Thursday, May 26, 2016

Win The SHOE Regatta? Get New Flip-Flops!

JBoats Shoe Regatta (Seabrook, TX)- Lakewood Yacht Club’s Race Committee Chairman Larry Rogers was looking forward to hosting the 34th Annual Shoe Regatta.  The regatta was held over the weekend of May 14-15th.  Bay Access, a not-for-profit organization that supports amateur racing, is the organizing authority of the races.

The Shoe Regatta, which is open to the public and raced on Galveston Bay, is a favorite among local racers because, in the past, each crew member of the winning boat in each class was awarded a certificate for a pair of Sperry deck shoes; hence, the name of the event- “the SHOE Regatta!”  This year, every crew member of the winning boat of every class received a pair of premium Musto Sailing Shoes with exceptional grip for the serious sailor! That’s why Mr Rogers was so excited; he was hoping to get his own pair of Musto’s!

The Shoe Regatta is for one-design, handicapped offshore sailboats.  The one-design classes sail as many races as conditions permit, the J/22s and J/70s both sailed seven races while the J/105s & J/109s sailed six races.  The PHRF Spinnaker buoy racing class also managed to sail six races.

On Saturday, the racing was postponed on shore because of no breeze.  However, the fleet went out by noon to a light breeze that built quickly to 15 kts- much more than predicted.  Lots of good racing, the J/22s and J/70s both got off four races in quick succession.

The largest class in the regatta was the up and coming class in Texas- the J/70s.  What may have supported the fourteen boat turnout was the fact a fair number of out-of-town teams were likely practicing for the upcoming J/70 North Americans to be held at the same club and in the same waters in Galveston Bay.  Winning class was Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE from San Diego YC, taking class by just two points.  Winning the tie-breaker at 29 pts each was Matt Romberg’s USA 175 over Lakewood YC’s own Doug Strebel on BLACK RIVER RACING.  Fourth on two more pts back was another LYC team, Chris Lewis’ GB and in fifth was Glenn Darden’s HOSS from Fort Worth Boat Club (the current J/70 Midwinter Champion in St Petersburg, FL).

The next biggest class was the J/22s, with eleven boats in the fleet. The fleet has “re-exploded” on Galveston Bay, with 34 race-ready boats!  Stuart Lindow’s SOUTHERN BELLE took class honors will all top four scores- winning class with 19 pts.  Taking the silver was Mike McGagh’s USA 388 with Vincent Ruder’s USA 365 in third.  The balance of the top five was Robert Allen’s CLASSY WITH K in 4th and Larry Blankenhagen’s PARROT TALES LIGHT in 5th.

Winning five races on their way to a class win was JB Bednar’s J/105 STINGER.  No one else came close to that performance.  John Barnett’s VICI took second followed by Uzi Ozeri’s INFINITY in third place.

The J/109s saw a nip and tuck battle taking place between the top two boats all weekend long.  However, it was the last race that determined the final standings, with Albrecht Goethe’s HAMBURG winning the race and the J/109 title.  Second was Tom Sutton’s LEADING EDGE and third was David Christensen’s AIRBORNE.  LEADING EDGE could not overcome blowing a jib on race 1, earning a DNF or they may have stunned the J/109 Galveston Bay World with a win over Hamburg!

JD and Susan Hill’s gorgeous J/122 SECOND STAR dominated PHRF with 5 straight bullets after a first race 3rd place to take the big trophy with 8 points.  For more Musto SHOE Regatta sailing information

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tactical J/Stop Regatta Debut

J/105 sailing San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- The St Francis YC hosted the inaugural J/Stop Regatta this past weekend for one-design fleets of J/105s, J/111s and J/120s.  The format was short courses between either the club start line or off the western face of Alcatraz Island with weather marks up near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Twenty-one J/105's competed in the inaugural J/Stop.  The sailors really enjoyed the innovative format featuring more racing with shorter courses so there could be more action for skippers and crews.  An added bonus was a lower entry fee due to just enjoying a keg on the dock instead of a catered event inside the Club.

"We tried this out a few years ago at the Wickford YC in Rhode Island, with 9 races, and it was a major success.  Most of the J/105 owners reported it was the best weekend of racing they had ever had,” reported regatta organizer Bruce Stone, Past President of the J/105 Class and owner of Arbitrage #116.

Stone continued to describe the weekend’s action for the 105s, ”While we usually have 5 races on the weekend, the St. Francis and PRO John Callahan agreed to try out 8 races.  John set us up with the same long beat as the four J/111s and five J/120s so we could get some separation going into the windward mark, and a separate set of leeward gates so the downwind leg and the second upwind beat were shorter.

J/105 sailing San FranciscoWe were rarely mixing it up with the other fleets...though, of course, being J/105s there was a lot of action among ourselves at the windward and leeward marks.  With the stronger ebb in the middle of SF Bay, the RC favored the shoreside pin end of the line by a little over 10 degrees to attract some customers, and in a few races the winning move was to start at the pin, flop immediately to port and cross the fleet, well-executed by Phil Laby's team on Godot, #44, who won three races and finished second.

Arbitrage won two races by starting at the other end, at the committee boat, and tacking to port to foot out to the strong mid-bay ebb.  Ryan Simmons' Blackhawk, #40, took fewer risks, was almost always on the starting line with speed, and won the regatta without actually winning a single race.

Tom Kennelly's Wonder, #266, turned in a strong last day with a bullet on the final race to move up to third, edging out Arbitrage.

Back at the docks, teams intermingled, blenders appeared on several boats, and competitors reported how wonderful it was to actually get a chance to match up faces with boats.  With a low entry fee of just $80, or $10 per race, our expectation is that this less formal format will be tried again."

J/120s sailing San FranciscoIn the J/120 class, it was clear that Barry Lewis’ crew on CHANCE were not going to take a chance and blow their early three bullet lead on the first day of racing.  The second day saw them sail a bit more conservative and post a 2-3-2 to win class with 10 pts total.  Behind them it was a battle royale between two long-time protagonists in the 120 world- David Halliwill’s PEREGRINE and Stevie Madeira’s MR MAGOO.  After the first day of racing, the MAGOO monsters posted a 3-2-2 to have a solid hold on second place.  Meanwhile, the PEREGRINE flyers started well, but slid down the roller coaster with a 2-3-4 tally for 9 pts.  However, either the entire crew went to church Sunday morning and prayed for a more IQ points, or they found a huge can of “whupass” and drank all of it!  Indeed, their turn-around in the first two races Sunday was epic- two bullets, and easy ones at that!  They closed with a third in the last race to win their tie-breaker on 14 pts each with the MAGOO crew.  Fourth was Tom Grennan’s KOOKABURRA and fifth was Timo Bruck’s TWIST.

Peter Wagner’s crew has been on a bit of a tear lately in the J/111 class.  Having won Key West Race Week and Charleston Race Week, they now add to their collection of silverware the J/Stop J/111 class win.  Like their winning J/120 counterparts, Wagner’s TOPSY TURVY crew triple bulleted their first three races on Saturday.  They followed up with a conservative 3-1-4 on Sunday to win with 11 pts.  Richard Swanson’s BAD DOG won two races and took two 2nds on their way to securing second overall for the weekend.  Third was Gorkem Ozcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT with 17 pts overall.   Results for all three fleets can be found here   For more J/Stop Regatta sailing information

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

RORC De Guingand Bowl Race Report

J/35 sailing North Sea races J/105 Jumps Into RORC Season Points Lead!
(Cowes, IOW, England)- The Royal Ocean Racing Club's offshore racing season continued this past weekend with the 4th race of the RORC Season's Points Championship. Designed to last 24-36 hours, the De Guingand Bowl Race starts and finishes in the Solent and is a flexi-course allowing the Royal Ocean Racing Club to design a bespoke course.

"Without the constraint of finishing the race in a totally different location, we concentrate on the weather and tidal conditions to decide the course," explains RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "We try to get all of the fleet to finish the first leg in the same tidal vector, so as to avoid a tidal gate early in the race and that is often why we start the slower yachts first. After that, wherever possible, we try to set turning marks that give tactical options to yachts during the race, although trying to predict exact wind speed and direction can be difficult. The race should last over 24 hours but the breeze looks to be changing over the weekend and that will be a factor in what is possible with the course."

This year’s DGB Race was held in the Solent and South Coast of England in highly changeable conditions. During the course of the race, the wind direction swung to every point on the compass and the wind strength varied from zephyrs to 16 knots. Keeping your head out of the boat for the changes and pre-empting and correctly adapting to them was the key to success. RORC racing manager, Nick Elliott, chose a longer course of 123nm for the faster yachts and a shorter course of 105nm for the smaller and slower boats, with the overall result being decided on average speed.

In IRC 2 Class, the Army Sailing Association's J/111 BRITISH SOLDIER took third place. In IRC 3 class, James Chalmers' Weymouth team racing the J/35 BENGAL TIGER was third in class and fifth overall in fleet!  Proof that you cannot keep a good’ole fast classic off the podium for very long!

In IRC 4, Robert Nelson's J/105 BIGFOOT was fourth in IRC 4 and fourth in IRC Two-handed division, which was enough to put the Two-handed team in first place overall for the RORC Season's Points Championship!  Just behind them was Nick Martin’s J/105 DIABLO-J in 5th place.

The Royal Ocean Club's Season's Points Championship continues on Saturday 28th May, over the May Bank Holiday with the Myth of Malham Race. The 256 nautical mile Cowes - Round Eddystone - Cowes course is weighted 1.2 for the championship and a highly competitive fleet is expected to be racing.  For more RORC De Guingand Bowl Race sailing information

Welles Crowned J/24 National Champ!

J/24 sailors (Blue Point, NY) – Thirty-nine teams were competing in the 2016 J/24 US National Championship, hosted by Sayville Yacht Club in Blue Point, NY; including entrants from various areas of the United States as well as Argentina, Canada, Chile and Mexico.  There were three solid days of racing, starting out with light winds and wet weather and concluding with near gale force conditions and massive Great South Bay chop on the last day.  After starting out in first place after the first day of racing, Will Welles and his team (Chris Morgan, Monica Morgan, Jeff Linton and Todd McGuire) were crowned this year’s J/24 USA National Champs!  Here is how it all went down for Welles’ crew and the rest of the fleet.

Coincidentally, for the ever-superstitious Welles, Friday the 13th brought massive amounts of good fortune to his team. Enduring light breeze (4-8 knots) and overcast/wet conditions, Welles recorded two bullets and a second for just 4 points in the three races. Carter White shadowed him with 10 points (including the day’s other race win). Then, Canadian Michael Howarth’s second-place in the final contest pushed him into third overall with 22 points.

J/24 women's sailing teamBehind Welles in the first race were Christopher Stone (who took a 20% penalty) and Nicolas Cubria of Argentina. The leaders jumbled in race two as White defeated Welles and Cubria. Welles returned to the top in the last contest, tailed by Howarth and John Mollicone.

Saturday’s racing weather improved a bit. The Great South Bay provided some welcome sunshine and breeze that began at 8-10 knots and built to 10-12 kts by the end of racing.  You know you’re having a successful regatta when after seven races, you are able to discard a third place! Such was the case for Welles team.  At the end of race day two, Carter White was still in second place and Nicolas Cubria of Argentina was sitting in third with 27 pts.

Cubria was the victor in Saturday’s first race, as Welles and Alfred Constants completed the top trio. Then Chile’s Matias Seguel bested the fleet, tracked by White and Welles. Travis Odenbach and White watched Welles cross the line first in race six, while Cubria bookended his bullets for the day by winning the last contest (Seguel and Welles followed).

The last day proved to be a formidable challenge for the J/24 crews.  With sustained winds in the mid-20s, gusts in the low 30 kts range and large waves by the day’s third and final race, some of the crews were getting pretty tired and gybing the spinnaker was becoming a bit of a gymnastics exercise for some crews.

Fortunately for Welles, they were already back on shore, able to discard their 10th race score after wrapping up the title by then with 22 points. However, the balance of the top five battled tightly until the end with Carter White earning the silver position (43 points), Chile’s Matias Seguel the bronze (47 points), with John Mollicone in fourth (48 points) and Argentina’s Nicolas Cubria in fifth (52 points). The race winners today were Cubria, Mollicone and Travis Odenbach.  For more J/24 USA Nationals sailing information

Monday, May 23, 2016

Corpus Christi Surfin’ Safari Announcement

J/70 sailing off Corpus Christi, TX (Corpus Christi, TX)- The 2016 Surfin' Safari is scheduled for June 11-12, 2016 at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club. The CCYC has hosted many national and world-class regattas over the years and is a fantastic sailing venue.

If you are looking for a regatta with strong breeze and some waves to surf, then you need to make the trip to Corpus Christi, Texas for this regatta. The wind down on the bay averages between 15-20 knots and on a good day can hit 30 kts and will be t-shirts, shorts and shades weather!

This year, Mount Gay Rum is one of the sponsors for the regatta. A limited amount of the famous red hats will be available to competitors, giving preference to early registrations!! Please join us for this fun regatta. Invited J classes include J/22s, J/24s, J/70s and J/80s!   Competitors may register here.

J/112E Wins Grand Prix du Crouesty

J/112E sailing off France (Crouesty-Arzon, France)- Over the past weekend, the YC Crouesty de Arzon hosted their annual Grand Prix du Crouesty for both one-design and offshore classes.  Sailing in the IRC class was the brand new J/112E sport cruiser.  Here is the report from Fred Bouvier at J/Composites, a crew on-board the J/112E:

“This past weekend we were racing in Le Crouesty (Brittany / France). The weather forecast was predicting a light and sunny weekend. Our crew was our usual base along with new crew coming from friends and family.

We were in a decent fleet that had a wide cross-section of top French offshore teams.  In fact, we ended up racing in a combined IRC 1 and IRC 2 fleet start. In the end, this was a highly competitive fleet as all the podium winners in the offshore classes from famous Spi Ouest France were here. This would be a challenge for us as we would be sailing the J/112E in IRC 2 class, but we would be sailing in the turbulence of the bigger boats in our starting line.

The first day of racing was comprised of three W/L races.  We had a very successful day fighting the bigger boats; we had a record of 2-1-1 for our finishes! Perhaps what was most impressive about our performance is that we were racing in real-time with the back of IRC 1 fleet which included two new fast IRC 40 class prototypes, two Grand Soleil 43s and a Ker 39.

J/112E sport cruiser sailing off FranceThe following day we started with a coastal race due to light and shifty conditions. We had a terrible start, taking about 3 minutes to cross the line, but we came back nicely to catch back up to the leaders on corrected time during the race.  The best IRC 1 boats were able to extend their lead, but we were still under control on corrected time.

The second race was a windward-leeward course, which was great for us.  On the first windward leg in 8 knots of wind, we missed crossing ahead of the first IRC 1 class boat, the Ker 39 with an Olympic Medallist calling tactics, by just one boat-length!  In the end, we finished in real time in the middle of the fleet of IRC 1 with the IRC fleet 2 being half a leg behind!

This was a very nice week for our J/112E team, having a fun time in the evening with friends and a lot of fun on the water! Finally, racing with the middle of the IRC 1 fleet has been a great chance for us to test our performance!  This was element was unexpected, but it created an extra challenge that we were pleased to have successfully passed!  For more Grand Prix du Crouesty sailing information

Sunday, May 22, 2016

J/46 Bolaro Cruising South Pacific!

J/46 sailing off Marquesas Islands- South Pacific (Marquesas Islands)- The J/46 BOLARO is cruising the South Pacific- Eric McClure’s latest update on their adventure is explained here: “As you see, we made it to the Marquesas Islands.  The J/46 Bolaro made the trip from San Diego to South Pacific in 16 days 19 hours.  In other words, around 17 days.  It is 2,800nm and we sailed about 3,200nm. 

After talking to other boats in the Marquesas,  only catamarans do that speed.  At night we do not fly the spinnaker, so we can sleep with one person on watch.  After all, we are cruising 9 to 10 kts, and we very commonly hit 16.9 kts, but it did not last long.”

40th Birthday- J/24 RAGTIME!

Chile J/Boats story with Juan Reid and Navigantes TV (Santiago, Chile)-  This weekend, the 40th birthday party celebration of the first launching of the J/24 RAGTIME will be taking place in Stonington, CT at Dodson’s Boatyard.  Drop on by and say “Hi” designer Rodney Johnstone or simply visit the Dogwatch Cafe and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and absorb some J/Boats history along the way!

Down in Algarrobo, Chile, the Navegantes TV program did a special on the history of J/Boats in South America.  They interviewed J/Chile dealer Juan Eduardo Reid from Windmade Spa.  It’s all in Spanish, but jump to 29.0 minutes on the timeline and you can hear how it all happened!  Watch on Vimeo here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Great Vallejo Race- Fun Sailing on the Bay!

The Great Vallejo Race on San Francisco Bay (Vallejo, CA)- This not too often publicized event is hosted by the great, one and only, Vallejo YC.  Where is that, one might ask?  Click here- they are cool and they love to sail!  They also host one of San Francisco Bay’s more notorious races and dock parties!

The race most often starts near the Berkeley Circle on Saturday morning, rounds a single weather mark near Alcatraz, and then heads to Vallejo, usually under spinnaker for the remainder of the race.  The challenge is to maintain speed through the shadow of Angel Island, find the best combination of wind and current past the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and East Brother Light Station, and then avoid the mud shoals on the east side of the San Pablo Bay. Depending on the day, the passage can be a challenging breeze (intentional pun), or a miserable drifter, complicated - as always - by the currents, no matter its direction.

The Great Vallejo Race sailing up San Francisco BayAs the boats enter Carquinez Strait, they bunch together, making the turn into Mare Island Strait a nightmare for many boats.  Because of the topography of Mare Island, as well as the fact that it sits at the mouth of the Napa River, local knowledge (or many years of sailing the race) can make the difference as the yachts maneuver toward the finish line on the Vallejo city waterfront.  Winds vary from light to heavy, and becoming exceedingly shifty.  By the time they enter the Strait, many of the crews are let's say "over-relaxed" by sun, surf, and suds.  This is where the fun really starts!  In the mad dash for the finish line, sharp crews can usually pick off several places with close attention to trim, wind, and current.  Just be sure to check your charts and keep a close watch on your depth sounder! Yah! Good point. Since, touching bottom, often means you win!  As one sage in the UK, who is quite familiar with similar strategies on the Solent, once declared (Bob Fisher to be exact), “you’re not winning until you’re dredging”!

In this year’s version of the Great Vallejo dash, J/crews sailed quite well.  In PHRF 2 Class, the J/44 VIAJANTE skippered by Bill Williams took 4th place.  In PHRF 3 Class, the J/120 SAETTA helmed by Ludovic Millin was 2nd.

Gary Panariello’s J/88 COURAGEOUS won PHRF 4 Class, followed by Elvin Valverde’s J/35 JOKER in sixth and Bob Bloom’s J/35 JARLEN in ninth.

Tony Castruccio’s J/30 WINDSPEED took the gold in PHRF 13 Class and silver was taken by Grant Harless’ J/29 BAY LOON.  Yet another J/30, Peter Jermyn’s IONE, was sixth and Chris Boome’s J/32 RHAPSODY was 8th.  Finally, the J/24s crushed PHRF 16 class, with Darren Cumming’s DOWNTOWN UPROAR 1st and Jasper Can Vliet’s EVIL OCTUPUS in 2nd.

The big J/105 one-design class saw spirited competition, with BLACKHAWK (Kristin Simmons) winning followed by 007 (Justin Hersh) second and CUCHULAININ (Jim Mullen) in third.  For more Great Vallejo Race sailing information

STC Block Island Race Preview

J/44 sailing offshore“Distance Racing is What We Love to Do”
(Larchmont, NY)– Most racing sailors are familiar with the Storm Trysail Club’s (STC) penchant for running world-class races across the country, and it’s safe to say New England sailors particularly prize the organization’s Block Island Race, which starts on Friday, May 27 at 1400. In its 71st year, this 186nm race for IRC and PHRF boats starts at The Cows off Stamford Harbor (Conn.), runs down Long Island Sound, around Block Island (R.I.) and back to Stamford. (A Plum Island Course of 125 nautical miles is a shorter option for PHRF, and doublehanded classes are hosted on both courses.)

“Offshore distance racing is what the Storm Trysail Club is all about; it's what we love to do,” said STC Vice Commodore Lenny Sitar (Holmdel, NJ), who will skipper his J/44 VAMP with a mostly New Jersey crew and several STC members aboard, including STC Rear Commodore and Vamp Watch Captain AJ Evans (Atlantic Highlands, NJ).” It's one of the club's most iconic races primarily because of the sailors' interest and repeat entries every May. We've never won it overall, but we've had a few class wins, some decent overall places, and quite often, a good time.”

According to Evans, who will serve as one of VAMP’S watch captains, the Block Island Race course poses unique challenges. “Its complexity with different ‘lanes’ in and out of Long Island Sound (Connecticut shore, middle, or Long Island shore), and then out and back through either the Race, Gut, or Sluiceway provide numerous opportunities for positions to change,” he said. “It's a race course of opportunities, even when you're behind, right up to the end.  We've seen leads change in the last moments of the race near The Cows.  It's not just a parade.”  Joining VAMP in IRC 3 is another J/44, Norm Schulman’s CHARLIE V.

Ray Redniss, PRO for the event over the past 17 years, also noted that the Block Island Race “is just long enough not to be a sprint, and not too long that it kills the whole Memorial Day three-day weekend.” Most of the fleet –currently 74 strong – finishes overnight on Saturday, and with the awards scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the sailors still have Monday to spend with family.

J/120 sailing Block Island raceFrom the Doublehanded group, Gary Grant (Westport, Conn.) will be back for his 13th Block Island Race on the J/120 ALIBI.  His team has won the doublehanded division twice (2006, 2013) and in both years also won the Harvey Conover Memorial Trophy for Best Overall Performance.  “The Doublehanded fleet is very strong this year,” said Grant.  “Perennial top competitors are Lora Ann and Mireille, who have both sailed this race and won more times than any other boats in the fleet.  Three new boats to the division (Helios, Inigo Montoya and Oakcliff) are of newer and more cutting-edge design and threaten to upset the old order.  It will be interesting to see how the old guys in the old boats do against the speedy newcomers.”  Joining Grant in the IRC DH group will be Chris Hall’s J/122 WILEY SILVER FOX from Darien, CT.

In other classes are a number of hot teams with proven performances in offshore events like the Block Island Race.  In PHRF 3 Class is the J/105 RAPTOR sailed by Frank Conway from Hudson Cove YC.  In the IRC 4 class, we find Brian Prinz’s J/125 SPECTRE up against their stablemates on the J/133 MATADOR sailed by Dale & Mike McIvor from Pequot YC.

Sailing the Plum Island Race in PHRF-PI class is the Larchmont YC Junior Offshore Team on the J/105 PRIVATEER.

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). It is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%). Last year's Tuna Trophy was won by Christopher Dragon with first place finishes in both events.  Sailing photo credits- Rick Bannerot.   For more Storm Trysail Block Island Race sailing information