In the final episode of the Lymington Town Sailing Club J-Class regatta, the three Js battled against each other and the weather to settle an age-old score
It was surprising that the final race went ahead considering the conditions. Not often would you find a J-Class sailing in conditions similar to those of today. The forecast was typically inaccurate, winds in the Solent reaching at least 10 knots in excess of what was predicted.
So with 35 knots true from the west, it was understandable that racing was restricted to the Solent rather than venturing past the Needles. The start was set at Salt Mede with the weather mark about six miles upwind, west of Yarmouth. As the start signal sounded at midday, Velsheda and Shamrock V crossed ahead of Endeavour who was off the line. All three Js chose a different sail plan, Velsheda went for a reef in the main and large yankee, Endeavour sailed under full main and small yankee while Shamrock V, who also opted for full main, chose to fly a jib as her foresail.
Velsheda and Shamrock V crossed the start line on port tack. Velsheda appeared hard-pressed under her large headsail, while Shamrock V headed well inshore out of the strongest tide and made good ground to the west. Endeavour took-off on starboard tack, hoisted a staysail and came steaming back into the lead on port, before laying the windward mark perfectly with Vesheda and Shamrock V close behind.
More than seventy spectator boats braved the weather to watch the Js race together and were rewarded with a stunning spectacle. The first beat was some of the closest racing that you could wish to see between the J-Class, which cross-tacked and headed each other in true match-racing style.
It was soon apparent that Velsheda was experiencing problems with her primary winching system. The most likely cause for such would be power or hydraulic failure. As the three yachts began nearing the gybe mark, each readied their crew to drop the kites, however Velsheda suffered another problem and struggled to free the halyard.
The upwind-downwind course finished at the end of the second beat. By the beginning of the last leg, Velsheda had dropped back but rather than retire, she gamely battled on and finished 48 minutes behind Endeavour. Endeavour crossed the line ahead of Shamrock V, but the older and heavier boat set a good pace, and on corrected time, should have been quite close to Endeavour’s time.
Velsheda’s problems aside, Endeavour appears to be the fastest of the three, despite the fact that both she and Velsheda share the same handicap. Endeavour is the declared winner of the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy, an award that has been offered up by the beneficiaries of Shamrock V, in the memory of Shamrock’s original owner. It will be interesting to see if there is any change to the J’s ‘natural order’ in the Jubilee regatta starting on Sunday 19 August.