Lion­heart wins J-Class worlds; the Cup goes back to mono­hulls; solo rac­ing on the great Lakes

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Eighty years after Ranger cleaned up 4-0 in the 1937 Amer­ica’s Cup off New­port, Rhode Is­land, the last time ever that the mighty J Class raced for the “Auld Mug,” the Dutch-flagged Lion­heart, which is based on lines sim­i­lar to those of Ranger, made some his­tory of its own by win­ning the class’s first-ever world cham­pi­onship.

The boat and crew did so by dis­play­ing solid con­sis­tency across all seven races it sailed against the five other J’s tak­ing part in the re­gatta, ul­ti­mately de­feat­ing run­ner-up, Hanu­man, by just three points. Al­though Lion­heart only took first one time, it also never once fin­ished lower than third, which in the end proved suf­fi­cient to clinch the over­all vic­tory.

“It is a special ti­tle, [both] for the owner who gives us so much con­fi­dence in our­selves and who gives us carte blanche in how we set the boat up and how we sail,” said Lion­heart tac­ti­cian, Bouwe Bekking, who is currently com­pet­ing in his eighth Volvo Ocean Race as skip­per of Dutch-flagged Team Brunel.

Bekking added that key to his team’s vic­tory was its hav­ing sailed to­gether for so long. “Ev­ery­body has their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, their own jobs to do and there are no rock stars, no prima don­nas. We just be­lieve in each other. We al­ways started clean, and we could al­ways—ex­cept in one race— sail our own course. I think we did a nice job of let­ting the boat work for us and let­ting our ex­cel­lent crew work pre­vail. We just keep it sim­ple.”

In ad­di­tion to bag­ging the class’s first-ever world cham­pi­onship, Lion­heart also won the newly minted Terry Kohler Tro­phy in recog­ni­tion of its over­all points win for the class 2017 sum­mer se­ries, which in­cluded the St. Barth’s Bucket and the Amer­ica’s Cup J Class Re­gatta.

Tak­ing sec­ond in both the world cham­pi­onship re­gatta and sea­son se­ries was Hanu­man, which re­cently came back from a three-year break from rac­ing and was helmed by North Sails pres­i­dent Kenny Read.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Lion­heart, they sailed bet­ter than us this week. We left too many points out there on the race­course. We are ticked off about that. At the end of the day win­ners win and Lion­heart did a good job,” Read said after­ward, al­though it sounds like he still man­aged to have a pretty good time at the re­gatta.

“This has been a great event, a chance for sail­ing to come back to the front and cen­ter in the world again, for sail han­dling and crew work and for ma­jes­tic boats to re­ally put on a show. I think all the teams here this week did an amaz­ing job, ev­ery team had its day,” Read said. “On be­half of the Hanu­man team it has been an honor and pri­valege to be in­volved in it. I can’t wait to do it again.”

For com­plete re­sults and more on the J Class, visit jclassy­achts.com.

New­port served as an ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar back­drop to the J Class worlds

The fleet blasts off the line mid­way through the re­gatta

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