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Thread: 2017 J-Class Worlds In Newport

  1. #11
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    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.
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    A few nice click of Ranger at the 2nd windward mark during race 2 yesterday.

    Images © Karen Ryan





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  3. #13
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    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.

    Results
    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)
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  4. #14
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    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
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  5. #15
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    2018 Kohler Cup J Class Series Announced

    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
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  6. #16
    No continental US events?

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