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Jacob VII ends the RC35 season with another regatta victory but it's still not enough to unseat reigning champions Animal from securing back to back Scottish RC35 Championships writes Robin Young.

The RC35 fleet, racing in the final round of the 2019 RC35 Championship, were treated to a wild and windy weekend Clyde Cruising Club GSS North Clyde Regatta. A solid 25-knot south-westerly, with gusts closer to 30, greeted the 9 boat fleet on Saturday morning. The race committee did a fantastic job to get two races away before the winds increased even further. The strong winds saw Tangaroa going like a train and pushing Jacob VII all the way in Race 1. In the second race Jacob VII again made a break from the pack and kept clear of the trouble on the eventful downwind legs. A selection of spectacular broaches and Chinese gybes lead to a few breakages, busy nights for the local sailmakers and some promising positions being lost. The first day ended with Jacob VII leading convincingly with 2 points, followed by Jings and No Worries both on 7 points. The J109s obviously enjoying the windy conditions.

The committee was keen to get the maximum three races on Sunday, after Saturday was disrupted by the weather, and it was looking promising on Sunday morning. Still a pretty fresh 15 to 20 knots from the west. The first race saw Triple Elf heading hard left on the second beat and managing to extend on the run for the victory. Jacob followed in second further strengthening their position. Unfortunately, No Worries had a breakage which lead to them not finishing the first race and having to retire from what was looking like a promising regatta.

Jings got the best of the second start holding out a couple of boats at the CV end of the line. Banshee got clear of the pack but was chased hard by Tangaroa and Jings and couldn’t make their time on handicap. Jings pipped Tangaroa to the victory on handicap. With Jacob never recovering from the start and finishing in 6th, could Jings pinch the regatta victory in the final race?

Some errors at the corners from Jacob and Tangaroa saw Animal and Jings break away from the fleet and have a good match race on the final two legs. Animal managed to stretch just enough on the final downwind leg to take the victory by 13 seconds on corrected time.

The table ended with Jacob and Jings on equal points but Jacob won on countback with 2 victories to 1. Triple Elf rounded out the podium after consistent results all weekend. The RC35 season ended with Animal retaining their crown, Jacob VII in second after a great year including two regatta victories. Banshee got their nose into 3rd on countback from Triple Elf.

CCC RC35The CCC scoresheet

“Another great year of close competitive racing that never seems to disappoint”, commented the RC35 Committee. “Congratulations to the podium of Debbie and Kevin Aitken (Animal), John Stamp (Jacob VII) and Charlie Frize (Banshee).”

Published in Clyde
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The consistently well-sailed Storm from Howth Yacht Club has retained the RC35 Celtic Cup in 2019 writes Robin Young.

The four-event championship was hard-fought between 14 boats in the competitive Scottish RC35 fleet and Storm were chased hard by the Scottish boats Animal and Jacob VII in second and third respectfully.

The championship started with the Scottish season opener at Kip Regatta where Animal got off to a great start in trying to wrestle the cup from Storm with a first place. Storm were never far behind in the light wind event with a second-place and Blue Jay performing well in 3rd.

The second round was the ever-popular CCC Scottish Series in Loch Fyne. A wide variety of conditions saw all 14 boats competing over a mixture of courses. Chimaera sailed an excellent regatta, not only securing the class victory, but the overall prize as well. They were pushed all the way by fellow Irish boats Hi Jacker, Storm and Something Else. The 3 rd place gave Storm a little breathing room going into the third regatta but it was close behind them.

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta was the third event in the series. Seven Scottish boats made the biennial pilgrimage south to Dublin Bay to compete in the internationally recognised event. They joined 4 other local boats competing in the Celtic Cup and another 15 boats in the exciting Class 1. Storm secured an excellent 3rd place overall in the hyper-competitive Class 1 fleet meaning they were the first of the Celtic Cup boats, further extending their lead. Animal, Jacob VII and Triple Elf followed them, keeping the race for the remaining podium positions close.

A pretty wild forecast lead to a reduced fleet competing in Pwllheli for the Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships, the final event in the Celtic Cup. Scottish boats Triple Elf and Jings still made the journey and were treated a windy and exciting regatta. Close racing between the two boats eventually saw them finish second and third in Class 1. If not for a UTD in the last race it would have been a victory for Triple Elf!!

The RC35 committee sums it up well, “overall it was a great Championship and it is fantastic to be able to add an international angle to the class and showcase the close competitive racing we are enjoying with the RC35 Class in Scotland. Watch this space for the schedule announcement for 2020".

Download overall results below

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Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm continues to hold the lead in the RC 35 class at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, but John Stamp’s Corby 33 Jacob VII from Port Edgar YC on Scotland's East Coast was in good form to move into second overall, while Debbie Aitken with the First 36.7 Animal found the fresher wind to her liking to take a 2nd and a 3rd (discarding an 8th) to move into third OA.

Published in RC35
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After all the crews enjoyed a great night sampling the hospitality of Rothesay it was back to business for Day two of the Luddon Construction RC35 Scottish Championships last weekend.

The first race began with a gusty 15 to 20 knots from the northeast. The increased wind strengths were more to the liking of Triple Elf who secured a good second place in Race 1 behind Jacob and Banshee in third place. This left the overall scores very close between the Animal, Banshee and Jacob with only the final race to go.

The winds decreased slightly for the final race and Animal got a cracking start setting them up for the hard-earned victory over Triple Elf that they needed to try and secure the event. Banshee was hot on the leaders heels and almost caught them after taking advantage of a big shift on the final beat, however, they could only manage a third place by nine seconds.

RC 35 championsThe Banshee crew in distinctive blue tops

This meant Animal was crowned Scottish Champions on countback from Banshee with Jacob and single point further back.

A big thanks for the support from our sponsors, Luddon Construction and the hosting club, Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club.

Published in Clyde
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The competitive eight boat fleet was treated to glorious conditions in Ascog Bay off the Isle of Bute on day one of the Luddon Construction RC35 Scottish Championships writes Robin Young.

Day one of the annual championships held under the burgee of the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club saw a generally southerly wind of between 6 and 15 knots and sunny skies. The race committee did an excellent job to get four quality races away in short order.

RC35 3

The two Corby's of John Stamp and Charlie Frize got off to a good start sharing a first and a second each in the first two races. As the wind began to lighten in the later races Animal capitalised with two bullets in the last two races of the day.

RC35 2Jings lies fifth Photo Cameron Shaw

The rest of the fleet are tightly packed as ever with Blue Jay having an ever-improving day to lead the chasing bunch.

With similar conditions forecast for the second day of the event all the competitors will be looking forward to another great day on the water.

RC35 1Blue Jay Photo: Cameron Shaw

Published in Clyde
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Andrew Craig's J109 Chimaera from the Royal Irish Yacht Club continues her lead in the Scottish Series but a penultimate day challenge for the RC35 title has emerged from Strangford Lough's Hijacker, a former Irish Commodore's Cupper.

Irish boats hold the overall lead of IRC divisions one, two and three going into today's final rounds on Loch Fyne, a great indication so far of the health of Irish Cruiser Racer interests versus the local RC35 interests on the Clyde. Of particular note is the failure of RC35 Champion Animal to break into the top three overall so far this weekend.

The Northern Ireland Ker 32 skippered by S. Cranston & J. Buchanan is now second overall in the RC35s, leapfrogging the Dublin J109s Storm and Something Else in the overall standings. 

Craig's Chimaera consistent performance since Friday, however, means she has an eight-point cushion going into today's final races of Scotland's biggest sailing regatta but with as many as four races scheduled for today, big changes in the leaderboard are still possible.

As Afloat predicted in its pre-regatta assessment, in class three, it is Howth Yacht Club Half Tonners that hold sway with Jonny Swan's Harmony holding the lead from the Wright brother's Mata.

In Class One, Down Cruising Club's Forty Licks has the overall lead from one time Jonathan Anderson's El Gran Senor. 

Day three of the Clyde Cruising Club Series saw another different day of weather on Loch Fyne. With gusts focusing the concentrations of skippers and crew throughout the day, there was some exhilarating racing.

Full results are here.

Published in Scottish Series
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”Kevin and Debbie and their team on Animal, with a near-perfect scoreline in very challenging conditions, were worthy winners of the class and the overall AW Steven trophy,” commented Ross Lang, Commodore of the Royal Western Yacht Club, the organising club of the Pelle P Kip Regatta “With conditions at Kip being light and variable, getting the full schedule of 5 races away over the course of the weekend was a great result for the race committee.”

The RC35 fleet, racing in Round One of the 2019 RC35 Championship and RC35 Celtic Cup, started the last day of the Pelle P Kip Regatta with Debbie and Kevin Aiken’s Animal and Pat Kelly’s Storm II holding commanding positions at the head of the leader board. However, the next five boats, separated by only a handful of points, were locked in a battle for the remaining podium place.

Animal Jings Storm Triple EifAnimal, Jings, Storm and Triple Elf at the Kip Regatta Photo: Marc Turner

Robin Young’s Jings led this group on 12 points, ahead of Jacob VII on 14 points, Blue Jay on 14.5 points, Banshee on 15 points and Triple Elf on 17.5.
The class had two races on Sunday, initially, the committee had to signal a short delay to allow the fickle winds to fill enough for a race, well at least the sun was out.

Animal KipThe First 36.7, Animal Photo: Marc Turner

The wind filled in from the south and the race committee got a windward-leeward course set and the first race was off. With Jings and Jacob getting off to bad starts it was always going to be a long way back in this tight fleet. Banshee capitalised, grabbing third place and closing up the battle for the final podium position.

The final race started with the definite sensation that the wind was dying. The fleet split off the line with Animal, Blue Jay, Banshee and Triple Elf heading right into the main channel, greater tide and hopefully more wind. Jings, Jacob VII and Storm headed left and hopefully out the tide, who was correct?

Storm KipPat Kelly's J109 Storm II Photo: Marc Turner

The group on the right arrived at the windward mark a long way ahead. The first downwind leg was tricky with areas of pressure appearing and disappearing across the course, though Animal managed to extend their lead and continue their dominant weekend. They were followed round by Blue Jay, Banshee and Triple Elf. With a shortened course looking likely would there be any more place changes on the windward leg, which now seemed very long.

Blue Jay KipBlue Jay Photo: Marc Turner

Again a split, Triple Elf and Jings going hard right, it looked like it was going to pay off, but when a new breeze filled in and lifted from the left, Blue Jay and Banshee had a good angle to the line finishing second and third behind Animal. This was enough for John Stanley-White’s Blue Jay to pip Banshee for third place on countback.

Round Two of the RC35 Champion and also the Celtic Cup takes place in a truly fabulous and unique location, Tarbert Loch Fyne. Organised by the Clyde Cruising Club, Scottish Series (See the Irish boats going to Scotland previewed here) takes place from the May 24th to 27th. Up to 10 races are planned with a mixture of windward/leeward and coastal races and a great social programme, it is always a great event.

Published in RC35
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Scottish RC35 champion Debbie Aitken's First 36.7 Animal has taken first blood of the season beating the Howth Yacht Club J109 Storm (Pat Kelly) at this weekend's two-day Kip Regatta on the Clyde.

As Afloat readers will know, the Storm crew who hail from Rush in North County Dublin opted to defend their 2018 Kip title instead of racing closer to home at the J109 Eastern Championships on Dublin Bay.

Animal took four wins to produce a convincing victory in the ten-boat fleet on four nett points with Kelly's Storm second on ten points, some five points clear of the Scottish J109 Blue Jay.

Full results are here.

Following the Royal Western Yacht Club hosted event, the next big event in the Irish Sea is, of course, the Scottish Series at Tarbert in a fortnight where a bigger than normal Irish fleet is expected.  Storm is also the Scottish Series RC35 class winner so will face Animal again in two weeks time.

Published in RC35
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The great Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom famously commented that it was much easier to create a completely new racing boat with top class potential than it was to create a successful Class Association with global reach to give proper support to its subsequent development writes W M Nixon.

Elvstrom was not only a sailor of a talent that was at genius level. He was a designer, boat-builder, sailmaker and marine innovator of the highest order, with multiple Olympic Gold Medals and World Championships in his CV. And from time to time, he would bring out a new prototype of the highest quality. Yet seldom did these new boats achieve universal popularity with the ultimate accolade of having an enthusiastic and mostly owner-run international class association.

These thoughts were prompted, in a roundabout way, by consideration of this weekend’s Irish J/109 Nationals at Howth, in which local superstar Storm (Pat Kelly HYC, who’s also of Rush SC) is the defending champion, his crew of Fingal friends – usually augmented by Marty O’Leary - having won a scorcher of a 2017 Nationals at the Royal Irish YC last October.

But in other places, Storm is renowned as the Celtic Cup winner of the relatively new RC35 class. For one of the most interesting things about the J/109 in the Irish scene - and particularly the Dublin Bay context – is that she’s all things to all men and women. Certainly, there are national class associations in several countries and an international association in order to keep the class as One-Design as possible. And in the Dublin Bay group, there are clearly defined crewing rules which prevent boats with the significant professional input of a Category 3 sailor in their crew from taking part in the J/109 Irish Nationals.

dublin bay j109s2Dublin Bay J/109 racing at top one design level – the annual Nationals are one of the few events where they race as a separate class. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

But nevertheless, flexibility is the keynote of the general approach. Despite the attraction of one-design or semi-one-design racing, the National Championship is one of the few events in which the class in the Greater Dublin area sails specifically as the J/109 Class.

Most of the owners are Dublin Bay Sailing Club stalwarts, and they realise that their class of 15 or so Grand Prix boats make up a significant segment of the upper part of the many and various DBSC cruiser-racer fleet.

This fleet’s turnouts on a Thursday evening are worthy of a detailed sociological study, as many of the crews include people whose only sailing is this one race on a Thursday night, and it has been that way for years. But that’s a kite for flying yet again at another time.

raptor racing3Dublin Bay cruiser-racing is one of the wonders of the Irish sailing scene – and a museum of sailing too. Raptor (Denis Hewitt & partners) may look modern, but she’s a 32ft Mark Mills design of 1996, originally built for Peter Beamish as Aztec

What is relevant is that the J/109 owners realize that if they hived themselves off as a separate class, it would greatly weaken the turnouts in the open divisions. So they prefer to race with their differing IRC ratings as individual boats against each other, and also against boats of other types.

It’s a flexible and mutually-beneficial arrangement which suits the reality of the times we live in. If they were racing as a white-hot and separate One Design class, they’d be under pressure week after week to have a crack crew ready and willing to go, whereas, in the more comfortable space of one of the cruiser-racer divisions, they cut you a bit of slack if frequent turnouts become too onerous.

At least, that’s the way it seems to outsiders. But certainly there’s a different mood to the class when the Irish Nationals are the weekend’s agenda, as they satisfy the need for competitive idealists who dream of a large J/109 one-design class racing week-in, week-out and continually going neck-and-neck in Dublin Bay, whereas realists appreciate that a middle course in class administration produces the most beneficial outcomes.

In achieving this, they work on the J/109’s multi-functional abilities. In a non-One Design context, they were the Boat of Choice in the Beaufort Cup series, the cornerstone of the biennial Cork Week. And the overall winner was John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, sailed by Commandant Barry Byrne who, back in June, had also won the Corinthian Division in the Round Ireland Race in the same boat, another feather in the J/109 cap. Then in August some of the J/109s found themselves in Calves Week in West Cork, and after the racing programme was over, owners and their families happily discovered that the J/109 really can be a very effective and comfortable cruiser.

As for the hard-raced Storm, her interests abroad went the opposite way, to the northeast. The Kelly crew have long been successful participants in the Scottish Series in late May, and in 2017 they found themselves involved in a developing Scottish initiative, the RC35 class.

fools gold4The new RC (Racing Cruiser) 35 Class began to flex its muscles at the Silvers Scottish Series 2017, and the A35 Fool’s Gold (Rob McConnell) from Dunmore East made a mark at this, the class’s national event debut, finishing second overall

Sailing in Scotland doesn’t have quite the same rich vein of One Design history which continues to inform much of Dublin Bay racing, and nor does it have the same total single focus which Dun Laoghaire Harbour provides south of the River Liffey, thereby providing continuous interaction among boat-owners.

But in recent years, when the Scottish fleets have got together to race, shrewd and observant participants have noticed that the sport among boats around the 35ft level seemed to have generated its own special popularity, with a sense of community and a high level of competition to match, encouraged by the fact that all boats finished within a reasonably similar time frame.

RC 35 logoThe RC 35 battle flag

This was so abundantly evident at 2016’s Scottish Series that by May 2017, folk like John Stamp, Christine Murray, Kevin Aitken and Craig Latimer had hoisted the flag – with the support of Harken and other sponsors - for a new RC35 class for all boats in a tight IRC rating band between 1.015 and 1.040, but with more flexibility on overall length – your pride-and-joy can be anything from 32ft to 38ft in overall length.

triple elf5One of the keenest RC35 competitors is the First 35 Triple Elf, owned by Christine Murray who was a founder of the class

Like many successful organisational ideas, it wasn’t revolutionary – rather, it rationalised an existing situation to give it a much more attractive and user-friendly structure. Suddenly, lone owners with boats like Beneteau First 36.7s, First 35s, Archambault 35s, Corby 33s, and several Elans and X Boats, found that they were being brought in from the cold to become part of a real warm class with a nascent class association, run by owners for owners with a growing sense of camaraderie. And they’d their own developing programme, where the really keen could commit to the entire season, while others knew they’d have good racing with a welcome guaranteed even if they went to only one regatta.

The J/109s fit very neatly indeed into the lower sector of that tight RC 35 rating band, so by 2017’s Scottish Series, the Irish J/109s found that the IRC 2 Class had also become the RC35 Class, and it fitted them like a glove. Then, by the 2018 Scottish Series, IRC 2 was no more. It was now clearly named the RC35 Class. And the new setup was the best show in town, with the Irish making hay and Storm winning overall by four points from John Hall’s J/109 Something Else from the National YC.

three bows6The closest of class racing for three different bow profiles, as they’re all in RC35.

For Storm, it marked the conclusion of a remarkable month in Scotland which made the Kelly family the Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month” for May 2018, as they’d been so taken with the RC35 concept from their experience in 2017 that they took part (needless to say with success) in the class in racing at the early May Bank Holiday, and Kip Regatta at mid-month before going on to Tarbert and the Scottish Series.

Then they hastened home for the new Wave Regatta at Howth and though in the J/109s they had to concede first overall to Andrew Algeo and partners in Juggerknot, Storm won the tradition Lambay Race around which the Wave Regatta is centred. For a Fingal boat, the 164-boat Lambay Race in itself is every bit as important as the Wave Regatta overall.

bangor town7Pre-start jockeying for the RC35s at Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough in July.

Meanwhile, up on Belfast Lough the concept of the RC 35 Class had come across the North Channel to be one of the building blocks for the multi-class Bangor Town Regatta in the extended first weekend of July, a new twist on an ancient event jointly organised by Royal Ulster YC and Ballyholme YC. In the end, the relevant class was called IRC 2, but it was the RC35s by any other name, and this time it was a Scottish boat, the Elan 380 Animal (Debbie Aitken) which won, albeit by only one point from Storm in the regatta’s hottest classes.

Back home in Howth in late July, the Kelly family’s efforts were re-directed towards helping tonner Half Tonner Harmony (Johnny Swann) prepare for the Half Ton Classics in Belgium in August, as young David Kelly – Pat’s grandson – is a member of the Harmony crew. Apart from showing the camaraderie of sailing, it was something which underlined the significant difference between Howth’s hyper-keen Half Tonners (we hear the class is soon to have an interesting new addition) and RC35s like the J/109.

For the Half Tonners are a manageable road-trailing proposition, but the J/109s and other RC 35s are too big for most owners to consider the road journey as an integral part of campaigning.

weather mark8Different boat types, same class…..A typical RC35 melange at the weather mark

In other words, the RC35 has the potential to flourish when its various centres are within reasonable sailing distance of each other, and this is why its initial area of growth is along the Firth of Clyde with out-reach to the East Coast of Ireland and North Wales, with the different main events being given an overall structure through the season-long Celtic Cup Trophy. For 2018, this was decisively taken by Storm after she added to her earlier success in the Clyde and Belfast Lough by winning the Welsh IRC Championship off Pwllheli and Abersoch in breezy conditions in August.

welsh champs9The RC35 Class gets to Wales in August 2018 – ISORA Champion 2017 (and 2018), the J/109 Mojito (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop), finds herself drawn into the RC35 class in close contention with Scottish visitor Triple Elf (Christine Murray).

This weekend’s National Championship in Howth is, of course, an exclusively J/109 event, but for next year the RC35 Class are keen to make the Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 one of their pillar events. There were preliminary moves back in 2017, but for 2019 all the signs are that the RC35s are going to give the VDLR 2019 the full welly if all the balances between class divisions can be resolved.

Making the cut in rating bands for major cruiser-racer events is now almost a spectator sport. But there’s no doubting that the enthusiastic adherents of the diverse new RC35 class have brought a sense of cohesion, camaraderie and sheer fun in sailing to the sometimes seemingly sedate world of cruiser-racing. This is a truly grassroots movement – there’s no way it’s a stultified top-down organisation. We might say that the market has spoken, and the producers (aka Event Organisers) have to listen.

It’s all a very long way from Paul Elvstrom producing a brilliant new boat and then hoping an active class association takes shape through some sort of natural process...

Published in RC35
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