It is a sight many sailors have looked forward to as much or even more so than the America’s Cup itself – Seven J Class, the largest fleet to ever assemble in the 87 history of the class, raced in their own regatta either side of the first weekend of the America’s Cup finals.
The J Class also performed a stunning exhibition race on the America’s Cup course on the Great Sound on Saturday, shortly before the first America’s Cup match, for the thousands of fans in the America’s Cup village. (The shallow, reef-strewn depths of the Great Sound make it very tricky to set a proper course for the J Class, hence the actual races were held off the north coast of the island).
A combination of having some of the world’s best photographers here and the J Class racing on translucent turquoise blue seas means the resultant photographs (below) make for a visual treat.
Lionheart scored a first and second on the final day to win the J Class regatta, which concluded in a light breeze off the north coast of the island. It was reduced to a two day, five race event after Friday’s racing was canceled due to light wind.
The fleet was also without its newest member Svea for the final three races, after she suffered rig damage durig the second race (pictured below). But the crews at the prize giving were all delighted with how close the racing was in the light, flat water conditions – a fleet divided and decided literally by seconds.
Here is the best of the Js in Bermuda in pictures
Seven J Class hit the startline for the first time ever. The smaller Shamrock chose port hand starts to keep clear air – Studio Borlenghi
JK7 Velsheda and JS1 Svea add some colour to the otherwise black and white sail wardrobe – Studio Borlenghi
The long aft overhangs of JK6 Hanuman during Monday’s triple race day – Chris Cameron
The precarious pointed bow of a J Class highlights the skill of the bowman. Topaz on the greener, clearer waters of the Great Sound – Ricardo Pinto
The Js dance elegantly around the Great Sound off the America’s Cup village during the J Class exhibition – Ricardo Pinto
The exhibition saw staggered starts in a light breeze but a perferct opportunity to see the skills involved with getting the vast sails up and down around a simulated race course – Ricardo Pinto
Hanuman leads Ranger and Svea during the first day of the windward/leeward J Class Regatta. The final results came down to seconds. Chris Cameron
The view from the weather rail of Shamrock as the six other Js round the mark ahead, Velsheda leading. The smaller Shamrock can only try and compete with the others on handicap.
Preparing to hoist on the foredeck of Hanuman. She has been highly optimised and is the only J to use a snuffer to allow faster kite drops on mark roundings. Ricardo Pinto
The view from the America’s Cup village as the J Class perform their exhibition race. Sander van der Borch
Kristy Hinze Clark, Hanuman’s owner, enjoys helming the boat during the exhibition match – Studio Borlenghi
Onboard the newest J Svea, with her clean deck layout and extra large wheel, with Ranger and Hanuman chasing – Studio Borlenghi
Velsheda’s foredeck crew, led by Jeff Reynolds and Eduard van Lierde prepare to hoist the red white and blue spinnaker – Ingrid Abery
Weight forward on Lionheart on their way to winning both the Superyacht Regatta and J Class regatta in the light airs of Bermuda – Ingrid Abery
The seasoned competitors Ranger (left), Velsheda and Lionheart find their lane at the leeward end of the line – Studio Borlenghi
A seven strong fleet means it’s a gutsy affair at the pre-start and a good reason why the top pros are needed aboard to make the split-second calls – Studio Borlenghi
Bermuda’s picture postcard conditions. The combination of enticingly clear, flat water, ideal temperatures, light breezes and welcoming locals makes for a spectacular venue – Ricardo Pinto
The newest J Class, a Hoek rework of a Tore Holm design, looked superb in her first regatta and was going well until she suffered rig failure (below) in her second race. Studio Borlenghi
There was a loud bang as Svea approached the top mark – the headstay swivel broke and the stay and genoa collapsed. The crew reacted quickly to release the mainsheet and runners and crank on halyards to the foredeck to keep the mast standing. It is hoped Svea will be fixed in time for the J Class Worlds in Newport in August. Studio Borlenghi
The race to the downwind gate and who can get the vast genoas up and kites down quickest – Ingrid Abery
The red socks of Ranger in support of Emirates Team New Zealand (famously worn by Sir Peter Blake) – Gilles Martin-Raget
Following a poor start and a tense finish to the last race, Lionheart wins the America’s Cup J Class Regatta. It marked triple success for the JH1 team in Bermuda, after also winning their class and the overall prize in the Superyacht Regatta. Some of her Falmouth based crew hoist the Cornish flag in celebration – Ingrid Abery