The J-Cup was last held in Torquay in 2005 and the event has seen significant growth in entry numbers since that time, in part due to the generous and continuing sponsorship from North Sails, Dubarry of Ireland and B&G. Racing will take place across five classes.
In the J/109 UK National Championship fleet, established hands and past champions will be doing battle with first timers and newcomers to the Class. In 2008 the event was won by a narrow margin by the team from Johnny Blue II (Bruce Jubb, Jeff Dakin and Mike Flood) with Zelda (Ben Richards and Michael Ewart-Smith settling for second. Clearly, Zelda will be keen to reverse the score-sheet this year, but closest competition won’t just be between these two boats. David and Kirsty Apthorp’s J-Dream has had impressive results so far this season and Matt Boyle’s Shiva is always up there at the front too.
Newcomers to the J/109 for this year, Richard Sainsbury and Gill Ross have shown the other J/109s that they have got to grips with their boat already and J/109 spotters on the beach should look out for some strong input from their team on Jambhala. John Maybury and his team on board Joker will be making their J-Cup and J/109 UK Nationals debut in Torquay this year, having travelled all the way from Ireland to compete. The furthest travelled boat at the event however will be Tigh Solius from Scotland. Ken Grant and his crew make a splash wherever they go, are hot stuff on the race-track and look fabulous in kilts as well!
Class IRC1 is the playing field for the larger Js, and it is here that you will see the competition unfold between the J/122s, the J/133s, the J/120s and the J/39.
Even the smart money finds this Class very hard to call this year; in his J/133 Batfish, Bill Blain’s team have dominated the offshore circuit this season and will be looking to show their mettle around the cans too. But they will have a bit on because John and Gill Patterson’s J/122 Panacea will certainly be hard to beat. This team has fabulous recent form with a strong result at Cowes earlier this month and crew work is really tight on board this boat. Equally, Ian Matthews and his family crew on board the J/122 Jinja, are at the top of their game just now, and one needs to remember that this team won their Class here in Torquay at the 2005 J-Cup in their previous boat, a J/120. Jonathan Webb’s J/120 J’ouvert, may be a slightly older model than the J/122s and the J/133s but it she is still a class act, and if you consider that Jonty Layfield and his family (also racing at the J-Cup) won their class at Cowes Week in their J/39 Sleeper, it’s easy to see why competition in this class will be hot.
Class 2 IRC is where the J/92s and the J/97s will race this year. This class is mostly made up of J-Cup first- timers. The J/92s of Bill Howard ( Wizard) Mike and Esta Cooper ( Java Lite), Giles Bowerman ( Forza) and Andy Howe ( Blackjack) are all new to the J-Cup and all will be looking to make their presence felt on the race-track. The veterans of the event are Andrew Roberts and Steve Etheridge in their J/92S Just in Time, Martin Pound in his J/92 Moby Jay and Colin Wall, who this year will be racing the brand new J/97, True Love. Just in Time is a previous National Champion and the J/97 True Love won both her class and the Black Group overall at Cowes under the pseudonym ‘ Jenga V’ and so it will be an interesting competition!
The J/105s, who will be racing as a one-design class at the J-Cup again this year have turned out en masse to compete, with an extremely strong entry of eleven boats. Here again it’s too tough to call who is going to take home the big prize. The current J/105 UK National Champion, William Newton from Jelly Baby is likely to be up there, but he will have local lass Mary Sturgess on Jaldi to contend with along with local lads Peter Sandover and Daniel Sheahan who will be racing Jacana.
All but one of the J/80s racing at the J-Cup 2009 are based in the west country and so there is plenty of local knowledge floating around in this class, but it is doubtful that Andrew Ashworth in Jammy Dodger will hang back at the start to watch which way the others go up the first beat!
This extremely strong entry for the 2009 J-Cup is testament to the fact that the J owners are a competitive bunch; they just love to sail and race their boats and they have also come to expect the huge social jamboree that goes hand in hand with the annual J-Cup. This year, there are almost 500 people taking part in the event. There are parties and bands booked for every night of the regatta, and none of this would be possible without the fantastic, continued support from the main event sponsors and the prize sponsors. The weather looks set to play ball, we have eight races scheduled and the J-Cup 2009 is ready to rock!