Bruce Jubb and Jeff Dakin on Johnny Blue II win J/109 nationals 28/8/07

Having enjoyed superb conditions for the first day of racing at the J-Cup in Plymouth on Thursday, the 52 boats racing at the event (hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club under PRO Mike Pearson) were primed and ready for three more races on Friday with the final two scheduled for Saturday.

A northerly breeze of up to twenty knots had prevailed on the opening day, but due to the stationary low in the north Atlantic, on both Friday and Saturday the fleet had to wait for the sea breeze to arrive and cancel out the light northerly before racing could get underway. Not to worry; the sun beat down throughout the postponements and the crews reveled in bikini conditions. For the final two days of the regatta eight to ten knots became the norm, and directionally, anything from 355 to 190 degrees. So it is ‘sun-hats off’ to the Race Management Team who still managed to set strong courses and to get the entire seven race series away in tricky conditions.

At the close of racing on Friday things were looking pretty solid for Zelda, the J/109 of Mike Ewart-Smith and Ben Richards. The J/109s were racing for their 2007 National Championship title and, despite an unusually average eighth place for Zelda in Race 5 (the final race of the day on Friday); they had only clocked up 12 points throughout the regatta so far. In second place was Johnny Blue II raced by Bruce Jubb and Jeff Dakin on fourteen points and Guy Knight’s Beth was lying third with seventeen points.

The final two races of the regatta (Race 6 and Race 7) were sailed on Saturday for all classes. Zelda simply had to keep her nose clean, discard that nasty eighth place and she would be golden. But, what the team on Zelda was not banking on was a seventh place in Race 6, which was won by Johnny Blue II. This left Johnny Blue II a single point ahead of Zelda who had by now safely discarded her eighth but still had to count a seventh, the worst result so far for Johnny Blue II being a fifth. Shiva had slipped through Beth into third overall with sixteen points.

Nail-biting stuff for all concerned and this 2007 J/109 UK National Championship really did go all the way to the wire. For the final race of the championship it was Shiva who crossed the line first. In second place (his best result of the entire regatta) was Kevin Moll in Jura. Jamie Arnell (who was sailing his boat Jeez Louise for the first time this year) scored his second third place of the day and so finished the regatta a very happy chap. Not so for Mike and Ben on Zelda however; all Johnny Blue II had to do was to ensure that Zelda did not achieve a podium finish in the final race, and this they achieved. Zelda finished fifth in Race 7; Johnny Blue II finished tenth but could discard this.

The 2007 J/109 National Championship title went to Bruce Jubb and Jeff Dakin on Johnny Blue II, with the 2006 champions, Mike Ewart-Smith and Ben Richards second in Zelda. Matt Boyle finished third overall in Shiva.

In Class 4, the J/80 Sportsboat class, John McLaren in Jimini (a relative newcomer to the fleet) was the North Sails ‘Boat of the Day’ for this fleet on Friday. It’s just possible that perhaps they celebrated a little too hard and a little too prematurely on the Friday night? The racing on the last day of the regatta was dominated by Peter Wanstall sailing his little red rocket Jem and scoring three bullets out of three. This was enough to secure him a regatta win. In second place overall with thirteen points was Jimini and Nick Over was third in Jalapeno.

In Class 1, the IRC ‘Big Boat’ Class, Stewart Hawthorn’s J/133 Jump had won every race going in to the final day, and the best placed J/120 was Jalfrezi, owned by local surgeon Gareth Thomas. It was the Douglas family racing their J/133 Spirit of Jacana who finally knocked Jump off their winning streak with a first in Race 6 and then Mark Lloyd’s J/133 Jellina won Race 7. At the end of the points series Jump finished in first place overall with Spirit of Jacana in second and Jellina in third. Jalfrezi topped the J/120s.

Paul Griffith’s Fay-J had won the North Sails ‘Boat of the Day’ prize on Friday for their 1,1,4 scoreline for Class 2, the J/105s. However, on Saturday they failed to maintain their previous form and it was Mike West’s Juneau (fresh back from the double-handed Fastnet) who crossed the line first in Race 6, with David and Kirsty Apthorp’s J-Dream in second. For Race 7 these positions were reversed, and it was J-Dream that emerged as series winner, with Fay-J in second and Rob Dornton-Duff’s Java in third overall.

Class 3 was where the battle between the smaller IRC boats unfolded and arguably this was where some of the hottest competition of the whole regatta took place; five different boats each scored a race win during the seven race series. After Thursday, Pete and Pip Tyler’s J/92 S Neilson Redeye led the regatta from Andrew Robert’s and Stephen Etheridge’s J/92 S Just in Time. By the end of Race 5 (the final race on Friday) it was Just in Time leading the series with Colin Wall’s True Love in second. Peter Olden’s J/92 S Solan Goose had moved into third place following a 1,2,4 scoreline for the day. Ultimately though it was True Love who took the series, winning both races on Saturday, with Just in Time in second and Phil Thomas’ J/92 J’Ronimo (another of the five race winners) in third.

The now legendary J-Cup Gala prizegiving dinner was held on the Saturday night and 390 people sat down to dinner and then stood up and danced the night away. In addition to the prizes for each individual J-Cup Points Series and the 2007 J/109 UK National Championship, a number of other prestigious prizes were awarded.

The B&G Prize, which this year was an extremely generous package of Deckman software, went to Michael Ewart-Smith and Ben Richards in Zelda.

The Dubarry Boot, which is awarded by Dubarry (another event sponsor) each year for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Mike West of the J/105 Juneau. Mike was a race winner in his class at the J-Cup and one of only two double-handed finishers in the 2007 Fastnet. A long and challenging race in one of the smallest boats eligible to compete and with his problems compounded by a defective transducer causing his forepeak to flood; Mike proved an extremely popular winner.

The Elvstrom Sobstad Trophy for Best Newcomer to the J-Cup was this year presented to Richard and Valerie Griffiths who achieved an extremely creditable fifth place overall in the J/109 National Championship sailing Outrajeous. This is their first year in the boat and their first time at the J-Cup.

Peter Wanstall’s J/80 Jem was awarded a crate of wine from local surveying firm Alan Cummings and Co for being the most successful local boat at the regatta.

The J-Cup is awarded by J-UK each year and it does not necessarily go to the boat with the lowest points score. This year, the J-Cup was presented to Jeff Dakin and Bruce Jubb. Not only did they win the 2007 J/109 UK National Championship but they did it in a borrowed boat after their own sustained some damage during Cowes Week.