Gearing up for the Nationals

Joystick claims Elvstrom J/80 Summer Championship

Friday May 22nd 2009, Author: Becci Eplett, Location: United Kingdom

The Elvstrom J/80 Summer Championship took place over the weekend of 16-17 May, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble. This is the sixth year that Elvstrom have sponsored the event, which acts as a warm-up for the UK Nationals.

The fleet woke to howling gales on Saturday unfortunately, and after a postponement ashore, the Race Committee, under the careful guidance of the PRO Tony Lovell, decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour and racing was cancelled for the day. The J/80 fleet were in agreement; much as the J/80 is a fabulous boat in a blow, no-one much fancied the 40 knot plus gusts which were battering the race area.

With everyone hoping for lighter airs on Sunday, but with forecasts differing in opinion, after an hour’s postponement ashore and once a 50 knot squall had blown past the Royal Southern pontoons and the readying fleet, the class set sail to do battle.

Just two races were sailed, or perhaps ‘survived’ by the hardy J/80s, enough to constitute a series, and the eventual winner of the Elvstrom Champs, Rob Larke, who co-owns Joystick with Vicci Gregory told me how it was for them:

‘With racing cancelled for the day, Team Joystick spent all of Saturday honing our reactions, playing on Vicci’s Wii!

On Sunday, we had an hour postponement before we left the dock but with blue skies and 15 knots of breeze, we headed out to the race track. The port end of the line was favoured and we won the pin. After five minutes or so we thought we could cross the fleet but our Wii training let us down and out stag night hangovers led us to back the jib through the tack so we ended up nearly hitting last years winners of the Elvstrom Champs, Terry Palmer and Caroline Cooper in Just Do It!

So… one 360 later and we are back racing again. We had good boat speed and were able to sail through the lee of two boats to make it first around the windward mark. On the downwind leg we did a really bad gybe and got a big wrap in the kite allowing Just do It through to lead around the next two marks. We eventually (and only just) managed to overtake Just Do It on the final run and take the bullet!

The start for Race Two again was port end biased but now we were contending with 30 knots of breeze and building (not a good time to have my new sails up!). We reached the windward mark first and off we went in a massive gust taking us away from the next mark; an early drop was needed in order to make the mark! The next beat was just a long port tack in who knows how much breeze and there was more sideways action than forward! The race officer shortened course and the top mark (thank goodness!) and sent us all home for the day.’

Final results:

1. Vicci Gregory & Rob Larke - Joystick - 2 points
2. Terry Palmer & Caroline Cooper - Just Do It - 5 points
3. Andrew Ashworth - Jammy Dodger - 7 Points

Back at the Club, Vicci Gregory thanked Elvstrom for sponsoring the event, her crew and the Royal Southern Yacht Club for triumph all round in the face of adversity.

The next major event in the J/80 Calendar is the Hamble Yacht Services J/80 UK Nationals which will take place at the Royal Southern Yacht Club over 10-13 June.

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