Bill Kneller’s (Newport, R.I.) Vento Solare crosses behind John Gowell’s (East Greenwich, R.I.) Temptress at last year’s Ida Lewis Distance Race. Fifty one teams have entered the 14th edition of the annual offshore adventure, which starts this Friday at 12:30 p.m. between Fort Adams and Rose Island. (Photo by Stephen Cloutier)

 

With 51 teams registered to compete, the 2018 Ida Lewis Distance Race will create quite the spectacle of sail when it starts at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (August 17) between Fort Adams and Rose Island. Prior to the gun, Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s Race Committee will decide – based on weather forecasts and sea conditions – which of four courses will be used in this 14th edition of the yearly round-trip offshore adventure.

“The courses range from 112 to 169 nautical miles and incorporate such iconic waypoints as Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower,” said Race Chairman Pat Kennedy. “They are chosen with the best intention of having the fleet finish within 18-24 hours.”

Twenty teams on the roster show as hailing from Rhode Island, with many local sailors also sprinkled in amongst the out-of-town entries from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and as far away as Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana. Newport’s own Ken Read, a Volvo Ocean Race veteran and sailing world champion several times over, will take his place aboard the TP52 Spookie, whose captain is Newport’s Ben Quatromoni. Co-skippering the boat will be Miami’s Mark Watson and owner Steve Benjamin, who splits his time between Norwalk, Conn., and Jamestown, R.I. and has skippered in the race four times. “It’s one of my favorites,” said Benjamin, who last won in 2016. “I particularly like the challenge of deciding which side to take Block Island on the leg from Vineyard Tower to Montauk.” About his competition in the 15-boat IRC division Benjamin added: “Since the Bermuda Race, we know that both Privateer and Dreamcatcher are very fast.”

Privateer is Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) canting keel Cookson 50 that has made a name for itself throughout New England, and Dreamcatcher is a Swan 48 sailed by Stonington Connecticut’s Mudratz Offshore Program. The team won its class in the Newport to Bermuda Race and has joined the Ida Lewis Distance Race roster as a Youth Entry, which requires at least 40% of a crew to be within a certain age range to qualify. Middletown, R.I.’s Andy Burton will also field a Youth Entry in the five-boat PHRF Cruising Spinnaker class aboard his newly obtained Baltic 47Masquerade, while Young American YCC, will represent the Young American Sailing Academy of Rye, N.Y. as a Youth Entry in the 27-boat PHRF division. The team won its class here last year. “

We had a great time despite the fact it was really windy,” said Young American YCC’s coach Peter Becker. “The kids loved it and have sea stories to tell about surfing right through the lee of boats significantly larger than us.” This year, Newport’s Joe Cooper will stand in as coach aboard Young American YCC while Becker sails with the Academy’s second entry Gambler, a Reichel/Pugh 63 provided by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation. The team, entered in IRC division, is preparing for next year’s Transatlantic Race and qualifies as both a Youth and Collegiate Entry, the latter of which also has an age requirement for 40% of the crew.

Oakcliff Sailing of Oyster Bay, N.Y. will send no less than three Collegiate teams on Farr 40s that the organization uses for its sailing training programs. “Offshore racing is definitely what I came to do at Oakcliff,” said 24-year-old Brian Reilly (Mahopat, N.Y.) who will skipper Oakcliff Farr 40 Black. “I heard this race is a good time and I should do it.” His friend, the 17-year-old Jo Riley (Marion, Mass.), who will skipper Oakcliff Farr 40 Red, has sailed on a winning boat three times in the Ida Lewis Distance Race. “I definitely like it,” said Riley. “It’s a one-night sprint. You hunker down, go full throttle, and there’s no slacking off.”

Portsmouth, R.I.’s Paul Grimes, who has sailed the event four times on his J/35 Breakaway, hasn’t officially entered as a Collegiate Entry in PHRF division, but he’ll definitely be bringing along some local-area college sailing ringers, including his son Alden Grimes, who sails for Bodin College, Adrian van der Wal (Northeastern), Victoria Boatwright (Georgetown), and Collin Moffett (Princeton).

Newport’s Bill Kneller has skippered in the race every year since 2015 on his J/109 Vento Solare, with friends who sail with him regularly in the Tuesday night Jamestown Yacht Club race series. “We haven’t made the podium yet but are getting better each year,” he said. “Last year we were one of only 20 boats that endured the weather and finished the race.”

In the four-boat Doublehanded division, David Southwell (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) will be sailing the race for the first time in Alchemy, a J/121 that is new to him this year. His crew Stuart MacNeil has never sailed a doublehanded race before and this will only be Southwell’s second time to do so. “I’m preparing for the Bermuda One Two next year by doing shorthanded and solo races and deliveries. We’re really looking forward to this!”

Other defending champions are the father/son team of Stephen Murray Sr. and Stephen Murray Jr. (Metairie, Louisiana) aboard the Volvo 70 Warrior, the largest boat in the fleet, and Brian Cunha (Newport, R.I.) aboard the Ker 55 Irie 2.

Ida Lewis Yacht Club will host the skipper’s meeting and social on Thursday, August 16. A Sunset Awards Party at the club will celebrate the conclusion of racing on Saturday, August 18.

With the Mirabaud Bol d’Or now behind them and the Maxi Trimaran ready for competition, the Spindrift Racing Team is back in training mode, and Yann Guichard and his crew have today set off to complete a Transatlantic passage between two world sailing hub – La Trinite’-Sur-Mer in Brittany and Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

The crew of twelve met at Spindrift racing’s base in St Philibert on Friday 15 June and a few hours later, left for their 3000-mile training sail between France and the United States. While the Atlantic is well known to all of the sailors onboard, it provides a great place to train as it offers constantly varied and changing weather situations. In this way the crew will have an excellent opportunity to, once again get back into the rhythm of sailing the world’s largest trimaran as the team prepares for their upcoming Jules Verne Trophy attempt.

The benefits of getting back out on the water and sailing for a longer period are not lost on Yann Guichard: “In sailing, you continue to learn, from the first day through to the last, and the more we sail the better we will get. A transatlantic can be a very effective exercise, and offers much more than single training days in the bay of Quiberon. Sailing these longer passages allows us to set goals for the longer term, to strengthen our teamwork and especially to get some sea miles under our belt.

However, there is a double objective to this crossing. The first is team oriented: “This is not the final crew for the Jules Verne but a transat offers us the opportunity to test new people whose profile can bring something to a world record attempt. I place a lot of importance on team work and my choice of crew, and it is important that any new recruit fits in with the group as a whole. We are sailing with 12 crew, which includes seven sailors that form the core of Spindrift racing and who have been with me almost since the beginning,” commented Yann.

The second objective is “to get as much data and analytics from Spindrift 2 in her new configuration as possible. This year, she has been fitted with her original mast that we shortened and adapted for the 2014 Route du Rhum. As the mast is smaller than our previous one, the team will have to adapt and make some changes in how we sail. So far we have not sailed much with our new rig, so by adapting both technically and physically, we can be as prepared as possible for the challenge that awaits us at the end of the year,” explained the skipper.

With the black and gold team now enroute, it is expected that they will sail south towards the Canaries so as to “find the conditions that are as similar as possible to the reaching conditions that we would find on a World tour,” concluded Yann.

Spindrift 2 is expected to arrive in Newport on about 23 June.

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

 

NEWPORT, RI (May 8, 2018) – A 5,700 nautical mile race leg from Itajai, Brazil to Newport finished off Fort Adams State Park this morning with a come-from-behind win of Leg 8 by MAPFRE in the global Volvo Ocean Race. Just a day ago, MAPFRE was in fifth place. As Tuesday morning dawned in New England and delivered “pea-soup” fog and light winds, MAPFRE inched ahead of Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing. The final hours were a slow battle for the exhausted sailors as they also were pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backward.

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

After nearly 16 days of racing, the margin between MAPFRE who finished at 6:44 a.m., and Team Brunel, was only 1-minute and 1-second. The local crowd cheered on all of the race boats that dramatically popped out of the dense fog one-by-one in close succession, but had an especially warm welcome for third-place winners and hometown sailors Charlie Enright (Bristol, RI) and Newport’s Nick Dana and crew onboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “We didn’t start great, but we feel like we sailed pretty well for the middle two-thirds of the leg. Then with some positive input from some local knowledge, we end up back on the podium which is great.” Newport is a homecoming for Enright and Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as for Mark Towill (Hawaii) who did his college sailing at Brown University in nearby Providence, RI. “It’s awesome here,” Enright said. “It’s 0600 local time here, and the amount of boats out is absurd. The amount of effort put in by Sail Newport and the stopover here is amazing.”  The fleet then finished in the order of Dongfeng Race Team, AkzoNobel, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Check the full scoreboard here.

Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, and Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport celebrate the ribbon cutting with the Volvo Ocean race Albatross mascot (Photo © George Bekris)

Rhode Island Welcomes the International Event to the City-by-the-Sea In contrast to the morning’s chilly fog finish, the weather improved to a picture-perfect day with sunny skies and warm temperatures for the official kick-off of the Race Village. The backdrop for the opening ceremony was the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle which arrived and docked next to the race boats earlier this morning.

The Opening Ceremony was launched with an international Parade of Nations with country flags representing sailors’ home countries, carried by local youth. The parade started at the welcome arch and marched past the Team Bases through the Race Village. The U.S.C.G. Navy Band performed as did the Navy Band Northeast.

 

 

Also, salutes were operated by the Newport Artillery Company. The Harris Family Dance Troupe of The Narragansett Tribal Nation performed for the crowds as well. In addition, The Rogers High School Junior ROTC also joined in the opening festivities.

 

 

The Race Village is now open every day through May 20. The full schedule of events is listed on the website.

 

Tomorrow, May 9, the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle will host free public tours between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Admission to the Race Village for the entire event. Parking is free tomorrow.

 

Barque Eagle (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Speaker Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport, opened the ceremony welcoming the Volvo Ocean Race’s only North American Stopover to Newport. He said that the event has been in the planning stages for three years.

 

Brad Read (Photo © George Bekris)

Read also thanked the many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and city and state agencies and professionals who helped win the original bid for the Stopover in 2015 and plan for today’s opening. Read also recognized the nearly 700 volunteers that will work the event over the next 13 days.

 

 

Governor Gina Raimondo spoke and welcomed the international visitors to the Ocean State and acknowledged the coordination of many state agencies to help welcome the event to Rhode Island. Janet Coit, director of the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management, Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, Eagle Captain Matt Meilstrup, Volvo Ocean Race Operations Director Peter Ansell also made welcoming remarks. Dignitaries also attending the ceremony included: Newport City Council Vice Chair, Lynn Underwood.

To follow the racing and events check out the latest at Volvo Ocean Race.

 #VOR #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #SailNewport #Newport #FortAdams
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Spanish team MAPFRE stunned the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Tuesday morning by stealing a win in Leg 8, with a shocking come-from-behind victory into Newport, Rhode Island.

On Monday, with just 300 miles to go, MAPFRE was in fifth place.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May
(Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

As Tuesday morning dawned, and with the fleet ghosting towards the finish line in extremely light and shifty winds, Xabi Fernández’s team was among the leading quartet, battling in slow motion with Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

And even when the leaders were just 500 metres from the finish line, MAPFRE was still trailing Team Brunel as the pair emerged from the fog within sight of the spectators at the Fort Adams Race Village.

But on approach to the final turning mark, MAPFRE picked up a zephyr of wind to sneak past Brunel and claim what just moments earlier would have been seen as a very improbable leg win.

“This is unbelievable,” skipper Xabi Fernández admitted moments after crossing the finish line. “I can’t be happier. We were always hoping to come back a little bit but to be honest we were not expecting to win this leg, so we’re super happy.

“Our hopes were always that there would be a compression so we could catch someone… Last night has been crazy how much everything has closed up and everyone on board did an amazing job.”

Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel, who had been leading for most of the past week after the equator crossing took a well-deserved second place finish.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team, who had been ahead of the fleet on the approach to the east coast overnight Monday night, suffered the cruellest fate over the final miles.

Every break seemed to go against Charles Caudrelier’s team and after being in position to claim the leg win, the team had to settle for fourth place with Vestas 11th Hour Racing storming past Caudrelier’s crew in the final mile of the leg.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vesta 11th Hour Racing. “We didn’t start great but we feel like we sailed pretty well for the middle two-thirds of the leg… Then with some positive input from some local knowledge, we end up back on the podium which is great.”

Newport is a homecoming for Enright and Nick Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as Mark Towill who did his college sailing nearby.

“It’s awesome here,” Enright said. “It’s 0600 local time here and the amount of boats out is absurd. The amount of effort put in by Sail Newport and the stopover here is amazing.”

The final hours were painful for the exhausted sailors but extraordinary to watch. With the wind nearly shutting down overnight on the approach to Newport, the fleet found itself pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backwards, away from the finish line.

This meant there was a high degree of uncertainty. Positions were never secure until the finish line was breached by MAPFRE. No one suffered more in the final miles than Dongfeng’s Caudrelier.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “We were dreaming about a victory here… But it makes me angry and I will be better on the next one. I am already focussed on the future and I promise Dongfeng will do a fantastic job on the next one.”

The shocking win by MAPFRE has a huge impact on the overall race leaderboard where MAPFRE has regained the lead from Dongfeng, and now sits three points clear at the head of the table. Brunel retains the third podium position.

The light winds near the finish resulted in a massive compression in the fleet, all the way back to SHK/Scallywag who were trailing the leaders by over 130 miles just one day ago. But as MAPFRE crossed the finish line on Tuesday morning, David Witt’s team was less than 20 miles behind.

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Leg 8
Itajaí to Newport
8 May 2018
Positions at: 14:04 UTC
DTL nm GAIN_LOSS STS SPE CO TW T DTF
1 MAPF ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:44:29
2 TBRU ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:45:30
3 VS11 ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:59:04
4 DFRT ARV Elapsed time: 15d 18:25:21
5 AKZO ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:21:22
6 TTOP ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:24:14
7 SHKS ARV Elapsed time: 15d 20:56:52
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Extras Total
1 MAPF 6 7 14 4 1 5 6 7 3 53
2 DFRT 5 6 12 6 1 4 12 4 50
3 TBRU 2 4 8 3 1 2 14 6 2 42
4 AKZO 4 3 2 5 1 7 10 3 1 36
5 VS11 7 5 10 0 0 0 0 5 1 28
6 SHKS 3 2 6 7 1 6 0 1 1 27
7 TTOP 1 1 4 2 1 3 8 2 22
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018.
(Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Team Brunel were on the brink of Leg 8 victory on Monday as they led the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards Newport, USA, with a 14-mile advantage.

The Dutch crew, skippered by esteemed round the world yachtsman Bouwe Bekking, were speeding up after making it through a light wind patch lying 200 miles from the finish line ahead of their rivals.

At 0700 UTC their lead had been reduced to just seven miles, pressed hard by Franco-Chinese outfit Dongfeng Race Team, but by 1300 the new breeze had allowed them to double that.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel had just 182.2 miles to go at the 1300 UTC position update, having led the fleet on the 5,600-mile leg from Itajai, Brazil, since exiting the Doldrums a week ago.

If Brunel were to hang on it would be their second consecutive stage win having taken the top spot in Leg 7.

However, despite Brunel’s lead, helmsman Kyle Langford is predicting a photo finish.

“There’s going to be plenty of action on deck and not a lot of sleep,” he said. “It’s going to be all on for the last 24 hours.”

Across the fleet the crews were today preparing for one last big push.

“We now have 30 hours of hard work, strong winds, light winds, big transitions and lots of   sail changes,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

“All the team is in inshore mode and on standby. We have to keep this second place or pass Team Brunel, but ahead of us we face a very tricky situation and there are lots of options and maybe a re-start in light air in 12 hours’ time.

“We need maximum concentration. There is maximum stress on board but we are happy to arrive in this fantastic place for a stopover.”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Having climbed through the fleet over the past few days, at 1300 UTC MAPFRE had overhauled Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic in the rankings to move into third.

It’s a cruel blow for Turn the Tide on Plastic crew, who have pushed for the top spot all leg and led at times, but skipper Dee Caffari said she wouldn’t stop fighting until the finish.

“It’s disappointing but there are still opportunities,” she said. “The wind is starting to fill, and it’s not over yet.”

The Volvo Ocean Race tracker will remain live until the end of the leg, showing race fans the exact positions of the fleet as they battle for Leg 8 glory.

The latest ETA for the leading boats is 0600 – 1000 UTC at the moment.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

A view of a recent Newport Bermuda Race send-off for Class 3 of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

The 195 boats that submitted entries before the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race“application for entry” deadline are anchored by the usual excellent turnout of nearly 150 cruiser- and cruiser/racer-style boats sailing in the St. David’s Lighthouse and Finisterre (Cruiser) divisions. The race, which is co-organized by The Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, offers several other divisions for different types of boats and competitors, which truly makes this event seven races in one.

While some pre-start attrition is normal when a fleet faces 635 ocean miles across the Gulf Stream, a diverse fleet of 180 to 190 boats should cross the line on June 15th, crewed by a mix of both professional and amateur sailors. That would make it the biggest fleet since 2010, when 193 boats finished the race.

Among the entries in St. David’s and Finisterre divisions, the 2016 success of youth sailors guided by adult advisors aboard High Noon (link) has led to four entries by youth teams in 2018. There will also be new divisions of Multihulls and Superyachts, which have added seven boats to the fleet, the largest of which is the 112-foot Sparkman & Stephens design, Kawil.

Another key to the high entry total is the 20 boats entered in the Gibbs Hill Division, which is for high-performance racing boats that in many cases are steered and crewed professionally. Recognizing advances in offshore racing technology, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee allowed entry this year by boats carrying water-ballasting systems and certain types of canting keels. In past years, Gibbs Hill typically has drawn 10 to 15 entries; in 2016, based on the high winds forecast in the days before the race, all of the Gibbs Hill entries elected not to compete.

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

“The BROC remains committed to the value of the race as an adventure and participation for its own sake,” says Jonathan Brewin, the event chairman and past commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “The race is different than many competitions; it’s a chance to compete for an array of permanent trophies and be part of a history going back to 1906,” says Brewin, “but above all it’s a chance to challenge oneself and one’s crew to prepare to compete safely offshore at the highest level.”

 

Newport Bermuda Race Start (Photo by George Bekris)

The introduction of a Multihull Division was three years in development, and based on the standards adopted for 2018, not every multihull will be eligible to compete. Collaborating with an experienced cadre of multihull designers and sailors, the Cruising Club of America’s safety committee developed new ocean-racing safety standards for participating multihulls and set more rigorous safety training requirements than for monohull crews. In addition, the BROC collaborated with the Offshore Racing Association to create a new VPP handicap system for multihulls (ORR-MH) that was successfully tested in the 2017 Transpac Race.

See BermudaRace.com for news updates on the race. See Official Notice Board for current list of entries.

Genuine Risk At Start Of Bermuda Race (Photo by George Bekris )

Hanuman © George Bekris

After winning Tuesday’s 20 nautical miles opening race, Hanuman paired an initial fourth place to victory in the second of the two windward-leeward races today. They open up their leading margin at the J Class World Championship in Newport RI to three points ahead of the consistent Lionheart which has scored now three third places.

Although Hanuman lead across the finish line at the conclusion of a thrillingly tight first windward-leeward of the day, so closely were the chasing pack snapping at their heels that they dropped to fourth on corrected time. Topaz won their first race ever when they held off Velsheda by just seven seconds, while Lionheart’s margin for third over Hanuman was just two seconds.

There was not as much doubt in the second contest. After breaking clear of Velsheda which were overlapped with them at the first windward mark they gradually eked out their lead to finish one minute and 17 seconds ahead of the championship’s sole ‘original’ J Class.

The SW breeze came in on cue at between nine and 14kts, the second race starting at 1535hrs was the windier of the two. There were more than enough shifts in wind direction and pressure to keep the contests tight and even. Topaz battled back from sixth at the top mark in the first race to make a wholesale gain on the right, west side of the second upwind leg, tailgating Hanuman around the final turn, a gain orchestrated by local Newport ace Tony Rey in concert with tactician Ross McDonald.

While Hanuman carried on to the right after a conventional bear away, a nicely executed gybe set cashed in Topaz’s gain against a frustrating small error by Hanuman. But the hugely experienced Hanuman team, lead by skipper-helm Kenny Read, sailed smart and clean for their victory in the second race.

“There was a moment I think in the second race after the top mark where Jim and Kirsty Clark and myself all caught each others’ eyes and all three of us at the same time exhaled loudly at the same time, like, ‘Phew this is close!’ Such great sailboat racing.” Said Read on dock at the Newport Shipyard.

The opening upwind legs were gripping, no one side or the other paying an obvious dividend. Hanuman won out from the game of patience played between the four boats on the middle left of the first beat in the first race. But after having had to tack away to the right from a slowed, understandably cautious start at the signal boat, it was Velsheda which lead Hanuman around the first mark but then lost out to Hanuman and to Lionheart at the bottom of the run. Topaz’s comeback on the second beat was the foundation of their win, but it was the kite set which made the difference.

“The real key move was our hoist at the top mark which prevented Hanuman from gybing. To get the first win for the boat at these world championship is great for the while team and for the owner.” Peter Holmberg, helmsman of Topaz, said. Since being launched in 2015, Topaz has only raced at the Saint Barth’s Bucket regatta in the Caribbean twice, in 2016 and this year, before competing at both the Bermuda J Class events in June.

In fact Topaz lead the world championship after Race 2 but blotted their copybook when they had to take an expensive penalty on the first beat of the next race for tacking in front of Lionheart, going on to finish sixth, “One of my plans for this regatta was to avoid the stupid things, the big results. I don’t get to look much because these boats are so hard to steer I am just driving, so I did not really see what was happening until it was too late.”

Hanuman’s crew work was slick, pushing their sail handling technology to the maximum. Hanuman in particular successfully run with a furling headsail and with a dousing sock on their massive spinnakers.

Read comments: “The sock has bailed us out of a couple of tight spots. There is a fine line between the helmsman getting a little too greedy and reality. Listen it is give or take with a few metres at some marks between whether you are first or fourth. It all helps. A lot of the boats that are successful in this class have had their same crew for years and these guys do such a great job. We put them in ridiculously bad spots sometimes and they pull it off time and again. That is on the crew.”

He concludes, “This full on. Whoever would have thought that boats like these would be going like this at these speeds. You have to put a lot of trust in everybody. We have 25 crew and every person has a very specific job and if one person does not do their job this thing can fall apart in two seconds.”

In this fleet Hanuman’s three point lead is nothing, winners of the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta Lionheart are poised in second and Velsheda lie third, having been second and first at the first turn of today’s races.

For Thursday, the third racing day of the first ever J Class World Championship, the forecast is for lighter airs before the breezes are set to strengthen once more for Friday and Saturday.

RESULTS

Also on the dock at the Newport Shipyard is JH2 Rainbow

The International Maxi Association (IMA)
The International Maxi Association (IMA) represents the owners of Maxi yachts from all over the world. Recognised in 2010 as the World Sailing international class of Maxi yachts, the IMA is uniquely entitled to organise official sanctioned World championships for Maxi yachts. The IMA now has 70 members from all over the world, and more than a dozen honorary members including Gianfranco Alberini, who for more than 30 years was Secretary General of the Association up until his death in June 2013. The current President of the IMA is Thomas Bscher, owner of the Wally 107 Open Season, while Secretary General is Andrew McIrvine, also Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

The IMA is registered in Geneva, has a base in Porto Cervo and an office in the UK, for rating and technical matters. With two affiliated classes (Maxi 72s, and, since 2017, the J Class) and one associated class (Wally Class), the IMA intends to “guide and structure maxi yacht racing. The IMA rule defines and categorises maxi yachts: it aims to embrace all maxi yachts and as such follows, instigates and encourages developments that are deemed to have a positive effect on the construction and racing of maxi-sized boats.” (www.internationalmaxiassociation.com)

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Cloudy Bay Vineyards
Cloudy Bay was established in 1985 by David Hohnen, a pioneer and visionary, who was convinced of New Zealand wines’ great potential. The winery was among the first five to be established in Marlborough, the country’s finest wine region, and is now highly regarded for the superlative quality and consistency of its wines. Thirty years later, Cloudy Bay remains New Zealand’s most recognized winery. Sauvignon blanc is the estate’s flagship grape variety. Cloudy Bay also produces a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a delicately sparkling wine, Pelorus. Cloudy Bay belongs to the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group. For more information, log on www.cloudybay.co.nz/

PARTNERS:

North Sails Group
North Sails, the largest division of North Technology Group, is the world leader in sailmaking technology. North Sails holds the patent for 3Di, a unique composite construction process that produces high-performance sails that approach the shape holding of a rigid foil. North Sails is the sailmaker of choice on the majority of America’s Cup, Grand Prix, ocean race boats and Superyachts. North Sails offers a wide range of performance 3D and paneled sails for cruising sailors and is the world’s leading sailmaker for one-design classes with more National, World and Olympic Class victories than all other sailmakers combined.

Peters & May Global Boat Transport: 
Peters & May Global Boat Transport, part of the Peters & May Group, ships over 4,000 yachts and motorboats of all weights and dimensions annually for private individuals and manufacturers. The company has its own specialist boat loaders and surveyors, custom shipping cradles, lifting equipment and has developed close working relationships with ship owners for optimum vessel safety and security. Peters & May has provided bespoke logistics solutions by sea, road, rail and air since 1973. A preferred supplier to many manufacturers, Peters & May supports organisations, individuals and leisure clients with an added value, bespoke and reliable ISO 9001 accredited logistics and consultancy solution. With wholly owned offices in the UK, USA, France, Spain, Hong Kong, China, Italy, and Germany and partnership arrangements in Turkey, Australia, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand, South America, Belgium and Russia, the company’s reach and capabilities are truly global. Peters & May takes pride in exceeding client expectations with its attention to detail and a personal service that only an independent can deliver. For more information visit http://www.petersandmay.com/services/global-boat-transport

Zorab Insurance Services
For over 25 years the team at ZIS have provided their insurance expertise to the marine, property and corporate sectors, for some of the most discerning clients in the world. ZIS have an international reach and combining their own experience with unmatched technical knowledge, their dedication and level of service to each specialized sector is unparalleled. ZIS have a long-standing history in insurance and a unique enthusiasm for their work. ZIS are immensely proud to be a partner of the J Class Association. The Association is essential for safeguarding this iconic part of sailing history. The sight of the J Class yachts on the water is an inspiring spectacle that transcends generations. ZIS not only support the aims of the association, but share the passion for sailing and commitment to the preservation of the J Class tradition. For more information visit http://zis.co.uk/

 

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Hanuman Day 1 Winner (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Hanuman, skippered and steered by local ace Ken Read with his brother Brad among the afterguard, stole the show on a spectacular opening day of the first ever J Class World Championship on the waters of Newport, Rhode Island where J Class yachts made their America’s Cup debut way back in 1930 and where the Reads cut their teeth in competitive sailing.

Hanuman lead from the first mark around a 20 nautical miles ‘Navigators Course’. When challenged by the newest J Class yacht in the fleet Svea, which is guided by wily America’s Cup Stars & Stripes veterans Peter Isler and Tom Whidden, Hanuman fought back downwind with smooth, well executed manoeuvres. When they took their well earned winning gun, Hanuman were extending into the mist, stepping clear of a spirited scrap over places second to sixth,

“That was one of the very coolest sailboat races I have ever been in my entire life.” Newport born and bred Ken Read enthused, “Honestly, it had everything. Home town. Gybing and tacking around all the little nooks and crannies, such a great crowd of boats out there watching. That is what we always hoped this regatta would show, how special this can be. And I am sure it did just that.”

“It was fun and special having my brother Brad on board. This whole team has been working for this for years and also to see the smile on Jim and Kristy’s faces today. It was just great.”

The opening race of the inaugural J Class World Championship delivered it all, spectacle, majesty, close competition over a decent length course and just enough drama. The New York Yacht Club race team took full advantage of the forecast for a building, pre frontal breezes to sail a spectacular, tight coastal course up and back under the Newport-Jamestown bridge, checking off in turn historical local landmarks made famous over the dozen editions of the America’s Cup raced here, entrancing the huge spectator fleet and treating the viewers who crowded the headlands and car parks that fringed the course to the close, spectacular competition they turned out for.

The fleet of six J Class yachts revelled in the perfect flat water and brisk 14-18kt SW’ly breezes. Places were traded back and forth throughout the fleet from first mark to the last. The sun split through the hazy cloud cover at key moments. Ranger shut out Velsheda at the windward end of the start line and with nowhere to go Velsheda clipped the signal boat. Harrying Hanuman around the first top mark Svea – in just their fifth ever J Class race – split their kite on a botched hoist, forcing them to make their first ever in line spinnaker peel. Double winners in Bermuda Lionheart came from behind on the beat to the finish, holding west of Gould Island, enjoying a huge starboard tack lift which got them back up to a useful third. There were even a pod of dolphins out to play around the bows of Ranger and Topaz early on the first 3.5 nautical miles beat.

The 20 nautical miles course was essentially a short upwind to a laid mark followed by a long run north against the ebb, funnelled spectacularly under the centre span of the bridge. Their choice of the Castle Hill, right side of the run looking downwind, prompted in part by their kite problems, yielded a useful dividend in tidal relief for Svea and they were all but leading as they passed Fort Adams, until Hanuman again eased away at the next gybe.

“The boat was going well.” Read confirmed, “We got out a bit of a jam off the start line. Being able to hang off Lionheart was key to start. Lionheart has been a very high pointing boat for a while. Being able to hang there until almost to layline was critical for us. And then once we got clear air we let the boat do its thing. It is a bit like a horse race, you let the horse do its thing. We picked the right jib, on the number two, a couple of the boats had bigger jibs and I think that the trimmers did a spectacular job, the communication was good. It was just fun.”

Asked if there was any local knowledge contributing to their win, Read said,
“Actually no, we nearly lost out to Svea on the right of the run. But actually we talked about it, Brad said ‘if we were by ourselves that is what we’d do, but we were not. But it is the first race of the world championship and everybody gybed away and so ‘don’t be an idiot’ we stayed with the pack. Svea made a six boat length gain but we picked the right kite (symmetrical), we gained a length or so on every gybe against the asymmetrics and on the last beat we just sailed smart.”

For the Svea team which only put their rig back in the boat just over a week ago after having their Bermuda J Class America’s Cup halted by a forestay problem after just two races, second place today was a welcome reward. The newest, biggest J ever shows great speed but they are still early on the learning curve when it comes to smooth, effective manoeuvres compared to the teams polished by more than five years of J Class racing.

Svea’s tactician and project manager Charlie Ogletree commented, “We are happy to get a second and start the series with a good result, a ‘keeper’ and we learned a lot today. That was our first spinnaker peel in anger after tearing our kite on the set. We took so long to get the peel done we were committed, we had discussed it but the boat handling pushed us in that direction.”

“There was less current down that side, staying close to Castle Rock, we had good local knowledge, some good navigating from Peter Isler. We changed our tactics towards the end to consolidate against Lionheart. Downwind we are quick and upwind we are still learning our modes.”

After being bounced around downwind Lionheart made the most of their recovery up the beat and were pressing Svea hard to the line losing out by just five seconds on corrected time. Tactician Bouwe Bekking, who has two of his Team Brunel Volvo crew on board Lionheart – and one from rivals MAPFRE – recalled, “It was a good day. We had a good start and squeezed off Hanuman and were in a good position when the breeze went too far to the left, the guys underneath us laid and we overstood and that is expensive in these boats. You crack the sheets and only go one or two tenths of a knot quicker.”

J Class World Championship
Race 1
1 Hanuman 2h 8m 13s
2 Svea 2h 10m 15s
3 Lionheart 2h 10m 20s
4 Topaz 2h 11m 37s
5 Ranger 2h 12m 4s
6 Velsheda 2h 10m 17s

 

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