J Boats contest
74 J Boats left their berths this morning to commence racing in the J-Cup 2010. The regatta is being hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble, and the J/109 UK National Championship takes place as part of the event. Eight races are scheduled between today and Saturday, 5 June. In addition to the 28 boat J/109 UK National Championship fleet, a full range of Js are packed in to five other classes.
The 500 or so competitors at the J-Cup are enjoying the sparkling June sunshine. Bramblemet is currently reading eight to ten knots from the southeast and everyone is revelling in the generosity of the four Principal Sponsors of the event, B&G, Dubarry of Ireland, North Sails and Universal Marina.
Recent form in the J/109 fleet would suggest that things will be very close throughout this Class. The current UK National Champions are Kirsty and David Apthorp in J-Dream, but at the last two J/109 one-design events it has been Velvet Elvis, raced by Adam Wright and Martin Miller at the top of the podium. To be fair though, there are a large number of new owners in the J/109 fleet this year and this makes it a tough one to call. Having made the conversion on his J/109 from IRC mode to one-design set-up for this event, Rolex Commodore’s Cup triallist David Aisher’s Yeoman IX should be fast. We will also be watching Seamus Fitzpatrick’s Mermaid closely; this will be the first time this Irish team has lined up against the UK J/109s.
Eighteen J/80s are racing at the J-Cup, and racing here will be hot for sure; John Cooper and his team in Oi! will be on the money, having won the Spring Series and Spring Championships, but Simon Ling and his crew on Spitfire will be out to make every race count, having had a prolonged battle with Oi! at all of the recent south coast events. Brian Moreton (more usually seen at the front of the J/109 fleet in Juke Box) will be helming Juicy for the J-Cup; this being his J/80 debut. It will be exciting to see how he takes to this slightly smaller steed before returning to his J/109 for the remainder of the season. Geoff Payne of Surf and Turf has also tried a selection of Js in the past, the J/80 being his most recent acquisition. Geoff says he loves the boat; let’s see what he can do in this class.
The J/105s also race one-design and they are going to love this weather, although this class in particular comes alive in the bigger breeze. Andy Dennis and his team on Orijin have travelled all the way from Cornwall to come and give the Solent fleet a bit more competition, but the Solent is, as we all know, a very tricky place and all of the other boats in this class have local knowledge. One thing is for sure; the racing will be close and Orijin will make the most of the company.
The J/92s are 12 strong and have their own start at the J-Cup for the first time this year. Bill Howard, Class Captain and owner of Wizard has created an extraordinary spurt of interest and competition in this 30 foot planing J Boat. He has been well supported in this by Andy Howe and Annie Kelly of Blackjack. It would be nice to see the efforts of these guys rewarded on the result sheets but life isn’t always like that, is it? Paul Chapman’s Jaya won the recent spring series here and there are also plenty of travellers with much J/92 experience under their belts. Richard Sparrow is a past J/92 Nat Champ in Who’s to No and the Tyler brothers have shown recent winning form in their local waters sailing Neilson Redeye. We cannot decide between the prospects of her personal favourites for this class: J’Ronimo, owned and raced by David Greenhalgh and John ‘JT’ Taylor, and Just in Time, owned by Andrew Roberts. It’s a tough call: one of these boats has been using cutting edge water therapy and plunge pool spa treatments to progress their quest for race fitness, while the other has installed new, specialist on-board hydration facilities for the J-Cup 2010. Watch this space.
IRC 1 is where the J/122s and J/133s will be fighting it out. Ian Matthews and his team on the J/122 Jinja were looking good in training, but newbie to the J/122 fleet Neil Kipling has had a stunning start to the season in Joopster. Rob Larke will be at the helm of David Hunt’s J/122 Jacob’s Ladder and we know he’s a little handy, having recently won the J/80 UK National Championship as Tactician on Boats.com. Herman Bergshaven joins the fleet with his J/133 Solnes III and a crew of assembled J Boat hot shots; that said, these guys will be sailing together for the first time and Ian Dewhirst’s crew on the J/133 Jump will no doubt benefit from a little more cohesion.
The newest models in the J Boats range, the J/97s and the J/95 will come together in IRC 2. Current holder of the J-Cup, Colin Wall will be racing the lifting centreboard J/95 J-Fever; he won the event last year in his J/97. It’s far too close to call among the other boats in this class, some of which are so new that the J-Cup 2010 is the platform for their racing debut! Mike Flood’s Induljence has been looking mighty fine in training, but Grant and Brigitte Gordon will be out to win in their new J/97 Fever Jr. Brighton Boy Graham Allen has had more time in his J/97 Jeneral Lee than most in this Class and we will expect him to be at the front of the pack.
After three races today, competitors will be kicking back at the Club this evening. There is the North Sails Daily Prize-giving at 1900 followed by the Commodore’s Welcome Reception which leads nicely in to the Universal Marina J-Cup Opening Party.