Saturday, October 25, 2014

(Annapolis, MD)- The 3rd annual J/70 Fall Brawl will be taking place from October 25th to 26th on the Chesapeake Bay, hosted by Eastport YC.  Thirty-one teams are currently registered, many of whom are participating in the regatta as their first trip headed south to Florida for the J/70 Midwinters in Key West and the Quantum J/70 Winter Series at Davis Island YC in Tampa, FL.

The regatta promises gorgeous weather and excellent competition with many top open and corinthian teams in the mix from the recent J/70 Worlds as well as some “newcomers” to the regatta.  Amongst the local Napolitan veterans will be Jenn & Ray Wulff on JOINT CUSTODY, Chris & Carolyn Groobey on JUNGLELAND, Peter McChesney on TROUBLE and Henry Filter on WILD CHILD.  Top visiting teams include Tim Finkle from Youngstown YC sailing JUNIOR, Marty McKenna on RARITY also from Youngstown, Joel Ronning on CATAPULT from Minneapolis, MN, Alex Meleny on LAYLA from Vineyard Haven YC and Dan Goldberg on BAZINGA from Mamaroneck, NY. The most significant “newbie” in the regatta may well be the “elephant in the room”, none other than Terry Hutchinson- Quantum Sails EVP, a past J/24 World Champion, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, and recent Farr 40 World Champion tactician.  Sailing photo credits- Tim Wilkes.com   For more J/70 Fall Brawl sailing information

J/105 Masters Preview

J/105 sailboats- sailing off San Diego(San Diego, CA)- The International Masters Regatta was established in 1975 by St. Francis Yacht Club Member, Don Trask. For years, the worldʼs greatest master sailors such as Elvstrom, Buchan, Burnham, Tillman, Trask, Irish, Harken, North, Holland, Hinman and Dickson have competed in this prestigious international sailing event on the San Francisco Bay. The San Diego Yacht Club is proud to host the event for the third time in 2014. The competition always attracts some of the world’s best master sailors on an “invitation-only” basis.

The regatta is sailed in J/105 one-design and will include buoy-racing inside the beautiful bay alongside San Diegoʼs gorgeous waterfront.  In the gentile sea breezes of 8-15 kts, the starts are often right up against the enormous USS MIDWAY, a US Navy aircraft carrier that saw duty in World War II.  To make matters more interesting, the fleet often sails long starboard tacks alongside the newest US Navy nuclear carriers, like the USS NIMITZ, with the fleet playing the shift and compression puff along their 1,200 foot length and 20-story tall topsides.  Calling for “room to tack” is often a hot topic amongst the cagey’ole master skippers and tacticians!

This year’s class of masters includes last year’s winner, Chuck Nichols, plus the regatta’s founder Don Trask (with Russ Silvestri and Chris Snow in his crew).  In addition, there are a number of World Champions and world-class sailors participating, like Augie Diaz from Miami, FL, Bruce Munro (with Annie Gardner, Paul Heineken & Chris Perkins in his crew), Dick Enersen (photographer extraordinaire from San Francisco), Tom Ehman (America’s Cup veteran with Larry Ellison’s ORACLE and Vice Commodore of Golden Gate YC, also a long-time J/24 sailor in Newport, RI), Dennis Durgan (with Bill Menninger aboard), Bob Fisher (famous yachting journalist from Great Britain and author of many famous yachting books), Jon Andron (with Benny Mitchell in his crew), Don Martin, Gary Jobson (with Jud Smith and Bill Campbell aboard) and, finally, Jon Wright (with an America’s Cup quality crew of Scotty Vogel, Billy Trenkle, Vince Brun, John Maccausland, and Peter Isler!).  It should be fun racing and many a tall tale will be shared amongst this cast of characters!  For more J/105 Masters sailing information

J/120 Over The Moon @ Harvest Moon!

Sailing offshore Harvest Moon Regatta- Gulf of Mexico (Galveston Bay, Texas)- Hosted by Lakewood YC in Houston, Texas, the 2014 Harvest Moon Regatta was another success.  The annual regatta is one of our favorites so check out Keith Magnussen's report from the race on board James Liston's J-120 Aeolus.

“The annual Harvest Moon Regatta (HMR) is my annual trek to the great big state of Texas.  In the past, this race has thrown some very challenging and interesting weather my way and this year was no exception.

If you are unfamiliar with the HMR then let's get you informed.  If you know about the HMR skip to the next paragraph.  The HMR is a 150-mile race from Galveston to Port Aransas Texas.  The coastline is littered with oil rigs, unlight platforms, oyster beds, shrimpers and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Galveston is a beach community close to Houston and Port Aransas is a spring break town close to Corpus Christie.

Crew sailing J/120 on Harvest Moon RaceAfter meeting up with my fellow crew members at Houston Yacht Club we headed down to James Liston's J-120 Aeolus.  James has been a great customer and friend and I always enjoy sailing on his boat.  This year we were sporting a brand new Code-0, Carbon GPL Genoa and an AIRX Code 1A spinnaker.  We felt we had a pretty good arsenal to compliment the 3A, Max class running spinnaker and spinnaker staysail.  Mark Michelson from Dry-UV not only supplied some fantastic crew shirts he also supplied us with a weather routing synopsis.  Not sure it would benefit my good friends on the Viper 640, they were looking at a wet ride!
Viper 830

HMR starts of the Galveston pier and our class was due to start at 3pm.  We handily won the start as we jumped out to an early lead.  The Santa Cruz 50 quickly passed us on the tight jib reach that she is essentially made for.  We held off the J-122 for a bit as we traded off lanes looking for clear air.  We ended up with the low road and Rebecca (the other J-120) took the high.  Low road was not the way to go as we ended up fighting for clear air with the smaller boats we were all passing.  Our speed was great as we pushed 10kts of boat speed right on rhumb line.

The low road was truly not stellar as I "think" there was a bit more pressure above.  As we made the correction and neared the Freeport buoy, it became clear that we would be just behind the J-122 and J-120.  We really wanted to get the Code-0 up and we eventually did just that as the wind clocked to around 135 and gave us the angle we needed.  As soon as we got it up, we started to move on the boats above us.  Only downside was the wind did not cooperate and we had to switch to the jib top.

Unfortunately for us, we had some issues on our headsail changes and ended up losing a lot of time.  Won't go into details but having the right set up for the bowman to work at night is crucial to success on overnight races.  Eventually we had to switch to the number 3 as the wind went more forward and strengthened.

Back to the race!  I forgot to mention the beautiful sunset.  Sunsets on the water are exceptional.  The colors, anticipation of night sailing and promise for some adventure make this time of day very special.

J/120 sailing at sunset on Harvest Moon RaceWe were plugging along in around 15kts of wind (I think, as our TWS was way off most of the time).  The wind was steady and some of the crew (no names) were getting a little seasick.  One in particular had an unfortunate incident and slipped down below hurting his shoulder and rendering him incapacitated.  Sort of dropping like flies, which put more pressure on the guys on deck.

Around 2am (I think) the fun really started.  In came two squalls for some excitement.  The first one was relatively tame with rain and wind in the 20's.  The second one... well that’s the one to talk about.  Full on downpour, rain going sideways, 30+kts of wind, visibility 5 yards, rain hurting your face means it is about time to reef the main.  Job well done on this one!

After the squalls passed the real breeze settled back in.  It must have been over 25 at times because we had to flog the main, which was reefed, and only had a #3 headsail up.  If you sail J-120's then you know how much breeze it takes to do this.

Morning arrived and we zeroed in on the Port Aransas turning buoy.  It always seems to blow hard here and this was no exception.  Big swells and big wind, fun times.  Plan was to turn the buoy, pop the 3A, shake the reef and have the best sailing of the race (for the last 2 miles).  It was pretty clear that no one in front of us was putting spinnakers up as we could hear the delta between rounding and finishing.  The 3A was a good call because the channel is really narrow and a tanker was coming out.  The 3A is a great sail in 25kts as it does not hide behind the main and allows us to maneuver relatively fast.  Our thoughts were that this is a chance to make some time back and have a bunch of fun!

J/120 YouTube sailing video of Harvest Moon raceFun it was!  16kt top speed with an average of around 13 made this the best sailing of the race!  We finished the race, put the boat away, rented a golf cart (seems to be the cool thing to do) and checked the Texas waves for a surf session.  All in all it was another amazing experience and even though we did not finish where we like it was a learning and bonding experience.”   J/120 Harvest Moon sailing YouTube video
Harvest Moon Sailing Regatta on Facebook   For more Harvest Moon Regatta sailing information

Friday, October 24, 2014

J/Teams Love Sailing College Big Boats!

J/105 sailing at Storm Trysail IOR regatta (Larchmont, New York)- Over 430 college sailors raced on 52 owner-coached keel-boats over Columbus Day Weekend (October 11-12) in the Storm Trysail Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta (IOR) sailed in Western Long Island Sound. The event is organized by the Storm Trysail Foundation (STF) and the Larchmont Yacht Club and this year was led by Regatta Chairman Barry Gold. The goal of the IOR is to introduce dinghy sailors to the fun and teamwork of big boat racing, which is a new aspect of the sport to many dinghy sailors. It also gives college sailors with big boat skills a chance to compete in some of the best-prepared boats around. The 52-boat fleet was divided up into five classes: 12 IRC 32’-43’ boats, five J/44s, 13 J/109s, 12 J/105s and 10 PHRF boats.

A team from the US Naval Academy won the IRC Class sailing Ron Richman’s J/133 ANTIDOTE. After 6 races, their score line read 1-1-1-2-1-4 for a scorching 10 pts. Finishing fourth in class was Mike Bruno’s J/122 WINGS sailed by Bucknell University.

The five boat J/44 one-design class was won by the University of Michigan sailing Phil Gutin’s BEAGLE, followed by the US Merchant Marine Academy sailing Joerg Esdorn & Duncan Hennes’ KINCSEM in second.  Taking third was Mass Maritime Academy onboard Len Sitar’s VAMP.

J/109 sailing Storm Trysail Club college big boat IOR regattaThe College of Charleston won the thirteen-boat J/109 class sailing Bob Siegel’s PAX 3 with a blistering hot scoreline of 4-1-1-1-2 for just 9 pts.  Not far behind in 2nd place was Mass Maritime Academy’s Team #2 sailing aboard Rick Lyall’s STORM.  The past EDHEC Sailing Cup winners, Arts et Metiers Paris Tech, took third sailing Jack Forehand’s STRATEGERY- this French team was the best result of all foreign entries.  Fourth was University of Rhode Island aboard Jonathan Rechtshaffer’s EMOTICON and in fifth was the other French entry, the EDHEC Business School sailing on Bob Schwartz’s NORDLYS.

Roger Williams University won the twelve-boat J/105 class sailing Jeremy Henderson’s CONUNDRUM that also posted to a white-hot tally of 1-2-2-3-1 for a mere 9 pts.  Second was Boston University aboard Rob Alexander’s YOUNG AMERICAN and in third was the University of Wisconsin racing Josh Burack’s PEREGRINA.  In this highly competitive fleet, Princeton University took fourth on Gary Myer’s MAGIC and rounding out the top five was US Naval Academy 2 onboard Za Jelliffe’s ARETE.

In PHRF Class, Iris Vogel’s J/88 DEVIATION was sailed by SUNY Maritime College into 4th overall and Rick Oricchio’s J/120 ROCKET SCIENCE saw St Mary’s College of Maryland take 5th.  The overall winner came from this class, the University of Toledo onboard TROUBADOR.

J/44s sailing Storm Trysail Club college bit boat IOR regattaInterestingly, while your high point score divided by most points possible in your class currently determines the “overall winner”, it does nothing to eliminate the “skew” inherent in less competitive classes with greater disparity between the boats.  It was heard over the jungle telegraph that by far the most competitive classes were the one-design fleets of J/105s, J/109s and J/44s. It also stands to reason these one-design classes are also the most closely “optimized” in terms of relative speeds (ratings notwithstanding).  On the statistical premise that the top 50% of any fleet is a good measure of “fleet competitiveness”, it’s interesting to see the J/105 and J/109 classes, in particular, score very high on that index (an average of the top 50% efficiency scores).  On that basis, the overall winner by the narrowest of margins was Roger Williams University on the J/105 CONUNDRUM followed by the College of Charleston on the J/109 PAX 3!!

Rick Lyall, the owner of the J/109 STORM, which was sailed by Mass Maritime said, “Over the years I have watched the talent level of the sailors grow. This year the top three J/109 teams were unbelievably well-sailed. The College of Charleston team was not only flawless in their boat handling, but also superior in their tactics. It seemed like every time our boat and their boat came together, the Charleston team had the advantage. They definitely deserved to win the biggest class of the regatta.”

The J/109 class had the most international entries, which included three of the four Canadian teams and two teams from France. Finishing third in the J/109 class was the team from Arts et Métiers from Paris. As the winners of the 46th EDHEC Sailing Cup raced last April in Les Sables-d’Olonne France, their team won an all expense paid trip (except for air fare) to the IOR thanks to the joint venture between the STF and the EDHEC Sailing Cup.

The EDHEC Sailing Cup is the world’s biggest college sailing regatta that draws over 1,500 sailors and 180 boats and the joint venture with the STF is designed to bring the top college sailors in the world together. As a result of being the overall winner of the IOR, the team from the University of Toledo has won an all expenses paid (except for air fare) to the 47th EDHEC Sailing Cup in La Rochelle, France to be sailed from April 24th to May 2nd 2015. All US collegiate teams are welcome.

The IOR is extremely popular with both the sailors and boat owners. An example comes from Bob Schwartz, owner of the J/109 NORDLYS who wrote, “The regatta was a great, as well as, an important event as usual. The nicest part is that you immediately realize that college age sailors are the most wonderful kids you would ever want to meet. Smart, polite, capable, etc. Our sport attracts the best and we have to keep them involved.”   Sailing photo credits- Howie McMichael  Storm Trysail College Big Boat Sailing on Facebook  For more STC International Offshore Regatta sailing information

Thursday, October 23, 2014

J/80 Eclipse Sailing Over Lorient?

J/80 Interface Concept sailing Lorient, FranceINTERFACE CONCEPT Flies Over Moon!
(Lorient, France)- This year’s Lorient J/80 Open was an epic on more than two elements, the weather and the winner!  To begin with, the thirty-four J/80 teams from across France could not have been more delighted with the sailing conditions on Friday and Saturday, it was near “picture-perfect” Indian Summer sailing with warms breezes from the SSW blowing from 10 to 15 kts each day.  Despite a front rolling in on Sunday, the sailors were treated to a solid 10-20 kts NE breeze that enabled the teams to “get up on the step” and hop into planing mode downwind for last and final race of the regatta.

The other epic element was the sheer dominance of Simon Moriceau’s well-practiced team on INTERFACE CONCEPT.  Talk about an eclipse of the harvest moon?  You might as well have talked about Moriceau’s eclipse of the J/80 teams at this year’s Lorient J/80 Open.  Sailing to five straight bullets in a row, then backing off the gas to post a 5th, the INTERFACE CONCEPT team (Moriceau plus Christian Ponthieu, Jean Queveau, Hugo Kerhascoet and Herve Corlay) counted only 10 pts in 6 races for an equally impressive 1.66 average score!

J/80 sailing off Lorient, FranceIt all started on Friday in the 12 kts SW breeze.  The first start had multiple general recalls, including a black flag start.  Right out of the starting gate, Moriceau’s team took a first, followed by SAFRAN (Morgan Lagravière) in second then CHARIOT PLUS/ VANNES UTILITAIRE (Matthew Solomon/ Quentin Delapierre) in third. The start of the second race of the day went off without a hitch, with teams following the lighter breeze off to the left.  Behind Moriceau’s transom disappearing into the mist beyond, was Frederic Hauville’s ECOLE NAVALE CG29 team in second, followed by Alice Metais’ crew on CHARLY in third.

At this point, with Moriceau’s INTERFACE CONCEPT leading with a 1-1, it was Morgan Lagravière’s SAFRAN that was hanging close by in second with a 2-4, followed by top woman skipper Alice Métais’ CHARLY (daughter of the famous Pierre Metais) in third sitting on a 6-3.

Saturday saw another extraordinary day of racing, with four additional races scored for the fleet!  More Indian Summer sailing!  The breeze was a steady 10-15 kts, but very shifty compared to the previous day. Again, Moriceau sailed off with a 1-1-1-5 to establish a dominant lead over the fleet.  At this stage, it was a battle for second between CHARLY, CHARIOT PLUS/ VANNES UTILITAIRE, SAFRAN and Eric Brezellec’s COURIER JUNIOR.

J/80 sailing upwind off Lorient, FranceWith just one race left for Sunday, it was a battle for the remaining podium spots.  Moriceau OCS’d the start and simply left the course since they had won anyways.  Behind them, Salomon & Delapierre took the bullet to secured second overall and Brezellec finally got back on form to take a second in the race and third overall.  Dropping out of contention with a strong chance for a top three finish was Alice Metais’ crew on CHARLY, accumulating a 21-5 in her last two races to drop into fourth (but still winning the Top Woman’s Skipper award!).  Taking fifth was Lagraviere’s SAFRAN, closing with satisfying scores of 1-4 in the last two races.

Everyone greatly enjoyed the social festivities as well as the wonderful hosts, CNPL (Centre Nautique du Pays de Lorient). The racing conducted by PRO Jean Coadou was met with great applause by all participants!

For the overall J/80 Coupe de France, Moriceau’s on INTERFACE CONCEPT/ CV ECOLE NAVALE has strongly increased their overall series leadership. Can anyone catch them?  Perhaps not.

The women’s teams sailing J/80s in France are sailing extremely well.  In addition to Metais’ 4th overall and 1st women’s position, taking 2nd in Women’s division was Maxime Rousseaux skippering ST-CAST GRAND OUEST ETIQUETTES and 3rd was Pauline Chalaux driving PRINCE DE BRETAGNE.  For more J/80 Open Lorient Regatta sailing information

Myrgren Is J/70 Swedish Sailing Master!

J/70 Swedish Master of Masters winners (Bastad, Sweden)- The London 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the Laser class, Rasmus Myrgren, sailed to victory in the Swedish Master of Masters Regatta with his team of Thomas Rahm, Rahm Axel and Carl Sylvan.  Over the two-day event held on October 11th and 12th, 39 teams participated (all champions of one class or another), sailing 25 races in the 8-boat fleet of evenly-matched J/70s.

According to Myrgren, “I had a good crew with me in the boat and we coordinated nicely in all the races. We focus really hard when it comes boatspeed and worked hard to choose our own path through the fleet.”

J/70s sailing Swedish Master of Masters RegattaFor the ninth year, the top Swedish champions selected each year in different sailing classes gathered for the Master of Masters Championship. The two-day event in Bastad today is one of the most prestigious in Swedish sailing. This year 34 Swedish champions and five wild card entries approached the starting line, ready to take to the sea and figure out who is the best of the best; who is the master's master! The courses were short and concentrated, tactics and maneuvers must be in top form and mistakes were very costly.  The format was a round-robin on Saturday followed by two-semifinals Sunday morning; with the top three of each semi going into the final championship round at 1400 hrs Sunday afternoon.

“It's a special feeling to win the Masters championship, where most of Sweden's best sailors are competing - and it feels fantastic! The whole event is like a big party for us sailors. We have a chance to talk about past seasons and experiences, making new friends and enjoying the camaraderie,” continued Myrgren, who also won the Swedish Master of Masters Championship in 2012 with essentially the same crew!

Stefan Rahm, Swedish Sailing Federation's Sports Director, was very pleased with this year's races and believes that the final round was the tightest and most exciting seen over the past few years. He said, “the races have ended perfectly and we are excited about how the weather has shifted in a favorable way during the pasta few days. First, a little more sunshine sailing in relatively light winds, and now during the final day with better winds and shifts, which meant that the sailors got a bigger challenge. In addition, our live streaming on the web, where this year we invested even more than in previous years, has exceeded expectations. It is a successful venture and a way for us to spread the sport of sailing to more and more people. Sailing is an exciting sport and the champions have a national audience (both on live TV and live on the webcast).  This was a fantastic opportunity to follow the races and learn from the commentators.”

Finishing behind Myrgren’s GKSS team in second was the KSSS team (Royal Swedish YC) that included Anton Dahlberg, Victor Cuikerman, Per Thorsell and Nils Dahlberg.  Taking third from Stockholm YC was the team of Johan Qviberg, Jakob Gustafsson and Martin Nilsson.   For more J/70 Swedish Master of Masters Regatta sailing information

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

J/111 & J/109 Dominate China Coast Regatta

J/111 Mojito sailing Hong Kong China Coast regatta (Daya Bay, Shenzen, China)- Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s flagship China Coast Regatta took place from 10 to 12 October this year, following a tried and tested three-day format that offered competitors a variety of windward/ leeward and islands courses in the waters to the south of Hong Kong Island and west of Lamma Island.

Headlined by Audi for the first time since its inception in 1993, the regatta attracted nearly 40 competitors in four classes and seven divisions, with the majority of entrants sailing IRC Racing class. In the most competitive class in the entire event, the IRC 2 Division, the J/111 MOJITO skippered by Simon Blore handily won their nine-boat class with a very consistent 4-8-1-4-1-2-1 for 13 pts net.

J/109 Whiskey Jack sailing Hong Kong China Coast regattaTaking second in IRC 2 was a perennial top performer on the Hong Kong offshore racing circuit, the J/109 WHISKEY JACK sailed by Nick Southward.  The “Jack” started off strongly, leading their class up until race five, but couldn’t hold off the hard-charging crew aboard MOJITO.  In the end, WHISKEY JACK’s scores of 2-3-3-1-7-1-5 for 15 pts net secured their team a solid second place performance.  In fact, Southward’s team may have benefitted from their early “practice race”, the newly created Audi Hong Kong Kettle race- a new team racing competition that included an “Around Hong Kong Islands Race” the day preceding the China Coast Regatta.  The timing offered entrants the double benefit of an extra day’s acclimatization to the region’s sailing conditions, coupled with a great opportunity to see the wilder parts of Hong Kong.  The Hong Kong Kettle Race Chairman, Drew Taylor, explained the rationale of the Kettle event schedule, saying “Hong Kong in October provides very good sailing conditions with breeze typically in the high teens, temperatures in the high 20’s and a great combination of geometric and island courses.”  In the end, the J/109 WHISKEY JACK sailed by Nick Southward took advantage of the opportunity, took in some fabulous views of Hong Kong Island, and won the inaugural Team 3 Race Class in the Kettle Race!     China Coast Sailing Regatta on Facebook  Sailing photo credits- Guy Nowell/ RHKYC
For more China Coast Regatta sailing information