Monday, September 7, 2015

BOATS.COM Repeats as J/70 UK National Champion!

J/70 wins UK Nationals (Hamble, England)- With 30 boats on one start line, the first day of the J/70 UK National Championship featured the largest fleet of J/70s that have ever raced in the United Kingdom. Ian Atkins racing BOATS.COM, with Ruairidh Scott on the helm, led after the four races and never got knocked off the top spot!  As a result, the reigning UK National Champions were able to pull off an amazing repeat performance to be crowned J/70 UK National champions again!  It was not an easy task for the BOATS.COM crew as they were up against several very competitive teams that managed to get on the podium during the regatta, teams like Will Goldsmith's GILL RACE TEAM, Charlie Esse's BABY J, Ian Dobson's SAILBOATS.CO.UK, Russell Peter's NUMBER 6 and Jack Davies' JUGADOR.

On the first day, a light gradient wind from the east south east, veered during the day, but also flicked back to the east, which kept the tacticians on their toes. The wind speed rarely exceeded ten knots, while the racing was not physically taxing; today's shifting breeze was a real test of tactical awareness. Starting well was always important but even more so in light airs, two general recalls and a highly competitive start line, were indicative of the competition within the fleet.

J/70 sailing UK NationalsGill RACE TEAM with Royal Southern Yacht Club Academy sailor, Will Goldsmith at the helm, had a great day, finishing in second place overall and top boat for both the Under 30 prize and Mixed crew. GILL RACE TEAM has a crew all under 25, including 470 duo Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter, from the RYA British Sailing Team, as well as top Fireball sailor, Matthew Rainback.

Amy Seabright spoke about the first day of racing. “We have only be sailing the boat for two days but entering the championship is intentional for our training programme to try to further our performance in the 470. You can get quite channeled in how you sail and with your tactics, whereas going into different fleets, you learn how other people sail and the J/70 is great for that because in this fleet it is hard to win. Having 30-plus boats on a start line isn't new to us but having four people in a boat is, managing everyone's views is an interesting dynamic. Also, asymmetric sailing is different and really good for our development, as you have to play the wind more. Will (Goldsmith) did a great job on the helm today, but I have to say that because he is buying the drinks! Seriously, we are delighted with our results to today!”

Legendary coach, Jim Saltonstall, was a keen observer during the racing and commented, whilst sipping a pint of Yorkshire tea, at the bar in the Royal Southern YC. Here are some of Jim's words of wisdom.

J/70s sailing UK Nationals on Solent, England“Tide, wind and convergence zone.” summarized Jim. “As it was going light the wind went right and as it increased it went a bit to the left. On the left hand side with an easterly wind there was more pressure on the shore because there is a convergence zone and an increase in wind velocity, the wind at 150 degrees was parallel to the shore and at times there was more wind there but when the wind went a little lighter it would shift the other way, so it was important not to get too detached. So a tricky day, at times, it was difficult to stay in phase.”

The impressive Royal Southern Yacht Club upper bar was bubbling with conversation after racing, and courtesy of Anthony Esse, owner of BABY J, a cocktail welcome party was organized for all competitors. Anthony was in a jubilant mood, as BABY J, with Anthony and his son Charlie on the helm, scored a win and a second place today to take third place overall, and top Corinthian boat after four races.

Anthony Esse spoke about the bright future for the J/70 class in Europe. “The J/70 fleet has formed a European Champions League, the UK class are not participating yet but we will next year, running one of the legs, as a joint venture between the Royal Thames YC and the RYA. There will be a test event this October. The league offers short course racing, legs of just a few hundred metres, delivering spectacular short-sharp racing. I wish you all a great evening and great racing for the regatta.”

J/70s sailing with spinnakers on Solent- UK NationalsDay Two- With no wind in the Solent, racing was abandoned for the day at 1300 BST. Simon Cavey, J/70 UK Class Captain, talked about the J/70 Class, which now has over 50 boats in the UK.  Simon has been Class Captain for the J/70 UK class for three years and bought the fifth UK boat, JUST4PLAY, and has watched the class grow over the last few years. As with all one-design classes, achieving a critical number of boats gives the class traction, getting the numbers over the first ‘hump’ is the key to growing the class.

“I think the first hump was 20 boats. We now have over 50 J/70s in the UK and I believe that this is the second big hump and we are going to kick on from here. Next year’s National Championship will be huge; the class is really thriving.

The ball is definitely rolling and we have top guys who want to race J/70s, which is great. Racing against top professionals and young aspiring Olympic sailors is thrilling. The top sailors are coming into the class because the boat is fantastic. I love sailing the boat and the racing is so close.

Yesterday, from our perspective, you make one small mistake and ten boats go past you and people like that; you have to be on your toes. Sailors like to race in fleets where how they perform makes the difference. My responsibility as Class captain is to build fleet racing, which includes a UK National Championship, a Scottish Championship and we have even talked about organizing an Inland Championship.

The class is very much encouraging clubs to get involved, something we very much welcome. The Royal Southern YC have been tremendous hosts for the National Championship and a very fitting venue. The J/70 Class committee is all owners and we talk about where we want to go and want we want to achieve, including running a good social side. The facilities at the Royal Southern are perfect for that; there is plenty of chat in the mornings with all the boats moored together and there is a great atmosphere after racing as well as in the bar afterwards.

Unfortunately, there was no wind today but the Race Committee did a brilliant job yesterday; getting in four races, without a break of more than ten minutes; an outstanding performance. I am staying at the club and I can see my boat on the dock when I get up in the morning! Hopefully, tomorrow the weather will play ball.”

J/70s sailing off starting line- UK NationalsDay 3- For the third and final day, the fleet was treated to a fresh northeasterly breeze and four solid races.  Ian Atkin’s BOATS.COM reveled in the conditions and closed out with a 2-1 to win the regatta with just 14 pts net.  Will Goldsmith’s GILL RACE TEAM sailed the most consistently of all teams on the last day, posting a 3-5-6-2 scoreline to close the event with 23 pts net and securing the silver.  Taking the bronze was class newcomer Russell Peters on NUMBER 6 sitting on 28 pts net.  Russell is no stranger to tactical, high-speed, asymmetric one-design racing- having been a world-class skipper in the International 14 class for years, including being a World Champion.  Plus, Russell has also been a World Champion team racer, representing his home club, the West Kirby Sailing Club, in the famous Wilson Trophy.  Rounding out the top five were Esse’s BABY J in 4th and Dobson’s SAILBOATS.CO.UK in 5th.  Winning the Top Under 25 Trophy was Will’s GILL RACE TEAM.

What is exciting for the UK J/70 class is that six different teams won races in the eight race series, evidence of the close competition as described by class President Simon Cavey.  Those teams were BOATS.COM, Esse’s BABY J, Russell’s NUMBER 6, Will’s GILL RACE TEAM, Steve Northmore’s WATERJET PRECISION CUTTING, and Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC.  Follow the UK J/70 Nationals escapades on Facebook.   For more J/70 UK National Championship sailing information