Under leaden skies, solid pressure and strong tides, four races were completed on the last day of racing for the J/70 UK National Championship. The 30 strong fleet enjoying 10-12 knots of breeze from the north, gusting up to 15 knots putting the powerful J/70s just up on the plane. A complex tidal flow on Hill Head Plateau and Southampton Water, coupled with two big wind shifts, produced an aquatic conundrum for the fleet.
On the final day, Steve Northmore’s Waterjet Precision Cutting won Race five, Patrick Liardet’s Cosmic took the gun in Race six, Russell Peters took Race seven and Boats.com won the last race. There was plenty of high-octane action at starts and mark roundings. J/70 racing is incredibly competitive, typified by over half of the fleet scoring podium finishes during the championship.
After eight races were completed Ian Atkins’ Boats.com, with Ruairidh Scott on the helm, was the overall winner becoming 2015 J/70 UK National Champions. Ian Atkins has been sailing with the same crew for two years and spoke about the victory.
“There have been good sailors in this class from the very beginning, people who have won world championships, and to go up against them in an affordable boat is the key to the success of this class. In my opinion, this is the birth of one of the greatest one design classes. I remember seeing the first J/24 come to the UK in 1976 and the J/70 is continuing that heritage. I am guessing we will have 75 boats racing next season and 50 boats and the National Championship. Some of the teams that have done well this year, have spent a lot of time racing the boat and that is starting to pay off for them. Racing in the J/70 fleet is the best fun that I have had with my clothes on, the formula that J/Boats put together for this boat hits the target in every sense. I have enjoyed many fine regattas at the Royal Southern and Tony Lovell is one of my favourite race officers; he doesn’t put a foot wrong in his own back yard. For me he is a legend. We have had the biggest tides of the year and to get in four good races on the first day in fickle breeze and another four great races today in just over four hours was fantastic.”
At the Prize Giving, Tony Lovell was roundly applauded as he was presented with a token of appreciation by Rear Commodore of Sailing, Graham Nixon, who commented. “Tony has supplied his own boat and with a dedicated and experienced team of volunteers, they have provided superb racing for the championship. Together with my fellow flag officers, I would like to say it has been a pleasure to host the J70 UK National Championship and we would dearly love to see you all back racing at the Royal Southern in the future.”
Gill Race Team, helmed by Royal Southern YC Academy sailor, Will Goldsmith was runner up for the championship and top Under 30 crew, as well as top mixed crew. A notable achievement by a team all under 25, who had been lent the boat by its owner, Ian Wilson.
“It has been a pretty amazing regatta.” commented Will Goldsmith. “It was quite an honour to be match raced by Ruairidh Scott in the penultimate race, knowing that he was feeling a little bit threatened. We had a good chat with their team after racing and they were as delighted to get pushed hard as we were. Many thanks to Ian Wilson for lending us the boat. We hope we have done him proud and he is as pleasantly surprised as we are.”
The winner of the Over 50 Prize was Chris Howarth and his team racing Django, who had travelled down from Lake Windermere with the boat to compete. “We have enjoyed it and learned a lot.” smiled Chris. “This crew has never sailed together before and we are learning about the boat all the time. Probably the main lesson we learned this weekend was sail trim. Lining up against some quality opposition, we can see how they trim the main and head sail and the speed advantage that can give; so we have learned a lot this weekend.”
Russell Peters, racing for the Royal Thames Yacht Club, was the best Corinthian Boat and third overall for the championship. “That was hard work!” commented Russell. “Two years ago, we were second overall and I think the depth of the competition has improved. There are a few more youngsters and it is good to see so many racing at such a good level within the sport and that is great for the J/70 Class. It makes me want to race this boat more, because the racing is exciting and the boat makes you feel that you could be doing a little bit more to keep it on the pace the whole time.”
by Louay Habib