Sunday, September 14, 2014

Heather Gregg-Earl- Top Woman Sailor's Global Perspective

Heather Gregg-Earl- J/70 sailor and owner of MUSE (Nantucket, MA)- Nantucket Race Week inspires perspective on the global picture for some sailors.  This annual summer event is a nine-day experience that brings the entire Nantucket community together in a fun-filled week of regattas, awards ceremonies, and parties. Over the course of the week, there are 15 race events that provide sport for everyone from young dinghy sailors and families in the household one design to grand prix racers at the very top of their profession.

Skipper Heather Gregg-Earl won the IOD Celebrity Invitational Regatta, with Robbie Doyle as her celebrity tactician, raced in IOD International One Design class boats. Her victory also earned Nantucket Race Week’s overall “Best Performance in a One-Design Class” presented by Stacee Mahoney, Regional Manager, Porsche Cars North America. Hearing of the award, Heather commented on the mission of Nantucket Community Sailing, which the Celebrity Invitational and other NRW activities help sustain:

“Bringing sailing into kids lives is such a wonderful and valuable initiative – and after having had a son experience the world through sailing this summer I wanted to share a quick story.

My 11 year old son had the opportunity to go to the Opti Europeans in Ireland and also to spend 10 days in Israel beforehand training with the Israeli National Opti Team.

I flew the 4 US kids over to Tel Aviv, which was before the conflict erupted, but had to return while they stayed. They got out the day before the airport closed and had a wonderful time. My son came back to tell me the story of having sailed on the Sea of Galilee, then on the Med, his local host family, his time living on a kibbutz, the Hebrew words he learned, and then with great big eyes, he told me “mom, there is a place called Gaza!” (as if no one knew about it, very cute) and proceeded to tell me they had to go into a bunker at midnight when they stayed with their local family.

He grew up a lot this trip and it really hit me that this experience was all possible because of his sailing.

While many kids may not pursue sailing at the national/international level, the principles are all the same. Independence, making new friends, teamwork, camaraderie, confidence, and a desire to experience the world and the sea with different eyes, the work NCS does in bringing sailing into kids life’s is, in my book, life changing.

Thanks to Nantucket Community Sailing for all it does to make sailing accessible to all.”

Nantucket Race Week is hosted by the Nantucket Yacht Club and the Great Harbor Yacht Club to benefit Nantucket Community Sailing (NCS), a non-profit, educational organization that provides affordable access to sailing and water sports to the public. Now in its 20th year, NCS served over 2000 sailors last year, providing free equipment and instruction through many community outreach programs, including sponsoring and coaching Nantucket’s High School Sailing Team, offering scholarships to year-round island youth, running informal sailboat races for all levels and teaching adaptive windsurfing and sailing clinics for disabled athletes.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

J/109 PICANTE Hot In Round Island Race

J/44 Gold Digger sailing off Newport, Rhode IslandJ/44 GOLD DIGGER Flies Platinum Class
(Jamestown, RI)- Annually attracting a fleet of 100+ boats over America’s “Labor Day” holiday weekend, the Conanicut Yacht Club’s “Round Island Race” ranks right up there with many of the classic around island events.  With the standard course for most boats presenting a nearly 20nm challenge, usually clockwise, around Conanicut Island, the fleet enjoys a picturesque tour around Narragansett Bay and an opportunity to traverse beneath two magnificent bridges- the Jamestown Bridge to the west and the Newport Bridge to the east.

Competitors this year were confronted with somewhat grey, overcast skies in the morning with a nicely developed SSW gradient breeze that, ultimately, was reinforced with awesome sailing conditions later in the afternoon when the clouds broke like magic over the smaller boats in the fleet finishing later in the afternoon.

Two of the more notable achievements on Sunday’s memorable race were Rob Salk’s J/109 PICANTE winning PHRF H Spinnaker class and fellow Conanicut YC member, Jim Bishop, winning aboard his famous J/44 GOLD DIGGER, taking PHRF J Spinnaker division.

As for the rest of the J crews, there were many notable achievements.  In PHRF A Non-Spin, 3rd in class went to the J/24 TENACIOUS sailed by Bob Iriye from Newport YC.  PHRF B Spinnaker division saw its top five swept by J/24s with line and handicap honors going to Mike Hill’s OBSTREPEROUS, followed by Henry Lane’s FAST LANE, Maggie Borden’s HEFFA, Larry Buckley’s POTATO and Tim Pennington’s ISLAND BOUND.

The Class C was J/22 One-designs, won by Matt Dunbar’s WHARF RAT, followed by Bill Porter’s USA 1533, and Neil McDermott’s KONA.

In PHRF D Spin, Jim Cornwall’s J/35c SUGAREE took second in class.  Then, in PHRF E Spin, the J/30 RHAPSODY sailed by class veteran Bill Kneller was 2nd, followed by Stephen Russell’s J/34 FIRST BORN in 5th.  The PHRF G Spin division saw a good outing by the J/92s SPIRIT, skippered by EC Helme into 3rd on the podium.

As mentioned above, the PHRF H Spin was taken by the Rob Salk’s J/109 PICANTE, followed by Brooke Mastrorio’s J/109 URSA in 4th and Paul Grimes’ J/35 BREAKAWAY in 5th.

While PHRF J Spin was won, appropriately, by Jim Bishop’s J/44 GOLD DIGGER from host Conanicut YC, Fred Van Liew’s performance on the J/111 ODYSSEY to take 3rd has meant his J/111 has just about gotten a podium finish in every major regatta they have sailed in their 2014 summer sailing season!  For more CYC Round Island Race sailing information

Friday, September 12, 2014

J/Teams Triumph In Vineyard Race

J/122 Patriot sailing with American YC Junior Big Boat Team (Stamford, CT) – Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Race is a classic American yachting event, a 238-mile offshore course stretching from Shippan Point east, through swirling currents of the famous “Race”, past Block Island, and on to the light tower at the entrance to Buzzard’s Bay, to return leaving Block Island to starboard to the finish in Stamford Harbor. Begun in 1932, it has attracted the finest sailors and fastest boats for nearly 80 years, and its intricacies and challenges bring them back time after time. 96 boats entered this year’s race with a number of J crews dragging off bags full of silverware and pickle-dishes for their kitchens (or trophy cabinets).

Sailing the classic Vineyard Course were a combination of IRC, PHRF and Double-handed classes.  In the Class 6 IRC Double-handed fleet, Hewitt Gaynor’s J/120 MIREILLE took first followed by Jason Richter’s J/35 PALADIN in fourth. In Class 9 IRC, the J/109s dominated the top five, with Jim Vos’ SKOOT in 2nd, Bob Siegel’s PAX 3 in 3rd, Chris Nicholls & Cao Deambrosio’s RHIANNON III in 4th and Eric Kamisher’s BLUE RIDER in 5th.  In the large Class 12 IRC, the J/teams dominated their division, taking 7 of the top ten.  Winning was HL Devore’s J/44 HONALEE, followed by Peter Becker’s American YC Jr Big Boat Team sailing the J/122 PATRIOT (note- they won this division last year!).  Fourth was Joerg Esdorn  & Duncan Hennes’ J/44 KINCSEM, 5th was Len Sitar’s J/44 VAMP, 6th was Dan Heun’s J/122 MOXIE, 7th was John Pearson’s J/122 RED SKY and 9th was Paul Milo’s J/122 ORION.  Finally, in Class 13 PHRF, the two J/120s took 3rd and 4th, respectively, Steven Levy’s EAGLE and Marcus Cholertown-Brown’s SUNSET CHILD.

The shorter Seaflower Reef Course also saw J/Teams take their fair share of the loot.  In PHRF 4 Class, Todd Aven’s J/92 THIN MAN was first.  And, in PHRF 5 Class, Marc Berkowitz’s J/105 CLEAN SLATE was third followed by Paul Zajac’s J/105 SKAL in fourth.   For more Stamford Vineyard Race sailing information

A MAGIC Dartmouth Week

Early J-Sprit designs at Royal Dartmouth Regatta (Dartmouth, England)- Regattas have flourished along the English south coast since the early 1820s, with Dartmouth being recognized as a key player on ‘the regatta circuit’ since 1822. The dramatic cliffs around the mouth of the River Dart (The Range) form a beautiful natural theatre with many vantage points from where the sailing races can be easily seen. Since 1822, The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta has grown extensively - it now offers an extraordinary mix of high-class competitive sailing and rowing, with a plethora of diverse social events and activities.

Dartmouth Week is coordinated by the three sailing clubs on the River Dart - Dartmouth Yacht Club (DYC), Dittisham Sailing Club (DSC) and Royal Dart Yacht Club (RDYC) – with all three clubs being represented on The Joint Regatta Sailing Committee (JRSC). The combined expertise and resources of the three clubs enables us to organize an exciting and rewarding event for dinghies, yachts and keelboats.

J/105 sailing Dartmouth WeekDartmouth Week 2014 began with dinghy racing from 23rd to 26th August within the River Dart. From the 28th to 31st August were four full days of racing, for all classes of yachts and keelboats, in Start Bay. The Big winner in IRC 2 Class this year?  It was the spectacular J/35 BENGAL MAGIC sailed by Jim Chalmers from Weymouth SC taking 1st overall. Third was Peter Tyler’s J/105 NEILSON REDEYE.

In the Sportsboat Class, Joe Woods sailed his J/70 RED to six straight bullets to win class by a country furlong. Second was Darren Roach’s J/80 JACKAROO with 12 pts net, followed by Nigel & Alison Banford’s J/70 HIPHOP in third with 16 pts net.  Fourth was Jeff Knapman’s J/70 LIFEDGE and fifth was David Goulden’s J/80 JOE BLACK!

J team enjoying Dartmouth week sailing offshoreThe J/109 Class had 12 boats.  Top dog was Ian Mackinnon’s TIGH SOLIUS II, winner by just exactly 1.0 points!  Second was Tony Dickin’s JUBILEE followed by Paul Griffiths’ JAGERBOMB in third.  The balance of the top five were Angus McPhie’s WAVE WARRIOR in 4th and David & Mary McGough’s JUST SO in 5th.

The J/24s also showed up “en masse” as a one-design class (within an IRC Class— more on this in moment).  The 24s produced an infamous winner in the form of John Gorman on ITALIAN JOB.  He was unashamedly followed by Hugh Conway’s JAXXXIVA in second and the exotic trio of Savage/ Rogers/ Greenhalgh in third (is that an accountancy firm or a bunch of whigs on the London High Court?!).

As if that weren’t enough J/Teams dusting off a number of classes, the “Small Non-IRC Yacht Class” was just about crushed by all of the aforementioned J/24s!!  Three of the top five.  Aaagh.  Hard to believe they aren’t banned altogether!?  Seriously, a 35 year old design should have at least a few zillion minutes of “age credit”, don’t you think?!  Even the original had a porta-potty mounted on the port side and a sink to starboard with four bunks in just 24 feet of boat!?  By definition, the J/24 is a cruiser and the J/70 a sporty-boat?   Sailing photo credits- Mike Wynn-Powell   For more Dartmouth Sailing Week sailing information

Thursday, September 11, 2014

J/88 Smokes Chicago Bi-State Race

J/88 team wins Chicago Tri-State or Bi-State race (Chicago, IL)- An estimated 700 sailors and crew members sailed the into St. Joseph on Saturday on the first leg of this year's Tri-State Regatta.  The race, which sails from Chicago to St. Joseph overnight from Friday into Saturday, from St. Joseph to Michigan City, Ind., on Sunday and from there back to Chicago on Monday, has been conducted since the 1940s.

Terry Deegan, fleet vice commodore for the St. Joseph River Yacht Club, said earlier this week that 115 boats were registered for the first leg of the race.  Pam Bower, one of the event organizers, said the events all day Saturday at the St. Joseph River Yacht Club will be held "rain or shine."  The yacht club pool was open to the public all day. Plus, the big bonus on Saturday night was the band “P.S. Dump Your Boyfriend” that performed for everyone- for free!  No wonder, Saturday in St Joe is billed as “The Best Regatta Party on the Great Lakes”!

J/88 blast reaching with Code Zero and jib/staysailFor the 50.5 mile race of Leg 1, the forecasted thunderstorms that loomed to the south never materialized over the lake for most of the night without a single drop spilled on anyone. The light show stayed onshore far to the south, but provided the sailors with a steady 14-16 kts with gusts upwards thereof. The steady southerly meant a swift race for many.  The interesting, wet ride was probably on the new RAMBLER – the J/88 owned by Ben Wilson. Wilson took the lead ahead of a lot of local St. Joe talent right out of the box from Chicago.  According to Rich Stearns, a crew on board, “Friday night race was 15 to 22 knots fetch which turned into a tight reach. We struggled a bit when it was really tight; we had to catch another boat’s wake for an hour. But when the wind just went back 10 degrees off we went!” They ended up winning PHRF Class 4 as a result.

On the way back for the Bi-State Race (now the biggest leg since many boats from Chicago elect not to go to Michigan City, Indiana), the fleet saw the same weather conditions but lighter from the south-southeast. The wind shifted aft more on port gybe as the fleet headed across the lake on Sunday from St Joe to Chicago.  According to Stearns on the J/88 RAMBLER, “once we could put up the code 0- sayonara, baby, never saw our fleet again”.  Sailing quite well in PHRF 2 was the J/133 RENEGADE, taking 2nd in class as well as the J/111 WOOTON taking third place.   For more Chicago Bi-State Race sailing information

50th Rolex Big Boat Series!

J/70s starting at Rolex Big Boat Series (San Francisco, CA)- No doubt this year’s 50th Rolex Big Boat Series will be a time for celebration and reflection.  A fixture of the West Coast offshore and one-design racing circuit for a long enough period of time that 2-3 generations of sailors will be enjoying the festivities shoreside as well as the amazing sailing on San Francisco Bay.  The “Big Boat” series has evolved with the times, going from the days of IOR Maxi’s (think KIALOA, BLACKFIN & ONDINE) to masses of J/70s, J/105s, J/111s and J/120s criss-crossing the straits in front of Alcatraz Island.

With over 100 boats participating in this year’s event, the fact that 43 are J/Teams is no coincidence (over 43% of the fleet!).  The combination of fast offshore racer-cruisers and strong one-design fleet participation developing over the past decade has meant that many more sailors with a broad spectrum of talents and interests are participating in Bay sailing— most of them on J/Boats!

J/120s sailing in Rolex Big Boat SeriesIn recent years, the stalwarts of big boat one-design offshore sailing in San Francisco have been the J/105 and J/120 fleets.  Renowned for having close-quarters racing at every single turn on the race course, both fleets have seen the top teams all exchange class leadership (and winning Rolex Submariner watches!).  The J/120s will have Steve Madeira’s MISTER MAGOO, Barry Lewis’ CHANCE and Timo Bruck’s TWIST holding up the “legends” torch for this year’s competition.  However, up against them will be several new teams challenging the old guard, including Yasuhide Kobayashi’s JULIAN crew from Tokyo, Japan, Tom Grennan’s KOOKABURRA team from San Francisco, Dave Halliwill’s PEREGRINE from New York, and Ludovic Milin’s SAETTA from Redwood City.

The J/105s have the largest single fleet in the event with 18 boats (bigger even than the Farr 40 Worlds!).  Notably, all past J/105 winners are participating, amongst them are Bruce Stone (ARBITRAGE), Scooter Simmons (BLACKHAWK), Shannon Ryan/ Rolf Kaiser/ Ken Turnbull (DONKEY JACK), Phil Laby (GODOT), Adam Spiegel (JAM SESSION), and Jeff Littfin (MOJO).

J/111 one-design sailboats rounding markLast weekend, the J/111 class had a shoot-out in St Francis YC’s Aldo Allessio Regatta.  While it could be said the winner of that regatta, Roland Vandermeer’s BIG BLAST!, could be the favorite for the RBBS, there’s no question there are many pretenders to the throne in this 8 boat class.  Which team will rise to the top this coming weekend, Gorkem Ozcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT, Dorian McKelvy’s MADMEN, Nesrin Basoz’s SWIFT NESS, Mike Stimson’s BLAST I, Dick Swanson’s BAD DOG or Rob Theis’ AEOLUS?  Time will tell in this fleet.

The J/70s on the Pacific Coast have had a great summer of sailing.  And, many are looking forward to topping off that season off with a 15-18 kts starboard tack blast reach from Sausalito Bay to the Treasure Island green bell on the final Sunday classic- the “Bay Tour”, ducking Alcatraz Island along the way.  If there was ever a more memorable leg of sailing, that would have to rank amongst the best ever for most J/70 crews in last year’s J/70 fleet debut in the “Big Boat Series”!!  Not forgetting that epic sailing occasion are Frank Slootman’s LITTLE HAND (winner of that particular race), Chris Kostanecki’s JENNIFER, Pete Cameron’s PRIME NUMBER and Tom Jenkins/ Eric Kownacki’s DFZ.  Joining them for more fun in the sun and flying around in 15-25 kts breezes will be Geoff McDonald’s 1FA, John Brigden’s COOL STORY BRO, Justin Kromelow’s LOOSE LUCY, Chris Andersen’s PERFECT WIFE, Tom Thayer’s RAMPAGE, Kermit Schickel & Patrick Carroll’s THE ONCLER and Dave Brumlik’s WHIPPET!

In the offshore side of things, fresh off crushing the Pacific Cup, Greg Slyngstad’s outrageously fast (and smart) Seattle, Washington crew on the J/125 HAMACHI will be back at it hoping to establish further primal supremacy amongst other handicap boats in the IRC/ ORR/ HPR world.   Sailing photo credits- Rolex/ Daniel Forster.  For more Rolex Big Boat Series sailing information

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

J/111 BIG BLAST Nukes Aldo Alessio

J/111 sailing San Francisco Bay (San Francisco, CA)- Three days of tight racing with an offshore buoy ocean combo made for a superb weekend during the 2014 Aldo Alessio Regatta hosted by the St Francis YC this past weekend. With nine different courses that would take the fleets out to Point Bonita twice on Friday, beginning with a flood for the first rounding in 12-15 knots, and then switching to a boisterous ebb with 15-18 outside the Gate and much more inside. The fleet, sailing course 5 would leave Harding to starboard, then Alcatraz to port, then down to the red number four buoy east of Point Blunt before sailing back uphill to Blackaller before finishing in front of the StFYC.  The weather and wind conditions made for fabulous sailing.

In the IRC Handicap class, Zan Drejes helped pull together a team that included Tom Siebel (owner of the MOD 70 ft trimaran ORION) to compete on a borrowed J/125- Andy Costello’s DOUBLE TROUBLE.  “We really loved the course selection,” said Zan, “It kept crews on their toes and always something interesting. We didn't sail on Saturday because Tom had other things on the schedule, but Sunday's race was fun too, with the ride out to Point Diablo and then below Alcatraz, back up to Yellow Bluff, back to X down to 21 again then up to Blackaller before the finish, was great.”

J/111 sailing under spinnaker on San Francisco BayIn the ever-competitive J/111 Class, no boat had a bigger comeback than Rob Thies' J/111 AEOLUS, which had a couple snafus during the first trip out the Gate on Friday and was at the back of the fleet as they headed towards the first leeward mark, but was in third when the fleet re-entered the Bay on lap 2.  “We had some hiccups early and the breeze was light, which did not allow us any opportunities on the first lap. But when things picked up a bit, we were able to reel in boats that had trouble with the building breeze and big bay ebb,” alluded AEOLUS crewman Bryan Edwards.

AEOLUS’ owner Rob Thies said, “the Aldo races were great and weather was fantastic. First, we didn't have our regular crew for the Aldo race and several substitutes, therefore execution and workflow was not exactly in synch. We had many good things happen (like - Race 1 in first place, then spinnaker problems put us in last place and then had to climb back up to finishing in 3rd place), but it was largely a disappointment for us over the weekend. Second, I think the fleet is progressing very well. All the other J/111s have stepped their execution on boat-handling. The fleet is very competitive overall and with strong racers. And, third, we would LOVE to see more boats participate for RBBS!!”

Roland Vandermeer's BIG BLAST was able to reel in Dorian McKelvy's MADMEN to claim 1st in Fridays Double Bonita Race, and 3 bullets in Saturday’s Buoy races and a deuce on Sunday's Bay Tour finale enabled them to win the seven boat J-111 division.

Taking second in the 111s was Dick Swanson’s BAD DOG, winning the tie-breaker over MADMEN by virtue of winning the last race of the series on Sunday.  Fourth was Theis’ AELOUS and fifth was Nesrin Basoz’s SWIFT NESS.  Sailing photo credits- Erik Simonson-