Monday, November 23, 2015

J/122 LITHIUM Dominates Coventry Reef Race

J/122 Lithium sailing doublehanded race in Australia (Fremantle, Australia)- Double-handed racing in Western Australia continues to grow in popularity.  This past weekend, a large fleet of double-handers took off the starting line at Fremantle for the 48nm Coventry Reef Race.

Participating in the event was the J/122 LITHIUM sailed by the father and son team of Graeme and Sam Monkhouse.  LITHIUM has a double-handed IRC rating of 1.050 based on only one jib (J4) and one spinnaker (A5 on a top down furler).  The go-to sail in light air is the Code Zero which can be carried to about 65 degrees true wind angle.

LITHIUM was first to the day buoy and hoisted the A5 for the 6 mile reach out to the Western South Passage Lead marker.  The breeze started to lighten and clock left.  With one mile to go LITHIUM was forced to furl the A5 and unfurl the J4.  A frustrating 30 minutes followed with the breeze around 4 knots on the nose and a never ending stream of power boats crossing to Rottnest Island.  The ensuring wash made it very difficult to keep the sails filled.

After rounding the western point in the lead, the Code Zero was hoisted and the speed increased to a respectable 6 knots in 8 knots of wind.  The next leg was 19 mile due south to Coventry Reef– a semi-submerged rock approximately 3 miles offshore.  With the wind continuing to clock left LITHIUM held onto the Code Zero up to Garden Island.  With the wind now at about 220 degrees and dropping LITHIUM was forced to furl the Zero and try to get some speed from the J4.  With more pressure offshore LITHIUM tacked out and sailed the remaining 10 miles down to Coventry.   Great clumps of seaweed were a continuing obstacle for all yachts and I am sure the hockey stick keel on the JBoats was a significant advantage over a T-bulb of some of her competitors.

After rounding Coventry, the A5 was unfurled and LITHIUM ran 12 miles downwind to a shortened finish off the southern end of Garden Island.  The wind had now backed to 170 degrees and a final gybe saw LITHIUM cross the finish line 7 hours and 54 minutes after starting.  As a result, LITHIUM won on IRC by 64 minutes over the second placed yacht.  Congrats to the Monkhouse’s on their stunning performance!