Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hamble Winter Series- Weekend #6

J/111 sailing Hamble Winter Series (Hamble, England)- Menacing skies, a torrential rain squall and an indecisive breeze couldn't stop the assembled Garmin Hamble Winter Series fleet from getting in some cracking racing on the sixth weekend of the series.

After a vicious rain squall caught the fleet on the way out, the wind shifted around between southeast and northerly until it settled in the northeast for long enough to get a good race in for all classes. The race team combined some starts to get everyone away in good time, with all classes sailing short courses between Royal Southern and East Knoll buoys. This led to some close-quarters racing to keep everyone on their toes, but the frequent windshifts gave tacticians the chance to make some big gains up the beats and down the runs.

In IRC 0, Chris Body's J/111 Icarus added a first place to her scoreline which leaves her equal on points with fellow J/111, Louise Makin’s JOURNEYMAKER II.  Just 2 pts back is Martin Dent’s J-ELVIS.  With two weekends left, is it possible there is a three-boat clean sweep of IRC 0 Class for the J/111s? 

J/88 family speedster- sailing Hamble on SolentStew Hawthorn’s J/88 JIFI sailed a great race to take the top spot in IRC 2, ahead of Paul Hayes' J/88 JONGLEUR in third.  At this stage of the game, JIFI is sitting in third overall with 24 pts with a good mathematical chance for 1st overall. Not far off the stage is Paul Ward’s J/88 EAT SLEEP J REPEAT; and an outside chance for the top three is Ivan Trotman’s J/88 JOJO.

It appears that Charles Ivill's J/97 JTB TYRES/ JUST LIKE THAT, which finished just under two minutes ahead of the fleet on corrected in their last race, is poised to be the primary candidate for series leader.  However, they have a mere 2 pts lead over Andy Howe’s J/97 BLACKJACK II and knowing how the teams have responded to sailing conditions in the last few weekends, this class could still be open for a surprising outcome?

J/109 fleet rounding mark on SolentIn the J/109s Adrian Wheal's JOLLY JACK TAR added another first to her scoreline, with Owain Franks' JYNNAN TONNYX in 2nd place. As a result, Wheal’s crew is leading for the series with 9 pts, followed by Roger Phillips’ DESIGNSTAR II in second with 12 pts and Franks’ JYNNAN TONNYX in third with 18 pts.  Given the fact that any one crew is capable of winning one or more races, it would not be prudent to go down to your local Ladbrokes Betting Parlour and bet on a horse that may not leading by a nose on the final furlong!

Having endured one rain squall before the race, competitors were relieved that the clouds held their rain until the fleet was assembled in the HRSC clubhouse for the prize-giving, were day prizes were presented by Peter Kay and Ian Brown from One Sails, who have been longstanding supporters of the Hamble Winter Series for over 20 years.  Next week sees the penultimate weekend of racing in the 2014 Garmin Hamble Winter Series. Thanks for contribution from Ben Meakins.   Sailing Photo Credits- Paul Wyeth/    For more Garmin Hamble Winter Series sailing information

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BRUSCHETTA J/24 South American Champion

Bruschetta- Santa Cruz win South Americans (La Punta, Peru)- With spring sailing going full-tilt “down under” the equator everywhere, it was perhaps the South American J/24 sailors who were most eager to get the ball rolling in their 2014 South American Championship hosted by Centro Naval de Peru- Club Nautico.  An enthusiastic group of thirteen J/24s, mostly from Peru and Chile, were ready to take on the top Brazilian team led by skipper Mauricio Santa Cruz on his famously-named BRUSCHETTA.

Sailing in the spectacular bay surround La Punta, the fleet was treated to excellent sailing conditions all five days of the event with winds averaging around 8-13 kts for the total of ten races.  It was a fair test of skills and it was pretty self-evident after the first day of racing that Santa Cruz’s BRUSCHETTA simply had “another gear” and could extricate themselves from difficult situations and still manage to win races.  In the end, they were crowned South American Champions after posting a remarkable seven 1st and a 3-4 as counters for a total of 14 pts net.

J/24 women's sailing team- La Punta, PeruBehind BRUSCHETTA, it was a game of consistency and avoiding “the big mistake”, some teams faired better than others.  After day one, the Brazilian BRUSCHETTA team led the fleet, followed by Luis Olcese’s SCARAMOUSH from Peru, then Javier Arribas’ WAYRA team also from Peru.  For two more days, the top three didn’t change.  Then, disaster struck the WAYRA team.  After posting mostly top three finishes, the WAYRA gang seemingly “lost the edge” and plunged into the abyss and off the podium.  In their last five races, WAYRA posted a 6-6-10-8-10 to seriously “fall from grace with the sea,” ending up in 5th overall.

On the third day of the regatta, the composition of the top five began to change, with Matias Seguel’s GURU team from Chile getting two 4ths to slide into third by a point to spare.  Then, on the final day of racing Saturday, WAYRA continued to be snake-bitten while GURU finished off the series by winning the last race and taking the bronze.   The race for the top five was rounded out by Vernon Robert’s Chilean team on JOYITA, taking 4th overall with relatively consistent finishes.

Of note was the continuing improvement of the all-women’s team sailing JITANA, skippered by Tania Zimmerman and her sisters and friends from Peru.  While they finished 8th, they managed to post a 1st and 3rd in races #8 and #9.  In fact, their 9-3-1-6 in the last four races on the last two days of the regatta was the 5th best in the fleet!   Sailing photo credits- Bernardita Grez  For Facebook photos & commentary on the J/24 South Americans   For more J/24 South American Championship sailing information

Monday, November 24, 2014

J/88 The Perfect Sailboat?

J/88 sailboat- family speedster (Chicago, IL)- “When I sailed the J/88 in Newport in the fall of 2013 I really liked the boat but wondered how was it going to fit into the racing scene in Lake Michigan and who would want the boat. I have sailed boats from Sunfish to IOR Maxi's and America’s Cup 12 meters and I enjoy smaller boats more than the big ones. So, for me a 29 footer was right up my alley. The big question was could it do all the things I want to do with a boat?” said Richie Stearns.   Rich went on to say, “my perfect boat" needs to do the following:
  1. Has to be fast and fun to sail.
  2. Has to be affordable (price/ resale price) J/Boats hold their value better than any boat.
  3. Has to have a head with privacy
  4. Has to be able to trail behind a normal size vehicle
  5. Single-point lift and mast-up with gin pole. Doesn't need a boat yard to launch.
  6. Can sail the Chicago-Mackinac race.
  7. Can sail short-handed and around the buoys.
  8. Have an inboard engine to get some place.
After sailing in Newport with Stu J, I bought our first demo boat.  We had an amazing sail in 15-20 kts, a spectacular northwesterly breeze, clear skies, sunny, on Narragansett Bay.  I had to put all the pieces together to see if this was my perfect boat. So, I started looking at vehicles. That was tough, I live in downtown Chicago in a 1924 building, and the parking is tight. No way could I have a truck or a big SUV and I don't want one either. Most medium SUV's can only tow 3,500 pounds. However, Jeep had just come out with a diesel and that fit the bill. The Hemi in the Jeep would have worked, but didn't get good mileage.

J/88 sailboat- towing on trailerSo, I picked up the boat in December 2012 during winter storm “Hercules.” They were closing schools in Rhode Island and I was pulling a boat to Chicago. We did have to stop in the mountains but it wasn't it was the car or trailer's fault, there was 2" of ice on the road and the spin outs of other vehicles were getting out of control. But, the next day we made it to Chicago. Until we got to Indiana everything was very stable. There was some rocking in the rig as we approached Chicago. We found out later they closed Interstate 80 to trucks because of 50 kts cross-winds. The answer is, “yes a mid-size SUV can tow the J/88 over mountains and through storms!”  Read more about Rich’s experiences here (PDF download):

Then, the J/88 Great Lakes fleet invites everyone to join them for the 107th running of the Chicago-Mackinac Race in 2015.  Afterwards, you can then cruise the beautiful waters of the lakes, like the North Channel in Canada or Harbor Springs, Michigan and surrounding islands. It is an experience that cannot be beat anywhere in the world with your J/88! When you’re done, just pull at Mackinac City, Harbor Springs (or anywhere else) and drive home!

Here is the J/88 invitation to sail the gorgeous Great Lakes in awesome fresh water sailing, you can truly knock-off several “bucket list” programs with these experiences (PDF download):

Sunday, November 23, 2014

J/Boat Show Schedule

(Newport, RI)- Over the course of the next few months, there are some excellent boat shows to view some of the latest J/Designs and also have a chance to speak with many of your friends and colleagues about the world of sailing.  Here are some of those events to consider, so mark your calendars to see the latest J’s on display:

J-BOSS Loves Triskell Cup

J/111 JBoss sailing off Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe in Triskell Cup(Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe)- What may be the first regatta of the 2014/ 2015 Caribbean Winter Sailing Season is the Triskell Cup hosted on the island of Guadeloupe.  Sailing a series of races off the quaint French-inspired village of Pointe a Pitre, the fleet of boats enjoyed a broad range of “post-tropical depression” conditions; meaning that clear skies and steady 8-15 kts of breeze could often be punctuated by sudden squalls developing rapidly with rain, 20-30 kts winds and massive changes in wind direction.  Such is the difficult life of sailing in the tropics with temperatures ranging from an extreme of 65 degrees up to 85 degrees F!

After the smoke cleared, Eddy Chalono’s J/111 J-BOSS finished second in the Triskell Cup 2014, but the crew is extremely proud of their result after having to fight off one of the world’s most famous Figaro Sailing Champions- Gildas Morvan.

As reported by Eddy’s crew, “the big problem of this regatta was in particular to avoid the huge patches of sea-grass that had the tendency to drop our boat speed of 1.5-2.0 kts— impossible to see them sometimes!  So, we needed very frequent stops and back-ups that penalized us on our handicap times.”  Hmmm, sounds like J-BOSS needs a classic “SoCal Kelp-Cutter”!!   For more Triskell Cup sailing information

Saturday, November 22, 2014

J/46 BRAVO Cruising Maine Islands!

J/46 sailing off Maine coast (Casco Bay, Maine)- The J/46 BRAVO has been sailing in Maine during the beautiful fall season.  As many long-distance and day sailors know, once Labor Day hits in Europe and in the Americas, some of the world’s best cruising grounds are literally devoid of all forms of tourists and “outsiders”.  As both a long-distance cruiser and a bit of a “local” in those parts Downeast in Maine, Tom Babbit from Portland, Maine can often pick his days for a lovely cruise on any given day or weekend.

For example, here’s Tom at the helm of his J/46 BRAVO.  As he comments, “just cruising along on a beautiful Saturday up here in Maine near Casco Bay, TWS 15 kts, AWA 60, going 9.1 kts.  Zero angst, just 100% blade jib and full main.  Couldn’t be easier on this delightful cruising boat! We’re so loving this J/46.  Great evening in Pulpit Harbor compliments of Espar heat.  Best, Tom and Jane”

J/92 HIJINKS Dominates Round The County!

J/92 offshore sailboat (Seattle, Washington)- Here’s the report from Pacific Northwest offshore racing guru, Ben Braden.  “What an event - it’s taken days to digest everything from the race.  A four day event – 30 to 50 mile deliveries for 2 days of racing, 30 miles each day for only 60 miles total and then another 30 to 50 mile delivery home in some of the most beautiful waters this country has to offer, and doing it in November when most East Coast boats above 39 degrees North are on blocks for the winter.

“Round The County,” hosted by Orcas Island Yacht Club, has become a fixture here in the PNW and is easily one of the premier point-to-point rally races that North America has to offer.  Known for its majestic views of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, Mt. Baker fixed to the east and the rugged terrain of the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands, Round the County, in her 27th year, has become a “happening” – an entity of her own – and she keeps bringing out the numbers in an era when participation has declined all across the board.  They cap the entries at 100 boats and reach it a month before race day!

Is it the often frigid temperatures?  The early morning, well before sunrise, dock calls?  Is it the spectacular currents or the unique geographical wind holes and shifts? What is it that brings out the Olympic class sailors and Professionals (many sailing their personal yachts), the Local Talent, and even the 6 old guys at the yacht club bar that are always complaining against everything that happens? People fly in from California and the midwest, boats come together from Canada and the United States all to spend countless hours and dollars racing just 30 miles a day in the cold, wet, snowy, rainy, windy, drifty, sometimes sunny, current riddled waters of the San Juan Islands.  It’s just the type of racing sailors love to do and sometimes things just make sense, right?

J/145 Double Take sailing off Seattle, WAAnd what really made sense was the Race Committee postponing the start Saturday morning at Lydia Shoals until enough wind came up that they could “hit a home-run” (their words) and get the first starters off of the line far enough that the next start had a clear lane.  It then became a game of linking the puffs to work your way south in Rosario Strait.  One minute you looked like the hero as you linked from one lifting puff to the next and even found a little escalator ride in some good current and the next you were flushed out the back watching the fleet sail by and around the corner out of sight.

The first boats to reach Davidson rock had the tough choice of heading for the halfway point along the bottom of Lopez or sailing off over the horizon offshore.  One of the leaders headed offshore and it quickly, very quickly, became apparent that offshore was the way to go.  It didn’t take much more time before the TP52’s, having started last, worked their way past Davidson rock and Iceberg point with the big SC70’s hot on their heels.  The wind began to pick up and things looked great as the leaders crossed the bottom of Lopez, passed the Cattle Pass lighthouse and began turning up towards the entrance to Haro Strait.  But, it didn’t last long and as the wind crapped out the currents became the real battle for the fleet.

A large group didn’t make it past Davidson Rock into the Straits of Juan De Fuca and of the boats that did make it out and past the halfway finish off Iceberg Point only two boats eventually made it across the full course finish line at Roche Harbor; leaving everyone else motoring in across the line to the evening festivities graciously hosted by the Roche Harbor Resort.  Heated dock tent, BBQ’s and libations meet the sailors every year now for the biggest and best dock party the month of November has to offer.

J/30 sailing off Seattle, WASunday arrived with a stellar forecast of 20 to 30 knots, clouds, a bit of rain and a bit of sun and by 8:30am all 100 boats were pacing back and forth waiting for their turn at the downwind start and their charge to the first corner at Turn Point Lighthouse and into the predicted breeze.  The J/105 LAST TANGO led the way around the corner with the J/92 HIJINKS hot on their tail and it wasn’t long before Boundary Pass looked like a 70’s shag carpet with all those colorful spinnakers pulling hard on port pole, but without the forecast big breeze.  Enough to keep the boats moving well but not the small craft advisory predicted by the forecasters.  Canada to the left, America to the right and the fleet split between the middle and the left with each choice working for some and not working for others as the finicky breeze rolled through from the Northwest.

The old Baltic warhorse Pangaea bulldozed her way down the middle of Boundary Pass while a large portion of the fleet worked the Canadian shoreline until shooting down towards Patos Island in the current heading south out of the Straits of Georgia.  And man was the current running hard at Patos!  The boats that worked too low along Boundary Pass found themselves slipping to leeward at over 30 degrees while they strapped their chutes in and flogged their way up and around the point while giving up every gain they had made by sailing the shorter course.

As the majority of the fleet turned their bows South towards the finish near Lydia Shoals, the big fast IRC boats and Multi-hulls had already found the finish line and were motoring off to their corners to drop off their crews.  Moves could still be made in the drag race south and often boats would jibe out away from the group on what looked like a horrible VMG angle and then jibe back and smoke by everyone as they found their own personal current or puff.  But, no matter what year it is, no matter what direction the race goes (it switches every year) it always comes down to the decision on going inside or outside the Peapods to make or break someone’s race. 

J/120 Time Bandit sailing off Seattle, WAThe large majority of the boats chose the low road towards Cypress Island and around the Peapods but then one boat turned hard right, then another, then the puffs began rolling down the hills, one surprisingly creating a small water spout, and the next thing you saw was the inside boats rounding up in the puffs and then dropping their bows down and charging inside the rocks towards the finish.  The closer to Obstruction Island they got the better the wind became and soon their spinnakers were out again and the inside boats slid across the line passing many of the outside boats utilizing the shorter inside line.

Finally, finally, the forecast breeze began to roll in over the hills and as the finishers turned their bows towards their respective ports the winds piped up into the 25-30 kts range.  The sun was still out, the views were still stellar, the winds had picked up and the smiles stretched from bow to stern on every boat out there.  Thank you, once again, OIYC for putting on a crazy fun event.”  Thanks to Senor Braden for the report.

Amongst the J/Teams, the big honors go to Ellis’s J/92 HIJINKS, not only grabbing 2nd PHRF Overall but also winning their PHRF Division 4.  In their same division, the Bottles’ family J/30 CELEBRATION took 4th.

As they have countless times before, the PHRF Division 1 saw Brunius & Wareham’s J/120 TIME BANDIT sail remarkably consistently to take 3rd in their division, yet another podium finish for this illustrious team.

For the IRC 2 PNW Championships, it was John McPhail’s majestic blue J/160 JAM taking 2nd place while Tom Huseby’s J/145 DOUBLE TAKE sailed fast to take the 3rd spot on the podium!    Sailing photo credits- Sean Trew/ Facebook   Follow the action on Facebook/ Round The County page   For more Round The County sailing information