J/109s on RORC Race the Wight

9 J/109s took to the water for Saturday’s Race the Wight organised by RORC, with two attempting the circumnavigation 2-handed.

A civilised 9:30am start may have encouraged participation in the first RORC organised race of the season, an anticlockwise circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, starting and finishing on the Royal Yacht Squadron line. Conditions were good with 15 to 18 knots steady from the West. Clouds and rain soon gave way, initially to a beautiful rainbow, then to sunshine.

Rainbow at the start ©Rachel Perry

Crew numbers were limited to no more than 6 people or 2/3 of your certificated crew numbers (if smaller). This meant a maximum of 5 people aboard a J/109, although “Jago” and “Jomalija” bravely elected to go 2-handed.

Fresh westerly winds and a west running tide made for a fast trip to the exit to the Solent at Hurst, where wind against tide conditions made for some exciting conditions, almost matching those of the JOG organised “Great Escape” two weeks before.

Just So, now with the right sail up ©Rick Tomlinson

Mike Yates “Jago”, overall winner of the JOG Lonely Tower and William McGough in “Just So”, second in the Lonely Tower and first J/109 home in the “Great Escape”, allowed Simon Perry’s “Jiraffe” to gain the better start and reach the Needles first J/109 and not too far down the overall standings. Taking the prudent course outside of the wreck, the fleet was then faced with a reach to St.Catherines with the wind about 120 degrees off the bow. This resulted in a splendid array of sail plans including white sails (or black in many cases), code zeros, A3’s and A4’s. Just So went for the code zero and lost out to Jago flying their A3, but Jiraffe went for the A4 (having left the A3 in the shed) and pushed it to the edge to just scrape in past St. Catherines, extending their lead on the other J/109s.

The fleet approached St. Catherines looking for a break from the tension of short-handed close reaching and a chance to grab a bite of sandwich, but the recompense was short-lived as the fleet was forced to gybe amongst each other through the overfalls seeking relief from the oncoming tide.

Jiraffe preparing for another gybe, ©James Tomlinson

Finally Bembridge Ledge arrived and the cause of all this effort could be dropped and stowed below for the balance of the race. But it was here that those who had done their navigational homework could reap the benefit. While the bulk of the fleet dutifully headed for the lateral beacon off No Man’s Land Fort, the bold comfortably cut the corner, heading straight for the north eastern tip of Ryde Sands.

The fetch to the finish didn’t pose too many tactical questions other than the usual final challenge of coasting through the light patches off Norris. But I was left pondering whether I was right to go for the standing headroom of the J/109 when the J/105 was clearly a much faster boat around this particular course. Greatest honours for J/109s in the overall standings this weekend was 15th in the two handed for Jago. Once again, we enjoyed a spectacular day and a very exciting trip around the island.

Thanks to RORC for putting on a great event and again to Rick and James Tomlinson for some cracking photos. Extracted J/109 results below.

J/109 Extracted Results, ©RORC

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