Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lovely, Windy Poole Regatta

J/70 sailing Poole RegattaGreat Sailing for J/70, J/80 & J/24 Nationals
(Poole, England)-  This year’s International Paints Poole Regatta was blessed with great breeze and awesome race committee work, making it fun and exhausting for all!  The regatta is a huge bi-annual event held over the three days of the late May Bank Holiday Weekend.  In addition to the U.K. National Championships for J/24s, J/70s and J/80s being run as part of the regatta, there was excellent IRC handicap racing, too.

First, the J/70 and J/80 Nationals.  The report from Paul & Marie-Claude Heys comes from the perspective of sailing their J/70 JOSEPH’S COAT: “The regatta is run by a consortium of the Poole Yacht Clubs and was a brilliant example of how a regatta should be run; swift launching of trailerable boats by the Parkstone YC travel hoist crew, excellent on-the-water race management, a prompt results service and a delightful clutch of socials spread between Parkstone Yacht Club, Poole Yacht Club and the Royal Motor Yacht Club. Congratulations and thank you to the hardworking army that made it all happen.

Race day 1 was planned as a four race day, the morning races were sailed in 10-12 knots which was enough to see the J/70s planing downwind. There is a big difference in the downwind sailing styles of the J/70 and the J/80, with the 70s opting for an aggressive crew weight aft, bow up ‘hot angle’ mode and the 80s sailing in a deeper displacement mode. PRO Peter Sexton set the J/70s on their way six minutes ahead of the J/80s, this worked really well with no resulting traffic issues.

The first bullet for the J/80s went to Ben Richards and Andrew and Julia Dallas on Boysterous, with new class chair Mike Lewis second on Jester.

Races 2-4 of the J/80 series were won by Patrick Liardet’s Aqua- J which when added to a third in race one left Patrick sitting on a solid overnight lead.

J/70s sailing under spinnakerIn the meantime, on the J/70 circuit, defending National Champion and European Champion, Ruairidh Scott, having now teamed up with Ian Atkins to own and sail Boats.com, took the first two bullets. Ian Southworth helming Simon Ling’s Team RAFBF Spitfire won races 3 and 4, with Boats.com taking two seconds and thus the overnight lead. Team RAFBF Spitfire appeared to find the lighter conditions in the afternoon very much to their liking. Other noticeable results on day one were a second place in race one of the J/70 series for Charlie Esse’s Baby J, and class chairman Simon Cavey’s pair of thirds on Just 4 Play.

Race day 2, the Sunday, was again to be a four race day. The wind had increased to 15-22, which meant both fleets were planing downwind, with the J/70s sailing at 15 knots+ of boat speed for long periods. Others were drifting sideways with their keels horizontal for brief and embarrassing periods!

Boats.com showed the benefit of their experience and the hard work that they have put in during training to score an outstanding four firsts, Team RAFBF Spitfire took four straight seconds, the lead pair now opening up a points gap on the rest of the fleet. Charlie Esse’s Baby J completed the podium for the day with a flush of thirds.

In the J/80 fleet, day two saw two boats tied with the best score of the day; Alan Higgs’ Team Juicy and Chris Taylor’s J.A.T.  Aqua J added two firsts, a third and a sixth. Local sailor Dave Evans sailing Last Chance, won race six.

The final day was, as forecast an ‘off the land’ 8 knots, making Poole bay nice and calm, thus giving the sailors some respite after a windy Saturday. For the third day in a row, PRO Peter Sexton got the fleet away on time. In the J/80 class, any one of three boats, Juicy, J.A.T. and Aqua-J, could win the series, so the pressure was high!

Aqua-J’s overnight lead was eroded by their worst pair of results - a seventh and a sixth. J.A.T. scored a pair of fourths, putting them on equal points with Aqua-J. Juicy also had their worst pair of results with an eighth and a ninth, costing them a podium spot as the hard charging Last Chance delivered a 2-1 knockout punch. Boysterous returned to form with a second and a third, whilst Brian Denney sailing Jalapeno had his best day with a first and a third.

Thus, Patrick Liardet sailing Aqua-J became the 2014 National Champion defeating 2013 winner J.A.T. on countback, after one of the closest competitions in class history. J.A.T’s consolation was to win the Corinthian trophy. Last Chance took third overall finishing just one point behind the top two.

J/70 boats.com sailed by Ian Atkins and Rorey ScottFor the J/70 title Boats.com only needed to punch in one good result from the two final races, with a second as discard they were in a strong position. Their only possible challenger was Team RAFBF Spitfire who looked solid for a top two result. First to the top mark in race nine, was Joseph’s Coat helmed by Marie-Claude Heys, who had predominately worked the right hand side of the course. Boats.com assumed their normal position at the head of the fleet just before the end of the run. Team RAFBF Spitfire was a little further back in the pack. On the next upwind leg, Boats.com placed a general cover on the bulk of the fleet whilst Team RAFBF Spitfire headed hard left and found a nice shift that propelled them into a big lead at the final windward mark. Boats.com reeled them in on the final run closing them down but not passing.

That second place was enough for Boats.com to take the title, so they sailed in, to beat the queue for the crane leaving Team RAFBF Spitfire to pick up a fourth bullet in race ten, followed by Dave Atkinson sailing Jawbreaker in second and then Just 4 Play in third.

Boats.com were the deserved winners, with Spitfire a very solid second and Ian Wilson’s Wilson Covers being helmed by Geoff Carveth knocking Baby J out of third.

For the J/70s as a young fleet, techniques are still being developed to get the best out of these fast-planing machines, the build up to September’s inaugural World Championship continues with Boats.com looking the class act.

At the final prize giving, Boats.com was awarded the Kleinwort Benson ‘Boat of the Regatta’ trophy as an accolade to their tally of twelve points from ten races. Top boat out of 180 competitors, well done Ian Atkins, Ruairidh Scott, Dan Brown and Ben Field! Oh, and to their coach, the legendary Q.P. Saltonstall!”

The J/24s had one of their local hotshots from Parkstone YC take class honors, Duncan McCarthy sailing the mighty MADELEINE to a dominating win with just 18 pts net.  Bob Turner & Ian Brown’s SERCO from Castle Cove SC took second place followed by another local PYC boat, Nick Phillips’s CHAOTIC in third.

The IRC Class managed to get in seven good races offshore.  Winning three races and taking second overall were Jackie and Rob Dobson’s J/133 Jeronimo.  Stalking them around the course for the entire series was the J/109 BLUE JAY sailed by Alan & Lis Bennet. Their OCS in Race 1 hurt their chances at doing better, nevertheless they sailed a solidly consistent series to take third on the podium!   Sailing photo credits- David Harding   For more Poole Regatta sailing information