The newest member of the Vitters fleet – the sensational J-Class yacht Svea – completed her first full regatta competition last week at the inaugural World J-Class Championship in the United States. Although the crew of this 46.30-metre masterpiece have only had a limited time to train on what is the world’s largest J, they and Svea herself put in a highly competitive performance over the seven races.
There was a real air of anticipation among those on board and the large number of spectators as six powerful J-Class boats lined up on the morning of Tuesday 22 August. Svea was on the starting line with Lionheart, Velsheda, Ranger, Hanuman and Topaz, making for an impressive sight. The location off Newport Rhode Island also made this a special moment in the long history of the J Class: it was when the America’s Cup moved from New York City to Narrangansett Bay for the 1930 regatta that the iconic event first featured J-Class yachts.
While the America’s Cup races of the 1930s featured two Js fighting for glory, the World J-Class Championship of 2017 saw six sailing superyachts compete over seven races up till Saturday. Having cut her teeth at the America’s Cup event in Bermuda in June, Svea performed very well in this second event. As an illustration of how close the regatta was overall, only four points separated Svea from second placed Hanuman (leader of the championship for much of the week) as the Js went into the final race.
This performance was all the more remarkable considering that the crew only finished restepping Svea’s rig a week before the World Championships started (this was due to a forestay swivel problem encountered in Bermuda). “We had the rig out of the boat and re-set everything so the last few days before the race were also about getting it together,” explained Svea’s project manager and tactician Charlie Ogletree after the first race, which saw Svea cross the finishing line in second place. “Svea is going really great now and we are happy to start the series with a good result. We changed our tactics towards the end to consolidate against Lionheart. Downwind we are quick and upwind we are still learning our modes.”
Now that the team has finished its first major event, it is clear that Svea has the potential for serious speeds once they’ve perfected their ability to perform smooth manoeuvres. As crew training continues and more experience is gained with racing the world’s largest J, all the expectations are that Svea – originally drawn by Tore Holm in the 30s and brought into the 21st century by the team at Hoek Design – will be competing for top spot next season in the major regattas. Meanwhile, everyone at Vitters congratulates Lionheart on becoming the first ever J-Class World Champion!