Day One of the Raymarine Warsash Spring Series was certainly a ‘J Day’ with huge J Boat entry. There were three J one-design classes; the J/80s, the J/105s and the J/109s all enjoying the level playing field that this kind of racing affords in addition to three brand new J/122s, two J/133s, a J/92 a J/110, a J/35 and a J/39 competing in the IRC classes.
IRC Class 1 was the battleground for the J/122s and the J/133s and the Js lined up against some of the best known professional sailors in the business. Stewart Hawthorn in his J/133 Jump unfortunately lost his large handicap lead following some gear (sail) failures. However both he and Neil Martin in the other J/133 Jammy Dodger (who ended up second to Eddie Warden-Owen sailing Dark & Steamy) would have been pleased with their performance.
This was the first time that the two brand new J/122s Panacea (John Patterson) and Jinja (Ian Matthews) had raced against each other, and at the end of this initial ‘head to head’ it was Panacea who cam out on top finishing fourth in class. Jinja will no doubt be looking to make up ground as the series progresses.
J/80 Sportsboats – Report by Rob Fox
The Solent J/80 class welcomed many new entrants to its ranks this weekend, with fifteen boats entered for the whole series and several more to enter for the Spring Championships. The first day’s racing proved quite a challenge, with gusts of up to 30 knots, a confusing course, and some very close competition. For the first of the two scheduled races eleven J/80s arrived at the start line. The pick of the crop after the first beat were Liz Savage’s Savage Sailing Team and Ian Atkins’ Boats.com, who continued their match race at the head fleet on the down wind leg until a crew injury on Savage Sailing curtailed their sailing for the day. Some big gusts led to some great planing conditions but at the same time gybing these boats in a breeze is always a testing time, and several boats had massive wipe-outs. Boats.com went on to take the gun, followed by Julian Bates’ Bjorn Slippy and then Jevan, sailed by Rob and Jonathan Fox. With confusion about the course still in the air, the second race was started with Stephen Chiverton’s Just Chilling and Bjorn Slippy both getting cracking port end flyers at the pin and crossing the whole fleet. However, at the top mark it was Jevan who rounded first, quickly followed by Just Chilling. The ensuing kite run was flat out on the plane but both lead boats had major difficulty getting their kites down which allowed the chasing pack through. Boats.com and Bjorn Slippy both benefited from the chaos in front of them, and Michelle and Duncan Johnston’s Mosquito, Simon Read’s Jamari and James Sullivan’s Jin Palace all caught up considerably to make the next few legs very competitive. The next run proved a little too exciting for several boats with several incidents peppering this fifteen knot sleigh ride. Again the gun was taken by Boats.com, with Jevan taking a second followed by Bjorn Slippy. At the end of Day 1, Boats.com leads the rankings, followed by Jevan and Bjorn Slippy. J/105sWell what a day for the J/105s! Sunday provided near perfect conditions for these planing 34 footers and much excitement ensued out on the race course. The fleet totalled seven boats for the first race of the series and whilst they may have been missing their previous Class Captain Kirsty Apthorp and her husband David who have moved into the J/109 Class this year, there was no shortage of fun to be had and there are soon to be a number of new owners in the class for 2008. Paul Griffiths in Fay-J and Simon Curwen in Voador battled it out at the front of the fleet for a large part of the race before Voador managed to extend a lead, aided and abetted by some ‘start of season’ gear failure on board Fay-J. Both Chris Jones’ Journeymaker V and Rob Dornton Duff’s Java manages to slip past Fay-J into second and third places respectively and so at the line it was Voador followed by Journeymaker V and then Java.
J/109s – Report by Kirsty Apthorp
The largest one-design class in Black fleet in the Raymarine Warsash Spring Series was that of the J/109s. On the way out to the start on Ryde Bank, a steady 20 knots was enjoyed by many who hoisted their spinnakers.
After practising with Jim Saltonstall many of the fleet were over-confident in their starting procedure, which perhaps encouraged others, and the start was subject to individual recall. A long beat to Hillhead, saw Joyride (Michael Jones) take advantage of the shift which occurred just after the start, to round in front of Shiva (Matt Boyle) who had Adrian Stead Farr 40 World Champion as tactician, Jahmali (Mike Wallis) and Zelda (Michael Ewart-Smith).
The first run back to Norris was eventful with Red Arrow (RAFSA), Just So (David McGough) and Johnny Blue II (Jeff Dakin) demonstrating how it should be done. At Norris most of the fleet dropped their spinnakers as it was a relatively tight reach to Daks, although Johnny Blue II and Jahmali managed to hold their spinnakers for the majority of the leg. Another beat and spinnaker run saw Zelda demonstrate excellent boathandling and speed to arrive at Peel Bank in first place, from where they never had to look back. The rest of the fleet was led by Beth (Guy Knight) who on the downwind leg was then overtaken by Johnny Blue II. The wind had built during the race and gusts of 32 knots had the J/109s enjoying the downwind spins.
At the mark rounding, J-Dream (David & Kirsty Apthorp) had caught Beth and the battle ensued on the beat back to Universal Marina before a short run back to North Ryde Middle, where J-Dream finally got the upper hand. A final beat to RYAYachtmaster was long and cold but saw exciting racing as Shiva passed Beth and set off in pursuit of the leaders, whilst Jahmali had recovered from their first eventful downwind leg. At the finish it was Zelda first, Johnny Blue II in second and J-Dream in third place.
There will be a generous handful of J Boats out to play at the Red Funnel Easter Regatta this coming weekend before the masses descend on the Solent once more for the second weekend of the Spring Series on Sunday 30th March.