Wednesday, 29 October 2014

J24 UK, 2014 Autumn Cup Report - 28 and 29th October

J24 UK, 2014 Autumn Cup Report

Day 1, Sunday 25th October
A blustery, cloudy forecasted weekend set the scene for a dramatic sailing event in Plymouth Sound. Following just one week after the re-scheduled Spring Cup, there was much expectation from the thirteen entrants to retain or improve places in the absence of Madeleine, the previous week’s winners.
A perfect windward-leeward course was laid inside the breakwater by race officer Neil Dunkley and genoas were rigged for winds measuring around 14 knots. A hotly contested start showed no immediate leader but there was no room for errors given the competitive fleet. Correct tactics, including knowledge of the strong spring tide, allowed Nick McDonald’s team (sailing the Spring Cup’s third placed Cacoon) to cross the line first after a hard fought battle. They were followed by the visiting team of Roger Morris of Jolly Roger from Poole. Third place was earned by Adrian Bennett of Skilled Services. 
With the wind rising, a pre-start incident between guest helm Sophie Pearson of Hitchhiker and local boat Dogs Jorrocks unfortunately lead to the retirement of Torpoint stalwart Steve Wassell and his crew from the event after a single race, but the commotion continued throughout race 2. The hot contest to the windward mark provided enough congestion to cause the scraping and even complete missing of the buoy by numerous boats and the placings shuffled as penalty turns were taken. Those able to gybe quickly benefited at once however and the second lap lead gained by the underweight team of Skilled Services was enough to see them win through, narrowly before the consistent Roger Morris and his Jolly crew. Nick McDonald’s Cacoon completed the first three, ahead of Plymouth’s Jawbreaker and Hijinks.
The now numbering ten starters lined up once more for Race 3, with the lead changing hands several times before the previous event’s runner up Jawbreaker, coolly helmed as always by David Cooper, surged across the finish ahead of the dependable Cacoon. A strong performance from boat-borrowing father Darryl Conyers, who worked his way out of a McDonald sandwich, earned illuminator a deserved third place.
Despite the innocent faces of most helms, Race 4 quite understandably saw the use of the black flag for the first time in the cup. With overnight places at stake, nerves began to show as advantageous positions were thrown away time and time again. There were no clear leaders until the end of the first beat when Stig McDonald’s Jeli made the best tactical choices given the now incoming tide and wind shifts. They held their lead until the end, narrowly followed by Nick McDonald’s Cacoon and the husband and wife team of Austen and Claire Davies on Jam Too who completed the Plymouth Podium. The unshaken Sophie Pearson of Hitchhiker achieved a very notable fourth, but in a change of fortunes, the winners of the previous two races followed all of the other boats across the line.
Day 2, Sunday 26th October
An extra hour’s rest for daylight savings put the sailors in high spirits for the start of day 2, despite the predicted stronger winds and occasional regrets of sangria the night before. After much debate during rigging, 3 genoas ultimately stood out amongst the jibs as controversial choices in the mornings borderline wind conditions. At the start of Race 5, there wasn’t much difference in boat performance given the headsail, but gusts in different sections of the course caused some to suffer slightly more than others. Towards the end of the second beat, it felt like genoa conditions but it was too late because the pirates of Jolly Roger went steaming ahead and looked untouchable. They confidently lead home visitor William Pollock of Flying Colours whose team fought hard for their second place and Darryl Conyers’ Illuminator in third.
With an all genoa start to the penultimate race, a few boats were squeezed out of their lanes and forced to tack to the centre of the course. The port tackers were shortly followed by previous race winners Jolly Roger, although the far left of the beat proved the more popular choice. Another crowded windward mark ( at one point draped in the spinnaker of Skilled Services), left many boats scrambling for clear air in another tight contest, but the early “gybers” once again benefited with the inside line back to the leeward mark at the northern end of Plymouth Sound. At the end of the first run, an inspirational call by ultimate race winner David Cooper allowed the overtaking of four boats to make the first rounding of the leeward mark. A loose cover allowed Jawbreaker to hold onto the lead until the finish, with Jolly Roger, Jeli and Mark Lewers’ Hijinks completing the top four.
Throughout the weekend of some of the least forgiving racing seen by the J24s all year, mistakes by any boat cost dearly. Although the seventh and final two-lap race of the event began smoothly, it was still very challenging given that the race management team said it looked like the closest start of the whole event from their viewpoint on the committee boat. Holding course on starboard at first was favoured by most but tricky tides inside the breakwater made it easy to over stand when nearer the windward mark. Precise handling on both laps ensured local bastion Adrian Bennett’s second win of the event, followed by Jawbreaker and the most consistent boat of the event and overall winners, Jolly Roger.
Our congratulations go to Roger Morris and his outstanding team for their efforts throughout the two days; They truly deserve this victory in Plymouth. It is also noteworthy that both the event winners and runners-up Cacoon included father and son duos, which is undoubtedly an optimistic sign of the continuing development of the class in the UK for years to come. 
Praise must also be given once again to race officer Neil Dunkley who provided us with seven excellent races and indeed to all of his onboard assistants, mark-layers and the administrative staff of the Royal Western Yacht Club.
On behalf of the Plymouth Fleet, I thank all visiting boats for making the journey and hope to see everyone back in the port again next year.
Nick Triscott
GBR 4271
Full results of the 2014 Autumn Cup may be found here: 
secretary: another promptly delivered race report thanks nick and congratulations to jolly roger.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

J24 SPRING CUP PLYMOUTH RWYC 21st October 2014

J24 Spring Cup – 18th 19th October 2014 – RWYC Plymouth.

The Postponed J24 Spring cup and world championship qualifier, disrupted due to adverse weather, looked like it could be in jeopardy again as gusts of 35 knots were recorded in Plymouth sound on Saturday morning, but with the winds due to decrease throughout the day, a one hour delay was all that was needed to get the J24 fleet of 14 out racing.

Experienced race Officer Neil Dunkley (just returned from finishing 19th at the Laser World Master Championships in Hyeres) set an excellent windward leeward course in the 20 knot southerly breeze. Short legs made for close racing and with an emphasis on the start, there was no room for mistakes. The first two races saw the top two places continuously swapped between Madeline and Cacoon, each time Duncan McCarthy in Madeline coming out on top.

Race three with the change of tide, saw a determined Jeli go hard right into the waves and sail an outstanding first beat to then do battle with Madeline for top spot. The swell in the sound started to increase just as the breeze started to fall off, enabling a few genoas to be hoisted at the end of the race with Madeline victorious over Jeli and the ever consistent Jawbreaker holding off Jolly Roger.

Sunday dawned with a solid twenty knots but a forecast for it to rise during the course of the day. Race four produced the start of the weekend with Jam Too, Austin Davies, flying up the first beat, just going to show the depth of talent in the fleet and the benefits to be had when you hold your lane off the start. It took a long time for Jam Too to be caught by Jawbreaker, with David Cooper going hard left out of the tide to squeak in ahead of Jam Too, Jeli and then Madeline for what was eventually their discard.

With the wind starting to build, race five saw a return to the front of the fleet for Madeline and Cacoon, the bullet eventually going to Duncan McCarthy in Madeline to secure the regatta. Third place for the ever consistent Jawbreaker ahead of Jeli and an improving Jolly Roger, sailed by Roger Morris and his pirate crew.

The final race, breeze increasing past 23 knots, provided the opportunity for a port tack cross of the fleet by Madeline only to make their one mistake of the weekend in hitting the top mark. Hitchhiker escaped down the run with trimming speed from Jolly Roger pulling her through to second at the leeward mark. Hitchhiker, helmed by rock star Andrew Taylor dominated the final windward leg, with Madeline, Jolly Roger, and Cacoon fighting for second.

In the end it was Hitchhiker, Madeline, Cacoon and Jolly Roger across the line, but consistency won the race for second overall with Jawbreaker having a solid set of top four results taking ahead by a point from Cacoon carrying a sixth place.

The dominance of Duncan McCarthy and his no mistakes approach to the regatta showed in the final score of six points, from David Cooper in Jawbreaker on fourteen, then Cacoon (Nick McDonald), Jeli (Stig McDonald), Jolly Roger (Roger Morris), Hitchhiker (Andrew Taylor) and Jam Too (Austin Davies)

Johnny Allen

Cacoon – Second Runner Up, Third Place Author

Class Secretary: Well done Johnny, the new format for 3rd place finisher for writing a report worked well, the greatest of thanks.

Sunday race 5