Stort grattis till Robin Verhoef och John van der Starre som har blivit uttagna i Team Benelux inför årets Commodores’ Cup. Då kanske man inte skall skämmas över att de slog oss i Spi Ouest…
Team Benelux: The Cream of Belgium and the Netherlands
After they fielded three teams in pre-global economic meltdown 2008, but were absent two years ago, the Netherlands returns to the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup this July with Team Benelux, comprising two Dutch boats and one from Belgium.
While this might sound like a compromise team, this is anything but the case. All are top competitors in their home waters and regularly race aboard and all three, for example, participated in the Rolex Fastnet Race last year.
The Benelux big boat will be Harmen Jan de Graaf’s latest Baraka GP, a Ker 40. This brings the tally of Ker 40s competing in Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup up to four, with Keronimo and Magnum III in GBR Red and White respectively and the Hong Kong team’s Peninsula Signal 8.
Baraka GP will be joined by Robin Verhoef’s J/111, Xcentric Ripper, and from Belgium, François Goubau’s First 47.7, Moana.
Robin Verhoef acquired his J/111 Xcentric Ripper last July and since then has campaigned it extensively. He and John van der Starre entered the Rolex Fastnet Race last year finishing third in the two-handed class. This year they have competed in SPI Ouest and the North Sea Race.
“It is a great boat with a lot of potential,” says van der Starre of their J/111. “It is a short period we have had the boat, but we have a very good feeling about it.”
For the Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup they are re-extending their bowsprit to its full length (previously reduced to remain within IRC Two in Holland). “We are going maximum length and maximum speed, because, in the Solent, it is very important that downwind you have all the power you can get,” says van der Starre.
As to their chances in the big event, van der Starre says the Benelux team is hoping for a top three result. “We are all very keen and motivated. We are not coming to be in last place. We are all very experienced sailors and we always get top places – we do and Baraka and Moana is the best boat from Belgium. But I realise the competition is tough. I hope we can say we had a tough fight and we did the best we could do and we finished in the best place we could.”
Sailing on Xcentric Ripper will be Dutch yacht racing legend Bouwe Bekking, who is also Captain of the Benelux team. Having competed in three Commodores’ Cups previously and in countless Admiral’s Cups, Bekking is extremely familiar with the complex waters of the Solent and the Channel, but is also well versed in team events and its common flaws.