Irish eyes are smiling in Commodores’ Cup

Yachts taking part in last years Clipper Round the World Race			             	  Picture: onEdition

‘Team spirit’ will keep us buoyant on global challenge

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It’s early days but the Irish Commodores’ Cup team will be hoping their dazzling start to the international Solent-based regatta is a harbinger of good things to come.

Winners in 2010, the team from the Emerald Isle did not contest the biennial event for amateur crews in 2012 but returned with a bang to lead the nine-team fleet after the opening two races.

The following pack will today be hoping a good showing on the long offshore race, which started yesterday and carries a large 2.5 points co-efficient, will put them back in touch with the on-form Irish.

Team boss Anthony O’Leary and his Ker 39 Antix led from the front, winning both of Sunday’s inshore races sailed in light conditions in the southeast Solent.

Support from Irish team-mates, American Marc Glimcher’s turboed Ker 40 Catapult, with a 7-4 scoreline, and Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling’s Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8 (23-5), has put Ireland in the box seat and at the top of the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup leaderboard with a 19-point advantage over GBR Red.

‘On Christmas morning you’d say “yes please”,’ said O’Leary.

‘We got away cleanly in the two starts.

‘We had a nice position on the line and were able to rumble on without interference, which meant we could make our own decisions.

‘The second race was a bit all over the place.

‘But at the moment it is just shadow boxing – the offshore is what is really important.’

Race organisers sent the fleet west out of the Solent yesterday on a course that will see them round mid-Channel marks before returning to finish this morning.

The race is planned to last 24 to 36 hours.

The fleet will return to inshore racing tomorrow and Thursday, with a race around the Isle of Wight on Friday with a 1.5 point loading.

The regatta concludes on Saturday with a single, double-points inshore race.

GBR Red, on 60 points, holds a 17-point advantage over France Blue – one of four teams from the other side of the Channel.

It in turn holds a narrow advantage over Scotland (81.5), GBR White (83) and France Green (87) – the latter team having led after the first race only for their radical A13 Teasing Machine to fall foul of a wind hole on the island shore and finish last.

‘There is a long way to go,’ said Teasing Machine’s owner Eric De Turkheim.

‘We are pretty happy with the boat, as it was only launched three weeks ago. I hope we will get better.’

Aside from Antix, the two stand-out yachts in the early skirmishes were Scotland’s Swan 45 Eala Of Rhu and GBR Red’s King 40 Cobra, with a 2-2 and 3-3 scoreline respectively.