Wednesday, March 23, 2011

J/80 Phoenix Cup- China Rising!

J/80s sailing Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong Yacht Club in China
Johnstone Wins On Global TV Broadcast To Billions!
(Hong Kong, China)- One day in the future it may seem like a turning point – the first ‘local’ regatta to be televised live in China. So we’re not talking about the Olympics here, or even one of the fly-by-night pro events – Volvo, Clipper, Extreme 40s, whatever – but club sailors, in J/80s, in Hong Kong harbour. Sort of, a Club event all grown up for billions of Chinese.

The event was sponsored and broadcasted by Phoenix TV. Apart from CCTV, Phoenix is the biggest broadcaster in China, and that makes them pretty ginormously huge. The Phoenix Cup is a fleet racing event to be sailed in J/80s, based out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and with race management provided by RHKYC. That guarantees good organization – all that’s needed to make the event shine is a bit of sun.

J/80 chinese crew- sailing Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong, ChinaIt was an inauspicious start for the first day – cold, rainy and miserable, and with a distinct lack of wind. Competitors looked out gloomily out from the balcony at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Many wondered – with some justification – whether the racing might be canned altogether. But when you have the assembled millions of Phoenix TV’s China audience just waiting to switch off the horse racing and the game-show channel and switch on to small boat racing in Hong Kong harbour on a Saturday afternoon – well, you’d better not disappoint!

First practice race, 1330 hrs start. Time for the live broadcast crews to practice their swing-and-pan shots, time for the pretty TV anchors to put on the foul weather gear, time for action on the water. The first start became a General Recall as almost the entire fleet of 22 J/80s was pushed gently over the line by the tide. Second start, same story. Third start and the fleet was away ‘clean’ for what is usually known at RHKYC as a ‘Sunset’ race (triangle-sausage-finish), right in front of the clubhouse.

The starting gun must have woken up the wind gods, as all of a sudden the breeze piped up, and crews suddenly found themselves sailing in 12-15 kts. A short beat to the windward mark – maybe 300 m – and then up went the colorful Phoenix TV and spinnakers. It was enough to make a photographer’s heart glad in spite of the clinging grey (and the incessant rain) as the harbour broke out all over in a rash of red and yellow.

J/80s sailing off Hong Kong, China for Phoenix CupLeeward mark roundings with a little pressure in the sails proved troublesome for some, and a few ‘interesting’ moments were witnessed - and in some cases recorded. Tiffany Koo and a well-drilled crew on JELIK 6 led all the way round the track and finished with a healthy lead, but you know what they say about winning practice races…

An interlude on shore allowed time for lunch before the ‘main event’ at 1600 hrs - timing dependent upon the arrival Guest of Honour, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR. He’s a busy man on a Saturday afternoon, so we just had to wait for Sir Tung. The rain came and went, and came again, and the breeze wasn’t quite so sure. But Mr Tung was on time and so was the start, and this time there were no recalls. Right on cue, in came the breeze, and the rain stopped. We never got the sunshine, but the fleet did get some good racing.

Fast-starting boats at the pin end set the pace for the first part of the race, with the fleet heading up towards the Hung Hom buoy before the pressing down towards the Shau Kei Wan mark. Almost all the boats held the North Point shore to stay out of the incoming tide, and were lifted along the line beneath the Island Eastern Corridor. 'We were tacking along the shore’' said Jim Johnstone later, 'but only changing 10-15 degrees on the compass heading between tacks. It felt really good.' But there are two sides to any race course, and JELIK 7 with Louie Perfectua at the helm ‘went the other way’. Standing on past Hung Hom and then all the way into Kowloon Bay and towards the old airport runway – a longer course, and crossing the tide completely, but at Shau Kei Wan they had a commanding lead of maybe 20 lengths. The scrap was for second place between ALCHEMIST (Nigel Reeves), JELIGNITE (Jim Johnstone), and HAKAWATI (Dan Tullberg).

J/80s sailing downwind at Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong, ChinaThe race was Perfectua’s for the taking, but the run back down back to Hung Hom was less kind than the beat up. ‘Low, slow, and straight down the middle’ was JELIGNITE's program, while JELIK 5 tried to run the angles – but although there was wind, there wasn’t enough to get a J/80 planing, and the extra distance took a toll. Perfectua later acknowledged that the v2.0 J/80 asymmetrics being used by most of the fleet (but not JELIK 5) allowed for deeper running, and a distinct advantage. By Hung Hom, JELIGNITE was in the lead, and ALCHEMIST (complete with Phoenix TV anchor smiling prettily under her Phoenix TV hat) had pushed into the second slot.

The race had to last 90 minutes, according to the TV people, so the next leg went back up to Dock buoy and then returned to Hung Hom. A bit like running a pursuit race, and trying to hit a specified time for the first finisher. No matter: an ‘S’ flag on the Cheoy Lee at Hung Hom was a finish line, with JELIGNITE cruising home to a comfortable victory. And the camera boat got back to Kellett Island and under cover, beating the nasty-looking rain squall coming in from Central.

It was a brisk reach from the Hung Hom finish back to the RHKYC - the lucky ones got there before the rain re-started. And then at 1900 hrs, to coincide once again with live broadcast, prize-giving time with Mr Liu Chang Le, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix TV, and Mr KK Yeung, Executive Vice President and CFO. On this, the company’s 15th birthday, Mr Yeung declared the Phoenix Cup to be a resounding success, and looked forward to another edition next year.

Jim Johnstone's commentary- "It was fantastic seeing 22 J/80s out in the harbour this weekend - really pleased we got a little breeze to get us around. You can find sailing tracks for the second (main) race of the day here - sure we all have something to learn from this information.   

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Copa del Rey Invites J/80 class

J/80s racing off Palma de Mallorca, Spain
(Palma de Mallorca, Spain)- The J/80 class has been invited to participate in one of the most prestigious events on the Spanish sailing calendar, the eponymous Copa del Rey held on the beautiful bay and waters off Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  The event is hosted by the Real Club Nautico de Palma e Mallorca and includes select one-design classes, IRC and Maxi boats.  The regatta will run from July 30th to August 6th.  The entry limit is 40 boats and 5 berths have been reserved for foreign (non-Spanish) competitors, so please chose your best team and make an early entry.  If you wish to sail, you can find more information on sailing a J/80 in Copa del Rey.   

Torcida Leading Trofeo Avega

J/80 Spain sailing off Santander
(Santander, Spain)-  The first day of racing for the Trofeo Avega in Santander, Spain could not have counted on a better day to start.  Sunny afternoon, wind about 12 knots average foam the northeast and Santander Bay at high tide greeted the 25 J/80s.  Presented with such spectacular conditions, the Race Committee ordered two excellent windward-leeward courses three times around in the area of ​​the moors-- a spectacular, if not challenging part of the Bay to go sailing.

The early regatta leader was Pichu Torcida on ECC VIVIENDAS, putting an early bid to be one of the winners of the ginormous 60" SHAPR LED TV set that goes to the overall regatta winner.  However, not too far behind are Javier Lopez-Vazquez on BANCAJA-AVIVA and Cesar Obregon on LUPA, both also race winners for the day.

In the first race, it was a real battle for first between Obregon on LUPA and Torcida on ECC VIVIENDAS.  LUPA rounded first at the windward mark, proceeded to lose ground, fall back into third, then played a few strong shifts on the last windward leg on the right side of the course to pass Torcida to win the race.  Finishing third was Jaime Piris on FONESTAR, fourth was Santi Lopez-Vazquez on CENTRALE OPTICA and fifth Ignacio Camino on NEXTEL ENGINEERING.

In the second race, four boats were left out of the game as they were Black-flagged right at the start. As in the first race, the right hand side of the course was clearly favored as in the northeast wind on Santander Bay often sees large puffs filter down from the beach, both velocity and a shift right.  First around the mark was MABLE, then BANCAJA-AVIVA, ECC VIVIENDAS, SLAM RACING and RAITA.  This group stuck together for most of the race and in a thrilling finish with many boats overlapped, BANCAJA-AVIVA just won followed by the clever, hard-charging Torcida on ECC VIVIENDAS, MABLE, SLAM RACING and RAITA.

Overall, Pichu's ECC VIVIENDAS is winning with 4 pts, followed by Javier on BANCAJA-AVIVA with 8 pts, third is Madrazo's LUPA with 9 pts, 4th in a tie are Perez's CENTRALE OPTICA with 11 pts and Jesus Amailach's RAITA with 11 pts.   For more Trofeo Avega J/80 sailing information   

Italian Winter Championship Sailing Spring Conditions!

(Santa Margherita, Italy)- Like their friends over in Santander across azure blue Mediterranean Sea, the Italian J/80 fleet found themselves sailing off Portofino an Santa Margherita with spectacular sailing conditions.  It was the order of the day, go forth, have fun, savor the deliciously sweet breeze and sunny day.  WIth a steady 12-15 knot wind, the fleet was treated to two excellent races.

At the end of the first day, it was JENIALE! that was leading the fleet, despite having  to overcome an earlier DSQ in the first race.  They are followed by MONTPRES and ORSO J.  After being spoiled the first day, the fleet had to contend with a grey Sunday with a shifty wind and a heavy rain.  After a long postponement only one more race was sailed Sunday afternoon.  With three races under their belt, the fleet leader is MONTPRES with three 2nd places, followed ORSO J in second.  Third to fifth is a battle between four boats separated by only two points- JBES, SCRATCH, JENIALE, and GARIBOTTO.  The next weekend for the winter series is Sunday, March 27.   For more Italian J/80 Winter sailing information.   

Challenge Regatta La Trinite- J/80 Sail Training

J/80 sailing downwind
(La Trinite Sur Mer, France)- An increasingly popular regatta on the French J/80 circuit is the J/80 Trinite Challenge Regatta held each spring.  This year, a record twenty-one boats are participating that include some of the best J/80 teams in France, some famous ones, too!

On Saturday, one might call it a "muscle-training day" as the fleet was met by a southerly 20-25 knot breeze.  Both sailing coaches, Aymeric Belloir and Arnaud Walter proposed a series of sailing exercises on the theme of many practice starts, then throwing in a half dozen short races of 1 or 2 laps. Finally, at the end of the day, a multitude of jibes downwind in the channel for a beautiful finish under spinnaker at the harbor entrance!  It was an enjoyable, if not exhausting, day for the fleet.  A lot was learned and many learned how to plane faster as well as gybe more efficiently.

Sunday's sailing out on the waters off Societe Nautique Trinite were beautiful.  Sunny day with very shifty  4-6 knot westerly winds.  It was a challenging day for the tacticians.  Nevertheless, while some teams managed to stay out of trouble and play the shifts and puffs well, others faltered badly.  Keeping their record clean was Yves Tabarly on DAITEM-ALARME with a 1-1 record (yes, same famous Tabarly family keeping up the tradition of success on the sea).  Second is Ponroy sailing JINGLE with a 2-3, third Mack on GIGO with an 8-2, fourth is Bruno Trouble on COYOTE with a 6-8 taking some fun time-out from his Louis Vuitton America's Cup 34 duties and fifth is Waiter on ARNO SKIPPER sailing to a 12-4.  One more weekend left of racing and training for this tough group of competitors getting ready for the J/80 Worlds in Denmark coming up very soon.   For more J/80 France sailing information.   

Women's Cup France

"Because I Am A Girl" Charity
(Lorient, France)- A fantastic new event was created this year to benefit a leading women humanitarian charity program in France.  Seventeen women's teams from across France, including some famous one's like Morgane Fountaine, sailed J/80s under a warm sun to support the women's projects called "Because I Am A Girl" managed by the Association PLAN throughout France.

On shore, the yacht club was completely dressed in pink, the colors of the "Because I Am A Girl" project. A booth was host to members of Association PLAN to further help support this humanitarian program through the sales of cool pink t-shirts.

Blue sky and wind of 10-15 knots was the perfect background for the women dressed in pink to enjoy their first Women's Cup.  The westerly land breeze was oscillating back and forth and kept the girls anxious as they sought to free themselves from the pack and sail amongst the leaders.  The racing was ver tight for the three races sailed.  However, it was one of the top French women sailors who led the pack- Morgane Fountaine, accompanied by Sophie Blanckaert, Eve Pajot, Sigrid Longeau Bertho and Sandrine- looking pretty in pink these girls won the first edition of this regatta open to all women.  Second was "The Galerne Chikabreizh" sailed by Anne Claire Le Berre, third was "AMC Composite Team" of Anne Solomon Helley. Samantha Davies, sponsor of the event, was sailing with the "Daughters of the Water" and finished in 8th place.   For more J/80 Women's Cup sailing information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

J/80 Sailors Honored in Spain

J/80 Spanish sailing champions(Madrid, Spain)- On Friday, the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV) held its Annual Sailing Gala in Madrid for the RFEV's "sailors of the year" awards.  The "Cantabrian" sailors were some of the great stars of the show, including the J/80 World Champion and Class 40 Champion, Pichu Torcida, and his team.  There was special recognition for sailing achievement that included the Cantabrian duo of Pachi Rivero and Tono Piris-- both J/80 Cantabrian fleet competitors racing in the Barcelona World Race, the double-handed around-the-world race on the IMOCA 60s.

The event was chaired by Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Theresa Zabell, vice president of the COE, Teresa Lara, vice president of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and Gerardo Pombo, president of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation.  The celebration also marked the successful bid for Santander, chosen to host the ISAF World Sailing Championships in 2014, an event that brings together some 1,500 sailors from 95 countries

One final special note, the two top sailing clubs in Spain ranked on a variety of measures included the two leading J/80 fleets in Spain, both producing J/80 World Champions- 1st- Real Club Nautico de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) and 2nd Real Club Maritimo de Santander.  For more J/80 Spain sailing information  

J/80 Spanish University Cup

J/80 Spanish college sailing team- University Cantabria champions(Santander, Spain)- As part of their sailing development program in Spain, the local J/80 fleets support and help train not only youth sailors, but their college sailors to compete in regional, national and European collegiate events.

This past weekend, the Santander J/80 fleet played host for the European Cup collegiate qualifier for Spain.  The sailors had a great sunny day racing three races in 10-14 knot northeast winds.   It was a good test to determine the top two qualifiers for the university European Cup.  All the racing was windward-leeward courses set in the Windward Channel and off the beach of La Magdalena in Santander.

The crew from the University of Cantabria skippered by Jesus Gonzalez-Amaliach have earned the right to represent the University of Cantabria in the European Cup, the top intercollegiate keelboat regatta in Europe to be sailed in the J/80 class and held in Cherbourg, France later in March.

J/80 Spanish Mercedes Benz team- college sailingSailing their J/80 RAITA, Jesus and crew managed to win all three races, although the Team University RHINE, with Victor Paya at the helm, did not make things any easier for them! In the last two races the two boats finished overlapped! There was a nice race for third place among Team MERCEDES BENZ and Team POPPEA.  Ultimately, it was Jose Francisco Garcia de Soto on MERCEDES BENZ that took third place with a 4-3-3 score over friendly rivals Ignacio Pereda on POPPEA that sailed to a 3-4-4 record.

The Race Committee of the Real Club Maritimo Santander ran a great event, getting all three races off in less than four hours.  Chair of the event was the manager of the RCMS and president of the Spanish Association of J80, Alejandro Diaz.  For more Spanish J/80 College Racing information.   

J/80 Australia Introduction

J/80 Austraila debut in Sydney- offshore sailing(Sydney, Australia)- "The J/80s introduction to Australia could not be going better", according to Ray Entwistle, the J/Dealer in Australia.  "In the mixed twilight division consisting of Etchells, Roberts 950, Masram 920’s and Young 88s, Ray and Sandra Entwistle’s  J/80 (with class rigged non overlapping sails) has so far scored 6 firsts on elapsed and 6 firsts on handicap after sailing 6 races.  In the weekend mixed spinnaker division, racing as the smallest boat in the division, the J/80 has scored 4th, 2nd and 3 1sts. All these results have been achieved with at least SIX different helmsman as the boat gets tested by interested parties!"

"It's incredible," said Ray, "it doesn’t matter who steers her she just gets up and goes. The weather has been as mixed as you could get during the past 6 weeks too. From gusting over 30 knots and planing past Goat Island doing 14 knots in a non spinnaker twilight to almost sucking wind, she simply leaves all in her wake. “The boat is just so easy and balanced” commented one guest helmsman, “incredibly balanced and quick” commented a seasoned Etchells 22 sailor who helmed the boat in another race, “never thought a boat this size with such strong build quality would be so fast, a dinghy feel but smooth, stable and incredibly quick” said another.  Learn more about what's happening with the J/80 debut in Australia, you can contact Ray at  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Russian National Championship in J/80s

Russian sailors- sailing J/80s in Canary Islands for Russian Nationals"The Russians Are Coming, Hang On To Your Hats!"
(Lanzarote, Canary Islands)- Yes, the Russians are coming!  And, they're learning fast and having fun.  Taking a few pages out of top European and American "play books" on how to sail fast, the Russian Sailing Federation is ramping up their sailing programs step-by-step.  You've seen a few shining lights in that effort already, like the SYNERGY Sailing Team and some others on the WMRT Match Race Circuit- like world #8 Evgeny Neugodnikov on the Men's Tour and Women's Tour #6 Ekaterina Skudina- who was once again announced to be the Russian Yachtswoman of the Year for 2010 (picture below).

Last November, the Russian Yachting Federation, coordinating with the Spanish J/80 Teams, started the first National Sailing Championship of Russia using the J-80 fleet at Lanzarote, Canary Islands.  Many teams showed up before the opening day to get a "feel" for the local waters and the boats.  In fact, for this first event 14 teams participated from all across Russia- including St.-Petersburg, Moscow, Perm, Kemerovo, Voronezh, Novosibirsk, Taganrog and so forth.

Oscar Konuhov, the executive director of All-Russian Sailing Federation, said "The idea to unite professional sportsmen and amateurs into a national regatta managed by the All-Russian Sailing Federation and its partners means we can have great competition for participants in Russia. The distinctive feature of Lanzarote here in the Canary Islands is constant presence of wind. If we add fantastic local landscapes and perfectly equipped marina and excellent boats like the International J/80 class, we can say with confidence that the initiative of holding the competition here is doomed to success."  With a big smile on his face, he added, "I'm coming back next time for sure!"

Boris Boltyansky, the representative of Russian Business Regatta organizing committee commented on the event, saying "I’m sure, the project will have a long life. It is great to prolong Russian yachtsman’s racing calendar and race in the Atlantic ocean on monotypes. We are glad to see here well-known sportsmen, members of the national team, as well as beginners. Surely, it will be interesting for everybody to compete.  There are a lot of famous competitors here-- Masters of Sports, yachtsmen of the Olympic level, members of professional racing teams, they are all ready to compete. But according to the regatta rules, there is a beginner or two in each crew, which means every one gets a chance to learn from some of the world's best sailors."

J/80 Russian teams- sailing off Lanzarote, Canary IslandsRoman Terekhov, skipper, Master of Sports in Russia said, "We have a real national team represented here from Russia: sailors from Kemerovo, St Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk. We didn’t succeed in everything today, but we are trying hard. The boat is very good, the feelings are fantastic. I used to race on different quarter-tonner sailboats, but this sailing is worlds apart. The J/80 gathers momentum instantly, reacts to all the maneuvers quickly. The J/80 is amazing!"

Igor Cherepanov, Taganrog commented on the J/80, "From my first experience, I can say that the J/80 is well balanced and responsive. The sailing area is fantastic, the wind is regular and the current is slight. This water is known to be rough but we haven't faced it yet. Speaking about the contenders, you know, they are all dangerous competitors. They are rather serious: Georgiy Shaiduko, Sergey Borodinov, Sergey Shevtsov, Igor Lisovenko, Igor Skalin, Anna Basalkina, Kyril Podolsky, Sergey Dzhienbaev, Alexander Ezhkov and the others.

J/80 Russian sailor- Anna Basalkino - sailing in Canary IslandsAnna Basalkina, sailing TEAM RUS-7 ACITER, commented on the event- "The decisive day of the Championship of Russia sailed in the J/80 class turned out to be one of the most psychologically difficult days of all. According to the results of the previous days at least four crews had a claim on a general victory and three of them had the equal points! For them the Championship of Russia seemed to begin from the very start. But there were only two starts remained and there may have been no time to correct the mistakes.

In fact, by the time the fleet got going out of Puerto Kalero Marina the weather had changed to the worse, so much so that everybody considered the races not to take place that day. Since the very morning the sky had been covered by clouds, later it was pouring and there was no wind. The crews took cover in small restaurants and cafes nearby.

J/80 Russian team sailing upwindAfter an hour the rain stopped and the wind started to gain in strength quickly. Time to go racing! Two races were to be held on the last day. The distance of the first one almost completely repeated yesterday's windward-leewards and the favourites reached positive results. After my first place finish and the second for Georgiy Shajduko, other participants seemed to give up. But, before the start of the second race the wind, as it had often happened here earlier, changed direction approximately 20 degrees. As a result, the lay lines passed too close to fishing nets and oyster beds marked by buoys. It caused some excitement for sure!"

In the end, Sergey Tarakanov and his team were victorious, beating everyone on the last race and last leg! Just one point back in second was the crew from PIROGOVO. Memories of their surprising victory in yesterday's coastal race are still fresh and again good luck was on their side. One point further back in third was Anna Basalkina on RUS7-ACITER. Georgiy Shajduko's team won the 4th place.

J80 Russian teams sailing upwind off coast of Lanzarote, Canary IslandsAt the awards ceremony, it was announced the 2011 Championship of Russia will again be sailed in the J/80 class in November, 2011. Lanzarote is looking forward to hosting the Championship again. And, Puerto Kalero Marina will be supplying thirty (30) J/80s for the Russian teams!

According to one of the main sponsors,'s Kyrill Podolsky, "I am satisfied with the way the competition was organized, the work of the referees and the coastal program. Surely not worse than the World championship in the TP52 class. As a whole the regatta has proved to be a success: great J/80 one-design fleet, day races in the ocean, interesting wind conditions and a great competition between these Russian yachtsmen. is going to sponsor future events of this kind."

Anna Basalkina from the RUS7-ACITER team said, "I liked the Championship very much. Next year, I will come together with my family - a support team. I’m sure that everybody who had had an intention to come but couldn’t, I mean Rodion Luka, Edward Skornjakov and others – will take part in the championship next year.  We are already making plans now to be there!"   For more Russian Sailing Team information.   

J/80 Italian Winter Championship

(Santa Margherita, Italy)- On the first weekend of sailing the J/80 Winter Championship- Santa Margherita (on the same Bay as Portofino), the weather forecast was not promising.  However, almost suddenly, magically, the clouds disappeared, the sun came out and a beautiful breeze filled in from the south.

Fresh from their earlier J/80 winter sailing on the lakes, JENIALE JACONDE was a bit too aggressive on the first race start and was burned with an OCS.  Nevertheless, the rest of the fleet sailed a few good windward-leeward races with good breeze and good competition.

However, at the end of the day, a new "scirocco" was brewing, blowing down hard from the Italian Alps and fighting the nice sea-breeze.  The fleet was lucky to get in one last race. The final tally for the day saw ORSO J first, followed by MONTPRES, HATAMURI J, GARDA and fifth JBES.

The next weekend for the Santa Margherita Ligure winter series will be sailed on the 12th-13th of March.  For more J/80 Italian Winter Championship information.   

J/80 Boston Boatshow

J/80- Boston Boatshow(Boston, MA)- Check out this beauty, the recent cover girl of the March issue of Sailing World, now resplendent in all its glory at the Boston Boatshow this weekend.  Come on down and talk shop with our J/Dealers Hill and Lowden and other sailors at this show.  Rich and George will be able to fill you in on recent developments on the J/111, leading events in New England this summer- like the J/105 North Americans in Marblehead, and some new products that are in the J/Boats development pipeline!  Find out why the Russian Sailing Federation has chosen the J/80 for their Russian National Sailing Championship in Lanzarote, Canary Islands again in November 2011 (story below)!  Any questions?  Call J/Boats or contact Hill-Lowden at ph- 781-631-3313 or email-   For more J/80 Boston Boatshow information.