The boat to beat! Matt Boyle i “Shiva” var en av de killar som jag träffade i Hamble innan det blev en J/109. Han har i år vunnit Cowes Week och EuroCup och är såklart favorit när sjutton J/109 kommer till start på J-Cup senare idag.
Spana in gennakertrimmet. Sweet!
On Thursday 23rd of August fifty-four J-Boats will commence three days battle at the J-Cup 2007. The regatta will be held in Plymouth.
The J-Cup is a regatta exclusively for racing yachts of the J-Boats brand and all J-Boats models, from the eight metre J/80 Sportsboat up to the twenty metre J/65, are eligible to compete. This year, the smallest boats taking part in the event will indeed be a fleet J/80 Sportsboats, a number of which race regularly in the Port of Plymouth. The largest boat on the water will be the J/133 which measures in at just over thirteen metres. The J-Cup regatta incorporates the 2007 UK National Championship for the fleet of 35 foot J/109s. They will be racing in class, on a boat on boat, first across the line basis.
The event is being hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club under the watchful eyes of the Club’s Rear ‘Commodore for Sailing’ Chris Arscott (who will be shore-based) and the ‘Principal Race Officer’ Mike Pearson, who manages all of the racing on the water. A team of over forty local volunteers and helpers have also been drafted in to help in order to ensure that the event runs smoothly. Three days of racing are planned, with live music and entertainment every night for competitors. The event culminates in a huge gala dinner and prize-giving ceremony for over 400 people on the final Saturday night. Chris Arscott said ‘This is one of the biggest and most prestigious regattas ever hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club.’
Yachts will race in five classes and competitors have traveled from all around the UK to attend the event. There are a number of local Plymouth based boats competing, as well as yacht racing experts who have jetted in from foreign climes in order to take part. All but two of the boats which will be racing in Plymouth will be flying the huge asymmetric spinnakers from retractable carbon ‘bowsprits’ (for which the J-Boats are famous) on the downwind legs of the race-track. This makes them a distinctive and exciting fleet for spectators watching from the water, the beaches surrounding the Sound, or from the Hoe. Many of the yachts which will be competing at the J-Cup have also taken part in the recent Fastnet Race and the skippers will no doubt be hoping for some fair weather to add to the enjoyment for competitors and spectators alike.
The largest Class at the event, Class J (with seventeen entries) is the J/109 Class. These one-design racing yachts will be competing for their National Championship title. One of the favourites to win must be the 2007 Cowes Week winner and winner of the 2007 J/109 EuroCup which takes place in Deauville each year. Matt Boyle who helms Shiva said ‘Like Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson, I’m going for the treble this year’.
Boyle won’t have it easy in this Class and the game is certainly not over until the final whistle. Other hot contenders will be the current National Champions, Mike Ewart-Smith and Ben Richards racing Zelda and Jeff Dakin and Bruce Jubb in Johnny Blue II who gave Shiva a good run for her money at Deauville. A number of Westcountry boats including Chris Burrell and Peter Rowe’s Plymouth based Ju Kyu could well be up at the top of the J/109 league.
As with the J/109s, the J/80 Sportsboats in Class 4 are all exactly the same, so the first boat to cross the finish line wins the race. A strong, largely Plymouth based fleet will be racing at the J-Cup. Many of the competing J/80s have also taken part in the J/80 World Championship which was held in France earlier in the year, so the standards will be high. Plymouth’s own Nick Over (the Fleet Captain) must be looking good in Jalapeno, based on his experience and his time spent in the boat. That said, newcomer to the Class Tim Dewing who will be racing Jack in a Box is an entirely unknown quantity. We shall see…
The J/105s in Class 2 are yet another one-design Class. Given any breeze at all these fantastic looking 34 footers will be blasting round the Sound. Kirsty and David Apthorp who race J-Dream are the current J/105 National Champions and also holders of the 2006 J-Cup. They face fierce competition from a number of other skippers including Derek Copeman (a superstar of Devon based television news following his recent Fastnet
Race exploits) who will be racing Bojangles. A late entry in from Mary Sturgess of Teignmouth in her J/105 Jaldi could also potentially upset the Apthorp apple-cart.
The yachts which will be racing in Class 1 and Class 3 will be racing under the IRC handicap system, to allow for hot but fair competition between J-Boats of different waterline lengths and varying sail areas.
All of the boats in Class 1 have a waterline length of 40 feet or more, and there are some astonishing race pedigrees amongst the sailors here. Stewart Hawthorne from the J/133 Jump has won the J-Cup and the overall prize for Class 1 in previous years and has owned numerous J-Boats throughout his racing history. Ian Matthews who races his J/120 Jinja with his red-headed family crewing for him, has been the best performing J/120 at this event for three consecutive years, but this year he lines up on the start alongside Adrian Crook in Mojo, Jonathan Webb (who has sailed all the way from the Medway to be at the J-Cup in his J/120 J’ouvert) and also Plymouth’s very own flying doctor Gareth Thomas in his J/120 Jalfrezi. However, this being a mixed handicap Class anything could happen and some of the hot money says that Stan Fenton could be right up there. He is sailing his J/122 (the newest model from J-Boats) and, as we say in the trade, Jedi Knight is a bit of a weapon. Marie-Claude and Paul Heys who run J-UK (the J-Boats dealership in the UK) will also be pushing for the title in their fast, sleek and beautiful J/124 called Earls Court Boat Show.
It’s anybody’s guess as to who will emerge victorious from Class 3. Another mixed Class and slightly smaller in overall length than the boats in Class 1, once again we will witness some superb racing talent amongst the helms and crews of these little rockets. The J/92s are thirty foot in length, sensitive and fast. Recent form would suggest that Pete and Pip Tyler in Neilson Redeye should be up in the chocolates, but Colin Wall was second at the Nationals earlier this year in True Love. The whole class will be keeping an eye on the performance of Cornish lad Norman Curnow in his ‘classic’ J/36 Jazz because no one else in the fleet has ever raced against him. Equally, Mike Riley who will be racing another slightly older model from J-Boats, his J/110 called Jammin, has proven himself at this event in previous years.
The main sponsor of the event is surveying firm Knight Frank and there are three supporting sponsors from the marine industry, B&G (a marine electronics company), Dubarry of Ireland (who make sailing and outdoor clothing and footwear) and North Sails. In addition to this there are numerous prize sponsors, without whom the event could simply not take place.
The appeal of the J-Cup to sponsors, competitors, spectators and general yacht racing enthusiasts was summed up very simply by the Principal Race Officer Mike Pearson. He said ‘I’m looking forward to the quantity of boats that this regatta brings to the port and the quality of the competition in the fleet. The beauty of the Js is that they a different breed from other racing yachts.’
Racing starts in Plymouth Sound on Thursday 23rd of August and runs through to the afternoon of Saturday 25th of August.