Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fast Round Island Race!

J/112E sailing the Round Island RaceJ/112E Posts Thrilling Victory!
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- This year’s annual Round the Island Race, organized by the Island Sailing Club, was one of the faster circumnavigations of the 53.2nm circuit around the Isle of Wight!  This year’s race attracted 1,342 entries comprising about 14,000 sailors.

In general, many J/Teams did quite well, garnering their fair share of the silverware in each of their classes.  Here is the report from Paul Heys who sailed aboard the new J/112E DAVANTI TYRES experiencing her debut in the world-famous Round Island Race!

“A week before the race, long-time J/owner Chaz Ivill and I came up with a plan for a last minute summer campaign.

Our first requirement was for a fast boat and we knew where to look; J/Europe and J/Composites President Didier LeMoal had built and prepared a brand new J/112E. This was a GP (Grand Prix) version with full race upgrades. Since launching in March the boat named J/LANCE had entered and won four straight regattas and races!

The spec included an IRC-friendly keel without bulb, Axxon high modulus carbon mast with carbon spreaders, carbon boom, carbon sprit and carbon steering wheel.

Sails were designed by Laurent Deage of North Sails France and built of 3Di all-carbon racing fibers. The sailing instruments were an all B&G H5000 system with a Zeus-3 plotter.

A deal was agreed and I travelled down to Les Sables D’Olonne. We un-rigged the boat and loaded her onto a truck on Tuesday morning.  Over lunch, I discussed with Didier boat tuning settings and some of the new features on the boat; such as the mast lock on the jib halyard and the integral hydraulic mast jack that enabled quick rig tension adjustment in between races.

The boat arrived in Southampton from France by Thursday morning.  She was moved to Hamble Point Marina where she was re-rigged and launched on the Hamble River. In honor of our sponsor, Chaz renamed her DAVANTI TYRES.

J/122 sailing Round Island RaceWe used Facebook to find a crew and were lucky to get a great team!!  On the bow, we had Jack Daniels (no joke, that is his name, not the American scotch whisky!), a young, strong, university student who often races with his father Chris aboard the family J/122e BLACKJACK II. Backing up Jack was our only lady, 19 yr old Nina Luckmann from Cowes. This was Nina’s first big boat race and her first views of the South side of the island!  On mast and then serving as a downwind helmsman, was Stewart Hawthorn; Stewart has owned many J’s since 1993 and won many, many races. The pit was run by Nick Stone, the Bristol-based owner of the J/109 ROLLER COASTER.  Simon Carter and Will Lane took care of jib trim. Dave Chisholm hung up his foiling moth gear and took care of mainsheet and provided the crew assorted Round the Island anecdotes.  Ex-J/109 and J/133 owner Jonathan Goring took care of navigation and stories from the craziness of the America’s Cup in Bermuda. Owner Chaz Ivill helmed and took care of crew morale. I made sandwiches and served drinks!

The forecast promised a swift, warm, dry race and for us on DAVANTI TYRES, that was the case.  We did not get rained on and the wind held for our 6hr 50min circumnavigation of the island!

J/122 sailing Round Island RaceThe first leg, a fetch on starboard tack out of the Solent, saw boats from both ends of the start line arriving at Hurst Castle at the western end of the Solent quite close to each other.  The cleaner wind at the mainland (starboard side) of the fleet countered the tidal advantage of the island side. The eventual overall race winner YES popped out at the front on the start line and managed to hold her lead and clean air very well. We, too, had a good start, but were gently out dragged by a number of 40 ft plus boats, we certainly seemed to hold our own against boats of our size even though many of them rated higher. At times, seeing 11 knots over the ground, we were soon through Hurst Castle straits headed to the famous Needles Lighthouse (the red & white candy cane striped tower). Some of the leaders in the field popped Code 0’s. Sadly, we lacked such a sail, which would have been a huge advantage.  Instead, we had to choose the correct time for a spinnaker set and then negotiating the inside channel at the Needles.  At the Needles, we took the inside line and gained a great many places. We then gybed onto port tack for a long run against the tide to St Catherine’s Point- the next major turning point.

Our downwind speed was good flying an A2 at 165 TWA.  Some of our rivals that set large spinnaker staysails laid St Catherine’s Point on one gybe.  We could not, so we performed a couple of gybes at the very end of the leg, utilizing the counter current that runs close to the beach approaching the headland.

We felt in good shape at this mid-way point; most boats we were with had to give us time and we were half way around the course.

Classics and J/109s- perfect sailing juxtaposition of Round IslandThe leg from St Catherine’s to Dunnose Point saw the wind increase in strong gusts and was now further forward. Boats inshore that could handle the gusts did better than the boats offshore that had a more manageable ride but much stronger foul tide. The 112E was tremendous on this leg, with swift reactions of the helm and trimmers and the crew hiking hard, we remained in control while many boats around us were broaching. The boat is super stiff and the rudder well balanced and with tremendous grip, we gained many places on this leg.

Looking ahead, we could see a white sail procession across Sandown Bay, so we knew a spinnaker drop before Dunnose would be required. This was a tricky maneuver in strong gusts, but our crew pulled off takedown flawlessly.

The leg from Dunnose to Bembridge Ledge buoy was a fetch with the code 2 jib on the outside lead, barber-hauled outboard. Many boats sailed higher to search for a tidal advantage. We straight-lined it, which paid until the last mile or two when some of the windward boats came down over and passed us. In fairness to Stewart, he called that strategy and the collective crew over-ruled him! Doh!!

We came hard on the wind on port tack at Bembridge Ledge buoy at the eastern end of the Isle of Wight.  We were surrounded by higher rating boats that were generally longer, and thus faster than us.  We tried to avoid wind shadows and too many right of way issues.  We worked the inside line closer to the island, it seemed advantageous from a tidal perspective.

J/110 sailing fast on Round Island RaceFrom Ryde Sands onwards to the finish off the Royal Yacht Squadron, it was a full beat against the tide, mostly on starboard tack. In close tacking maneuvers, the boat excelled, we could pick off the forty-footers that were nearby. Once clear of Ryde Sands shoals, we settled down on the long leg toward Osborne Bay. Some boats had tacked inside us, seeking tidal relief behind Peel Bank.  Because of our relatively small size, we positioned ourselves slightly to windward of the pack.  We could see one of our class rivals- Red Shift- a long distance ahead.  We found that we were gaining both height and distance on her and on pretty much all the boats inshore of us.

A quarter of the way up the leg, Jack up on the bow asked, “can you see the yacht Incognito?” He wasn’t joking. The question threw Dave Chisholm into a tizzy, if the yacht was Incognito, how would he recognize it? Once we had calmed Dave down, Jack explained that he was viewing the tracker on his phone (damn kids!) and that at this stage there were just two boats in our class ahead of us- Red Shift and Incognito. At this point, Incognito (a very well-sailed First 40.7) appeared on port tack below us.  Amazingly, they were not able to cross us, so they tacked below our line.  We were now probably winning our class on handicap. However, this was not good enough for Jonathan! He reminded us of a regatta we had sailed with Glen Bourke; Glen refused to understand handicap racing and was only interested in beating all rivals no matter their size, on the water!! Jonathan suggested to Chaz, that anything less than line honours would be a failure!! Those were fighting words, indeed!!

While great upwind speed and height had brought us to the front of our fleet, we now had to negotiate the corner of Norris Castle, with its fickle breeze and strong foul tide.  About the time we got there, we were experiencing the rolling wind-shadows of the big Clipper 72’s going by to weather of us.

Nevertheless, once we had passed the Sunfast 3600 Redshift, we extended on them quickly.  However, the First 40.7 Incognito was a much tougher proposition.  We traded places with them twice as we played the shifts before we claimed class line honours and the handicap win!!

Chaz, who has owned a great many J’s, said the J/112E is the best one yet!  So, thanks and hats off to Al J and the J/Design team in Rhode Island and to Didier and his J/Composites team in Les Sables!  Amazing boat!  We now we look forward to Cowes Week and the J/Cup in Torquay!”

The J/112E was not the only winner of the one hundred nine J/crews sailing on Saturday.  In fact, there were many winners and podiums for J/crews in the 14 classes.

The J/88s had a helluva run, rounding the island in just under 8 hours.  The top two boats finished virtually overlapped, with JONGLEUR (Richard Cooper) getting the gun at 7:43:29, just four seconds better than TIGRIS (Gavin Howe)!!  That was a nail-biter of a race for both boats with many an anxious moment on the final beat into the finish line!  Just over 23 minutes behind was JUMUNU FIVE (Alistair Ray) taking the bronze.  The balance of the top five was EAT SLEEP J REPEAT (Nick Martin) and RAJING BULL (Tim Tolcher), 4th and 5th, respectively.

J/109 sailing Round Island RaceIncredibly, the fastest J/70s nearly got around the island as fast as the top five J/88s!  Winning the class by a significant margin was the Under 25 crew of YETI, helmed by Jack Davies (a past Cowes Week U25 winner)! Their elapsed time was 8:09:09, over six minutes clear of the second place 70 team, Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC crew.  Third was JACKAL, fourth JENGA 8, and fifth VALKYRIE.

The J/80 fleet saw a real battle all the way to the finish for the top three boats. From Ryde Sands to the finish line, it was a nip-n-tuck fight.  In the end, the first two boats finished overlapped with Andrew Hurst’s FIDUCIAL (publisher of the famous SEAHORSE magazine in Lymington, Hants) taking the win by one second, in a time of 8:17:49.  The short end of that stick went to Chris & Cecil Wright’s JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, having to settle for the silver.  Nevertheless, in the hunt for quite some time and finishing just one minute behind them in third position was Claire Mont├ęcot’s French team on STARTIJENN. Fourth was Terence O'Neill’s AQUA-J and fifth went to JEMINI.

In IRC 1A Division, top J was the J/122 JAHMALI (Mike & Sarah Wallis), taking second place.  They were followed by the J/133 GICQUEL ASSOCIES (Ernest Gicquel) in 4th place, the J/111 JELVIS (Martin Dent) in 7th, the J/111 McFLY (Tony Mack) in 8th, and the J/122 R&W (Andy Theobold) in 9th place.  In total, J’s were half the top ten!

The IRC 2A Division saw a strong showing by the 35-foot J/crews.  Taking 2nd was the J/109 JIRAFFE (Simon Perry), the J/109 DIAMOND JEM (Robert Stiles) was 3rd, the J/35 KNIGHT BUILD LTD (James Chalmers) took 4th, the J/109 JAM SESSION (Dennis Zuidam from The Netherlands) finished 6th and the J/109 JUBILEE (Chris Preston) placed 8th. In all, also half the top ten!

J105 off Isle of WightThe enormous IRC 2B class is pretty much populated by all 35-foot J/teams, an unfortunate scenario for their many competitors.  Not surprisingly, J’s took 8 of the top ten! It was a battle of the J/105s and J/109s.  It was about an even split down the standings.  Taking 2nd was the J/105 JIN TONIC (Andy Roberts), 3rd the J/109 JUDGEMENT DAY (Richard Marsden & Emma Toman), 4th the J/105 JELLY BABY (William Newton), 5th the J/105 REDEYE (Pip & Pete Tyler), 7th the J/109 BLUE JAY (Alan Bennett), 8th the J/105 JOS OF HAMBLE (Professor Roger Williams, CBE), 9th the J/109 JURA (Colin Walker), and 10th the J/109 JAGO (Mike & Susie Yates).

Most of IRC 2D class was comprised of J/Crews.  Finishing 3rd was the J/97 HIGH JINKS (Mike Sellers / Chris Miles), 4th the J/97 BLACKJACK II (Andy Howe), 7th the J/92 JABBERWOCK (Ralph Mason), 8th the pretty J/110 SHADES OF BLUE (Ed Holton), 9th the J/97 JAYWALKER (Bob & Jon Baker), and 10th J/97 JET (James & John Owen)- that’s 6 of the top 10!

The Greenhalgh family, as usual, sailed a very nice race in IRC 3A class.  They were rewarded for their efforts by taking a 5th in class on their J/92 J’RONIMO.

J/88 polka dots sailing Round Island RaceBesides the IRC handicap classes, the local “beer can racing rule” popularized by Island Sailing Club- the ISC Rating System- a.k.a. ISCRS had enormous participation. In the ISCRS 4B class the J/109 SQUIBS (Ken Raby) was 6th and the pretty navy blue J/124 ECLIPSE (Robert Bishop) was 14th.

In ISCRS 4D class was the world-famous black-hulled J/36 JAZZ (formerly designer Rod Johnstone’s personal boat), sailed by Norm Curnow and Tim Stoneman.  They kept it all together and finished a very respectable 10th!

Winning the ISCRS 5B class was Andrew Norton’s pretty blue J/100 TIDERACE!  She won by the incredible margin of 23+ minutes corrected over the second place boat!

Celebrating 40 years plying the world’s seven seas and the hundreds of J/24s that have gone around island before were a trio of J/24s in this years race!  In the end, it was the All Under 21 crew of George Kennedy’s NORTHSHORE HOMES that took home the silver medal!  Good on ya mates! Close behind was Quinton Hall’s JABULANI (sailing with “good friends and my loving wife”), taking 5th place.  And, the last J/Boat to get around was Roger Ayres’ J-RIDER taking 11th in class and finishing at 16:04:36 in the afternoon on Saturday, just in time for the PIMM’s Party at the Island Sailing Club!  For more Round The Island Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.