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Guernsey and Jersey share bragging rights in inter-island yacht races

Guernsey and Jersey share bragging rights in inter-island yacht races

Friday 30 June 2023

Guernsey and Jersey share bragging rights in inter-island yacht races

Friday 30 June 2023


Two of the Channel Island’s most prestigious sailing races took place at the weekend, with bragging rights duly shared between fierce rivals Guernsey and Jersey, albeit in the best possible spirit.

It started with the Savills Inter Island Yacht Race, the largest in the sailing calendar around these shores with 56 entries from the two Islands.

The event was won by Abracadabra, skippered by Rhys Perkins. And with Jersey having three of the first five yachts to finish the race at St Peter Port, the Sir James Knott Trophy was regained for the Island.

The next day saw the Guernsey flotilla of Kaya II (skippered by Roger Martel), BlackJack (Martin Ozard) and Jostler (Martin Boyde) team up and sail to claim victory in the Governors' Cup.

The inter-island race, which next year celebrates its 60th anniversary, started in Jersey from St Ouen's rather than St Aubin's Bay because of forecast light winds in the morning, giving slower boats a better chance to finish before the time limit.

The race did indeed start in very light conditions.

Most of the fleet, led by Jersey yachts Abracadabra, The Dogs and Lady Penelope, headed north to pick up the new easterly breeze, but the Guernsey crew aboard BlackJack was the first to head west and it was a decision that seemed to pay off. The wind was constantly changing direction and speed but BlackJack maintained a fair lead ahead of Abracadabra as they passed the Lower Heads buoy just south of Sark.

But Abracadabra, despite taking a less direct course further east, overtook BlackJack in the final straight to claim the win at St Peter Port. BlackJack held on to second ahead of Jersey's Jai Ho, skippered by Alex Ohlsson, with Jewel (Jeff Chinn) clinching fifth place to ensure a Jersey victory in the Sir James Knott Trophy.

Following the drifting conditions of the previous days, the crews woke up on Sunday morning to a warm 15-knot south-westerly breeze and brilliant blue skies – champagne sailing conditions for the Governors' Cup competition.

The event takes place every year on the Sunday morning following the annual inter-island race, though its roots can be traced further back. The solid silver trophy was offered by the Lieutenant-Governors of Jersey and Guernsey in 1931 "to be competed for by yachts of 20ft water line length or more, regularly stationed in the Channel Islands" and is now presented to the winners of the best of three short Windward Leeward races, held back-to-back with a team of three boats selected to represent each island.

In the first two races the two J109s, BlackJack and Jai Ho, found their stride, comfortably leading the rest of the fleet around the course, while the two Sunfast3600s, Kaya II and Jersey's Solis Ortus, skippered by Nigel Coxshall, battled with each other for position, closely followed by Altair (Darren Stower) and Jostler.

The third race saw the wind rise to 20 knots, which provided a truly exciting spectacle. The start was very hotly contested, with Richard Cripwell, who was observing the race from the committee boat, thinking his days might be numbered as all six boats fought for position to start as close as possible.

All boats struggled in the stronger-wind conditions, but all competitors agreed that this last race was the most exciting and challenging of the morning. The standard "low scoring" was used (one point for first, two for second etc) and after the results of the three races Guernsey came out as clear winners, 24-39.

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