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J/99 Aces Armen Race

by Fred Bouvier 30 May 2023 08:11 BST
J/99 Aces Armen Race! © J/Boats

Over last weekend, a local crew of friends hopped aboard the famous J/99 J-LANCE 25 and sailed the popular overnight offshore race called "La Nuite Armen Race". Here is the report from one of the crew - Fred Bouvier.

"Before the start, our team decided to sail just the overnight race version of the Armen Race. This permitted us to have fun sailing offshore, as well as having time to visit family and friends over the long French bank holiday weekend.

Our decision was also a good way to continue proving the versatility of the J/99 by competing in this race. Interestingly, this is primarily an "Osiris- OSH" French handicap event, a handicap system mainly based on ORC.

The weather conditions were driven by a powerful High-pressure center over western England. As a result, that meant we would be treated to clear weather over our 130.0 nm course up and down the Brittany coastline. This also meant that we would see a largely reaching race, with northeast winds being influenced by thermal breezes along the shore in the late afternoon due to the sunny, warm weather conditions.

We had a very strong start for our race. A few hours after our start, one of the famous Maxi Ultime 100 meter multihulls came flying by us (literally) going over 25 knots faster than us-- a bit like the runaway TGV (tres grand vitessse) train blowing by!

It was apparent that the predominant reaching conditions would be challenging for us, as the boat was set up with symmetric spinnakers for matching the preferred sail wardrobe for the predominant doublehanded fleet in France.

As a result, we made many sail changes to optimize our VMC (velocity made good on course). We did a lot of "spinnaker peels" between the big S2 kite and the smaller Code 0 to keep our lead.

At the first turning mark, the only boat ahead of us after eight hours of sailing was the Solaris 50-footer!

Then, during the second part of the night, we saw a J/105 catching back up to us like a rocketship with his perfectly sized big code 0!

We had to push hard in the second half of the night to regain enough time on the J/105 to be clear on corrected handicap time. This was easier for us with the strong stability of the J/99 and a closer angle of wind. We had 20 knots TWS, which was perfect for our small code 0.

The last part of the race was upwind at sunrise in a very choppy sea. We even extended our lead to save on corrected time by 3 minutes on the J/105!

After having a nice breakfast, we discovered that finally, our biggest challenger was the smallest rating boat of the fleet- an old Contessa 33 which rated like a J/22! OMG! Amazingly, we found out we finally beat them by less than 90 seconds on corrected time in OSH ratings over 20 hours of sailing! Such things are always a shocker since we never saw them!

More J/99 sailing information here.

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