View Full Version : 2017 J-Class Worlds In Newport

08-21-2017, 09:47 AM

Some gorgious imagery via the lens of Carlo Borlenghi as the J-Class yachts gather in Newport ahead of the
J-Class World Championships (http://www.jclassyachts.com/)








Tonapah Low
08-21-2017, 11:19 AM

I can totally do this!

Panama Red
08-21-2017, 03:22 PM

Is that cat 2 or 3 talent there?

08-21-2017, 04:38 PM

Historic Six Strong J Class Line Up for Inaugural World Championship in Newport

In the long and storied history of the J Class, Newport Rhode Island is a very special place. It was when the event moved from New York City to Narrangansett Bay for the 1930 regatta that the America's Cup was first raced for the very first time in J Class yachts. The Vanderbilt syndicate's Enterprise prevailed against Shamrock V. Harold S Vanderbilt won again in the colours of the New York Yacht Club on Rainbow in 1934 and then once more in 1937, winning 4-0 on the mighty Ranger.

Those three America's Cups in Newport reflected the J Class in its pomp before it was superseded in 1958 by the 12 Metre which raced eight subsequent editions off Newport.

An exciting new chapter in the history of the J Class and its colourful association with Newport and with the passionate hosts and organisers, the New York Yacht Club, will be written over coming days when a record fleet of six J Class yachts will compete for the very first J Class World Championship.

The class' recent incorporation as a member group of the International Maxi Class Association allows the J Class yachts to compete for the World title – as ratified by World Sailing – for the first time ever. The chance to bring a J Class race crew to Newport to challenge for the inaugural world title has proven simply irresistible to the active, competitive minded J Class owners. Indeed for several teams this championship has been the absolute pinnacle event they have been working towards since it was announced in 2014.


Six shooting for title
Crews of the six yachts – Velsheda (1933), Ranger (2003), Hanuman (2009), Lionheart (2010), Topaz (2015) and Svea (2017) – have been training on the Bay over recent days, building up to Monday's official Practice Race before racing starts Tuesday. A flexible programme of five days of racing – three of windward-leeward contests, usually two per day, and two days of Navigator Races, middle distance coastal races using a variety of fixed navigation marks – should prove a fitting challenge. Forecasters suggest normal sea breeze conditions for the opening days, some stronger winds midweek tapering to lighter airs for the final races. The choice of racing format for each day will be decided the previous evening.

All of the competing yachts raced in June's America's Cup J Class Regatta in Bermuda where Lionheart only clinched the overall win on the last run of the final race and Velsheda finished second. And Hanuman, which is steered by Newport's Ken Read, will be looking for a world championship win as a salve to memories of losing out to Lionheart in Bermuda.

"Look, any one boat could win this here. It will be super, super competitive." Emphasizes Murray Jones unequivocally. The six times America's Cup winning Kiwi returns as tactician on Ranger after missing the Bermuda J regatta due his commitment as a performance coach with the Cup winning Emirates Team New Zealand but is back in the hot seat on Ranger.


One of Lionheart's winning strengths is their strong and very settled crew line up. Tactician and project manager Bouwe Bekking signed up more recently for his seventh lap of the planet racing in the Whitbread or Volvo Ocean Race will again skipper Team Brunel, but he insists his long standing commitment to Lionheart and their bid to become World Champions is non-negotiable.

"This is a long term commitment and for me a commitment is a commitment. You can't let a team of 35 down because of another later commitment." Smiles Bekking, whose own Newport history includes training with Dennis Conner's Winston Whitbread Round the World Race team in 1993-1994.

"In Bermuda everything went our way. We sailed well but sometimes it goes your way during a regatta and there it did." Bekking says of Lionheart's Bermuda win in June, "But we are comfortable in how we are sailing the boat. Our crew has been together forever, our manoeuvres are excellent and we are confident in how we sail the boat."

Asked if there would be any additional incentive to win on rival Read's home turf, Bekking responded, "Not at all. Of course it would be nice to win here, winning is good wherever you are and that is what we are here for. But it is great to be here, it is a great place to sail and everyone here knows what this regatta is. This city thrives on sailing and its sailing history. Being back here with these historic boats is exactly what Newport is about.


Home on the Js, from J/24 Worlds to J Class Worlds
Newport born and bred, Narrangansett Bay and the highly competitive J/24 fleet is where Hanuman's skipper-helm Kenny Read, America's Cup helm and Volvo Ocean Race skipper cut his teeth as a racing sailor. Holder of more than 40 world, international and national titles Read might still smarting after missing out on the J Class title in Bermuda but he does not show it. Being back to race the mighty J Class yachts on his home patch is a huge honour. "I don't think any of us ever considered we might race on a J Class yacht when we were growing up here far less to race a J Class World Championship here." Read grins wistfully, "If there is any home which does not really grant a local knowledge advantage it is probably Newport because almost everybody else has sailed here as much as I have, even though I live here."

"As world championships go this is as big as anything because it is more than just a regatta and a title, it sets a beautiful tone for sailing. It is more than just a sailboat race, that is very clear." "It is such an honour and a privilege to sail these boats and we never forget that. We will see some big crowds out there on the water. They will have their jaws on the ground watching us get these boats around the race course." Read affirms.

"There is no extra pressure on me. As long as we have good communication it will be fine. I just have to do my job. When you sail with such a talented group as this and everyone is in position to succeed, to do their jobs very well, then I just have to do my job well and not try to micro manage things. Typically that works."

"There were a lot of things we were happy with in Bermuda and some things we were not so happy with. We targeted our downwind speed, we struggled a little downwind. We have changed a couple of spinnakers around a bit. We thought we got off the line well but first windshift we were not always happy with. We were not always in the best position for the first shift. There were a lot of good things and obviously you can't cry over the things which are toughest to take."

Read has his brother Brad sailing in the Hanuman afterguard. Brad runs the highly successful Sail Newport initiative but the pair sailed together originally in the J/24, winning the J/24 Worlds in Newport in 1986, their second successive world title. Brad won the J/24 World title twice in his own right in 2000 in Newport and 2002 in Kingston Canada.

"I think every time I have sailed here it is too easy for me to get sucked into the local knowledge tactics part of it for me. On a boat like this any loss of concentration to the boatspeed part of this is a failure to the rest of the group. So just to make sure I don't get sucked into the local knowledge part of it I brought in one of the best local knowledge experts I know. The fact he is a relative who I used to beat up when we were kids is neither here nor there. Brad and I grew up sailing out of Barrington YC just up the coast here. He is solid."

"Sail Newport speaks for itself and what it has done for Newport, getting events like the Volvo here, like this and the new sailing centre they have built, they bring so many kids through that program. And he has politically finally allowed the State Government to realise what they have in the sport of sailing here from a tourism point of view and so the state are now behind a lot of what he is doing with sailing and that is making a world of difference."


The newest J Class Svea, launched earlier this year, made her debut in Bermuda and proved very quick from the outset. After a forestay swivel failed, threatening their rig in Race 2 of the series, the team have had to work long and hard since to be ready to race at this inaugural world championship. They only finally restepped their rig just over a week ago. But Svea have a galaxy of past Stars & Stripes America's Cup talent rich in Newport history including including Tom Whidden, Peter Isler and Vince Brun.

Svea's project manager and tactician Charlie Ogletree says, "We had the rig out of the boat and re-set everything and so the last few days we have just been flat out getting it together. The boat is going really great now we have to get some good starts and sail it well. It is ready to perform and it is up to us to perform. I have raced here off and on my whole life. And we have a lot of other guys like Vince Brun, Peter Isler, Tom Whidden, so I think we are happy when it comes to local knowledge. Our goal is to finish each race in a respectable position and to shoot for a win."

Topaz showed considerable potential in Bermuda and has supplemented their afterguard with Newport ace Tony Rey who sails as strategist for tactician Ross MacDonald and helm Peter Holmberg. Rey comes directly from winning the last 52 SUPER SERIES regatta with the Provezza project he runs, working with Holmberg as helm. Topaz's Ross MacDonald adds, "It is always a challenging place to sail with the current and even the sea breeze has its quirks about it. If we do some of the navigator courses there are current gates and lots of strategy that plays into these courses."

Reflecting on the International Maxi Class's role in establishing the first J Class World Championship General Secretary of the IMA Andrew McIrvine reflected, "Personally I have been inspired by the J Class since seeing images of the very early days and then seeing the restoration of Velsheda and her racing subsequently. So there is a huge pride to see this magnificent fleet lined up here. It was a great opportunity for the J Class to establish a world championship and to see it all happening here now is just great."

The J Class World Championship will be officially opened this Monday evening at a reception at the New York Yacht Club's Newport Harbour Court hosted by the NYYC and Rolex.

08-22-2017, 08:49 AM

I can totally do this!

Best sailing gig on the planet!

Prince of Whales
08-22-2017, 11:39 AM
Local guys did pretty good in race one today!

Go Matt, Hogan, Zan, Brent and Charlie!

08-22-2017, 04:03 PM

Day 1 Race images via the lens of Carlo Borlenghi!









08-22-2017, 04:14 PM

Race day 1 images from the lens of Michele Friel Almeida.

You can see more of her work HERE! (http://www.mistephotography.com/Galleries/Sailing)










08-22-2017, 05:09 PM

Hanuman, skippered and steered by local ace Ken Read with his brother Brad among the afterguard, stole the show on a spectacular opening day of the first ever J Class World Championship on the waters of Newport, Rhode Island where J Class yachts made their America's Cup debut way back in 1930 and where the Reads cut their teeth in competitive sailing.

Hanuman lead from the first mark around a 20 nautical miles 'Navigators Course'. When challenged by the newest J Class yacht in the fleet Svea, which is guided by wily America's Cup Stars & Stripes veterans Peter Isler and Tom Whidden, Hanuman fought back downwind with smooth, well executed manoeuvres. When they took their well earned winning gun, Hanuman were extending into the mist, stepping clear of a spirited scrap over places second to sixth,





Above images © Michele Almeida http://www.mistephotography.com/

"That was one of the very coolest sailboat races I have ever been in my entire life." Newport born and bred Ken Read enthused, "Honestly, it had everything. Home town. Gybing and tacking around all the little nooks and crannies, such a great crowd of boats out there watching. That is what we always hoped this regatta would show, how special this can be. And I am sure it did just that."

"It was fun and special having my brother Brad on board. This whole team has been working for this for years and also to see the smile on Jim and Kristy's faces today. It was just great."

The opening race of the inaugural J Class World Championship delivered it all, spectacle, majesty, close competition over a decent length course and just enough drama. The New York Yacht Club race team took full advantage of the forecast for a building, pre frontal breezes to sail a spectacular, tight coastal course up and back under the Newport-Jamestown bridge, checking off in turn historical local landmarks made famous over the dozen editions of the America's Cup raced here, entrancing the huge spectator fleet and treating the viewers who crowded the headlands and car parks that fringed the course to the close, spectacular competition they turned out for.

The fleet of six J Class yachts revelled in the perfect flat water and brisk 14-18kt SW'ly breezes. Places were traded back and forth throughout the fleet from first mark to the last. The sun split through the hazy cloud cover at key moments. Ranger shut out Velsheda at the windward end of the start line and with nowhere to go Velsheda clipped the signal boat. Harrying Hanuman around the first top mark Svea – in just their fifth ever J Class race - split their kite on a botched hoist, forcing them to make their first ever in line spinnaker peel. Double winners in Bermuda Lionheart came from behind on the beat to the finish, holding west of Gould Island, enjoying a huge starboard tack lift which got them back up to a useful third. There were even a pod of dolphins out to play around the bows of Ranger and Topaz early on the first 3.5 nautical miles beat.

This image and below © Carlo Borlenghi/ Studio Borlenghi


The 20 nautical miles course was essentially a short upwind to a laid mark followed by a long run north against the ebb, funnelled spectacularly under the centre span of the bridge. Their choice of the Castle Hill, right side of the run looking downwind, prompted in part by their kite problems, yielded a useful dividend in tidal relief for Svea and they were all but leading as they passed Fort Adams, until Hanuman again eased away at the next gybe.

"The boat was going well." Read confirmed, "We got out a bit of a jam off the start line. Being able to hang off Lionheart was key to start. Lionheart has been a very high pointing boat for a while. Being able to hang there until almost to layline was critical for us. And then once we got clear air we let the boat do its thing. It is a bit like a horse race, you let the horse do its thing. We picked the right jib, on the number two, a couple of the boats had bigger jibs and I think that the trimmers did a spectacular job, the communication was good. It was just fun."

Asked if there was any local knowledge contributing to their win, Read said,
"Actually no, we nearly lost out to Svea on the right of the run. But actually we talked about it, Brad said 'if we were by ourselves that is what we'd do, but we were not. But it is the first race of the world championship and everybody gybed away and so 'don't be an idiot' we stayed with the pack. Svea made a six boat length gain but we picked the right kite (symmetrical), we gained a length or so on every gybe against the asymmetrics and on the last beat we just sailed smart."

For the Svea team which only put their rig back in the boat just over a week ago after having their Bermuda J Class America's Cup halted by a forestay problem after just two races, second place today was a welcome reward. The newest, biggest J ever shows great speed but they are still early on the learning curve when it comes to smooth, effective manoeuvres compared to the teams polished by more than five years of J Class racing.




Svea's tactician and project manager Charlie Ogletree commented, "We are happy to get a second and start the series with a good result, a 'keeper' and we learned a lot today. That was our first spinnaker peel in anger after tearing our kite on the set. We took so long to get the peel done we were committed, we had discussed it but the boat handling pushed us in that direction."

"There was less current down that side, staying close to Castle Rock, we had good local knowledge, some good navigating from Peter Isler. We changed our tactics towards the end to consolidate against Lionheart. Downwind we are quick and upwind we are still learning our modes."

After being bounced around downwind Lionheart made the most of their recovery up the beat and were pressing Svea hard to the line losing out by just five seconds on corrected time. Tactician Bouwe Bekking, who has two of his Team Brunel Volvo crew on board Lionheart – and one from rivals MAPFRE – recalled, "It was a good day. We had a good start and squeezed off Hanuman and were in a good position when the breeze went too far to the left, the guys underneath us laid and we overstood and that is expensive in these boats. You crack the sheets and only go one or two tenths of a knot quicker."

J Class World Championship
Race 1
1 Hanuman 2h 8m 13s
2 Svea 2h 10m 15s
3 Lionheart 2h 10m 20s
4 Topaz 2h 11m 37s
5 Ranger 2h 12m 4s
6 Vesheda 2h 10m 17s

IOR Geezer
08-23-2017, 09:07 AM
Very nice stuff.

Fleet racing in a confined area must be very intense onboard!

08-24-2017, 08:36 AM
Hanuman Extend Their World Championship Lead in Newport.


After winning Tuesday's 20 nautical miles opening race, Hanuman paired an initial fourth place to victory in the second of the two windward-leeward races today. They open up their leading margin at the J Class World Championship in Newport RI to three points ahead of the consistent Lionheart which has scored now three third places.

Although Hanuman were a close second across the finish line at the conclusion of a thrillingly tight first windward-leeward of the day, so closely were the chasing pack snapping at their heels that they dropped to fourth on corrected time. Topaz won their first race ever when they held off Velsheda by just seven seconds, while Lionheart's margin for third over Hanuman was just two seconds.

There was not as much doubt in the second contest. After breaking clear of Velsheda which were overlapped with them at the first windward mark they gradually eked out their lead to finish one minute and 17 seconds ahead of the championship's sole 'original' J Class.

The SW breeze came in on cue at between nine and 14kts, the second race starting at 1535hrs was the windier of the two. There were more than enough shifts in wind direction and pressure to keep the contests tight and even. Topaz battled back from sixth at the top mark in the first race to make a wholesale gain on the right, west side of the second upwind leg, tailgating Hanuman around the final turn, a gain orchestrated by local Newport ace Tony Rey in concert with tactician Ross McDonald.


all images © http://www.mistephotography.com/



While Hanuman carried on to the right after a conventional bear away, a nicely executed gybe set cashed in Topaz's gain against a frustrating small error by Hanuman. But the hugely experienced Hanuman team, lead by skipper-helm Kenny Read, sailed smart and clean for their victory in the second race.

"There was a moment I think in the second race after the top mark where Jim and Kirsty Clark and myself all caught each others' eyes and all three of us at the same time exhaled loudly at the same time, like, 'Phew this is close!' Such great sailboat racing." Said Read on dock at the Newport Shipyard.

The opening upwind legs were gripping, no one side or the other paying an obvious dividend. Hanuman won out from the game of patience played between the four boats on the middle left of the first beat in the first race. But after having had to tack away to the right from a slowed, understandably cautious start at the signal boat, it was Velsheda which lead Hanuman around the first mark but then lost out to Hanuman and to Lionheart at the bottom of the run. Topaz's comeback on the second beat was the foundation of their win, but it was the kite set which made the difference.

"The real key move was our hoist at the top mark which prevented Hanuman from gybing. To get the first win for the boat at these world championship is great for the while team and for the owner." Peter Holmberg, helmsman of Topaz, said. Since being launched in 2015, Topaz has only raced at the Saint Barth's Bucket regatta in the Caribbean twice, in 2016 and this year, before competing at both the Bermuda J Class events in June.




In fact Topaz lead the world championship after Race 2 but blotted their copybook when they had to take an expensive penalty on the first beat of the next race for tacking in front of Lionheart, going on to finish sixth, "One of my plans for this regatta was to avoid the stupid things, the big results. I don't get to look much because these boats are so hard to steer I am just driving, so I did not really see what was happening until it was too late."

Hanuman's crew work was slick, pushing their sail handling technology to the maximum. Hanuman in particular successfully run with a furling headsail and with a dousing sock on their massive spinnakers.

Read comments: "The sock has bailed us out of a couple of tight spots. There is a fine line between the helmsman getting a little too greedy and reality. Listen it is give or take with a few metres at some marks between whether you are first or fourth. It all helps. A lot of the boats that are successful in this class have had their same crew for years and these guys do such a great job. We put them in ridiculously bad spots sometimes and they pull it off time and again. That is on the crew."

He concludes, "This full on. Whoever would have thought that boats like these would be going like this at these speeds. You have to put a lot of trust in everybody. We have 25 crew and every person has a very specific job and if one person does not do their job this thing can fall apart in two seconds."

In this fleet Hanuman's three point lead is nothing, winners of the America's Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America's Cup J Class Regatta Lionheart are poised in second and Velsheda lie third, having been second and first at the first turn of today's races.



For Thursday, the third racing day of the first ever J Class World Championship, the forecast is for lighter airs before the breezes are set to strengthen once more for Friday and Saturday.

08-24-2017, 08:43 AM

A few nice click of Ranger at the 2nd windward mark during race 2 yesterday.

Images © Karen Ryan (https://karenryan.smugmug.com/Sports)



08-25-2017, 11:08 AM
Lionheart Draws Level With World Championship Leader Hanuman


The sizeable spectator fleet on the waters off Newport, Rhode Island were treated to another pair of engaging, exciting races at the inaugural J Class World Championship, witnessing the return of one of the pre-regatta title favourites, Lionheart.

Already counting three third places Lionheart were prowling, poised only three points behind regatta leaders Hanuman going into today's Races 4 and 5 of the championship. The team lead by Bouwe Bekking won the first windward-leeward and then battled to third place in a second race which saw Hanuman, skippered and steered by Kenny Read, dramatically penalised during the top mark approach of the second beat.

Hanuman's resulting fifth costs them their clear overall lead in the no-discard championship series which completes Saturday and it now sees them tied on 13 points with Lionheart, winners of both significant J Class regattas during the America's Cup in Bermuda in June.

all images © Studio Borlenghi



With the owner driven Lionheart winning today's first contest and Topaz the second, half of the six boat fleet have now scored a race win so far. With local Newport ace Tony Rey aiding Ross MacDonald with big picture strategy, Topaz's second race victory of the regatta promotes them to third overall, four points off the lead.

Patience and conservatism are proven, necessary virtues of the Lionheart afterguard, often contributing to their numerous regatta titles. Even so their patience was slightly tested by their arch-rivals on the first beat of the second race. On a right favoured upwind Bouwe Bekking and the Lionheart crew had to sit pinned by Hanuman until both title rivals lost out significantly to the pack on the right, Lionheart rounding the top mark in sixth. But Lionheart's opportunity came around when Hanuman fouled. Taking full advantage of their place gain they pressed hard and smart down the last run, pipping Svea to third on the approach to the finish.




"It's all on now, isn't it." Smiled Lionheart's Bekking as he hosed down the black hull of Lionheart back at the dock in the Newport Shipyard. Of their inherently low risk philosophy which sometimes contrasts with the gambles taken by the pro driven teams, the seven times round the world racer considers:

"The thing about risks is that I don't want to take them. We have to be very careful. There is a big difference between and owner-driver and a professional driver. If you put yourself in a difficult spot then sometimes it will come back and bite you on the ass. We just know that we can't put the boat in a situation which might prove tough. That's why we cannot afford to get it wrong. We maybe sail safe and a bit conservative because I have an owner-driver who sails the boat beautifully but there are positions I just don't want to get us into."

"On that first beat second race we just had to be patient. If you tack away you get slammed and you cannot afford that in these boats. So you wait for the opportunity. And they come." Bekking concludes. "You have to be conservative and wait, minimise your losses."




Lionheart won the first race of the day, contested in 9-10kts of SW'ly breeze. Along with Svea they gained on the right, chasing Hanuman around the first windward mark. Lionheart executed a smart gybe set and came in from the left of the downwind to make an equally tidy gybe drop and establish themselves on the preferred right. They lead Hanuman through the finish line by 21 seconds with Svea holding on to third all the way through the race.

The two boats which went right early Ranger lead Topaz around the top mark of the second race which enjoyed perfect 13-15kts sea breeze conditions with pleasant sunshine enhancing the viewing pleasure for the spectating boats which flanked both sides of the course. But after the leeward gate Topaz got right earlier, from the left hand mark looking downwind, and were able to lead at the final turn. Hanuman, coming in on port and looking to consolidate a small gain, tacked in front of third placed Svea and was judged to have fouled them, the umpires calling a penalty.

Local knowledge has clearly contributed to Topaz's two wins, strategist Tony Rey – on his first ever J Class ride – reporting,

"The sea breeze here is a tricky beast. I have a pretty good feel for the breeze. A lot of the time you can't physically get the boat to where you want to be, but the sea breeze here is different depending on how the clouds are setting up. Today we saw an earlier fill that forecast and a typically left sea breeze, marching left to correct from 240 to 210. But at some time the right comes good and today I was surprised that it came good an hour earlier than I thought it would. The second race you could not go right hard enough. It was go to the corner and ring the bell."

"We are having some challenges with our upwind boat speed." Rey continues, "We are good enough downwind but we are working on our upwind. By Saturday we will be ready to race this regatta."

It was a better day for the mighty Ranger holding fourth overall, returning a 3,2 to keep them ahead of the newest team on the blocks, Svea but only on countback.
"We are generally happy with the way we are sailing the boat. The second race we lead but we could not quite lay the left hand gate at the bottom and we got a bit left and lost few lengths on Topaz but that was all that was in it. We sailed well downwind. We were happy with today." Said Murray Jones, Ranger's tactician.

Race 4
1 Lionheart
2 Hanuman
3 Ranger
4 Svea
5 Topaz
6 Velsheda

Race 5
1 Topaz
2 Ranger
3 Lionheart
4 Svea
5 Hanuman
6 Velsheda

Overall after five races, no discard.
1 Hanuman 13pts, (1,4,1,2,5)
2 Lionheart 13pts (3,3,3,1,3)
3 Topaz 17pts (4,1,6,5,1)

08-26-2017, 08:30 AM
The long, five and a half hour wait for the Newport sea breeze to arrive proved to be well worth it as the six J Class World Championship teams were rewarded with their closest race yet.

Ranger put their first win of the regatta on their fast improving scoreline, but their delta over second placed Lionheart was down to only one second. And the margin between Svea in third and fourth placed Velsheda was also one tiny second.

With Lionheart crossing in second and Hanuman languishing in sixth, unable to come back from a poor start and being manacled to what proved to be the less favoured right by Topaz, it is the Dutch flagged Lionheart which goes into the final day of this inaugural world championship event with a lead of four points over the US team Hanuman skippered by Newport's Ken Read.

Lionheart now have put themselves in a strong position to become the first J Class World Champions and to add to their wins in Bermuda at June's America's Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America's Cup J Class Regatta.

"Tomorrow it is all on." Lionheart's mainsheet trimmer Mike Mottl affirms, "We will treat it like the beginning of the regatta. We have two races and the points are still such that any boat can win it. We have to believe there will be two races and just go out and do well. We know that we can do it. We just have to go out there and do it."

Principal Race Officer Tom Duggan and his New York Yacht Club race committee made the call to hold the fleet ashore whilst there was still a seemingly decent northerly gradient breeze blowing. After going to sea a little after 1330hrs hopes were waning until at the breeze filled for a 1630hrs start and the historic six boat fleet got away in 8-9kts of breeze from the south west.

"It was a long, long wait but it was rewarded by a very, very good race. It was a difficult day. Once you have made that call not to go out early then you own it and you just hope that it works out. It worked out today. We got lucky."

Ranger, with multiple America's Cup winner Murray Jones on tactics and Erle Williams skipper-helm, read the first beat best, holding to the left after starting fast and clean as the leftmost boat, clear of the cluster at the signal boat end of the line where the perceived logic seemed to be that the 'usual' right would pay.

Hanuman was held late at the boat end and then had to live to leeward, in check by Topaz while the middle left yielded a solid shift in wind direction to the left. While Ranger neatly leebowed Lionheart to lead around the top mark, early challengers Svea were penalised for tacking too close to Ranger on the final approach to the turn.

With title rivals Hanuman being boxed out to the right Lionheart sailed a solid, smart, safe beat to round second at the first top turn. They separated slightly to the left of the run and made a small gain on the leaders, but the white hulled 2003 built Ranger prevailed across the finish line.

"We are sailing a lot better and building a bit of momentum. The smoother water is better for us. We blew out the light medium which was a very deep sail, so we have the new heavy number one (headsail) and it is just fast. We are able to compete. Murray Jones has been doing a great job for us." Ranger's Erle William commented, "We got off the line well and the others were bunched up, we got away nicely with Lionheart and we sailed a good race. It was nice to be able to lee bow Lionheart at the windward mark and get our nose in front. Then they got back on the run, we were able to leebow them again at the top of the second beat and stay ahead. With it down to just one second it just shows how close this racing is. Tomorrow is another day, but give us 12kts and flat water, that would be nice!"

Ranger have now gone 3,2,1 from the last three races – equalled only by title favourites Lionheart - to stake a claim to third, meantime.

In contrast Hanuman's title challenge has been derailed by a fifth yesterday and now a sixth. With a four points deficit, the hugely talented Hanuman team may face a tough test to win overall but it is well within their reach, particularly if two races are sailed.

An early start time of 1000hrs is scheduled for Saturday. Two races are planned with a final race deadline of 1400hrs after which no further starts can be made.

A thrilling, fitting finale is on the cards and a huge spectator crowd is anticipated. Ranger are only two points behind Hanuman and the 'newcomers' Topaz and Svea are only one and two points respectively off the podium. As Lionheart's Mottl succinctly summarises, it is 'all on'.

J Class World Championship, Newport RI
Race 6
1 Ranger
2 Lionheart
3 Svea
4 Velsheda
5 Topaz
6 Hanumnan

Standings after six races
1 Lionheart 15pts (3, 3, 3, 1, 3 2)
2 Hanuman 19pts (1,4,1,2,5,6)
3 Ranger 21pts(5,6,4,3,2,1)
4 Topaz 22pts (4,1,6,5,1,5)
5 Svea 23pts (2,5,5,4,4,3)
6 Velsheda 26pts (6,2,2,6,6,4)

Photographs © Onne van der Wal

08-29-2017, 03:33 PM
Following the success of the first ever J-Class overall season championship, the inaugural 2017 Kohler Cup, the J-Class Association and North Sails are proud to announce the 2018 Kohler Cup schedule. The 2018 Cup will be comprised of a total of four events as opposed to just three in 2017. The other notable difference is for the upcoming year events will be weighted equally, with boats that take part in all four events able to discard their worst result.


The Kohler Cup is a perpetual trophy named in memory of Terry Kohler, the former owner of North Sails, who was also an entrepreneur and philanthropist. The inaugural Kohler Cup was presented to Lionheart during prize giving for the J Class Worlds in Newport, Rhode Island. The trophy has certainly played a part in developing the J Class fleet, with at least six boats at key events.

Louise Morton, J Class Association Secretary, commented:

“With six yachts on the start line last week, there is no doubt that the J Class fleet is enjoying an unprecedented resurgence. It is a testament to the owners of these yachts, the competitiveness of the fleet, and the professionalism of the crew, that going into this event the top three boats were only separated by one point. However, with the J Class Worlds worth double points, everything was at play in Newport.”

The Kohler Cup is the first ever season-long points championship for the fleet, aimed at promoting and enhancing the racing for the celebrated world-class fleet of J Class yachts.

The 2018 season will consist of the following events:

St Barth’s Bucket, Caribbean
Superyacht Cup, Palma
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Porto Cervo
Les Voiles de St Tropez, France

Ken Read, President of North Sails and Skipper of Hanuman commented:

“The Kohler Cup is here to stay, as it is clear that the J Class owners want to stick together from event to event which provides amazing racing. The World Championship was the perfect end to the year. I am delighted that we as North Sails, have also been able to play a part in keeping these boats together over the season through the trophy. I feel this year was unique in that regard and I can’t wait to start it all again next year with even more events and hopefully even greater racing.”

The Kohler Cup Scoring System:

The Kohler Cup presented by North Sails is awarded at the end of the J Class racing season using the high point scoring system
Each boat will receive point(s) equal to the number of boats she beat, plus one point. The end season score will be the sum of all the points of the individual races
The J Class yacht with the highest number of cumulative points wins the Kohler Cup
Each event has the same coefficient
Points will be calculated on the final scores at the end of each event
J Class yachts not entering an event or a race will be scored with zero (0) points
Only J Class yachts participating at least in three (3) events will be eligible to compete for the seasonal Kohler Cup
Yachts competing in all four (4) events drop their worst score prior to final tally
In case of a tie, the better position in the final event will determine who breaks the tie on top

Big Brass Balls
08-29-2017, 08:30 PM
No continental US events?