Twelve nations were represented in this year’s event along with over a dozen classes that included big fleets of J/70s, J/80s, and handicap classes for both IRC and OSH rules. As usual, the Societe Nautique de La Trinite sur Mer did a fabulous job hosting the event off their gorgeous, quaint little seaport along the Bay of Quiberon. They were lucky to be blessed with reasonably good winds and weather over the four-day weekend regatta. The fleet was treated to westerlies on Friday of 10-15 kts; then on Saturday it was a somewhat grey day with breezes of 10-15 kts from the N-NW and quite shifty; Easter Sunday saw the Easter Bunny deliver a suitably sunny day for Easter Egg hunts for the children while the sailors enjoyed a rather light N-NW shifty wind with big holes; and, finally, on Monday the regatta was blessed with more N-NW winds in the 10-15 kts range.
In the end, the most notable and impressive victory was the spectacular IRC 2 Class win by Didier Le Moal’s J/112E J-LANCE 12 from Societe Regate Rochelaises. Their record of 3-1-1-2-1-15-5 for 13 pts net was a decisive 10+ point victory over Dream Pearls- a JPK 10.80 factory team. Ironically, J-LANCE 12’s win may have been even greater had they not missed the penultimate race and score a DNC (their discard race)- somehow their navigator missed the flags at the rear of the RC finish boat indicating there would be one more race on Sunday!
According to Le Moal, “The J/112E has shown impressive upwind capability (being able to overtake higher rated boats in the class above them in real-time). Downwind, the asymmetric spinnaker has confirmed its benefits in a mix of coastal and around-the-cans races.”
There were several other good performances by J/crews in IRC classes. In IRC 1 Class, 5th was J/133 GICQUEL ASSOCIATES with E Gicquel skippering, just two points from fourth place. Then, in IRC 3 (with 31 boats), 5th place was J/97 MISPICKEL VI skippered by Benoit Fagart from Societe Regate Rochelaises, notably beating Rolex Fastnet Race winner FOGGY DEW, the JPK 10.10 sailed by Noel Racine.
Finally, there was an impressive performance by a newly launched, un-tuned, un-optimized J/11S in the massive IRC Double Class of 35 boats- the largest offshore keelboat section in the entire regatta! Taking 3rd was the J/11S JATAKA with the team of Nicholas Troussel & E Kerscaven from CVF with an 11-4-2-2 record! They were up against a rogue’s gallery of the top French offshore short-handed teams, many of them “factory teams” on JPK 10.10s (5), JPK 10.80s (3), Sun Fast 3200s (7), and A35s (3). According to D Le Moal, “she finished in IRC Doublehanded class with a not yet optimized rating and just a few days of training for the crew. The overall performance was fantastic, she showed the ability to overtook all the fleet as soon as the wind was over 5 knots!”
In the French version of PHRF in America, the OSH 1 Class of 25 boats saw a solid performance by J/crews, with 6 boats finishing in the top 15 places! Second was the J/111 J4F sailed by P Vidon from SR Douarnenez; 5th was the J/120 HEY JUDE skippered by P Girardin from CN Pornic; 7th was the J/92 LUXIOR ASSURANCES ET IMMOBILIER with M Le Formal from SR Brest; 11th was the J/120 LADY JANE with P Tostivint from CN Pornic; 14th was the J/122 JOLLY JOKER with L Marchais from SN Trinite sur Mer; and 15th was the J/105 J-SQUARED skippered by V Jomier from SN Trinite sur Mer! Congratulations to all!
As has been the case for over the past dozen years at SPI Ouest, the 67 J/80s had great sailing, great competition, and a surprising outcome! “The Spanish are back!” And, in a big way. Taking the top two spots were two of Spain’s top sailors and past J/80 World Champions. Winning with just 57 pts net was Ignacio Jauregui’s GOLD SAILING, counting just top 8 finishes in this incredibly competitive fleet. Fellow countryman, Jose Maria van der Ploeg (also an Olympic Medallist for Spain), sailed VSA COMUNICACION fast enough to take the silver just 2 pts back, counting an astonishing SIX 4th places (plus, never winning a race) in his 11 races counted scoreline!
Rounding out the bronze medal position on the podium for the J/80 class was top French sailor Eric Brezellec on COURRIER JUNIOR with 62 pts net. The balance of the top five included Simon Moriceau’s ARMEN HABITAT in 4th place and Luc Nadal’s familiar GAN’JA in 5th place. Top woman skipper for the event was Ms C Vitel sailing with her crackerjack crew on VITEL SAILING TEAM- she was 7th overall- a fabulous performance for her! It is clear the Spanish and the French are “dialing up” their activities and focused on the J/80 World Championship that will soon be taking place at Royal Southampton YC on the Solent in the United Kingdom.
The J/70s had their largest fleet so far at this year’s SPI Ouest. With twenty-one boats on the line, there is no question the class is beginning to gain momentum in France. Many top J/80, J/22, J/24 sailors, plus refugees from Surprise and 5.70 Classes in France are recognizing the J/70 is a fun, easy-to-sail class that can be easily trailered anywhere due to its simple ramp-launch-ability! To say that French sailors are a quick study of the class is an understatement- after all, they have some of the most extreme offshore boats imaginable in the entire world- pioneering stuff no one else even dares to try (like globe-girdling IMOCA 60 and Mini 6.50 foilers). The J/70 has become the “world’s proving ground” for many of those top French sailors training for their other offshore programs- Vendee, Volvo, Mini-TransAt, and so forth- the J/70 forces extreme attention to detail on the simplest boat, focusing on a sailor’s ability to read wind, waves, and their competitors for optimum performance. As a reflection of that effort to learn from the world’s best sailors, winning the SPI Ouest J/70 class was Luc Sambron’s HEMON-CAMUS team. They sailed a very consistent series, winning just 2 races but placing in the top 6 in every race to win by a scant one-point margin! Just one point back was top UK J/70 team SOAK RACING, skippered by Ian Williams. Although they won 4 races, they could not match the consistency of Sambron’s team. Third was Oscar Lundqvist’s Swedish crew on TBA with 50 pts net, winning two of the last three races to race up the leaderboard. Fourth was Herve Leduc’s French crew on JIBE SET with 54 pts net, demonstrating their fast learning curve by winning the first race and never finishing out of the top 8! Finally, 5th place was evidence the Spanish are beginning to focus their efforts on the world of J/70s- G Alfredo’s LANZAROTE EUROPEAN SPORTS DESTINAT crew from the infamous Canary Islands (home of many great heavy air sailors) demonstrated flashes of brilliance and speed- taking 2nd in the first race and winning two races! Sailing photo credits- Thomas Brégardis and Marc Ollivier. For more SPI OUEST-France sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.