J-Cup sets sail
After a short postponement ashore, just long enough to re-apply the sun lotion, 63 competing crews left the dock on Thursday morning for the first day of racing at the 2012 J-Cup Driven by MIQ Logistics With clear skies, bright sunshine and a gentle southeasterly breeze just knocking ten knots all six J Boat classes the first three races of the eight race series. Although competitors enjoyed glorious and benign conditions on the water, the racing was close, exciting and challenging.
There are nine boats racing for the Lombard J/97 UK National Championship title and Day One belonged to Mike and Jamie Holmes in Jika Jika who won all three races. Stuart Sawyer’s crew on Black Dog from Falmouth had a strong day and managed the tricky Solent conditions well with a 2,4,3 scoreline and Tony Mack’s McFly sits in third place with ten points. Mike Holmes explained: "Jika Jika had three stonkingly good starts and that’s really important when all of the boats are so evenly matched in terms of boatspeed. Equally, this crew has sailed to together for a long time now and this consistency means that our boat handling is generally pretty good. We just need to keep it rolling on Friday."
There are 24 boats competing for the J/109 UK National Championship supported by Sebago and after three races Steven Tapper’s Stalker has a seven point lead over Mike and Sarah Wallis’ Jahmali in second place. Newcomers to the fleet (but no stranger to one-design racing) is David Rolfe in Shadowfax who joins the J/109 fleet from Sigma 33s. Rolfe and his crew put in and extremely impressive performance and sits in third place. When asked about Stalker’s 1,4,1 scoreline Steven Tapper said: "Well, our crew work was good today and tactically we were strong but we also had a lot of luck on our side. We were really early for the start of Race 2 and had to gybe round, then as we did a hole just opened up in the right place, we slipped in and potential disaster was averted. It was a great day!"
Eight J/111s are racing at the J-Cup according to the International Class One-Design Rules and the first three boats in the fleet each have just four points. On count-back at the end of three races Jamie Arnell’s Jeez Louise leads, Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas’ Shmokin Joe is second and Didier Le Moal’s J-Lance is in third place. In fact, just two points separate the top six boats. Duncan McDonald was clearly delighted with his day on the water: "It so close! The racing has been near perfect and the race management has been stunning."
IRC 1 is the home of the J/122s and J/133s and Ian Dewhirst’s team on the J/133 Jump romped home with three bullets on day one, and clearly Dewhirst was delighted: "It just all came together today," he said. Jackie and Robert Dobson’s J/133 Jeronimo is in third place and Mick Holland and Carolyn Aylmer’s J/122 Majic is third.
Roger Williams' J/105 Jos of Hamble leads IRC2 as we go in to the second day of racing having scored a third place in race one and then two race wins. Roger has had numerous J Boats over the years and is competing at the J-Cup this year with his daughter Clemency and other family members. In second place is Richard Sainsbury’s J/92 Bojangles and Richard Sparrow’s J/92 Who’s to No is in third place.
Stewart Hawthorn and his team on J’ai 2 Amours won all three races in the J/80 fleet yesterday. "We just kept going the right way!" he said. Patrick Liardet is currently lying second in Aqua J and Gordon Craigen’s Swallow is third. Whether Mr Hawthorn will have it all his own way on Day 2 remains to be seen but there were some pretty determined faces leaving the dock for this morning.
At 19.00 North Sails presented their daily prizes to the leading boats in each of the six classes and the 400 or so competitors (clearly very thirsty after three races in brilliant sunshine) made very light work of the Dark and Stormy cocktails provided by B&G. Three races are scheduled for Friday and light northerly winds are expected.