Day 5: A Convincing Win and the Rolex Cup for Velsheda

published 09/08/2013

Today saw the grand finale of the battle of the J’s at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, with Rainbow ahead of Velsheda by only one point on this last day of racing, tensions were high. “We (Rainbow) came to this regatta with one goal, and that was not to finish last – we’ve done that, and better – to be in the running to actually win the Class really was a dream come true.”

Tensions were further heightened when the Race Committee called a half hour postponement at 9am, and it was looking dicey as to whether there would be a start at all.

Conditions throughout this week have been light and ‘challenging’, a little unusual for regattas hosted out of the Porto Cervo Yacht Club Costa Smeralda with it’s infamous ‘bomb alley’ – the natural channel that runs through the Maddalena archipelago known for big barrelling puffs of wind. The forecast for today was for breeze out of the east, light but building throughout the day.

The course was called, it would be a variant on course 3 with an extra mark; with a downwind start, through the narrow straits of Bisce, round an inflatable near the Beacon of Secca Tre Monti, up to the iconic lighthouse on the Isle of Monaci finishing with a down wind leg home – a shorter coastal course of approximately 17nm that took the Js just under 2 hours to complete.

The big difference today was that it was a downwind start – "positioning is key, you aim to hoist before the start and hit the line at full speed." Velsheda seemed to nail it, “We executed the start perfectly,” explained Jeff Reynolds, Velsheda’s bowman, “We hoisted at the right time and were in the right position.” They were able to take off in clean air and reached the narrow gate at the Isle of Bisce ahead of the competition. After putting the minimal gybes required to pass through the narrow channel, the rest as they say was history. “Once in the lead in this light air, you should have it sewn up as there are not many passing lanes out there,” continued Jeff, “winning the race today came down to not only the start and tactics, but also to our awesome crew work – manoeuvres in the light stuff can be tricky, but everything went up and came down smoothly. Most of our team have been racing together for over 5 years and we have got it all down to a fine science.”

Rainbow were not so lucky, “We didn’t get a proper leg up at the start,” described Mark Neelemen who helms the up wind legs, “we were too low, and couldn’t speed up as we were in the bad wind of Ranger”. Rainbow was forced to hold out for Inoui – the new sloop from Vitters – to gybe over before they could, and to compound the issue then had to dip Inoui on the next cross. Finally they came into the Straits of Bisce too high and had to do a couple more gybes than Velsheda who were only just in the lead at that point, “it may not seem so much, but lots of little things make a lot.” The race was over in that first 10 minutes.

Ranger pretty much sailed her own race today, without the stronger winds that she needs to get up and fly, she had to be content with sailing a solid race with no tactical or crew work errors – Ranger scored on both points today.

Back on the dock there was a short prize giving for the J Class Owners, guests and crew with a new ‘keeper’ trophy awarded to the Owner of Velsheda which was collected with thanks to Ranger, their old rivals, and to Rainbow the relative new comers. The J Class is fast becoming a highly competitive and exciting class, with potential new project builds coming through everyone hopes that the expanding fleet will increase the opportunity for their own class starts as seen in Palma earlier this year.

A great regatta and end of season for some, congratulations and thanks go to the team at the YCCS for hosting the J’s and for their fantastic Race Management – it’s been a pleasure!

The J’s will be next seen competing in Les Voiles de St Tropez at the end of this month (28 September – 6 October), entries include Hanuman, Lionheart, Velsheda and the oldest surviving yacht in the class, Shamrock V.

Stand by for more updates from there, and you can also follow the action live via


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