Monday, September 28, 2009

ROLEX Big Boat Series

J/105 GOOD TIMIN and J/120 CHANCE Winners

San Francisco, CA, (September 10-13, 2009) - This was not your typical Big Boat Series. It only got into the 25 knot range on one of the four days, lots of 10 to 20 knot sailing, and the wind was so light on the final day that racing was abandoned for the IRC divisions and the J/120 one-design class starting on the City Front.  However, the J/105s had an outstanding final Bay Tour Sunday race to conclude the series in this tightly fought class.  The ultimate winner of the J/105 class was Chris Perkin's GOOD TIMIN with Bruce Stone's ARBITRAGE in second.  Barry Lewis's J/120 CHANCE from Atherton, CA won the J/120 fleet.  In the US IRC Nationals, the only two J's sailing faired well with the J/44 GOLDEN PHOENIX raced by Jim Bishop (with Steve Benjamin calling tactics) finished 2nd in IRC C Class and the J/122 RESOLUTE raced by San Diego Yacht Club's Tim Fuller (with Jeff Madrigali as local hotshot tactician) finished third.

Ninety seven boats came to compete in this years Rolex Big Boat Series.  Enthusiastic J owners accounted for 42% (or 40 boats) of the regatta.  While many of the competing boats are from the Bay Area and California, some hail from ports across the US and abroad. Lorenzo Berho and his J/145 RAINCLOUD hail from Mexico City, Mexico and are sailing in IRC B. 'RAINCLOUD is a Mexican family and friends boat that has changed our lives, and also has helped us fulfill several dreams,' said Berho, who only started sailing five years ago. 'We had a great experience in last year's Rolex Big Boat Series that we decided to come back in spite of the difficult economic times, and for most of us that means traveling from Mexico City. The organizers are great and the competing boats are really friendly. Last year we got fourth place in our fleet so we would love to get a third place this year. We know that most of the fleet is very competitive and there are many experienced sailors with local knowledge. I am turning 50 years old on September 15, so I chose this regatta as my birthday present. There is nothing better than sailing with my family and best friends in the most outstanding Bay of the world.'

The Commodore's Cup, which was established in 2004 to be awarded to the largest one-design fleet, was awarded to the winner of the J/105 class, Chris Perkins' GOOD TIMIN. "Honestly, Bruce Stone sailed a great series," said Perkins of the fleet. "He only had one bad race and won three out of seven sailed. His ARBITRAGE is clearly one of the quickest boats. Everyone would agree he is quicker than us." So what would Perkins credit his team's win to? "The challenge in a 25-boat fleet is consistency," he continued. "We didn't have any big mistakes and that is what made the difference for us."   Jeff Littfin's and John Case's MOJO sailed very consistently to finish third in the regatta.  In fact, MOJO was winning after the first day with a 4-2 finish.  Both GOOD TIMIN and ARBITRAGE had 2-7 and 1-15 finishes, respectively, to start out the series out of the top three on Thursday.  By Saturday, both of these leaders climbed up the fleet ladder to be leading by the end of the regatta with ARBITRAGE accumulating three 1sts and a second to make up for their one deep finish on the first day.

For the J/120 class, the expected leader before the series happened to be the ultimate winner, Barry Lewis's CHANCE.  But, CHANCE's win was not without a strong challenge from John Wimer's DESDEMONA from Half Moon Bay, California.  The outcome of the last race determined the overall winner of this very competitive class; CHANCE won the race and DESDEMONA finished third, losing their lead from the day before to CHANCE.  Just off the pace was previous year's winner MISTER MAGOO sailed by Steve Madeira in fourth and Don Payan's DAYENU in third-- again the outcome of who placed third on the podium coming down to the last race on Saturday.  Had there been the one last race, the infamous Bay Tour on Sunday, the results could've very likely been quite different as the Bay Tour often is credited for upsetting the chances of many well-sailed boats in such a capricious race. 

Larchmont Sailing World NOOD Regatta

J/109 STORM, J/105 SAVASANA & J/122 PLUM CRAZY Are Class Winners

(Larchmont, NY- September 12-13)- Rick Lyall's J/109 STORM, from Cedar Point YC (Conn.) has been a perennial participant  at the Sperry Top-Sider Larchmont NOOD Regatta, but somehow every year the math used to determine the overall winner just hasn't fallen in his team's favor. But, the ten boat J/109 class is plenty competitive and this year it was real tight at the top, tight enough for Lyall's squad to earn the overall title, awarded to the winner of the regatta's most competitive fleet. The win, of course, earns Lyall and crew an invitation to the Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD championship in November where they'll race against winners from the other eight NOOD regattas.

STORM entered the second day of racing on Long Island Sound 3 points behind Greg Ames and Steve Kenny's GOSSIP, but on a day with brilliant sunshine and shifty 10-knot northerly Lyall's team excelled, winning both races and setting themselves up on the better end of a 10-point tie-breaker.  Lyall's STORM has been on a roll all season long in the J/109 one-design class events, having won Storm Trysail Club's/ Rolex Block Island Race Week, New York Yacht Club Regatta and the J/109 North Americans in Chicago.  Finally, third in the fun J/109 one-design racing class was Adrian Begley's MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN.

The largest class in the Larchmont Sailing World NOOD event was the twenty-one boat J/105 one-design class.  It was difficult to outsmart Joerg Esdorn's KINCSEM, which aced the last day with a pair of bullets (and won three of seven races).  However, KINSCEM's collision on the opening day, and subsequent retirement, was too much to make up to be on the leaderboard, so the real battle went down between Damien Emery's ECLIPSE and Brian Keane's SAVASANA. SAVASANA, overall winner from the Annapolis NOOD, put in a solid effort match racing ECLIPSE and keeping the right amount of boats between them to win the regatta. No doubt they'll be the team to beat at the J/105 North Americans in November. Finishing third in this tightly fought class was George and Alex Wilbanks' REVELATION.

The seven boat J/122 class was also a very closely fought and competitive fleet with the top three podium finishers only separated by five points, the outcome resting on how they all finished in the last race.  Coming out of the fog of war and taking the lead after a very shifty, tactical last day of racing in the moderate Northwesterlies on Long Island Sound was Andrew Skibo's PLUM CRAZY II.   Despite two firsts on the last day, the trio of Mike Bruno, Tom Boyle and Jim Callahan onboard WINGS could not overcome a slow start for them on the first two days and finished second overall.  Just behind them having a very strong finish to their regatta, too, with two seconds was perenial campaigner David Askew and his indefatigable team onboard FLYING JENNY VI.

J/122 PARTNERSHIP Wins Stamford-Vineyard Race

75th Stamford-Vineyard Race Dominated by J's

(Stamford, CT- September 4th)-  The 238-mile Labor Day weekend race has always been one of the highlights of the racing season on Long Island Sound.  The Vineyard is also the culmination of the Doublehanded Ocean Racing Trophy (DHORT) awarded to the best doublehanded crew racing under IRC in the same events as those for NORT. Five boats are in the running for the trophy with two entered in the Vineyard Race: Jason Richter’s J/35 PALADIN and James Wilson’s J/42 CEOL MOR.

With light winds forecast for the weekend the Vineyard Race Committee decided to use a shortened course to ensure boats would finish in a timely manner. The 65 boats racing the Vineyard course will now stay within Long Island Sound for a total of 143 nautical miles instead of the traditional 238 miles out to Buzzards Bay and back.   “We talked to a lot of competitors before the race and the consensus was that a shortened course was the way to go,” Goodrich said. “The number of boats that withdrew due to the lack of wind and the comments we received by those who finished I think show that the right decision was made.”

Seventy six boats started the race Friday afternoon off Bell 32 at Stamford, CT.  Fifty-five of those boats raced under IRC. The J's that raced did  well, winning six of the eight divisions. 

The J/122 PARTNERSHIP, sailed by David and Mary-Ellen Tortorello from Fairfield, CT, won the Stamford Vineyard Race in IRC40 Class and IRC Overall.  Rick Oricchio's J/120 ROCKET SCIENCE from Fairfield, CT finished third just ahed of George Petrides' J/120 AVRA in fourth. 

In the IRC 45 class, Philip Gutin's J/44 BEAGLE from New York NY won its class.  Another J/44 VAMP X raced by Len Sitar of Holmdel, NJ was third. 

The IRC Doublehanded division saw Jason Richter's J/35 PALADIN from Mt. Sinai, NY win class and the overall Doublehanded Ocean Racing Trophy.  In third was Andrew Berdon's J/109 STRIDER from Hartsdale, NY.  Just behind in fifth was Hewitt Gaynor's J/120 MIRELLE from Fairfield, CT and in seventh was Mike McCormick's J/105 GAUCHO.

The J/32 AMY BETH II, raced by Dana O'Brien of Riverside, CT won PHRF Non-Spinnaker and Michael Sullivan's J/33 SIRIUS from Fairfield, CT ended up third.

In PHRF Spinnaker, Adrian Little's J/100 FLASHPOINT from Westport, CT  won with Todd Aven's J/92 THIN MAN from Brooklyn, NY was fourth and David Spence's J/105 SYNERGY from Maplewood, NJ was fifth.

David Rosow's J/109 LOKI from Southport, CT won the IRC35 Class.  Another J/109, Paul Steinborn's  3 CHEERS finished in third place.  Yet another J/109, Jeff Warren's ARIEL from Easton, CT finished seventh.

BATFISH III Wins RORC Season Championship

(Cherbourg, France)- The end of season finale for the RORC offshore championship is the Cherbourg Race.  The race was as quick as anticipated with almost the whole fleet in Cherbourg for breakfast. The wind angle was too tight for spinnakers, it was very gusty and there were big waves. Most boats had at least one reef in the main and a No. 3 or No 4 headsail.

Third in IRC Class Super Zero was Bill Blain's J/133, BATFISH III who celebrated winning the RORC Season's Points Championship overall in Cherbourg.  In the RORC Double-handed divsion, second place in the Cherbourg Race went to James Heald's J /105, FLAWLESS-J.  In IRC Two,  Luca Rubinelli's J/109, ARIA, was second and Robin Taunt's J/109, JIBE, was third.

J/97 Wins Dartmouth Royal Regatta

(Darmouth, England- August 28th)- Alastair Walton, a sailor who works in the office in Fareham, U.K., sent a report of his experience sailing on the new J/97 at Dartmouth.  “Having just gone from winning the prestigious Black Group at Cowes Week to scoring eight 1st places in the recent J/Cup, the new J/97 has certainly made a strong entrance in to the UK racing scene. Your humble correspondent was therefore delighted to be asked by UK agent Paul Heys to race with him at the Dartmouth Royal Regatta, which started on Thursday. The rating bands for this event put the J/97 right in the middle of IRC 4.

“At first glance, the J/97 bears a family resemblance to the J/109 and J/122, two highly successful collaborations between the J Boats design team and J Europe of Les Sables D’Olonne in France. The cockpit features full length seats with back rests, tiller steering, and a unique, partially open transom. All the key controls are within reach of the helm and a retractable bow sprit with masthead asymmetric spinnaker allows great all-around performance for the cruising family or the full racing crew. The low VCG keel provides exceptional upwind stability, and she needed little trimming to maintain between 6.5 and 7 knots up the beats. Some smart crew work and well-chosen tactics saw us secure 1st place in both races, setting the crew up well for the remainder of the regatta.

“There is certainly no doubt as to her performance, so the question was, how would the J/97 fare as a cruising boat? I wasn’t going to find out on this trip, but the J/97 is the first J for a decade to combine 6-foot headroom with a boat under 32 feet, so the indicators are that cruising comfort has been a priority for her designers. Indeed, the interior is laid out for one or two couples cruising, including a spacious main cabin with two settees, galley, forward-facing navigation station, enclosed aft head, V-berth and aft owner’s cabin. Cruising stowage includes a large “garage” aft of the head, accessed through the cockpit seat locker.” -- John Burnham

J/109 North Americans Won By STORM!

(Chicago, IL- August 14-16)-   The 2009 J1/09 North Americans were held at the Verve Cup Regatta hosted by Chicago Yacht Club.  Fourteen teams competed for the championship including teams from the west (Team VALOR with Fleet Captain Tom Brott from Seal Beach Yacht Club), the south (Team SURPRISE/HAMBURG with Fleet Captain Albrecht Goethe from Lakeside YC in Houston), the north (Wisconsin Team ZEITGESIT with Rob Zerban froom Kenosha, WI) and the east (Team STORM with Rick Lyall from Cedar Point YC in Westport, CT).  There were 10 other strong teams mostly from the Chicago area.  At the conclusion of this "storm-tossed" event, Rick Lyall's appropriately named STORM won the event.

Pete Priede, Captain of the southern Lake Michigan Fleet (11), Kevin Saedi and Riccardo Navon  did a remarkable job organizing the championship for the J/109 class, especially considering they had never run a championship event that required crew and sail registration and boat inspections prior to the event.

The class would also like to recognize the tremendous effort put forth by the staff of the Chicago Yacht Club in running the Verve Cup.  The event was very well organized and the racing and social events were top notch. We would also like to recognize the excellent race management offered to the class by Ms. Vickie Matthews, PRO of the B Fleet where the J/109 championship took place. 

The competition began on Thursday, August 13th in sunny but very light conditions with winds as low as 2-3kts during the first race.  However they built slowly to the 5-8 knot range and the J/109 fleet was able to get in 3 races.  We were the only fleet racing for four days so we had the B Circle all to ourselves.   At the end of the first day, STORM led with 5 points followed by ZEITGESIT with 9 points and SURPISE/TEAM HAMBURG in third with 10 points.   A different boat won each race.

Friday brought more sunshine and winds of 5-10 kts along  with the addition of another 147 boats to the regatta.  The “big boats” consisting of Great Lakes 70s, Farr 40s and 3 PHRF fleets of 30-50 foot boats competed on Circle A.  Circle B included the Beneteau 40.7s, also racing for their North American title, J/109s, Beneteau 36.7s, a PHRF fleet of 30-40 footers and the J105s. 

Racing in the J/109 fleet was again tight with STORM winning the first race, David Gustman’s NORTHSTAR the second and SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG the third.  Friday was also the practice day for the Chicago Air and Water Show so we were occasionally privileged to witness military aircraft racing along the Chicago skyline or circling overhead.  At the end of the day, STORM retained the lead, SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG moved up to second and NORTHSTAR moved into third.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, with temperatures in the high 80’s.  Winds were again expected to be in the 5-10kt range but actually ended up a bit stronger.  SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG started off strong winning the first race.  REALT NA MARA, crewed by talented Star class sailors Joe and Tom Londrigan who had placed 7th overall in the Chicago-Mackinac race, took the bullet in the second race.  Rob Zerban on ZEITGESIT got the gun in the third race. STORM posted a consistent 2-2-2 to remain in the overall lead, followed by SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG and ZEITGEIST.

Saturday was the first day of the Chicago Air and Water show and there was a huge turnout of spectators boats to the north of Dusable basin.  The wave action from the power boats streaking back and forth and reverberating off the shore caused what could kindly be called a washing machine effect extending out a least a mile offshore.  This made the ride into the dock quite an adventure.

Sunday, the last and final day of the regatta, came with the promise of strong breeze and a chance of thunderstorms. Early forecasts called for 10-15kts with the possibility of 20+ in the mid afternoon with approaching storms.  We soon learned that would prove quite conservative!  The fleet saw 15-20kts on the 6 mile ride out to the racing area and he winds built to 20-25+ kts during the first race.  STORM led around the course and took the gun followed by Jack Toliver’s VANDA III and SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG.  The second race was even more “interesting” as winds built to 25-30kts.  NORTHSTAR sailed a great race and led the fleet around the course to take the bullet.  SURPRISE/ TEAM HAMBURG also sailed a solid race but rounded up on the second downwind leg and managed to hold their position after dropping their kite and finishing with main and jib.  STORM broached on the first downwind leg and dropped from 3rd to 7th at the gate but climbed back to finish 3rd.

Elsewhere on the course there was havoc, with a number of “man overboards” hailed over the VHF.  The race committee hailed the fleet that their 20 foot pin boat had capsized.  The Coast Guard sent a helicopter to rescue three crew who had fallen overboard from a Beneteau 40.7, one of whom had been struck by the boom and was unconscious in the water.  The three were airlifted to a local hospital for medical assistance. We understand all of them were fine the next day.

And then things got even more interesting…..  The winds continued to build on the ride back to the dock.  As the fleet approached the Dusable basin, a squall hit with torrential rain and winds of 50-60kts.  The squall lasted only a few terrifying minutes but there was essentially zero visibility as the crews struggled to shorten or douse sails.  Everyone made it back to the dock completely drenched, some with damaged sails, but generally pleased to have participated in such a great regatta.

This was clearly a terrific North American Championship for the J/109 fleet.  We raced in virtually all conditions that ranged from shifty, light 5kts or less all the way up to a challenging 30kt hang on and hike hard full on blow. Racing was generally very close with tight starts and mark roundings.   Five different boats held on to win races.  Chicago was a great venue for this event and we certainly look forward to holding another championship there.

J/105 & PHRF New Englands

SCIMITAR's Cutting Edge Team Wins J/105s
(Marblehead, MA- August 27-29)- The remnants of Tropical Storm Danny, which brought 25-30 knots of breeze out of the northeast on Saturday, turned the PHRF New Englands into a two-day event.  Despite no racing on Saturday, each Race Committee was able to complete five races, making for an excellent championship for 104 boats entered in this year's PHRF Championship. 

"We were anticipating winds of 30 knots or greater combined with 8-foot seas for Saturday and we put together a contingency plan. At 6 p.m. Friday night we had to call it off for Saturday and I think everyone is glad we did," said Principal Race Office Ken Adam of the Corinthian Yacht Club. "But, we got in six races over two days which the sailors all seemed to be happy with. The three race committees from the Corinthian, Eastern and Boston yacht clubs really worked together as a team with the safety and welfare of the sailors coming first."
The most competitive of all the fleets at the New Englands was the 22-strong J105 fleet.  Henry Brauer and Stewart Neff and their crew aboard SCIMITAR won the J/105s in the most impressive fashion - winning four of five races and scoring just seven points in the competitive 22-boat J/105 fleet.  Taking second in the J/105s was Peter & Doug Morgan's STEEL AWAY.  Third was Ken Colburn's very well sailed GHOST from Portland, ME with local hotshot Bob Slattery aboard.
Brauer and Neff sailed in a local one-design keelboat fleet in Marblehead for 15 years and just this past July started racing in the larger J/105s. Their results have been nothing short of remarkable.  "We felt it was time for a change so we sold our old boat and moved to a bigger boat," Neff said. "In our debut J/105 regatta, we were third overall at Marblehead Race Week and first place here today in the J/105 New Englands.  It was fun to have a fellow Tufts Jumbo classmate, Stuart Johnstone, aboard to help on speed and tactics."  The J/105 is one of the most dynamic racing fleets out of Marblehead today.  "We have a lot more one design sailors coming into the New England J/105 fleet who really know how to work their way around a race course," said Fritz Koopman of Salem who raced with fifth-place finisher Mike Royer of Beverly.  "I think the J/105 fleet has a lot more talent coming in and this has made the racing really interesting and far more challenging," Royer added.
On the PHRF handicap fleet front, in PHRF Class 2, Seamus Hourihan's J/120 RUFFIAN finished fifth and two J/130s battled it out to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, Kris Kristiansens's SAGA and Jeff Eberle's CILISTA.  In PHRF Class 3, Chris Zibailo's SUPERSTITION was third followed by Raymond Janney's J/35 DIE FLEDERMAUS to round out the top 5.  In PHRF Class 4, Ward Blodgett's J/33 SIRROCO was fifth and one point back was Adam Saidla's J/100 MOOSE DROOL.  In PHRF Class 7, John Caldwell and his renowned "merry makers" (a.k.a. party animals) aboard the J/24 BLUE FOX handily won with two firsts.  Fellow J sailors Jon Lakcs on his J/30 VIVA and Bob Cunningham on the J/30 RUFFIAN were fourth and fifth.