Saturday, October 3, 2015

JESTER Crowned J/80 UK Champ

J/80 sailing UK Nationals (Hamble, England)- The Royal Southern YC, proudly sitting on the incredibly busy, sailor-friendly, Hamble River, played host to the 2015 J/80 UK National Championship.  A nice turnout of fifteen boats participated and enjoyed every minute of the fabulous sailing conditions and the enormous social festivities that took place each night at the club.  Coinciding with the J/80 Nationals was the AVEVA September Regatta that also hosted the J/111 Nationals and the J/70 Fall Regatta.

After ten races over three days, Mike Lewis’ JESTER sailed the most amazing series, posting all top five finishes and, in fact tossing out a 5th place to win the regatta with just 21 pts net- just over a 2nd average!  Thundering along behind and shadowing them every step of the way was Yannig Loyer’s J-OUT-OF-THE-BOX from the host RSYC, nearly pulling off the regatta win save for two nasty surprises in the form of non-top-10 finishes in races 7 & 8.  Instead Loyer’s team held onto the silver in a thrilling tie-breaker situation with the third place finisher- Jon Powell’s BETTY from Warsash SC.

J/80s sailing spinnakers- UK NationalsDay One report
The first of three days competition for the J/80 UK Nationals was held in highly changeable conditions in the Eastern and Central Solent.  PRO Stuart Childerley and his team delivered four excellent race courses to the J/80 fleet. After two races, an angry sky manifested to the west bringing thunder and rain. Once the vicious squall had passed, the wind settled in the southwest for the third race and by the fourth and final race, a sea breeze kicked in to enhance the gradient wind to a good 15 knots.

The first race was held in a light northwesterly breeze and with a positive tide, the first start was a conservative one for most. However, Yannig Loyer's French team, racing J out of the Box, nailed the pin end and extended on the first beat to lead from start to finish. Terence O'Neil's Aqua J showed great pace downwind, finishing second with the J/80 Raymarine Championship leader, Jon Powell's Betty, in third. Race Two was won by Mike Lewis' Jester, with a great start at the committee boat end aiding their performance. Ray Apthorp's Jezebel from the West Mersea YC was second with Craig Niven's Isle of Wight based Jasmine in third.

After the first two races, the skies darkened over Southampton Water and the heavens opened up. Race Control informed the fleet that there would be a short postponement to let the new breeze settle. The second half of the day's racing was blessed with superb conditions; watery sunshine and a building southwesterly breeze.

J/80s sailing on Solent- UK NationalsYannig Loyer's J out of the Box continued to impress, winning the last two races to establish a four point lead for the championship. Mike Lewis' Jester finished the day in second place, having notched up a consistent 4-1-3-3. Jon Powell's Betty was second in Race 3 but a fifth in the last race of the day, pushed the team down to third after four races. Laurence Orchard's young team racing Boysterous finished the day's racing with a second, lifting the Royal Southern Academy Team to fifth, just a point behind Terence O'Neil's Aqua J.

"We are all from France but work in London,” commented Yannig Loyer, skipper of J out of the Box. "We moved the boat to the Royal Southern about two years ago, so we know the J/80 fleet well. The racing today was extremely well managed with great courses in very shifty conditions. I would say that the main reason for our success today was getting good starts and at the right end of the line."

"The team has only been together for a weekend, so we are chuffed to bits,” smiled Jester's mainsheet trimmer, Jeremy Troughton. "We had good speed today, both upwind and downwind, and the winning race today was about getting the start right and nailing the first shift. The courses are quite short, so it is very important to get away well on that first beat."

J/80 sailing UK Nationals- Solent courseDay Two report
On the second day of racing, three teams were coming to the fore. Yannig Loyer's French team racing J out of the Box, scored a win and a second today to retain the championship lead. However, Jon Powell's Betty and UK Class Captain, Mike Lewis racing Jester were tied for second place, just six points behind J out of the Box. The French team was off to Twickenham in the evening to watch France play Italy in the Rugby World Cup and hope to be fresh tomorrow to wrap up the championship.

Day Three report
As if it was pre-destined, Lewis’ JESTER walked off with the last two races, winning them and the regatta in the hotly contested 15-strong fleet. “It’s been an excellent few days with really good racing,” said Mike. “For us consistency paid off. J out of the Box were leading early in the regatta but were OCS on one race and had to go back, which was their discard, and then in the first race on Sunday they got buried at the pin and couldn’t recover which dropped them out of first place.”

Racing the J/80 since 2010, Mike is the class captain and is looking forward to 2017 when the Royal Southern is hosting the J/80 World Championships. He added: “We do a lot of racing here and we have twice won a Royal Southern series. I would like to move the home of the J/80 to the Club so we can incorporate the Academy boats while sailing out of here. There is just a really good atmosphere.”

In addition, Powell’s BETTY won the overall, season-long Raymarine Championship, a series of seven regattas over the season.   For more J/80 UK Nationals sailing information