Wash up report by Calum and Moray who recently to part as crew in The Commodores Cup as part of the first Sfull Scottish Team in eight years.

After a physically and mentally draining week of light winds sailing in and around the Solent we (Team Scotland) have come away from the Brewing Dolphin Commodores Cup with sixth place out of nine teams and a reputation as ones to watch for next time. With only 15.5 points separating Team Scotland in 6th from France Red in 2nd, it was a very close fought battle with Team Scotland missing out on 5th by half a point.

Racing kicked off on Sunday with two light wind inshore races in the central Solent, the first of which was a good windward/leeward race. After that was a short round the cans race which presented the fleet with the first ‘park up’ of the regatta. Team Scotland had a respectable day with Eala of Rhu scoring two seconds on a day which suited the bigger boats.

With the course being published on the Sunday evening the after guards spent much of their evening with their heads in computers looking at forecast models, carrying out weather routing and looking at the points on the course where places could be won and lost.

The race turned out to be fairly straightforward with a north westerly breeze it turned into a bit of precession, with boats reaching out the Solent under jibs or Code Zeros, and peeling to spinnakers at the needles fairway. After that it was a close fetch in 15 knots back up towards the Solent and the setting sun. Our team didn’t have the best race but came out largely unscathed and credit must go to Zephyr who finished 10th outperforming most of the boats in their speed range.
Wednesday was a one race day with the initial course taking the boats out from the central Solent past the forts and into Hayling bay. Team Scotland started strongly in this race with all boats looking to be inside the top 10, unfortunately the race was abandoned as the race committee felt the smaller boats missed the tidal gate at the forts and didn’t make it to Hayling bay. After having raced out the Solent for two hours the race committee gave the race another stab. We got off to a great start in this race as well with the team being in a similar position to the first race attempt of the day, but yet again the wind gods were not on our side. Another park up and some strong tide led to that race being abandoned as well. A frustrating day for us as we were looking good in the light breeze and felt we had made some smart decisions that other teams missed.

That lack of racing called for an earlier start on the Thursday to accommodate for the three races that were planned. A good start to the day by the team and in the second race all three boats scored in the top ten including a fourth place for Aurora and a win for Eala of Rhu to take us up to third place overall as a team. The wind then shut off for couple of hours and we waited along with our competitors for the third race to happen. This lengthy delay saw a few going for a swim in the Solent, some of the other boats attempted a bit of floorboard wakeboarding which provided some entertainment as well as a few broken floorboards. The breeze filled in for the final race of the day and after 5 general recalls and a postponement the fleet finally got away for a very light final race of the day. The team’s big boat Eala of Rhu yet again proved her worth in the light airs completing the day with all scores inside the top 5.

Friday brought the Round the Island race with the fleet exiting the Solent to the West from a Squadron start in a good 10-14 knots of breeze but with a less than promising forecast the navigators kept reminding us it would be a long day at the office. There were a number of boats that did some rock hopping, with some going around a little harder than other’s. Most notable was Antix who split their rudder. The saying ‘if you didn’t hit the bottom you weren’t trying hard enough’ was common in the after sailing banter that day. The breeze filled in under a large thunder cloud and going from zero to 22 knots allowed the boats to stretch their legs. Zephyr got into her element and Aurora clawed back into the race putting Team Scotland in a good position. But another park up at Sand Down allowed the slow boats to catch up again with a very slow last few miles to the finish for all boats. Aurora rolled the dice and went off shore, looking very dangerous until the breeze ran out for them too. With Round The Island race scoring as 1.5 points the team moved down to 6th going into the final day with just under 40 points separating the team from second place it was all to play for on the double points race on Saturday.

Saturday dawned with the usual 8-10 knots of breeze we had grown used to over the week, there was a sea breeze predicted to come in at some point but the race committee fired off the final race of the series in some strong tide and a light breeze. Zephyr were buried at the start and Aurora were in amongst things with Eala finding clear breeze and shooting off. The breeze was coming straight off the Southampton shore making it extremely shifty and hard to anticipate. Zephyr slipped down the rankings after getting stuck in a hole on the left of the second beat, Aurora went right and slipped inside the top 10. As if there hadn’t been enough park ups during the week at the final finish there was a load of boats struggling to reach up tide to get to the finish. Eala got through and scored a third revelling in the light conditions. Aurora wasn’t so lucky and suffered from being a small but fast boat in a bunch reaching into the finish, but did manage to finish unlike many of the boats around her who failed to finish within the time limit. Zephyr had a stroke of luck and managed to sail in a small bit of pressure all the way to the line, possibly the first bit of good luck she’d had all week.
Team Scotland came ashore slightly disappointed but were extremely proud of what they had accomplished during the week and are pleased to have announced Team Scotland as a real threat in the future! That evening saw the teams head to the Royal Yacht Squadron for the prize giving where the popular Irish team of Catapult, Antix and Quokka collected the winner’s spoils. Team Scotland did leave with one trophy with the girls of Eala of Rhu winning the prize for best performing boat with more than 10% females on board.

Team Scotland would like to say a big thank you to all those who have supported the campaign both as the team prepared in Scotland and the messages we received while we were all working hard during the event. We personally would like to say a huge thanks to the owners who made it all possible: Jamie McGarry and Colin Moore (Eala of Rhu); Rod Stuart, Bill Ram and Donald MacKenzie (Aurora) and Steve Cowie (Zephyr). Hopefully this can be the start of something regular and one day Team Scotland will win the Commodores Cup!

Moray and Calum

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