For the Dartmouth regatta 2017, we asked J/80 sailors, Nick and Annie Haigh if they would like to put a crew together for the Davanti Tyres campaign. Now living in The West Country, Nick and Annie recruited a friendly crew of great sailors, most of whom are Devon based. Nick helmed the boat and Annie trimmed the spinnaker.
Day 1 of the regatta saw the crew sail together for the first time; Nick and Annie had sailed onboard for a day at the J Cup, mastman Mike was the only other crew member to have previously sailed a J/112e.
The day dawned with sunshine and a 10 knot breeze. The fleet was made up of some very good teams, Ed Fishwick’s Redshift had won the RORC Easter regatta as well as races at the IRC Nationals and Cowes Week. Tim Cunliffe’s Insatiable from Falmouth was a class winner at Dartmouth regatta 2016. Sister ship J/112e J’Ouvert is a local Dartmouth boat that had shown great bursts of speed at the J Cup. Mike Bridges Elaine is a serial winner, although her configuration perhaps suits stronger winds than the regatta forecast.
The J/88’s Eat, Sleep J Repeat and J Dream were fresh from their 1-2 success at the J/88 Nationals.
I was to miss the first day of racing, traveling back from the launching of the new J/121 in Newport. Arriving in Dartmouth I was delighted to find that the team had scored a 1,1,3 and were leading Redshift by 2 points.
Nick, like all who have sailed her, expressed delight at the boats ability to outpoint rivals.
Day 2 Friday, dawned with a very light wind forecast and only one race was sailed. Becoming boxed in at the start and then finding ourselves on the wrong side of a wind shift, we found ourselves buried deep at the first windward mark. Good sailing and raw speed allowed us to carve our way back to a third place, meaning we were now only retaining the lead by virtue of count back.
Saturday had even less wind and the full day programme was cancelled.Sunday was the final race day, with just a little more wind forecast.
The race officer set the line with avery large port bias, adding extra pressure for the helm and tactician. In both races Nick Cherry helming Redshift made great starts on the pin with us very close behind, Redshift our closest rival, has to give us time so if we can finish within 14 seconds of her after an hours sailing. We will take the win. We however much prefer the safer bet of leading her home. In the first race of the day we were able to sail down inside of her on the first run, despite the fact that we have a centreline bowsprit and A sail whilst they have a symmetrical pole. It may be the case that our hull shape and single rudder has less drag than their fatter sterned, twin rudder design?
In the second race we followed them and the Mumm 30 for the first lap, then we adopted our preferred strategy of sailing the boat very upright upwind, whilst most others were inducing heel in an attempt to reduce drag. In this upright mode the new keel designed by Al Johnstone really works well, allowing us to move forward and climb out from first the Mumm and then Redshift. Thus we ended the regatta with double line honours and handicap victories, winning the class with four straight firsts.
Sailing this regatta reminded me of 2009 when we first campaigned the J97; both boats have an extremely competitive performance with no weak spots.
As all-round boats that can compete double handed, fully crewed and then serve as an express cruiser, they are very hard to beat. The J/97’s went on to become serial winners at many, many regattas. We are confident that the J/112e has a similarly bright future.