Today is make-or-break day for the Irish squad at the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup in Cowes.
After the event recovered its full racing programme yesterday, with three races sailed in very light conditions, the three-boat squad has an apparently unassailable 99-point lead in the nine-team event.
Except that this is Cowes, and it’s the Commodores’ Cup, and the forecast is dire; there’s a curve ball lurking out there somewhere. The list of uncertainties begin with this morning’s scheduled Round the Island Race, a 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight.
If the light breeze holds, the fleet will probably be dispatched westwards under spinnaker with the ebb tide. That should carry the 27 boats out past famous Needles Lighthouse and into the English Channel.
The problems may start in the afternoon, when the light airflow is forecast to drop completely and a risk of total calm could mean the fleet parking up; this wouldn’t be the Commodores’ Cup without an episode of kedging — dropping anchor to stop going backwards in the tide.
Whether or not sufficient wind returns to allow the boats to complete the course remains to be seen, but when the same race was held last month for 1,584 boats, many took around 12 hours to complete the distance and half retired altogether.
The issue for the Irish team boats is that a park-up risks restarting the race, as the smaller boats catch up on the bigger boats ahead while the handicap clock is running.
In the absolute worst-case scenario — all three finishing at the back of the fleet — the 99-point lead would evaporate and the standings would almost be levelled.
Any one of the Britain Red, Scottish, France Green or France Blue teams could be a challenger.
Team Ireland would then rely on Saturday’s final race, a short inshore course that counts for double-points to decide a series that doesn’t permit discards of worst results.
The Irish team has best form for this type of course, easily winning all three inshore races yesterday though with notable challenges from other teams.
Marc Glimcher’s Catapult, a Ker 40 with a mix of Irish and American crew is battling Britain Red’s own Ker 40-footer Cutting Edge, to date the best performing individual boat.
Overall victory, however, depends on the team performance and most of the rival squads have at least one under-performing boat that has dragged their team down the scoreboard. Nothing is ever counted as certain in Cowes
Lyden and O’Regan take honours on golden day for Schull’s sailors
Fastnet International Schools Regatta
After two days and five races, the lead in the Gold Fleet at the Fastnet International Schools Regatta was clearly established by Florence Lyden/Anna O’Regan of Schull Community College.
The wind picked up for the final Gold Fleet race and remained steady from the north-west. Six boats started, with one lap of the course completed before the wind died again and the Officer of the Day shortened the course on lap two.
Lyden and O’Regan took Race 6 — and the overall honours too — with fellow Schull pupils Noah McCarthy-Fisher/Luke Franklin in second place coming third overall and Isaac McCarthy-Fisher/Rosa Lyden in third (second overall).
Earlier in the day, the Bronze and Silver Fleets took to the water with a fleet of 34 in a north-east light breeze of 3-4 knots.
However, the wind died once the windward mark was rounded and with no sign of the breeze returning Race Officer Dave Harte made a decision to abandon the race.
After a delay of over an hour, racing was resumed in a light north-easterly.
Races 5 and 6 in the Bronze Fleet were won by Oscar Ó Luain from Belgrave School in an Optimist.Second and third in Race 5 were Fionn Ferreira, in a Topper, followed by Meilong Lester/Gabrielle Hogan in a L’Equipe, all from Schull CC.
Second in Race 6 was Mark Johnston from Ashfield High School in a Topper followed in third place by Fionn Ferreira, also in a Topper.
The Bronze Topper Fleet was won by Johnston with second going to Jack Mawhinney of Friends School, Co. Down and third was Fionn Ferreira of Schull CC.
The Bronze RS Feva Fleet was won by Robbie and Tom Dwyer from CBC/Glounthane. Second was Caoimhe and Isobel O’Leary of Ashton School, while third was Chris and Johnny Hall of Midleton College.
After six races, the Silver Fleet winner was Annie Baker of Schull CC in a Laser 4.7.
Second was Marc LeGrix/Mark Murphy, of Schull CC and PBC respectively, in a TR4.2 and third was Robbie and Tom Dwyer, CBC/Glounthane sailing their RS Feva.