by Becci Eplett
At AAM Cowes Week 2013, Ruairidh Scott, Charlie Cumbley, Hugh Fletcher and Matt Curthoys, the team on board the J/70 North Sails, were yesterday pronounced as the winners of the race series that everyone was talking about: the J/70 Short Series. The Jaques family were second in Django and Simon ‘Sling’ Ling and crew finished third in Team RAFBF Spitfire.
J70 North Sails
Almost exactly one year after the very first J/70 Sportsboat arrived in the UK, this brand new one-design fleet were offered a Class Start at AAM Cowes Week and better still, the J/70s were able to compete in two races each day from Saturday third of August to Tuesday sixth of August in the J/70 ‘Short Series’. The J/70s were the first fleet to start off the Squadron line each morning and then raced the second race from a committee boat start-line, finishing off Cowes. It was a race format which worked extraordinarily well for the fleet and which everyone agreed delivered great racing and superb competition.
Racing in the J/70 fleet at Cowes was both extremely close and incredibly exciting; in the first race on Sunday 60% of the fleet crossed the finish line in an 83 second period! It is clear the J/70 is not only great fun to sail but that the class delivers absolutely first rate competition. Heading into the AAM Cowes Week Short Series, the smart money may well have been on the North Sails team as they are the current J/70 UK National Champions, but as Ruairidh was the first to point out, the fleet is getting hotter and hotter all the time and the standard of sailing is improving at every event so it was far from an easy win.
J70 Winner Ruairidh Scott - Photo by Gemma Dunn - Cowes Week 2013 J/70 Short Series
Certainly Ruairidh and his team did not have things all their own way. The Jaques family team won two of the six races completed in Django (racing for all classes at Cowes was abandoned on Tuesday when the breeze failed to show up on the course) and kept the pressure on Ruairidh from the off, starting the regatta with a win in Race 1. Malcolm said ‘It made sense for Tristan to helm the boat and I slipped into the tactician’s role with my daughter Naomi doing navigation and strategy. Tristan is clearly a very quick driver but it’s not just that: his reactions are also faster than mine and that is crucial to success in this fleet. Tristan was able to really keep 100% of his focus on boat-speed’.
At the close of the series North Sails had notched up just six points, Django had eight on the score card and Team RAFBF Spitfire clocked 18. Ruairidh and his crew were clearly thrilled to have won.
Ruairidh explained ‘We’ve had a great regatta. We’ve certainly been under lots of pressure from the rest of the fleet at this event, especially Django, but my crew worked really hard and kept their focus from start to finish taking any little knock back in their stride.’ He continued ‘I would like to say hats off to the organisers for taking the decision to run two races a day. It has transformed the event for us: two shorter races really keep the interest levels up. The key elements of our success here at AAM Cowes Week include having good all round boat speed, a crew with a thorough knowledge of The Solent and 100% concentration from the whole team.’
Racing continues for the J/70 Class at AAM Cowes Week today although with the more traditional and relaxed ‘one race a day’ format. The next major event for the J/70 Class is the J-Cup later this month in Plymouth and then the UK teams will be packing their boats up and heading down to glorious Lake Garda for the J/70 Euro Champs in September.