Paul Todd / www.outsideimages.co.nz

Runaway J/80s

A splashy opening day at the J/80 Worlds in Newport

Tuesday October 5th 2010, Author: Stuart Johnstone, Location: United States

The start of the 2010 J/80 Worlds promised to be an epic day. The morning broke cool and windy from the northeast, exactly as forecasted. Not that anyone was expecting anything much different after sailing in northeasters practicing on Sunday and Monday in 15-30 knots and huge breaking seas from the east. The PRO Tom Duggan warned the fleet at the opening ceremonies on Monday evening that if conditions looked good, the fleet would go offshore off the fabled R2 buoy off Brenton Reef. Sure enough, at 0830 course signals went up on the signal halyard and the fleet proceeded to plane en'masse offshore to the starting area under spinnakers and white sails.

With breezes on the course area in the 60-75 degree direction blowing 15-25 knots and ginormous waves with cross-chop from the east, everyone knew they were going to be in for a serious, physically demanding day. As they have in the previous three J/80 Worlds, the Spanish teams put on a text-book show of how to sail at least as fast as everyone else upwind, but simply 'blow doors' off everyone else downwind. Often sailing upwards of 2-3 knots faster at times than their rivals flying downwind over and under other boats in front of them as if they were pylons in an obstacle course. It was a "schooling" like no one can imagine. Even Chuck Allen on Jeff Johnstone's boat Little Feat admitted, "we got to the weather mark in the top five in all three races today, but before we knew it, Spanish boats were flying by us like we were parked! It was like we were body-surfing and they were on surfboards!"

Leading the standings are top two Spanish teams, former J/80 World Champion, Jose Maria Torcida on ECC Viviendas, leading with a 5-3-2 score for ten points and Carlos Martinez (current J/80 European Champion) skippering Peraleja Golf in second with a 2-2-9 for 13 points. While they may not have had strong first beats, their two downwind legs and second beats enabled them to grind down the competition in front of them to post very consistent scores.

The top five are all within nine points of each other. Filling out the top five are the top Americans with Quantum Racing Team comprised of Scott Young and Terry Flynn in third with an 8-5-1 tally for 14 points, just four points off the leader. Fourth is Jay Lutz and Gary Kamins racing Fired Up with the 'devils numbers' as their score- 6-6-6 for eighteen points! Lying fifth is current J/80 North American Champion John Storck Jr with an 11-4-4 for 19 points.

Just off the pace are the other three J/80 World Champions. Glenn Darden on Le Tigre (current runner-up at the recent J/80 North Americans) is lying sixth with a 3-8-10 score for 21 points. Rayco Tabares on Hotel Princess Yaiza started off slowly with a 17th in race 1, then finished the day strongly with a 1-5 to stay in contention in 8th place. Just behind him is Ignacio Camino Rodriguez on Nextel Engineering that also started off slowly with a 13th in race one, but closed with a 7-3 score. Watch out for these guys as the continue to ascend the ladder in the next few days!

Kudos to PRO Tom Duggan coordinating the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and SailNewport race management teams for starting on time and running three great races, all 1.7 nm windward-leewards, four times around the track. No one could've asked for a more incredible first day to start off a J/80 World Championship. Let's hope the weather Gods cooperate and provide all the sailors with a few more days of challenging conditions.

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