Whilst the Saturday keel boat fraternity wandered back to their pens and the bar after a long day around the sticks the entertainment out front of the club was just beginning.
The critics in the bar were oooing and arrrring as the fleet of 8 J24s performed for them. Some with binos and most pausing their drinks as the J24s sailed a four race set right in front of their eyes. With the start line not much more than 100m off the edge of the bar and a brisk southerly blowing in the crowd sat on the edge of their chairs as the gladiators performed.
Saturday afternoon turned on some of the best weather we’ve seen this summer and the J’s turned on the action for the first ever J/24 Saturday twilight. Racing was delayed slightly while we waited for the boats racing in the Club Marine series to get back to the club, but once they were all up in the bar they were treated to some seriously close racing in top end genoa and jib conditions.
Race Officer Glenn Taylor set a short course of windward leeward races inside number 4 mark only metres from the shore!! The brisk southerly ensured plenty action with commentary from Luke Matthews giving a blow by blow description keeping all in the bar and deck area patrons enthralled.
The rolling four race format was fast and furious with any mistakes made costing race places in a blink.
With a fleet of eight boats, racing was always going to be tight and after the first two races, the lead was tied with Hugo Ottaway on Bruschetta VI and Kirsty Harris on Hyperactive both scoring a first and a second in both races. Hugo, finding his groove stepped clear in the third race, going a point clear of the girls on Hyperactive. For the last race Hyperactive needed to not only beat Hugo, but put a boat between them, so it was always going to be tough. Cat and mouse in the last start saw both boats start at the back of the pack after an OCS call. However, Hugo ended up getting the upper hand, leaving Kirsty in his wake.
Third in the first two races was the ever present Brendan Lee in ‘By the Lee’ who was always nipping on the leaders heels. This all being said, one of the most exciting moments went to the thrilling victory in the last race by Steve Aulich holding out a fast finishing Hugo to snatch his first race win in J’s.
The competitors loved it, needless to say the spectators did too. The first of hopefully many such events highlighting the fun a “J” has to offer.
The fleet is now looking forward to the next installment on 4th February, so make sure you are there with your big eyes and a calming drink!
by Simon Grain with input from Steve Auilich and Luke Mathews