After the conclusion of the recent Raymarine Warsash Spring Series, J/109s were out in force over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Three J/109’s were tempted by the forecast of a favourable North westerly light to moderate breeze and sunshine to join the JOG RS Divers St.Vaast race; four J/109s participated in the RORC Cervantes Trophy to Le Havre and Royal Southampton Yacht Club Weymouth Double saw three J/109s compete in Class 1.
The JOG RS Divers Race started on Friday evening and instead of the forecast, the fleet were unfortunately greeted on the start line off Cowes by overcast Solent skies and wind gusting up to 27 knots. These conditions proved initially ideal for the sole J/105, Only Just (Andy Hill), who revelled in the spinnaker start and fast first leg to the Forts, showing a clean pair of heals to the rest of the fleet, which was led by J/109 J2Eau (Steve & Jody Maine) and closely followed by J/109s Jahmali (Mike & Sarah Wallis) and Just So (David & Mary McGough), together with Swans and Dehlers. Rounding Bembridge Ledge and heading into the Channel, the wind began to moderate, and yachts were able to settle onto a close fetch to the Normandy coast. Good average VMG’s were maintained, and loss of concentration in the night was rejuvenated by sizeable pods of dolphins swimming alongside for some distances. As is often the case, the dawn arrival off the French coast was met with decreasing visibility and winds. The three J/109’s had maintained a course slightly higher than the layline, taking them close to the Cherbourg peninsula and as the wind veered this allowed them to hoist their asymmetric spinnakers early. With flat water, boat speeds exactly matched wind speeds, and allowed the fleet to slowly ghost their way to the finish. The conditions favoured the J/109’s and the overall fleet finishing order of Jahmali, Just So and J2eau was the same on corrected time, despite them opting for different sail plans and consequently IRC handicaps.
As the lock gate opened in the early afternoon, the sun shone, and the RS Divers (who had joined Jahmali for this race) sponsored wine flowed.
The Royal Southampton Yacht Club 2-handed race to Weymouth and back sponsored by McGuigan Wines also commenced on Friday evening. It was definitely a game of two halves – the leg out on Friday night was cold, damp, foggy, upwind and SLOW with a big park up at St Albans Head – the unspoken question was “why do we do it?” All was answered on Sunday on the return leg when in flat seas, a 15 knot north westerly and sunshine the fleet enjoyed a fantastic race back to the Solent. Over the two legs J/109 Zelda (Michael Ewart-Smith/Ben Richards) finished third and first, whilst J/109 Jambhala (Richard Sainsbury/Gillian Ross) was fourth on the way out and J/109 JoJo Gunne (Bill West/Mike Garvey) took fourth on the return leg.
The RORC Cervantes Trophy to Le Havre started on Saturday morning by which time the sun was shining and 108 boats gathered for the start off Cowes. A light westerly breeze greeted the fleet although with the wind exceeding the forecast it was to be a quick race. Three of the J/109s Jibe (Robin Taunt), Aria (Luca Rubinelli) and Jeez Louise (James Arnell) finished 7th, 8th and 9th in IRC2 on corrected time whilst all four J/109s finished in less than 20 minutes despite their variances in sail plan.