Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com

Tenth anniversary J-Cup

Victory for Andy Howe and his J/92 Blackjack crew

Monday July 18th 2011, Author: Becci Eplett, Location: United Kingdom

At the tenth anniversary J-Cup regatta, the indisputable stars of the show were, as ever, the 350 J Boat owners and crew who made it happen. The J-Cup 2011 was won by Andy Howe, Annie Kelly and the crew on the J/92 Blackjack. The 2011 Lombard Marine Finance J/97 UK National Champions are Grant Gordon and his team on Fever.

The final day of racing at the J-Cup 2011, hosted by the Guernsey Yacht Club, took place on Thursday in The Little Russell just off St Peter Port. The breeze was a light 6 to 10 knot northwesterly. While the PRO had planned to run three races for each of the four competing classes but the dying breeze and the fact that the fleet had their monster J-Cup Prizegiving Party scheduled for later in the day meant that two races were sailed and the fleet were sent home in good time for tea and medals at 1300 hours.

Grant Gordon’s J/97 Fever had established a strong lead in the Lombard Marine Finance J/97 UK National Championship by the final day or racing and no doubt left the dock after having giving his crew the ‘sail our own regatta’ pep talk. Money would have been worth parting with for an ear in on Tony Mack’s team talk to his crew on McFly who were lying second on Thursday morning or indeed on board Mike and Jamie Holmes Jika Jika, in third, each of whom would be racing to change the course of their regatta. After the final two races Fever’s 1,2 scoreline, and Jika Jika’s 2,1 sealed the overall positions. Grant Gordon’s Fever is the Lombard Marine Finance J/97 UK National Champion for 2011. Jika Jika took second and McFly was third overall. Jika Jika won the North Sails Boat of the Day Prize.

The two top boats in IRC 1 as set off for the two final races on Thursday were Nigel and Donna Passmore’s J/133 Apollo 3 in first place and Rob Craigie’s J/122 J Bellino in second, each tied on nine points. Key Yachting’s J/111 J Spirit was in third with 12 points and Colin Wall’s J/111 True Love had 14 points. Tricky, sticky, light stuff for two races and it was all change in IRC 1 at the end of the seven race series. True Love won both races on Thursday shooting them into the top slot for IRC 1. Apollo 3 finished second in class, on equal points with the winner and only losing out to True Love on the count-back for number of race wins! J Bellino took third in class. The North Sails Boat of the Day Prize for IRC 1 was presented to David Cule’s J/122 Mint Julep.

Just two points separated the top three boats in IRC 2 at the start of racing on Thursday. William Newton’s J/105 Jelly Baby sat at the top of the fleet on five points as the mainsails went up. The J/92 Blackjack owned and raced by Andy Howe and Annie Kelly and Marc Noel’s J/92 Dr Jeckyll were tied for second and third respectively on six points. The adage goes ‘show me the man who has had his last bad day on the water’, but for IRC 2 on Thursday it was more like ‘show me the man and woman who have had their best day on the water, ever!’ and Blackjack went out to bang in two race wins, securing them the Class win in IRC 2. Second overall was Dr Jeckyll and Jelly Baby took third. Daniel Sheehan and Peter Sandover’s J/105 Jacana won the North Sails Boat of the Day prize.

The J/109 One-Design Class was chock full of new faces to the fleet but the competition was as tight here at the J-Cup as at any National Championship that the Class has ever enjoyed. Going in to the final two races of the seven race series, Bruce Huber and Johnnie Goodwin’s Alexabelle was leading the class but from pole position to fifth place overall there were only five points separating the key contenders. It must have been lip bitingly tense out on the J/109 race-course, but it was Tony De Mulder’s crew on Victric who kept themselves ‘the coolest of the cool’ and their 1, 5 score on Thursday propelled them into the top slot overall. Seamus Fitzpatrick’s Mermaid V showed the J/109 fleet some proper Irish attitude and took second place whilst St Peter Port local superstars, Roger Martel and the crew of Moojo, climbed up to third place in class. Blue Jay, the J/109 of Greg Burgess won the North Sails Boat of the Day prize.

As the 350 J-Cup 2011 prize-giving party-goers took their seats at their dinner tables on Thursday night, everyone of course knew who had won each of the competing classes, and the champagne duly flowed freely. However, those who have never attended this epic event in the past were blissfully unaware of the sheer number and variety of seriously significant prizes and awards that were yet to be presented to a whole host of winners.

As supper commenced so did a game of ‘Heads and Tails’ the like of which most of us had never previously experienced. Ray and Scott (a specialist jeweller and diamond specialist on Guernsey) had arranged with Zenith Watches to offer a beautiful and extremely valuable Zenith Watch in response to donations from the J-Cup fleet for their chosen charity, Toe In The Water. Everyone present made a donation to Toe in the Water by way of an ‘entry fee’ to the game and then 350 sailors stood on chairs to make their ‘heads or tails’ calls as the coin was tossed by Jeff Fox of Ray and Scott. After much hilarity, Paul England of the J/122 Majic won the Zenith Watch. However, the real winners here are the injured servicemen and women whom Toe in the Water help to rehabilitate through the sport of Sailing. Toe in the Water is £1773 better off today, thanks to the generosity of Zenith Watches, Ray and Scott and the J-Cup fleet. What a way to go!

The presentation of the main prizes commenced at 2130 hours and all of those who had achieved third or better in their class were presented with silver, glass and goodies. The beautiful, silver Lombard J/97 UK National Championship Trophy was presented to Grant Gordon and his crew on Fever. The Dubarry Boot for Endurance went to Andrew Given and his crew from J/109 High Tension, long term stalwarts and supporters of the J/109 fleet and Martin Pound of the J/92 Moby-J was presented with the Dubarry Boot for Outstanding Achievement.

The Best Newcomer Trophy went to Stuart Sawyer and his Cornishmen on the J/97 Black Dog. The best two boat team was that of J/109 Victric and J/111 True Love and they took home the Musketeer Trophy, a double champagne ice bucket. Jackie Dobson and the crew from J/133 Jeronimo won the stunning Ray and Scott Prix d’Elegance Trophy. Universal Marina gave away a year’s free berthing at their exquisite facility at the top of the river Hamble to Jamie Arnell for his J/109 Jeez Louise, who was the eventual winner of their photo competition.

And so, that just left the presentation of the J-Cup itself, the overall and most coveted prize of the whole regatta. In ten years of running the J-Cup regatta, the J-Cup has never been awarded to the same boat or the same team, twice. It’s just a very simple piece of silverware but it embodies the soul of the J-Cup regatta and of the unique spirit of friendship, competition and camaraderie which exists between J Boat owners. The winners of the J-Cup in 2011 were Andy, Annie and the crew from Blackjack: for their win in IRC 2, for their support of the J/92 Class over the years and for their unfaltering friendship to all newcomers to the J Boat family. Isn’t that what our sport should be about?

The J-Cup 2012 will be hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble from Wednesday 18th July to Saturday 21st of July. You have to be in it, to win it.

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