Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The seven teams sailed a total of 54 races over three days at Queen Mary Water hard by Heathrow airport. A classic bright scarlet Routemaster double-decker omnibus, that iconic symbol of London, ferried the crews to and from the RTYC's Knightsbridge clubhouse.
Sailing in a fleet of eight carefully-matched J/80s, the competition began with a two-day double round-robin in which each team raced each other team twice. St George topped the league, winning 11 out of their 12 matches and losing only to the hosts and current holders, Royal Thames, and thus apparently setting the scene for the finals. It was a scene dramatically re-shaped by the winner-take-all nature of the Cumberland Cup's competition structure.
With teams traveling from across the globe to compete in this regatta, the organizers deliberately eschew a competition format that eliminates teams early from the competition, espousing instead a format that keeps every team sailing into the final round. The result is The Ladder. On The Ladder, a win carries the double bonus of promotion to the next rung - but every loss earns the double-penalty of relegation. On The Ladder, it is just possible by dint of really good sailing to redeem a disappointing result in the round-robin and climb all the way to the top - as did the Monegasques - while the series leaders - in this case the Irish - must not put a foot wrong if they are to retain their fingertip grip on the crown. -- Malcolm McKeag For more Cumberland Cup J/80 sailing / regatta information