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2016 Vice Admiral's Cup produces some fantastic J/111 Class racing
J/111 Class in action - 2016 RORC Vice Admiral's Cup © Rick Tomlinson / RORC

Vice Admiral’s Cup 2016

The prestigious 2016 Vice Admiral’s Cup produced some fantastic racing across all six classes but none more so than the J/111 Class. Five J/111s made the podium during the eight race series with four teams winning races.

In five races, the top three J/111s were less than 30 seconds apart and the winner of the J/111 Class was decided on countback, with a tie for first place, and the battle for third was won by a single point. Stuart Sawyer’s Black Dog was the winner of the Vice Admiral’s Cup J/111 Class. The class only allows one professional sailor but Black Dog is an all Corinthian team of friends from Cornwall.

“ The last race was a good example of how close the racing was, six boats arrived at the mark within twenty seconds of each other, you are fighting all the way around the track for just half a boat length to get an overlap” commented Black Dog’s Stuart Sawyer. “ I haven’t had that closer racing since we sailed Mirrors, 30 years ago. However at times, you are doing that at 15 knots! In one race we hit 16.7 knots. So it is not only tight racing, it is also in a thoroughly rewarding boat. With an asymmetric set up, the J/111 is relatively easy to sail, you spend your time not fighting the boat, you are just letting it go.

The fleet is great, there are a number of very good sailors including one professional per team, which brings in a level of experience but we prefer to sail as corinthians because we want to sail as a group of mates and keep it as fun as possible. When we sit down in the morning, we have a briefing, which finishes with the number one objective for the day and it is always to have fun. We were taking it all a bit too seriously last year and we have found that if you have fun, the communication gets much better, we manage our expectations and enjoy the boat.”

Black Dog tied on points with Cornell Riklin’s J/111 Jitterbug but won the class by virtue of their number of race wins. Jitterbug won two races and only missed the podium of two occasions. To come second with such a consistent set of results, is indicative of how close the racing is in the J/111 Class is.

It was very close racing throughout and probably the best race series so far in the J/111s.” commented Jitterbug’s Cornell Riklin. “ Leads were changing all the time, to come second after eight races by such a narrow margin was how it is in on design racing. We could have easily won the first two races or come third or fourth, but we ended up with two seconds. In race six, we were third coming into the penultimate mark and we spotted a wind shift, set our spinnaker and went for it. We held it as long as we could and then just let it go and our momentum took us through the line into first place by one second. It was very exciting racing, and the UK Class is very friendly with some great competitors. It will be very interesting to see how the UK J/111s fair in the J/111 Worlds against boats from overseas, as I think the UK fleet has made some very good progress.”

There was a terrific battle for third place, with Tony Mack’s proven J/111 winner McFly, missing out on third place by a single point to Martin Dent’s J/111 JElvis. Martin Dent joined the J/111 Class in July 2014 and often sails with his wife, Gloria and their two children. For the Vice Admiral’s Cup there were a number of teenagers amongst the crew including Olly Maltby, who is just 13 years old and Martin Dent’s daughter, Sammy who is 12 years old. Both of the youngsters were part of the crew for the 2015 J/111 Worlds in Newport USA, where JElvis was seventh and top British boat.

I try to make sure that JElvis is as family orientated as possible.” commented Martin Dent. “I enjoy it when we come up against good crews in the J/111 Class and beat them. For the Vice Admiral’s Cup, we had a number of young crew, including my 18 year old daughter on the bow and we often sail with all the family, including my wife. The Class allows one professional so I can bring on one person who really knows what they are doing.

2016 Vice Admiral's Cup produces some fantastic J/111 Class racing

Black Dog’s Stuart Sawyer with RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd – 2016 RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup © Rick Tomlinson / RORC

For the Vice Admiral’s Cup, we had Hannah Diamond, who is sailing the Nacra 17 for the RYA British Sailing Team, but she is only 25. The professional takes charge on board, so I don’t need to say a word. If Dad goes sailing with his family and starts ordering them around, I don’t think that is going to work! When you have a third party who is in charge, including myself, then there is no family issue. The J/111 is a great boat for a family to sail.

It may be the hottest yacht in the J-Boat range but when you have youngsters on board planing downwind at high speed, they get excited by it. Actually the loads on are more manageable than other boats. I am not saying you can put a 12 year old on a winch in big breeze, but there are jobs to do, from keeping and eye on the competition, to setting the gear and packing the spinnaker for the next leg. For them planing downwind and really getting involved makes it more exciting. You can bring dinghy sailors onto a J/111 and they really enjoy it.

The next event for the J/111 Class will be the J-Cup from 9-11 June, which will incorporate the J/111 National Championship, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble. The J/111 European Championship will also be hosted at the Royal Southern YC, July 16-17 and the J/111 World Championship will also be held in the Solent from August 1-4, hosted by the Island Sailing Club in Cowes.

by Louay Habib

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