Jardine maintains his form in the wet to clinch his third J24 IRW title. Trevor Boyce finishes second overall and Pete Ramsdale third. Dale Robertson rounds off a great regatta with a fourth overall.
Variable. When the forecasters talk of variable, it normally only means one thing - flat calm. As we headed out for the final race of IRW2007 on Friday morning, the breeze was more like 8-10 knots, and the sun was shining, despite reports of rain. The assumption was that the scheduled one race only would mean a relatively short day on the water…if only that were true.
In the Great Sound there were some ominous black clouds in the sky to the North. On Sadiiqi, we looked at them and hoped they were moving away from us. After a beat uowind to take some numbers, then a run downwind to make sure everything was working, we checked in the the RC and noted the “W” on the course board.
The RC switched the order again, scheduling the IODs to set off first before the J24s. Some of the IODs assumed that they would be racing in the usual order and were still halfway up the course practising when their warning gun went. Off went the IOD crash boat to let them know the good news. Fortunately for those crews, the wind switched a full 180 degrees halfway through the starting sequence, forcing the RC to fly the AP flag and wait for the wind to settle.
And so began the faffing. We waited. The rain came in - hard - sucking all the wind out of the clouds. It began to get quite chilly, a real change from the previous 4 days of racing. The RC eventually set a new course, but by now the wind had dropped to variable. Off went the IODs, and we were up. At the start we managed to foul the pin on Sadiiqi, and did turns before setting off right behind Gripper and New Wave, the top 2 boats. On the left, Siren were going well. Cyclone came across to the left and seemed to have relatively good speed in the small shifts. The rain stopped for a few minutes, but then started again as we eventually neared the mark. Brien Storey on Shogun had stayed left and was doing well, but Siren and New Wave were the front 2 boats at that point. The downwind was agonising - the rain was making the sails wet and heavy, and in the little breeze boats were struggling to keep their chutes flying. Dale Robertson on Solaise was sailing some hot angles to maintain speed, as was Caroline Muselet on Cyclone. In the downwind Trevor Boyce read the shifts well and seemed to get ahead. When we reached the turning mark most of the fleet was ahead of us. My sunglasses were fogged up and taking them off was worse because the rain was falling directly into my eyes as I looked up at our wet red spinnaker.
Around the mark we went left to try and chase some breeze. The breeze picked up slightly and we saw our best speeds of the day. We managed to overhaul a couple of boats on the upwind, and on the downwind a few more, including Siren. At the front the RC had shortened the course so we were not going to have to hook round for an upwind finish. Apparently, the crew on New Wave, leading at the time, did not notice that and shaped up for another upwind, letting Stuart Jardine on Gripper sneak in for a bullet - a great result considering the fact that he was languishing in 6th or 7th on the previous leg. Dale Robertson finished strongly despite some discussion about Solaise hitting a mark. Brien Storey on Shogun had his best result of the week in the wet, windless conditions.
Then it was back to the RBYC with ice creams on the way in the rain. Crews dried off under cover as the RBYC staff prepared for the prizegiving. Stuart Jardine and crew cracked a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their decisive victory. By the time the prizegiving began the weather had brightened up. Pete Ramsale and crew received their third place prizes, followed by Trevor Boyce and crew for their second. Then Stuart Jardine, Nigel Ryder, Geoff Evelyn, Wendy Evelyn and John Holloway, sailing Gripper, accepted the Gripper Trophy for winning International Race Week 2007 for the J24 Class.
Later it was off to La Coquille for dinner and dancing. Many thanks to our friends from the UK and Atlantic Canada for making the J24 regatta such a success. Many thanks also to the Race Committee, the J24 executive committee, all the people who hosted overseas crews and to Trevor Boyce for providing not only the crash boat for the week but for also graciously offering to host the J24 Welcoming Cocktail party at his house in Warwick. A fanstastic week of sailing with old and new friends, many of whom we hope to see again in 2008.
Photos of the week can be found here
J24 Final Results IRW 2007