Jean Pierre Kelbert talks JPK and the reasons for its Fastnet success

Jean Pierre Kelbert, the great French yachtsman and founder of Europe and the UK’s dominating yachting brand JPK is delighted that double-handed sailing is on the rise in the Asia/Pacific and reveals his thoughts on getting started.

After an amazing 5 hour win in the IRC Double Handed division of the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, sailing a JPK with the accomplished yachtsman Alex Loison, the message is 'don’t go short on preparation or equipment'.

The top 10 revelations were provided by Jean Pierre Kelbert from the Grand Povis Boat Show now underway in La Rochelle , France.

What makes your JPK yachts so successful in short-handed sailing events?

Firstly we have designed our yachts through the input of many thousands of kilometer’s of racing and JPK yachts are designed to sail to their rating. The hull design is versatile both on and off the breeze with high stability and a heavy keel providing good control.

Are JPK’s specifically set up for short-handed sailing?

No the JPK’s work well for fully crewed and short handed events and achieved Podiums in four of the five divisions of the 2019 Fastnet race. The deck layout is very simple with controls leading back to the cockpit and within easy reach for the helmsman. In short-handed sailing, simple is best and fastest.

What are the “DO’s” in short-handed sailing?

Make sure you know your crew partner both on and off the water. Ensure you set your preparation and training plan in racing conditions. Choosing a boat that is easy to sail, safe and competitive will reduce frustration and unnecessary hard work. Make sure your navigation system is known to both crew. Detailed preparation on the dock ensures your equipment is capable as equipment failure results in crew failure. Make sure your provisioning is suitable. Make sure your autopilot is serviced and accurate.

What are the “DON’T’s” in short-handed sailing?

Don’t over estimate your ability and make sure there is not too wide a gap in experience between the crew. Don’t start racing if you haven’t trained for every sailing maneuver, as training on the racecourse never works, especially if a heavy air gybe is required. If it’s your first race make sure you have a training sail over the race distance. Don’t leave the dock without an autopilot that you have tested and understand. Don’t choose the wrong boat.

What are the important features in selecting a crew partner?

Having sailed together and knowing that you are compatible is perhaps the most important point. Knowing that you are both capable of doing all the sailing maneuvers individually. Both able to agreed on time allocated for training. Both have the physical capability of completing all sailing tasks. Both have the technical ability to know and understand all the functions of the boat and equipment.

What do you think of each of the crew having specific tasks?

No that’s not a good idea. Each crew member must be able to do every task and that’s where the trust comes into play. Know your capabilities from the start.

Is there any difference in short-handed sail design?

Of course. These days we have designed reefs for our genoas and spinnakers which has been a big design breakthrough. The zipper system has introduced major sailing efficiencies . JPK and North Sails have also designed a mainsail reefing system that is quick and easy.

What are the most important safety features?

The life Jacket with its tether line firstly. The jacklines and lifelines. That battery power is at a maximum before you leave the Dock.

Do you carry symmetrical or asymmetrical spinnakers or both?

With wind variance its best to carry both. The JPK 10.80 is very versatile and the all-purpose North’s symmetrical works very well across the breeze range. Also an A3 & A5 are handy options.

For your 2019 Fastnet victory, what downwind sail did you use in those heavy conditions?

The long leg was 110’ and so we used our A5 with a reef on a fractional halyard which gave us maximum speed on course and the boat was easy to handle. Being able to carry our reefed A5 was really the big reason for our victory.

JPK Pacific have JPK 10.80’s and JPK 11.80 available for delivery early 2020. Specifications and options are available on the site

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