Thursday, August 14, 2008

104 J/22s on One Starting Line

The J/22 Class celebrates its 25th birthday this week at the Ultimate Marine Group J/22 World Championship, taking place in Rochester, New York, USA from August 20-24. 105 teams are competing, representing sailors from across the United States, nearby Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, France, the Virgin Islands and other countries. Host Rochester Yacht Club plans to start the fleet on one line with 2007 champion Mark Sadler of South Africa given the near impossible task of defending his title.

Visit for daily updates and results.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Skandia Cowes Week

J owners were out in force (accounting for 10% of the 900+ entries) at 2008 Skandia Cowes Week, the pinnacle event of the UK sailing season. Most impressive was the record 39 boat turnout in the J/109 class, the third consecutive year that the J/109s have sailed as a class. Add to that the 23 boat J/80 class, the “J/Sprit” class loaded with J/92s and J/105s, and the various J’s sailing IRC, and Cowes Week was like a J owner rendezvous!

In J/109 action it was former UK National Champ, ZELDA (Ben Richards & Michael Ewart-Smith) who put on the show, winning 5 of 7 races to capture the title over Matt Boyle’s SHIVA, last year’s Cowes Week winner. The J/80 class made a splash with two major awards received. First, Chris & Liz Savage of SAVAGE SAILING TEAM won the J/80 class and were additionally awarded the Overall White Group Trophy for most outstanding performance (200+ boats). The Skandia Young Skipper's Trophy for the top performing yacht skippered by a young person under the age of 25 was presented to 21-year-old Sebastian Ripard sailing his J/80 AGAINST MALARIA.COM.

Six J/122s sailed within in the 42 boat IRC-2 fleet. The J/122 JOLLY JOKER (pictured above), skippered by Rodolphe Marchais of France, topped the J/122 fleet and finished 3rd overall in class. J/122s took 5 of the top 12 spots. In more J Sprit action, Duncan McDonald on his J/90 JOE showed jets with five bullets to capture the J Sprit class over the J/92 J’RONIMO and J/105 JEOPARDY. Cowes Results Pictures by Rick Tomlinson

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

J Rendezvous DownEast

The J Rendezvous DownEast in Camden ME was a great success with 24 boats participating from a J/28 to a J/46. Everyone got prizes. Gary Bennett was the first legal finisher, won the Masters Trophy for top skipper over 65 (among 7), the Top Dog trophy for the 150 lb. black Newfoundland named Miles aboard and was sailing the oldest boat, a 1985 J/35. Peter & Carol Willauer got the Far Horizon's Trophy for their live-aboard exploits over 43,000 miles in 8 years. Pete duPont's J/124 WARBRIDE was awarded the prize as being the most prolific with a family crew with 9 aboard. The Naturalist Award for the most eagles, ospreys, seals, and dolphins sighted was won by INDULJENCE with a score of 73. Eagles counted twice, but the big counter was a small island with 52 seals. And, to demonstrate that "rubber-necking" to spot wildlife was not a major hindrance to speed, Sandy Mackey drove the boat to the top Female award (among 4) as well. The skippers of the J/124 SEA LOFT and J/34c SAMVARO were at the helm in their first race ever. Frank & Libby Simon's J/100 took the prize for the most senior crew, rumored to be in their 80's. All goes to show you that you're never too old to fall in love and boats have a way of living up to their names. SMITTEN is right on! Spirit of the "relaxed nature" of the event goes to Heidi Welch in the J/28 AQUILO, who decided to kick back and enjoy the afternoon, after leading the fleet for half the race.

East Coast Yacht Sales, the J Boats dealer, sponsored the event with their Camden office head Tom Babbitt serving as host and Kendra Muenter of J Boats coordinating the overall event. A tent was pitched on the grounds of Wayfarer Marine for a cocktail reception on Friday night with boats rafted along the floats below. Designer Rod Johnstone cruised up from Newport in the first of the new J/105s. To underline the versatility of this tweaked creation, he and wife Lucia were off for two weeks of cruising aboard... complete with a rail-mounted charcoal grill and fiberglass Dyer sailing dinghy.

Saturday morning was foggy, gray and calm... not very promising for the planned afternoon sailing event. The morning seminar program included: John Gass of Wayfarer Marine, Ben Ellison (SAIL and Power & Motor Yacht electronics editor) and Nick DeMaria of Blue Maple Systems on electronics; Win Fowler of Maine Sailing Partners on seamanship and cruising sail design; and Scott Harris of East Coast Yacht Sales on "Keeping your J looking new."

A 13.3 mile pursuit race was scheduled for the afternoon. The idea of a pursuit race is that handicaps are assessed at the start with the fastest boats starting last so, in theory, all boats finish at the same time. The course was through Gilkey Harbor, leaving Seven Hundred Acre Island to port and return to Camden. 29 minutes separated the start between the slowest rated boat, Heidi Welch sailing the J/28 AQUILO and the fastest rated boat, Peter Van Alstine's J/44 STOLEN HOUR, complete with kayaks lashed to the deck. The start was in such light air that it took most of the boats about a minute to cross the line after their starting time, then 2 hours to do the 3.3 miles upwind to the harbor entrance bell. It's interesting to note that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers had a start order of 4th, 16th, 10th and 21st respectively... pretty good random distribution.

Cruise Directors, Tom & Jane Babbitt showed the fleet how to get there fastest in their shoal draft J/42 BRAVO (with 3 bladed folding prop no less!). Gary Bennett in the oldest boat participating, his J/35 J'AI'TU, eventually passed Rod J sailing the newest boat in the race, his J/105 RAGTIME. What this demonstrates is the lasting value and undiminished performance of J Boats over time... in this case 23 years.

The Cruise Committee consisted of Bob and Drake Johnstone on one of his MJM 29z motorboats. With 3 hours elapsed time from the start approaching and the fleet still in Gilkey Harbor, Islesboro (about an hour from Camden even under power), Bob J. decided to shorten course, finishing BRAVO, J'AI'TU, RAGTIME, Pete duPont's J/124 WARBRIDE, and Kirk Brown's before lifting anchor and heading back down the course to give the remaining finishers a horn and finish place... allowing them all to turn around and power for the barn. Otherwise the tail enders would have missed the party. So, if you see this race management move put into practice anywhere else: Remember it first happened at the J Rendezvous.

A tent cocktail party and dinner followed, hosted by Kendra Muenter from J Boats and the East Coast Yacht Sales staff. For prizes and goodies, thanks go to our sponsors: Hall Spars, Harken, V Sport, Lewmar, Wayfarer Marine, Edson, Maine Sailing Partners, Mack Boring/Yanmar, Village Soup, and Broomfield Industries.