Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spectacular Sailing At SPI OUEST France Regatta

J/111 one-design sailing- SPI Ouest France regatta J/111 J-LANCE 7 & J/80 INTERFACE CONCEPT Winners
(La Trinite sur Mer, France)- The weather was challenging- ranging from sunny and windy to grey, cool, light and shifty.  Nevertheless, the host club, the Société Nautique de la Trinité-sur-Mer, masterfully orchestrated a fabulous, gracious and excellent competition across the board for the enormous 438 boat fleet and the giant J/Classes. In short, one of the most famous spring regattas in the world lived up to its billing as one of the premiere sailing events on the international sailing calendar.

J/80 one-design sailboat- start SPI Ouest France regattaIn one short burst of spontaneous combustion and energy, the quaint, lovely little seaside town called La Trinite sur Mer on Quiberon Bay became a bustling metropolis for some of the world's best sailors in both offshore sailing as well as one-design classes.  All the boats that participated were in for a challenging four days of sailing: great 20-25 kt sunny breezes the first day, two days of cloudy, grey shifty sailing, concluding with another partly cloudy windy day for the finale.  For many of the classes, the regatta outcome was not determined until the last day.  The huge J contingent of 141 boats (32% of the fleet with J/Boats being the largest brand in the regatta!) from across Europe and the U.K. had a wonderful time.  Nine J/111s sailed their first European One-Design event and the 119 J/80s were treated to a tour'de'force by a renown French sailing team.

J/111 one-design sailbot- sailing in SPI Ouest France regattaFor the J/111 class, the racing could not have been any closer.  Literally, the outcome came down to the last leg of the last race to determine who would win!  And, even crazier was the fact that the winner was determined on a tie-breaker!  Prophetically, it became a titanic battle between one of the top offshore French sailing teams led by Didier LeMoal on J-LANCE 7 and the #1 British J/109 offshore team that has now hopped into the J/111 class- the team of David & Kirsty Apthorp on the famously-named J-DREAM.  The regatta went down to the wire for the top three boats.  After six races, J-DREAM was a leading with a 2-1-2-3-1-1 record for only 10 pts, J-LANCE 7 was in second with a 1-3-3-2-2-2 for 13 pts and third was John Van der Starre's XCENTRIC RIPPER with a 3-4-1-1-3-5 for 17 pts.  But, the last four races changed everything for this group.  Didier's team on J-LANCE 7 managed to finish off with a 1-1-3-1 to J-DREAM's 8-2-2-2 and XCENTRIC RIPPER's 2-5-1-3.  As a result, J-LANCE 7 won the tie-break on most 1sts to win the class with J-DREAM second and XCENTRIC RIPPER third.  Rounding out the top five were two other French teams, Stephen Blanchard's LE JOUET in fourth and G. Thomas' ALPHALINK EXTREME YACHTING in fifth.

The J/111s enjoyed excellent media coverage of their event, thanks to BLUR.SE founder Peter Gustafsson (he was sailing his brand new J/111 BLUR!).  For a preview of what it's like to sail the J/111 in tight-quarters one-design racing, see these videos edited by Peter's friend Stefan Blom on VIMEO and also read John Van de Starre's report from X-CENTRIC RIPPER below in the J/Community section.

VIMEO - Day OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay Four

J/80 one-design sailboat- ready for sailing at SPI Ouest France regattaWithout question, the dominant one-design class in SPI Ouest France were the 119 J/80s-- by far the largest one-design class the SPI OUEST Regatta has ever experienced for several years in a row. Why?  Because they're having fun and it's a simple sportboat to sail in France!  Considering the strength and the depth of experience seen at this year's world-class event, it was remarkable to see one team simply dominate the racing over a wide variety of sailing conditions.  The top Frenchman at last year's J/80 Worlds in Copenhagen, Denmark simply demonstrated speed, smart tactics and great boat-handling-- congratulations to Eric Brezellec and crew on INTERFACE CONCEPT for a fantastic sailing series-- hard to beat a record of 1-2-7-1-2-1-7-4-1 tossing a 7th for an aggregate of 19 pts!  Nevertheless, while Eric's was a dominating performance, two other top French teams were giving him a "run-for-the-money".  Coincidentally, like their big brother J/111 teams, they also had to settle for "who-beat-who" on a tie-breaker!  Second was Vincent Vandekerhove sailing DUNKERQUE PLAISANCE to an equally strong 6-1-1-7-bfd-1-1-5-2 record for 24 pts.  Were it not for a BFD in race 5, Vincent and the very fast, smart-sailing DP crew might have won the regatta outright.  Third was Nicolas Lunven sailing GENERALI to an incredibly consistent 2-16-2-2-3-3-2-6-4 also for 24 pts.

J/111 Lady's Sailing Team- sailing SPI Ouest France regattaCongratulations must go out to the top women sailing team that was led by the French team of Maxime Rousseaux on CN ST CAST- GRAND OUEST ETIQUETTES, finishing 4th overall out of 119 boats!  She ended up defeating a number of Olympic Medallists, World and European Champions along her route to to the top five.  Fifth behind here was French J/80 Champion Luc Nadal on GANJA.  Top British team was Royal Southern YC's Kevin Sproul sailing ULTIMATE SAILS to sixth and top Spanish team was Inigo Jauregui on GOLD SAILING in eighth.

The J/122s and J/133 had a tough road to drive in a very competitive 32 boat IRC 1 Class.  In the end, the top J/122 was MADE IN LOVE (J. Patier) finishing 7th, followed by another J/122 JOLLY JOKER (R. Marchais) in 12th.  Ending up 13th was Yves Grosjean's J/133 JIVARO and just behind them was the J/122 NUTMEG IV (F. Lognone) in 16th.

Finally, in the largest IRC fleet, IRC 4 class with 64 boats, the J/97 MISPICKEL V sailed by B. Fagart managed to finish 6th despite a "slow start" in Races 1 & 2 and a bad race 8. Otherwise, the MISPICKEL V team were on track to be a regatta leader with a 4-2-8-1-4 for one of the best records in the fleet!  "Next time" promised the crew!   For more Spi Ouest France sailing information