J Class Yachts Put on A Show in the UK

From the time these hulking super yachts appeared on the horizon around 1930, they were not alone in their grandeur. At the time, oversized sail plans and long bow sprits and waterlines were in vogue amongst the prominent yachtsmen. It was an era for all things magnificent, and these yachts were no exception. The first J Class Yacht (Shamrock V) was commissioned by Sir Thomas Lipton as part of his 5th and last challenge for the “America’s Cup” and it was part of an agreement to accept a rule penned with ideas from our neighbor, L Francis Herreshoff about limiting the scale of these yachts and imposing maximum waterline length, draft and sail area.

These yachts have graced finish lines and yacht clubs all over the globe, attracting crowds with an appreciation for their rich nautical history, for their beauty and for the spectacle of racing any number of them together in one port. It is difficult to organize and while these modern J class try to meet annually in certain regattas (Antigua Classics and St. Barth’s Bucket, to name a few), it is a rare treat to see them lined up and trimmed, in full race mode with pro crews and massive spinnakers.

This video takes us back about a month to the UK where 3 of the modern J’s met up for racing off Falmouth Harbour. Velsheda, Ranger and Lionheart are no stranger to racing each other and they tossed around the first place finishes almost daily, leaving hem quite equally paired. Lionheart, the newest of the 3, was the eventual winner but the other 2 were never far behind.

This weekend the same 3 J’s are back at it, racing at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s International Bicentenary Regatta in Cowes. It will be interesting to see who comes out as the eventual winner, just a month after the last races.

Enjoy this great video that gives you a glimpse into the most beautiful yacht races held today. These competitive owners and crew take the racing very seriously, as they should. My 2 boats are worth less than a jib sheet on a J Class yacht – (maybe so) – proving it’s all about perspective. Someday I hope to step aboard one of these fine beauties and feel for myself how awesome it must be to sail under approximately 7,500 sq. feet of sail area.

A few other fun facts to share: The current J Class fleet comprises eight boats: Endeavour, Hanuman, Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, Shamrock V, Velsheda and, launched in June 2015, Topaz.

The J Class revival was launched down the road from us in Newport, RI by American Elizabeth Meyer who, starting in 1984, oversaw the refits of Endeavour and Shamrock V. She sailed Endeavour as her own yacht for years before moving on to create the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport.  Since that time the interest hasn’t slowed down. Velsheda was another original yacht that sat neglected that obviously found her way into good hands and a complete restoration, sending her back to the race course today. She is one of just three remaining original J’s from the 1930’s.

Sail in the Vineyard Cup

Once you’ve recovered from this past weekend’s madness – get ready for more on Martha’s Vineyard where the Vineyard Cup is about to go off.  This regatta has it all – from classic yachts to PHRF boat and then add in a dash of foiling Kiteboards! SICK! And the best part of it all is that it’s all to benefit Sail Martha’s Vineyard, an island based non profit whose mission is to get the islanders out sailing. Because NO, not every Martha’s Vineyarder is a trustafarian or hedge funder with a yacht on hand. Many scrape together summer tips to join the sailing programs and so helping the locals is the same out on the fancy island as it is in any other town. MV depends on donations and support from the masses to fund sailboats and sailors.

KiteFoiling/ Sailor Vineyarder and TotalBoat Ambassador, Brock Callen who is helping to rally the foiling side of the event says: “We are trying to create an event that is unlike anything out there. Classic Sailboats alongside Foiling Kiteboards, Fully sustainable with all local food and it is all to benefit a great organization.” Callen, who is an 11th Hour Racing Ambassador for clean water, was also proud to point out that the regatta has been granted Sailors for the Sea Gold Level Sustainability Status. No single use water bottles will be allowed! Water Filling Stations will be set up at both Kite venue and Sailing Venue. There will be all glass at the event tent. No plastic cups. Forks and knives are birch and the plates are compostable.  And all the food is local. Pretty cool.

And then there’s the cash….

Here is a great write up from Sailing Anarchy that sums up this part of the event really nicely:
… the Vineyard Cup was created 10 years ago and it has existed as a family fun regatta with a great party but for 2015 SailMV wanted to make some changes to the Vineyard Cup and wanted to provide the Island with an event that was not only beneficial to one of the most influential non profits but also to provide something that was exciting to watch. Enter Lynch & Associates and their commitment to donate $10,000 in cold hard cash as the prize money for the first Foiling Kiteboard Vineyard Cup.

Bill Lynch and Lynch & Associates have been the force behind the North American Speed Sailing Championships as well as Rob Douglas and his 2008 assault on the Outright World Speed Sailing Record in Namibia. With the prize money in hand Sail Martha’s Vineyard has opened up registration to 30 Foiling Kiteboards to race July 10-12 right off State Beach which in the summer boasts 7,000+ Sun burnt spectators lounging on the beach. So if you think you can nail a foiling jibe at 30 knots or if you want to support a great organization check out the Website here.

The NOR is hereRegister here for both Foiling Kiteboards and PHRF/Classics.

Are you ready? The Vineyarders are! Join in!

Concordia Boats

If you can pronounce the name Padanaram, you’re either from the area or you know all about Concordia Yawls. This isn’t to say there are not other reasons to know about this famously fabulous yacht yard near Buzzards Bay, MA. Since 1926 beautiful yachts of many shapes and sizes have emerged from this yard, from Beetle Cats to frostbiters to the most famous of all, the coveted Concordia Yawl. Penned by the father of the deep-V hull, C. Raymond Hunt designed the Yawl and was partial owner of the yard for decades before moving onto more power driven pursuits in the wake of his revolutionary powerboat design, the deep-V hull.

The company changed hands many times, and is most currently held by Stuart MacGregor whose father Brodie owned the yard from 1981 – 2012 when he sold it to Stuart.  A former employee of the company, Stuart knew the company well as he had served as General Manager for years before deciding to buy his dad out and carry on the Concordia legacy. But his dad didn’t get too far and he remains a fixture at the yard as part of the brokerage team. Often this requires time spent aboard customers boats, and he delights in keeping watch over the company Yawl, (#57 Javelin) and a 1979 Surf Hunter 25.

It’s a big responsibility to carry the torch of the much adored and revered Concordia Yawl. From 1938-1966, one hundred and three Concordia Yawls were built – all on the same lines drawn by CR Hunt.  Most of the yawls were built in a co-op agreement between Abeking & Rasmussen in Germany who would do most of the build and then send them across the Atlantic to Concordia for finishing.

The Concordia Yawls came to represent the amazing handiwork and attention to detail coming from the sheds in Padanaram. A&R moved on to build super yachts and commercial vessels and Concordia Yachts dug into the legacy they had created, offering top quality yacht and yard work, much of which revolves around upkeep and restoration of many of their Yawls.

We featured Snowy Owl, Concordia Yawl #91, in the Jamestown Distributors Summer 2015 Catalog as she was in the midst of some plank replacement when we visited and it was amazing to see her so beautifully refit and repaired. If a wooden boat didn’t give away her facelifts and replanking until the wood had fully swollen tight to neighboring planks, you would never know Snowy Owl had been touched. The planks that were replaced were perfectly assimilated into the hull and she is ready for another season on Buzzards Bay and off her home port of Wianno, MA.

When asked, Stuart MacGregor proudly explains that to him, his family, and his dedicated staff in Padanaram, Concordia represents the most enduring class of yachts as well as quality and simplicity of boats from previous generations.  He has embraced the traditional, tried & true methods that have made the Concordia Yawl the prettiest boat on the harbor and on the hard.