In late March 2021 a small crew made up of RLR Yachting family and friends set off from Malta bound for Marseille on a very special mission. RLR Yachting is the authorised J Boat dealer for the southern Mediterranean region, and in Spring 2021 commissioned a brand new J99 – the first in Malta.
The J99 is the latest offering from world-renowned J Boats and completes their Sport range as the boat is designed as a racer that is both accessible and high-performance. Described by Yachting World as a ‘all thrills, no frills‘ boat, the J99 can be sailed double-handed or fully crewed – which makes it a particularly good boat for the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the highlight fixture in Malta’s yachting calendar.
Tom and Seb Ripard have a strong track record racing J-Boat designs – they previously ran the J70 Calypso together, where they finished 3rd at the 2017 European Championships. Both brothers also have extensive offshore racing experience and the opportunity to sail together and to challenge for the Rolex Middle Sea Race was too good a goal to pass up. The new J99, named Calypso Odyssey as a nod to their previous boat, was built at J Composites yard in France and trucked to the Esprit Sud boat yard in Marseille where the RLR Yachting team completed her commissioning.
L-R: Thomas Ripard, John Ripard and Sebastian Ripard sailing onboard the J99, Calypso Odyessy, during the delivery from France to Malta
Tom Ripard directs the yacht management services side of the RLR Yachting business, so he was perfectly placed to manage the team’s work over the commissioning week. RLR oversaw the final prep of the rig prior to the mast being stepped, attached the bowsprit, completed all final wiring works and installed all of the equipment and fittings required to prepare the boat for her maiden sail home.
The initial plan was to sail from Marseille to Malta via Elba in Italy to avoid some adverse weather, but with the routing forecasts improving the team left Marseille on 26th March aiming to sail the 658nm back to Malta as directly as possible. Covid restrictons for the upcoming Easter break meant the crew were keen to make the trip as quick as possible, whilst still taking the opportunity to get a feel for the new boat.
This included getting the new spinnaker’s up in the air – everyone loved the vibrant orange of the new A2!
Sailing in approximately 12-15kts over the first 2 days Calypso Odyssey made quick progress down the west coast of Corsica and the decision was made to stop briefly in Porto Cervo to pick up more fuel as the forecast was for light weather ahead and a chance to put a few miles on the new engine instead.
There were a few visitors during the delivery sail – a number of song birds took the opportunity to take a rest on Calypso Odyssey‘s shrouds and running rigging! On Day 3 the boat also seemed to sail through a turtle highway near the island of Favignana – the crew saw dozens, placidly floating in the sunshine until the J99’s progress disturbed them and they swam off with a lazy flick of a flipper.
The delivery team were focussed on getting Calypso Odyssey back home as safely as possible so there were limited opportunities to really push the boat during the delivery sail, however from what has been seen so far it’s going to be an exciting boat to sail and race. Even in light wind conditions the boat was achieving high performance speed through the water, with the boat Log Book noting that the crew saw 6kts of upwind boat speed at around 40′ degrees TWA in approx 12kts of breeze. She felt light on the tiller, with little in put required from the helmsman, and is deceptively spacious despite only being 10m long.
The RLR team arrived back in Malta on March 31st with the boat in perfect condition. Calypso Odyssey will be berthed in Marsamxett Harbour where she will be available for test sailing days for anyone interested in owning a J99. Tom and Seb Ripard, together with their crew will spend the Summer of 2021 fine tuning the boat’s settings to optimize her for racing – starting with the Royal Malta Yacht Club’s Round Malta Race which takes place on 25th April.