J/109 European Championship preview – Ben Ainslie to skipper

J/109 Fleet Starting on crowded line- photo by Tim Wright- photoaction.com - J/109 European Championship
Tim Wright
The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta is based around a programme of rowing and sailing events, but also incorporates a busy programme of activities including air displays, fireworks, a large fair, and many other smaller events that happen in and around the town centre.

With nearly 100,000 people visiting Dartmouth during the Regatta period it makes Dartmouth Regatta one of the largest public events in the South West, and the second largest Regatta after Cowes Week.

With racing scheduled to take place from the 24-28 August over a mixture of windward/leeward, round the cans and a passage race to test both the boat handling skills and endurance of the crews. Dartmouth is ideally placed to attract J/109s from around the UK and Ireland in addition to the Channel Islands and France. The J/109 is the largest one-design yacht racing fleet in the UK and Ireland with 30-40 boats regularly racing at Cowes Week, the J/109 UK National Championships and the Irish National Championships in addition to strong international one-design fleets. Coupled with the active social programme, this is the ideal venue for the J/109 Euro Championship.

The J/109 built by J Boats features the popular carbon fibre retractable bowsprit and asymmetric spinnaker system and at 36 ft she carries a generous sail plan which results in a stable, proven performance yacht. Competitors at the 2011 Euro Championship include former National Champion Velvet Elvis (Adam and Helen Wright) who are fresh from their success at Cowes Week, twice National Champions and former Euro Champion J-Dream (David and Kirsty Apthorp) and the current Euro Champion BlueJay (Greg Burgess) who are keen to defend their title.

There are a couple of new boats to the fleet including Jason Romer from the Channel Islands who has chartered Levante and Kevin Taylor and Chris Copeland in JukeBox, but on Friday all eyes will be on the J/109 chartered by JP Morgan as they will have Ben Ainslie CBE onboard. Ben Ainslie is Britain's most successful Olympic sailor; in total he has won three gold medals and one silver. Ben's sailing achievements are unprecedented not only is he a triple Olympic gold medallist, he is also a nine times World champion, eight times European Champion and three times ISAF world sailor of the year. Ben has raced on another J Boat, the J/105 at the Allianz Cup in San Francisco back in 2006 when he had his first win on the match racing tour. He is currently the 2010 ISAF World Match Racing Champion. Even if the sun does not shine on Dartmouth this Bank Holiday Weekend the competition will be hot!

J/109s rounding congested leeward mark- photo by Tim Wright- photoaction.com - J/109 European Championship
Tim Wright

More J/109 Europeans sailing information here

More Ben Ainslie sailing team information at his website
http://www.sail-world.com/87626