J Class yachts converge on the UK for summer regattas

21 May 2012

The first of this summer’s J Class regattas in the UK, which will be hosted by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club from 26 to 30 June, has attracted a big entry of these iconic yachts. Although Hanuman and Endeavour have recently withdrawn, four others are expected to compete in the four-race series in Falmouth Bay: the 1933 Velsheda, the replicas Ranger and Rainbow, and Lionheart, an alternative Ranger design. This will equal the number of Js that competed in 1935 and 1936 in a number of UK regattas.

‘We will be using windward-leeward courses with legs of 3.5 miles and a start line as close to the shore as the wind direction allows,’ says principal race officer John Pickup. ‘The adrenalin will be at the port end of the line as four 200 tonne yachts approach at 10 to 15 knots.’ The fleet will finish close to Pendennis Point using the imposing Black Rock as a distance mark, providing crowds with a breathtaking spectacle.

The racing will be competitive. ‘Each J has around eight permanent crew,’ says David Pitman, secretary of the J Class Association, ‘but 30 are needed to race them, and the extras include a lot of highly experienced sailors from all over the world.’

If, as expected, Endeavour joins the other boats for the Solent regatta in July, that fleet will match the biggest ever: in the USA in 1937, after Ranger had defeated Endeavour II in the America’s Cup, Yankee, Rainbow and Endeavour joined them in a dozen-or-so races which were part of the New York Yacht Club’s annual cruise. The June regatta is eagerly anticipated among owners, crews and members of the local community, who are expected to turn out in great numbers.