The Royal Ocean Racing Club Vice Admiral's Cup witnessed a thrilling display as the Cape 31 fleet battled it out in the first Round of the 31 Race Circuit. Michael Wilson's Shotgunn, representing the Isle of Man, emerged triumphant, showcasing remarkable consistency throughout the event.
Despite a challenging start to the weekend with inclement weather on Friday resulting in no completed races, the Solent provided an exhilarating playground for the Cape 31 fleet over the next two days. With shifty, puffy, and demanding conditions, the teams faced gusts of up to 20 knots and lulls as low as 9/10 knots, leading to numerous position changes and opportunities for thrilling comebacks. The Class also had sunshine for the Mount Gay Launch Party with DJ Mark Covell on the decks. There was plenty of rum and debriefing from the day with at the Apres Sail style party at Hamble Yacht Services.
Over the course of the three-day event, PRO Paul Jackson successfully initiated six races, and the fleet witnessed four different winners. James Howell's Gelert secured the first race of the year and went on to claim two more victories during the weekend. The remaining three race wins were clinched by Niall Dowling's Arabella, Tony Dickin's Jubilee, and Lennard van Oeveren's Fast Motions.
Another impressive performance came from one of the fleet's newest teams, Nick Phillips Chaotic, after easing themselves in they were on the podium for 4 out of 6 races. This secured them second place overall. Completing the overall podium was James Howell's Gelert, boasting an outstanding trio of race victories, although their tale might have taken a different turn had they not been U Flagged in the second race.
However, it was Michael Wilson's Shotgunn that truly stole the show with an outstanding performance. Wilson and his team demonstrated the significance of consistency in a fleet of this size. Having taken delivery of their boat in early 2022, the Shotgunn crew has been in the mix since winning Round 1 of the 2022 Race Circuit.
Reflecting on their success, Wilson shared, "Winning in this fleet is made much easier by the team you have around you. When the team positions you well, it makes a massive difference. We've invested time in training, and with this being our second season in the boat, those factors have definitely played a role. Winning races is not the sole focus; it's about putting together a series of events, and that's precisely what we set out to do."
Stuart Bithell, Olympic Gold Medalist and a key crew member on Shotgunn, added, "The level of competition out there is exceptional. Despite a few challenging starts, credit goes to our tactician David Chapman, who skillfully navigated us out of difficult situations and ensured we rounded the windward mark in a strong position. Michael's accurate calculations propelled us forward, and we never looked back."
Anthony O'Leary's Antix claimed the Corinthian prize, securing a commendable fifth place overall. David Cummin's Flurg and Charlie Whelan's The Bodfather secured second and third positions, respectively, in the Corinthian leaderboard.
Our prize winners were spoilt with limited edition regatta Mount Gay red caps and rum, Doyle Sails Back packs and a Spinlock harness.
The thrilling start to the season has left everyone eagerly anticipating the upcoming Nationals, scheduled to take place from June 8th to 11th at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. With the addition of several more boats to the fleet, the competition promises to be even more intense.