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17 August 2010, 11:01 am
France's day, but Irish remain front-runners
2010 Rolex Commodores' Cup
TOKOLOSHE, team South Africa

Rolex Commodores' Cup 2010
Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK

Ireland remains the runaway leader after day two of the 2010 Rolex Commodores' Cup
GBR Red, winners in 2008, lead the chasing pack, with strong competition for second from France Blue and the potent Hong Kong team in fourth. The four did a good job to minimise the damage inflicted today, however, the Irish still extend the gap over the second-placed team, but only by 2.5 points.

Conditions were perfect with brilliant sunshine and winds ranging from 10 - 17 knots for the days two races in the eastern Solent.

In the big boat class race one saw a rare corrected time tie between Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix (IRL), maintaining her perfect scoreline for the Irish team, and Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau's Grand Soleil 43 Codiam in France Blue. While Antix remains the boat to beat among the big boats, it was Codiam that scored two bullets today.

"I think the conditions were ideal for our boat, which is a bit heavy and ideally needs about 15 knots," commented Nicolas Loday, racing his fourth Rolex Commodores' Cup, but his first in the Grand Soleil 43. "It is a boat that goes very well with flat water. It is not at all a boat that goes fast in the big waves or the choppy seas you get in the Channel. So today the conditions were perfect for this boat - like yesterday, but yesterday we made wrong tactical decisions. Today we kept close to the other boats and this paid off very well."

In Class 2 another Grand Soleil 43 shone today with former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter's Quokka 8 (GBR Red) scoring two bullets ahead of UNCL Commodore Marc de Saint Denis and Géry Trentesaux's Coup de Coeur (FRA Blue) and Ireland's marinerscove.ie, belonging to David Dwyer.

"We didn't feel on fire yesterday losing one race by 6 seconds and another one by less than a minute," explained Peter Rutter. "We needed to sit down and think - we did that last night and it's come out fantastic. We have a different way of trimming the main and we are also making sure that people only stop hiking out when given permission to. So, a bit more dictatorial, but it worked really well and the crew felt really happy."

Rutter felt their performance today was to down the change in crew work rather than having the ideal boat for the conditions. "It wasn't that different from yesterday, a little more wind. We stopped being stupid really."

In the flat water and moderate conditions, the smaller higher-rated boats did seem to suffer today. Marinerscove.ie the Class 2 boat from the all-powerful Irish team struggled to post a 4-2. "We are in a 39-foot boat racing against 43-foot boats which rate significantly lower than us - it is very hard for us especially in the medium to upper wind ranges," commented her tactician, former America's Cup helmsman Andy Beadsworth. "After the first race we said 'we sailed well, for sure we could have done some things cleaner and smarter, but we were never going to beat those guys'. That was the reality."

The South African team is still trying to get out of its own way, lying seventh equal with GBR White after day two. Their mid-sized boat, Mike Bartholomew's King 40 Tokoloshe has been based in the Solent for two years, but Bartholomew says they have been struggling to get off the line cleanly. "It is essential in this type of racing. The races are being won and lost in the first 30 seconds. We have had four races where we haven't done that and we are paying the price. It has been very tight racing. We are disappointed we haven't done better than we have. We know what we are doing wrong and it is a case of trying to correct it."

In Class 3 Marc Alperovtich and Jerome Huillard's A-35 Prime Time won today's first race for France Yellow, while Robert Davies' Roxy 6 took the second for the Irish. But once again it was France Blue that came to form with Samuel Prietz' X-40 Goa claiming second in both today's races.

"Yesterday we had some minor difficulties with boat handling," admitted Prietz, a past Codiam crewman, for whom this is also his fourth Rolex Commodores' Cup. "We haven't sailed together since June, so yesterday we didn't do so well. We missed a couple of opportunities in tactics, also we were not able to point high enough comparing to some other boats - so not really promising. Today we sailed much more relaxed, with a much better mood inside the team." click here for full interview (in french)

On Tuesday, the Rolex Commodores' Cup changes character with the start of the 24-36 hour offshore race. The weather is expected to take a turn for the worse with a frontal system bringing 20-plus knot winds.

Offshore in waves with a mix of wind conditions, along with the rigours of racing at night, maintaining focus with little or no sleep, perpetually on the rail, after up to 36 hours of racing - will a new group of boats come to the fore? Past experience indicates that the French and British teams have proved strongest in the Rolex Commodores' Cup offshore race, so will the Irish continue to be the class act? We will not have the final answers to these questions until Wednesday, but by tomorrow night we may some pointers. All yachts will be carrying tracking units with the positions presented at: http://commodorescup.rorc.org


Top Five Teams - Provisional Positions 16/8/10

Team / Points / Place
Ireland / 24.5 / 1

GBR Red / 45 / 2
France Blue / 51.5 / 3
Hong Kong / 54 / 4

France Yellow /59 / 5

Full results and team lists are available at http://commodorescup.rorc.org/
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