This will be the sixth time the competition, principally for amateur sailors, has been held and there will be nine races, both inshore and offshore before the outcome has been decided.
A typical Solent day with force 4-5 westerly breezes promises to give excellent racing on the opening day of the Rolex Commodores' Cup.
The Rolex Commodores' Cup is for three-boat teams and there have been eleven of these entered from eight nations or collective areas of nations. There are two each from England, France and Ireland, and one each from Belgium, Holland, Spain, Wales and The Commonwealth. Boats are rated on handicap by the IRC system and are between 35 and 52 feet long.
Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Rolex Commodores' Cup reflects the current trends in sailing of offshore boats and recognises the wishes of the owners. As a result, there are seven windward/leeward course races of
approximately 12 miles, one substantial offshore race that will last between 24 and 36 hours and carries four times the points of a windward/leeward race, and one moderately long inshore race that has twice the short race points.
The boats are diverse in design with many of them series production classes, but there is a healthy nucleus of one-off custom-built boats, mainly from the board of Cowes-based John Corby. Two of these together with Peter Morton's Mark Mills designed 50 footer, Mandrake, constitute the Irish Blue team and this is one of the favourites for overall success.
Three of the teams, Commonwealth, England Red and Wales, are led by Farr 52s and it is these three yachts that are expected to spearhead the fleet. Nick Hewson's Team Tonic, the winner of Cowes Week in Class 0, is in the Wales team with two of the extremely quick Ker 11.3s, Robbie Cameron-Davies, I-Site and Anthony Richards' Minnie the Moocher.
There are two Ker 11.3s in each of the Commonwealth and England Blue teams as well. The Commonwealth is led by Peter Harrison, the man who founded and has funded the British Challenge for the America¹s Cup, with his Farr 52, Chernikeeff 2, while England Blue has Nick Haigh's Farr 40, Too Steamy at
the top of its ratings.
England Red is led by Kit Hobday and Tim Louis's Bear of Britain, another Farr 52 and is partnered by Chris Bull's Ker 11.3, Kerisma, and the Beneteau 40.7, Fandango, of Chris Scanlan.
The team from Belgium has two Farr designs, the Beneteau 47.7, Moana, owned by Francois Goubau and the Beneteau 40.7, Cohibar, of Yves Delacollette. The team is completed with the IMX-40, Oxygen, owned by Axel de Cock.
Both the Ireland Red and Netherlands teams have widely differing boats. The Irish are led by the veteran skipper, Roy Dickson, in the Corby 40 foot, Cracklin' Rosie. He is joined by Simon Brown and Deirdre Horneck's Prima 38, White Knuckles II, and the Beneteau 40.7, Cheiftain. The Dutch are led by Peter de Ridder, one of the last winning Admiral's Cup team, with the BH-41, Checkmate 3, together with Hans Hout¹s IMX-40, Salty Dog, and the Grand Soleil 40, Satori, of Hans Horrevoets.
The French, in both their teams, have pinned their faith on Nils Jeppeson. There are two of his IMX-40s in each team as well as a X-442, providing teams with tight-knit rating bands that can employ team-racing tactics.
There are two Beneteau 40.7s in the Spanish team, Estrella Galicia of Alberto Viejo, and Chris Brown¹s 1906. In addition, this team has the lowest rated of all the boats, the Rob Humphries designed Cabreiroa, skippered by Peter Scholfield, who was highly placed in the competitive black group in Cowes Week, winning class 4.