Photos © Eddie Mays / www.eddiemays.com
A fleet of nineteen boats (including travellers from Wales, the Westcountry and the East Coast) assembled on the Solent at the weekend to compete in the 2006 J/80 National Championship, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble. The CRO, Peter Bateson, planned a nine race series over three days, starting on Thursday and finishing on Saturday and culminating in a raucous black-tie prize-giving party on Saturday night.
Day One of racing started in a blustery 17 knot westerly breeze, building to a fairly steady 25 knots (gusting 30) as the day went on. A windward-leeward course was set and Nick Cherry sailing Volvo Keelboat Sailing (which belongs to the RYA) nailed the start and lead for most of Race One. An early kite drop cost Volvo a valuable separation (and ultimately the race) to Kevin Sproul in Silva Jane. Steve Andrews in Jet Set finished Race One in third position.
Race Two saw the fleet make the most of the twenty knot (and building) breeze. Silva Jane lead off the start line and held this position until the finish gun. Marie-Claude Heys in Jenga Too sailed a safe second place until kite halyard issues left them without a spare kite, having damaged their first sail in Race One. Volvo worked their way through to second and Liz Savage’s team Savage Sailing earned a good third place.
Race Three started in a particularly fruity twenty four knots (and still building!) with the fleet evenly spread along the line. The girls and boys from the RYA in Volvo won the start and held it all together nicely to lead for the entire race. Silva Jane finished second with Stephen Hills and Jamie Westaway’s JSM right on their transom in third. Overnight leader was Silva Jane just a point ahead from Volvo.
Funny how quickly things change: Day Two dawned with a light westerly of eight knots building to 14 as the sea breeze filled in. Bruising Day One was quickly forgotten and a punchy line coupled with a lot of tide resulted in a general recall and a cheeky I flag start in Race Four. Jenga Too took the bullet, having worked her way through the fleet on the second run by managing to pick her own line of pressure, mindful of tidal advantages. Scott Cole (of Cardiff Bay Racing) offered the J/80 Class an early glimpse of brilliance to come and worked his way into second down the middle of the course in Purple Haze. Silva Jane settled for third.
The I flag was deployed again for Race Five following another general recall and an honest start was won by the boys from Wales in Purple Haze. They popped out first at the windward mark and lead for the remainder of the race. The next five boats were all extremely close together and the positioning behind Purple Haze changed several times, with Silva Jane finally squeezing in a second and Pete Wanstall in Jem (the little red rocket) settling for a well earned third.
A well behaved and clean start for Race Six saw Silva Jane lead off the line but at the first top mark things were extremely close. Jet Set rounded just after Silva Jane with JSM in third. By the leeward mark things had changed and Savage Sailing were up to third, but whilst Silva Jane managed to increase their advantage on the fleet throughout the race elsewhere places changed constantly for the entire three laps. Tow boats from Plymouth, Jet Set and JSM, finally sealed the deal at the finish with second and third places respectively.
Going into the final day of racing and the scores were working in Silva Jane’s favour, having extended their lead on Volvo to 4.5 points. Jenga Too and Jet Set were tied in third on 21 points and JSM was fourth with 23. However, Saturday morning arrived and the fleet were greeted with what can only be described as a Solent ‘vacuum’ and nineteen boats waited patiently for a slither of sea-breeze from the South East. Peter Bateson picked his moment carefully and started Race Seven in about 6 knots, only to be stung by a 90 degree wind-shift on the final leg of the course which resulted in several boats tacking round the last leeward mark with their kites up. Jenga Too made the most of the shift, spotting it at the very top of the second beat, and finished first, closely followed by a very happy (and noisy) Rob and Jonathan Fox in Jevan with JSM in third. With time marching on and the best of the breeze already spent, the CRO made a wise call and abandoned the two further scheduled races.
A fair decision and one that was always bound to please Kevin Sproul, Adrian Gray, Helen Yates and Ben Duke in Silva Jane, who had established themselves as convincing National Champions with an impressive ten point score. In second place was Jenga Too, followed by Volvo, JSM and Jet Set.
Kevin Sproul (who finished second at the 2005 Championship) commented that outstanding crew work, time in the boat and refinements to the design of his Elvstrom Sobstad sails enabled his ‘great squad to sail faster and more consistently all round the course’. In his speech at the prize-giving, Sproul thanked his crew and the whole race management team at the Royal Southern Yacht Club for an extremely competitive and enormously enjoyable regatta.
Peter Henney, the Solent Fleet Captain thanked all the visiting boats and extended warm wishes for a speedy recovery to Roger Hollingsworth, the Class President, who could sadly not be present through illness. The 2007 UK Nationals for the J/80 Class look set to be held in Cardiff Bay in May, as a warm up for the Worlds in France.
|Pos||Boat Name||Sail No||Helm||R1||R2||R3||R4||R5||R6||R7||Pts|
|1||Silva Jane||834||Kevin Sproul||1||1||2||3||2||1||4||10|
|2||Jenga||800||Marie-Claude & Paul Heys||5||4||10||1||5||6||1||22|
|3||Volvo Keelboat Sailing||82L||Nick Cherry||2||2||1||10||6.5||4||13||25.5|
|4||JSM||500||Stehen Hills / Jamie Westaway||8||5||3||9||4||3||3||26|
|5||Jet Set||192||Steve Andrews||3||6||5||5||12||2||14||33|
|6||Savage Sailing||511||Liz Savage||6||3||4||8||9||7||10||37|
|7||Cardiff Bay Racing||725||Scott Cole||10||12||DNS||2||1||8||5||38|
|8||Just Do It||801||Terry Palmer||11||7||7||6||10||9||8||47|
|10||Jevan||572||Robert & Jonathan Fox||15||8||6||7||13||13||2||49|
|12||Aqua J||165||Peter Blacker / Nick Hayworth||13||14||8||4||6.5||14||12||57.5|
|13||Just Chilling||744||Stephen Chiverton||14||16||11||12||11||11||6||65|
|16||JimBob||742||James Heath / Bob Hewson||18||17||14||15.5||15||15||17||93.5|
|17||Mosquito||704||Duncan Johnston / Michelle Dance||12||DNF||DNC||14||17||16||16||95|
|19||Jin Palace||750||Pippa & James Sullivan||17||11||DNF||19||19||18||18||102|