After nine scintillating races, the 2017 J/70 Open European Championship is decided. Claudia Rossi’s Italian team, racing Petite Terrible, retained their title in a thrilling final day of high speed action in the Central Solent.
José María Torcida’s Spanish team, racing Noticia, were second and Peter Duncan’s American team, racing Relative Obscurity, scored an impressive 2-1-1 to snatch third on the last day. Top British registered boat was the Maltese/British alliance of Calascione & Ripard, who finished the regatta in fourth place.
The young team from the Royal Thames YC Academy (below), skippered by Tim Gratton, and helmed by Fiona Hampshire, was the top Corinthian J/70, placing an impressive 5th overall.
Another young team, Jack Davies’ J/70 Yeti, from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, was second in the amateur class, and Simon Ling’s Team Spitfire was third.
The last day of racing was full of drama, Petite Terrible won the first race, putting pressure on overnight leader, Noticia. The Spanish team fought back in the penultimate race, to get ahead of Petite Terrible at the crucial first top mark, only to see their spinnaker explode in a gybe. Noticia quickly hoisted their second kite, but in a high calibre fleet they couldn’t recover. Petite Terrible held their nerve in the last race to win the J/70 Open European Championship for the second year running.
As the Italian team went up to collect their award, a huge cheer went up from the J/70 fleet. “I want to say thank you to everyone, the standard of the competition and the regatta was very high.” smiled Claudia Rossi. “I also want to say thank you to my team, without them I could not have done this.”
Peter Duncan’s team finished third, behind Noticia, winning the last two races to finish the regatta in style. “We put it together today, and this is a new team, so we are pleased to end this regatta on a high. We have plenty more to do, and having seen the standard of racing in the European fleet is very high. The Worlds in Sardinia will be a very tough competition. Many thanks to the organisers of the regatta. The standard of race management, and the hospitality of the Royal Southern Yacht Club, has been absolutely first class.
Corinthian J/70 European Champion, Tim Gratton’s Royal Thames YC Academy, are all still at university or recently graduated. Fiona Hampshire on the helm, was quick to point out that the victory was very much a team effort. “Really, I am just the crew that steers the boat, the rest of the team perform the manoeuvres, and decide which way to go. I was very much concentrating on keeping the boat driving forwards upwind and as fast as possible downwind. A big thank you to the Royal Thames for giving us the opportunity.”
Royal Southern Yacht Club Vice Commodore, Graham Nixon, welcomed the competitors to the J/70 European Championship Final Prize Giving and thanked the race team, Club volunteers and especially Event Director and Royal Southern Yacht Club Rear Commodore Sailing, Robert Vose, for putting on an excellent regatta in difficult conditions. The final Prize Giving was sponsored by Raymarine with winners taking away some fantastic prizes.
Raymarine’s OEM Sales Manager, Greg Wells, himself a Flying Fifteen European Champion, explained why Raymarine decided to support the regatta: “It was an easy decision, every J/70 made has our equipment, and the class is the fastest growing one-design keelboat class ever, and incredibly exciting to sail. We are very proud that the teams use Raymarine products, and by supporting the regatta, Raymarine are showing our appreciation.”
In a field boasting Olympic medallists and numerous world champions from other classes, one third of the teams had mixed or full women teams and both the Open and Corinthian European Champions, in the J/70 Class, featured women at the helm.
The next event for the UK class is the National Championships in July.