The Davanti Tyres J/Boat got off to a great start in this year's Landsail Tyres J-Cup, but day one of the competition was tinged with sadness at the passing of J/Boat stalwart Paul Heys.

The MD of J/Boat distributor Key Yachting, Paul passed away in February. Surrounded by the fleet, his wife and co-founder of Key Marie Claude Heys and daughters Gemma and Natalie, released a shell containing his ashes into the Solent.

All of the racing fleet gathered their yachts and all crews observed a minute silence. Funds are now being raised to support a campaign for a permanent mark in the Solent, the Paul Heys Memorial Buoy. Nearly £20,000 has been raised of the target, to maintain the racing buoy for generations of sailors to come. To make a donation visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paulheys

Racing for the 2019 J-Cup and J/70 UK Class Training Event started shortly after noon with Marie Claude Heys leading the Davanti charge with 15 knots of breeze from the south west. Six classes enjoyed highly competitive racing with 24 teams achieving race podiums in the three races held for all classes.

Michael Wallis’ J/122 Jahmali leads the Large IRC Class, from J/112 Davanti Tyres, but the Davanti crew is in a good place heading into the weekend.

“Paul Heys was like a father to all of us, and personally we go a long way back,” commented Michael Wallis. “We have been coming to race at just about every J-Cup. It is a fantastic get-together with like minded people, who like to race but observe the rules, and every now and then you let someone cross ahead, knowing they will return the favour. Paul Heys was a huge inspiration to all of us, and it was wonderful to pay tribute to him with such good people out on the Solent.”