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Heatwave ready to launch the J/70 European Championship

by Andy Rice 4 Sep 2023 11:45 PDT 5-9 September 2023
J/70s battling for contention in tight one-design racing © Sportography

Blue skies, warm weather and moderate to strong easterly winds are set to kick off the J/70 European Championship in the best way possible. With racing set to get under way on Tuesday 5 September out of Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, a fleet of 48 J/70 keelboats are making final preparations for five days of intense competition.

As well as the bulk of the entries from across Europe there are also teams entered from as far afield as Mexico, Puerto Rico, the USA and even Australia, all keen to race on the same waters that were used for the Olympic Regatta at London 2012. The overseas competitors might be pleasantly surprised to find themselves sailing in such balmy conditions for a British autumn.

The UK National Championship took place as a warm-up regatta a week ago and was won on the last day by Team Brutus, skippered by Charlie Thompson. This team is packed with past and current Olympic talent, not least Josie Gliddon on the helm and the former Nacra 17 World Champion Ben Saxton, now working for North Sails UK.

Saxton anticipates a tactically challenging week in Weymouth Bay. "It looks like we'll have strong easterlies for the first two days, which is completely different to what we had for the Nationals," said Saxton, now a four-time winner of the J/70 British Nationals. "We could get a side-swell which will make things interesting in terms of keeping the boat moving at full pace in ever-changing conditions."

Watch the full interview with Ben Saxton here:

Runner-up at the British Nationals and winner of the Corinthian division was Calypso skippered by Jonathan Calascione. Despite being up against the fully pro teams, Calascione believes that his experienced crew has the self-belief and ability to take on anyone. "All of us have day jobs but we know each other well and we're definitely aiming for the podium as well as for top Corinthian," said Calascione. "Some of us have been sailing together for seven years and I think as a team we punch above our weight. So if we get a bit of luck going away this week I think we have the ability to do really well."

Watch the full interview with Jonathan Calascione here:

With the stronger breeze forecast for the first two days, expect Jelvis to be somewhere near the front. Martin and Ruby Dent sail with two recent Olympic campaigners from the Finn and Laser singlehanders, brothers Jack and Henry Wetherell, and this crew are very fast upwind in anything over full power conditions.

Tim Ryan is coming all the way from Australia with his Vamos crew which includes British professional and former Volvo Ocean Race winner Rob Greenhalgh, now resident in Sydney. They could steal the crown from the European entries, as might a couple of the USA teams. Michael Goldfarb's War Canoe has former 49er Olympian and Melges 24 World Champion Chris Rast on the team, and Doug Rastello's Good to Go has America's Cup veteran Morgan Trubovich on board. Such is the global attraction of J/70 competition. With this much talent, the regatta looks wide open.

Phil Taylor, J/70 European Championship Regatta Chairman, was thrilled to be getting racing going after months of build-up and preparation for the event. "We've got some great weather to look forward to this week, and we're expecting a fantastic regatta with the usual tight racing amongst the international J/70 fleet," he said.

The J/70 European Championship takes place from 1 to 9 September is being run by the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA).

More information about the J/70 European Championship can be found at the website j70euros2023.com

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