The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), home of the famous Sydney to Hobart offshore race, hosted the J/70 Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour on the weekend of October 19 and 20. A strong shifty westerly wind blowing from the land provided tough conditions on day one, with gusts over 30 knots and a particularly challenging top mark set in a leeward bay with very fluky winds.  Day two saw a steadier 10 to 12 knot southeast wind with some very close racing throughout the fleet.

2019 J/70 Australian Championships regatta. Photo Beth Morley www.sportsailingphotography.comHelped by off-season racing at the J/70 Worlds in Torquay, the Juno team (Reg Lord, Ben Lamb, Murray Jones, Tom Grimes) racing for the CYCA won each race to claim the title for the third consecutive year. Second overall and first Corinthian was James helmed by Tim Ryan, also from the CYCA. Third was Jabberwocky (Middle Harbour YC) helmed by Australian class president Andrew Tompson with expert trimmer Noel Drennan on main.

A newcomer to the fleet was Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS) Captain and three time Olympian Karyn Gojnich, who said afterwards: ‘Sara Ladd and I took ownership of the Jackal during the week so we were pleased just to get out to the race course and finish each race. Big thanks to Pete Lowndes and Ewa Lindelöf who joined us for the weekend.’

Another newcomer, and fourth overall, was Michael Nash from RSYS who traded his Etchells for “Maybe J”. Nash commented that “The J/70 is a great boat for mixed sailing as the main is manageable for anyone. Olga (Skatkova) said just yesterday that she was surprised she had no problems playing the spinnaker on Saturday where winds were gusting over 30 knots.

2019 J/70 Australian Championships regatta. Photo Beth Morley www.sportsailingphotography.comRay Carless of Junior commented: ‘The winds and harbour conditions were at times challenging but overall it was an excellent event with great sportsmanship, camaraderie and most of all, fun J/70 sailing.’  

Also, a special mention to the teams Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Spike who travelled 1,000kms from Victoria to compete.

The 2020 Nationals are scheduled to take place over Easter, hosted by Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron on Port Philip Bay in Melbourne, Victoria.