IRM leader Chernikeeff 2 deposed as Farr 45 Wolf seizes Britannia Cup in handicap coup

Today saw the IRM fleet racing for one of the most prestigious trophies at Cowes: the Britannia Cup. The award dates back to 1950, when King George VI presented it to the RYA as a prize of international significance for larger yachts. In a post-war era it was felt to be unrealistic to attempt to restart the Americas’ Cup.

This is the trophy that big boat owners come to Cowes to win, and it has always produced some exciting racing. In 2001, Peter Harrison hoisted the goblet after a victory for his Farr 52Chernikeeff 2. The following year, Nick Hewson’s Farr 52Team Tonicsnatched the cup by one second from another Farr 52, Kit Hobday’sBear of Britain. Meanwhile the Swan 70Volvo for Life, with Ben Ainslie at the helm, hit the rocks off the Royal Yacht Squadron. The 2003 Cup was won by Kerr 55Aera, again just ahead ofBear.

This year another Farr 52 victory looked likely, with these boats dominating the IRM results so far, but they were chased hard by a fiercely competitive fleet of Farr 45s and 40s, and Kerr 11.3s. Peter Ogden’s new Swan 601Spirit of Jethoujoined the battle too, having shifted from IRC1 to IRM today.

With three firsts in this class over the last four days, Harrison’sChernikeeff 2was an early favourite, and led the fleet at the second mark of the course, Peel Bank. She was closely chased byTeam Tonic, withBearlooking a little off the pace as the boats hoisted their kites for the bear away to Marsh. Things hadn’t changed much by the last mark.Chernikeeff 2was round first, trailed a minute or two later byTonicandBear, rounding together. This procession lasted to the finish but it was Kevin Sproul and Ben Morrison-Jack’s Farr 45Wolfthat was the surprise winner on corrected time.

The Britannia Cup trophy will be formally awarded toWolfat the Royal Yacht Squadron on Friday. ForChernikeeffandBearhowever, it’s straight back onto the water for this afternoon’s ‘match race’ off the Green.