Saturday, February 13, 2016

Three Bridge Fiasco: Long Live the Counter Culture

J/90 Ragtime sailing Three Bridge Fiasco (San Francisco, CA)- Three hundred sixty-nine singlehanded and doublehanded entrants signed up for the 2016 Three Bridge Fiasco on January 30, an iconic event on San Francisco Bay that lays testament to the support of shorthanded sailing in the Northern California area as well as the pursuit race curriculum.

This year’s fleet eclipsed the previous record of 368 boats signed up in 2011, but considering it’s an El Niño year with epic rain totals already measured, attracting a crowd of this size is a big accomplishment. Long live the counter culture!

With starts strung out from 0900 to 1112 hours for PHRF ratings ranging from 264 to -102, the 21.7 nm reverse pursuit course has become a must-do for sailors from all walks of life and all areas of the country. For many, it might be the only race they may sail shorthanded all year. For others, it’s another one of the fun runs combined with long distance and offshore events fulfilling a busy competition schedule.

The start and finish off the Golden Gate Yacht Club can be done in either direction and the marks of the course – the Blackaller Buoy representing the Golden Gate Bridge, Red Rock Island representing the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, and Yerba Buena Island representing the Oakland /SF Bay Bridge – can be rounded in any direction and any order. Playing the currents, the wind, and out foxing you competitors is the name of the game. Along with a little luck.

J/24 sailing San Francisco Three Bridge FiascoThis year’s winner, Bill Erkelens, agrees wholeheartedly on the luck aspect. Start times for the 3BF can also play into your luck card, and this year Bill admitted they hit the jackpot. Starting somewhere in the middle of the fleet, just behind a large contingent of Express 27’s and Moore 24’s, Bill saw enough pressure left in the dying northerly to get to Blackaller, staying in the stronger breeze and current and away from the masses which went to the beach and wallowed.

Catching a lucky puff, Erkelens was able to round Blackaller and get to better breeze and ride the current up to Raccoon Strait where a gaggle of boats had stalled at the entrance. They were able to use the bad luck of others and navigate around them, catching a couple additional puffs in the process, laying the eddies up to Hospital Cove before heading into the Richmond Channel.

Watching the boats ahead, mainly keel boats which were sailing close-hauled towards Red Rocks in a 5-6 knot northerly, Erkelens was forced to crack off a bit to maintain VMG, which as luck had it put them into the cone behind Red Rock and they were able to slingshot past a horde of boat riding the back eddie up to the western shore. The ebb was still in force at the island at the time, and with the breeze easing, many boats found themselves on a treadmill, attempting to round the rock. Another lucky break came in the form of a puff that gave Erkelens just enough pressure to slide up and over and into favorable current again.

Just after Erkelens began riding the Richmond Channel Current back south, the now transitioning breeze began to die, leaving many boats sputtering in its wake. Riding the remaining ebb for all it was worth, Erkelens slid slowly toward Point Blunt, noticing many of the boat ahead had sailed much lower to avoid the opposite ebb on the Berkeley Flats. Now higher than most other boats, Erkelens was in position to set the kite again as the new breeze from the south west filled.

“The timing was pretty spot on, as far the forecasts predicted,” Bill said “And we were just lucky to get to where we could take advantage of the transition.”

Bearing down around Treasure Island and Yerba Buena, Erkelens chose a tad closer route than some of the other boats, then tacked up the City Front in 10-12 knots and were then able to lay the cone behind Alcatraz before tacking back to Gas House Cove for more current relief and to lay the X buoy with just one tack.

Overall, J/Teams sailed well in these challenging conditions.  

In PHRF 2 Singlehanded Class, the J/92’s had a good day.  The J/92 RAGTIME sailed by Bob Johnston took 3rd while the J/92S WINDTRIP INFINITY took 4th skippered by Todd Olsen.  Then, in 5th not far off the mark was the J/88 WHITE SHADOW helmed by Jim Hopp.

The PHRF 10 Class doublehanded saw the J/88 INCONCEIVABLE place 9th led by Steven Gordon & Eli Gordon.  There were a number of J/111s sailing in PHRF 11 Class doublehanded.  Top boat was the J/111 SWIFT NESS skippered by Reuben Rocci & Nesirin Basoz in 5th place.  The J/44 ACEY DUCEY broke the 111 train, with the team of Richard Leute & Luis Echevarria taking 11th.  Just behind them in 12th was the J/111 SYMMETRY sailed by Howard Turner & Jay Crum.

The PHRF 12 double division saw a battle of the J/32’s.  Top banana was PARADIGM led by Luther & Robert Izmirian in 7th place.  Second J/32 was LA DOLCE VITA sailed by John Riley & Laurence Weinhoff; taking 11th in class.

PHRF 16 class for double sportboats saw the lightning fast J/90 RAGTIME sailed by Trig Liljestra & Corey Lynch take 2nd in class.

PHRF 31 Class was comprised of DH San Francisco 30s; J/Teams dominated the top ten.  Winning was the J/30 WIND SPEED skippered by the women family team of Meghan & Maureen Castruccio.  In fact, they may have been the top women duo in the entire event!  Not to be outdone by them, yet another women double team took 3rd in the J/30 FRICTION LOSS, sailed by Jenny Thompson & Evelyn Hull.  Then, some more J/32s were sailing in this class!  Taking 8th was STRATOCASTER (Lewis Lanier & Dan Byrne), just ahead of their colleagues on RHAPSODY (Chris Boome & Molly Morris). Yet another J/30 crew on IONE (Peter Jermyn & Curt Brown) took 10th place.

The PHRF 32 class- singlehanded with spinnaker- had the lone J/80 representative sail nicely to grab 5th place- Eric Patterson’s PAINKILLER.

There was an enormous turnout for the one-design fleets overall in the regatta.  The most numerous were the five J fleets- the 22s, 24s, 70s, 105s & 120s. The J/22 class had 11 boats.  The winners were SAMBA PA TI skippered by Gerard Sheridan & Halsey Richartz.  Second was TOM ALLEN sailed by the team of Russ Silvestri & John Bonds Jr.  Third was T-BIRD (Mike Bishop & Amand Farrelly), 4th SF22 (Elizabeth Weiler & Tim Stark), and 5th WILDMAN (Bill Adams & Harry O’Reilly).

The grande dame of the fleet was the J/24 class with 7 boats in the lineup.  Taking 1st was none other than DOWNTOWN UPROAR (Darren Cumming & Loren Moore).  Second was EVIL OCTOPUS (Jasper Van Vliet & Steve Meyers), third FLIGHT (Randall Rasicot & Jessica Ludy), fourth SHUT UP & DRIVE (Val Lulevich & Calvin Patmond), and fifth LITTLE WING (Luther Strayer & Ryan Admiral Nelson).

The J/70s had a competitive turnout.  Taking the class win was 1FA (Scott Sellers & Adam Lowry).  Just off the pace in second place was PRIME NUMBER (Peter Cameron & Mike Herlihy).  Third was CHRISTINE ROBIN (a family affair with Tracy & Christy Usher), taking fourth was SCILLA (Fabio Maino & Felice Bonardi), and fifth was another family affair- PENNY PINCHER (Morgan & Jordan Paxhia).

The J/105 class saw its fleet nearly double in size with eleven boats on the line this year! Taking class honors was PERSEVERANCE (Steve & Gregg Kent), followed by the legendary MASQUERADE (Steve Marsh & Ben Wells) in second place.  The balance of the top five was MOJO (Jeff Litfin & Brendan Bradley) in third place, LIGHTWAVE (John Robison & Simon James) in fourth, and MAMALUC (Scott Lamson & Paul Kaplan) in fifth.

The J/120 class also turned out in spades, providing very stiff competition for the crews as they wound their way around the convoluted race course.  Winning class was the Mighty MR MAGOO sailed by Steve Madeira & John Clark.  Second by a whisker was the family duo sailing SAETTA (Ludovic & Delphine Millin), third was KOOKABURRA (Tom Grennan & Herb Kleekamp), fourth was TWIST (Timo Bruck & Rich Hudnut) and fifth was ALCHERA (Bruce Ladd & Joe Wells).

The 20163 Bridge Fiasco provided yet another legendary day of fun, challenges, camaraderie and variety of weather for all participants, the majority of which completed the course before the daylight faded, and enjoyed a robust breeze for their final legs and ride home. And for a day on the bay in the middle of an El Niño winter, that makes us all lucky!  Thanks for photos and story contribution from Erik Simonson.   Sailing photo credits & story- Erik Simonson/

Friday, February 12, 2016

J/111s Top Geelong Festival of Sails

J/111 Joust off Australia (Geelong, Australia)- Two J/111’s were featured in the Geelong “Festival of Sails” that sees 225 boats compete on flat water with strong breezes. This is the largest regatta held in the Southern hemisphere and typically sees all of the fastest offshore racing teams from around the eastern parts of Australia participate in a week long festival offshore.

In the first passage race of 36 miles the two J/111s dominated, winning their class in lighter breeze building to 18 knots.  Three windward-leewards were sailed the following day in a fleet containing M32 sportboats and a canting keel 36 foot Shaw from New Zealand.  Those two races were decided by less than four seconds and a further one by eight seconds.

Rod Warren's J/111 JOUST led the series at this point, but strong winds were to come. The following day the planing sports boats regularly touched speeds over 20 knots.

At the finish after the four days and eight fantastic close races only the M32 and Thompson 920 stripped out sports boat stayed ahead of the two J/111s— with JOUST ahead of JAKE (skippered by Stuart Lyon).

The J/111 regularly lead to the top mark against fast lighter planing boats. Thanks to B&G for the new H5000 system and to Aaron Cole from North Sails and the cane farmer Aaron Linton as tactician. The Joust team plans to see you all in Cowes for the J/111 Worlds!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

PATAGONIA VIRGIN Trumps J/105 Chiloe Regatta

J/105 Patagonia Virgin- winner of Chiloe Regatta (Puerto Montt, Chile)- Two J/105 teams from the St. Francis YC, one led by Bruce Stone and the other by Ralph Silverman, journeyed south last week to Patagonia, Chile to compete in the prestigious Regata de Chiloe 2016, held every other year in the lovely Chiloe archipelago, framed by volcanoes to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west.

Stone reported that the regatta is run by the Chilean Navy under the auspices of Club Nautico Oceanico de Chile, and with 8 days of racing might be one of the longest in duration: “Ending up in a different small port each night, it places a premium on navigation and also juggling shoreside logistics – aside from the race committee’s ocean-going patrol boats and helicopters, over 50 private support boats (for meals and lodging) followed the fleet, and had their own subtle competition, trying to get to the next port for a great anchorage prior to the arrival of the 70 racing boats. Each was at anchor with hot showers and a late lunch ready for whenever their team arrived, the earliest being 4:30 pm and the latest 8:30 pm.  Per Chilean custom, shoreside events or dinner on-board generally began around 10:00 pm, therefore racing did not start until between noon and 2 pm. With just 2 days of windward-leeward buoy racing, and 5 days of 25-30 mile point-to-point racing, the courses wound around islands and required skill in avoiding shoals and the salmon fishing farms along the shoreline.”

Stone’s team, on the chartered J/105 “Patagonia Virgin”, included Club members Bill Higgins (bow) and Bruce’s wife Nicole Breault (main/tactics), together with owner Santiago Said (trim), Ignacio Alvarado Segovia (mast) and Victor Cook (pit).

J/105s sailing off Patagonia, ChileSilverman chartered Harald Schilling’s J/105 “Sandy” and was supported by Club member Melissa Purdy Feagin (main/tactics) and daughter Whitney and husband Randle made an appearance on-board for the final long-distance race.

Stone further commented, “The Chilean J/105 is strong and growing, with just over 30 boats racing, and more expected to buy boats in the next 1-2 years. Members expressed satisfaction with the size and cost of the boat, and the fact that they could race with family members on board, as did every J/105 in this regatta except for the Navy cadets.”

“This week offered an extremely difficult combination of light air and strong current, placing a premium on local knowledge, and we were in fourth place going into the last day. We then found our wheels in perfect San Francisco Bay conditions of 14-18 kt winds, scoring a third and then a bullet to take the top spot on the podium,” commented an ebullient Stone. “The Baeza family team on “Utopia”, and Jorge Gonzalez on “Plan B” tied for second with Utopia winning the tie-breaker.  Then Jose Manuel Ugarte on “Scimitar” was just another point back to take 4th (the same Scimitar that won the J/105 NA’s in Marblehead with Henry Brauer/ Stew Neff!).”

“Martin Baeza told us that competing in the 2015 J/105 NA’s at St. Francis Rolex Big Boat Series took their game up to a much higher plane and they intend to come to the NA’s in Larchmont this October”, said Stone.  He went on to say that, “Ralph and his team on “Sandy” turned in a solid performance, hanging really close but finishing 6th.”

Along with Baeza, several other Chilean teams, including the naval cadets, now intend to come to the U.S. for the J/105 North Americans in Long Island Sound, while both Bruce and Ralph are considering returning to Patagonia for the next Regata de Chiloe in 2018, or possibly sooner for the Chilean J/105 fleet’s National Championship in December, held in the north near Valparaiso.  For more Regatta Chiloe sailing information

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pretty Grenada Sailing Week

J/105 sailing Grenada Week (St Georges, Grenada)- Grenada Yacht Club and Prickly Bay Marina in St Georges are the host venues for our 2016 edition, giving participants a taste of Grenada’s beautiful bays and marine services. Race courses are set off the calmer West Coast and the challenging current-filled South Coast, with a variety of conditions to test racing performance.

The sailing week starts January 28th and finishes February 2nd.  The mixture of racing and course styles is one of the regattas most attractive features.  Looking forward to that challenge in CSA Racing Class will be Peter Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER from Barbados YC.  Then, in the CSA Racer-Cruiser Class, Hal Slentz-Whalen’s J/125 EAGLE’S WINGS from New Bern, NC will vie for class honors with a team from Great Britain- David Ballantyne’s J/133 JINGS! from Cowes.

Continuing their winter tradition of having fun in the far eastern Windward Islands will be the J/24 class in Grenada and Barbados.  Sailing this year’s event include Fredric Sweeney’s ATTITUDE from St Lucia YC, Robbie Yearwood’s DIE HARD IWW from Grenada YC, Gus Reader’s GLORY DAZE from Barbados YC, and Greg Webster’s PHOENIX from Barbados YC.   For more Grenada Sailing Week regatta information

J/125 DOUBLE TROUBLE Conch Republic Winner!

J/111 sailing Conch Republic Cup (Key West, FL)- For the first “official” Conch Republic Race dash from Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba, the fastest boat in the fleet was Peter Krueger’s J/125 silver bullet called DOUBLE TROUBLE; she covered the course in just about 10 hours, or an average of 9.0 kts.  First-to-finish honors were not in the calling cards when Krueger’s team registered for the race.  However, with extremely favorable sailing conditions, the famous J/125 from San Francisco simply lit-up the track and took home overall elapsed honors.

Conch Republic Key West to Havana raceFor the rest of their J sailing colleagues in PHRF B Racing class, it was a battle for the top five class handicap awards.  In the end, J’s took five of top seven boats in class.  Sailing the 90nm course about two hours behind the mighty DT was David Malkin’s J/88 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 from Annapolis, MD, taking 3rd in class.  Finishing just one hour behind DT and taking 4th place in class was Bennet Greenwald’s J/111 PERSEVERANCE from San Diego, CA.  Twenty minutes elapsed behind them was Marcus Cholerton-Brown’s J/120 SUNSET CHILD in 5th place.  Just 40 minutes off handicap corrected winning time was Krueger’s DOUBLE TROUBLE, taking 6th on corrected.  Bill Smith’s J/111 WOOTON rounded out the top 7, finishing just 10 minutes behind PERSEVERANCE on elapsed time (e.g. within eye-sight of each other), but not enough to crack the top five, that’s how closed the handicap times worked out for the fleet.

The regatta now has two more races to go, at this time it is Greenwald’s J/111 PERSEVERANCE leading overall honors for the racing fleet.  More news next week!  For more Conch Republic Cup sailing information

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Electric J/88 SEAHORSE Feature!

J/88 electric boat- solar sails, hydro regen (Lymington, England)- French sailmaker Alain Janet is the founder of Solar Cloth System which has been busy developing a practical system for generating electrical power from thin photovoltaic films laminated onto modern sail fabrics…

In the past sailors have taken the ecological high ground over other boaters, yet modern sailing requires far more electrical power than it used to. With new onboard technologies and their growing demands for power, it’s clear that sailors now experience regular energy shortages while cruising and/or racing, even over relatively short distances. And of course, the problem grows exponentially when you are racing across oceans and around the world.

Sea and sun go hand in hand, so solar power has long seemed to offer an answer to this problem. However, rigid solar panels are heavy, bulky and require a lot of ingenuity to install discretely; but what about producing electricity with our sails?   See the article attached here- thanks to SEAHORSE magazine.

J/111 Worlds NOR Announcement

J/111s sailing off start (Cowes, England)- Attention J/111 owners and sailors!  The Royal Southern YC is pleased to provide the draft version of the Notice of Race for the 2016 J/111 World Championships this coming August in Cowes, England! The regatta is being hosted by Island Sailing Club from August 1st to 4th, just prior to the famous Cowes Race Week.  Please click here for the J/111 Worlds NOR.

Here's a reminder of the busy programme for J/111s in the Solent this summer!
  • June 9-11 National Championships at J-Cup - Royal Southern YC
  • July 16-17 Europeans as part of Royal Southern YC July Regatta
  • July 29-30 Pre-Worlds Regatta - Royal Southern YC
  • August 1-4 World Championships - Island Sailing Club
  • August 6-13 Cowes Week
If you need any assistance with getting your boat to the Worlds, local logistics, hotels, etc., please let me know!  Be sure to contact Gemma Dunn at Key Yachting in Hamble at Ph- +44-2380-455669/  email- or check our website at

Monday, February 8, 2016

Strictly Sail Miami Show In-Water Experience!

J/122E sport cruiser sailing off Newport
 (Miami, FL)- The “new” Miami Boat Show runs from February 11th to 15th with the sailboats located at Miamarina along the waterfront park.  On display will be the gorgeous new J/122E sporting jazzy red designer accents and the spectacular open, airy, modern Scandinavian interior design.  It is a sailing yacht that is truly a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”- her sisterships have won just about every major offshore race around the world.  Learn more about the exciting new J/122E “sports cruiser” here.

Also, on display will be the J/70 one-design speedster floating on the very cool “Versadock Drysail” system. J/70 owners can enjoy the pleasure of sailing within minutes, while at the same time storing their boat 100% out of the water.  The DrySail system won the "Equipment Innovation of the Year” from Yachts & Yachting Awards in 2014. It’s the perfect evolution in docking for lifting-keel sportboats like the J/70- learn more about it’s amazing benefits at the show!  Learn more about the J/70 one-design speedster here.

In addition, the new J/88 Oceanvolt will be participating in the “Discover Sailing” program being run by the Miami Boat Show.  Hop aboard and experience the pure joy of sailing the J/88 as well as the pleasure of “silent running” with all-electric power!  This eco-friendly solution can be powered by solar panels, hydro-electric regeneration, or by shore power!  Learn more about this revolutionary package here.

The program for the J/88 hands-on Performance Sailing Workshop includes:

  • Learn how to trim the sails for maximizing performance while maintaining control and minimizing stress on the rigging.  
  • Reading tell tales, managing draft and sail twist, balancing the helm, steering by the sails and determining the most efficient heel angle and point of sail are all essential skills required for getting the most out of the boat.
  • NOTE- the program is nearly fully subscribed but they are accepting a waiting list of entrants!
Be sure to contact your J/Dealer for an appointment/ tickets.  Onsite will be Cross Current Marine’s Craig Crossley- ph# (941) 365-9095/ In addition, there will be representatives from McMichaels, Puerto Rico, Mexico (Erik Brockmann) and Murray Yachts (Stanton Murray from New Orleans).   For more Miami Boat Show information

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sailing Champion Ed Baird Coaching @ Key West

Ed Baird- Quantum Sails ambassador/ coach (Key West, FL)- Ed Baird, past J/24 World Champion and America’s Cup Champion, was in Key West Race Week this past week providing participants some perspectives on their race course performance that day.

At 58, Ed Baird’s list of accomplishments began pre-internet, so you have to be of a certain age to know how long he has been dominant in the sport. Ed remains at the pointy end of performance, and this week he is sharing his observations during a nightly ‘show and tell’ at Key West Race Week. It was well-received and very informative for many boats.  Here Ed explained his mission:

“Quantum Sails and Harken asked me to do a daily debrief for the three race courses at the event. Each day we select a course, and I am joined by photographer Keith Brash who brings along an assortment of drones and cameras. Together we try to gather as much interesting footage as possible, and then edit segments that we can share each night with people from those courses.

With the visual presentation, I can provide my observations which hopefully provides the sailors with helpful information. We try to look at the whole course and find things that we think everyone can learn from. This might involve looking at one particular boat and noting their sail trim or pointing out how certain boat handling techniques are impacting performance. With the drone, we can capture starting line situations that are hard for the competitors to otherwise recognize.

It is all very educational, even for me. Sailing is really a lot of fun at Key West and I hope that through these group discussion that people can enjoy the event even more.”

Olcese Eclipses J/24 Peru Nationals

J/24s sailing off La Punta, Peru (La Punta, Peru)- A very nice fleet of ten J/24s participated in the 2015 Peruvian J/24 Nationals held off La Punta along Peru’s dramatic and beautiful Pacific coast line.  Under the watchful eye of PRO Luis Yarlaque, the sailors were put to the test over the three-day championship weekend with a total of nine races.  After one discard race, the winner was again Luis Olcese’s SCARAMOUCH.

After the first five races, the young skipper Javier Arribas Jr. was on a roll.  After accumulating a 2-4-1-2-3, Arribas’ HAWKY was comfortably leading the series.  Perhaps a bit of championship pressure or a combination of that and some early celebrations may have impacted their fall from grace with the sea (e.g. Neptune)!  After amassing only 12 pts in five races, the HAWKY crew just could not keep it together and added a quick 6-5-3 for 14 pts in the final three races to still land on the podium, but collecting the bronze instead.

Javier Sr sailed WAYRA consistently all weekend and after Javier Jr’s Phoenix-like fall, took over the silver behind Olcese’s SCARAMOUCH.  Rounding out the top five were Lucas Peschiera’s TIAMAT in fourth place and Augusto Navarro’s 7 BARES in fifth position.   For more Peruvian J/24 Nationals sailing information