In only her second race ever, the brand new J Class Svea notched her first win today in a six-strong J Class fleet, while Lionheart’s consistency won them the three day event
If Svea’s third place in her first race yesterday was impressive for the debutante J Class member, her victory over the seasoned fleet today was quite a phenomenal achievement. It was a race that saw Svea go from zero to hero after she lost a crewmember overboard less than a minute before the start.
Lionheart’s second place finish today meanwhile earned them victory in the three day regatta overall. A delighted Bouwe Bekking, a seven time veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, spoke to Toby after stepping ashore on the buzz of racing here and what it takes to win.
The Superyacht Regatta that concluded today may have been seen by the J crews as the ideal warm-up to the America’s Cup J Class Regatta which starts tomorrow, but all were taking the racing just as seriously. The round the cans format to the races, which include reaching legs, doesn’t suit the J Class as much as the windward/leewards that will be used for their own event from tomorrow. But it’s still a case of picking the best shifts.
Today’s race was Svea’s second downwind start in a row, a manoeuvre they had yet to practice before the Bermuda event. But as tactician Charly Ogletree told us directly after the race, it could have gone a lot worse for Svea. “This race start was more chaotic than yesterday,” he said matter-of-factly. “We had a MOB 40 seconds before the gun!”
The crewmember was scooped up by the chase boat and delivered back aboard, but it created “a late deploy and not exactly a perfect start,” said Ogletree, an ex Olympic Tornado sailor.
Ogletree went on to explain how Svea’s break came during the 16 mile race when Hanuman blew out their spinnaker and stopped in front of them – “so we gybed to get away from them and found more wind.” This resulted in them briefly making a handsome 9.5 knots to the rest of the fleet’s 8 knots, he said.
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On the way back into Bermuda’s Great Sound this afternoon, the J Class fleet were treated to a Top Gun style flyby from the America’s Cup defenders. Bouwe Bekking took this footage of the Oracle Team USA catamaran clipping their ensign.
The other five J Class crews then cheered Svea in as she reversed back to the dock in Hamilton this afternoon. It is an amazing feat to record a victory this quickly – Velsheda and Ranger have been racing together for over 10 years, it took Lionheart a couple of seasons to get up to speed, and Topaz is two years old now and yet to find winning form.
So what is the key in these light to medium flat water conditions? “Picking which way to go and boat management,” says Ogletree. He admits their focus is on the windward/leeward format of the J Class Regatta to come and the J’s World Championships in Newport in August.
“Any result we get is a bonus – we have a great team onboard and a good boat.”
Svea missed the first day of racing on Tuesday so couldn’t realistically challenge for the overall regatta. Lionheart collects her trophy this evening and tomorrow the three day America’s Cup J Class Regatta begins.
This event, which runs on June 16, 19 and 20 , will welcome the addition of Shamrock V to the fleet and will be the first time seven J Class have ever raced. The racing format for the Js also changes to windward-leeward contests, two per day, and will be sailed off Murrays Anchorage.
All pictures courtesy of Ingrid Abery