Thursday, October 16, 2014

J/111 JAKE Takes Australian Triple-Crown!

J/111 JAKE crew winning Melbourne Offshore race (Melbourne, Australia)- Stuart Lyon and his crew on JAKE have been sailing their J/111 on Port Phillip and Bass strait since picking her up two years ago. JAKE, was originally owned by Ray and Sandra Entwistle in Sydney, where she had success in the Sydney offshore program. She was delivered to Melbourne from Sydney, by Stuart and some of his crew almost two years ago now.

JAKE has just come off a very successful summer program with wins in all three handicap divisions in the Bass Strait series. This is Australia’s oldest offshore yachting trophy and includes the Melbourne to Geelong race. As well as winning division 1 (performance racing) in Australia’s largest yachting regatta, the festival of sails Geelong regatta in January.

The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria, conducts the Melbourne to Geelong race as the end of the winter season on Port Phillip bay. It has become a popular regatta with some 50+ boats competing. JAKE had taken a break over most of the winter series, commissioning a new A2 and some of the crew sailing on other boats. Lyon commented on their experiences with the Melbourne to Geelong Race:

J/111 JAKE winning Melbourne offshore race“We had a number of practice sessions with the new kite just before Melbourne to Geelong. We new we were faster than last season on almost all points and could soak much deeper with this Quantum A2 that was largely out of the J/111 North American program. The rig was in a good tuning space after some minor work and we finally had a back stay working again (not that we really ended up needing it for M2G this year). I said to crew on the way out to the start, we know the boat is fast so if we enjoy sailing her and sailing her how she likes to be sailed, keep her moving and stay in the wind we have a god shot at this.

The race started at 8;30 am just off RBYC yacht club with a pin favoured end and 5 knots of breeze. The Cookson 50, Elliot 44, Farr 47, Sydney 47 and RP46’s ensured wind was hard to find at the start for the J111 and its usual revivals the Sydney 38’s and Beneteau 40’s. The wind clocked from NNW to N pretty quickly and favoured the right upwind, we were in roughly the position we would expect in that fleet at the top mark (down the back). Downhill we went left with only a few boats but the wind was wanting to go east and a little stronger. We knew as the wind veered it was going to be a race about keeping the boat moving and staying in the wind (and then a prayer if it faded). I took one of our very good crew out of the middle of the boat and got Jeremy to steer half the time as brain fatigue was going to be important to avoid. The two of us plus our mainsheet trimmer, Julian. Spent the whole day looking for wind, reaching angles and the right sails early. We flew in those conditions, as fast as anyone, but taking as much as 10 degrees soak out of the fleet downhill, that was impressive. Importantly, this allowed us to keep piecing together the light but only slowly dying breeze.

J/111 JAKE- sailing in AustraliaBy the time we were three-quarters along the 36 Nm course we had just gotten into the Richardson Channel, within the sniff of the finish. The wind went for what seemed an eternity, but was only 25 minutes. We were in a good position for whatever direction it came in on handicaps and would only lose a small amount to boats who had gone very right or left in their approaches to the channel. We were ahead of some fancied boats too. The Beneteau first 45, the Sydney 47 behind and the Farr 47, with RP’s and Cookson 50 just in front.

Luckily, the wind came back at a tight reach from the south at 7 knots, this did allow the first 45 to catch right up with its code zero, but we remained in a great position. We elected to carry jib for a short while until our angle allowed us to use the A3 which would be best for  that leg (90-100 true wind angle) and 130 for the 4 Nm to the finish. The wind quickly built to 13 knots giving us great ride to the finish at that angle, after 8 hours and 6 minutes racing.

We new we had done well but the fleet was spread out despite us beating some big boats. We were ecstatic to find we had won all three (IRC, AMS and PHS) as the smallest boat in Division 1. Especially IRC, as we do give the IRC-optimized first 40’s sometime on this handicap. The crew were walking 8 foot tall in Geelong post win. We look forward to the coming summer, particularly given that our friends Rod Warren and crew of JOUST are sailing a new and fast J/111!”