The J/70s in eastern Australia gathered together for the inaugural J/70 New South Wales State Championship from March 7-8 on stunning Sydney Harbour. The J/70 NSW States were held in conjunction with the annual Sydney Harbour Regatta run by Middle Harbour Yacht Club. With the first day of sailing on Saturday starting off with a light easterly of 7-9 knots and a huge 3 metre plus swell with breaking tops running through Sydney Heads on the J/70 course, the crews knew they were going to be in for their first major test of the fall sailing season. To say sailing was challenging for the J/70s would be an understatement, however, the J/70 crews were up for it and were thrilled to get in some massive planing-mode runs by the last set of races. In the first race, Ray & Jill’s JUNIOR nailed the start and set the standard high, winning by two and a half minutes ahead of Tim’s 007 JAMES. They were closely followed in third by JEDI with skipper Tony Barns. By the start of the second race, the wind had now increased to 12 knots plus. This time, Tim’s 007 JAMES won by over a minute on JUNIOR, then followed by JEDI. With the already massive rolling waves building further, YKNOT and GRASSHOPPER UNIT were getting on pace fast and were just behind the leaders. By the time the fleet got rolling for the third race, crews could be seen tuning their rigs for much bigger breeze, the winds now reaching in excess of 15-17 knots. The waves were still growing and looking more menacing, with the tops now breaking in nearly 4 metre seas. The fleet was now much more closely matched as the crews were getting used to the conditions. After a beat into the massive, breaking seas, all the boats take off downwind, racing down the big waves and having the ride of their lives. The JEDI crew reporting later seeing four J/70s on starboard surfing down a large wave toward them and saying it looked like a scene from “A Perfect Storm.” This time JEDI got the gun. The fourth and last race of the day was a one-lapper. YKNOT was first around the top mark and held on to score second. The rest of the J/70s all finished within 18 seconds of each other for an incredibly nail-biting finish after a fantastic day’s sailing. The forecast for the second day of racing on Sunday was not good. The Australian MET Office was predicting no wind but with huge rolling swells. Nevertheless, on Sunday morning all the J/70s left the dock with rigs wound-down, prepared to drift around the harbour entrance in the big swell for a few hours. Much to everyone’s surprise, the wind gods were with the fleet. The wind swung south just before the start at 15-17 knots. The fleet feverishly wound the rigs back up for the weather conditions, and off they went in their fifth race for yet another joy-ride around the course. For the sixth and final race for the series, the battle for second and third place between JAMES and JUNIOR went down to the wire. With wind gusting up to 20 knots, everyone loved the flat-out planing downwind, trying to pick the fastest way through the massive seas, with spray flying everywhere and over the crews sitting well aft. The J/70s all fly down the last run to finish on a high for the inaugural J/70 NSW State Championship; it was also the first J/70 Class regatta to be held in Australia. The NSW States title goes to Tony Barns’ JEDI followed by Tim Ryan’s 007 JAMES and rounding out the podium was Ray Carless’ JUNIOR. With three more J/70s due to arrive in the Sydney area in the next few months, the future is looking very exciting for more thrills, great sailing and camaraderie in the one-design J/70 fleet. Come and join the fun with these fantastic boats and great bunch of sailors. You can learn more about J/70 fleet development in Australia from Ray Entwistle at

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