J-Class Regatta - Solent 2012


The second J-Class regatta got off to a dull and windy start with winds touching 20 knots and gusting with building seas throughout the day.  This meant a rough and very wet day in a RIB!

Untitled-1The start of Race 1 saw the fleet split in two straight after the start with Lionheart and Rainbow electing to head for the North shore with Ranger and Velsheda taking the island shore.  At the weather mark, Ranger led by a short distance from Lionheart with Rainbow and Velsheda slipping back.  No dramatic changes followed and the four J's all crossed the finish within two and a half minutes of each other.

Race 2 of the regatta saw mixed conditions with a dull start, but with the odd shaft of light breaking through the cloud to light up the fleet beautifully.  Gradually, the cloud thickened and most of the race was overcast right up until the last few minutes of the race when the boats were heading downwind to the finish.  A hole appeared in the cloud and the sun hit full spinnakers making a wonderful sight!

The two new-builds got off to a clean start while the veterans both over-shot the gun and had to re-start.  After a long beat to Solent bank, Lionheart made the mark first, closely followed by Rainbow, with Velsheda and Ranger some way behind by this point after their poor starts.

Positions remained the same all the way down to the leeward gate and with a strengthening breeze Lionheart stengthened their lead on the way back up to Lymington Bank mark.  After the mark, Rainbow and Velsheda followed Lionheart toward the North shore while Ranger chose the island shore looking to make up some considerable ground.  Ranger's decision proved unsuccessful and positions remained the same until the finish, however Velsheda took the win on corrected time by 5 seconds.

Race 3 decided the destination of the Queen's Cup and it was up for grabs with all entrants standing a chance of taking the title.  There were very similar cloud conditions to the previous day, only with less wind.  After a good start with all four crossing the start line within seconds of the gun, Velsheda and Rainbow headed toward the island shore while Ranger and Lionheart opted for the North.  It was difficult to tell who had the advantage because of the separation, but when they finally crossed Velsheda just held the lead.  At the Lymington Bank windward mark, Velsheda rounded first, followed by Rainbow, Lionheart and Ranger fourth.

Heading downwind to the Solent Bank mark, Velsheda, Ranger, and Rainbow followed the same course inshore while Lionheart had to gamble and try something different. Lionheart's attempt to gain ground failed and she traded positions with Ranger. Rainbow held her second place, and Velsheda extended her lead still further.

Lionheart did get back her third place and the positions remained the same all the way to the finish with Velsheda extending her winning margin.

return of the j-classThe last downwind leg to the finish was dramatic to say the least.  All day, there had been a big hole in the cloud teasing us with the blue sky that lay beyond and the possibility that we may at some point have the sun breaking through. With only about five minutes of the race left, the sun appeared and lit up this fantastic scene.

As this was one of the most memorable sights of the regatta, I chose this to be my first painting from this summer's J-Class regattas.  The striking sunlit spinnaker of Velsheda, leading the pack in lively seas in front of a moody sky and a mass of flotilla boats, creating a haze of spray across the horizon was just stunning!  Please go to my Artwork Gallery to see a full size image or to the News page to see the progression of the picture from concept to completion.  This painting has now been chosen for the front cover of the catalogue for Christie's autumn auction which will take place on 21st November this year.  To see further details or to follow the auction, go to

The result on corrected time saw Velsheda take the win, with Ranger leaping to second, ahead of Lionheart and Rainbow.  These were also the finishing positions in the overall regatta, so Velsheda is the winner of the series and takes the Queen's Cup.

Untitled-2Saturday was the King's Cup (Round the Island Race) and everyone wanted to witness it!  The mass of spectator boats was on a par with the Jubilee Regatta in 2001 and was an incredible sight to see.

Unfortunately there wasn't much wind, particularly for such a long course and Rainbow didn't compete due to mast damage from the previous day, leaving a three boat race.  

However, there was sunshine and enough wind to make for a good start which saw Lionheart get away well, electing the island side to stay out of the tide, while Ranger and Velsheda went towards the mainland.  Lionheart's decision paid off and saw her gain a healthy lead.  By the Nab Tower, she was two and a half minutes in front and never looked back from there.  She continued to extend the lead all the way to the Needles where the race was finished prematurely due to the breeze dropping to a whisper.

Unfortunately, from my point of view, the separation at the needles was too much to create a good composition for a painting of all three J's, but there was still plenty of great photo's from a great day that ended a fantastic week!

Please go to my Photo Gallery section to see some of my photo's from the week.