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Redwing, One-Design and J70 racing at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson on 17 Jul 15-16 July 2017

With the first J70 weekend having to be cancelled in early June because of the strong wind forecast, it was with some relief for organiser Andrew Eddy that this weekend's forecast was considerably more optimistic.

Six J70s were towed down from Cowes on Thursday and moored at Under Tyne ready for the planned five races on Saturday and three races on Sunday. All the crews were in the 18 to 30 age bracket and although a number had had previous J70 experience, there were quite a few new comers to these exciting boats.

Each boat had a support RIB and with the main aim of the weekend being to develop skills, the on the water coaching was masterminded by Matt Alexander, supported by the Club Coach, Max Rivers. The first of Saturday's races was very much a shake down race with no spinnakers on a simple windward/leeward course. The first five boats all finished pretty close together; but well done to the predominantly girl crew in White (738) who, despite their lack of experience, got round safely.

The second race used the same course, but this time spinnakers were allowed. The experience of the Red crew (740) was obvious as they built an unbeatable lead and finished over a minute ahead of Green (737). The third race was designated as a longer one; unfortunately there was some confusion over which buoy the leeward mark was, so two first places were awarded as Yellow (739) had gone round the signaled mark (Fitzwilliam) while the rest lead by Red (740) went round the out of place Ruthven that had been to the leeward of the starting line (and was actually the mark the ROs had intended!).

After lunch, the fourth race was another longer distance one and with the breeze gusting 20 knots, no spinnakers were allowed. Nevertheless there was still some exciting racing with Yellow (739) and Red (740) vying for the lead and the next three also close together. Somewhat surprisingly, Red had a brain storm at the finish and having been just ahead with boat lengths to go missed the finish line and gave Yellow the win. They then stalled trying to get back the right side of the line and had to make do with third place just behind Blue (735). The final race of the day was slightly shorter and used the leeward gate again. Again no spinnakers as it was still gusting hard, and Red (740) was again just too strong for the others and finished a minute ahead of Yellow (739).

After an excellent supper and dancing to the "Accelerators" on Saturday evening, there were a few late comers to the 08:30 briefing on Sunday morning! Although the plan had been for a 10:00 start for the first race, problems getting everyone (including the Race Officers) out to their boats at Under Tyne delayed proceedings for three quarters of an hour.

Despite suggestions at the morning briefing to avoid stacking up at the Committee Boat end at the start, this was exactly what happened so there was lots of shouting! Red (740) just over cooked it and was OCS, however once they had extracted themselves and returned, found clear air and were soon back with the rest of the fleet. With the breeze up and down, there was an element of luck in what order boats finished, however the clear winner was Yellow (739) who finished a minute ahead of Red (740) with Green (737) in third.

The second race was another slightly longer distance one; Red (740) was soon out in front and was never going to be caught. Indeed by the end was nearly five minutes ahead of Yellow (739) with Blue (735) a minute later. A similar course, but using the Club's fixed racing marks, was set for the final race of the weekend. The start saw some variety with a couple of boats making pin end flyers and managing to cross ahead of the starboard tack boats. Although the front three were always quite close, Red (740) managed to hold off challenges from Green (737) to finish about twenty seconds ahead. Yellow (739) was third.

The overall results did not really matter as some boats did not change helms as often as others or started with more experience of how to sail a J70. However, the important thing is that everyone said that they had had a great couple of days.

Many thanks in particular to Andrew Eddy who organised and master minded such an excellent weekend with lots of enthusiastic quality racing.

Seven (eight on Sunday) Redwings and four One-Designs dovetailed into the J70 programme and, particularly on Saturday, certainly had some challenging racing. On Saturday, both had two races. In the first Redwing race, the front three were never far away from each other, however at the finish line it was Joe Robertson in No 24 Red Gauntlet II who took the first race just ahead of Olav Cole in No 38 Goose and Colin Samuelson in No 11 Toucan. In the second race, victory went to Olav in No 38 who held off Joe in Red Gauntlet II and Colin in Toucan. Nick Rowton-Lee in No 10 Banzai was fourth in both races. In the two One-Design races, John Suffield in No 4 sailing single handed in No 4 cope brilliantly with the challenging conditions and won both by about thirty seconds ahead of Jos Coad in No 8. Mark Grzegorczyk in No 9 was third in the first race and Willie Cobb was third in the second race.

On Sunday, conditions was considerably less boisterous and although not the most ambitious course, the eight Redwings and four One-Designs nevertheless seemed to enjoy themselves. The Redwings had a good start with Robin Ebsworth in No 41 Quintessence making it to the right side of the line by inches. The long beat to Footprint proved to be quite tricky but Colin Samuelson in No 11 Toucan and Joe Robertson in No 24 Red Gauntlet II obviously found the best of the breeze and rounded well ahead of Olav Cole in No 38 Goose and Nick Rowton-Lee in No 10 Banzai. Unlike the previous Sunday when the leading boats were huffed by a change in the wind direction, there were no such worry in this race. Toucan held her lead and finished about forty seconds in front of Red Gauntlet II. Goose was third and Meri Benham in No 1 Paroquet was fourth.

After an interesting start when Mark Gregorczyk in No 9 One-Design had an altercation with the Committee Boat at the start and so was well behind after taking a penalty, the other three boats had a very close race and any of the could have won. In fact it was James Row sailing single handed in No 8 who came out on top and finished thirty seconds ahead of John Suffield in No 4 who crossed the line inches ahead of Hugh Doherty in No 10 after just over an hour and a half's race.

Eight One-Designs are heading to Cowes tomorrow for Cowes Classic Week - fair sailing!

More photos of the J70 racing can be found on flickr here.

Start of J70 Race 1

Start of J70 Race 2

Start of J70 Race 4

Start of Redwing Race 2 on Saturday

Start of J70 Race 7

Start of J70 Race 8

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