An impressive offshore second for Jerry Otter’s Erivale and a fourth for Peter Rutter’s Quokka allowed GBR Red to maintain their position ahead of the French despite, in the Class One race, Fair Do’s VII finishing ninth behind France Blue’s race winner Lady Courrier.
Meanwhile, GBR White’s Poppy of Portland Marina and Jaguar of Burnham both secured good fifth places in the offshore to leave GBR White as the second placed British team in eighth overall.
A British team has not won the prestigious biennial event since 2004 but GBR Red boasts the narrowest two-point edge over nearest challengers and defending champions France Blue following the completion of the offshore race on Thursday.
GBR Red went into the offshore with a two-point lead over the French, the Brit team’s three boats having amassed two race wins and four second places between them from the opening four inshore races. But with three races, including the first ever Commodores’ Cup Round the Island Race on Saturday, still to sail before prize-giving on Sunday (6 July), Great Britain’s Rolex Commodores’ Cup team manager Dave Atkinson insists that the competition is still wide open.
He said: 'I still believe that any of the top four teams could still win it. We have got some big points races still to come and if teams sail well, they are still well in with a chance.
'The overall standard of the competition has really impressed me so far this year and some of the racing has been so close, it is anybody’s game. I’m pleased that we have got GBR Red at the top but we fully expect the French to continue to keep the pressure on them.'
Friday sees one inshore race, prior to a lap of the Isle of Wight on Saturday. The latter is likely to be in big breeze with as much as 30 knots forecast. Provisional standings after five races:
1. GBR Red (Fair Dos VII, Erivale, Quokka) 77.5 points
2. France Blue 79.5
3. Ireland Green 91
4. Hong Kong 103.5
5. Ireland White 107
6. Netherlands Red 123.5
7. France White 150
8. GBR White (Poppy of Portland, Premier Flair, Jaguar of Burnham) 161.5
9. Netherlands White 166
10. France Red 183.5
11. GBR Black (Dark and Steamy, British Soldier, Prime Suspect) 187.5
12. France Green 197.5
13. Netherlands Blue 224
14. GBR Blue (Novus Arca, Magnum, Vortex) 225.5
15. Spain 281.5
Schedule of events (points weighting in brackets):
Friday 4 July - Solent inshore race (1)
Saturday 5 July – Round the Island Race (1.5)
Sunday 6 July - Solent inshore race (2)