J/80s in Fowey

Becci Eplett with a 'Junior High' reports on the Crew Clothing sponsored Nationals

Tuesday June 10th 2003, Author: Becci Owen, Location: United Kingdom
The 2003 J/80 UK National Championships, sponsored by The Crew Clothing Company, took place in Fowey, Cornwall under the burgee of the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club on the weekend of the 6th, 7th and 8th of June. The seven race series, six to count, to be sailed on short windward leeward courses saw an entry of 15 boats, including several newcomers to the Class.

12 to 15 knots from the south-west and sunshine on Friday had those competitors who were able to enjoy the challenging waves smiling and over-eager for the gun for the first race on the Championships. One general recall was followed by a clean start. Mike Budd and Becci Eplett’s ‘Junior High’ arrived first at the windward mark having worked the left hand side of the course, with Steve Northmore and team in ‘Quikeye’ second and Roger Hollingsworth’s ‘Jeromimo’ in third. Roger Gerrish’s ‘Aqua J’ worked hard up the second beat to slide ‘Quikeye’ into fourth. The three leading boats held their places on the third beat and finished on the next downwind leg with Junior High in first, Jeronimo second and Aqua J third.

With the left hand side of the course still paying on race two, Junior High arrived at the windward mark first. Second round was Quikeye and Aqua J third. Following a tricky downwind leg and a shifty second beat, it was all change by the second windward rounding with Aqua J now in second and Daryl Conyers (a newcomer to the J/80 Class but a seasoned J/24 sailor) third in ‘Oceans 11’ . These positions remained constant for the final lap. Junior High first, Aqua J second, Oceans 11 third.

A few teams were no doubt relieved to be greeted by considerably flatter seas and 8 to 10 knots from the south west on Saturday morning, having fully involved themselves in the typically Cornish ‘cabaret’ the previous evening.

Following one general recall, Peter Wanstall in ‘Jem’ lead from the start with his young crew of Plymouth dinghy sailors, now J/80 converts, ensuring that they got the shifts right and enjoying good upwind pace. With Jeronimo in second, Stephen Hills in ‘JSM’ and Oceans 11 battled it out for third and fourth respectively throughout the race. A twitchy final run saw Junior High just sliding through JSM and Oceans 11 on the finish line. Jem first, Jeronimo second, Junior High third.

A good start for Junior High in race four helped to get them to the top mark first once more, with JSM hot on their heels in second. The first run helped to sort the men from the boys with very little between the top six boats and David Jesty in ‘Krush’ showing good downhill pace. All change by the leeward mark with JSM now in first place from Junior High. A tacking match between these two boats on the two following beats eventually paid for Junior High. First, Junior High, second JSM, third Jeronimo.

For the third race of the day, once again, positions off the start line proved critical with Quikeye, JSM, Oceans 11 and Daniel Sheehan’s ‘Jacksnipe’ all looking golden up the first beat but with JSM just sneaking round the first mark in pole position, Quikeye second and Oceans 11 third. A gybing duel between Quikeye and JSM on the first leeward leg saw a constant changing of positions with JSM just holding their place at the mark. With very little in it between these four boats up the second beat it was touch and go who would get to the top end first. All the more disappointing then for the crew of Oceans 11 when a main halyard problem forced them to retire early. Blistering downwind pace for Quikeye secured them the bullet. Quikeye frist, JSM second, Jacksnipe third.

Race five was followed immediately by a non-scoring race back into the notoriously tricky Fowey Harbour, with a finish off the sailing club line and a bottle of wine prize from the Race Officer, Dave Warren. After a very short upwind leg and a starboard mark rounding, the battle commenced and after a nail-biting race Marie-Claude Heys in ‘Jurassic Park’ emerged as the eventual victor.

Stepping out of Saturday nights dancing shoes and straight into sailing boots on Sunday morning, competitors welcomed a south westerly breeze between 10 and 15 knots, on occasions gusting up to 18, to blow some cobwebs away.

A clean start and a port tack flyer from the team on Jeronimo saw them get to the windward mark first. An incident here resulting in a 720 penalty turn let Aqua J through into first place at the top of the leeward leg with Junior High and Krush round in second and third respectively. Junior High and Aqua J battled it out for first and second throughout the course of the race until the finish where Junior High did turns on the line to play it safe and exhonorate themselves from a potential rule infringement. Line honours went to Aqua J with Krush second and Quikeye third.

The final race of the series started with black skies and white water as a monster squall blew through the fleet. With start-line transits obscured a number of boats found themselves pushed over the pin end of the line and so a general recall and a move straight to black flag was the inevitable result.

Junior High lead from the off and sailed what they considered a ‘safe’ race in an attempt to secure themselves the Championships. On the second beat, and in an astonishing piece of instinctive sailing, the team on Jurassic Park hit the left hand side of the course hard to hunt for breeze offshore. Banging the corner paid and they passed nine boats, rounding the second windward mark in second place with Quikeye in third. Junior High crossed the line first to an eerie silence having been On Course Side at the start. An inspired and well deserved victory in race 7 went to Jurassic Park with Quikeye second and Jem in third.

On the sail back in from the race-track every boat in the fleet would no doubt have been doing the points arithmetic. A very close call but Mike Budd and Becci Eplett’s Junior High took the The Crew Clothing Company 2003 J/80 UK National Championship title with 16 points, Steve Northmore in Quikeye was runner up with 18 and Roger Hollingsworth and Jeronimo were third with 21.

All in all, another great regatta both on and off the water and one that will no doubt encourage continued growth in the UK J/80 fleet. Good breeze, some big waves, excellent racing and an enthusiastic approach from the fleet to the social side of things secured smiles all round. Thanks must go to the team at the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club, to Dave Warren the Race Officer and to all the sponsors of the event: The Crew Clothing Company and the prize sponsors; North Sails, Silva and Pigbags.

1 st Mike Budd and Becci Eplett Junior High 16 Points
2 nd Steve Northmore Quikeye 18 Points
3 rd Roger Hollingsworth Jeronimo 21 Points
4 th Stephen Hills JSM 30 Points
5 th Roger Gerrish Aqua J 33 Points
6 th   (equal) Peter Wanstall Jem 40 Points
6 th   (equal) David Jesty Krush 40 Points
6 th   (equal) Marie-Claude Heys Jurassic Park 40 Points
9 th Simon Unwin Jack 41 Points
10 th Daryl Conyers Oceans 11 44 Points
11 th Daniel Sheehan Jacksnipe 56 Points
12 th Richard Bickford Liberty 64 Points
13 th Steve Andrew Jet Set 68 Points
14 th Robin Inkster and Andy Coombe Jalapeno 74 Points
15 th Cathy and Chris Ogg Jemini 87 Points

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