringo’ and a consistent ‘Fair Do’s V’.

Sunday was the day of the Solent inshore race and with 25 mark roundings in store for the competitors it would be a true test of crew work and skill. Racing got underway in 10-15 knots of breeze and the boats were required go twice round a set of Solent markers and buoys. Conditions were demanding for the sailors as the first round was against the tide and the second with it. So the race was really on to make the best of the tidal advantages, especially as the race was worth double points and the competitors would want to keep them to a minimum.

On corrected time the race went to ‘Fastwave II’ with ‘Bear of Britain’ second and ‘Kerisma’ third. ‘Bear’ was the first to finish, completing the course in 5 hours 20 minutes with some boats finishing over an hour behind her. This meant that ‘Fastwave II’ had done enough to win the weekend by one point from ‘Fair Do’s V’. ‘Bear of Britain’ had, although finishing sixth overall in the weekend, still maintained the top spot after two trials weekends with 42 points. ‘Kerisma’ was two points behind in second place, and ‘Too Steamy’ in third.

However, a number of protests remain to be heard so there may be some change to the results. The protests will be heard on Wednesday night by an arbitration committee, and those included in the protests are ‘Fair Do’s V’ and ‘Jackdaw’ due to disputes on carrying extra crew.

The RYA Selection Trials for the 2002 Rolex Commodores’ Cup concludes on the 28-30 June at the Amicus IRC Championships at Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth. The selection committee of Chairman, Ian Macdonald-Smith, John Derbyshire the RYA Racing Manager, Dave Atkinson, Vice Commodore of the Island Sailing Club and Guy Barron, will assess what they have seen over the three weekends and will be looking to announce the two English teams on 2 July.

Chairman of the Selectors, Iain Macdonald-Smith commented, “We have seen some really competitive racing this weekend, although some of the smaller boats have suffered due to the tidal conditions of the Solent. There is however, room for improvement across the whole of the fleet with both the crew work and the Solent navigation tactics, in particular with lay-lines.”

Overall Results (after two weekends)

1, ‘Bear of Britain’ Kit Hobday (Farr 52) 42 pts

2, ‘Kerisma’ Chris Bull (Ker 11.3) 44 pts

3, ‘Too Steamy’ Nick Haigh (Farr 40) 50 pts

4, ‘El Gringo’ Nick Hartshorn (Ker 11.3) 53 pts

5, ‘Fair Do’s V’ John Shepard (Ker 11.3) 57 pts

6, ‘Fastwave II’ Mark Heuchen (Beneteau 40.7) 60 pts