The France Red team added fuel to the fire when they posted the best score in the Line 7 short inshore race without really having the need to compete on the final day of the Rolex Commodores Cup.
Their overall margin was 62.5 points clear of the Netherlands with another 34.74 points to the England Red Team.
Throughout the regatta, the France Red team has sailed confidently and with precision, led by former winner of the RORC's Yacht of the Year, Courrier Nord, an IMX-40, skippered by Gery Trentesaux. He was admirably backed by another IMX-40, Eric Fries' Fastwave 3 and the X-442, Clin d'Oeil of Jean-Yves le Goff.
On the final day, Clin D'Oeil was second, Fastwave 3 fourth and Courrier Nord ninth. The next best score, by the Commonwealth team, was eight places lower. It was a demonstration of the strength of this French team, sailing boats which were very much in keeping with the Corinthian spirit of the event. 'I'm racing my own boat,' said Trentesaux, 'it's my pleasure to steer her.'
There was twelve knots of south-westerly breeze for the last race of the series and it was held in the Eastern Solent and, as usual, the fleet was over eager to be underway, causing a general recall. At the second attempt, wit code flag `Z' flying to indicate an unhealthy penalty for any transgressor, the start was clean. Peter Morton's Mandrake (Ireland Orange) with Stuart Childerley behind the wheel, made a perfectly timed start at the left hand end of the line.
From the middle of the line, Peter Harrison's Chernikeeff 2 (Commonwealth) was early to show and the 52 footer was soon spearheading the fleet. At the first mark, Chernikeeff 2 led by 30 seconds from Kit Hobday and Tim Louis's Bear of Britain (England Red) with Mark Campbell-James steering, just five seconds clear of Mandrake. The big boat fleet was having its own race.
Behind the big boats was a highly aggressive pack of Ker 11.3s led by Nick Harrison's Natti Vee (Commonwealth) and her team-mate Blue Belle, chartered by Tony Clare. Then came Charles Dunstone's Communicator (Ireland Orange), a 42 foot Corby design splitting the Ker II.3s, before Fair Do's V (England Blue), I-Site (Wales), Kerisma (England Red), and El Gringo (England Blue). The three French boats were among the next group and it was noticeable how cautious their rounding of this and the other marks were on this race; they were determined not to foul.
Two runs and two beats later, the order had changed among the smaller boats although in the bigger ones Mandrake had managed to hold on sufficiently to beat all the Farr 52s on corrected time. Blue Belle was the corrected time winner from Clin d'Oeil with El Gringo in third place, ahead of Fastwave 3. Mandrake was fifth and Courrier Nord ninth.
'We were surprised to win,' said Trentesaux, 'and we were surprised it was so easy. We thought the England Red and Wales teams would be good as we were impressed by the speed of the Farr 52s, but while they are good in IRM events, they are not as dominant in IRC racing.'
Trentesaux had assessed the strength of possible opposition when he came to Britain to race in the IRC National Championship and must have gone home with a feeling that he could put together a strong team as he had won that championship in June. 'We thought we would be good in strong breezes and were none to happy when we saw the forecasts at the beginning of the week.'
He admitted that they had tried from the start to adopt a team strategy, even before the team was finalised. 'We knew Courrier Nord and Fastwave 3 would be picked, but it was not until after the [RORC's] Dinard Race that Clin d'Oeil was invited to the team.' He has kept the same crew for several years and was happy to have been able to do so. He says that they are as much a part of his success as the boat.
Using IRC for this event was a sealing factor in the appearance of the two French teams. 'We have many IRC owners in France who do not wish to build extreme boats,' he said, 'but despite this, and possibly as a result of our success, the French will try next year to organise an Admiral's Cup team.'
'This has been a great week,' enthused Trentesaux, 'the organisation and the beer have been extremely good. The feeling and the spirit are very good. We will be back in 2004 to defend the Cup.'
Team/Boat Name/Owner-Skipper/Type/Race 1 Position/Race 2 Position/Points Overall/Team Place
France Red/Courrier Nord/Gery Trentesaux/X442/2/5/4/2/3/11/18/3/9/1/171.75/1
France Red/Clin D'Oriel/Jean-Yves Le Goff/IMX 40/20/8/22/1/18/20/29/2/171.75/1
France Red/Fastwave 3/Eric Fries/IMX 40/8/11/8/8/2/13/14/12/4/171.75/1
Netherlands/Salty Dog/Hans Hout/IMX 40/16/12/15/3/1/16/12/4""/12/234.25/2
Netherlands/Checkmate 3/Peter de Ridder/BH 41/6/9-ZFG/16/22/7/21/3/5/10/234.25/2
Netherlands/Satori/Hans Horrevoets/Grand Soleil 40/26/20-ZFG/30/28/8/27/24/8/28/234.25/2
England Red/Bear of Britain/Kit Hobday & Tim Louis/Farr 52/22/3/3/14/32/1/4/11/17/269/3
England Red/Fandango/David Scanlan/First 40.7/1/7/19/5/4/15/16/9/21/269/3
England Red/Kerisma/Chris Bull/Ker 11.3/15/22/12/20/14/9/9/22/17/269/3
Wales/Team Tonic/Nick Hewson/Farr 52/17/4/1/3/28/7/8/7/24/283.25/4
Wales/I-Site/Robbie Cameron-Davies/Kerr 11.3/9/18-ZFG/21/27/17/6/13/18/13/283.25/4
Wales/Minnie the Moocher/Anthony Richards/Ker 11.3/11/27/5/7/11/5/15/10/283.25/4
Commonwealth/Chernikeef 2/Peter Harrison/Farr 52/3/2/7/6/29/8/5/20/14/284.5/5
Commonwealth/Natti Vee/Nick Harrison & Robert Greenhalgh/Ker 11.3/5/6/2/13/20/1/1/26/8/284.5/5
Commonwealth/Blue Belle/Tony Clarke/Ker 11.3/13/28/17/25/15/3/2/26""/1/284.5/5
Ireland Orange/Mandrake/Peter Morton/Mills 50/14/1/6/9/27/3/6/15/5/285.5/6
Ireland Orange/Gloves Off/Colm Barrington/Corby 41.5/10/12/26/10/9/10/10/14/24/285.5/6
Irleand Orange/Carphone Warehouse Communicator/Corby 41.5/4/19-ZFG/9/15/25/12/7/16/15/285.5/6
Spain/1906/Chris Brown/First 40.7/7/15/28/12/23/26/26/21/15/376.75/7
Spain/Estrella Galicia/Alberto Viejo/Alberto Viejo/First 40.7/25/21/20/26"/10/23/25/17/21/376.75/7
Spain/Cabreiroa/Peter Schofiled/HOD 35/27/24/24/15/6/29/DNF/13/29/376.75/7
France Blue/Meta-Baron/Jean-Philippe Chomette/IMX 40/12/14/14/33/5""/24/21/6/11/383.5/8
France Blue/Coraya/Marc de Saint Denis/IMX 40/23/23-ZFG/10/11/13/22/19/19/2/27/383.5/8
France Blue/Ster Wenn 5/Guy Sallenave/X 442/30/33/33/32/31/31/31/27/30/383.5/8
England Blue/El Gringo/Nick Hartshorn/Ker 11.3/18/16/18/30/16/17/20/24/3/392.5/9
England Blue/Fair Do's V/John Shepherd/Ker 11.3/19/17/25/28/19/14/22-ZFG/19/6-ZFG/392.5/9
England Blue/Too Steamy/Nick & Anne Haigh/Far 40/24/29-ZFG/11/18/22/25/11/28/31/392.5/9
Belgium/Oxygen/Axel de Cock/IMX 40/29/25/23/31/21/DNF/23/31/33/505.5/10
Belgium/Moana/Francois Goubau/First 47.7/28/31/13/23/30/32/27/32/19/505.5/10
Belgium/Cohiba/Yves Delacollete/First 40.7/32/32/31/19"/12/19/30/29/26/505.5/10
Ireland Green/Cracklin' Rosie/Roy Dickson/Corby 40/20/9/27/21/24/18/17/23/6/511.75/11
Ireland Green/White Knuckles II/Simon Brown & Deidre Horneck/Prima OD/31/26/32/17/26/30/32/33/20/511.75/11
Ireland Green/Cheiftain/Ger O'Rourke/First 40.7/33/30-ZFG/29/24/DNC/28/28/30/32/511.75/11
ZFG - Penalty Points of Place + 20% of Entry
DNC - Did not come to starting area
DNF - Did not finish
" - place 50% penalty, minimum 5 places
"" - two minute time penalty
Overall Team Points After 9 Races
Team/Total Points/Overall Position