With just under three months to the start of this biennial event, the 2004 team line up looks highly competitive. The current holders, France - so ably led in 2002 by Gery TRENTESAUX a RORC Rear Commodore - will be returning to the fray in force.
There is a real prospect of three French teams on the start line. The selection process began at Spi Ouest weekend in April with the final decision on team composition being made after the Cowes-Dinard Race in July. Contenders for two of the teams include Codiam (an IMX45 owned by Jean-Claude NICOLEAU and helmed by a previous 505 world champion Nicolas LODAY) and Gonzague DUBOIS'S IMX45 Pretexte in Class 1, Courier d'Ile de France - a Grand Soleil 45 helmed by Gery TRENTESAUX - and Jean-Yves le GOFF'S IMX 40 Fastwave 3 in Class 2 with the Class 3 entries being the J109 Pen Azen owned by Philippe Delaporte and helmed by Figaro expert Laurent Cordell and Christian Guyader's JPK 960.
From the Netherlands, winners of the Admiral's Cup in 1999, there are plans to enter two teams. One will comprise the Grand Soleil Holmatro (winner of IRC 1 in last year's Rolex Fastnet Race), the BH41 Checkmate and the HOD35 Havoc. Not to be outdone by its neighbours, Belgium - another strong supporter of the Rolex Commodores' Cup - is putting together an entry led by Francois GOUBAU in his Beneteau 47.7 Moana.
The Irish, a perennially strong force in Solent sailing, promise to live up to their reputation with a Dublin-based team of Eamon CROSBIE'S new Ker 32 Voodoo Chile, Velvet Glove and a new DK46. A second team is also being considered
The British yachting community plans to enter four teams and the RYA selectors under the chairmanship of David AISHER are looking at a minimum of two English teams with the possibility of a team from each of Wales and Scotland. There is a long list of interested owners, which includes Kit HOBDAY on his Farr 52 Bear of Britain, Peter RUTTER and his latest Quokka (an Elan 37), and John SHEPHERD with his new Fair Do's VI, another Ker 32. The trials comprise a series of inshore races in early June, the RORC Myth of Malham race and the MeesPierson Yachting IRC Championship later in the month, with the teams being announced on 22 June.
The RORC is quietly confident that the event will exhibit a quality field across the board and anticipates 12 teams in total, as it continues its efforts behind the scenes to assist National Authorities from Scandinavia, Spain and Russia to put forward entries. The continued use of IRC has allowed Authorities to choose from a wide selection of competitive yachts. The reintroduction of banding will mean that like yachts race against like yachts, adding to the overall attraction of this event.
The Rolex Commodores' Cup will be held off Cowes, Isle of Wight, from 25 July to 1 August. Entries close on Monday 21 June. Further details are available on the RORC website at the address below.