2018 Vice Admiral’s Cup Preview
This year’s Vice Admiral’s Cup will see seven competitive classes battling for supremacy in quality fleets. Two new classes enter the fray for the first time this year – the revived High Performance 30 and the new Performance 40 fleet.
The HP30 class format offers tight racing in lightweight, fast and exciting boats, with the class rule now managed by the RORC Rating Office. Entries include three Farr 280s and Malcolm Wootton’s much modified Farr 30 Pegasus Dekmarx.
“RORC understand what all the fleets need for a good regatta,” says Wootton. “We will be on a course with Quarter Tonners and SB20s, so won’t be buried in the dirty air of a fleet of 40-footers, which is unusual for us.”
Wootton did a lot of work over the winter to reduce the weight of his boat, saving around 200kg. He is now also sailing with a lighter crew – 150kg below the F30 optimised crew weight. He says the changes appear to have translated to minimal losses upwind, but earlier and faster planing downwind. He won the class’s first 2018 outing at the Royal Southern YC May regatta last weekend with a straight run of first places.
Many of the entries in the Performance 40 fleet will be familiar to those who race in RORC’s offshore programme, and include the club’s Admiral Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Réponse. He will be pitched against formidable competition including two King 40s, (Michael Blair’s Cobra and Emily Bowden-Eyre’s Nifty), Thomas Keen’s new JPK11.80 Sunrise, plus a Ker 39 and a Mills 39.
Expense and complexity are no guarantees of maximising adrenaline on the racecourse. The fastest boats at the event will again be the Diam 24 trimarans. Crewed by just three people, these can hit speeds of over 20 knots in the right condition. Last year’s winner, Italian Riccardo Pavoncelli, is returning to defend his title in a strong fleet.
Phil Cotton/Paul Wakelin’s Fluid Boat Services - Buzz was second overall last year and is hoping to take the title this year.
“The location and being part of a multi-class regatta are big attractions for us, as is the level of competitiveness,” says Wakelin. “The one design nature of the boats means the results are entirely down to the sailors, not the equipment. The biggest challenge will be consistency across the three days – though coming back up to speed after a long winter will also be important.”
At last years’ event both J-Boat one design fleets again proved they can deliver superbly close racing. The J/111 class was decided in the final race, with a win for Tony Mack's McFly securing the overall title by one point ahead of reigning world champion, Martin Dent's Jelvis. Both are back this year, as is Cornel Riklin’s Jitterbug, which took third overall in the 2017 Vice Admiral’s Cup. Similarly, the 2017 J/109 result was decided on the final tack going into the windward mark of the last race and more superbly close racing can be expected this year.
The Quarter Ton fleet, which has raced at the Vice Admiral’s Cup since its inception in 2005, will be the most numerous class this year. Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila is one of the most heavily used boats in the fleet, which shows in his results: he won the class at last year’s VAC and also took victory in the 2017 Quarter Ton Cup. Nevertheless, class secretary Louise Morton, who took second place by just one point last year, says
“…it’s impossible to predict who will get the best results this year. I’m looking forward to some very close and intense racing – the Vice Admiral’s Cup is always great fun and it’s set up for exactly the type of racing we like.”
The SB20 one design sportsboat class is returning once more, with seven entries that can again be assured of top-level competition and race management. Their Southern Area Championships will also be held during the VAC.
The Vice Admiral’s Cup is run from RORC’s Cowes clubhouse and takes place from May 18-20 in the central Solent. Eight races of a maximum of two hours each are scheduled over the three days.