Wednesday, July 14, 2010

J/80 Spanish Championship

J/80 one-design sailboat- sailing upwind off Spain

Defending World Champion Rayco Tabares Wins!

(La Coruna, Spain- Jul 12)-  So, what's wrong with this picture.  The Spanish J/80 Armada rules, right?  Three J/80 World Champions show up for the Spanish J/80 National Championships and ONE of them has to win.  Too bad they couldn't all win?  After all, three extraordinary sailors, three amazing teams, something had to give.  After the smoke cleared on the battlefield and fog settled in it was..... Rayco, triumphant again!  For one of the few fleets on the planet Earth where the local fleet racing is as good as World Championships (e.g. Newport J/24 Fleet, Newport Shields fleet, San Francisco J/105 fleet, Annapolis J/22 fleet, to name a few) the Spanish sure have an extraordinary tour'de'force.  The Spanish Armada reborn again, except this time, with gunships and "ships of the main" much better armed to the teeth with great sailors who can equally sail a J/80 to a World Championship as commandeer an IMOCA 60 and crush the competition.  Perhaps the French have taken notice and are stepping up their J/80 programs?  The British sure have, starting them young in RYA programs with "old guard" support..some nice guy called Ben seems to do OK.  America, of course, is still learning from the R.O.W. (e.g. row, row, row your boat).

Rayco Tabares and his team from Islas Canarias sailed their J/80 BIGBOY NAUTICA, representing both the Real Club Náutico de La Coruña - Real Club Náutico de Arrecife, to the overall win of the fourth Spanish National Championship.  It was not an easy task to overcome many compatriots who were equally up to the task of taking the overall crown.  Second went to TURISMO DE ALGARVE, sailed by yet another champion, Gonzalo Araujo of Vigo and the Portuguese Hugo Rocha, who sailed for the Yacht Club de Marina Arenys.  Finishing out the podium was guess who(?), but none other than ECC VIVIENDAS sailed by Pichu Torcida representing the Real Club Marítimo de Santander.

J/80 one-design sailboat- sailing upwind off start line in SpainHow important is the sport of sailing to Spain?   Well, "futbol" (aka American soccer) is about equal.  The President of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Gerardo Pombo, was present to award to Rayco Tabares as one of their "Champions of Spain 2010". At the awards ceremony, also attending was Pumariega Suárez-Germain, President of The Yacht magazine; the Harbour Master of La Coruna, Gustavo Ortega; the President of the Galician Federation of Vela, Jose Angel Rodriguez; CEO of EuroPublicis (a famous PR/marketing firm), Maximino Yanez; and the Royal Yacht Club Commodore, Jorge Etcheverría.  No wonder Spain is beginning to dominate certain parts of the sailing world. Throw in a few extraordinary photo/journalists to document the proceedings like Jesus Renedo and it will hard to stem the inexorable tide of Spanish success washing across oceans around the world.

Other than all the platitudes, what happened on the water and how in the heck did Rayco overcome such a talented fleet yet again??  Few in other ISAF one-design keelboat classes of recent memory (J/24, J/80, J/22, Melges 24, Etchells 22, Star, etc) have achieved so much in so little time against such indisputable talent.  In short, here's a synopsis of the regatta reports:

Day One- with three world champions of the J/80 class (2007, 2008, 2009) having confirmed their presence in the city of La Coruna, everyone knew the gauntlet laid down was to determine the "Intergalactic Champion", not just the Spanish Champion.  In the first two Spanish Champions, Ignacio Camino and Pichu Torcida sailing NEXTEL ENGINEERING and ECC VIVIENDAS, respectively, it was going to be tough fight to start with.  With Rayco Tabares entering the fray, who won last year in the 2009 Santander J/80 Worlds with PRINCESS YAIZA, the competition spun into the stratosphere and his new sponsor BIGBOY NAUTICA was hopeful they would be successful.  Tabares didn't disappoint his friends, supporters and followers, by winning the first race and getting a third in the 2nd race.  By the end of the day, Tabares's BIGBOY NAUTICA was in first with four points, followed by two boats with seven points each, Pablo Chavert's MARINA CORUNA and Gonzalo Araujo's TURISMO DE ALGARVE. 

Day Two- with nearly identical weather to the first day of racing, the fleet waited until the dense fog blew away.  By 1500 hours (late in the day) the J/80 teams were sent out to sea.  With the wind out of the North at seven knots, it was clear the left side of the course was correct for most teams.  Of the top teams, only Araujo's team on TURISMO DE ALGARVE managed a top three finish, getting a second in the first race.  However, the tables turned for race two of the day, with the leaders coming to the front of the fleet.  Torcidas' ECC VIVIENDAS won with Tabares' BIGBOY NAUTICA in second and Camino's NEXTEL ENGINEERING in third.

And, that was the end of racing.  For a sticky fog settled in for Sunday's racing and would not lift to allow the high calibre teams to race at least one more set of races to determine the Spanish Intergalactic Champions.  So it was, Tabares won with BIGBOY NAUTICA, followed by Araujo's TURISMO DE ALGARVE and third was Torcida's ECC VIVIENDAS.  Fourth was Camino's NEXTEL ENGINEERING and fifth was Chavert Paul's MARINA CORUNA.    For more J/80 Spanish Championship sailing information.   Sailing Photo credits- Jesus Renedo.

J/80s Win Gotland Runt Race

Swedish women's sailing team- J/24s, J/80s

(Stockholm, Sweden)- By all accounts, the 2010 Eurocard Gotland Runt was a successful regatta. Approximately 2,000 sailors participated on 238 boats, divided into nine classes on three different courses of varied length.  The largest boats sailed 460 nm while the smallest ones completed 310 nm, which is the shortest way to round Gotland from Sandhamn and back. The intention was to complete any course in 48 hours, which many of the sailors did.  The race was completed in excellent weather conditions. Bright sun and enough wind to keep the doldrums away (can't go wrong when the sun sets at 11 pm and rises at 2 am!). The different classes attracted cruising boats as well as advanced, world-class racing machines.

Sailing ORCi Alpha class was Juha Korhonen's J/35 JUMPIN JACK FLASH sailing the intermediate length course.  After all these years, the venerable J/35 continues to sail successfully in offshore handicap racing, proving yet again as they did in the Bermuda Race Doublehanded Class that it's hard to hold back a well-sailed J offshore...whatever its permutation. Juha's JUMPIN JACK FLASH managed a 5th in a very competitive class.

J/109 one-design sailboat- sailing with spinnaker in Gotland Runt RacePerhaps the most remarkable performance came from the twin J/80s racing in the SRS Alfa 2 Class.  Winning the class was MK-PRODUKTER, Lars Gellerhed'S J/80 and finishing just out of second, getting third overall in class was BJORNSABBEN, Broderna Wennerstrom's tough as nails J/80 crew.

For more insight on the race, you can also check out Peter Gustaffson's blog at, for some great info.  In fact, according to Peter, "The most interesting reporting from Gotland Runt? It comes from my trimmer from the J/109 BLUR, Fredrik Roos (see photo), who runs the trim onboard the J/109 MATADOR. Driving hard!"     Complete Gotland Runt sailing results.      Sailing Photo credits- Oskar Kihlborg

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

J/80 UK East Coasts

(Suffolk, England)- Nigel Theadom reports from way, way East on the British Isles: "The weekend of the 4th and 5th of July saw the first ever get-together of the growing East Coast J/80 fleet and competitors travelled from as far afield as Kent and Cambridge to race at the inaugural J/80 East Coast Championship. The event was run under the auspices of the well established Felixstowe Regatta and was sponsored by Haven Gateway, Adams Brewery and Musto. Run out of the beautifully situated Suffolk Yacht Harbour all visitors received a friendly welcome and full shore service, including 'instant' crane-age on arrival.

Saturday dawned hot with some cloud that eventually cleared the way for a bright sunny day. However, with the gradient breeze and the sea breeze in opposition it made for a difficult day for both PRO Ewen Stampe and also the competitors with some big shifts and holes to watch out for on the race course.  However, by the fifth race on Sunday, the breeze piped upwards of 20 knots, making for a strong finale with the regatta leaders dueling for the top four spots.

With the wind at a steady 20 knots and gusting more, it was DOUBLE JEOPARDY's race from start to finish. With the tide pushing the fleet up to the committee boat and a starboard line bias it was amazing that the fleet started cleanly. Certainly more than one crew had a longer look down the tailpipes of the 50' Sunseeker committee boat than would have been comfortable! The West Mersea boys clearly revel in the heavy stuff and SURF N TURF crossed the line in second. Simon Jacklin and his team on STRUMPET pushed WHITE LIGHTNING hard for the third spot and eventually pipped them on the line.

At the close of the regatta there were just six points separating the top four boats. A close championship and a great weekend. It was also a mighty fine start to a fixture that will surely grow as the East Coast fleet grows. We wait to see whether the softies on the South Coast will rise to the challenge in 2011!

Amazingly, WHITE LIGHTNING, SURF N TURF, and STRUMPET all sailed the 20 miles back to West Mersea straight into 30 knots of breeze! They breed them tough on the East Coast!!"    For more J/80 UK sailing information