Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Australia Hopping Mad About J’s!

J/70 sailing Australia (Sydney, Australia)- It’s no secret that Australia has produced many good sailors over time, virtually all of them having grown out of strong one-design sailing programs- from dinghies to keelboats.  For decades, at the core of that development from dinghies into offshore boats has been the J/24. It is rare for a top sailor from Australia to not have cut his/her teeth on a J/24 in national or world competition.  In recent years, the J/24 class in Australia continues to provide that “next step” for kids and families in various clubs moving up from Opti’s and “4-twinkies”.

Building on that program of progression in recent years has been the introduction of the J/sprit line of boats. Remarkably, the first J/sprit design to hit the shores of Australia was the J/122 (not exactly a little sportboat)!  Since then, the J/111, J/97 and J/70 have begun to make their mark from Western Australia (Perth, Freemantle) to Eastern Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, etc).  Why? Simple.  Because J’s are fast upwind (an attribute not many boats in Australia are renown for) and they’re equally as fast flying downwind (a bit like RED ROO and YDRA combined with POLICE CAR’s legendary offshore performance with the tamed skittishness of COLOR 7’s Aussie 18 wildness).  Here’s the latest report on J’s in Australia’s summer.

Sydney J/70 Fleet
Sydney J/70’s are having a blast and finished the one-design summer series on a few highs. The Sydney-based J/70s sailed on stunning Sydney Harbour every 3rd weekend, commencing 12th Sept until 2nd April (only 8 months of idyllic sailing- bummer for all the surfer-dudes).  It does not suck, we can tell you.  We love our long summers. Sun. Fun. Wind. Over 33 races. We have challenging windward-leeward courses, often 3 races per day!

The weather was a real mix from gale force winds and heavy chop to drifter’s where the fleet really did finish on high, a high pressure forced the very last race to be abandoned as the harbour glassed out.

Finishing at the top of the leader board was Tim Ryan’s 007 JAMES on 29 points closely followed by the most improved boat of the series, Reg and Sally Lord’s JUNO on 35.5 points, in third spot was Steve and Sue Brady’s Y-KNOT. The place getters had this to say about the very first long term J/70 series in Australia.

“The sailing was fantastic,” said Tim Ryan, “so good to be in one design again and live or die by sailing well. We are quite experienced in the local J/70 fleet, but our friends and competitors certainly pushed us all the way in the variety of conditions we experienced. Well done to you all.”

Reg Lord on JUNO said, “We really enjoyed this regatta. It was a lot of fun for everyone sailing J/70s on Sydney harbor in summer with consistent planing conditions.”

Steve & Sue Brady on Y-KNOT had a fun series. They started with a fresh crew so the drops and hoists were organized chaos initially, but they also improved leading around the top mark many times and managing to win a few races, including the very last one. On behalf of the J/70 fleet, Steve thanked Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron for laying on a great series and looking after the J/70s, the other J/70 crews for the competition and great camaraderie.  He is also looking forward to seeing the even larger J/70 fleet that have all agreed to race in the West Harbour Bridge winter series respecting their decision to come visit him on his side of Sydney Harbour Bridge. The J/70s have secured their own J/70 class start in the expected mixed 180-boat fleet as the class goes from strength to strength.

J/122s sailing AustraliaJ/122’s in West Australia
West Australian J/122s in both Doublehanded and Fully crewed racing came home with the silverware again!  Both boats sailed the challenging Halls Head Ocean Race - Fremantle to Mandurah, Western Australia.

The Halls Head Ocean Race sees yachts race the 62nm from Fremantle to Mandurah where they berth overnight, followed by the Point Robert Return race on the Sunday, and run by Fremantle Sailing Club.  With dark clouds and lightning looming in the northern sky for the pre-start, many crew members of the 34 yacht entrants would have been wondering if their heavy weight wet weather gear was in order.  With a light, shifting easterly breeze, the skippers contemplated which kite, if any, they would call upon after rounding the day buoy.

All Divisions hoisted spinnakers at the day buoy, and the run to Channel Marker C was a vision of battling spinnakers.  Considering the breeze was consistently shifting, there appeared to be minimal advantage from one spinnaker to another. The Southern Passage leg, after the Channel run, was exciting, kites were lost and a large portion of the fleet jostled for the best position to clear the passage and start the reach towards Mandurah keeping Coventry Reef to port. After clearing the reef, the yachts that held their course and waited for the southerly before tacking towards Mandurah generally faired better than those that tacked immediately after passing the reef.

With most yachts managing to get into the marina within an hour of each other, the scene was set for an entertaining evening. Sunday’s return race was sailed with a patchy and dropping breeze close to shore. Head to shore, stay out to sea or run the middle? Eventually the light-filling breeze was slightly stronger for the yachts further from the shore and the drag race home was uneventful but a very pleasant downwind ride back to Fremantle.

Amongst the fleets was JOSS, Ian Clynes J/122 in the fully crewed Division 2 competing against a pair of C&C 115s, Archambault 40’s, Elan 40s, Beneteaus 44.7, Farr 40, Farr 395, and Adams 13 to name a few.  JOSS enjoyed a superb race and finished 2nd on IRC and 1st on YAH handicap in this very competitive fleet.

In the seven boat two handed division Graeme Monkhouse’s J/122 LITHIUM powered home to be first across the line and finished 2nd on IRC by under two minutes.  These follow on from JOSS’ and LITHIUM’s recent wins in the Coventry Reef Offshore race.

J/97 in Sydney
The J/97 KNOCKABOUT again stood on the Podium in the prestigious Sydney Super 30 Gold Cup for the 4th consecutive year!  That is an amazing record for any boat in Sydney!

Jim Chambers and his trusty crew, with an average age on the high side of 60, yet again took a podium finish in Australia’s Sydney Harbour “Super 30 Gold Cup Series” on AMS (Australian Measurement System). The J/97 KNOCKABOUT scored an impressive seven 1st places, six 2nd places and three 3rds to finish second overall to a stripped out 35 ft sports boat. In a ‘what might have been’ PHS result, they finished one point behind 3rd place in the 17 strong fleet.

“The series is comprised of 19 races with 3 drops allowed,” explained Jim. “It’s quite a mixed fleet mainly made up of stripped out sportboat types from 26 to 35 feet. We are one of the few, fully fitted out boats in the fleet, so at least I have the opportunity to go cruising in comfort afterwards!  By the way, that is another reason why I love sailing our J/97!”

He continues to explain, “It’s been a lot of fun with very varied weather this season but the boat continuous to impress and look after her crew even though we don’t always do the right thing. We will take a break from racing over the winter but will be raring to go on our trusty J/97 again next season!”

J/111 sailing AustraliaJ/111 in Melbourne
The crew on the J/111 JOUST takes first place again in Melbourne!  They added the Sandringham YC Summer series to an already incredible race record in Melbourne Australia.

In the 11 week summer series held out of Sandringham YC on Melbourne’s stunning Port Phillip Bay and against some of Melbourne’s top boats, including a trio of First 40’s, 47.7, First 45, HH42, Sydney 38s and Bavaria Match 42 to name a few, one of the smallest boats in this competitive fleet has triumphed once again.

Rod Warren’s J/111 JOUST compiled an impressive score line of a first, four 2nds, two 3rds and dropped a 5th and 6th. The won again on AMS (Australian Measurement System) with an impressive 10 clear points to the second boat.

The above adds to the already impressive results Rod has chalked up in his first ever keelboat. These results include:
  • Winner of Lipton Cup on AMS and 3rd on IRC
  • Club Marine Cup 2nd AMS and 3rd IRC
  • Geelong Festival of Sails Super 11 series 3rd AMS
  • SYC Peter Taylor Trophy 1st AMS and 2nd IRC
  • Commodore In Chief Trophy 1st IRC
  • Port Phillip Trophy 1st AMS and 1st IRC
  • Tam O Shanter overnight race 1st AMS
  • Winter Series 2015 1st AMS
“It was a lot of fun,” commented Rod, “the weather was real mix from light to heavy with the famous Port Phillip Bay steep chop also playing its tricks in some races. The J/111 was faultless and we are really enjoying the boat and don’t mind being one of the smallest in the fleet, it adds to the fun and challenge. I would like to thank all our competitors for some great racing and SYC and other local clubs for running great events.  We look forward to dueling with you all again soon when the winter series starts!”

For more Australian J/Boats sailing information- contact Ray Entwistle- Ph +612-9997-7158/ Mob +612-0406-562262/