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26 July 2004, 09:51 pm
Chasing The Wind Around The Solent
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Rolex Commodores' Cup
Cowes, IOW

After a weekend of brisk wind, brilliant sunshine and great sailing, day one of the Rolex Commodores' Cup saw very different conditions, an overcast sky and frustrated Race Committee and competitors after a day spent chasing the wind around the Solent.
"We laid marks in the correct positions for three separate courses on 230 deg, on 260deg and 045deg, but none of them ever came to anything," described Rolex Commodores' Cup Principal Race Officer Jamie WILKINSON. "I've never seen a day like that when throughout the day there's been enough wind to race, but never for more than 20 minutes in the same direction and with big shifts in between and flat patches."

Initially the western Solent looked good but when the boats went there the wind was further to the northwest than had been forecast; a situation that would have resulted in the boats racing across the channel in a strong flood tide. When the Race Committee tried to set up a race course in the central Solent the situation became worse. "Between each shift it always went very light," continued Wilkinson. "We were sitting there for long periods saying 'is it going to come back and in what direction?' So each time it swung, built again, and we would move into position to set up for tha."

To make up for the loss of today's two races, the Race Committee plans to hold these later in the week, with one race tomorrow and another on Thursday, if conditions allow.

Local weather guru Chris TIBBS says that the reason for today's fickle conditions was because of an old weakening front with little wind beneath it that has stalled over the southern UK. Tibbs predicts light winds for the week. "We shouldn't have so much cloud tomorrow so we should get a bit more heat and more chance of a sea breeze as long as the high doesn't come too much over the top."

For the 11 international three boat teams taking part in the Rolex Commodores' Cup there was equal exasperation. "It couldn't have been more frustrating - it wasn't good," said Colm BARRINGTON, owner of the Irish team's Flying Glove. "But we have hope for tomorrow. It will be the same but at least it will be sunny I'm told, so you might get some sea breeze coming in. Today we just sat there and nothing happened. It kept coming down from Southampton and up the west Solent and it was swirling around in the middle."

Alan CROSBIE, on the main sheet of his father Eamon's Calyx - the Voice and Data People, also in the Irish team, was more positive. "It wasn't too bad. We were able to use it to check our settings and make sure our rig was fully tuned up so it was at least constructive."

Racing continues tomorrow at the Rolex Commodores' Cup with the first start at 1030.

Further information about the Rolex Commodores' Cup including a full team listing may be found on the event website at the address below.
Trish Jenkins (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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