J Boats Armada for RORC Race the Wight


J Boats were out in force for the first RORC race since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with 34 teams racing, J Boats accounted for over a third of the RORC fleet. Key Yachting takes a look at the top performers in J Boats for the race around the Isle of Wight, Saturday 1st August 2020.


The race of approximately 50nm started from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line with a course anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight with a starting breeze of 15 knots from the southwest. Approaching high tide at the start, the island shore was favoured by much of the fleet due to tidal conditions. After beating to the Needles, the fleet turned downwind into adverse current. Staying close to the island shore worked for many successful teams. As the breeze clocked a little to the south, there was little in the way of wind shadow to the east of the island. The fleet entered the Eastern Solent, where a fresh breeze made for a fast beat to the finish.

Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood. © Rick Tomlinson


The fastest J Boat in the race was Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood. Completing the race in an elapsed time of 6 hours 38 mins 15 secs. The smallest J Boat to complete the race was Ross Bowdler’s J/80 Justify, completing the race in 8 hours 41 mins 51 secs.

Ross Bowdler’s J/80 Justify


Simon Bamford’s J/111 Kestrel


In IRC Two, Simon Bamford’s J/111 Kestrel was the top J Boat on IRC corrected and elapsed time, completing the race in 6 hours 50 mins 40 secs. Chris Jones and Louise Machin, racing J/111 Journeymaker II were the fastest two-handed team racing a J Boat, completing the course in 7 hours 2 mins and 4 secs.

James Chalmers racing J/112E Happy Daize. © Rick Tomlinson


In IRC Three, James Chalmers racing J/112E Happy Daize got one of the best starts of the entire fleet and was the top J Boat and second in IRC Two for the race. Happy Daize was the fastest J Boat in the class completing the race in 6 hours 57 mins 11 secs. Third in IRC Three was Bruce Huber’s J/112E Xanaboo, which completed the race in 6 hours 59 mins 10 secs.

Simon Perry’s J/109 Jiraffe


Ten J/109s raced competing in IRC Three and IRC Four. Simon Perry’s Jiraffe was the fastest completing the race in 7 hours 34 mins 3 secs. Just So, sailed by William McGough, was second around the course just 18 seconds ahead of Mike Yates’ Jago.

In IRC Four, J/105 Jin Tonic, sailed by Andy Roberts was the top performing J Boat, completing the race in 7 hours 24 mins 36 secs.

“We all owe gratitude to the RORC for putting on this event which was such fun,” commented Andy. “The conditions made for a testing race, particularly around the south side of the island with lots of gybing in 20+ knots of wind. The J/105 loves surfing down the waves, regularly exceeding 11 knots, yet remaining very stable. We had an interesting gybing duel with both a J/99 and a J/109 which went well for us. With five J/105s competing it shows there is still life in these mature boats.”

Race the Wight was the first of a four-race RORC mini-series during August and September. There is one discard for the series if three races are completed, the next race will be a day race on Saturday 15th August. Check the RORC website for details: