The J/99 from J/Boats has again proved its versatility with an extremely successful Australian National Championship held last weekend 4-5th March 2023. The Championship was a six race program, fully crewed windward leeward series and held as part of the Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club (MHYC)
Others have thought the J/99 was categorised solely as a double handed Sydney to Hobart winner and offshore racer – there is no doubt the J/99 does this type of racing extremely well with proven results from around the World. However the National Championship has now highlighted the J/99 is equally adept ‘around the cans’ in close competitive racing, with 5-6 crew on board. The format for the Nationals was to keep it simple with a ‘box rule’ for sails (1 main, 2 jibs, 2 kites) and ORC Club certificates to capture the small differences in sail area.
Six J/99’s with a diverse mix of owners entered this year’s inaugural regatta. Of course, we know Jules Hall from Disko Trooper and Shane Connelly from Rum Rebellion who have cleaned up in Blue Water Double Handed racing over the past two years. We also have new comers Ian Smith from Jupiter and Chris O’Neill from Blue Planet who have started their offshore campaigns with great results. Also Gerry Morecombe from Echo and the syndicate with Siena who purchased their J/99’s for inshore harbour racing and social fun.
The overarching feedback is that all skippers and crew had enormous fun and enjoyed the camaraderie of this growing class. They all pushed outside their comfort zones and usual race program for this W/L close racing format. A huge thank you to MHYC for hosting such a fantastic and well run event.
The winners of the event were Disko Trooper, Jupiter, Rum Rebellion. Blue Planet just missed the chocolates on countback.
Comments below from some J/99 australian owners:
From Jules Hall – DISKO TROOPER
What a fun regatta!
Saturday was a tough day! Light winds, strong tide, bumpy water. There were lots of holes in the breeze, and we were very good at finding them! Jupiter was clearly in close contact with Huey, maintaining pressure and speed to post the most consistent results of the day, notably first at the top mark in every race.
Sunday was a classic building Sydney Harbour Nor’ Easter. Race one started in 13kts. By race 3 we were seeing 20 knot gusts. The race committee kept the fleet on its toes, laying a short line which created some good pre-start excitement!
Entering the second day on level points with Jupiter, after a punish in race 2, team Disko had some work to do. We agreed a plan for the day, had a quick reminder on how to sail fully crewed, then got down to business.
Race 1 we got away cleanly and had a solid race. Race 2 the individual recall flag was hoisted. With no drops we weren’t risking it was us, so gybed around, re-crossed the line, splitting with the fleet on our preferred port tack. It worked and we were a nose in front by the top mark. There were big gains to be had downwind with boat handling and gust management and we finished in front. It wasn’t Disko Trooper that was over at the start after all! Race 3 and we got a little buried at the start. But speed and height were our friends. We bounced off the shore, played the shifts and squeaked around the top mark just in front. Closing the race with the win secured the national championships for Disko Trooper. Turns out fully crewed sailing can be quite fun!!
What a fabulous event! A big thank you to Ian Smith (Jupiter) for all the effort in making it happen. Extremely well sailed to all the crews. And thank you to Middle Harbour Yacht Club for hosting an excellent regatta.
Jules, Disko Trooper
From Gerry Morecombe – ‘ECHO’.
The feedback this Monday morning from our boatload of retirees (with an average age heading towards 70) is that they are enjoying the «lay day» today!
Saturday was the first spinnaker race EVER for Echo, thankfully the light breeze concealed our spinnaker handling sins but not in the finish times, which averaged just of 9 minutes behind the very skilful Disko Trooper.
Sunday what a beauty! a new day with a breeze that we all love and enjoy. 3 great races for Echo and it’s creaking bodied crew, a few adjustments in duties to account for creaking limbs but we had so much fun!
The average finish time behind the very skilful Disko Trooper was just 2.6 minutes and this included us blowing the spinnaker on the last gybe of the first downhill leg of race 6. The second downhill leg was with our trusty whisker pole only 😊
Well done for your foresight in insisting on the ORC club certificates for the series , it helps us see the differences in the sail plans and also highlights peoples’ sailing skills.
Echo’s next outing beyond the genteel twilight sailing at Greenwich Flying Squadron, we will be sailing in the Port Stephens race week – hope some J/99’s will join us
Owning a J/99 is much more fun than a grey nomad’s all singing and dancing caravan!
We are looking forward to sailing with the J99 fleet again soon !
From Chris O’Neill – BLUE PLANET
Many thanks for providing the initiative for the inaugural J/99 National Championships. The regatta was a tremendous success on and off the water. We had a good mix of testing conditions.
Saturday’s racing was dominated by light shifty breeze, with current being a large tactical consideration. Sunday presented a classic building Sydney Nor’ Easter. As can be expected across such a range of conditions, the cream rose to the top and the podium faithfully reflected the current rankings in the fleet.
While many owners purchased their J/99 for short-handed offshore racing this weekend proved that they are also nimble and a delight on tight inshore W/L courses. Despite a mix of crew experience and expertise the racing was consistently challenging and exciting, and every boat found something to be proud of.
I hope that the success of this regatta provides the basis for forming a structured Class Association that will act to promote the class moving forward, and I look forward to the continued strength of the class.
Chris – Blue Planet
The J/99 is a phenomenal success to hold a National Championship in less than three years since the first J/99 arrived in Australia. J/Boats have launched more than 140 J/99’s world wide during this time, and Australia is the first country to hold a National Championships – something we are very proud of. As pointed out (with a grin) by Ian Box, Special Event Chair of MHYC during prize giving, ‘this year’s winners are technically World Champions!’
There are more J/99’s on the way to Australia so keep posted for more news.
Article by J/Boats Australia
Photos credit : Margaret Fraser-Martin