This year the J-Cup returns to the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble and includes the Lombard-sponsored J/97 Championships and incorporates the J/109 UK National Championships. A record turnout is expected with over 60 boats already entered and organisers are looking forward to seeing some new, as well as some of the more familiar sailors, racing in this competitive annual regatta.
The majority of the individual class numbers are up on last year's regatta held in Plymouth and as the Cup itself is awarded to the most deserving team in the regatta (which is not necessarily the team with the most bullets), this prestigious trophy is up for grabs to any owner who has entered.
Some names to watch out for include, in the J/111 fleet, the current J/105 National Champions Chris Jones and Louise Makin who return to the Solent after their recent triumph in Journeymaker at the NYYC Newport Regatta. They could be the dark horse this year. Expected front runners include Tony Mack on McFly, Duncan McDonald on Shmokin Joe and Cornel Riklin with Jitterbug.
The J/109 drivers are renowned for being quite a feisty bunch on the water and as the largest fleet competing they are sure to deliver plenty of thrills and spills! Class Chairman Paul Griffiths is racing Jaegerbomb and he'll no doubt be fighting off the likes of Tony Dickin on Jubilee and Ian McKinnon on Tigh Soluis.
The biggest-ever fleet of the four year-old J/97 class will compete in this year's J-Cup featuring some top runners and riders including a previous J-Cup winner Chas Ivill, ETB Tyres. The father and son pairing, the Mundays, pulled out all the stops on the race course last year, achieving the best overall results for the year with their J/97 Induljence. They also walked away with the Royal Southern Yacht Club's 2013 'Champion of Champions' prize of a round trip to Barbados, including racing on board the winning boat Monster Project in last January's Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race.
Enjoying their first season with the J/97 Blackjack II, Annie Kelly and Andy Howe won the J-Cup in Guernsey in their J/92 in 2011. Another fresh out of the box J/97 is being raced by Nick Barlow who is really excited about his new purchase Jeopardy. Organisers believe this will be Nick's first inshore regatta with his new boat.
This year's J-Cup heralds the debut of the J/88 so there's no form guide to go on as yet but it will be interesting to keep an eye on the efforts of Eat Sleep J Repeat and Paul Ward who achieved an excellent result coming second in IRC Div 1C in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race in June. Ivan Trotman, a former J/122 owner is now campaigning JoJo and the competition will be keeping their eye on him in his first regatta in his new J/88.
Registration and the Regatta briefing will take place at the Royal Southern on Wednesday 23rd July and then follows three days of top quality racing under the supervision of the Royal Southern's PRO Tony Lovell. Prizegiving will be held in the Club after racing concludes on Saturday 26th July.
The J-Cup is organised by Hamble-based Key Yachting Ltd., an agent and distributor for J Boats, Grand Soleil, Nautitech Catamarans and Tofinou throughout the UK and Ireland.