J Class to race en masse in the UK

Falmouth to host a first in series of spectacular events for as many as nine J-Class yacht in 2012

Thursday March 11th 2010, Author: Roger Hollingsworth, Location: United Kingdom

The J Class Association is pleased to announce outline plans for a series of spectacular regattas to be held in England during 2012 - the Olympic Year. This will be the first time in history that more than four of these imposing yachts will race together in a fleet.

The outline plan has received a positive response from J Class owners and event planning is now proceeding. Many yachts in the fleet are now preparing to be on the start line for these 2012 events.

FALMOUTH (27-30 June, 2012): The first regatta will be based in Falmouth, Cornwall, hosted by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. Races will be held in the bay and along the coastline.

SOLENT (19-20 July, 2012): The second regatta will be based in the Solent, the traditional home of J Class racing in the UK during the 1930s.

ROUND THE ISLAND (21 July 2012): The last race will be held over the original course around the Isle of Wight, for the 1851 Hundred Guinea Cup Race, which is now known as the “America’s Cup”.

Potentially nine J-Class boats or replicas could compete. These are (including their build date)

SHAMROCK V - Sir Thomas Lipton’s last yacht to compete for the America’s Cup. 1930
VELSHEDA - Built by W.Stephenson to compete alongside Endeavour. 1933
ENDEAVOUR - T.O.M Sopwith’s first America’s Cup challenger. 1934
RANGER - Replica of H. Vanderbildt’s 1936 America’s Cup defender. 2002
HANUMAN - Replica of T.O.M. Sopwith’s second challenger Endeavour II. 2009
LIONHEART - An original build of a 1936 Ranger design. 2010
RAINBOW - Replica of Rainbow built in 1934 to defend the America’s Cup. 2011
SVEA - An original build of a 1937 Swedish design by Tore Holm. 2011
ATLANTIS - An original build of a 1936 Frank Paine design. 2011

Falmouth

The first regatta will be based in Falmouth, Cornwall, hosted by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. Races will be held in the bay and along the coastline.

David Pitman said, “The J Class Association chose Falmouth as a UK base for its first 2012 regatta because of the great deep water bay, onshore support services and support from an experienced local Club - the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. The waters around the bay offer the opportunity of great courses for both the competitors and spectators, who can view from the many headlands.

“Spectators in Falmouth will be the first in the UK to view this wonderful fleet. Around eight J Class yachts, each 140 feet in length, weighing around 200 tons and with a crew of up to thirty are expecting to be ready and prepared for racing in June 2012. Enthusiasts from around the world will be coming to Falmouth to view the yachts and watch the racing, which will be reported live around the world. This will be a yachting event not to be missed!”

The race schedule for Falmouth is as follows:

FALMOUTH REGATTA 27-30 June 2012
Wednesday 27 June Race 1 20 nm Start 10.00 laid course
Thursday 28 June Race 2 30 nm Start 10.00 :
Friday 29 June Race 3 20 nm Start 10.00 :
Saturday 30 June Race 4 30 nm Start 10.00 Coastal race

Peter Collett, Commodore of the RCYC said: “The J class before the war, were the yachts the general public idolised particularly as King George V was a regular competitor in Britannia. The restoration of the original old Js and the construction in Europe of new full-sized sailing replicas, is the rebirth of a once largely forgotten class. In future years they will make a huge impact in the yachting calendar. We should all be particularly proud that Falmouth has been chosen to host the first regatta of J class yachts in UK waters since 1937 and the RCYC will ensure the event benefits the Club, Falmouth, and the wider community in Cornwall”.

Peter Collett has chosen experienced offshore sailor, Peter Visick as Race Director for the event. Visick commented: “I am delighted to be helping to bring the beautiful J class yachts back to Falmouth for everyone to enjoy. The picture below (circa 1927) used to hang in my mother’s hallway. It shows, we believe, the 'Kings Class', the forerunner of the J class, racing in Falmouth. Nothing changes in yachting and in order to win, owners were building bigger and better boats and this eventually led to the J Class with tighter class rules.

"The Js last raced in Falmouth in 1936 and the historian Col Meads comments when writing his history of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, "This was the last appearance of the J class yachts at Falmouth and, alas, today they are finished and never again shall we witness the thrilling site of watching them race" Never say die! They are back again!”

Falmouth sailing waters are among the best in the world. The town enjoys a sub-tropical climate and boasts the third-deepest natural harbour in the world. Falmouth’s sailing regatta heritage goes back to the 1830s.

On the walls of the Upper Deck at the RCYC are a series of framed racing flags from famous J class boats. Long time member, ex-Commodore, and local historian, Andrew Pool explains more: “The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club’s Collection of J-Class Racing Flags From the mid-19th Century until the Second World War what was known as the Big Fleet and later as the King’s Class had by 1928 metamorphosed into the J-Class, which included the King’s modified Britannia. This spectacular fleet formed a racing circus progressing from the Clyde in the early summer via the Irish ports of Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) and Cork, and weather permitting would take part in the regattas of Falmouth and other West country ports before competing in Cowes Week, so it happened that several America’s Cup challengers took part in Falmouth Regattas. One day would be organised by the Club and another by the Town, usually by Club Members The Prince of Wales would regularly donate twenty-five guineas, a considerable sum in those days, and prizes would include substantial silver trophies for outright competition. The social season would include tennis at Wimbledon, racing at Ascot, rowing at Henley and, in August, yachting at Cowes Week in the first week before heading for the Scottish grouse moors for the “Glorious Twelfth”.

"In 1935, on its penultimate visit to Falmouth, the J-Class fleet supplied the Club with the racing flags of its competing yachts Astra (H F Paul), Endeavour (T O M Sopwith), Shamrock (C R Fairey), Velsheda (W L Stephenson) and Yankee (Gerald Lambert) to be hoisted on the flagpole to display their finishing order. Britannia, also a competitor in that race, gave up. On the King’s death in 1936 by his will Britannia was scuttled off the Isle of Wight but her Sailing Master Sir Philip Hunloke then presented her racing flag to the Club. In 1947 the flags of the other competitors in that race were discovered in a sail bag, so the set was framed and displayed in the clubhouse with Beken photographs of the fine yachts whose mastheads they crowned. For more than 60 years this probably unique set was assumed to be a relic of a bygone age – yet now we are looking forward to a new association with the J-Class”.

Falmouth town is delighted to hear of the return of the J class. Town Mayor, Councillor Geoffrey Evans CC added, “On behalf of the Town Council and people of Falmouth I wish the J Class team every success for this prestigious yachting event. This is a wonderful opportunity for our town to show off its fantastic maritime heritage and facilities. Falmouth Bay and coastline will provide competitors with spectacular racing conditions while spectators will have a wide choice of stunning view points to choose from. I look forward to welcoming the J Class Association, its supporters and visitors alike to our Town.”

Richard Gates – Falmouth Town Manager added: "I am delighted to learn that Falmouth will be a base for the first 2012 regatta and I fully support and endorse the event. We are always keen to bring professional events to the town and this will provide an excellent opportunity for locals and visitors to view these wonderful yachts in action across Falmouth Bay. It will increase footfall to the town which will be a great boost to the local economy and something to capitalise upon".

Latest Comments

  • boebert 12/03/2010 - 21:25

    Er, "Yankee" was owned by Gerard, not Gerald, Lambert.

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