Good winds and sunshine made for the perfect opening day for the J-Cup in Plymouth 24/8/07

Fifty one boats enjoyed near perfect conditions in Plymouth for the first day of racing yesterday at the J-Cup 2007 which is being hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club.

Split in to five classes on two courses outside the breakwater, competition commenced in a fleet that included some of the UK’s hottest sailing names. Temperatures soared and blessed with a northerly breeze that peaked at around 20 knots, this three day regatta which incorporates the 2007 J/109 UK National Championship, has started on the best possible footing.

Mike Ewart-Smith and Ben Richards (the 2006 J/109 National Champions) lead the 2007 Championship after scoring two blistering bullets in Zelda. Jeff Dakin and Bruce Jubb of Johnny Blue II, in a borrowed boat for this regatta are lying second, and the RAF Sailing Club are on fantastic form and lying third in the jet fast Red Arrow. Mike Ewart-Smith, when asked about his success, explained: ‘We started Race One on a port tack flyer. Or not. We ended up taking the transoms of the entire fleet! Things improved when we ended up on the lucky side of a big wind shift’. Elsewhere in the fleet, Matt Boyle, Cowes Week winner in Shiva, who is sailing with the legendary Jeremy Robinson of North Sails is yet to find his form, but things are still wide open.

The J/80 Sportsboat Class, Daryl Conyers leads with a three, one scoreline in Oceans Eleven. John McLaren won the first race of the day in Jimini and is just one point behind. Class Captain Nicholas Over, racing Jalapeno is in third place and was delighted to be racing after some gear failure and some speedy repairs following his club race yesterday evening.

Class One, which is the IRC ‘big boat’ class was dominated by Stewart Hawthorn’s J/133 Jump. Having recruited local experts Nigel Gray and John ‘the boy’ Willerton, Jump won both races. The next two boats in the Class are also J/133s: the Douglas family’s Jacana (all the way from Northern Ireland) is in second and Mark Lloyd’s Jellina is in third. The best J/120 was also packed to the brim with Plymouth based talent and the flying Doctor, Gareth Thomas out performed the four other J/120s. Flying in from New York just for the J-Cup regatta, local entrepreneur and jet-setter Simon Arscott failed to secure a victory. He was sailing on the J/124 Earls Court Boat Show (owned and helmed by Marie-Claude and Paul Heys). He did at least earn himself some blisters after an honest days work as mast-man however?

In the J/105 Class it was indeed a ‘J-Dream’ day for David and Kirsty Apthorp in their boat of the same name. Having won both races they are happy and confident heading into the second day of racing but Paul Griffith’s Fay-J is only three points behind. Rob Dornton-Duff sailing Java lies in third place. Mary Sturgess (from Teignmouth) lies in sixth place in Jaldi, which is superb result considering that she has never lined up against the rest of the fleet before.

In Class 3, the smaller IRC Js feet enjoyed fierce competition. Pip and Pete Tyler’s Neilson Redeye lies in first place and Andrew Roberts and Steve Etheridge’s Just in Time is in second. Childhood friends, racing rock-stars and sailing adversaries, Duncan MacDonald and Kevin Sproul have old scores to settle elsewhere in this fleet, both are tacticians on other J/92s. Sproul is sailing with Colin Wall on True Love and MacDonald is teamed with Charlie Wise and crew on J’Ronimo.