Team Tonic leads Commodore Cup fleet
COWES, England -- Team Tonic, winner of the Class 0 at Cowes Week, will face stiff competition from rivals Bear of Britain and Chernikeeff for the Rolex Commodore's Cup.
The three boats are part of the eleven three-boat teams from eight nations entered for the series which started on Monday in Cowes.
There are two teams each from England, France and Ireland, and one each from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Wales and the Commonwealth.
Boats are rated on handicap by the IRC rating system and are between 11m (35ft) and 16m (52ft) long.
The boats are diverse in design and most are series production classes, but there are some more expensive one-off custom-built designs.
Three of the teams -- Commonwealth, England Red and Wales -- are led by the Farr 52s and it is these three yachts that are expected to spearhead the fleet.
Nick Hewson's Team Tonic is in the Wales team with two of the extremely quick Ker 11.3s.
The Commonwealth team is led by Peter Harrison in 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 Farr 52 Bear of Britain, partnered by Chris Bull's Ker 11.3, Kerisma, and the Beneteau 40.7, Fandango, of Chris Scanlan.
The team from Belgium has two production 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.
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, a member of the top Admiral's Cup team in 2001, with the BH-41, Checkmate 3, together with Hans Hout's IMX-40, Salty Dog, and the Grand Soleil 40, Satori, of Hans Horrevoets.
Both of the French teams have pinned their faith on Nils Jeppeson-designed production yachts. 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.
The Spanish team has two Beneteau 40.7s, Estrella Galicia of Alberto Viejo, and Chris Brown's 1906. In addition, this team has the lowest rated of all the boats, the Rob Humphries designed Cabreiroa, skippered by Peter Scholfield.
Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club principally for amateur sailors to run in alternate years with the more professional Admirals Cup, the week long event has seven windward/leeward course races of approximately 12 miles, one offshore race that will last between 24 and 36 hours and carries four times the points of the windward/leeward races, and one moderately long inshore race that has double points.
Since the inaugural event in 1992, the biennial Rolex Commodore's Cup has established itself in the yachting calendar as one of the most competitive team events in the world.
The last event in 2000 attracted seven international teams was won by the Channel Islands with the English Blue Team finishing second.
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