Ian Wilson & Marshall King’s Soak Racing started the J/70 UK Grand Slam Series in style, winning the opening round of the nine-regatta Grand Slam Series. Soak Racing scored five bullets out of eight races over the two days, including a hatrick on the last day. Second was Doug Struth’s DSP, who scored two races wins, as well as two second places. Paul Ward’s Eat, Sleep. J, Repeat was third, just one point ahead of Phil Rees racing Bryn. Ten teams made the top five over the course of the weekend. Conditions varied dramatically over the two days, with medium wind on the first day, followed by a full-on foam-up of 20 knots plus on the second day. Air and sea temperature were also a factor, as mid-April is about as cold as the water gets in the Solent. Added to a bitter easterly breeze, it was a weekend for wrapping up and keeping warm. “The first day was all about keeping your head out of the boat with lots of gear changing, and the last race the following day, we had 25 knots of brutally cold easterly wind. I think we pulled 19.8 knots out of the boat downwind,” commented Wilson. “The first day was really hard work, trying to spot what was coming next, and getting the right side of the shifts. Downwind, we were switching from planing to low mode, maybe changing mode up to five times. The last day was tough sailing, fresh to frightening. The day started in 16 knots, and it built from there to 20 knots in the second race, and the last race was filled with aggression. To be honest, there were a few boats on the ears, beginning to struggle with the conditions. The freezing conditions were like being slapped in the face with a plate glass – it was sharp, brutal even, whenever a wave came over the boat. It was great for us to have done all that training in Monaco during the winter, but with the best J/70 sailors coming to Torbay for the Worlds later this year, we know that on current performance, we would struggle to make the top 20. A great start to the season, but we have a lot to do.” For full information, visit www.j-70.co.uk.