Thursday, October 22, 2015

J’s Sweep UK Double-Handed Nationals

J/109s sailing UK Doublehanded championship (Hamble, England)- Organized by the Royal Southampton YC, in conjunction with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the second edition of the IRC DoubleHanded UK National Championship took place in the Solent this past weekend. A huge variety of keelboats entered with about 40 teams taking part. Three races are scheduled with no discard, but only two races were sailed. The variety of courses were designed to test all the elements of Double-Handed racing with a laid marks course, a round the cans race and a long passage race.

J/105 sailing UK Double handed championshipRace Director Robert Lamb, sets the scene for the championship. "With high pressure dominating the south coast of England, racing was delayed on Friday until a southwesterly settled in after 4pm. Two races were then run: a laid marks 'sausage/triangle' followed by a 'round the cans' race. Wind eventually strengthened to 10-12 knots to provide good racing. Saturday was disappointing with not enough wind to run the scheduled three-hour passage race. So two races only were completed for the championship. All competitors were invited to the RORC Cowes Clubhouse for supper, which had a terrific atmosphere."

The largest class racing, IRC 2 Class, had 15 yachts vying for the class and five yachts took podium positions. Race One was won by the defending champion, Paul Griffith's J/109, JAGERBOMB, crewed by his son Mark. William Gough's J/109 JUST SO crewed by Christian Jeffries was second and William Newton's J/105 JELLY BABY crewed by Bill Darley was third. The winner of Race Two was Andrew Roberts' J/105 JIN TONIC crewed by Bill Edgerley.

In the end, it was the J/105 JIN TONIC that took the class championship by a single point over the J/109 JAGERBOMB.  Fourth was the J/105 JELLY BABY (Bill Newton & Bill Darley). Sixth was the J/105 VOADOR (Alex Adams & Robert Smith).  Eighth was the J/109 JUST SO (Bill McGough & Christian Jeffries). Ninth was the J/97 HIGH JINKS (Blair Forsyth & Alex Gardner). And, tenth was the J/105 MOSTLY HARMLESS (Tom Hayhoe & Natalie Jobling)!  Not a bad performance for these J crews!  70% of the top ten!

J/105 sailing UK Doublehanded championship"The Royal Lymington Yacht Club organized a series of double handed races back in 2011, and we decided to give it a go and much to my surprise I enjoyed the challenge of adapting a boat that is normally raced with a crew of 7 to one that 2 can handle,” commented Andy Roberts, skipper of JIN TONIC. "I quickly learnt that every maneuver took more time and more effort and they should be kept to a minimum.  Racing short-handed means you are utterly dependent on your partner, their skills and input both tactical and navigational, as well as the sail handling. The boat needs to be prepared differently, simplify everything, so there was no umming and arring about sail calls, we just use what we have got, remembering that not having an extra 450 kilos of crew weight on the rail meant that the boat was tuned differently so that we could de-power much earlier than usual to keep the boat on it's feet and footing rather than crabbing sideways.

I think one of the things that helped us get a good result was having a clear strategy on the route we were going to take around the course so that we had no last minute panic moves to make, for example, dropping the spinnaker on the correct side for the next hoist. Spinning the kit when going upwind is seriously slow, losing at least half a knot of boat speed for 5 or 10 minutes.

We did not chose a J/105 for any other reason than there were three others in Lymington, yet we have found it to be a super boat for both short-handed and fully-crewed racing; easy to handle and always feels safe even when surfing along at 14 knots. (Editors note- a J/105 won the Rolex Fastnet Race IRC Double-handed Division!).

To summarize, we felt we did well by keeping it simple, so we had time to focus on the race. A big thank you to everyone at the Royal Southampton YC, for all their hard work to give us such an enjoyable regatta."

J/88 sailing doublehandedLast year's IRC Class 1 winner, Paul & Mark Griffiths' J/109 JAGERBOMB was hoping to defend their title; they nearly pulled it off!  JAGERBOMB has been competing in the Two-Handed class for this year's RORC Season's Points Championship, including the Rolex Fastnet Race.  Prophetically, this is what Paul had to say before the regatta started, "I am sure that we will be making more tacks and gybes this weekend than we did for the whole of the Fastnet.  Full on- would be an apt description, especially with the two races on Friday. Racing Double-Handed on a short course is very different to offshore. You don't have the time and the space and you are trying to make maneuvers that you would normally do with nine people not two, which is just crazy but the secret is to avoid getting into problems and to do that you have to be thinking ahead all the time."  Sailing photo credits- Luke Shears/ RORC   For more information about the RORC Double Handed UK National Championship