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Cliffhanger for Hong Kong J/80 Championship Finale

by J/Boats 21 Jan 10:01 PST 10-11 December 2022
Hong Kong J/80 Championship © Panda Man / Takumi Images

The 2022-2023 Hong Kong J/80 Class Championships took place at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC, Middle Island) over the weekend of 10 & 11th December. For this edition of the championships, there was a strong turnout of eighteen boats, including a few teams from other competitive classes in Hong Kong joining in.

The strong pre-event favorites were BARING ASIA 2, skippered by internationally prominent Etchells sailor Mark Thornburrow. Mark and his crew won the two previous Hong Kong J/80 Championships by a wide margin. Also migrating from the Etchells for this championship was Frank van Kempen (sailing JAHOO!), who placed 2nd at the J/80 championships two years prior.

Day 1 - Saturday

The first day of racing brought perfect sailing conditions - initially a slightly chilly December 12-14 knots - but easing off to a shiftier 6-12 knots as the bright sunshine warmed the day.

It was Frank van Kempen's JAHOO that got off to a flying start in the first race, starting toward the port end of the line, before tacking out to the right side to take advantage of the shifty conditions. Because of that aggressive move, they ended up with a dominant lead by the windward mark.

At the end of day 1, with 4 races complete it was Thornburrow's BARING ASIA 2 sitting atop the leaderboard, scoring a very consistent 3-3-2-1. Hot on their heels and leading the representation of regular RHKYC J/80 teams was Adam Glendenning's ALCHEMIST, with an 8th from the first race after being called early over the start line, followed by a blistering tally of 1-1-2.

Day 2 - Sunday

Day 2 brought about similar racing conditions, though the wind started at 8-10 knots and built progressively toward 14-16 knots by the 3rd and 4th races.

Again, it was JAHOO laying down the gauntlet in the first race of the day (Race 5). However, this time Frank's team managed to carry momentum into races 6 & 7, posting an eye-watering 1-1-2 for their first three races! No question the crowds ashore in the bleacher seats were screaming and cheering at the top of their lungs!

Heading into the final race of the championships, after lots of mixed results, there were three teams with approximately equal points. Consequently, the final race would be the decider; all or nothing for the teams battling it out. Mark Thornburrow's BARING ASIA 2 had been most consistent throughout the first seven races. But two teams- JAHOO and ALCHEMIST- had each scored more 1st or 2nd places than BARING ASIA 2 but had more mixed results.

With the breeze building to around 15kts, ALCHEMIST could put the pedal to the metal out of the start, pulling forward from the fleet to take a reasonable lead by the top mark. From thereon, they were able to solidify their position, opting for a loose covering of Thornburrow's BARING ASIA 2 on the 2nd upwind leg.

Glendinning's ALCHEMIST took the championships for 2022/23, with Thornburrow's BARING ASIA 2 in 2nd and van Kempen's JAHOO placing 3rd overall. The 1st Corinthian (amateur) team was Andrew Moore's TIGRINA, who raced an excellent series and slotted into 4th in the overall standings.

The post-racing scene entailed sailors mingling dockside, still buzzing from the racing as they shared stories from their day. While the J/80 class enjoys close one-design racing, the friendly and welcoming social experience offered by the J/80 class makes it a fantastic class to be a part of.

Thanks to the organizers, Royal Hong Kong YC, the J/80 Class Association of Hong Kong, and all volunteers, including the race management team led by Barry Truhol!

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