J combined championship
The regatta is hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron and both fleets are presided over by PRO Captain Simon Van Der Byl and a series of eight races is scheduled from today Friday 14 June until Sunday.
Conditions on the race-track today (in the area of Brambles Bank) were some of the Solent’s finest with a brisk but variable 10 to 18 knots from south to southwest. Captain Van Der Byl explained: "We really did have the best of days. We had to use the Z flag on the first start for the J/80 fleet but after that the behaviour of both the J/70s and the J/80s was immaculate."
The J/80s were first away for Race 1 of the two races scheduled today. Once the fleet had settled down following the deployment of the Z flag, Kevin Sproul led Race 1 from the off in J.A.T and took the bullet at the finish line.
Sproul said: "The Squadron did a fantastic job with the course. We sailed well and we had good boat speed. In the second race Stewart Hawthorn just got past us. It was great racing."
Hawthorn and his crew on board J’ai Deux Amours were clearly pleased with the way things went for them today: "We managed to get away from the fleet and get ourselves inside the leading pack at the penultimate mark. From then we managed to stay ahead until the line." But today was a day where consistency delivers its own rewards and a mid-fleet result for Hawthorn in the first race countered by precisely this essential consistency and some strong and intelligent sailing by Allan Higgs with Team Juicy and Jon Powell with Betty puts them in second and third place respectively, each on eight points at the close of the first day of the J/80 National Championship.
The very first race of the very first J/70 UK National Championship saw newcomer to the Class, Russell Peters and his team on Bob in first at the first windward mark but Race 1 and Race 2 ultimately belonged to Ruairidh Scott and his boys on board North Sails who scored bullets in both. Ben Field, tactician for North Sails explained: "We got the boat going well, we took the shifts and tried to play every little lift and header. Russell did a tremendous job keeping the pressure on, as did the guys in Team RABF Spitfire."
Scott added: "The first race was really close, but at the start of the second we saw a potential fight brewing at the pin and we came up to avoid it. We got a clean start and then worked the shifts as they arrived to our advantage."
At the close of racing today, North Sails leads the J/70 UK Nationals with Bob in second place on five points and Simon Ling’s Team RABF Spitfire in third, also on five.
Both the J/80 fleet and the J/70 fleet were off to enjoy a Welcome Reception and drinks on The Platform at the Royal Yacht Squadron on Friday evening. The forecast for Saturday looks heavy going and with four races scheduled everyone is looking forward to a very big Day 2.
More images from Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com