Thrilling close racing is in the DNA of J Boats. With no less than four National Championships, the competition was incredibly close, for the first day of the 2017 Landsail Tyres J-Cup.
Spotting the shifts, and extra breeze, were keys to winning performances, with 15-20 knots of solid pressure coming off the land, the planing, asymmetric J Boats were romping around Tor Bay. The Royal Torbay Yacht Club, set two excellent windward leeward courses, with three races completed by all classes.
For the J/88 UK National Championship, the competition was intense, the biggest winning margin was 21 seconds, with four teams within a point of pole position after three races. Paul Ward’s Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat, is tied on points at the top, with David and Kirsty Apthorp’s J-Dream. Reigning J/88 UK National Champion, Gavin Howe’s Tigris, won the last race of the day, to claim third, tied on points with Tim Tolcher’s Raging Bull.
“It was a cracking good day, great courses, great racing and a lot of fun.” commented Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat, helm Paul Ward. “The standard in the J/88 fleet just keeps going higher and higher. We are changing places three or four times every race. Make one mistake and you drop a place or two, get a good shift and you make it back again. Everybody is sailing really well, we have got half of a nose in front, and it is all to play for!”
The reigning J/97 UK National Champions, Andy and Annie Howe’s Blackjack II, opened their defense in style, winning two races. However, Bob Baker’s Jaywalker is just a point behind, having won the last race of the day. Royal Torbay Yacht Club’s George Rock-Evans, skipper of J/97 Juno, scored three podium places to finish the first day, third in class.
For the J/109 UK National Championship, three teams are tied at the top for first place, but only one of them actually won a race today. Robert Stiles’ team racing Diamond Jem won the last race of the day, to secure pole position on countback from Simon Perry’s Jiraffe, and David Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish. Race winners in the J/109 Class included, Steve Berry’s Blue Jay, and Stuart Hills’ Jenesis. Mike Yates’ Jago, and David McGough’s Just So, also made the podium.
For the J/111 UK National Championship, Tony Mack’s McFly, continued their impressive form exhibited at Cowes Week, to lead the class after three races. However, Marco Van Driel’s Dutch J/111 Sweeney, showed championship winning from pushing McFly in every race. Paul Griffiths’ Jagerbomb scored two podium finishes to claim third.
“We come all the way from Holland because we know we will get a great competition.” commented Marco Van Driel, owner of Sweeney. “The British J/111s are ahead of us, and we like to measure ourselves in a real competition, after a lot of effort and training back home. We did a good job today, we decided to go for it from the first start, to be keen and go for it. One thing that we really love about the J/111 Class, is that all of the other teams are so helpful, we are so happy because they make us feel incredibly welcome.”
In the IRC Class, Chaz Ivill’s brand new J/112E Davanti Tyres, helmed by Marie-Claude Heys, scored three straight bullets, to take a commanding lead in the class. By comparison to the latest J Boat model at the regatta, the J/105 was introduced to the racing scene in 1991, and rating under IRC, they are still very competitive. Andy Roberts J/105 Jin Tonic is second and William Newton’s Jelly Baby is third. In the Handicap Class, J/70 Mjölnir, helmed by Rob Larke, leads after winning two of today’s races, but it was far from easy, with Ralph Mason’s J/92 Jaberwock just three seconds in race two, and Richard Puddifoot’s J/70 Jibba Jabba less than a minute behind in today’s first race.
North U have a welcomed presence at the Landsail Tyres J-Cup, after racing competitors enjoyed a masterclass from some of North Sails top sailors. With a beer in hand at the Royal Torbay Bar, the video debrief, including drone footage, was extremely well received, with sailors getting top tips. Today’s top tip was from former 505 World Champion, and a member of a very small club that have been part of winning teams for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Rolex Fastnet Race – North Sails’ Jeremy Robinson.
The approach shot
When you are racing upwind, aim for a point on the race course that is a few hundred metres from the top mark, and look to get a commanding position there, rather than at the top mark itself. If you gain the upper hand, your approach to the top mark, should be relatively straight forward. If you have to tack away at this imaginary point, it is not as costly as having to do so at the top mark itself, and the position is much easier to recover from.
Racing at the 2017 Landsail Tyres J-Cup continues tomorrow, Friday 18th August 2017, with three races scheduled for all six classes.
by Louay Habib