Wednesday, May 9, 2018

MAUI JIM Crowned Spanish J/80 National Champion

J/80 sailing Spain (Bayona, Spain)- The 12th Spanish J/80 Championship took place from April 27th to May 1st off Bayona, Spain, hosted by Monte Real Club de Yates.  Twenty-six teams from across Spain participated, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean (Cantabria, Balearic Islands, Galicia, and Basque fleets).

After the eleven-race, four-day series, it was the Cantabrians aboard MAU JIM SUNGLASSES, skippered by Javier Aguado, that were crowned 2018 Spanish J/80 National Champions.  The road to the top of the podium was not an easy one for Aguado and crew; in fact, the championship came down to the outcome of the final race between them and fellow Real Club Maritimo Santander member, the Olympian Jaime Piris on MERCURY.  Here is how it all went down over the four days.

J/80s sailing off SpainDay One- Saturday
The first day of racing saw three races take place on the Bay of Biscay. The sailing conditions were excellent, a day with little cloudiness, a northwest wind that remained stable blowing 10-15 kts.

The Basques of the AD GRUPO GARATU, owned by Juan Vázquez, were the leaders after the first day, with a brilliant performance in all three races. Their skipper- Iker Almandoz- and crew of Íñigo Jáuregui, Íñigo Sánchez and Borja Ponte, took three 1sts, much to the mind-numbing shock of their fellow J/80 sailors.

In second place was another of the favorites to take the championship, the Javier Aguado’s MAU JIM SUNGLASSES. The Menorcans, with aspirations to retake the title they achieved in 2016, started somewhat weak, with a fourth place in the first race, but managed two 2nds to stay in contact with the leader.

The Galician crew of OKOFEN, helmed by Javier de la Gándara, closed the provisional podium on the first day..

J/80s sailing off Bayona, SpainDay Two- Sunday
Sunday saw a big a struggle between the Basques and Cantabrians for the only two races sailed that day. On a day of overcast skies, lots of rain and rough seas, MAU JIM SUNGLASSES managed to get closer to the AD GRUPO GRATU team, posting 1-4 to their 5-6.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to finish the day like that, as leaders," assured the skipper of AD GRUPO GRTU- Iker Almandoz. "The regatta starts again tomorrow and it will be very fun, because there are boats that are fighting very hard for the championship. I can only say that the atmosphere is great and many crews sailing really well. "

With discards now applying to the standings, third place was taken over by Jesus Amaliach’s LA GALLOFA over Javier de la Gándara's OKOFEN.

J/80 sailing upwind off SpainDay Three- Monday
There was great excitement and anxiety on the third and penultimate day of the regatta.  It was marked by a great rivalry in the water, with the crews giving the maximum of themselves to take control of the national title.

After the bad weather conditions on Sunday, Monday dawned sunny, but with very little wind.  As a result, several onshore postponements took place before the fleet went offshore to get in three more races. There was no question, the fleet leaders all experienced “roller coaster” scorelines, with no clear domination by any one of the top teams.

Aguado’s MAUI JIM SUNGLASSES did take over the lead with a 2-6-1 tally.  The Basques on AD GRUPO GARATU fell to fifth place with a horrendous 7-9-9 tally.

OKOFEN’s Gándara commented on the difficulties all teams were facing, “it's a very strong fleet, very competitive. And, when the wind drops down, it compacts the fleet and tactics/ strategies become more complicated."  Their Galician team is third behind Piris’ MERCURY and tied on points with LA GALLOFA’s Jesus Amaliach, both are members of the Real Club Marítimo de Santander.

J/80 Spanish Nationals winnersDay Four- Tuesday Finale
The final day saw the Monte Real Club de Yates PRO manage to fire off three more races, with plenty of drama unfolding race-by-race for the regatta leaders.

Winning the first race was Piris’ MERCURY, while Aguado’s MAU JIM SUNGLASSES posted a sixth.  In the second race, both protagonists tanked, Aguado with a 8th to Piris’ 11th.  Then, with everything riding on the last race, Piris won, but Aguado’s crew managed a 3rd place to clinch the title by just one point!  It was a thriller to the final minutes of the last race!

"It's been a long, four-day championship, with all the wind conditions to struggle through. There are teams that have been better in strong wind conditions and others with light breeze, but what has paid off in the end has been the fact of being versatile in all conditions," said Aguado (Maui Jim).  “What surprised us is the strength of the Galician local fleet, we have grown a lot and we have shown a very high level of competitiveness! On behalf of my team, I want to thank the Monte Real Yacht Club of Bayonne. As always, the level of race organization is perfect. "

Behind the top two teams of MAUI JIM SUNGLASSES and MERCURY was Fernandez’s OKOFEN in third, Amaliach’s LA GALLOFA in fourth, and Javier Chacartegui’s IBO.ES in fifth place.  Sailing Shots by María Muiña Add to Flipboard Magazine.