IRC 2 at this years HYS Hamble Winter Series turned into a battle of the J Boats, with Jiraffe (Simon Perry) and Jago (Mike and Susie Yates) trading places within the top three throughout the series. All the talk within the J/109 fleet this year has been about “Jexit” – the proposal to ditch overlapping headsails in favour of non-overlapping jibs, sheeted via in-haulers. Regular IRC racers, the Irish and the Americans have been sailing their J/109s like this for a while. Sailing under IRC, unrestricted by the current class rules, both Jiraffe and Jago elected to go for the non-overlapping set up, saving up to 10 points on their IRC rating.
The exercise has clearly demonstrated that in this guise, the J/109 is one of the most competitive designs in IRC 2 with Jago and Jiraffe taking it in turns to fend off attacks from the J/88s Tigris (Gavin Howe) and J-Dream (Kirsty and David Apthorp), Andy Hunt’s Ker 33, Acheron, Mike Moxley’s HOD 35, Malice and Robbie and Lis Robinson’s First 35, Hot Rats. There were another four J/109s participating, just outnumbering the 5 J/88s giving J-boats a clear lead in the constructors championships.
Throughout the series the race committee, led by Kathy Smalley and Peter Bateson, masterfully contended with all the weather, from flat calm to 30 knots, expertly adapting the courses to suit the conditions and extending the length of races as the schedule dropped from 2 races a day to 1 with the change to the winter clock. Ashore, the bar was full after sailing, the beer flowing and sponsors prizes quite rightly cascading down the fleet if the intended recipient failed to be present.
In the final race, Jago got the better of Jiraffe taking second behind Malice to give them a full set of top 3 results to count, but Jiraffe took the class prize with a total of 11 points including 6 firsts – enough to have them also awarded top boat of the series.