Kevin Sproul’s name has been etched on the J/80 Open National Championship Trophy for the seventh time. Racing J.A.T., the Scottish helmsman scored no lower than a fourth in nine races, to win the UK National title in a fleet of 21 boats. Jon Powell’s team, racing Betty, is the runner up, just a point ahead of Olympic Silver Medallist, Luke Patience, racing Ryoko Meka.
The Mediterranean conditions persisted for the entire three days for the J/80 Open National Championship and with air temperature touching 30ºC, the windless mornings were replaced by a fickle sea breeze in the afternoon. The Royal Southern Yacht Club’s Race management team, were roundly applauded for keeping competitors informed, and for delivering nine excellent races in difficult conditions. Starts are always important but especially in light air and while Kevin Sproul and Jon Powell showed the way for the first two days. The last day belonged to Luke Patience and his team, who scored three bullets and a second. Chris Body racing MockingJay and Nick Haigh’s Slightly Steamy, both has excellent results, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Congratulations should also go to Chris & Hannah Neve, racing No Regrets, for their race win on the final day.
It was a magnificent seven for Kevin Sproul, and a boost for the forthcoming world championship that the Scottish helmsman has yet to win. “This morning we knew we had to beat Jon Powell, and with two discards coming into play, we knew that the scores would even up. Even after two races today, we knew that Jon could still beat us.” commented Kevin. “This crew has been together for a long time, and that really makes the difference. This has been a very competitive National Championship; five teams won races and nine teams made the podium. The J/80 World Championship is next month, and with a big fleet, including top competition from France and Spain, joining some well sailed British boats, it is going to be a tremendous event.”
Jon Powell has been dominating the Club regattas at the Royal Southern Yacht Club and for the first two days of the regatta, Jon’s team pushed Kevin Sproul, all the way. “We had good speed on the first couple of days but today was a different story, we couldn’t find the same speed and paid the price.” commented Jon. “However, it is encouraging to know that we can compete with Kevin (Sproul). I would like to say a big thank you to Race Officer, Stuart Childerley and his team; getting in four good races today in a very short period of time deserves applause. Congratulations to Kevin and his team – we will be looking forward to the worlds.”
This was the first J/80 regatta for Olympic Silver medallist, Luke Patience who was racing with his 470 partner Chris Grube and Royal Southern member, Chris Jones. “It is a new boat, we didn’t expect to jump in and win, we were here to learn.” commented Luke Patience. “For the first two days, we were not in the A-lane. Today we found where we want to be with the rig settings and we have worked hard over the first two days to get that right. Today, with a short course, it was like a medal race, and me and Twiggy (Chris Grube) know that situation well. On a short course 80% of the effort is on the start, so we were very aggressive, and then you need a bit of patience taking the lift up the shore, until the melee unfolds and you pick your moment to tack back.” So, why are Luke Patience and Chris Grube racing in the J/80 Class? “Neither me or Twiggy are Gold Medallists, and we are hoping to change that in Tokyo. I have done the same sort of programme for the last two Olympics and this is different. All of this is about learning different ways, and everything is transferable to the 470.”
The J/80 Open National Championship Prize Giving was held in the Upper Bar of the Royal Southern Yacht Club. Commodore, Karen Henderson-Williams welcomed the competitors before announcing the winners and commented. “The Club is honoured to be chosen to host the J/80 Open National Championship. The Club will also be hosting the J/80 World Championship, which will take place from 8th – 14th July. 50 teams have already entered and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you all back for the regatta.”
For more information about the J/80 Open National Championship and the Royal Southern Yacht Club visit: www.royal-southern.co.uk