Monday, May 28, 2018

Challenging RORC Vice Admirals Cup

J/111 Jelvis sailing RORC Vice Admirals cup
JELVIS Jams J/111s, JIRAFFE Jumps J/109s
(Cowes, IOW, England)- The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s first round-the-cans event each spring is the Vice Admiral’s Cup.  Hosted by their RORC Cowes clubhouse, the sailing takes place on the sunny, ferocious Solent waters, notorious for fickle winds and outrageous 2-4.5 knot currents just off the equally famous “the Castle” (home of the Royal Yacht Squadron).  This year, the J/109 and J/111 classes were invited to participate, with both showing up with strong fleets. Here is how it all went down over the three-day bank holiday weekend in England.

J/109s sailing RORC Vice Admirals CupDay One
A long wait for a sea breeze gave way to a glorious afternoon of racing in sparkling sun for the opening day of the Vice Admiral’s Cup.

It was a day of super-close racing, especially for the smaller boats. Racing for the seven classes was run from two committee boats in the central Solent. For the faster boats, PRO Stuart Childerley set windward/leeward courses starting on the southern edge of the Hill Head plateau, initially in a west southwesterly breeze of 10 knots that built to give gusts in the mid-teens.

The second start, for the two one-design J/Classes, had the potential to be more congested, but many were line shy in the strong ebb stream that was carrying the fleet over the line. Tony Mack’s McFLY led the J/111 fleet into the first windward mark, 27 seconds ahead of Chris Jones’ JOURNEYMAKER II, who lost out through over-standing the layline. Hans Zwijnenburg’s Dutch crew on SWEENY rounded third, barely a length behind JOURNEYMAKER, neatly gybe-setting to head towards tidal relief in the shallow water of the Bramble Bank.

While the leading group of Performance 40s judged the tricky cross-tide layline into the leeward gate accurately, the J/111s found it more difficult. McFLY again led into the mark, but approached against the tide at a low angle, giving scope for JOURNEYMAKER and SWEENY to eat into the leader’s advantage.

By the end of the race Martin Dent’s JELVIS prevailed, ahead of SWEENY and McFLY. Dent also won the second race, ahead of Cornel Riklin’s JITTERBUG and SWEENY.

The J/109 fleet saw, Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE win both races, with Christopher Preston’s JUBILEE second in both and David Richards’ JUMPING JELLYFISH third.

J/111's off Cowes, EnglandDay Two
After a relaxed start, the second day delivered yet more top-notch racing in bright, sunny weather. With a light east-south-easterly sea breeze established by lunchtime, the first of the day’s races got away just after 1300 hrs.

The day was characterized by short, sharp races that proved a thorough test of both tactics and boat handling. Tight mark roundings and close finishes, including exact ties, were the order of the day.

The J/109 fleet saw boats yo-yoing up and down the standings. In the first start Christopher Preston’s JUBILEE was well-placed mid-line, while David Richards’ JUMPING JELLYFISH and John Smart’s JUKEBOX were closer to the committee boat, with JELLYFISH hitting the line with speed and popping out ahead in clean air.

Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE, which won all three races yesterday, was buried and tacked away onto port. Royal Navy Sailing Association’s JOLLY JACK TAR rounded the windward mark first, along with a gaggle of back markers in the J/111 fleet, with JUBILEE following close behind and JIRAFFE some six lengths back in third place. Perry continued to climb the fleet on the next lap of the course, to pull out a big lead on JOLLY TACK TAR by the second windward mark to win by an impressive margin. John Smart’s JUKEBOX took third place to gain his first podium finish of the event.

In the next race, which was shortened at the leeward gate as the wind swung towards the south-west, saw Roger Phillips’ DESIGNSTAR 2 take the winner’s gun, fractionally ahead of JUBILEE, with JUMPING JELLYFISH taking another third.

JIRAFFE went on to win the fifth race of the series, but at the start of the longer final race, much of the fleet misjudged the strength of the building ebb tide, with the result that a slew of boats, including JIRAFFE, were called OCS. Perry was able to discard his fourth in this race, but a win for Christopher Preston’s JUBILLE put the two boats only two points apart going into the final day. Speaking from a buoyant after-race party on the dock Preston said, “We had great racing today, in brilliant conditions,” and thanked the race team an excellent job in getting the racing away cleanly on both days.

Martin Dent’s JELVIS, the 2016 J/111 World Champion, had a commanding start to the regatta, winning both races on the first day. Not everything went his way today, but he was generally at the front of the fleet when it mattered, winning three races and taking a second in the other. Hans Zwijnenburg’s SWEENY held a comfortable second place, with a seven-point margin on Chris Jones’ JOURNEYMAKER II.

J/109s sailing off Cowes, EnglandDay Three
The Vice Admiral’s Cup has a long-standing reputation for providing exceptionally close competition. The final day of racing this year saw further intense racing, with most classes going to the wire, in a building southeasterly sea breeze.

In the J/109 class Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE dominated the early part of the regatta, winning the first three races. However, Chris Preston’s JUBILEE led a strong challenge on the second day, leaving the leaders just two points apart at the start of the final day. In the first race, JUBILEE started with the upper hand and still held the lead at the end of the first lap. However, she lacked pace downwind and slipped to fifth on the final lap. JIRAFFE then went on to win the last race, finishing the series on nine points, with JUBILEE second on 15 and David Richards’ JUMPING JELLLYFISH third on 23 points.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend in a very competitive, but friendly, fleet,” said Perry. “We first started racing against JUBILEE in Lendy Cowes Week last year– they are very quick, but we managed to stay ahead of them today, although they worried us this morning. We’ve got the boat going well, especially downwind, where we are deeper and faster. We also have a balanced crew that have sailed together for some time, which means the mechanics of maneuvers have been working really well.”

Anyone looking at the overall results might assume that Martin Dent’s J/111 JELVIS had an easy ride to victory, thanks to his six race wins. However, the scoreboard belies the effort that went into those results. “Many of the races had multiple lead changes,” he said, “and we rounded almost every mark in company, which was really exciting. It’s a competitive fleet, with good sailors and well set-up boats, so you have to fight for every inch.  We’ve had a really enjoyable Vice Admiral’s Cup. It’s a key event in the J/111 calendar, with good courses for one-designs and great race management. They did a fantastic job in getting all eight races away with no wasted time, despite a minimal pressure gradient and spring tides.”  For more RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.