Fabulous conditions greeted the superyachts and record J Class fleet today in Bermuda – and while Lionheart won the race, all eyes were on the brand new J Class Svea in her first race.
We expected her to be fast, but would the new J Class Svea be competitive too? It is a tall order for a boat, which in two years has gone from being bought as a bare aluminum hull to a race-ready J, to be on the starting line against the largest fleet yet.
And when you consider that four of her opposition in Velsheda, Ranger, Lionheart and Hanuman have raced and trained with a seasoned crew for years now, it would be easy to presume she might be out muscled from the off.
Not so. For although Lionheart and Ranger put in a near faultless performance to finish the 14 mile triangular cum round the cans shaped course in first and second place, Svea was never far off their heels. See more about the J Class Svea below.
Here is some video action from the view of the press photographer’s boat today, in near ideal flat-water conditions with wind ranging from 7 to 13 knots.
With all six Js looking very evenly matched on the water, it was all about the downwind start today – and when Lionheart and Ranger picked the left side and found favourable breeze they just needed to sail smartly and cleanly to maintain their lead.
Svea’s quick decision to gybe early away from Velsheda and Hanuman and join the left side, was one that earned them third place. Not bad considering one of her crew later told me they hadn’t yet practiced a downwind start.
Svea, the newest addition to the now nine-strong J Class fleet, is one of the single most outstanding new yachts of modern times. Svea’s build programme has been a ruthless, unrelenting one since her American owner bought the bare hull. A serial yacht owner and experienced racer, his sights were firmly set on the Bermuda J Class regatta this June.
Five J Class yachts raced in Bermuda today, making up one quarter of the 20-strong fleet of superyachts in a…
Svea, the newest addition to the now nine-strong J Class fleet, is one of the most outstanding new yachts of…
In just 17 months from signing the contract to her delivery, Svea was transformed from bare hull to a race-ready superyacht at Vitters – and one that was ready to sail across the Atlantic to her first race, just as the original Js were designed to do.
Her lines and minimalist deck are kept spectacularly clean, thanks in part to the compact wheelhouse, sunken wheel and wonderfully low boom.
The lines for JS1, the J Class Svea, are from a Tore Holm design from 1937, the last J drawn but never built. Holm was one of the most gifted metre class designers. Andre Hoek reworked the design to make it competitive and applicable to modern day racing, his third J project in recent years following Lionheart and Topaz.
Even compared to these ‘Super Js’ Svea is big. She is (by six inches) the longest J overall at 43.6m /143.1ft LOA, with an ultra ergonomic deck layout that helps keep her lines uncluttered.
Svea’s deck layout is optimised for modern racing thanks to a large cockpit directly in front of the wheel from which the main, genoa and running backstays are all controlled.
During their last training day in Palma in March, I sailed with Svea in race mode in similar conditions to today and spoke to Francesco de Angelis (the ex-Luna Rossa skipper hired as owner’s coach).
Tomorrow, Thursday 15 June, is the last day of the Superyacht Regatta fleet racing before the Js start their own showcase J Class regatta on Friday. With Shamrock joining the mix to make it seven Js for the first time ever, it will certainly be a spectacle.