Saturday, April 20, 2019

SPI Ouest France Regatta Preview

J/80s sailing SPI Ouest France
(La Trinite sur Mer, France)- If it’s Easter Bank Holiday, it must be time for the largest regatta in France to usher in the new sailing season! Yes, it is that time again, from April 18th to 22nd, the Societe Nautique de La Trinite sur Mer hosts their annual SPI Ouest France Regatta.

The event is simply huge and is also an important gathering place for all sailors, professionals, and marine industry people.  The 2019 edition will have 398 keelboats on the water, of which 98 are a veritable navy of J’s (25% of the total fleet) that include J/70s, J/80s, J/92s, J/97s, J/99s, J/105s, J/109, J/111, J/120 and J/122E.

The leading contenders in the IRC Divisions will include the trio of the brand new J/99’s making their first major regatta debut. The stakes could not get any higher than the largest regatta in France run each year! Leading that charge in the IRC B fleet may be Didier LeMoal’s latest J-LANCE 14 from Societe Regate Rochelaises. Then, Olivier Grassi’s J/99 GRASSI BATEAUX is sailing in the IRC Double class against a formidable contingent of top French offshore doublehanded sailing teams.

Racing in the IRC A class will be P. Vidon’s J/111 J4F from Societe Nautique Baie St Malo.  Joining the J/99s in IRC B are H. Mehu’s J/109 JACKPOT, P. Girardin’s J/120 HEY JUDE, and P. Baetz’s J/122E MUSIX; all three teams are from the host club- SN Trinite sur Mer. In IRC C class will be two J/92s- M. Visbecq’s NAVARCHSOFT and T. Bidon’s DR JEKYLL from CN Lorient.

The French version of the American PHRF class is called the Osiris Habitable handicap rule.  There are nine J/Teams participating in OSH 1 Division, including four J/105s, S. Blevin’s J/109 JOKE, two J/97s (O. Kayser’s NUAGE II and P. Mabo’s HALIOTIS), and a lone J/24 (A. Garcia’s JERONIMO).

Yet again, the largest class in the biggest regatta in France happens to be the sixty-four boat J/80 class, with representatives from Belgium, Spain, Great Britain and Ireland. The top French teams include Simon Moriceau’s ARMEN HABITAT, Sylvain Pellisier’s INTUITIVE SAILS, Luc Nadal’s GANJA, Ludovic Gilet’s NUMERO J, and Laurent Verdier’s HIP HOP. The top visiting teams include Kevin Sproul’s ULTIMATE SAILS/ J.A.T. from Great Britain and J. O’Dowd’s JABS from Ireland.

The seventeen-boat J/70 class continues to grow its participation in the SPI Ouest Regatta, and the competition is getting stronger as well, with representatives from three nations- France, Russia, and the USA.  The top French crews are Luc Sambron’s HEMON CAMUS, Herve Leduc’s PIERRE OCEANE/ JIBESET.  The top visitors include the American B. Vibert on APOLLO J and the Russian/ Spanish team on NEW TERRITORIES, led by Alex Semenov from Moscow with Olympic Medallist Hugo Rocha as trim/ tactics.  For more SPI Ouest France sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Successful J/112E Debut in Sydney Offshore Series

J/112E sailing off Sydney, Australia
(Sydney, Australia)- In its first full race series since arriving in Australia, the stunning new J/112E ZEST finished an impressive 2nd overall in the Sydney Amateurs Sailing Club “Cruiser Racer series”. The full sixteen race series was held on stunning Sydney Harbour.

Starting in September 2018 and finishing in mid-April 2019, the competitive fleet raced in a wide variety of wind and sea state conditions. From light drifters to 30 knots plus “blowing dogs off chains” kind of weather, the new J/112E handled everything in her stride, with an impressive score line of four 1sts, a 2nd, three 3rds, and a 4th.

“I was on a very steep learning curve,” commented ZEST’s proud owner Stephen. “A new crew, new sailing club, new courses and a very special new boat; we are still learning a lot about it! Progressively, through the season, we learnt what the boat was capable of doing in all conditions.  We especially enjoyed sailing upwind, with her better pointing and better VMG speed capabilities than our competitors! A special thanks to my crew and our competitor’s, we look forward to racing against you all again next season!”  For more information regards the exciting, powerful J/112E sport cruiser Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Warsash Spring Series- Weekend IV Report

J/70s sailing Warsash Spring Series
(Warsash, England)- The fourth weekend is now on the books for the Warsash Sailing Club’s famous HELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series. The fleet was blessed, again, with good enough conditions to get in one more race for the IRC handicap fleets and three more for the J/70s.

Race Report- Black Group
IRC 4 Class was started off Meon Shore on time at 1000 hrs from the White Group line in a very light easterly breeze. As on the previous Sunday, the main Black Group start was set up near QXI International buoy on the south edge of the East Knoll bank.

With the forecast of 6-8 knots starting off in the ENE and swinging to the SE during the racing period, but then dying away to nothing by late afternoon, the race team was considering the difficult question of timing the moving orientation for course setting when the breeze died away almost completely. With more hope than expectation about any return of a sailing breeze, a postponement was announced and the boats and the race team sat and waited.
J/111 sailing Warsash Spring Series
Happily by about 1030 hrs a light breeze of 4-5 knots arrived from the SE and with suitable courses quickly set, the start sequence got all classes away between 1050 and 1110 on a series of beats, runs and reaches between the Ryde Middle bank and the East Knoll area, with courses of 8-10 miles. Light sunshine and the gentle breeze made for enjoyable racing and testing tactics over the spring tide.

In IRC 1 Class, it was the first outing for Chris Jones & Louise Makin’s J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II, showing they had not lost their edge by winning their class in convincing fashion.
J/109 sailing Warsash Spring Series
In IRC 2 Class, Simon Perry’s J/109 JIRAFFE had a disappointing 9th place on Sunday which she’ll hope to discard when enough races have taken place next Sunday; but even so she held onto second place overall. Sitting in third continues to be Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN.  It was good to see Royal Yachting Association Chairman Christopher Preston out racing with the J/109 JUBILEE, his crew included Cowes Week regatta director Laurence Mead; they scored a creditable 5th place in this 21-strong class. In addition, Charles Ivill’s J/112E DAVANTI TYRES team is beginning to get themselves up to speed in the series, posting a 1-3 in their last two races to be sitting in 5th overall, easily within striking distance of the podium.  Everyone was also glad to see the new J/99 JENGA 99 competing for the first time, raced by Mark Richmond and his team and finishing a few seconds behind the J/109 JUBILEE.
J/88 sailing at Warsash Spring Series
With four races under their collective belts in the J/88 Class, Gavin Howe’s TIGRIS continues to dominate with all bullets for 4 pts. However, the top five has jumbled a bit since a few boats had “no show DNC’s” posted in their scorelines.  Currently, sitting in second is Dianne & Dirk Van Beek’s SABRIEL JR with 31 pts, third is Richard Cooper’s JONGLEUR with 33 pts, fourth is Kirsty & David Apthorp’s J-DREAM with 36 pts, and fifth is Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL with 38 pts.
J/99 Jenga sailing on Solent, England
The J/109s also have four races on the books.  Winning the fourth race quite handily was John Smart’s JUKEBOX, an amazing performance for their first day on the water this season!  Meanwhile, Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE continues to lead with 7 pts.  They are followed by Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN in second with 12 pts, third is Rob Cotterill’s MOJO RISIN with 33 pts.  The balance of the top five is Bill Stock’s JENGU in 4th and Chris Preston’s JUBILEE in 5th position.

The J-sprit class continues to be dominated by the J/88s and by Gavin Howe’s TIGRIS, in particular, as she took her fourth win in four weekends! The next two spots have flip-flopped.  Sitting in 2nd is now Dirk & Dianne Van Beek’s J/88 SABRIEL JR with 31 pts, following in 3rd by Kirsty & David Apthorp’s J/88 J-DREAM with 33 pts. This class will see a significant shake-up on the leaderboard once the toss race comes into effect after race six, as several teams have “no show 25’s” counting in their scorelines.
J/70s sailing on the Solent, England
Race Report- White Group
The forecast for the day was not exciting, E to SE, 4-7 knots. This eventually turned out to ENE to S and the back to ESE, with 3-5 knots for most of the day and reaching nearly 8 knots for the last half of the last race of the day.

IRC 4, as is normal, got away on time at 1000 hrs for their round-the-Solent cans course, but the swing to the right started immediately, and the start of the combined sportsboat fleet was postponed. After an hour, during which the wind went right round to S before settling at SSE, the fleet finally got away. In the second race, it was a relatively stable breeze.  Then, for the third race the wind was back to its old tricks, which needed the course shifted left before the start, and 25 degrees further left during the race. The ongoing shift shook things up somewhat on the race track.

The hotly contested fleet of J/70s have now sailed twelve races. Continuing to lead the class is Paul Ward’s EAT SLEEP J REPEAT with mostly 1sts and 2nds for 15 pts net. Jumping up to second place is Phil Chandler’s BLACKJAX with 50 pts net. Dropping into third place was Graham Clapp’s JEEPSTER with 66 pts. The rest of the top five includes Terry O’Neill’s AQUA J in 4th and Doug Struth’s DSP in 5th place.   Sailing photo credits- Andrew Adams/ CloseHauled Photography    Follow the Warsash Spring Series on Facebook here   For more HELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/112E SILVER SURFER Wins St Petersburg to Havana Race

J/112E sailing on Tampa Bay
(Havana, Cuba)- “The forecast looked good for this year’s 89-year old race from St Pete YC to Havana (Marina Hemingway). In fact, it was so good that the 25-30 knot NNE breeze would be too much for the leeward shore Gulfstream finish line in Havana, so the start was delayed a day.”  So said, Harvey Ford and Tom Mistele, the co-owners of the new J/112E SILVER SURFER.  Both went on to describe their somewhat demanding experience in moderate to very high winds (40 kts plus) over the course of their race in their newly launched boat.  Here is their story:

“At 9:00 AM the next day, on March 19, twenty-seven boats started on a reach off downtown St. Pete in a still sporty 25 knot NNE breeze.

So back up a minute...the race was the first of its kind in 1930, running for 29 years until suspended due to events in Cuba. Then, 58 years later, it resumed in 2017. This year was the third edition of the new race. Unchanged since 1930, the race is a 20-mile dog leg out of Tampa Bay under the Skyway Bridge, with a sharp left-turn just outside the Bay at Southwest Pass sea buoy #1, then at ~182 degs and 200 miles to Rebecca Shoals (east of Dry Tortugas island at the end of the Florida Keys), then about the same heading another 80 miles to Cuba.

This year, our J/112E SILVER SURFER took first overall, much to our pleasant surprise! Who knew! The crew was Chris Bergstrom, Marty Kullman, Lin Robson, John Monahan and Christian Koules.

Finishing second was Wasabi (a fast, well-sailed Farr 395 also from St. Pete), and third went to Fresh Pineapple (a hard-charging Esse 990 from New Orleans). All 3 boats set a new course record, with line honors to Pineapple (32h:43 m) and Wasabi (34h:5m), but neither saved their time on SILVER SURFER that finished in 35h:27m.

At the downwind start, conditions were about 25 knots and gusting higher. SILVER SURFER, appropriately painted silver/gray and named after Tom Mistele’s Marvel comic hero, set its A2 spin and jumped on the wake of the larger Wasabi, together chasing Pineapple out of the Bay. However, Pineapple was soon raked by some really big gusts and got the dust washed off its spreaders in a prolonged knockdown (e.g. a massive massive broach!). Wasabi similarly rolled out, so Surfer lost its wake ride, but we surfed on. Surfer took several knockdowns itself, losing its MOB buoy in the process (as did Wasabi), leading to calls to the RC to advise that all was OK. For sure, we were successfully testing the maximum limits of the 650 fabric of our brand new North spinnaker!

We were the first boat to the dog leg inside the Skyway Bridge and then set our A3 chute in the building breeze. Recording 29-33 knot gusts, we managed to carefully jibe about 5 times in the dash out SW Pass maintaining 10+ knots for the first 2 hours and maxing at 14.5 knots.

After the final jibe at SW #1, Surfer and the others set into a 200-mile port tack reach in the 25-knot breeze...with the true wind angle at about 140 degs off the bow and apparent wind at about 100 degrees. With a deep keel, one reef in the main and the A3 spinnaker, we were able to maintain a higher COG inside the rhumbline, while still surfing off every other wave...eventually posting a top speed of 15.7 knots.

Pineapple scooted out ahead, but stayed in sight all day on a lower heading. Wasabi eased further offshore outside the rhumbline and eventually caught us at Rebecca Shoals, out of view to leeward.

Anticipating even higher winds (35-40 knots) and a slight tilt to the east for the breeze on the first night, according to pre-race weather reports, we elected to drop the chute before full-on darkness.  But, that was done only after hot lasagna and Hawaiian Rolls served “comfortably” to the whole crew. The next 9 hrs were still fast under full main and jib and a totally obscured full moon.  But, the really bad winds never happened, so we settled for good control, a high course, and 10-12 knots of boat speed all night.

Wasabi was going to catch us eventually, but owed us 99 minutes on corrected handicap time. In the conditions we were sailing, that meant they had to beat us by about 15 miles, so we felt relatively safe.

On Wednesday morning, the winds dropped down to a civilized 21.0 knots. Feeling quite comfortable, we served coffee and breakfast bars and then we re-set the A2! Tracking the location and strength of the Gulf Stream, we jibed back and forth across the rhumbline to attempt a clean arrival at Havana over the final 80 miles.

As we approached the Havana Hemingway Harbor finish line, the 10-foot onshore rollers triggered by the NE breeze and the opposing east flowing Gulf Stream of 4-5 kts would make the after-dark finish somewhat challenging, to say the least!

The finish mark, being a 10 sec flashing white light with the city behind it, is an annual riddle. The buoy bobs in 300 feet of water (up from about 2,000 feet deep less than a 1/2 mile offshore) and the conditions were too rough for the RC to stay on post. So, we all took our own times at the finish buoy per the Sailing Instructions. The reef along the shore is just 1/4 mile downwind from the finish, so we definitely had one foot on the brake as we approached! Conservative as we were, we even doused the chute well before the finish! This hair-raising finish made the smooth Cuban customs process seem like a walk in the park!

Our hats off to the designers and builders of the sturdy J/112E! Despite the “dancing on a piano-wire/ walking the tight-rope” sailing conditions, our only real challenge was the A-sail tack line chafe that we doubled up underway before it parted. We regularly blessed the over-sized rudder and carbon wheel and, needing front-end buoyancy, we were happy that we had stored the extra water, life raft, anchor, and other stuff in the aft lockers.

As you would expect, a glorious hour of celebration occurred at the dock after clearing customs! All seven of us went below, turned on the AC, had some drinks, ate the full dinner that we had been envisioning all race long, and asked each other what just happened! What an amazing time and great way to celebrate our first win on Silver Surfer!”   For more information regards the fast, powerful J/112E sport cruiser Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tight Battles @ J/Fest San Francisco

J/Fest San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- The annual J/Fest San Francisco, hosted by St Francis Yacht Club, provided yet again excellent race management and close racing for the fleet of one-designs that included J/105s and J/70s. Over the two-day weekend, the fleet was able to get in three races per day for a total of six overall.

In the twenty-five boat J/105 division, the top of the leaderboard saw nip-and-tuck battles that raged race-by-race.  The key was consistency and, other than the regatta winner, all teams posted at least one or more double-digit finishes; that is how tight the racing can be in the J/105 Fleet #1 on San Francisco Bay.

It was rough going for everyone, as evidenced by the scorelines.  Nevertheless, it was Tim Russell’s NE*NE, with an 8-1-1-9-5-3 tally for 27 pts, that took the class honors.  Leading the regatta after four races was Ryan Simmons’ BLACKHAWK, but a bruising 5th race dropped them out of contention, scoring a 2-2-10-3-13-2 for 32 pts to take the silver.  Taking the bronze on the podium was Adam Spiegel’s JAM SESSION with a 3-8-5-10-10-7 scoreline for 43 pts.  The balance of the top five was Justin Oberbauer’s STRANGELOVE with 44 pts in fourth and Phil Laby’s GODOT with 53 pts in fifth (breaking a tie-breaker with Jeff Litfin’s MOJO that ended up 6th).

The J/70s saw two boats duel for the class lead on the first day.  However, on day two, it was Chris Kostanecki’s JENNIFER that firmly took the upper hand to win the regatta with a 2-4-1-1-1-3 record for 12 pts.  While giving them a run-for-the-money on day one, Scott Sellers/ Harrison Turner’s 1FA ultimately had to settle for the silver with a 3-3-4-2-5-1 tally for 18 pts. After starting off with a blistering 1-1-5 to lead the regatta on the first day, Brian Mullen’s ORANGE YOU GLAD lost their “mojo” on day two, posting a mediocre 5-7-9 to close the series with 28 pts and settling for the bronze on the podium.  For more J/Fest San Francisco sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/Fest Northwest Announcement

J/Fest Northwest Seattle, WA
(Seattle, WA)- Sail Northwest, the northwest USA J/Boat dealer, invites you to join them for the 2nd year of the comeback of the original J/FEST Northwest from June 22nd to 23rd, 2019.

New this year! The Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle will be taking over management of the Regatta!

This is a two-day event that is open to all J/Boats owners and crew.  Starts will be provided for one-design, PHRF and cruising classes.

The on-the-water activities are hosted by Sail Northwest and Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle. Shoreside activities will be at the CYC Seattle Shilshole clubhouse Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday evening’s dinner and door prize extravaganza is always a sellout. So head on down and join them for what Northwest Yachting Magazine called “the most looked forward to regatta of the year-” J/FEST NW.

Initial one-design class commitments include the J/22s, J/24s, J/80s, J/97e, J/105s, and J/109s. And, the PHRF commitments include a J/122E, J/29, J/27, and J/30 and Cruising class commitments include a J/35c, J/37, J/40, and J/44. Come join the fun, every type of J/boat will be out sailing with us at the end of June!

Please contact SAIL NW with any questions about the weekend’s festivities, sponsorship and racing questions- phone# 206-286-1004 or email- Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Les Voiles de St Barths X Edition Preview

J/122 sailing Les Voiles de St Barth (Gustavia Harbor, St Barths)- The tenth edition of the Voiles de Saint Barth is about to start this coming weekend.  A fleet of fifty-five offshore racing thoroughbreds and a dozen cruising multihulls will be plying the spectacular aquamarine waters around St Barths for a week of fun in the sun and fabulous sailing from April 15th to 20th, 2019.  And, to be sure, the après’ sailing is simply outstanding and considered some of the best in the Caribbean.

Les Voiles has been a bucket list event for sailors since its inception in 2010, and for its tenth edition, the sailors will enjoy five days of racing! Regatta Director François Tolède commented, “The extra day of racing last year proved very popular.  It brings more competitiveness and fun to the regatta, which we know is exactly what our participants are interested in! We look forward to the regatta kick off on Sunday and wrap up Saturday.  Racing is scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Still, the official “Day Off” is scheduled for Thursday and we hope to see everyone at Nikki Beach to celebrate!”

Participating for at least the fourth year in a row are the two J/122s- LIQUID (Pamala Baldwin from Antigua) and EL OCASO (Chris Body from the United Kingdom). Joining them will be the J/105 SUNBELT REALTY JENK from Curacao, skippered by Jan Henk van der Wier.  For more Les Voiles de Saint Barth sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Welles Crowned J/24 North American Champion

J/24 champion- Will Welles
(Valle de Bravo, Mexico)- Who knew that the Mexican-hosted J/24 North American Championship would come down to two “gringos” from “el norte” that are “buenos amigos” from “el estado de Maine”. What? Yes! True story.

Having known each other from way, way “Down East” for well over three decades, it was more than ironic that the two leading protagonists for the 2019 J/24 North American Championship both hailed from the state of Maine, and had sailed against each other in J/24s at various events ranging from Portland to further Downeast in Southwest Harbor off Mount Desert Island! That they found themselves battling “hammer & tong” for the 2019 J/24 N.A. finale was a bit of a “back to the future” experience for both Will Welles on BRUSCHETTA and Tony Parker on BANGOR PACKET. No one was going to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the other boat, they both know each other all too well!

The 2019 J/24 North American Championship was hosted by Club Nautico Valle de Bravo on their gorgeous lake in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.  The twenty-seven boat fleet consisted of USA, French and Mexican teams from across the top fleets in the respective countries.

In the end, it was Welles’ BRUSCHETTA that withstood a hard-charging Parker on his BANGOR PACKET to return the J/24 North American Championship to Newport, RI. Welles, two-time J/24 World Champion and now four-time J/24 North American Champion, came into Friday’s final two races with a slight two-point advantage over Parker. With Mexican boat owner Aroldo de Rienzo aboard, as well as Rich Bowen, John McCabe and PJ Schaffer, BRUSCHETTA took the victory in Race 9, with Parker still hot on their heels in second. The pair dueled in the final contest, with Welles placing ninth and Parker 10th, giving Welles and team the Championship with 24 points to Parker’s 28. In third place overall, and top Mexican finisher, was Kenneth Porter’s “S” with 32 points.

Welles had never sailed in Valle de Bravo before this week, when he also competed in the Mexican National Championship (placing first overall). Although this marked the first time paired with local Valle de Bravo boat owner de Rienzo, the remaining crew are good friends from Newport, RI, who sometimes race together in the famous Newport Fleet 50 Thursday night races (considered the world’s “hottest” fleet since it has at least five J/24 World Champions sailing on some Thursdays!).
J/24 sailing Valle de Bravo, Mexico
Welles summarized the conditions in Valle de Bravo, saying, “It’s funky out there. The puffs don’t move quickly, so you have to get to them. That doesn’t happen in Newport or other places we have sailed.”

As for strategy in the final two races, Welles said, “We focused on getting good starts, so we could go the way we thought we should.  The goal was to just keep Bangor Packet behind us!  Of course, we know them, and Tony is a great friend. Kudos to them for pushing us so hard!”

Rounding out the top five were top Seattle, WA sailor Mark Laura with buddy Mark Thomas onboard, sailing BABA LOUIE to 4th place.  Fifth was another Mexican team, one of the early regatta leaders- Javier Velásquez’s TRINQUETE.  For more J/24 North American Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/99 Sailing Anarchy Report

J/99 offshore speedster
(San Francisco, CA)- Norman Davant from Sail California sent this report to from the first sail of the new J/99 offshore shorthanded speedster on the west coast.  Norm and crew took her for a spin on the infamous San Francisco Bay to give it a good test after the Pacific Sailboat Expo boat show in Richmond, CA.  Commented Norm,

“We went thru several gyrations of everything, stretching and settling-in, and finally got the rig set up correctly. The headstay adjustment will be the key to the boat, keep the rig straight as the breeze comes up and then apply backstay.

Jeff Thorpe and Peter Cameron set the rig up as we went up thru the range; it sure helped to have these two guys along. We think we have good numbers in the 14-18 knots range, we need to sail in a bit more wind to make sure the headstay and shrouds are correct, they are close for sure.

We had six sailors on board. Amazingly, the J/99 is on “rails” up wind, totally balanced, beautiful touch on the helm.

We did not have anyone hiking; I wanted to see what the stability was like.  The boat is really stiff; you can sail with two upwind in breeze for sure.

As we were tuning, I did the old bear away trick to see if you can bear away with sails fully trimmed-in. No problem! There is no shortage of rudder size and control!

Downwind, we had a few nice 18-knot puffs and we were cruising along at 12 kts boatspeed with all the control you would want. Was I surprised with the way the boat handled and sailed? Not at all.  Designer Al Johnstone nailed the design and the build was exactly as expected out of J/Composites in Europe.

This boat will be a weapon for anyone that wants to go short-handed racing.”  Thanks for contribution from Norm Davant and Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, April 12, 2019

SPERRY Charleston Race Week Preview

J/70s sailing Charleston Race Week(Charleston, SC)- It is that time of year again, the weekend before Easter/ Bank Holiday, when it seems just about half the East Coast heads down to Charleston Harbor to sail in the amazingly popular SPERRY Charleston Race Week.  It is not hard to see why over 115 J/Teams are headed down to the historically famous venue (Fort Sumter is where the American Civil War started) for a long three-day weekend of sailing on six courses spread around the huge harbor.  The Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina serves as host for the event and the CORA organization provides all logistical and professional race management for the 750+ sailors.  While the on-water racing is fun, fast & furious, it’s the après’ sailing social activities on the beach ashore with loads of rum, beer, southern food, and live music that keeps sailors coming back for more fun-loving memories in the Deep South.

The regatta features six one-design J/Classes, including J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/88s, and J/105s.  In addition, there are two “Pursuit-style” sailing divisions for both PHRF and ORC handicap rated boats that includes a J/30, J/35, J/109s, J/111s, J/120s and a J/122.

J/70s sailing Charleston Race WeekStarting with the biggest fleet in the regatta, the fifty-seven J/70s will have their hands full negotiating the shoals and currents and wildly shifting breezes on 3/4 mile windward legs (max!).  Despite the challenges, for most J/70 sailors, it is like a big college regatta, but on keelboats. Looking forward to that experience are many top J/70 teams, like John & Molly Baxter’s VINEYARD VINES from Riverside, CT; Doug Strebel’s BLACK RIVER RACING from Dallas, TX; Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT from Wayzata YC in MN; John Heaton’s EMPEIRIA from Chicago YC; Trey Sheehan’s HOOLIGAN: FLAT STANLEY RACING from Edgewater YC in Cleveland, OH; Marty McKenna’s RARITY from Annapolis, MD; Henry Brauer’s RASCAL from Marblehead, MA; Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY from American YC; and Brian Keane’s SAVASANA from Boston, MA.

Top visiting teams from outside the USA include Tony Staples’ REDCOAT from Royal St Lawrence YC in Canada; Francisco Van Avermaete’s JUICY from YC Argentino in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Pedro Camargo’s MANCHA NEGRA from YC Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; Paul Wolman’s MENACE from Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club in Bermuda; and Vernon Robert’s MORENITA from Club de Yates Algarrobo in Chile.

J/88s sailing Charleston Race WeekAfter sailing two midwinter regattas in St Petersburg, FL, the ten-boat J/88 class is looking forward to solid, warm winds, and hot competition.  It is a star-studded gathering of the top J/88s from Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and the Northeast. The leading teams should include Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION from Huguenot YC in New Rochelle, NY; Andy & Sarah Graff’s EXILE from Chicago, IL; Laura Weyler’s HIJINKS from Youngstown YC in New York; Rob Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF from Lakeside YC in Cleveland, OH; and Mike Bruno’s WINGS from American YC in Rye, NY. Anyone of those teams is capable of podium finishes and have all topped the leaderboard in major J/88 regattas in the past.

There are six-boats sailing in the J/22 class, mostly comprised of “Warrior Sailing Teams” on four boats; the four skippers are Sammy Hodges, Jacob Raymond, Corey Hall, and Sammy Lugo. Joining them is Terence Young’s PUFF and the US Patriot Sailing Team on PATRIOT XXII.

Of the dozen boats sailing in the J/24 class, eight are from the local fleet and four are “out of towners”.  It is those “foreigners” that represent a formidable challenge to local knowledge, such as Carter White’s YouREGATTA from Portland YC in ME and Mike Quaid’s ICE CUBE from Mallets Bay Boat Club in VT.

The five-boat J/80 class may be dominated by a dynamic duo from Annapolis, MD. Those teams are Bert Carp’s ELEVEN from Annapolis YC and Bill & Shannon Lockwood’s SHENANIGANS from Eastport YC in Annapolis.

It will be an all-South Carolina turn-out for the five-boat J/105 class. Amusingly enough, it also features an internecine rivalry amongst them; Frickie Martschink & Bill McKenzie on RUMFRONT versus Miles Martschink & Ben Hagood on SKIMMER. Making sure that family blood doesn’t boil over will be Joe Highsmith on DEAD ON ARRIVAL, Bob Scribner on JOYRIDE, and the trio of Matt Self, Russ Smith, & Paul Jacques on RUCKUS.

It will be interesting to see how the ORC Hybrid Pursuit Division of fourteen boats turns out after three days of sailing. Half of the division is J/Teams.  Those boats include Andy Wescoat’s J/109 HARM’S WAY from Houston, TX; two J/111s (Rob Stein’s KINETIC from Charleston, SC and Ian Hill’s SITELLA from Hampton YC in VA); two J/120s (John Keenan’s ILLYRIA from Mt Pleasant, SC and Rick Moore’s MOOSE DOWN from Charleston, SC); Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK from Lexington, NC; and Will Schwenzfeier’s J/35 ARROW from Charleston, SC.

In the “traditional” PHRF Pursuit Division, there are five J/Teams.  Those fun-loving crews include the J/120 EMOCEAN (Bill Hanckel from Charleston YC); the J/120 ROCKET SCIENCE (Rick Oricchio from Mt Pleasant, SC); the J/130 SCEPTRE (Bob Musor from CORA in Mt Pleasant, SC); the J/30 LAS BRISAS (Mark Swatta from Mt Pleasant, SC); and the J/36 SOUL (the College of Charleston Sailing Team).

The forecasts are for “breeze-on” for most of the regatta, starting Thursday practice day through the Sunday finale.  For more Charleston Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.