Last month saw a historic fleet assembled in Bermuda’s Great Sound, with seven J Class yachts going head-to-head in the first America’s Cup J Class Regatta.
The two-day event saw five dramatic races with three different crews tasting victory. Watch the video below to relive some of the finest moments:
The newest member of the J Class fleet is also the largest — 43.6 metre Svea was launched by Dutch yard Vitters earlier this year and captain Paul Kelly explained how she came about:
“Svea was designed 80 years ago but never built. We’ve been very lucky that we’ve been able to look at the other Js, see what they’ve done and see what we like on deck, what we don’t like on deck and we’ve incorporated that into the build of Svea. We’ve got this fantastic boat with this beautiful race layout, she’s race friendly and she’s a great boat to sail.”
The arrival of the Js in Bermuda marked the first time in 80 years that these boats have attended the America’s Cup and the significance of the occasion was not lost on Ken Read, skipper of Hanuman.
“It’s an honour to be part of seven J Class boats on the same starting line,” he said. “I think every person sailing on all these boats realises how special it really is. We’re lucky people. No matter how stressful our day may have appeared at the outset, it was an unbelievably cool day.”
However, it was not all smooth sailing, particularly for Svea, who had to retire after a disastrous second race. Charlie Ogletree, tactician of Svea, revealed: “We were sailing along and heard a massive bang. There are a lot of ramifications when something that big and that loaded breaks. It was terrifying, because you’re not sure what happened, but the quick reaction of everyone to know what to do saved the rig.”
With Svea out, the fleet was trimmed to six and heading into the final race it was still all to play for, with four Js all still in contention for the overall victory. Lionheart sealed victory with a second place finish in race five despite getting off to an awful start.
Bouwe Bekking, tactician of Lionheart, admitted: “We had a shocker on the start and we were sixth on the water, but we just kept clawing back and getting closer and closer. It was fantastically sailed by the whole team and having an owner/driver makes it all the more special. It’s a well-deserved win, I think, especially for the permanent crew because they worked so hard over the winter to make it actually happen.”
Looking ahead and the J Class fleet is set to reconvene next month for the J Class World Championship, which takes place in Newport from August 21-26.