J Class Solent Regatta, July 2012

Solent, England
All of the Royal Southampton YC members within the 
SolentXtra team were there - Mike Garvey as Event Director, Robert Lamb as Race Officer,  Gordon AgnewRichard HouseSimon Pickess, Clare PittmanTina ScottPeter Stuckey, Jane Windsor and Bob Young. 

Just one race each day with the last being the Hundred Guinea Cup - the Round the Island Race but east about.  That was shortened retrospectively at the Needles because of falling wind in the western Solent causing massive issues getting through the Hurst narrows in tide in the region of 4 knots.

All of the Regatta racing was in the western Solent as the winds presented to us were from the SW.
Day 1 was at the upper limit of the boats' range with a mean above 20 knots for the duration and 32 knots seen about 3/4 of the way through the 140 minute race.  But they were OK and whilst we thought we may have to shorten, it wasn't in the end necessary as the last leg was downwind (reducing the apparent to 18 knots or so) and bringing them home.
Day 2 saw less wind and again windward leewards were possible with a long tactical last leg to finish off Egypt Point in front of the crowds at Cowes.

Day 3 saw lighter winds again but still in the region of 12-14 knots.  Ths course was different again with 3 legs of differing length and angle to suit the building sea breeze - the 1st set at 245o, the second at 255o and the third was a long tactical leg back to Cowes again.  The boats were forced to gybe a lot resulting in the best racing of the week.

Louise Morton the I Class Owners Representative said,

On behalf of the J Class Owners, I would like to thank you very much indeed for your excellent race management at the J Class Solent Regatta.  I don't believe we could have put together a better team for this regatta and I know the owners and crews all enjoyed the racing immensely.

The boats are between 40m and 44m long, draw 4.8m and have a crew of 35+ professional sailors producing very different challenges to those we normally meet.  So what did we learn?
·    At least 0.5nm of water to leeward of the start line was necessary for pre-start with a width allowing an approach to either end of the line when close hauleed and only 38o off the wind.
·    A very long line (600m minimum) kept the spectator boats away at the start.  But the line had to be square allowing the boats to use the middle of the line.
·    The beat must be at least 15 minutes long in order to allow them to get the spinnaker ready for the next run. 
·    In winds in excess of 15 knots or so they sail very deeply down wind.
·    The distance of the spreader mark needs to be 200m from the windward mark and even then this is only just 5 x boat length.
·    Gate width still needed to be 3 + 1 + 3.  This is a minimum of 300m.
·    The boats are not as manoeuvrable as we were led to believe and the safety of the spectator fleet is at times worrying.  Intensive marshalling is necessary to keep spectators safe and allow unhindered racing.

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© SolentXtra 2012