Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SHMOKING Round Island Race

J/111 Wins IRC 1 Overall!
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The famous Around Island Race, an epic 50 nautical mile adventure that is also the original "America's Cup race track", was run this year with nearly 2,000 entries from all over the world (1,908 to be exact).  And, the brand-spanking new J/111 SHMOKING JOE really did "smoke" the fleet around the 50 nm race-track, and with a no-guts, no-glory approach nearly pulled off the overall win for the Gold Roman Bowl-- missing it by just 11 minutes!

Weather is always a major factor in a race of this size and stature. Saturday's forecast was particularly important given the vast number of yachts starting off the Royal Yacht Squadron's famous starting line in front of Cowes' equally famous waterfront walk- "The Parade".  Although some of the J/109 one-design sailboat- VOLVO Team sailing past  Needles in Round Island Racesmaller boats felt it best to withdraw owing to threats of bad weather, the bulk of the record-breaking fleet of 1900 plus yachts turned up to take part in this historic event, the fourth largest participation sporting occasion in the UK. Some 16,000 sailors faced wind speeds of up to 28 knots and there were huge swells up to 20 feet to contend with off the Needles and at St. Catherine's as the record-breaking fleet undertook this most famous westabout Island circumnavigation on Saturday.  In short, the race was a blast through waves upwind to the infamous Needles, then flying downwind at enormous surfing speeds down around St Cats to the Forts and a final near fetch home to the start/finish line off Cowes-- one of those rare races where the weather Gods simply provided epic conditions and record speeds around one of the world's best "round island" races.

At the end of it all, it was an "epic first voyage" for the brand spanking new (barely 24 hours old in the water) J/111 called SHMOKING JOE sailed by sailed Phil Thomas and Duncan McDonald-- they not only managed to finish first overall in IRC1 division and 1st in IRC Division 1A, they were also 6th overall in a fleet of 400+ IRC boats! Read more about their story in the riveting account outlined below in the J/Community section by Paul Heys- an able and willing deck-hand aboard that maiden voyage.  Just behind them in IRC 1A was the French J/122 NUTMEG IV sailed by Francois Longnone finishing 4th and 14th was the J/133 JERONIMO sailed by Julian James.

J/109 sailboat- Team VOLVO sailing and surfing the Round Island RaceIn IRC 2 overall, it was seemingly over-run by J/105s and J/109s for top honors.  As it broke down the J/105 NEILSON REDEYE sailed by Pip Tyler was winner of IRC 2B and 19th overall in IRC 2.  The J/105 JELLY BABY sailed by William Newton, 2nd in IRC 2B and third in IRC 2 overall.  From there it broke down into the divisions 2A, 2B and 2C.

For IRC 2A, 2nd was the J/109 BLUE JAY sailed by Alan and Lis Bennett, 4th was the J/109 JELENKO skippered by Jonathan Bevan, 5th WAS J/109 TEAM VOLVO 2 sailed by the famous Sakia Clark, the 470 UK Champion and in 6th was the J/109 TEAM VOLVO 3 sailed by Nick Dempsey, the RSX World Champion.  Some serious competition in that division!

In IRC 2B, it was basically a J/105 and J/109 division, with J/109s racing in one-design configuration-- and it was a clean sweep of the top five!  The winner was the J/105 NEILSON REDEYE followed in 2nd by the J/105 JELLY BABY, 3rd the J/109 JAHMALI, 4th the J/109 OFFBEAT and 5th the J/105 KING LOUIE.

J/97 offshore sailboat- sailing Round Island Race- EnglandIRC 2C saw the J/92s' and the J/97 racing for class honors.  After surviving the 20 foot waves off The Needles, lying in 3rd   was the J/92s HULLABALOO, followed in 6th by the J/92s J'RONIMO and in 7th the J/97 JIKA JIKA.

In addition to the IRC honors listed above, the J/109s sailing in OD configuration were also scored as a class.  The leader of the J/109 class was JAHMALI, 2nd OFFBEAT, 3rd JIBE, 4th JUMUNU FOUR sailed by Alistair Ray and 5th BLUE JAY raced by the combination of Alan and Lis Bennett.

The J/24 and J/80 one-design classes clearly had a pretty wild and woolly day for the smaller boats.  Leading the J/80s was   JUMPIN JENGA skippered by Colin Simonds, 2nd was TEAM BALTIC led by ace Henry Bomby,  3rd was the appropriately named (for the day) WILD WALLY sailed by Robert Walters, a respectable 4th was BRITISH KEELBOAT ACADEMY steered by Robin Elsey (ex-RYA Youth Laser Squad) and 5th was JASMINE skippered by Douglas Neville-Jones.  The J/24s had a "head-bangers ball", smashing, bashing and crashing around the course all in good order to demonstrate yet again how tough this 35 year old design can be.  Leading the J/24 crowd home was Dave Lush's A-PLAN, followed by JAM's Tim Brouard and in third was CLEWLESS's Tom Coe and Simon Lewis.   For more Round Island Race sailing information.    A fun YouTube sailing video of the Round Island Race.