Six local J/70s came together for the first time to make the largest one-design fleet in the Australian Sports Boats Association (ASBA) National Championships Regatta. Held on Sydney Harbour and hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club Australia (CYCA), famous for their Rolex Sydney-Hobart race (hosted just 12 days before), the ASBA Nationals consisted of a four day, ten-race event with near-perfect weather conditions. The J/70 crews sailed to strict J/70 Class Rules. The first day was a series of 3x W/L courses with the wind starting at 12 knots and increasing to 20 knots for the last race. JEDI reveled in the windier conditions to bring home three bullets, with Ray and Jill Carless sailing JUNIOR coming a close second. Steve and Sue Brady, newer entrants to the J/70 fleet, slotted a well-earned third. The following day was the passage race taking the fleet on a course from Darling Point upwind to North Harbour near Manly, with runs back to Rose Bay around Shark Island. Sydney really turned on the weather again with more sunshine and over 20 knots of wind for the start, then building throughout the race. The fleet beat up the western shore taking advantage of the tide and a little relief from the chop. The breeze was really solid on the beat all the way across the Heads, where the Harbour meets the Pacific Ocean, up to Manly for the final run home to Shark Island. Top speeds and wipeouts prevailed with the start boat reporting a few Vipers down and other boats with broken rigs and rudders, but not the case with the J/70 sailors. The next race was shortened, as the breeze was still building at over 25 knots, gusting 31 knots with the J/70s recording over 16 knots for a great ride planing down the harbour and no breakages. JEDI once again proved her experience onboard in the heavy winds, scoring a first in the J/70s and fourth overall with a consistent JUNIOR gaining. Friday, race 5 and lighter winds, JUNIOR was hot on the heels of JEDI and piping Tim Ryan’s JAMES and Steve and Sue Brady in YKNOT. In race 6, Tim Ryan’s boat JAMES, carrying sail number 007, put the pressure on, pushing JEDI all the way only 18 seconds behind, with GRASSHOPPER UNIT hitting the podium in third place, JUNIOR and YKNOT only three seconds behind for a nail-biting finish—all J/70s finishing very closely. Race 7, YKNOT was on pace again and JUNIOR third, with the boat-handling of all J/70s crews improving with every start, tack and gybe. Saturday and the final 3x W/L races, lighter winds prevailed again with plenty of sunshine for race 8. JUNIOR struck back, winning the race, taking JEDI to second place, with GRASSHOPPER UNIT storming into third place. All J/70s finished within 45 seconds of each other as the racing intensified. Race 9, “the force” returned to JEDI but she was pushed to the limit by JAMES, who was only 16 seconds behind. GRASSHOPPER UNIT and JUNIOR tied for third just three seconds behind JAMES with all the J/70s finishing yet again within 47 seconds of each other. Final race 10 and JAMES once again challenged JEDI, only three seconds behind, followed by YKNOT, GRASSHOPPER UNIT and JUNIOR who got caught the wrong side of a ferry on the final run. For the series, JEDI headed the J/70s, followed by JUNIOR and YKNOT. JEDI also scored a third overall in Division 2 against the other sportboats. Sandra Entwistle sailing on JEDI was also awarded the inaugural “Fastest Female” trophy for the quickest overall boat in the whole series to have a female crew on board.

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