J Class returns to the racetrack

Published on January 4th, 2022

Over 80 years since they fought for the America’s Cup, J Class yachts continue to test themselves with provisional plans to convene at three key events in 2022 as activity and interest ramps up and key owners and teams return to the racetracks.

The calendar will include Saint Barth’s Bucket (March 17-20), Superyacht Cup Palma, Mallorca (June 29-July 2), and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (September 4-10).

The fleet will also race under the new J Class rule, which was written, and purpose developed to best account for the features of the modern, active class boats and was first used at the last class racing event, the 2020 Antigua Superyacht Challenge.

Three J Class teams are already signed up for Saint Barth’s Bucket: J5 Ranger, JK6 Hanuman, and JK7 Velsheda. All three are expected to race at the European regattas joined by J8 Topaz.

Now in new ownership, J5 Ranger has undergone a substantial refit and is currently in the Caribbean, set to compete for the first time since the passing in 2018 of long-time owner and J Class enthusiast John Williams.

A new crew has been hand-picked including double America’s Cup winner Ed Baird as helmsman. Together they will set out to enjoy the first ever racing season for a newcomer owner whose first racing boat is the 2003 built, steel hulled Ranger replica.

“Overall, the changes should improve the performance but to what degree we won’t really know until we line up against other boats and so we are really looking forwards to that,” explained Greg Sloat, the owner’s representative. “Not a single boat really knows this new rule and so this new cycle is going to be very interesting.”

Among the new Ranger crew will be navigator Jules Salter, mainsail trimmer Dirk De Ridder, tactician John Kostecki and trimmers Ross Halcrow, Warwick Fleury, Mo Gray, and Jordi Calafat.

Hanuman also have some new crew which includes Kenny Read as tactician with Gavin Brady driving, Stan Honey navigating, Richard Clarke strategist, Chris Hosking on main trim, Tony Mutter and Phil Harmer on jib and spinnaker trim respectively, Greg Gendell on the bow, and Tom Burnham is Hanuman’s Coach.

“It is pleasing to have these plans in place and teams committing,” reports Louise Morton, acting J Class Secretary. “It is great too to hear there is also still some solid activity in the J Class market with boats changing hands. So, we are hopeful that we will see other boats returning to join the racing in 2002.”

Event schedule: https://www.jclassyachts.com/events

UPDATE: The dates have been corrected for the Superyacht Cup Palma, Mallorca.

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