The Inaugural J-80 Asian Championships, the T & Z Marine Cup was held on the waters off Wu Yuan Bay, Xiamen, China from 7th – 10th December. 26 Teams stepped up to the plate from as far afield as India, Japan, Taiwan, Eastern Russia and of course China.
They were met on day one with cool conditions matched to a 18-20 knot breeze with the occasional gust approaching the mod twenties which, downwind, produced some hairy moments for some of the less experienced crews along with, I am sure, some very adult language.
On day one some crews had clearly not read the Class Rules and multiple penalties were handed out by the on the water judges for ‘early prods’. This trait amongst the fleet diminished as the regatta progressed as the teams learned, some clearly slower than others, that a J-80 bowsprit is to fly a gennaker from and not to extend overlap opportunities at the top mark.
Having said that, although racing was combative and competitive, it never appeared to cross the line towards aggressive and the regatta was sailed in a good spirit. Over the course of the four day regatta the wind gradually eased with, especially on day 2, some perfect sailing conditions were experienced by the competitors.
Evolution Tiger lay down a marker in Race 1with a second which was to prove their first of seven podiums including 4 wins netting out at 26 points. In second place local team Xiamen University proved that consistency is important as, although they only scored one win, their eight podiums propelled them to just 4 points behind with Seamo Race Team further 14 points back completing the podium.
For me the Xiamen University position was particularly sweet as I remember – not that many years ago – their Skipper ‘Eddie’ being a passionate beginner as a student at the same educational establishment, now he is a runner up in an Asia Championship.
The event was ‘marshalled’ with On The Water judging, avoiding long hours in the protest room after racing. Having said that I am sure that infringements often didn’t happen just because of the presence of the ever watchful judges.
The courses, all windward leeward, with square start lines evidenced by the even spread of boats on the start line, also healthily contributed to a successful event with sailors also not being kept hanging around for eternities in between races which almost uniformly ran to between 40 and45 minutes for the front runners.
Finally, overall it has to be said that the choice of Ironrock Sailing Club, which has built the China Club Challenge Match into the ‘must do’ regatta in China, proved to be a good choice to organise and run this inaugural J-80 Asians.