Blog & News

Blog & News

Adventures on the Disko!

January 22nd, 2024 news Sailing Adventures

From J/99 ‘Disko Trooper’ owner Jules Hall.

2023 was a big year for team Disko Trooper. We started the year finishing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) Two Handed Series. Then trying our hand at short course racing for the inaugural J/99 nationals. It was fantastic to win both.

Seeking a new adventure we then switched our focus to the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race. The 690nm course from Cowes, Isle of Wight down the English Channel, across the Irish Sea round the famous Fastnet Rock and back to Cherbourg in northern France is a fantastic navigational challenge, but more importantly an incredible opportunity to line up against the best two handed fleet in the world. 96 of them to be exact.

Coordinating a campaign from the other side of the world is a solid challenge. Especially when there’s only two of you to do the work! But we pulled it off and had an amazing experience. We chartered a J/99 from Key Yachting and took our own sails across. In hindsight one week was ambitious for getting the boat ready. And we would definitely have benefited from doing some of the lead up races. Unfortunately it’s a long way from Australia.

The race was a belter. Three gales over five days. Loads of interesting navigational challenges. And a fantastic standard in the Two Handed fleet. We snagged a podium in IRC3a, 37th out of 400 plus entries and 14th in the Two Handed fleet. On reflection a respectable outcome.

J/99 Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth Fastnet 2023. Photo credit Paul Wyeth.

Then it was back to Oz. Clogs (Jan Scholten) was busy training for the Laser World Masters Championship in Adelaide in January 2024 so Jules decided to enter the CYCA’s Blue Water Pointscore and Rolex Sydney Hobart Race with a crew from the CYCA’s Youth Sailing Academy.

We didn’t get on the water until late August, with the first race in September. But the Blue Water Pointscore races and Monday night spinnaker twilights licked us into shape and we managed to get onto the podium in most races, scoring 3rd overall in the 220nm Tollgate Islands Race.

The Hobart was a ripper! A low pressure system over the race track for the first 36 hours created very fickle and unpredictable breezes. We got punished on the first night, missing the lane of pressure 6nm offshore that scooted Kraken and Cinamon Girl 30nm ahead. But we worked hard and came back within 4nm (twice). Unfortunately we had lost too much to recover and every time the new breeze came in, the rich got richer. Which wasn’t us!

The last 18 hours around Tasman Island were spectacular. Gusting up to 43 knots in the (very heavy) rain squalls. 6m waves and a nasty 2 knot current on the nose. We eventually got around the island and pointed for the finish. The engine starter unit had failed so we were without engine (and battery charging) for the last 36 hours, but careful power management, and a late swap of the engine and house battery, saw us all the way home with instruments.

We ended up 4th in division and 22nd overall. A respectable result and proof that the J/99 goes just as well crewed as she does two handed – just don’t miss the pressure line on the first night!

J/99 Disko Trooper_Contender Sailcloth. Sydney to Hobart 2023. Photo Credit Richard Bennet.

And then it was time for something completely different. Wendy, Mark and Charlie sailed Disko Trooper from Hobart across the Bass Strait to the tiny town of Bermagui just north of the Victorian border where they were met by Jules, his wife Tanya and two daughters – Mila (14) and Livvy (12). The racing sails came off, the eskies and creature comforts piled on and so started a serious cruising adventure for the Hall family!

We broke the 220nm into a series of manageable hops overnighting at Batemans Bay, Ulladulla, Jervis Bay and Shellharbour. We did night sailing, day sailing, we picked up remote moorings and anchored in even more remote spots. We caught up with friends all along the route. And most importantly, just like the Hobart race and the Fastnet race we had a lot of fun!

With the good ship Disko Trooper safely back at the CYCA that wraps a pretty awesome year of sailing and holidaying on the J/99. We’ve raced two handed, fully crewed, inshore and offshore, including the Fastnet and Hobart races. And we’ve enjoyed a serious coastal cruise as a family. The J/99 is a pretty cool boat that can do all that at just 9.9nm long.

The final word has to go to Contender Sailcloth who have provided incredible support for our campaigns again this year, along with Ian Short Sails and J/Boats. We simply couldn’t have done it without you, so to all of you in Sydney, the UK and Europe, thank you. And for the rest of us, here’s to a fantastic 2024 on the seas, oceans and lakes, wherever you sail.

J/99 Disko Trooper cruising the eastern coast of Australia. Photo credit Jules Hall.

Story by J Boats Australia

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