After the great success of “maturing” into the J80s last year, the SWSYC Academy continued with keelboats for their 6th annual challenge.
Unfortunately the RTYC/RYS J80s were unavailable to us this season and so we looked a little further down the coast and were welcomed by Parkstone Yacht Club’s J24 owners to race their yachts in Poole Harbour.
The location and choice of boats was fantastic as we wanted to coincide our regatta with a fund raising event for our Olympic Match Race girls – who are also Poole born and bred.
Briefing was the usual Academy affair – half the competitors were late arriving, Race Officer Howe (jnr) was heckled from start to finish and then it was wrapped up with the seemingly mandatory water-pistol-in-crotch hilarity just as the Race Officer thought he’d been spared this humiliation by the maturing Academicians.
The format was simple – as many windward-leeward races as we could complete in 2 hours on the water. In total we managed 12 races so the owner’s representatives on board each yacht were subjected to a dozen heart stopping occasions as the SWSYC Academy jostled for start line supremacy.
Amongst our helms was Academy regular and former J24 European Champion Duncan McCarthy. Despite racing these yachts at least twice a week for the past decade, the small matter of removing the outboard engine from the transom seemed to escape him until 10 seconds before the starting gun of the first race. Trying to work a yacht up to speed whilst cradling a 5hp Mercury in one’s lap is not recommended!
The conditions were perfect for harbour racing – especially for late October. The crews enjoyed 8 knots of breeze, slack tide, flat water and glorious sunshine. Not many were expecting to be sailing in shorts and t-shirts at this point in the season but Nick Hornby, the reigning Academy Cup champion quickly adapted to these conditions and arranged for two of his beautiful, long-legged (female) crew to be clad in just hot-pants and t-shirts.
Elie Dobson performed a rather uncomfortable pre-start manoeuvre and very nearly fell overboard, skidding from the windward side to leeward at high speed. Thankfully she was spared the embarrassment of the wet finish by planting a cleat in her bottom. For this misdemeanour, Elie was awarded the opportunity to sit on the Throne of Endeavour for the next year.
Ed Wilton who is more accustomed to cruiser-racing with the pushpit BBQ lit, lifted the 2011 Academy Cup crewed by Bulent ‘The Turk’ Yazici and Dominica Lindsay. It turned out to be a rather expensive day for Ed as he enjoyed the racing so much the owner talked him into buying a half share of the yacht and the deal was shaken on before they had made it back to the dock!
Ben Clothier demonstrated very clearly that racing a J24 is different to a 6 metre, sweeping up the back of the fleet and with awarded the SWSYC Golden Broom for his troubles.
As always there are many people to thank for making these events happen – but we’ll keep it brief. First and foremost the Parkstone YC J24 owners who kindly provided their yachts for the day, Jim MacGregor and David Lush for their help both before and during the weekend and finally Parkstone Yacht Club for making us so welcome.