Monday, July 31, 2017

LENDY Cowes Week Preview

J/109s sailing Cowes Week (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Cowes Week is one of the United Kingdom's longest running and most successful sporting events and is a key highlight of the British sporting summer. It has been held in early August every year since 1826, except during the two world wars.

Traditionally, Cowes Week takes place after “Glorious Goodwood” (classic car stuff) and before the “Glorious Twelfth” (bird shooting stuff- grouse)- occasionally the traditional dates are changed to ensure optimum racing, most importantly, taking account of the ferocious tides of the Solent.

RAF Red Arrows acrobatic teamAround 8,000 competitors will participate this year, ranging from Olympic and world-class yachtsmen to weekend sailors. The spectacle that the racing provides, together with the vibrant festival atmosphere attracts over 100,000 visitors to Cowes during the event.  The special events that take place all week are particularly noteworthy.  Starting on Tuesday, ELEMIS Ladies Day celebrates the contribution and achievement of women in sailing and recognizes some of the major successes of women in the sport.  Then, the end of week fireworks display on Friday is simply mind-blowing, and of course, the Royal Air Force “Red Arrows” acrobatic team are just awesome!  Every supporting yacht club also hosts big fireworks parties with disco dancing well past midnight (Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal London YC, RORC, Island Sailing Club, & Cowes Corinthian YC)!

For 2017, the Cowes Combined Clubs organization is delighted to welcome LENDY- The Property Platform- onboard as title sponsor of Cowes Week.  As a result, the 2017 regatta is now known as “LENDY Cowes Week”.

As the J/stable of cruisers, racers, and one-designs have expanded over the course of time, J/owners have made Cowes Week a fixture on their summer schedule, with hundreds of J/sailors participating from across the spectrum of age and experience.  There are three one-design classes (J/70s, J/80s, J/109s) and J/crews participating in IRC handicap classes.

J/70 youth team at CowesThe thirty-three J/70s, by far the largest modern keelboat class in the regatta, are sporting several luminaries in their ranks, plus women’s teams and youth teams!  What must be noted is that Royal Yacht Squadron and Royal Thames YC combined have a dozen J/70s, many of which are entered with a variety of Corinthian youth and women’s crews.  At the top of the leaderboard should be well-known crews like Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC, Andrew Barraclough’s JENGA 8, Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY, Tony Hanlon’s RAF SPITFIRE, and Jack Davies’ YETI Under 25 Youth Team.  Notably, there are five women helms in the event- Vilija Velyvte & Sophie Sheldon’s AURORA, Kim Ridge’s NONE, Sarah Allan’s RTYC 743, Ali Hall’s SCEPTRE, and Anna Wilson’s SHIVER.

With ten J/80s, the competition will always be close, particularly when racing up and down The Parade along the fabulous Cowes waterfront.  Leading crews in the class will have just come off a brutally tough J/80 World Championship held just across the Solent at the Royal Southern YC in the Hamble.  Those crews include Terence O’Neill’s AQUA J, Jon Powell’s BETTY, and Chris Body’s MOCKINGJAY.

J/109 sailing CowesThe enormous eighteen boat J/109 class will always have laid-back, but ferocious competition- if there were ever a “Pimms class” amongst the J/cognoscenti, it is the J/109’s on the Solent.  Having fun, fiercely, but kicking back after a long, hard day of racing on the royal waters of the Solent.  In fact, one of the class leaders is appropriately named JYNNAN TONNYX- a family affair sailed by Owain Franks and Jean Lockett.  Always near the top of the scorecard, they will be chased hard by pirate captains- the “Jack Sparrows” of the world- Roger Phillips’ DESIGNSTAR 2, Bob Stiles’ DIAMOND JEM, Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE, William King’s JOLLY JACK TAR, Chris Sharples & Rick Acland’s JUKEBOX, and Dave Richards’ JUMPING JELLYFISH.

The eighteen-boat Sportsboat IRC class will be sporting five J/88s.  They will be up against a smorgasbord of Cork 1720s and Farr 280s, amongst other “sportboat exotica” that can be found in the United Kingdom!  Leading the charge will be David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM, with classmates chasing them hard for class honors, such as Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL, Paul Ward’s notorious EAT SLEEP J REPEAT, Dirk & Dianne van Beek’s SABRIEL JR, and Paul Heys’ JENGA XXX.

J/111 sailing CowesIn the world of handicap racing, the six J/111s are racing in IRC 1 Class along with a brilliantly sailed J/122E.  They are up against an eclectic ensemble of various racer-cruisers.  Past J/111 World Champion Martin Dent and crew on JELVIS are up against Chris Jones & Louise Makin’s JOURNEYMAKER II; the fast, furious, fun, crazy and great partiers on Paul & Marcon van Driel’s Netherlands team on SWEENY; Simon Bamford’s KESTEL; Tony Mack’s McFLY; and the Belgium crew on DJINN. Of note, the DJINN team is born from the ‘Just4sailing' sailing school in Belgium ( The owner (Sebastien de Liedekerke) will participate in the Fastnet Race. However, before that, he lent his boat to a young female skipper- Frederique!

The IRC 2 Class is another eclectic combination of boats.  Essentially, a First 40 class that includes the J/120 PYR SUNSET (Andras Bakody) and the J/122 TEAM WHISKEY JACK, skippered by Nick Southward & John Scott.  Would that not be a shocker to see the J/122 dominate the class?

Similarly, in the twenty-three boat IRC 3 CLASS, it is mostly Figaro 2’s and First 40.7s up against Adam Gosling’s new JPK 1080 YES! and also a new J/112E DAVANTI TYRES sailed by Charles Ivill and the J/11S SLEEPER 111 helmed by Jonty Layfield.  Good Lord, Ladbrokes London would have a helluva time trying to handicap this class of pirates on the high seas!  Good luck to all!

Yet another rough & tumble class are the twenty-three teams in IRC 4 class that includes J/105s, a J/109 and J/35.  In the end, the most interesting crew are “newbies”- the J/105 REDEYE with Annapurna Racing from Wayzata YC, in Wayzata, Minnesota sailing on a charter with Pete Tyler as skipper. They will be up against a past RORC IRC Champion team, the J/35 OUTRAGEOUS sailed by Team Knight Builders from Ireland.  Plus, a top Dutch crew on the J/109 JAI ALAI (a past RORC offshore winner) will be skippered by Alain Bornet and two other J/105s will be in the mix- Prof Roger Williams’ JOS OF HAMBLE and Art Freeman’s JAZZ II.

JBoats sailing at CowesIRC 5 class looks to be a bit stacked towards J/sailors.  Of the 25 entries, 14 are J/Boats! Take your pick. J/97s or J/92s! Well, depends on weather conditions.  Reachy, white sails and shy kites- perhaps J/92’s. Windward/ leeward, J/97s will romp home in a clean sweep.  Then again, if it’s nuking blowing dogs off chains kind’of stuff, all bets are off.  Past “Ladies Day” award winner, Libby Greenhalgh, will be sailing with David on their J/92 J’RONIMO and will be a factor on the leaderboard due to their extremely intricate knowledge of Solent currents and winds.  They will be chased hard by a cadre of 92/97 teams, such as Rob Salter’s J/92 JACKDAW, Rachel Hunt’s J/97 JUMBLESAIL 2, Nick Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE, and Bob & Jon Baker’s JAYWALKER.  In the “lambs getting tossed to wolves” category are Ed Holton’s J/110 SHADES OF BLUE and Chris Burbidge’s J/32 DOMAINE; nevertheless, in any white sails reachy stuff, watch out! It could be the lambs trampling the wolves!

In truly the “lone wolf” category is Edmund Gatehouse’s J/24 JUPITER in the twenty-four boat IRC 6 Class.  Incredibly, the only J/24 sailing in this year’s 40th anniversary of the J/24 in the world’s longest standing race week?? WOW! We all hope he can crush the onslaught of those Impala 28s!  For more LENDY Cowes Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.