#Joker2 - John Maybury's Joker 2 has had an impressive run of form since June, with big wins in both the ICRA Nationals/Sovereign's Cup week and more recently in the J/109 Nationals at the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.
The first of these victories for the Royal Irish YC boat came on Saturday 27 June in the hotly contested Class 1 at Kinsale, with Joker 2 squaring off against Ian Nagle's Jelly Baby – off the back of a win at the UK J/109 Nationals, and with Olympian Killian Collins on tactics, no less – and Pat Kelly's Storm from Rush.
In addition to the J109s, there were other very well-prepared boats such as Rockabill (Paul O'Higgins, with Mel Collins steering and Mark Pettitt calling tactics), Bon Exemple (with Ben Duncan calling the shots) and Fools Gold (Rob McConnell), which had just won the Scottish Series overall.
On the lighter first day, Jelly Baby, sporting a larger jib than the other J/109s, excelled with a first and a second, but Joker 2 kept in touch with a 1,3 scoreline. On the Archambault 35, Rob McConnell and crew found the lighter conditions less to their liking with a 7,2 scoreline, but they were to improve as the wind increased on later days.
Indeed, days 2 and 3 had much stronger conditions, with winds around 20 knots, and Joker 2 started to take control with a 2,1,4,1 scoreline. Fools Gold also showed strong with a score of 2,1,3,1 to keep them just just three points off the lead after discard, with Jelly Baby a further two points behind.
Roll on the final day at Kinsale, and Joker 2 took control of the first race to win by over a minute on corrected time, giving Maybury and crew (including Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield) the championship with a race to spare. Fools Gold would later take a win in the final race to end up second overall, with Jelly Baby taking third – meaning two J/109s placed in the top three.
Joker 2 and Storm would also dominate next big event for the J/109s, their Nationals as part of the Dun Laoghaire Regatta – racing as a separate class but with the same courses in most races as Class 1.
What's more, a glance at the finishing times would have had the J/109s winning most of the Div 1 races had they sailed as a single group.
This race was abandoned at VDLR after a starting sequence error
After a faltering start on the Thursday (9 July), with racing abandoned after an early starting gun, the boats were flying in strong winds on day 2, held mainly in and around Howth.
Storm won both heavy air races on Day two of VDLR
Pat Kelly's Storm was the star of the show here, excelling in the conditions to win both races, though Joker 2 was a close second, with Something Else taking third overall.
Day 3 was sailed in 15 to 17 knots, and ended with a 1,2 scoreline for Joker 2 and a 1,4 for Storm, putting the latter ahead after discard by two points.
The next day would be the decider, and going in fleet was unsure whether the race committee would field a restart of Thursday's abandoned race as well as the final.
If there was just the one race, Joker 2 needed a win – and needed Storm no better than fourth place – to clinch the title. Two races would give Maybury a better opportunity to make up the deficit.
Sunday came and brought lighter winds. Joker 2 had the better of the start and tacked on Storm a number of times up the first beat, before breaking through to lead on the first downwind, with Storm yo-yoing between fifth and sixth.
However, that lead evaporated after the bottom mark when a left-degree shift with extra pressure brought Jigamaree, Something Else and Jalapeno into the top three, with Joker 2 now fourth.
Close racing in the J109s
It took until the very final mark for Maybury and company to overhaul that trio, taking the gun from Jalapeno by 30 seconds. With Storm coming in fifth and trailing by a point, with Joker 2 also having the better discard, the RIYC boat had done the necessary, provided no more racing was in order.
With the wind disappearing, race officer Jack Roy decided there was insufficient breeze to complete another race, and that was that: Joker 2 took the overall win and the J/109 National title for 2015 from Storm, with Jalapeno taking third on countback from Something Else due to her fine second place in the last race.
Continuing to grow in Dublin and elsewhere, J/109s have shown that they are not only a very well constructed and designed cruiser racer, they are also extremely competitive in IRC and have now won the last 2 IRC Nationals in Class 1.