South West Commodores Challenge Cup

Royal Western Yacht Club defends title against teams from across the South West

The South West Commodores Challenge Cup was launched 2 years ago by the Royal Dart Yacht Club, a friendly competition between Yacht Clubs, racing under IRC with teams of 3 boats. Racing in Start Bay it was the Royal Western team who took first place to take the trophy back to Plymouth as the new holders, with their right now to host the event. 2017 saw an unfavourable year for weather, twice the event was scheduled and twice it was cancelled due to bad weather conditions before-hand, preventing teams from making the journey to Plymouth.

The sun shone on Plymouth Sound though this year, the week before brought stunning weather, so no excuses allowed. The RWYC was pleased to welcome 4 other yacht clubs from the South West, Salcombe Yacht Club, Yealm Yacht Club, Royal Dart Yacht Club, Saltash Sailing Club and 2 from the defending Royal Western Yacht Club. Much speculation was had before the event as to what boats where in what teams and who would be the boats to beat.

18 boats took to the water and they were greeted by a light Southerly wind that brought joy to some boats and pain to others. The weather was kind – perhaps too kind (!) – as wind speeds varied between 4 and 6 knots for most of the day, with a brief period of 8 knots, all southerly.  Sea state was flat and best of all the sun shone pretty much all day!  A hoped for afternoon sea breeze failed to materialise.

The race team got two windward leeward races underway, keeping the course tight meant that every boat length counted, with tight finishes in both races. Nick Haigh with his J80 Slightly Steamy, took 2 bullets and showed it’s not all about size as he beat bigger boats on the water.

The final race was a longer around the cans race, going outside the breakwater and letting boats stretch their legs. The wind gave some spurts over 8 knots but never really stuck at it and the glorious race around the Sound was for the light airs boats again, only this time it was the Ker 40 Keronimo enjoying the longer legs to take the final win ahead of the J121 J’ouvert.

Slightly sunburnt and re-hydrated, ashore the scores were worked out and after three fun filled races the Royal Western had succeeded in defending the trophy, holding off a determined challenge from the Royal Dart and Yealm Yacht Club’s.

Lets hope next year, we can get all the clubs in the peninsula to field one or more teams.

We hope all enjoyed the rather different format from usual club racing and would welcome suggestions from participants on improving the format and will select a date at a similar time next year to avoid the other main events in the sailing calendar.

Thanks to our efficient team of volunteers for their smart work and event sponsors Highwater Sails and Salcombe Gin.

(Photos by Daryl Conyers)


1st – Royal Western Yacht Club

Nick Haigh, J80, Slightly Steamy

Dr Peter Rowe, J109, Ju Kyu

Sean Koehler, Sunfast 3200, Joyride


2nd – Royal Dart Yacht Club

Peter Symons, J112e, J’Ouvert

David Gooulden, Corby 29e, Bandit

Michael Webster, Hunter 707, Feeling Rough


3rd – Yealm Yacht Club

Andy Williams, Ker 40, Keronimo

Chris Williams, HOD 35, Saltheart

Adam Booth, Albin Express, Zest


4th – Saltash Sailing Club

Neil Trathen, Laser 28, Elusive

Dave Oliver, Xtorsion 8, X332

Mike Anning, First Class 8, Revihan


5th – Royal Western Yacht Club

Dan Flanagan, Mumm 36, Sunburst

Robert Fletcher, Beneteau 34.7, I Say Ding-Dong

Adam James, J80,  Jackaroo


6th – Salcombe Yacht Club

John McLaren, RS Elite, Aeolus

Ian Stewart, X362 Sport, Xotic

Jonathan Hearth, J109, Basic Instinct