Team Tonic has won the Morgan Cup and the first race of the RYA Commodores' Cup selection trials

The Morgan Cup Race from Cowes to Dieppe, run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, marked the start of the RYA Selection Trials for the 2002 Rolex Commodores’ Cup. Racing got underway from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line under clear skies and a light southerly breeze.

First to start were IRC Super Zero and Zero at 18.30 BST on Friday 7 June. Two Farr 52s lead the way with Nick Hewsons’ ‘Team Tonic’ getting the better start in front of ‘Bear of Britain’ owned by Kit Hoday/Tim Louis. IRC 1 then 2 and 3 started shortly after, getting away cleanly with spinnakers up, tight reaching out of the Solent to the Channel. The course sent the fleet east out of the Solent and across the Channel to A5, an East Cardinal Mark. Leaving A5 to port the fleet ran up the French coast a further 50 miles to the finish at Dieppe, an overall distance of 120 miles.

The breeze dropped off in the early hours of the morning and veered to the south-west making the tactics challenging, with a race on to catch the tide to the finish before it turned foul. The big boats managed to sail down with the tide, with ‘Team Tonic’ taking line honours, finishing at 11.15 BST on Saturday morning, with ‘Bear of Britain’ 13 minutes behind.

Unfortunately for some of the smaller boats, by the time they rounded A5, the tide had turned against them and with only a gentle southerly breeze of 6 knots many of the boats came to a halt. This meant that the bigger boats saved their time and ‘Team Tonic’ won the Morgan Cup and the first race of the RYA selection trials, followed by ‘Bear of Britain’.

Nick Haigh’s Farr 40 ‘Too Steamy’ finished at 16.40 BST to take third place in the RYA Selection Trials, followed by the Ker 11.3 ‘Kerisma’ owned by Chris Bull and then Dave Walters’ J/39 ‘Jackdaw’.

The Morgan Cup was worth quadruple points, so those boats who finished with a good race result made gains on the rest of the triallists. The boats that are trying for a place to represent England at the 2002 Commodores Cup will now take part in The Royal Thames Yacht Club Racing Weekend, based in Cowes on the 15-16 June, before sailing in the final trials event, the Amicus IRC Championships from the 28-30 June. The final team will be announced on July 2.

Chairman of the Selectors, Iain Macdonald-Smith commented; “Because the course to Dieppe was set by the Royal Ocean Racing Club back in December and was not a flexi course, I have spent the last six months thinking that the race would be an easy straight line over to France. I was delighted to hear that it was challenging to those who participated and made for a more interesting Trials.”

Although the Farr 52 ‘Team Tonic’ sailed a good race and won in convincing fashion, Hewson has announced this morning that he will have to pull out of the English Trials as the boat is going to do the Round Ireland Race and therefore will not be able to sail in either of the forthcoming selection regattas.

Positions after the first race of the RYA Selection Trials

1, ‘Team Tonic’ Nick Hewson 4 pts

2, ‘Bear of Britain’ Kit Hobday/Tim Louis 8 pts

3, ‘Too Steamy’ Nick Haigh 12 pts

4, ‘Kerisma’ Chris Bull 16 pts

5, ‘Jackdaw’ David Walters 20 pts

6, ‘El Gringo’ Nick Hartshorn 24 pts