Tuesday, May 29, 2012

JEEZ LOUISE Wins Vice Admirals Cup 111s

J/111s sailing upwind - Vice Admirals Cup- Cowes, EnglandSteven Tapper's STALKER Trumps J/109 Class (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The weather may have been grey and murky on the Solent today, but the quality of racing at the opening day of the 2012 Vice Admiral's Cup was spectacularly vibrant. For the 71 teams in six classes the day brought light to moderate shifty winds of circa 6-12 knots combined with a strong ebb tide, giving tacticians and navigators plenty to think about.

Race Officer Bob Milner set up shop for Classes 0, 1 and 2 along the Ryde bank, whilst his colleague Robert Lamb took Classes 3, 4 and 5 up onto the Hillhead plateau.  All fleets were sailing windward leeward courses and the race committee succeeded in completing the three races scheduled for all classes.

J/109s sailing in formation - Vice Admirals CupAfter racing Jonathan Goring confirmed that his overall impression of the day was, "Incredibly shifty! The wind was veering right all day and there was a massive 90 degree shift just before the third race. Our boat is the highest rating in the fleet so we're constantly looking to pick our gap and find clear air. The tide played a crucial part too although at times, particularly in the first race, it was hard to decide what to do for tidal advantage. We got forced off to the right into more tide and expected to loose out, but at the first mark we'd gained on those who came up the bank! This is a crucial regatta for those of us hoping to be selected for the GBR Team and the Commodores' Cup so we're crossing our fingers for more breeze tomorrow."

In Class 2 for the J/111's David and Kirsty Apthorp's J-DREAM won the first and last races and came 4th in the second, while Jame's Arnell's JEEZ LOUISE scored 3-1-2 leaving the boats tied on six points overall with J-DREAM claiming the lead on count back. Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas's SHMOKIN JOE sat in third place overall, two points being the leaders, thanks to a 2nd and two 3rd places.

J/109 one-design- sailing Vice Admirals Cup off Cowes, IOW, UKThe fifteen J/109s in Class 3 put on a great showing with some exciting racing that got so close at times that the Protest Committee had two protests to resolve after racing. Steve and Jody's Maine's J2EAU took the honours in race one from Christopher Palmer's J-TAIME with David McGough's JUST SO 3rd.   But it was Steven Tapper's STALKER that claimed the boat of the day prize thanks to a 4th in race one followed by wins in next two races. In the overall standings STALKER had a two-point lead over J2EAU while Jonathan Hearth's JAGERBOMB took 3rd place on 11 points with J'TAIME fourth on 16.

For the second day of sailing, the teams were delighted when day two brought sunshine and wind, albeit a shifty 6-10 knots from the west, enabling all six fleets to complete three more races - races 4-6 of the series. With more tricky wind and tide conditions to contend with and the discard in play there have been plenty of place changes on the leader boards and there's all to play for going into the final day on Sunday.

Race Officers Robert Lamb and Bob Milner took their fleets up onto the Hillhead Plateau with the race area for Classes 0 to 2 set to the south-west of that for Classes 3 to 5. The big boat fleets were able to get underway on time at 10.30, but the smaller boats, which were closer in to the mainland shore, had a postponement whilst they waited for the lighter and shiftier inshore wind to settle.

J/111 sailing upwind - off Cowes, IOW, EnglandThere were big changes for the J/111s where the normally ultra-reliable David & Kirsty Apthorp's J-DREAM had a shocker of a day finishing last in races four and five before recovering slightly to take 4th in race six. As a result they drop from first to fourth in the overall standings. James Arnell's JEEZ LOUISE moved up into the lead from second thanks to a 4-3-1 score. Ricardo Tavoncelli's MANIC finally found form winning races four and five but dropped back into last in the last race although it was enough to move them up into second overall on equal point with Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas's SHMOKIN JOE. MANIC held second on count back.

J/109 sailboats- sailing on the Solent, Cowes, EnglandSteven Tapper's STALKER had a firm grip on the 16 strong J/109 fleet thanks to two further wins and a second place. They counted 6 points and had an 11 point lead over nearest rival J2EAU, owned by Steve and Jody Maine, who managed to hang onto second overall by adding 3-8-7 to their card. Six points behind them was Tor McLaren's INSPARA, who moved up from fifth, and fourth place was now held by Paul Griffiths' JAGERBOMB. STALKER's run of luck almost came to an end in the fifth race when their jib sheet snapped as the tacked onto the starboard layline for the first mark. Fortunately the crew's quick thinking saved the day and within a few seconds three of the team had hold of the flapping sheet tail and clew and they were able to sheet in effectively enough to allow them to continue towards the mark at almost full speed as their team mates rigged up a replacement sheet.

Arctic Tern- supervisor of mark roundings!The wind Gods smiled at last on the final day of racing, where the fleet enjoyed two final races in a 12-16 knot north-north-easterly. An ebb tide kept the sea relatively flat and conditions were near perfect for the final showdown.  Again the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club's Race Committee took their race courses up onto the Hillhead Plateau and with the stronger winds they were able to set longer windward leeward courses using a mix of laid and permanent marks.

Class 2 for the J/111s saw plenty of "thrust & parry" as the boats enjoyed the stronger breeze.  JEEZ LOUISE held their lead thanks to a win in the first race followed by a 5th, which they discarded to take the series by 8 points.  SHMOKIN JOE pulled up into second overall while J-DREAM hit their stride again after yesterday's misstep, jumping back up into third overall.

STALKER gave the J/109s of Class 3 a master-class (e.g. a "schooling") as this well-drilled crew took two further bullets to win the series by 22 points, the biggest margin of all the fleets. Although STALKER had first place sewn up the battle for second and third raged.  The Main's J2EAU put in a steady day to take second place leaving Mclaren's INSPARA and Griffiths' JAGERBOMB, vying for third.  JAGERBOMB put in a sterling effort but at the end of the day both boats were tied on 39 points with INSPARA taking third on countback.  Post-racing Steven Tapper commented, "It all came good for us really, we had our worst race first of all with very flukey winds and we didn't read it very well, but it then got better and better for us as the weekend went on."   Sailing photo credits- Fiona Brown   For more Vice Admirals Cup sailing information