ECC Viviendas the new J/80 World Champions
The final races for the J/80 Worlds in Newport were truly epic. No one could have predicted what was in store for the fleet and the top five leaders. The NOAA weather forecasters got one thing right, it was going to be a sunny day. And, to emphasise the fact that we were all sailing a World Championship, the PRO Tom Duggan and his brain trust that included Brad Read from SailNewport, felt that it was going to be important to ensure that everyone had a fair and level playing field on which to determine a true World Champion. The decision was to go offshore on what seemed to be a gorgeous day, somewhat benign in its initial stages with a nice 10-15 knot wind blowing from the West. The course was set just 2 nm SE of Beavertail Point at the end of Jamestown and about 2.5 nm ESE of Whale Rock in Rhode Island Sound.
Going into to the first race of the day, it was truly anybody's guess as to who would end up crowned as the 2010 J/80 World Champion. The top three all had a strong chance of winning and, as you'll discover, all three in fact were winning at one point or another over the three races sailed on Friday. At one point, Peraleja Golf's Carlos Martinez had it in the bag and was ready to celebrate. After race ten, Scott Young's and Terry Flynn's team on Quantum Racing were ready to break out the champagne, as Pichu Torcida's crew on ECC Viviendas had experienced a massive gybe broach (keel-waving anyone?) and had lost several boats in the process to get their worst race of the series- an 18th. After race eleven, it was anyone's guess how the standings finished as there were enough black flags, DSQs and Z flag penalties that it was next to impossible to compute 3-5 point differences in the standings for the top 25 finishers, forgetting the fact that the top five were racing for the title separated by several points going into the first race of the day.
The first race of the day started off in a beautiful 10-18 knots Westerly swinging 10-15 degrees in the 270-290 range. After the four-legged 1.7 nm per leg windward-leeward course, it was clear that playing left of middle in the first 2/3 of the windward leg upwind was fast and top right 1/3 was good for right-handers just off the shore. The winners were a pretty happy bunch. Imagine Tom Klok, Will and Marie Crump and the invincible Vince Brun on board Guldfaxe all wearing huge, cheshire cat grins on their face and you can only begin to appreciate the joy it meant to win a race in a World Championship against some very tough hombres in super-evenly matched one-design J/80s. Second in the race was Jeff Johnstone on Little Feat, who's tactician Chuckie Allen also had about as big (or bigger) grin on his face than Vinnie. Why? Because they'd beaten fair and square ECC Viviendas' team which got a third in the race. Just behind them
were Quantum Racing in fourth and Albie Terhune with tactician Moose McClintock sailing US 221 in fifth. Peraleja Golf, which was the regatta leader at the time, was now fighting for survival to stay in the top three after their worst race of the event, a 24th (note- he went right on the first leg early, not a good thing).
With the standings now jumbled a bit after the first race, it was still unclear if the PRO Tom Duggan and his SailNewport RI Team and the fleet themselves were capable of sailing just one more race or two more races. Nevertheless, the SailNewport RC team managed to reset the course for the wind that had started to shift further SW and increase dramatically in velocity - pushing 25 knots by the time of the second start.
At this point, no one knew how crazy the world was going to get in the next 20 minutes. The wind started to increase more during the starting sequence and go even further left. Incredibly, on a black flag start, the wind shifted enough where half the fleet near the port end couldn't make the line and had to tack (or gybe) onto port to simply get across in the last 20 seconds. In turned into one of the most incredible races for anyone racing a J/80 in recent memory. 20-30 knot winds from 250-260 degrees, spectacularly sunny day with
not a cloud in the sky, huge 5-6 foot breaking waves. The top American teams had figured out how to get around the course in the challenging conditions to get three of the top five, with Le Tigre leading the charge to get first, followed by Kerry Klingler on Lifted, fifth was the fast-recovering Bruno Pasquinelli steering Tiamo (Bruno suffered a few stitches on day three after having an argument with his boom). Not surprisingly, the top Spanish teams Rayco Tabares on Hotel Princessa Canarias finished third and fourth Peraleja Golf. Barring any scoring issues like DSQs, Black Flags, DNSs or Z flag penalties, the Quantum Racing team were winning the Worlds simply because ECC Viviendas had their worst race of the series, an 18th, due to a spectacular broach on the last downwind run!
Setting the stage for the last race was the fact that it was still anyone's ball-game to go win. The top three were now the top five-- any finish up or down the top ten in the last race would determine who would win between Quantum Racing, Pichu's ECC Viviendas, Peraleja Golf, Little Feat (which had the best scores for the last two days, each day!) and Le Tigre. By now, it was clear that PRO Tom Duggan and Brad Read had the SailNewport RC team troops marshaled together to get yet one more unbelievably epic race off in the spectacular conditions the fleet had enjoyed in race ten. Without hesitation at around 1:35 the signals were raised and the fleet sent off into the teeth of a baby gale - blowing a steady 20-30 knots, shifting 10-15 degrees, with large breaking waves. It was apparent Carlos Martinez had enough practice in the first two races to simply show the rest of the world his performances were not a fluke winning the J/80 Europeans by winning the last race in convincing fashion- planing across the finish line going at least 17 knots and enshrouded in huge sheets of salt spray. Second was Javier Blanco sailing Crocs in his best race of the series. Third was Little Feat, despite sailing 80% of the last run wing-on-wing with main and jib after shrimping and shredding their spinnaker on the set at the last windward mark. Fourth was Le Tigre and fifth ECC Viviendas.
After the dust and salt-spray settled, the ECC Viviendas team from Real Club Nautico Santander (Spain) are the 2010 J/80 World Champions, winning by two points over Scott Young/Terry Flynn's team from Austin Yacht Club on Quantum Racing that had 50 points. Third was Carlos Martinez's team from Santiago, Spain on Peraleja Golf, only four points back with 54 points. Fourth was Jeff Johnstone's team on Little Feat from Ida Lewis YC with 58 points, just one point ahead of Glenn Darden's Le Tigre from Fort Worth Boat Club with 59 points.
Full results here
More images from Allen and Daniela Clark of Photoboat.com