North Sails NEWS


North Sails’ Shane Hughes, Trimmer on Jelvis, Checks In From the UK’s First International J70 Event


© Paul Wyeth

The 2017 J70 Europeans came to the UK shores for the first time and what a baptism of fire for the area’s first International J70 event! With all racing held in winds averaging 20 knots plus, the event put the 43 teams to the test, along with the Race Committee and support staff at the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble.

The Royal Southern is well used to running world-class international events but even they would find the conditions difficult to handle. PRO Stuart Childerly and his team did a great job of balancing fleet safety and getting enough races in to have a good and fair regatta.

The first race day was scheduled for Tuesday but with the 25 knots wind limit consistently being broken with much higher gusts, the decision was taken out of the Race Committee’s hands – no racing for the day.

Wednesday morning brought similar conditions but with an earlier start time (brought forward one hour) the event got off to an exhilarating start. Racing on the hill head plateau, the South Westerly winds were near the limit and a left to right west-going tide made for a challenging race course, with crews focused on holding a lane to the left. This requires speed! Luckily, it was fairly apparent that a couple of boats had brought plenty of that. The Italian defending champions Petite Terrible (Claudia Rossi) immediately punched out of the fleet, as did Peter Duncan’s Relative Obscurity.

Conditions remained right on the class wind limits for the second race. This time the Spaniards on Noticia took the win from Petite Terrible with Calypso, a British team with Sebastian Ripard at the helm coming in third. Already a pattern was emerging with a couple of the top teams showing consistency.

Petite Terrible showed very solid upwind speed and electric pace downwind where they were consistently the fastest boat.

Myself and Ruairidh Scott were onboard Jelvis with Martin Dent and we were happy to finish the day with a couple of 4th places. Our speed upwind and down was proving quite competitive using the standard North Sails XCS mainsail, J-2 jib and AP-1 spinnaker. We were also sticking to the current North Sails tuning numbers and found the settings to be quite versatile in the choppy and windy conditions. Unsurprisingly, it was noticeable that all the top performers were on the heavier end of the crew weight spectrum.

Day 3 and it was beginning to feel like Groundhog Day…. more wind, more waves and four races scheduled. The Spanish really put down their marker with a 1-2-1-2 score line. Almost equally impressive was Petite Terrible’s 2-3-2-1 score line. By this point in the regatta, these two teams had separated themselves from the trailing pack and were lining up for the Euro’s title. Our team on Jelvis and Peter Duncan’s Relative Obscurity had reasonable days to finish in a tie for 3rd overall.

Final day’s racing and you guessed it… more wind! With the top two set to duke it out, the battle was on for third place between Jelvis and Relative Obscurity. As it turned out the American boat had a stellar day posting a 2-1-1 to almost pull themselves into 2nd place. It was an unfortunate last day on Jelvis, the rudder broke in the penultimate race forcing us to retire from that and the final race. This dropped us down to 6th overall which was a little frustrating to say the least.

Back up front, the Italians were closing out the event in style. A 1-4-2 score line on the last day was more than enough to see them retain their Europeans crown. Their full North Sails inventory drove them to victory with seriously impressive boat speed – certainly this team will be one to watch in Porto Cervo later this year at the World Championships.

The 2017 Worlds are certain to see some of the most exciting and close racing the class has experienced thus far.


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