(Norfolk, VA)- Over the Memorial Day/ Bank Holiday weekend, the Virginia Cruising Cup hosts the renown 120nm "Down the Bay" offshore race that goes from Annapolis, Maryland to Hampton, Virginia. The conditions could only be described as "epic", with winds howling out of the NNW (the same breezes that powered course records in the FIGAWI Race to Nantucket and the Block Island Race on Long Island Sound). This meant the fleet was blessed with broad reaching and downwind running conditions with big waves on the Chesapeake Bay and winds gusting 20 to 30 kts.
It's not often that a 35+ year old J "classic" completely dominates an offshore event anywhere. But, true to form as it has since 1977, a well-sailed J/24 can be competitive offshore. With conditions that were well suited to its ability to sail fast downwind, planing more often than not, the J/24 ROCKET J (appropriately named, of course) sailed by Neil Ford won its class by two hours and finished 2nd overall to a Hobie 33, beating the first TP 52 by 106 minutes corrected (the same TP 52 set a course record of 7:02:32, beating the old one by 5 hours!). That's one helluva fast race! Neil and crew did 120 nm in 13 hrs, 52 min and 26 secs! That's an 8.5 kts average in a little 24 foot boat!
While Neil and crew were celebrating deliriously, so were some of their sisterships! The J/120 SAYKADOO sailed by Stephen McManus managed to beat a fast Evelyn 42, rockstars and pro's sailng a brand new Farr 400 and even more rockstars and pro's sailing the TP 52 to win PHRF A1 Class! Perhaps even more amazing, the cruising J/40 SOLSTICE sailed by Jim Bordeaux finished second in PHRF A2 class and was 3rd in fleet overall, just behind the J/24!! They were followed by the cruising J/42 SCHEMATIC sailed by Robert Fox that finished 4th in class! For more Virginia Cruising Cup Down the Bay Race sailing information