by Ben Stack
A fantastic day of racing was watched by the thousands of spectators who took to the waters to see Ranger and Velsheda battle in the near perfect conditions of Newport Harbour - 16 knots southerly with sunshine.
Velsheda at the J Class Regatta in Newport (2011)
The two yachts circled and manoeuvred for the best position to cross the start line, laid across the bay from Fort Adams. Both got away cleanly but Ranger quickly got the advantage and covered Velsheda most of the way up to the first mark, laid out well into the bay. Only several boat lengths separated them along the next four-mile power reach, with their massive spinnakers driving them at around 16 knots.
Downwind, the yachts had to pass a gate at Fort Adams where many spectators had lined the shore to see them glide past with more than 16,000 square feet of mainsail and spinnaker. Sailing through the gate, the gap was down to half a boat length. Both gybed simultaneously in true America's Cup style and trimmed sails for every inch of advantage, continuing alongside each other under the Newport Bridge and down to the leeward turning mark.
Ranger just managed to turn the leeward island one boat length ahead, giving them the advantage to hold a cover up to the finish. Ranger, the bigger boat, gives Velsheda a small handicap in these conditions but won by 27 seconds on corrected time. Ranger now has a 2-0 win with three races to go in the series.
Velsheda approaches Newport Bridge
More information can be found at www.jclassyachts.com