Winners crowned in Vice Admiral’s Cup

Sunshine and strong winds blessed the final day of competition in the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup, which took place in Cowes.

Written by Rupert Holmes
Photography by Paul Wyeth/

23 May 2022


On the final day, Sunday 22 May, a change in wind direction to an east-southeasterly progressively strengthened to 10 to 11 knots, along with more glorious sunshine for the 50 teams competing at the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup.

The Quarter Tonners enjoyed close competition, with much place changing and just 7.5 points separating the five boats in places four to eight. However, at the front of the fleet the overall lead of Sam Laidlaw’s BLT was never threatened and he won the eight-race series counting seven points, having discarded his sole second place.

Victory for Julian Metherell’s Bullit in the penultimate race saw him take second overall on 13 points, while Louise Morton Bullet took third on 21 points.

The new Grand Prix Zero class was one of the three dominated by one boat, in this case Niklas Zennström’s FAST40+ Ràn, which won every race, despite being pushed hard at times by Ian Atkins’ GP42 Dark N Stormy.


“We had great weekend, with a better forecast than expected,” says Joy Fitzgerald, a long-standing team member who runs the pit this weekend.

“We thought we were coming to a light wind regatta, so to have the conditions we’ve had over the past few days has been really beneficial for us.”

Despite two disappointing results today, RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX held onto third overall on count back, having finished the regatta tied on points with Harmen Jan de Graaf’s Ker 43 Baraka Gp.

In the J/109 class David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish won all but the final race, a result he was able to discard. However, the fight for second place could not have been closer, with John Smart’s Jukebox and Mike Yates’ Jago tied on 12 points at the end of the regatta. The tie break was resolved in Jukebox’s favour thanks to their win in the final race.

By contrast, the Cape 31 fleet was one of three classes that went to the wire. A win for Russell Peters’ Squirt in today’s first race left him as a strong contender against Michael Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe 4 for the overall title.

However, Squirt had a disappointing third race, finishing eighth, while two consistent third places for Tokoloshe 4 were enough for her to take an overall win with a six-point margin, while Tony Dickin’s Jubilee took third overall, a further three points adrift.

For most this was a high scoring regatta, yet there were many closely fought individual battles throughout the fleet, including three pairs of boats that finished the regatta tied on points.

“It was awesome,” says Tokoloshe 4 helm, Dave Bartholomew, “brutal and stressful but fun and really, really hard work.

“The race management was brilliant – we were lucky with conditions, which combined with good race management to make eight absolutely amazing windward leeward races over the three days. It was hard work, with lots of position changes and lots of fun.”

In the HP30s Jerry Hill and Richard Faulkner’s Farr 280 Moral Compass held an overall lead at the end of each of the first two days of racing. However, Chris Townsend and Richard Powell’s Gweilo gained speed during the regatta, finishing with three consecutive race wins.

“We had the joy of Graham Bailey driving for us in the windy conditions on Friday,” says Powell.

“When Jerry Hill’s boat handling was superb and for us sailing downwind at 16 to 17 knots with water cascading across the deck was spectacular.”

Other team members on board include Sophie Heritage, recently returned from working with the British SailGP team in Bermuda, Ben Vines who was driving on Saturday, plus America’s Cup and SailGP chief umpire Craig Mitchell.

Powell also echoed the thoughts of many competitors in saying, “It was marvelous to see PRO Stuart Childerley back on the water – he and Paul Jackson (who ran the second committee boat) gave us eight cracking races in three days.”

The J/111 class produced some of the most intense racing, despite being one of the smaller fleets. The final results were decided in the final race, which Tony Mack’s McFly and Chris Jones / Louise Makin’s Journeymaker ll started the race on five and six points respectively.

Both boats circling repeatedly in match-race style in the pre-start. Journeymaker then made the dash for the line first, followed by McFly on her windward quarter, and was first to tack onto port, heading towards the stronger favourable tide south of the Hill Head plateau.

Unsurprisingly, McFly was quick to cover, but both boats were still almost neck and neck at the windward mark. They arrived at the leeward gate almost simultaneously, rounding opposite marks just three seconds apart.

However, McFly was on the advantaged side of the gate and therefore reached the stronger stream first, helping her pull ahead into a lead at the final windward mark that proved unassailable. She went on to cross the finish with an 18 second advantage at the end of a full-on 41-minute race.

For more action-packed and intensive close, short course racing, come to the IRC Nationals, hosted by RORC on 10 to 12 June 2022.

Full Results here.

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