Currently flying back home from a long, three-regatta trip. First up was Bermuda in early June for two events, the Americas Cup Superyacht Regatta, and the Americas Cup J Class Regatta, both on the J boat TOPAZ. For those not familiar with the J Class, these are yachts from the 1930 Americas Cup era. They are being restored or built new to original 1930 designs in this incredible resurgence that is taking place in the class. It is akin to classic cars, being fitted with the latest in turbo charged engines (all carbon rigs and sails), and racing around a track in anger. For Bermuda we had 7 of these beauties racing, the most J Class yachts ever assembled in one place together. About 135 feet long and crewed by as many as 30, these are some of the most challenging yachts I have ever raced.
TOPAZ is J8, an unbuilt 1935 Frank C Paine A design. Frank Paine had previously designed the yacht “Yankee”, which was built by Lawleys in 1930. ‘J8’ has been researched by the Hoek office, and found to be a good all round performer. She is the longest waterline J Class designed, with the highest keel aspect ratio, combined with the lowest wetted surface area. Frank Paine had already calculated in the 1930s that it was better to take a penalty on an increased waterline length in a trade off against sail area and displacement.
We still have a lot to learn on J8, and many upgrades needed to be able to challenge the other J’s that are years ahead of us in this evolving class. But we showed signs of speed, and the crew did a great job keeping us in the hunt at both events, where I think we finished 5th.
Three hours after our final race ended in Bermuda I was on a charter flight to Sardinia, Italy where my next regatta was starting the following day!! My PROVEZZA team in the 52 Super Series had to do the training days without three of us who were in Bermuda racing J’s, but we made it in time, hopped on the boat, and started race 1 at 1300 hours that next day. We ran 3rd for most of the race, but ended up 4th in this opening race. We then fought over the remaining 4 days and 8 races against the other 10 teams in everything from light winds to 25 plus, and on short windward/leewards and long coastal courses, in one of my favorite places to race. It was a fantastic week, and all came down to the final leg, of the final race, to determine the winners. We rounded the last mark of that final race and headed for the finish in position to win the regatta. But in one of the cruelest outcomes I have felt in a while, the small shackle on the tack of our spinnaker failed, and in the minutes it took for us to recover, all of our opponents passed us. So from wining the regatta, we end up tied for 4th, and losing on the tie-break to finish 6th. Buggar!
But now that the tears have all dried, we will try to take confidence from this experience that we are capable of wining if we can piece it all together again.
I am now looking forward to a couple weeks at home to debrief, hit the reset button, and enjoy a little time off. Then I’m off to France to visit the Outremer yard and see my new Outremer 45 being built. This will be my European base in the coming years that I will live on between events and move between regattas. All work of course!! Following this visit to the yard I will fly directly to Palma Majorca Spain for the next 52 Super Series event where we currently sit in 4th for the season, and hungry to redeem ourselves from having that win stolen from us in Sardinia!