(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Memories were strong for a number of J/Boats owners after their fantastic success in the recent 60nm-long Round Island Race; that fabulously popular blast around

the Isle of Wight with 1,000+ boats sailing.

Here are some descriptions of their sailing experiences on the J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II, the J/109 JUBILEE, and J/97 JAYWALKER.

Victoria Preston’s J/109 JUBILEE were the winners of IRC2A, the fifteen strong J/109 class, and the extracted J Boats results. Victoria said “The Jubilee team with Bill Edgerton on helm, Felix Trattner on trim and myself on nav, sailing with a crew of family and friends, were delighted with our victory in a long and exciting race, despite periods of little wind. Overcoming a slow start, the crew kept J/109 Jubilee- Round Island Race class winnerfocused and were rewarded with the J-trophy for fastest J/J109 and the Yeoman Bowl for best in IRC Class 2."

Bob Baker, owner of J/97 Jaywalker who won the IRC2D class, described the tough conditions; "It was a good race, I think it would’ve been even better if we hadn’t sailed into two horrible wind holes. One just before the Bembridge ledge buoy trapped a few yachts ahead of us and then completely stopped almost all the IRC2 class, we went left and finally managed to escape quicker than the rest. The second lasted 30 or 40 minutes. Again we went left and had slightly favourable drifting tide. As the sea breeze restarted we were drifting over the edge of Ryde sand with about 0.2 m clearance! But this position left us well ahead of the rest of IRC2, except for the two fastest J/109s who presumably went round just before either wind hole opened. It was really great to win the group, and the crew, boat, and new sails performed very well."

J/111 Journeymaker II- Makin & JonesJ/111 JOURNEYMAKER II
The J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II sailed by Chris Jones and Louise Makin was the 10th boat overall out of a fleet of 1,200+ boats across the finish line in the recent Round Island Race, hosted by the Island Sailing Club- it’s a 60nm adventure around the famous Isle of Wight, with an early morning start in the Solent on the Royal Yacht Squadron starting line.

Tenth in a fleet of 1,200+ sailboats up to 100 feet long is an extraordinary achievement, especially for a J/111- just a 36 foot long boat! Here is the story from Chris Jones on how they managed their amazing feat!

“For a slow race it went pretty quickly. The start was not too crazy; at 07:30 it only meant we had to be off the dock at 06:30. Plenty of time to make the bacon baguettes that we would need to maintain morale down to the Needles. The early wind was Southwest, so we were looking at a light wind beat with up to 6 knots of tide underneath us.

As always, the strongest tide was close in to the Island shore at the start line, but with the light wind we had to trade off the normal short tacking route staying in the stream with the loss of speed on every maneuver. We got a good gap on the line and with a long fetch we only had to do one tack off the Island shore. By the time we reached the entrance to Beaulieu River (on the north side of the Solent) we were already getting into the back of the fleet in front.

The Needles- famous west end of Isle of WightWe had class zero, all the multihulls, the Open 40’s and the entire Sunsail fleet starting in front of us. We wanted to get through the Sunsail fleet before The Needles as they can become a bit of a roadblock when they all converge and luckily, we were clear of them by Yarmouth. The optimum route from Hurst Castle to the Needles is along the north side of the channel by the Shingles Bank. Always spooky to see the water swirling around invisible underwater obstructions at 4 to 6 knots, often it is the lumpy bits where it is deep and safe and the tempting glassy flat bits are where danger lies!

We got a good line down to the Needles with a little bit in hand and sailed over a few more boats as we slowly freed up on starboard and the boats close in to the Island shore ran out of wind. Then the tricky decision, inside or outside of “the wreck?”

J/111 Journeymaker II- Makin & JonesAs we were now able to get the A2 up, we decided on a low risk loop around the outside of the wreck that worked well and we kept the kite full. The next leg to St Catherines Point is against the tide (the southwestern-most point of the island. The tactical choice is how far inshore to go given the light onshore breeze was lifting off the sea to go over the land. Watching our SOG closely to try to judge how much tide to avoid, we worked our way down to St Cats. It did look like there were not many boats in front of us, but we assumed at this stage that the early starters must have just got away on the last of the gradient wind and we were not going to see them.

The usual route at St Cats is as close inshore as you dare, as there is significant adverse tide. However, there was a large shiny patch extending up to a mile offshore, no apparent explanation, but we had seen a couple of boats flirt with it and stop dead. The bulk of the fleet went for speed and headed out into the channel on starboard. As we approached, it looked like the shiny patch was reducing and we decided to gybe early, just skirt the shiny patch and try to get the inshore tide relief. It turned out we were luckier than we could imagine. Not only did we manage to keep moving in the right direction, but the boats that went offshore found there was never a good route back towards land and were stuck on a long track all the way to Bembridge Ledge buoy on the eastern end of the island.

the forts at eastern end of SolentAs we passed along the south coast of the island, we alternated between the Southwest sea breeze and the building Southeasterly. Each time they clashed, there was a 1/4-mille dead patch to try to cross. There were several kite up, kite down, kite up events with out any change in heading.

By the time we rounded Bembridge Ledge, we were in a steady Southeast breeze and still with the A2 up, we gybed up the eastern shore of the island. There are several traps for the unwary here, especially as everyone is a bit jaded by this point.

There are a series of Napoleonic Forts, circular structures built in the water, and now converted into exclusive hotels. These “guard” the entrance to the Solent, but there is a small gap in the underwater wall connecting Horse Sand fort to the island marked by a red post. (We are not red right returning here!). There is just enough water to sneak through and minimize the tide, and then you have to avoid Ryde Sands along the northeastern shore of the island.

The SE breeze was still with us until we passed Ryde. We could see that the breeze had held for a Class 40 that took a route close inshore all the way to Osbourne Bay and we wanted to go that way, but there were some bigger boats that we could not afford to get to leeward of and so worked our way down the shallow water to the north of the island without getting too far inshore. By now, the more westerly weather stations in the Solent were showing 10-15 kts of wind from the west, while we were in 2-5 kts of SE. Some of the fleet headed north to try to reach the new wind first, but they struggled to get through the boundary shut down and had a lot of adverse tide.

We stayed with the boats on the Island side, hoping that we would be able to get through the 100m or so of absolute flat calm in reasonable time. We could see the new wind coming and had watched it develop for nearly an hour. When the change came, we barely had time to get the kite off deck and wished we had been braver to call for the J2 rather than leave the J1 rigged. We only had a couple of miles to go to the finish by now and figured we would make the best of it.

We lost out to a Class 40 and a Class 0 boat that had taken a more northerly route on the finish line, missing 8th place by only a few seconds. However 10th over the line in the largest yacht race in the world is a once in a life time moment!!

The bacon baguettes went down really well; wrapped in foil in a thermal bag they kept nicely warm for a couple of hours. The new A0/3 is still in its bag! We sailed 3 sides of the island with the A2 spinnaker, never done that before! But, there is no substitute for looking for the good breeze and a nice helping of good luck.”

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