This weekend saw 7 J/109s enter for one of the most popular events in the calendar, the Taittinger Regatta, hosted by the Royal Solent Yacht Club in Yarmouth.
The regular squad of Jubilee, Jago, Jukebox, Jumping Jellyfish and Jiraffe we’re joined by two charter crews, Wild Horses (Nick Andrews in the Chartered Jazzy Jellyfish) and Jeopardy (Richard Watney in the chattered Mojo Risin’). If you were to charter a J/109 for just one event a year, this is the one to go for: a three day weekend away, a casual racing programme and a gruelling social programme.
It’s a three day regatta, but it’s important to remember, the racing doesn’t start until Saturday! Friday is all about a gentle cruise down the Solent to arrive in possibly the friendliest yacht harbour in the South of England, where incredibly polite dock masters will guide you to a lovely walk ashore berth (as long as you book early enough). The objective is to arrive in time to register, shower and be at the Taittinger reception promptly for the scrum to reach the first champagne servings at 6:30pm. Here you are destined to meet everyone you’ve ever sailed with, or so it seems. Once sufficiently fuelled with golden bubbles, it’s off to the club or one of Yarmouth’s array of fine dining establishments for dinner.
The racing was challenging this year with light, shifty North to North Westerly winds and strong tides on the Saturday.
Most of the fleet appeared groggy from the night before as only Dave Richards’ Jumping Jellyfish managed to be anywhere near the start at the gun, charging off the favoured port end while the rest of us were still collecting our thoughts. After a bit of jostling down the run the order settled with Mike Yates’ Jago and Chris and Victoria Preston’s Jubilee slotting in behind Jumping Jellyfish. With little tactical opportunity on the subsequent legs, that’s how it stayed to the finish.
Race 2 start demonstrated more finesse with most hitting the line on time and the fleet still tightly bunched at the windward mark. However, the run delivered challenging decisions: stay out of the tide or gybe on the left hand shift. Chris Copeland’s Jukebox chose the latter and made massive gains by sailing the shortest distance to the mark, being chased down by Jellyfish and Jeopardy. More difficult shifts coming into the windward mark on the second lap left Jubilee and Simon Perry’s Jiraffe languishing right at the back of the fleet while Jukebox pulled out a commanding lead. As we approached the penultimate mark, the die seemed cast, but Yarmouth’s fickle breezes had one last trick up their sleeve: following the rounding, the first boats, having hit the shore to dodge the tide, sailed into flat calm. The later boats witnessed from afar the fate befalling the leaders and chose to stay out in the breeze, allowing them a sniff at glory until the breeze there also died. Jubilee took the middle line and sailed through the fleet to take victory from the jaws of defeat while Jukebox and Jellyfish, who had led the fleet for the whole race, had to settle for 4th and 5th. Jago snatched second and Jeopardy third.
“Better lucky than good” admitted Chris Preston of Jubilee after the result, which put him equal first with Jago on points overnight. Although, Chris is actually quite good and as if to prove the point, he convincingly won the final race on Sunday to take the regatta with Jumping Jellyfish second and Mike Yates’ Jago in third.
Saturday night saw the J/109 fleet do what it does best. Dark ‘n Stormies on the dock as the sun descended, then off to dinner before enjoying the spectacular firework display. The evening closed at the legendary Towers Party where the host, Johnny Calcutt, got out his first real six string and played it ‘til his fingers bled. These are truly the best days of our lives.
Tracking for the three races is available on the SailRacer website: http://events.sailracer.org/eventsites/sailracer.html?214390
We are learning more about the tracking as we use it. You’ll note that Jumping Jellyfish was not transmitting and Jubilee’s tracker shut off for a small time at the end of Race 2 which has left an incorrect track. This emphasises the reasons why we continue to discourage the use of tracks in the protest room.
Thank you to Jo Bowden and Sam May for photos.