tight at the top
We like this report from Anarchist John van der Starre and for the full effect, left it just as he wrote it.
Last month , our team, unexpectedly, got the fantastic opportunity to start the season in
La Trinite sur Mer. The Easter regatta, called “ Spi Ouest”, is an annual sailing regatta with
Here the first J/111 One design regatta in Europe would take place and we were invited by the
J-Europe factory to participate!
After the winter series, we made a great effort in a short period to prepare the boat for La Trinite.
There were 10 J/111 enlisted, coming from France, Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand, the UK and
Paul Heys, the UK J-agent (last year 3th in Cowes week) was there and so was Didier le Moal,
CEO of J/Boats Europe with a professional crew.
Good Friday was a splendid day with 25 kts of wind from the NE and sun, so magnificent sailing
conditions. This day, our class was starting with the First 31.7 class on course B. Also the M34 and
Grand Surprises with a field of 44 boats were on our course. Our first start was good and we were
first at the top mark.. Downwind we were too precautious with our A5 asymmetrical, because we
wanted to spare the new 130 m2 A2 with 25 kts of wind.
At once we were overrun by the planing French boat helmed by Didier with its large spinnaker.
After the second upwind leg, we came 2nd at the upwind mark, it became painfully clear how
incredibly busy it can be at the top mark.
We wanted to round the mark after a starboard tack but surrounded by lots of Grand Surprises, we
were stuck in the pack.
On top of that, one of them hit us and its mast came between our forestay and our mast. No escape
possible with 25 kts of wind. Fortunately, with utmost physical efforts, we could get free and continue
the race without substantial damage and no dismasting!
We had to turn a 720 degrees and became 5 th in position.
Finally, we finished 3 rd but realized that we were very lucky to be able to continue racing .
Without a mast, the racing season would be over…….Race 2 was not really good, too precautious choosing the A5 and struggling with flocks of other
boats , we became 4 rth. Race 3 was a beautiful 15 miles coastal to round fixed cans. We had a good start and could take
charge after some sensible decisions. This resulted in a first place!!
Conclusion of the day: stay out of the crowd and hoist the large spinnaker.
Looks again to be a top-day. We started with 10 kts of wind, many windshifts, and again a first place.
However, in the 2 nd race, we were put back to earth. After a start over port, we could not climb out
of the field and were forced to continue too far. We could not get the speed of the last race and with
defensive tactics, we could press out a 3 rd place.
With new energy we started another coastal, but again not enough speed. We were ending up at
the back of the field………. What is the matter??? There is only one possibility and that is that
something is wrong under water.
Underway we saw some seaweed in the water, so maybe there is some stuck at the keel, saildrive or
rudder. During our daily drink on the mooring pontoon, we could borrow a wetsuit, luckily for
some of us a small one, so Pascal our bowman was the only lucky one to fit in.
As Pascal is a brave man, he goes under the boat in the ice cold water and at the rudder he found
seaweed. We found the reason of our bad performance!
Our self-confidence was damaged a bit, but we started day 3 with full enthusiasm.
Race 1, less wind, 6 kts, looking out for pressure.
Especially downwind, the dices are thrown. Are you choosing depth and less speed or more speed
with less height.
We kept on watching VMG and gusts and tried to find the right mixture. Especially the French boat “ J-Lance” with Didier goes like hell and wins this race. We became 2 nd.
Race 2 is like a one design race should be, 8 knots within 50 meters from each other , changing
positions all the time, great racing!!
We fought hard and ended 3 rd. Race 3 was top of the bill. Another first place!!
2 nd Easter Day.
Day 4. Early start at 09.30 hrs. We sail race 1 with 20 kts of wind. We have a safe 3 rd pace in general
ranking with only 1 point difference between # 2 “ J-Dream” and # 1 “ J-Lance” and us 4 points
behind the latter. With some luck, we could climb one or two places if we were going to win two
Unfortunately, after one race and a 3rd. place, the committee decides to send us back to the marina.
J-Lance became the winner, with J-Dream second and Xcentric Ripper third.
Spi-Ouest, a splendid event. What an excellent racing weekend!! I have to say that one design sailing
in J-111 is great. It is very close racing. Every tiny mistake is being punished straight away and
winning is really winning. A fine result and a very good team spirit and atmosphere on board of our
Participating Spi-Ouest gave us the opportunity to work on our tuning and boat handling and we
became very confident in the new season, starting with the Van Uden Reco races in 2 weeks!!!