Racing at the Tactick J/80 UK National Championship 2011 in association with Baltic Wharf, hosted by the Royal Dart Yacht Club, is due to commence on Wednesday 8 June and as boats and crews arrive at Darthaven Marina, the excitement is growing within the 26 boat fleet.
The list of runners and riders is extremely impressive and it includes many newcomers to the J/80 Class along with some old faces returning to the fleet after some time out. Suffice it to say that everyone is keen to get out racing on the same patch of water where the J/80 World Championships will be held in 2012
Frank Rowsell is one of the new boys to the J/80 UK Nationals fleet. Frank is based in Exmouth and is a very skilled skiff and dinghy sailor. Frank might well be a fresh one to J/80s, but he and his crew on board Captain Jack will certainly worth watching as the week progresses. East Coast sailmaker Matthew Vincent also makes his J/80 debut in Dartmouth this week in his brand new boat Flipper. Mark Greenaway and his crew on the imaginatively named TBA have plenty of sportsboat experience and are a very skilled sailing team; Mark will be looking to put everything he’s learned over the years into practice in the Westcountry this week.
As to who will come out on top and lift the Tacktick J/80 UK National Championship trophy this year, well that’s the million dollar question. Alongside all of the new and unknown entities racing at the Nationals there is a plethora of established J/80 talent to chase around the race-track as well.
Local boat Baltic Wharf, skippered by one of the youngest competitors at the event, Henry Bomby, has shown form before and one would certainly expect this talented young crew to finish somewhere up in the chocolates. Nigel Banford (Dartmouth’s J/80 Class Captain) has worked tirelessly to put this event together and he will be racing Just So. He is fast for sure, and if his dedication to the Class translates into his results this week then you should expect to see him way out at the front of the fleet.
Spitfire, raced by the RAF team, Tony Hanlon and Andy ‘Rodders’ Rodwell have been super quick on the Solent in recent months and with the legendary Ian Southworth on board to call the shots, they are clearly serious contenders. They will be missing their front-man though: Simon ‘Sling’ Ling is part way through a tour in Afghanistan but will be watching his crewmates performance when he can.
Stewart Hawthorn comes back to the J/80 fleet after some time away and he is always fast in Jumpin Jenga. For the Nationals, Stewart has tactician Duncan McDonald joining his crew, fresh from his win at the J/109 Nationals which took place last week. Also back after some time away are Rob Larke and his co-owner Nic Barnes, sailing their new rocket-ship J2X. They’ve been quick before and expectations are high for a strong performance this week.
While Race Officer Mike Pearson keeps the J/80 fleet busy on the water, the team at the RDYC have worked tirelessly to ensure that there is plenty to keep competitors busy shore-side as well. The social programme looks absolutely fabulous and includes dancing, a little partying and an evening at Rockfish, Mitch Tonks’ seafood restaurant in Dartmouth for virtually the entire fleet on Wednesday night. The weather forecast is good, the entry is strong and the J/80 Class is ready to go: bring on the Tacktick J/80 UK National Championship 2011 in Association with Baltic Wharf.