A total of 16 boats turned out for the recent Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta making it the largest J/80 gathering to date

A 16-boat fleet made the recent Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta the largest UK J/80 gathering to date. The local Dartmouth fleet has grown to six boats and the trip to the Westcountry proved too tempting for another 10 travellers to resist, due in part to the prizes donated by Rennie and Ruth Miller but also because of an interesting twist to the racing in the form of the ‘Yellow Kite’ rule.

On the first day’s racing lots were drawn to select a boat to sail with, and fly on downwind legs, a ‘Yellow Kite’. Thereafter, on each subsequent day, the leading boat in the series sailed with the yellow kite indicating to all regatta competitors the J/80 series leader. The regatta organisers had kindly modified the race programme to allow two races per day on the first two days, which was the preference of the fleet.

Race day one saw a light south-westerly breeze and Class Chairman Bernard Howard’s ‘J String’, sailed by Charlie Cumbley, won the first race with Dartmouth local Simon Unwin second in ‘Jackflash’. Steven Hills, the fleet’s newest owner finished third sailing ‘JSM’. Race two saw a victory for Dartmouth sailor Dan Churchill in ‘Jemini’ securing the position of overnight leader and the yellow kite for day two.

Day two started with bad visibility but the strongest wind of the week, enabling the J/80s to plane past much larger IRC boats. ‘J String’ and Steve Northmores’ ‘Quikeye’ shared the spoils with a first and second each, ‘JSM’ was third in race three with ‘Jemini’ clocking up a third in race four.’J string’ then became the yellow kite boat, a position which she retained for the rest of the regatta.

Saturday brought sparkling conditions for the coastal race. The course took the fleet close to the cliffs in a patchy, offshore breeze which made for testing conditions. For Charlie Cumbley however, it was business as normal.

Sunday wrapped up with a 12-15 knot breeze from the east and a modified Olympic-type course. Weaving J/80s under spinnaker through the myriad of larger yet slower IRC boats was a major challenge. ‘J String’ led from start to finish followed by ‘Jemini’ who recovered from last off the start line to a strong second. Third was Rennie and Ruth Millers’ ‘Valour’.