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J/105 AXA XL International Challenge Cup

by J/Boats 2 Dec 2018 07:24 PST 15-17 November 2018
J/105 AXA XL International Challenge Cup © Tom Clarke

Every November, for three days, the Bacardi Keelboat Regatta is held in Bermuda. Racing is held primarily for one-design boats such as Etchells, J/105s, and International One Designs.

The J/105 fleet is an invitational-only event, as they race with a combined Bermuda and International crew to compete for three awards- Bermuda and International Divisions and the Overall AXA XL International Challenge Cup series.

This year's event ran from Thursday November 15 to Saturday, November 17 with a fabulous opening reception held at Bacardi World Headquarters in Hamilton on Wednesday November 14, 2018. Bacardi was once again the title sponsor with Bermuda Tourism Authority as a supporting sponsor.

A spokesperson from Bacardi stated: "Bacardi has always been a strong supporter of sports and in particular sailing, both in Bermuda and internationally, and is very pleased to once again support this event. The international flavor of sailing competition and the natural camaraderie that goes with it resonates with Bacardi's values. We wish all the competitors three days of great sailing in the pristine waters of Bermuda."

In addition to Bacardi's sponsorship, the J/105's were competing for the AXA XL International Challenge Cup, a sponsorship supported by one of Bermuda's largest re-insurance companies (their Managing Director is an active J/105 sailor in the local fleet).

The J/105 fleet fielded its usual strong contingent of competitors with international helmsmen and crew hailing from the US and the UK, paired with an equal compliment of local Bermuda sailors onboard each boat. Most have participated in the event several times over the years, annually yielding one of the strongest gatherings of amateur sailors in Bermuda.

The Airforce Team were the local favorites, having won it twice before. But, the racing again proved to be very tight. There were seven J/105s competing this year in a Bermuda Series where the Bermuda skipper drives, alternating races with the international skipper for the International Series, and combined results for the AXA XL Overall Trophy.

The first day of racing produced a gorgeous sunny day of 10-20 kts with four races counting, two for the Bermudian skippers and two for the International skippers. The second day was blown-out, with winds topping 40+ kts. Fortunately, the huge North Atlantic storm passed quickly, producing another day of 10-20 kts of breeze that permitted four more races to determine the winner of the AXA XL J/105 International Challenge Cup.

As anticipated, it was the team of Bermudian Peter Bromby and Peter Snelling on Airforce that ultimately won the regatta. However, it was a rocky road to the top of the leaderboard for the Airforce crew. After four races on day one, they were sitting in third place. Then, on the closing day they had to contend with a DSQ in Race 6 that nearly torpedoed their chances for their three-peat win.

Leading after the first day of racing with a 1-2-3-2 were the duo of Bermudian Trevor Boyce and American Stew Neff sailing YABSTA. While sailing fast and smart on the first day helped their performance, that was not to be repeated on the closing day. The YABSTA crew could not find good pace the last four races, closing with a 6-3-4-6 to miss the win by just 2 pts and settle for the silver.

American Mike Riley and Bermudian Ed Faries on BACK IN BLACK also experienced a roller-coaster scoreline. Closing with a 1-2-1 tally on the last day to rocket up the leaderboard from mid-fleet, taking the tie-breaker at 28 pts each over MAYHEM (American Jason Owen and Bermudian Jon Corless). Rounding out the top five was the PASSION Team (Bermudian James MacDonald and Texan Bill Lakenmacher).

For the Bermuda Division, winning was Peter Bromby, followed by Jon Corless in second and James MacDonald in third.

In the International Division, winning was Mike Riley, with Stew Neff second and Bill Lakenmacher in third position.

Click here for all scoring of the J/105 AXA XL International Challenge Cup. Follow the Bacardi Bermuda Keelboat Regatta on Facebook here. For more Royal Bermuda YC Bacardi Keelboat Regatta sailing information, visit here.

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