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Mainsail Trimming by Felix Marks
Mainsail Trimming by Felix Marks

4th annual J70 weekend at Bembridge Sailing Club

by Mike Samuelson 22 Jul 18:13 BST 20-21 July 2019

Twenty-four members and their guests met at the Club at 08:30 on Saturday morning for the briefing by the organiser of the fourth annual J70 weekend, Andrew Eddy. Six J70s from the RYS had been towed down from Cowes on Thursday and were moored at Under Tyne, so the big question was whether it was going to be possible to get sailing as the forecast was certainly not looking promising particularly for Saturday.

However, once the briefing (which included the opportunity to listen to the 'experts' who had sailed J70s before) was over, the launches took everyone out to the boats while the ROs (Mike & Alexis) and Mark Layers (Ed & Libby) headed to the area of Drum to see whether it was protected enough from the F5 SW breeze for racing to go ahead safely.

Although as in previous years, it had been briefed that asymmetric spinnakers would not be used for the first race, a few teams did practice hoisting and lowering them before the start in the hopes that the breeze would abate sufficiently to allow them to be used for subsequent races.

The first short windward/leeward race got away just before midday; unfortunately 740 with the Vice-Commodore, Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore helming initially bent a mainsheet shackle before the start so had to sit the race out while it was sorted. Unsurprisingly 736, helmed by 'expert' Tom Preston led from the start and set the scene for the rest of the day.

However it certainly was not a walkover and Hugo Cuddigan helming a J70 for the first time was second not that far behind. With the breeze averaging around 16 knots it was decided that asymmetrics would be allowed for the second race. After all six boats had made a reasonable start, Tom in 736 was soon out in front again and demonstrated how to fly the asymmetric spinnaker, although interestingly they took almost two minutes longer to complete the same course as the first race!

Always one to experiment, Mike Toogood in 739 subsequently reported a slightly hairy moment close to St Helens Fort after broaching! Hugo in 738 was again second.

The third race was slightly longer and took in Britten & Derrick. Tom in 736 again showed the way but it was good to see 739 unperturbed by the experience in the second race coming through in second just ahead of 738.

After lunch in Priory Bay, it was back to the windward/leeward course around the inflatables. However with the breeze increasing slightly, the ROs sensibly decided on 'white sails' only. The finishing order was a repeat of the third race, 736, 739, 738 with 740 starting to pick up the pace.

The final race of the day had the fleet on a windward/leeward course using the inflatable windward mark and Derrick (twice round) with a reaching finish at Garland. Again no asymmetrics were allowed; mind you no one complained as they fought to control the over-canvassed J70s. After a challenging race in more ways than one, 736 made it her fifth win of the day; 740 was second and 738 was third.

Sunday's forecast looked much more promising and offered the potential for some 'champagne racing'. After a session in the Club on the previous day's experiences, crews were taken out to their boats moored overnight at Under Tyne. A windward/leeward course based on a South Westerly F3 was set up using inflatables and the first race of the day got under way just before 11:00.

With the breeze backing more to the South after the first round, the Mark Layers were called on to move the windward and spreader buoys and adjust the leeward gate. Keen to continue where they left off the previous day, 736 came in first ahead of 738 with 740 in third.

After a further re-jig of the course after the breeze backed even further, the seventh race (which was signalled for three rounds) saw split tacks on the first round but then the race was finished after two rounds when the breeze went back to the South West with 739 in the lead ahead of 738 with 737 gaining their first podium place.

With the course re-set again, the eight race saw an excellent start and some very close racing; indeed the three leading boats found themselves in some difficulty negotiating the leeward gate after it mysteriously narrowed down to two and a half boat widths as they came to round it for the first time. And at the finish there was an altercation between 739 and 736 who were vying for second place close behind 738; after some on-water discussions, it was agreed it would be a 'green flag' incident, but only just!

The final race of the weekend was set up as a longer windward/leeward course using the windward inflatable, Janson, Ruthven and finishing at Garland. Conditions were almost perfect with plenty of opportunities to for everyone to show off their asymmetric skills. 736 made it seventh firsts with 739 second and 740 just crossing inches ahead of 735 to take third place.

An excellent weekend and accolades all round for everyone involved in laying it on. Perhaps next year we can encourage some other J70s to join us.

Additional photos can be seen at flic.kr/s/aHsmFkq3vD

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat nameHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
1736GenestaTom PrestonAnn Sceales 111111‑5219
2738EndeavourHugo CuddiganAlex Cole 22333221‑518
3739SceptreMike ToogoodLouise Laughton Scott 3‑6225413222
4740RitaJonathan Nainby‑LuxmooreSophie Ross (DNS)3642345330
5735AuroraNick WoolgarKatherine Toogood 544‑64564436
6737ValkyrieCharles EvansPenny Stanley 4555‑6636640

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