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It had been in the planning for months, if not years and now finally it was here - The J-Class were back in British waters . . . and in Falmouth!  

The original field of six entries gradually dwindled, first with Hanuman (the Endeavour II replica) pulling out and then at the last minute, Endeavour decided against it too, leaving just the four of Velsheda, Ranger and the two new builds, Lionheart and Rainbow.  It was frustrating, for me and I'm sure for everyone else, but there would still be the biggest gathering of J's in British waters for over 60 years.

I have seen the J's before in St.Tropez, but to see four together in Falmouth was stunning!

A week of really varied conditions meant a whole range of reference material.  We started with a dull and relatively windless day on Tuesday in which Ranger got off to a good start to the regatta, beating Velsheda into second with Rainbow and Lionheart following up.  Lack of wind turned into complete fog on the Wednesday - so much so, that I didn't even think it worth going out.  Velsheda eased it by four minutes, but only a minute separated Ranger, Lionheart and Rainbow.  

 Thursday was a real mixed bag with an overcast start turning into thick fog on the run down towards the leeward mark, although that did lead to some very eerie shots.  Eventually, it cleared giving great photography conditions with good light and some interesting skies along with plenty of breeze for some good action.  Velsheda took the honours with Ranger second, Lionheart third and Rainbow last.  

Fridays race was cancelled due to too much wind!  Damn!!  Great conditions for me though - although stupidly wet, we did still manage to get some shots.  Just as the race was called off, Ranger decided to go for a play, so we followed for as long as we could despite getting battered. Trying to keep up with a J' in these conditions was hard going!  Some fantastic shots of bow-waves exploding from the front of Ranger made the effort worth-while.   

j class falmouth 2012img 0818Race 5 on Saturday (the last day of the regatta) saw perfect conditions for the sailors and spectators alike, with 22-25 knots of breeze and gusting, with glorious sunshine, exactly what I'd been hoping for all week!!  

It was another close start with only a few seconds covering all the boats on the start line, but unfortunately Rainbow was just too early and then had to do a turn and re-start.  Early on, Lionheart led from Velsheda, with Ranger in third and Rainbow at the back of the field after the start she had.  At the windward mark, Lionheart still led, but Ranger moved up to second ahead of Velsheda, (which proved to be crucial in the overall regatta result) and Rainbow at the rear although she was clawing back the deficit dramatically. 

Unfortunately Rainbow then had trouble with her spinnaker and had to retire from the race.  This then left the other three J's to battle it out, but positions stayed the same right to the finish with Lionheart taking line honours, although Velsheda won the race on corrected time by 35 seconds.  j class falmouth 2012img 1052

This win meant that Ranger then won the overall regatta pushing Velsheda into second, with Lionheart taking third and Rainbow fourth.

Nick Wood and Danny Miller, good friends of mine from Lionheart, both said that Saturday's race was in their top ten of best sails ever! 

Overall it was a fantastic week witnessing these stunning yachts battle it out - a real pleasure to watch and hopefully I've managed to capture their beauty and sheer size in my photographs which I hope will lead to some good paintings in the future.

To see my first painting from the Falmouth regatta, see the Lionheart and fleet, J-Class regatta, Falmouth 2012 painting in the Artwork Gallery.

 

Please go to my Photo Gallery  to see some of my better photo's from the week - but please remember - I'm an artist not a photographer!!  Franco Pace and Beken have nothing to be worried about!!!!