by Matt Carter
Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup 2014 - RYA Racing Keelboat Manager Nigel King admits the defence of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup 2014 will be a ‘tough challenge’ but one that his British contingent can overcome as they prepare to defend GBR Red’s title ahead of the biennial event which gets underway in Cowes, Isle of Wight, on Sunday 19 August.
RYA Team GBR Red’s Robert Lutener; Ker 40 - Cutting Edge on Baraka in action at the RORC Easter Challenge 2014.
A tough mix of inshore and offshore racing, the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup is an intense seven-day programme (19-26 July) that pits teams comprising one boat in each of three specified class bands against one another to accrue overall team points.
Team GBR Head Coach King, who led the Brits to success at the 2012 event, said: 'Defending the title is always a very hard thing to do and will pose a tough challenge, but I know that the four GBR teams which we have selected for this year’s event will be giving it their upmost to rise to the challenge.
'The team that wins the event overall will have to be consistent all week across both inshore and offshore racing and will need all three boats to be near the front of the fleet. It’s a long week with a real mix of racing coming in quick succession, it will require a huge amount of mental and physical strength to not make mistakes, and no matter how well you sail you need your teammates to be doing the same to be successful.'
Great Britain is entering four teams, GBR Red, White, Blue and Scotland compromising three boats in each team which were selected by the RYA after a very competitive trials process earlier in the year. They will be joined by a well-equipped team from Ireland, who took event honours in 2010, and the French who will also be fielding four teams at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event.
King added: 'For most of the sailors competing, this will be the biggest regatta they have ever taken part in. They are incredibly motivated to give a good account of themselves and retain the trophy for Great Britain. We have two boats returning from the 2012 event but the remaining 10 boats are all fist time competitors. There a few sailors who were part of the 2012 event but are now on new teams, but whose experience of competing in this kind of regatta before will be crucial across the seven day programme.'
With an extremely tight and competitive fleet ready to do battle at the 2014 event, King expects the outcome still to be in the balance going into the last double-points race on Saturday (26 July).
'There has been a lot of talk about the Irish, and we know the French are sending four strong teams, however what makes it very interesting is whether any one team will have three boats that can really perform all at the same time, across a full range of conditions and course. It will undoubtedly be a highly competitive week of racing which I’m sure will go down to the final day of racing.'
RYA Team GBR Red, who clinched championship victory over second-placed GBR White two years ago, will compromise Iain Kirkpatrick’s X37, Fatjax, Mike Blair’s King 40, Cobra, and Robert Lutener’s Ker 40, Cutting Edge on Baraka.
'It is a privilege and exciting to be given the opportunity to represent GBR at such a prestigious event. Although we have not competed before in this event, we are expecting some stiff competition from some of the best boats and crews in Europe. Our aim remains simple, to be the top boat and assist wherever possible our teammates to retain the trophy,' expressed Fatjax’s Kirkpatrick.
'It is undoubtedly a difficult competition and teams such as that entered by Ireland face a real threat to retaining the trophy. However, we believe that our build up to this event has been unrelenting and this is demonstrated by Fatjax topping the qualifying rounds leaderboard for the GBR entry and winning IRC 1 in the Round the Island Race.'
Kirkpatrick brings a Fatjax team that have developed over a number of years with a great deal of success in the Solent, including winning their IRC class four times running in Cowes Week between 2005-2011 as well as a top 20 finish (third GBR Boat) in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2013.
And with the regatta compromising an intense seven day programme, Kirkpatrick agrees that consistency will be the key for the defence of the prestigious trophy.
'The core Fatjax team has developed over a number of years together with some newer crew members. With that comes experience and maturity plus a passion to compete for the trophy. Being one of the slower true 'production boats' we do not stand out as being fast and glitzy, and our main challenge will be finding clear wind. However we are consistent and over such a regatta it will be consistency that wins.'
RYA Team GBR representatives for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup 2014:
RYA Team GBR Red
Iain Kirkpatrick; X 37 - Fatjax
Mike Blair; King 40 - Cobra
Robert Lutener; Ker 40 - Cutting Edge on Baraka
RYA Team GBR White
James Gair; Mills 39 - Localletterbox Zero II
James Neville; Corby 36 - INO
Ed Broadway; Ker 40 - Hooligan VII
RYA Team GBR Blue
David Aisher; J109 - Yeoman of Wight
Robert Stiles; J109 - Diamond Jem
Richard Patrick; Beneteau First 40 - Dusty P
RYA Team Scotland
Jamie McGarry; Swan 45 - Eala of Rhu
Rod Stuart; Corby 37 - Eos
Steve Cowie; Beneteau First 40 – Zephyr
The 2014 Team Crewlists can be found here.
The Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup 2014 will be held between 19-26 July 2014 at Cowes, Isle of Wight. For further information on the event visit event website.