The final day of the Rolex Commodores' Cup sees a tense finish in near gale force conditions

While the GBR Red team started the final day of the Rolex Commodores’ Cup with a comfortable lead, a double points scoring final race combined with a front passing over the Solent – bringing with it solid 30 knot winds, even stronger gusts, rain and terrible visibility – maintained the tension until the last moments of the competition.

In the end John Shepherd’s big boat, Fair Do’s VII made it around the race course cleanly to post a second place behind Anthony O’Leary’s Antix Eile in Ireland White, while the two smaller GBR Red boats – Jerry Otter’s Erivale III and Peter Rutter’s Quokka 7 – had a much harder time in their classes, the mid-boat finishing ninth and the small boat coming home fourth. But overall the results were good enough for GBR Red to win the 2008 Rolex Commodores’ Cup comfortably on 122 points. The two Irish teams White and Green finished on 144 and 161 respectively, pulling ahead of France Blue, the defending champions dropping to fourth on 166.5.

But the final outcome for GBR Red hung in the balance due to Quokka 7’s race in Class Three. Approaching the weather mark, Quokka 7 infringed and in order to avoid disqualification was forced to carry out two penalty turns. On the second of these the mainsheet block hit owner Peter Rutter. “I got hit on the head and the next thing I knew we were heading down the run,” described Rutter, now sporting a large lump in his forehead. “I lost the plot for a few minutes.”

Despite leaving the windiest wind race until last, the 30 knot conditions proved too much for many of the competitors, with five boats in Class One having to retire. Worst hit was the Netherlands White small boat Slainte, which was dismasted. But most boats retired with boom or sail damage. Even defending champion Gery Trentesaux fell victim to gear failure when the end of Lady Courrier’s boom broke on the first run.

Within the three Classes the top scoring boats were Anthony O’Leary’s Antix Eile on a very impressive 24 points to second placed Fair Do’s VII on 45 in Class One, while in Class Two, Kees Kaan’s ROARK/Claus en Kaan Architecten held a similar lead over Eamonn Rohan’s Blondie IV. But it was in Class Three that there was the closest finished, Quokka 7 squeezing ahead of Jamie McWilliam’s Hong Kong boat Yeoman of Wight by just half a point.

Top Six Teams – Provisional Overall Positions:
Team / Points / Place

GBR Red / 122 / 1
Ireland White/ 144 / 2
Ireland Green / 161 / 3
France Blue / 166.5/ 4
Hong Kong / 180.5/ 5
Netherlands Red/ 206 / 6

For more information and full results, see here .