J/122 SKY HUNTER Smokes Cruising 4B, J/100 Duo Crush Cruising 5B
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Saturday 1st of June was certainly a day to remember, a day of highs, and more highs and, it was a day for Round the Island Race records to tumble. It was the day when Great Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie (past J/24, J/80 and J/109 sailor/tactician) and his all-British crew aboard JP Morgan BAR, trounced the existing Round the Island Race multihull record, held for 12 years, by an impressive 16 minutes. Equalling this awesome, impressive feat was Simon Ling's team aboard the J/70 SPITFIRE, just blowing away their 15 boat Sportboat Class by 15 minutes on corrected time and were declared winner of the prestigious Sir Edward Heath Trophy (named after a former British Prime Minister who dearly loved sailing).
As dawn broke over the Solent, a weak weather front was clearing away to the east, leaving clear skies and a northerly airflow in its wake. The wind strength peaked at 17-22 knots as the front passed over, reducing to 13-17 knots for the first starters. It was clear it was going to be a day to break records for all kinds of boats, especially with flat water and a good wind angle on every leg of the course. A critical turning point in the race, St Catherine's Point, had a comfortable 15 kts with occasional gusts to 20-25 kts to make for fast surfing or planing for the lighter boats. It was nearly idyllic sailing conditions for the massive 1,500 boat fleet. However, by the time Simon Ling’s J/70 SPITFIRE, the leading sportsboat, was approaching Bembridge Ledge at 1030 hrs there were holes appearing in the breeze, with just 5-6 knots reported in places. Otherwise, conditions remain glorious on the water, with almost unbroken sun now warming the 15,000 sailors after a cold start to the day.
The many J teams that sailed enjoyed a fabulous day on the water, many having the opportunity to hop on the podium as well. Starting with the top of the pack, the fifty-nine boat IRC 0 Division saw the J/133 JERONIMO get 16th in class and the American J/120 EL OCASO skippered by Rick Wesslund's Caribbean-dominating crew from Miami, FL managing a 35th.
In IRC 1A with 28 entries were the five J/111s. As J/111 champion and sixth in class was Tony Mack's McFLY. Second J/111 and 10th in class was JITTERBUG. Third J/111 and 14th in class was Rick Barne's MUNKENBECK. Fourth J/111 and 16th in class was James Arnell's JEEZ LOUISE. Fifth J/111 and 19th in class was the Belgian team DJINN sailed by Sebastien de Liedekerke. The J/122 JACOB's LADDER was 21st in class.
As a whole,the J/109s did very well in the race. In IRC 2A with 36 entries and with half the class being J/109s, it was pretty certain they could dominate the standings. And, they did. Four of the top five, eight of the top twelve is not bad. In the top five were JAHMALI in 2nd, BASIC INSTINCT in 3rd, JYNNAN TONNYX in 4th and BLUE JAY in fifth. The lone J/39 XTREME finished a very respectable 13th in this competitive crowd.
In IRC 2B, the J/Team's domination was extraordinary, taking 15 of the top 20 places. The J/109 SHADOWFAX took 3rd, the J/105 JELLY BABY was 4th, the J/105 NEILSON REDEYE was 5th, the J/109 J'TAIME was 6th, the J/109 JIBE was 7th and two J/105s rounded out top ten, JOS OF HAMBLE and JACKPOT, 9th and 10th, respectively. Quite a show for this flock of J's.
A J/105 also put on a good show in IRC 2C, with the beautiful, strikingly dark hull of KING LOUIE taking second in their 29 boat class.
Top J in the 47 boat IRC 2D class was the J/97 ETB TYRES JIGGERY POKERY in 5th place. Next J in line was the J/97 INDULJENCE in 7th. Ninth was yet another J/97, JEOPARDY 2, followed by another sistership J/97 JET in 11th.
The J/92s J'RONIMO managed a 7th in the 42 boat IRC 3A division. The other J/92 FORZA was 17th and the J/32 DOMAINE got 18th (not bad for a "J-cruiser"!).
In the "cruising" white-sails ISCRS 4B division with 46 entries, the J crew did fantastically well, taking three of the top five! Winning class was a veteran offshore race and trans-Atlantic champion- Peter Bainbridge's J/122 SKY HUNTER. They were followed in third by the J/109 SARDONYX IX and in fifth was the J/120 ASSARAIN III. Also hanging tough was the J/92 JAMMIN taking 14th in class. On a percentage basis, these four J's were "best in J handicap performance" for a given class! Congrats to all for a "jolly good show!"
No one would've imagined that several of the Solent J/100s would be setting the bar as high as they did in this year's Round Island Race. They certainly seemed to enjoy the gorgeous day and must've sailed a very inspired race. Two J/100s took first and second in the 46 boat ISCRS 5B class, THUNDER SQUALL and ALAMARA B II, respectively. Their sistership CHARLOTTE took 11th. This trio nearly equalled the overall J class performance of their friends in ISCRS 4B.
Then, the classic J/24s have a trio hunting for silver in forty boat IRC 6C division. One of the "not so clew-less" teams happened to be the J/24 called CLEWLESS (GBR4044), sailed by her three co-owners from Southampton University. They sailed to a very respectable 6th in class!
The fourteen boat IRC Sportsboat class saw very, very fast sailing. While Ling's J/70 SPITFIRE dominated overall, what's important to note is that they beat a Melges 32 by 15 minutes on corrected time and a pro-sailed Bavaria B-One by over half an hour elapsed-- that's quite a feat! Next up were a string of Royal Yacht Squadron/ Royal Thames YC J/80 one-designs with ROYAL 1 taking 4th, ROYAL 5 in 6th, ROYAL 2 in 7th and ROYAL 3 in 9th.
Finally, the eleven boat J/80 one-design class was a closely fought affair with the top five finishing within four minutes of each other on elapsed time after 50nm of sailing! The winner by 30 seconds was J.A.T, followed by SURF & TURF in 2nd, WILD WALLY in 3rd, ROCK & ROLL in 4th and JASMINE in 5th. Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth @ PWPictures.com. For more Round The Island Race sailing information