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Middle Sea Race Tests JPK 10.80 to Success

25th October 2017
The Xp-44 XP-ACT, with a strong Irish representation on board, finally gets to free sheets at Favignana after a hard sail off Sicily’s northwest coast The Xp-44 XP-ACT, with a strong Irish representation on board, finally gets to free sheets at Favignana after a hard sail off Sicily’s northwest coast

If you had to be in a 35-footer as the remaining fleet in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2017 negotiated those foul gale-and-backwash conditions off the huge cliffs of northwest Sicily earlier this week, then the JPK10.80 would have been the Boat of Choice writes W M Nixon.

For not only does the French wonderboat have a superb performance, but as Paul O’Higgins told us after his JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI had convincingly won the very rugged Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June, when off watch in heavy weather: “You really do get a proper little spell of sleep. To begin with, the boat is so well built there is no water finding its way below. Troublesome drips from above are unknown. You won’t find the sleeping bag is slowly dampening from some hidden little puddle. And within the limits of slugging to windward off Ireland’s south coast, she’s as seakindly as can be, particularly when you have a helmsman of world quality who knows that a banging boat is a slow boat. And always, there’s the reassurance of knowing how well she is built. She’s definitely not going to fall asunder under you and about you. There’s no better recipe for a refreshing sleep when it’s your turn to be off watch”.

Observers have noted that the Russian-owned JPK 10.80 Bogatyr (Igor Rytov) was doing well in class in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2017. And as her division was Class 6, she was best-placed of those in it still racing to benefit from the fact that the biggies – and George David’s Rambler 88 in particular – had seen the odds pile against them by being stopped in early race calms.

But although Bogatyr has been on the European scene this past season, as she’d been 34th at the rock during the Fastnet Race, and 50th at the finish when sister-ships had shown much better, her chances overall were accordingly discounted.

And as well, even a Mistral-generated bucket of wind isn’t going to last for ever. What chance was there of a 35 footer carrying that glorious fair wind all the way from western Sicily round the islands and into Valetta?

The answer is: A slim chance. But enough. Bogatyr came into Valetta as one of the very few Class 6 boats still racing, and except for one, the others were far away. But the Russian JPK 10.80 had the win of a lifetime by getting a corrected time of just 6 minutes and 29 seconds better than another late challenger, James Blakemore’s Swan 53 Music from South Africa, which pushed last night’s leader Teasing Machine (Eric de Turkheim) into third place.

As suspected in yesterday evening’s report, the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen from France had become temporarily mislaid in the official results, but by midnight she’d appeared at second overall. However, that too has gone, as another very gallant Class 6 boat, the Elan 350 Rosatom Sailing team, has nipped into fourth, while the Irish-oriented Xp-44 XP-ACT, with Barry Hurley and Shane Diviney aboard and chasing the bigger Music, has fetched up in fifth with Tonnerre sixth.

About an hour and ten minutes covers the corrected times of the first six boats, and they’re from four different classes, so despite the extreme vagaries of the weather, the IRC seems to have done its work in efficient style.

Nick Jones Barry Hurley RMYC Louay HabibGame over. Nick Jones and Barry Hurley in good form in Valetta after “a lovely race with plenty of breeze”.

As to the race, fourteen times Middle Sea veteran Barry Hurley (who had Nick Jones of the all-conquering First 44.7 Lisa in his ship’s company) sums it up with droll exuberance:

“That was a lovely race. We had plenty of breeze but not as much as the fellows back in Ireland had, so all is good. This was my 14th race, and probably three have been as breezy as this in the past. The second half of this race was really fast, it took us half the time to finish the race than 2012. We have a great team, something like 70 races between us, an insane amount of experience, and we have all been able to rely on each other, which is what you want in a crew.”

Results here

Published in Offshore
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