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J Composites 2022 - J45 LEADERBOARD

J/88 and J/122 triumph at Port Stephens Regatta

by J/Boats 9 May 2021 11:49 PDT 19-25 April 2021
Sail Port Stephens © Salty Dingo

The Sail Port Stephens 2021 Regatta was held 19-25 April with the Port Stephens Trophy Event held 23-25 April with 130 keelboats and 50 trailerables and off-the-beach classes enjoying the mild-Autumn conditions.

Sail Port Stephens goal is to give competitors the best possible on and off water regatta experience in one of the east coast's finest sailing destinations, a little over 2 hours north of Sydney by car or an easy 90.0nm day sail. The Port Stephens slogan is "Incredible By Nature"! And, if you love pristine beaches, crystal blue waters, spectacular sunsets over the nearby ranges and great sailing conditions then this is the place to be.

Two particularly outstanding results for the three-day event were the J/88 Joji and J/122 Jackpot, both winning their class convincingly. Mark Wharton's J/88 Joji winning 1-1-2 in their 26 boat Division 3 fleet. Rob Hale's J/122 Jackpot with 12-2-2 scores in their 22 boat Division 1 fleet.

Friday, the fleet looked spectacular as they headed offshore from Port Stephens under spinnaker, rounded the offshore islands then headed to the mark off Fingal Bay's white sandy beach. A westerly of around 12-14 knots stayed for their course. Saturday was the Broughton Island Passage Race with light and variable breezes and a few DNF's, but there was no stopping the J's. Sunday, the South Westerly breeze returned for the final day of the regatta being an inshore W/L race. Reports from Mark (J/88 Joji) and Rob (J/122 Jackpot) are below:

J/88 Joji:

"It was J/88 Joji's second Sail Port Stephens Regatta, its first in 2019 when the fleets got smashed by a 40-knot southerly squall in the last race. Not a fun moment or one to repeat. So this year's breeze and weather conditions were just what the race organizers ordered. It was a record fleet of 130 boats spread across a number of varied divisions. The racing was serious but lots of fun too with some close quarter starts and tense top mark roundings.

Joji went into all races knowing who the local boats were, as local knowledge was key to master the currents and breeze shifts. The size of Joji relative to the Division 3 fleet meant that it was essential to get a clear air start. Lucky for us, all three starts were good and so we managed to break away from the main fleet to chase down the fast locals.

The first 2 races were passage races out offshore around the Islands and made for terrific asymmetrical spinnaker sailing. The 3rd race, an up and down with two marks top and bottom to give the 60 or so boats room at either end.

Joji's handicap wins in the first two races didn't separate the field very much "points wise" and going into the last race four boats were within a couple of points of each other. The pressure was on.

The 3rd race started in similar fashion, close quarters, downwind start, gybing onto port on the line and positioning for clear air again. And, also keeping the local gun boat within reach. Joji's superior speed upwind along with some great crew work on the tacks meant we knocked off the "boat to beat" and he eventually got buried in amongst the bigger boats. Joji maintained its clear air lead and took line honors and 2nd on handicap and winning the series by a clear 16 points.

A great result for Joji and its crew!"

J/122 Jackpot:

Sydney-based J/122 Jackpot lived up to her name again with a convincing win at Sail Port Stephens regatta over the weekend. The result is even more impressive as this is the first time Jackpot has competed in the ever-growing Sail Port Stephens regatta.

"It's a very different sailing area to our beloved harbor, with much more navigational effort required for the shallows, channel markers, wind shifts, and tidal effects than we are used to," said Rob.

At 40ft, Jackpot was at the smaller end of the impressive 22 boat competitive fleet including Farr 52, Dehler 46, First45's, McConaghy 47, first 47's, and an X43 to name a few.

Rob Hale commented, "the first race was very light with plenty of shifts and tidal influence, we were a bit rusty, but still managed a 12th. Being one of the smallest boats in the fleet, we had to re-think our start line tactics which helped us come back with vengeance in race 2 with a hard fought second place. Race three was inshore, but again we managed a second place totaling 16 points for this three-race regatta, a clear 4 points ahead of our closest competitor.

It's such a good feeling when you know you are at the smaller end of the fleet, but finish with the top four boats crossing the line and look back thinking that was another great race.

Port Stephens is a beautiful and scenic place to race, and we will be back to defend our title in 2022. We would like to thank our competitors for keeping us on our toes, Port Stephens Race organizers, and of course, our trusty crew for a great event."

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