After a tense and at times gruelling week at Cowes, Ireland emerged overall winners of the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup with a 174-point winning margin in the nine-team event. Ireland won the event for the first time ever in 2010 but was unable to defend in 2012 for economic reasons.
In addition to the Commodores' Cup and trophy for best individual boat, the team also won the award for best in the inshore series as well as the Edward Heath Cup for a European team.
Since starting last Sunday when team captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix won both races, Marc Glimcher's Catapult and Quokka 8 chartered by Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling have steadily increased their points advantage and were able to start the penultimate race around the Isle of Wight on Friday with a 99-point lead.
Although expecting a fresh sea breeze to develop today, the final race 'around the cans' was shortened after one hour when the light breeze died to near calm conditions.
However, Antix had established an early lead on handicap to finish the event as she had started while Quokka 8 was second. Catapult was first on the water correcting to fourth on IRC handicap but her result was sufficient to confirm the American boat as best individual performer of the series.
"We're elated after today," said Anthony O'Leary, team captain. "Yesterday we felt we didn't get the value for the colossal team effort that went in so to finish today in the style that we did with a 1-2-4 is the way to finish an event."
"This is an event won by the sailors as many of the boats were of similar capacity and capability," remarked Norbert Reilly, Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. "It shows we have the sailors there and we just have to use these guys to train more of our younger sailors. It's not that we don't have the talent, it's that we just don't use it."
The main handicap system for cruiser racers is IRC so this is basically the world championships for IRC racing and not an easy event to win he said.
"Most of our country is beside the sea, it's crazy that we don't have more sailors," said Reilly. "ICRA are pushing hard to get the Irish Sailing Association to realise that there's huge talent there for a clean sport for all the family."
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25th July 2014
The Irish Cruiser Racing Association team in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup emerged with it's strong overall lead relatively intact after a tough day at sea in the high-scoring round the Isle of Wight race today.
“It’s our to lose. We’ve sailed well through every race, particularly inshore so now we just have have to do what we do best and nothing fancy,” said Anthony O’Leary, Ireland team captain. “We’re helped that second third and fourth places are so close so that may take the attention off us.”
The three boats each made good starts at the Royal Yacht Squadron line and benefitted from a west-going early ebb tide before crossing towards the northern side of the Solent on the westward stage towards Hurst Narrows and onwards to the Needles.
Marc Glimcher's Catapult established an early and strong lead while Quokka 8 chartered by Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling stuck close to team captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix with both placed sixth and fifth on water water. By the halfway point at St. Catherine's lighthouse on the southside of the island, the three held second, third and fourth places on corrected time.
However, the ebb tide proved too strong on the eastern shore and several boats including Antix and Catapult briefly touched bottom while sailing slowy close to the shore trying to avoid the worst of the tide. But the entire fleet came to a half short of Ventnor and a decision was made by the Royal Ocean Racing Club race management team to shorten the course at Bembridge.
“We were quite upset with today’s race. Every forecast in Europe predicted a shut-down at mid-day and that’s exactly what happened," said Anthony O'Leary. "Still, it was a minor loss of points in the overall context of the series.”
A thunderstorm brought fresh breeze and the fleet got going again with Catapult first across the line though this corrected to 17th place on IRC handicap time. Quokka scored best in 13th place while Antix was 22nd; a scoring multiplier of 1.5x was applied to all positions.
In the final analysis, Ireland still has a considerable lead of 94 points with a single race today counting for double points.
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24th July 2014
What should have been a long inshore race along The Solent today turned into a waiting-game with no reward at the end in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup at Cowes as racing was abandoned for the day.
Ireland remains the event leader after three races including the high-scoring offshore event that finished in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
After starting this morning one hour earlier than planned, all three Team Ireland boats had a good start to the race that enjoyed a light north-westerly breeze off the Peel Bank. But the ebb tide was building and when the wind died, only seven boats had managed to break out of the notorious tidal stream.
Marc Glimcher's Catapult was second on the water followed by Anthony O'Leary's Antix in fifth and Michael Boyd and Niall Dowlings' Quokka 8 in seventh.
As the leaders reached Hayling Bay and started the windward-leeward section of the course, the bulk of the fleet were still trapped in The Solent. The Race Committee then abandoned the race on fairness grounds and opted to set a straight-forward windward-leeward course.
Once underway, barely had this race completed it's first of two laps than the wind shifted 100 degrees and then died leading to a second abadonment. After waiting to see if the breeze returned, the fleet began motoring back to Cowes some 12 miles distant in the hope of picking up more breeze in The Solent but to no avail.
The crews are expected back in West Cowes by 1800hrs and the Royal Ocean Racing Club is expected to announce changes to the remainder of the week which just has to complete one more race to qualify as a series.
Weather forecasts between now and Saturday do not offer much prospect of change and the normally reliable sea breeze has been hampered by the stationery high pressure system over the region.
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23rd July 2014
An early morning finish in near calm conditions for the 27-strong fleet in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup at Cowes saw the three Irish boats deliver a mixed set of results sufficient to retain the overall lead.
Marc Glimcher's crew on Catapult took third overall in a race that was dominated by bigger boats and won by Eric De Turkheim's Teasing Machine that boosted France Green into second overall.
Team captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix was caught by the long downwind leg from the Isle of Wight to the turning-gate off France earlier in the day and couldn't extend away from the smaller boats compressing from behind by a freshening breeze.
It was only close the finish that some tactical options emerged when Antix was able to regain and finish 20th.
Michael Boyd and Niall Dowlings' Quokka 8 sailed in close company to Antix and corrected to eleventh place overall after IRC handicapping.
The 118-nautical mile race had been planned to take 24 to 36 hours but the light winds extended longer than expected with the entire fleet finished in just over 16 hours.
Today will be used to prepare the team boats for more Inshore course on Wednesday and Thursday followed by a shorter offshore course around the Isle of Wight on Friday that also attracts bonus points.
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21st July 2014
Light winds on The Solent presented tricky conditions for the 27-boat fleet in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup today that saw Irish boats to the fore.
Team captain Anthony O'Leary on Antix won both short inshore courses, cementing his record this year that included the overall British title here.
Marc Glimcher's Catapult delivered a highly consistent day with a seventh and fourth place while Michael Boyd and Niall Dowlings' Quokka 8 overcame a 23rd place in race one after a difficult start and were fifth in the afternoon.
Race one started in a light nor’westerly breeze but a big shift caught the boats that has headed inshore towards Osborne Bay then favouring the boats on the right. In the second race, Osborne again became a fraught zone when half the fleet were becalmed there.
The defending champions from 2012 are Britain Red who are currently in second overall while the France Green team are also very strong in third overall. The sole Scottish team hold a close fourth place, boosted by Eala Of Rhu that placed second behind Antix in both races.
"Team Ireland has made a strong start to what is a very long series so we must be cautious at this early stage," commented Barry Rose of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association support team. "Tomorrow's offshore race counts for bonus points that our boats in particular will relish. However, the forecast is for the winds to become light so it will be an especially testing race for every team."
The fleet will start the offshore race at 9.25am on Monday morning and won’t return for at least 24 hours. Race management teams from the Royal Ocean Racing Club will set the course so that it could be shortened if the wind becomes too light to race though the forecast is for wind today at least.
Ireland won the Commodores' Cup for the first time in 2010 and has return to Cowes with a fresh challenge for 2014 and is supported by the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA).
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19th July 2014
Ireland's team of 31 sailors are making final checks prior to the start of racing in the biennial Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in Cowes, Isle Wight on Sunday morning.
Anthony O'Leary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club will again captain the Irish Cruiser Racing Association team of three boats on his own 'Antix' with the aim of winning the coveted trophy for the second time.
Marc Glimcher of the United States has provided 'Catapult' as the team second boat while Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish Yacht Club have chartered 'Quokka' for the week-long series.
All three boats were in action recently at Volvo Cork Week where crews had their final competitive practice before returning to Cowes.
The Commodores' Cup series will comprise six inshore races and a long offshore concluding on Saturday 26th July.
Crewlist for IRL 3939 Antix
Fred Cudmore - Ireland; Rosscoe Deasy - Ireland; Jamie Donegan - Ireland; David Lenz - United Kingdom; Ross McDonald - Ireland; Derek Moynan - Ireland; Darragh O' Connor - Ireland; Clive O Shea - Ireland; Robert O'Leary - Ireland; Anthony O'Leary - Ireland;
Crewlist for USA 1253 Catapult
David Bolton - Ireland; Grady Byus - United States; Alan Curran - Ireland; Garth Dennis - United States; Geoffrey Ewenson - United States; Marc Glimcher - United States; Tom Murphy - Ireland; Dan O'Grady - Ireland; Peter O'Leary - Ireland;
Crewlist for GBR 2215L Quokka 8
James Allan - United Kingdom; James Bendon - Ireland; Michael Boyd - Ireland; Laura Collister - United Kingdom; Ben Daly - United Kingdom; Niall Dowling - Ireland; Jarrod Hulett - United Kingdom; Tom Whitburn - United Kingdom; Nelson Moore - Ireland; Maurice O'Connell - Ireland; Nicholas O'Leary - Ireland;