by Ben Stack
After a long and frustrating wait at the dock, the third race in was postponed. A deep depression covered the area and with strong winds and torrential rain it was decided to re-run the race, if possible, on Saturday. The third race was critical for Velsheda, as Ranger held a 2-0 lead in the five race series.
Newport J Class Regatta
With Friday's racing postponed, two races were held on Saturday in bright skies with a strong 15 knot South Easterly into the Newport Harbour entrance. The first race began with Ranger holding a five boat length lead and the distance never really changed on the subsequent top spinnaker reach and run to the finish. Ranger won by 25 seconds with a small time correction, winning the J Class Newport Regatta with a 3:0 score with two races to go.
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Race four saw a repeat of the first start where Ranger managed to push Velsheda above the committee boat, then bear away to cross on time, leaving Velsheda to complete a slow gybe before crossing the line. Ranger had pulled out a massive four-minute lead by the top mark. The two yachts headed off with spinnakers pulling, into a bank of famous Newport fog before piping out later on the downwind leg, past the Castle Hill headland and New York Yacht Club, both packed with spectators. Velsheda slowly ground down the distance but was never really in contention, despite reducing the lead to a creditable 2 minutes 40 seconds.
Exciting series finale
The series’ final race was held in a light northerly breeze. The Race Officer bravely issued a course with a downwind start that passed the crowds of spectators off Fort Adams and Castle Hill.
Both yachts got away cleanly but Velsheda elected the pin end, closer to the next gate, and gained a quick advantage. A gybing duel followed but, after a few inside gybes, Ranger caught her spinnaker high in the rigging and it quickly split, losing her more ground on Velsheda.
Castle Hill - Newport J Class Regatta
At the bottom mark, Velsheda had gained a two-minute lead, enough for her to command the windward berth on the long slow upwind leg back to the shortened course finish line, right in front of the many spectators at Castle Hill.
The exciting tactical race was a fitting end to a great regatta where many thousands of spectators were enthralled by these magnificent yachts, commenting that; 'it was wonderful to see these boats from a past era', 'we could not believe the size and power of these yachts', 'The teamwork on these boats is astounding', and 'we cannot believe that they were designed and built in the 1930s'.
Corum Watches presented a wonderful perpetual trophy to Ranger, the overall winner, who also won a unique timepiece - a Corum Tide Watch.
The spectacular success of this series and the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the spectators truly shows that the J Class legend lives on, and the J's will be back in Newport in the future!
The next big J Class event is in Falmouth in June 2012 followed by The Solent in July 2012, finishing with the ‘hundred guinea cup’ race around the Isle of Wight on the original America’s cup course. More information on the Newport Regatta and the forthcoming Falmouth and Solent Regattas can be found on the website.
CRW 0010small - Newport J Class Regatta
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J Class Association website