Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beautiful Key West Race Week

J/80 one-design sailboats- leaders sailing downwind with spinnakers- Darden and Johnstone

SAVASANA Wins J/105s, LE TIGRE Triumphs in J/80s

(Key West, FL- Jan. 18-22)-  This year's Key West Race Week was sponsored by Nautica Watches along with popular supporter Mt. Gay Rum.  It was a great cocktail and recipe for success, making for many happy winners celebrating with drinks plus a new watch!  Check out the photos of all the J's racing on the J/Boats Facebook page! (email us if you want high-resolution photos- contact us at J/Boats).

J/120 EL OCASO sailing to windwardThe weather was nearly postcard perfect, hard to go wrong sailing on aquamarine seas, sunny, with gentle breezes and 70 degree temperatures during the day.  The fleet was treated to a typical cold front scenario where the incoming front pulls in SSW breezes and over the course of several days veers from NNW to SE.  The fleet of 134 boats saw J/Boats having the largest total fleet of boats at the event- over one-third were J's ranging in size from the "classic" J/24 upwards through the range including J/29, J/80, J/105, J/109, J/122, J/125 and J/44.  The races generally got off without a hitch due to the seasoned expert PROs like Ken Legler and others who stayed on top of the shifty, streaky breezes.  Races started on time at 10:30 am and most fleets generally completed two races and were heading home by 2:00 pm.

J/122s sailing past leeward gateOn the Division 1 course, David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed well in IRC-B Class. At one point they had a solid lead but a few slow starts, missed windshifts and streaks rapidly jumbled the standings over the last two days.  Nevertheless, David and crew managed to hang in there to get a podium finish- 3rd overall for the week.  Their good fortune was counter-weighted by the roller coast rides seemingly experienced by Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK and Jim Bishop's beautifully repainted J/44 GOLD DIGGER.  Both sailed well in a couple of races but had difficulty maintaining any consistency due to the very shifty, streaky wind conditions on Division 1 course-  large black holes materialized frequently, swallowing up any unsuspecting boats and never let them go. 

J/105 one-design sailboat- sailing at windard markThe Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s had incredibly competitive racing.  For the J/105s, it's Brian Keane's SAVASANA that took home the gold, finishing in first by a significant margin of sixteen points....almost not having to sail the last day because their lead was so large.  However, the next three places from second to fourth was wide open until the last day.  Essentially, a three-way tie exists between Ken Colburn's GHOST, Scooter Simmons BLACKHAWK and Damian Emery's ECLIPSE.  In the end, it was Ken Colburn on GHOST that prevailed, finishing second for the week followed by Scooter Simmons sailing BLACKHAWK to third place and Damian Emery slowing down a bit onboard ECLIPSE  on the last day to finish fourth.

J/80 one-design sailboat- Darden's El TigreThe J/80 Midwinters lived up to its promise to be an indicator for the J/80 Worlds of how tough it would be to win in this closely fought class.  The top five was truly a horse race with anyone still having a mathematical chance of winning with just two days (four races) to go.  Each day brought a new leader to the top of the pack.  The last day created a lot of anxiety for the leaders. However, Glen Darden on LE TIGRE managed to overcome an early race deficit, with Rod & Jeff Johnstone sailing LITTLE FEAT in the lead, to just catch one more boat by the finish to finish fifth and win the regatta.  Rod & Jeff sailed extremely well on a challenging day to get two firsts to rapidly close the gap with LE TIGRE at the start of the day.  Those efforts, however, were not enough to overcome a slow start with two 7's on the first day, LITTLE FEAT finished second by a point.  Early regatta leader Will Welles on board RASCAL experienced some minor (but expensive) mistakes mid-week to fall off their consistent early showings, garnering a third overall.  Conversely, Al Minella sailing RELENTLESS have a "barbell" shaped results table, with great results midweek but a few mid-pack races at the beginning and end of the week.  Past J/80 World and NA Champion Kerry Klingler racing LIFTED had 1-2-3s in his record, but couldn't maintain any consistency to crack the top three, finishing fifth for the week.

LE TIGRE, co-owned by Glenn Darden and Reese Hilliard of Forth Worth, TX, Darden has competed in eight Key West race weeks, but has never taken a top win. Until now.  An experienced racing sailor and collegiate champion at Tulane, Glen is a past J/105 North American Champion and has won the J/80 Worlds. This week, the team placed third or better in seven of 10 starts in capturing the J/80 Mid-Winter Championship, which was contested as part of Key West 2010.   "We had a great battle with Jeff and were just able to hold on", said Darden, who had Ullman pro Max Skelley aboard as tactician.

Another Texan, Jay Lutz calling tactics on SWE 803 said, "The depth of the competition was much better than ever before".  Magnus Tyremans entry (SWE 803) placed sixth in fleet, not bad for the tough, 19-boat class battle. Blake Billman was on the bow and Cal Herman worked the middle. Winning race 2, and finishing in the top ten consistently, the SWE 803 team followed the suspense of the final races between Le Tigre and Little Feat. "The lead boat LE TIGRE almost lost it", Herman said. One extra point and that would've been the case. 

You can read more about what happened on the J/80 race course by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog at

J/125 racing sailboat- Jim Madden Stark Raving MadThe Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats saw two fantastic performances by two enthusiastic J Owners.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's  very fast J/125 STARK RAVING MAD and his fun-loving, happy-go-lucky crew from the San Diego/ LA area (including Gary Weisman and Benny Mitchell), had another great time in Key West and sailed away with PHRF A with eight bullets!  

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH led for most of the week but Thursday's windy day generated an uncharacteristic 4-3 for the day to drop him down to second overall by just one point. Their five firsts in ten races are an average of just over second place, it was testimony to their consistency and how well they sailed their J/109 RUSH.  Perennial Key West participant, Steve Thurston's MIGHTY PUFFIN, got in some good sailing and good times during the regatta, sailing to a sixth overall.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s stayed remarkably close to one another all week long.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH "won" the J/24 Class award, finishing second in the overall standings.  Just behind was Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third.

For Key West Race Week regatta information and sailing results.  

Bacardi Cup- J/24s- March 8-13

J/24 sailing - one-design class sailboat- Key West

(Miami, FL)- A long time supporter of the J/24 class has expanded their renowned Bacardi Cup to include J/24s for the first time ever as part of their week long festivities called Miami Sailing Week.   Hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club you can be sure you will be well taken care of by one of the best regatta hosts in the world.  With a great club, fantastic pool and outdoor bar/ cabana you can rejoice with even greater pleasure recounting the day's racing and amusing stories about past J/24 Midwinters and other events on Biscayne Bay.  Contact CRYC or sign up now at  Bacardi and CRYC promise you will have a memorable time.  Can't go wrong.  J/24s are cheap to charter and race.  Weather is awful up North because of an El Nino year, so head south and soak up some good rays and enjoy fair breezes! For more regatta and sailing information.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Key West Race Week on a Budget

Key West on a Budget-  J/80 owner Jeremy Reynolds was skeptical when it was suggested he enter Key West 2010, presented by Nautica. The Maryland resident started doing a mental checklist of the costs associated with doing a regatta off the southernmost point of Florida and just shook his head. “I saw the dollar signs going cha-ching, cha-ching in my head,” Reynolds said. That was before J/80 class president Kristen Robinson showed Reynolds a detailed spreadsheet of how to attend the annual race week in Key West on a reasonable budget of less than $8,000.

Perhaps the most notable cost-cutting method involves working a package deal for most of the J/80s to launch and berth at Old Island Marina. Robinson negotiated a discount on the splash fee and storage rate with the Stock Island facility. Robinson also helped the J/80 teams contain their housing costs by calling around to numerous Key West realtors and comparing rates.

Robinson, who posted a “How to do Key West on a Budget” article on the J/80 website, was asked why she puts so much effort into assisting other J/80 owners with their Key West plans and plotting out a budget for the regatta. “Because if I’m going to make the effort to come down here I don’t want to race in PHRF. I come to Key West for good one-design competition so the more boats the better,” said Robinson, who believes other class presidents or representatives should put forth the same effort for a regatta the caliber of Key West.

Premiere Racing president Peter Craig is extremely impressed by the ability of J/80 owners to put together a Key West campaign on an affordable budget. “The J/80 class increasing to 19 boats in this economy is one of the great success stories of this event and should be listened to carefully by the owners in other classes,” Craig said. “The J/80 folks have figured out how to do Key West without breaking the bank by working collectively. They have clearly shown that it can be done.”  Learn more about sailing Key West on a budget at the J/80 Class  

Friday, January 22, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 5- Gorgeous Finale

SAVASANA Wins J/105s, LE TIGRE gets J/80s, STARK RAVING MAD Dominates PHRF A
(Key West, FL- Jan. 22)- This year's Key West Race Week was certainly one of the nicest sailing weeks in recent memory.  After the tropical downpours on Sunday, Monday dawned with gorgeous weather, nice winds that would prevail for the week.  Despite a gloomy Tuesday, the wind, sun and conditions provided competitors with a variety of shifty, streaky winds that would make it challenging for any sailor to get around the race track without making significant mistakes. 

On the Division 1 course,  David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed well in IRC2 to finish third. The light air and large wind streaks wreaked havoc on the fleet on the last day.  If you got caught out on some of them upwind or downwind, the speed differences were simply too enormous to overcome any lost distance.  As a result, Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK and Jim Bishop's J/44 GOLD DIGGER had unusually variable performances to finish out of the running.

The Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s had competitive racing for the entire week.   However,  for the J/105s, it was Brian Keane's SAVASANA that simply sailed off with the series lead after Tuesday.  However, the next three places from second to fourth were completely wide open going into the last two races on Friday.  Essentially, a three-way tie existed between Ken Colburn's GHOST, Scooter Simmons BLACKHAWK and Damian Emery's ECLIPSE.  Whoever prevailed on Friday's light air would determine the pecking order.  Ultimately, Ken Colburn on GHOST finished second and Scooter Simmons finished third. 

The J/80 Midwinters concluded with Glen Darden on LE TIGRE barely hanging on to win by one point over Rod and Jeff Johnstone on board LITTLE FEAT.  In fact, going up the last windward and downwind leg, the Johnstones were winning the regatta (they got two firsts on Friday) because Glen and team were lying in sixth place.  However, LE TIGRE passed just one more boat to eliminate the losing tie-breaker scenario and won the regatta.  Third place went to Will Welles RASCAL with much improved Al Minella's team on RELENTLESS finishing fourth and current NA/ past World Champion Kerry Klingler sailing LIFTED finishing fifth. You can read more about what's happened during the J/80 Midwinters by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog at

The Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats saw great performances from the J/125 and J/109.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's J/125 STARK RAVING MAD sailed away with PRHF A with eight bullets, winning class with a seventeen point lead!   

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH sailed extremely well but two fourths earlier in the series hurt their chances to win class overall, losing by just one point with a 2-1 finish on Friday.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s had a fun week.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH finished second and just behind was Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third.  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 4- Windy

(Key West, FL)- Today's forecast for the first time fulfilled the expectations for all sailing this year's regatta.  The prognostication of 15-20 knots early from SSE and fading towards afternoon were accurate with all courses having to watch what was happening on the right hand side of the course.

On the Division 1 course, regatta leader in IRC2, David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH is sailing  well but has dropped to second overall based on today's races.  Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK faired a little worse in the weeks' shifty, streaky wind conditions and have dropped to fifth overall with a reasonable shot at a third overall.  Jim Bishop's J/44 GOLD DIGGER has had an unusually variable week and lies seventh, but only six points out of third.  The tale of the tape on Friday will certainly flip-flop the standings yet again.

The Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s has seen some incredibly competitive racing.  For the J/105s, it's Brian Keane's SAVASANA that is leading the fleet by a significant margin of sixteen points....almost not having to sail the last day their lead is so large.  However, the next three places from second to fourth is completely wide open.  Essentially, a three-way tie exists between Ken Colburn's GHOST, Scooter Simmons BLACKHAWK and Damian Emery's ECLIPSE.  Who beats who on the last two races determines the top three.  What has been heartwarming to see are good performances by a variety of J/105 class veterans and newcomers like Travis Weisleder on LUCKY DOG, Carter Williams much improved team on CREATIVE DESTRUCTION and Ed Palm's team on TENACIOUS.  Special note- we wish our best to Ed Palm and his team since the house they rented in Key West burned to the ground Wednesday night! 

The J/80s are conducting their Midwinters and is a harbinger of which American (and British) teams will be competitive at the impending J/80 Worlds in Newport later in 2010.  The top four is a true horse race with only nine points separating the group.  Each day brings a new leader to the top of the pack.  Currently, Glen Darden on EL TIGRE is showing their transom lights to everyone else by a six point margin.  Fighting it out for the top four spots include Rod and Jeff Johnstone in second racing LITTLE FEAT, Will Welles on RASCAL and Al Minella on RELENTLESS.  Just off the pace is past World Champion and current North American Champion Kerry Klingler sailing LIFTED in fifth place.  Also, you can read more about what's happening on the J/80 race course by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog at

The Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats has seen two fantastic performances by two enthusiastic J Owners.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's J/125 STARK RAVING MAD and his merry bandits from the San Diego/ LA area (including Gary Weisman and Benny Mitchell), have simply had a wonderful time in Key West and sailed away with PRHF A with eight straight bullets so far!   

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH continues to be a fleet leader and is sitting just one point out of first place Thursday afternoon.    Their four firsts are and average of just over second place is testimony to their consistency. 

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s continue to have fun, close racing amongst themselves despite the variable wind conditions.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH is currently in second and just behind is Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third.  Stay tuned!  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 3- Light Air

SAVASANA Leading J/105s, LITTLE FEAT Winning J/80s
(Key West, FL- Jan. 20th)- Wednesday dawned with promise for a typical, beautiful Key West sailing day but with not much promise for breeze.  As the day unfolded the forecasted East to Southeast breeze ultimately materialized late in the day.  While Divisions 2 and 3 further east managed to get off two successive races, Division 3 postponed for over an hour to get in their second race.

On the Division 1 course, the light air and very streaky breezes with large holes interspersed between the windier sections wreaked havoc on the standings.  In particular, regatta leader in IRC2, David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed to a 7-7 score to drop themselves into second overall.  Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK faired a little better with a 5-6 tally for the day to remain in sixth.  The principal issues appeared to be the random roll of the dice on breeze, some got it better than others and where significant gains were being made was downwind, hunting down the streaks and staying in them. 

The Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s started out very light for the first race out of the ENE.  Like the Division 1 course, there were large streaks of breeze with large holes in between.  For the most part, starting at the favored end of the line and tacking into the first streak seemed to pay big time.  In the first race, Brian Keane's SAVASANA led a train of J/105s off to the right side of the course and rounded in first place, never to be challenged again, with Damian Emery on ECLIPSE getting second.  In the second race, Travis Weisleder on LUCKY DOG got his second 1st place of the series followed by the rapidly improving team on-board Carter Williams' CREATIVE DESTRUCTION.  After the days racing, SAVASANA remains in first with a strong 12 point lead over Ken Colburn's GHOST.  Lying third after climbing back into the top three is Scooter Simmons on BLACKHAWK just five points back.

The J/80s are still in a seriously close horse race for all the marbles.  The top six teams are only eleven points apart with the promise of four races to go to mix it all up again.  Still leading after six races are Jeff and Rod Johnstone on LITTLE FEAT by just one point over Glen Darden sailing LE TIGRE and just three points over Will Welles racing RASCAL.   Jeff and Rod managed to "be lucky, rather than smart" and get two fourths to maintain their position.  Glen managed to say out of trouble with a 6-3 to stay in contention. Al Minella's RELENTLESS seemingly had the crystal ball for the day, getting a 1-2 to ascend into fourth place.  Of note, was J/80 sailor John Storck receiving the Paul Washburn Award for "the love of the sport"--- Congratulations to John and Collette!  Also, you can read more about what's happening on the J/80 race course by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog.

The Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats had similar breezes as Division 2 and saw the southeast breeze develop faster than all the rest of the courses.  Again, in PHRF 1, Jim Madden's STARK RAVING MAD took off from the starting line on both races and sailed away with two first places to further extend their significant lead to twelve points over their next closest competitor.  SRM now has six straight firsts. 

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH also extended their lead.  RUSH got two more firsts to strengthen their grip on first place with a lead of four points. Steve Thurston's J/29 MIGHTY PUFFIN is hanging in there with a 7-5 but dropped to sixth overall.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s continue to have fun, close racing amongst themselves despite the difficult wind conditions.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH stayed in second with a 2-2 record for the day and just behind is Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third with a 4-3 tally for Wednesday.

Thursday promises to be the best day of sailing of sailing yet with 15-20 knot winds forecasted and a sunny, partly cloudy day.  Stay tuned!  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 2- Grey Northeaster

J's Winning IRC2, PHRF A, PHRF B- J/One-Designs Are Hot.
(Key West, FL)- Dawn broke with another spectacular sunrise, with the promise of yet another classic Key West day on the water.  It was not to be.  Instead, a lingering front spun a cloud front onto the race course by noon and turned the skies uniformly grey.  However, the wind Gods cooperated with yet another nice day of oscillating, streaky breezes out of the NE quadrant, starting light, gradually increasing to the 8-12 knot range towards the end.  Again, two races seemed to be the orders for the day, first one a double-sausage and the second one the same, but finishing upwind after four legs.

The Division 1 IRC2 course saw David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH repeat the converse of their performance from the first day, starting the day with a bullet, followed up by a second for a 2-1-1-2 series, leading IRC2 by six points.  Again, the leaders of all classes on Division 1 had their work cut out for them because of the fact they have the most current, the most chop and the ability for large wind streaks with pressure to develop from either the north coming down the channel or coming offshore from the east.  Today, they got everything.  Making a bold move up the escalator in these tough conditions was Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK, gathering a fourth in the first race and winning the last race, now sitting just four points out of third place with a 7-8-4-1 record while tied for fourth.  Also climbing rapidly up the ladder today was Jim Bishop's veteran campaigner GOLD DIGGER.  Jim's team got a second and third to round out their scores with a 8-7-2-3 to be tied for fourth just off the top three.  The next three days ought to be pretty interesting for this tight fleet.

On the "one-design" Division 2 course, the competition remained quite "keen" amongst the top players.  However, some leaders' score cards changed quite considerably as the shifty winds were seemingly less predictable or obvious as to where pressure was moving down the course in the flat light under leaded grey skies.  Brian Keane sailed SAVASANA into a six point lead with a consistent 4-2 over Ken Colburn's GHOST that tallied a 2-3.  Patrick Eudy on BIG BOOTY sailed well to get a 5-6 to stay in content, dropping from 2nd to 3rd overall.  The surprise was the downhill slide of Scooter Simmons on BLACKHAWK, picking up a 9-7 to fall into a three-way tie for 5th with 24 points.

As observed on Monday's racing, the top ten boats in the J/80 Midwinters fleet would remain close on points and, depending on the usual variables like start, wind direction and pressure, but would have a roller-coaster experience for the next few days moving up and down the standings.  Will Welles racing RASCAL is hanging onto the lead by a thread.  RASCAL got caught out in a couple of tight situations, missed wind shifts and managed to get a 3-8 score today.  The biggest gainer was Jeff and Rod Johnstone sailing LITTLE FEAT to a 1-1 record, climbing rapidly up the fleet ladder to be tied for second with sixteen points just one point out of first.  Glenn Darden sailing LE TIGRE nearly had two firsts as well as the Johnstones.  However, a few tricky shifts at the end of the two races left LE TIGRE with a 2-2 score to remain strongly in contention tied for second.  Falling off the pace a bit from the leaders for a variety of reasons were Magnus Tyreman from Sweden sailing to a 7-6 record and Neil Martin on JAMMY DODGER with 14-11 finishes.

Seemingly, the news on the Division 3, "Stock Island course", was the same as yesterday.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's STARK RAVING MAD again sailed two solid races, played the wind shifts and pressure well and simply sailed away from the fleet, sailing higher and faster upwind and much faster and lower downwind-- a killer cocktail for the fleet and a recipe for success for Jim and the gang aboard.  They now have four straight firsts.

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH continues to perform well and sailed conservatively enough in the variable conditions to garner a 4-1 to be winning by just two points.  Steve Thurston's J/29 MIGHTY PUFFIN is still hanging in there with a 5-6 to be in 6th overall.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s enjoyed the conditions and continue to occupy second and third overall.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH is in second with a 3-2-2-2 record and just behind is Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third with a 2-4.-3-5

Wednesday's forecast looks promising to be another nice day of sailing with a partly cloudy day, mid-70s for temps and easterlies in the 8-12 knot range.  Stay tuned!  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Monday, January 18, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 1- Shifty Sailing

J/122 PUGWASH Tied for IRC2 Lead, J/125 STARK RAVING MAD Dominates PHRF 1

(Key West, FL)- After a torrential downpour during the daytime Sunday that marked the passing of a typical cold front across the Keys, Sunday night broke into a spectacular star-studded evening, with good promise for Monday's racing.  Sure enough, dawn broke with a gorgeous sunrise and a nice wind that ultimately settled in from North to Northeast (depending on the course) blowing 5-12 knots.

On IRC2 course, the furthest West from Key West and down near Sand Key, the day started light but the PRO Ken Legler managed to get two races off for the fleet.  David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed to a 2-1 finish to be tied for the lead.  Like many of the other courses, the NNE winds tend to favor going towards shore to get the backing puffs coming off land...going left appeared to help many of the leaders on all courses, including Division 1 where PUGWASH led the fleet home in the last race of the day.

The J/105s saw some very competitive racing and very tight mark rounding situations, especially at the first weather mark.  Sailing on the Division 2 course, just off the middle of the island, the competitors had to contend with winds shifting at least 30 degrees with significant changes in velocity from the NNE.  In the first race, Travis Weisleder racing LUCKY DOG won the first race, just beating out Brian Keane's SAVASANA.  Just behind them was San Francisco's Scooter Simmons sailing BLACKHAWK.  In the second race, there was a changing of the guard to some degree with Brian Keene's SAVASANA winning and Patrick Eudy's BIG BOOTY finishing second followed by Ed Palm's TENACIOUS. After the dust settled, Brian Keane on SAVASANA is winning by 3 points with a 2-1 over Patrick Eudy's BIG BOOTY with a 4-2 and Scooter Simmons on BLACKHAWK wtih a 3-5.

Going around the same race track as the J/105s were the J/80 Midwinters competitors.   Establishing an early lead was Will Welles, from Newport, racing their new boat RASCAL.  With a 1-3 they are leading by 3 points over the Swedish team sailed by Magnus Tyreman with Jay Lutz aboard as tactician- they have a 6-1.  Sailing two solid, consistent races despite the rapidly changing conditions was England's Neil Martin racing JAMMY DODGER to a 3-5.  Other class leaders like Glenn Darden on EL TIGRE, John Storck on RUMOR, Kerry Klingler on LIFTED  and Jeff Johnstone on LITTLE FEAT were still sorting out tactical challenges from the starts, windward legs and certain mark roundings.

Over on the Division 3, "Stock Island course", they started out with a nice breeze and also got in two races.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's STARK RAVING MAD simply took off from the port end of the starting line on the first race and sailed away with the first race, smartly playing the left hand side of the course.  They repeated that effort and won the second race, too, for a 1-1 record to dominate PHRF 1.   The two J/120s, Rick Wesslund's ELO OCASO and Bill Terry's TAMPA GIRL had a rough go of it in the oscillating winds with long wind streaks.

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH is winning their class by virtue of having a 1-3.  And, Steve Thurston's J/29 MIGHTY PUFFIN is hanging in there with a 5-4 to be in 5th overall.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s are having fun, pretty close racing.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH is in second with a 3-2 record and just behind is Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third with a 2-4.

Tuesday promises to be another nice day of sailing.  Stay tuned!  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Sailing World Boat of the Year Awarded

(Key West, FL)- On Sunday, January 17th, David Reed, Editor of Sailing World magazine, awarded the Boat of the Year Awards to J/Boats for the J/95 and J/97.  The J/95 was awarded the Overall Boat of the Year and the J/97 was awarded the Best Club Racer.  The J/95 was cited by many sailors as being the first J/Boat to significantly expand one's cruising horizons-- "the ultimate in sailing freedom" because of its shoal-draft sailing capabilities.  Imagine where you can sail when you only draw just over 3.0 feet of water!

Here is a video of the awards ceremony held at the Nautica Key West Race Week Skipper's Meeting in the event tent.    

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mel Hawkes- women's perspective sailing J/24 Australian Nationals

J/24 sailing- Mel Hawkes story from Australia* Mel Hawkes had a wonderful, endearing story of her experience sailing the J/24 Australia Nationals on-board STARPAC: "When my legs had finally stopped shaking and after I had stuffed a roll in my face I headed for the bar. Not normally a drinker I am finding I am quickly making up for that in the last few days. Still in a bit of a daze, I found myself being asked how we did. I had no idea, so was very surprised to find not only had we come fourth overall, but we had been leading for a while on the first race.

The whole experience has been a steep learning curve and another one  I found was probably how to annoy everyone by me piping up, I had no idea where we were, I was too busy concentrating on my  two little lines that were my job. The correct terms for them would be the topping and the kicker line.

I must confess to shutting my eyes at each start as it looked more like a pack of bumper cars about to attack and judging by a rather loud thud at one point I think that theory was correct.

I have an absolute respect for all skippers, especially mine, as to how they manage to pick their spots, remain calm, is a new mystery to me. I also have to re-think the theory that men can’t multi-task as our skipper, apart from helming and trimming the boat, prevented me from hanging myself on more than one occasion and hoisting up the bow girl with the pole and that’s just the parts I had my eyes open for.

My goal tomorrow is to try and look up at one point. Baby steps! I started sailing with Pacific Sailing School a few months ago after a holiday in St. Lucia and I managed to flip a Hobie Cat which I am told is pretty hard to do. A few months later I find myself racing in the J/24 Nationals way out of my comfort zone. Hank at the school reassured me that girls can be very good sailors, let’s see what our skipper has to say at the end of the week. ;)" 

Thanks Mel for such a heartwarming story--- we all started sailing somewhere, sometime, someplace...some great, some not so great. ;)  Persevere, have fun and God Speed!    

J/24 Australian Nationals

J/24 Australian Nationals- sailing around leeward mark

WETTY GRIPPER Takes All The Marbles

(Sandringham, Australia)-  The lads aboard WETTY GRIPPER, lead by cosmic J/24 sailing genius Sean Wallis, bested the lot at this year's 2010 Australian J/24 National Championship.  Hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club, the event was blessed with great sailing, good breeze and a great sailing time by all.

On a day where bad luck stories abound, Sean Wallis and his team on WETTY GRIPPER came home to win one of the closest and most hard fought titles for many years. Doug McGain on CODE VIOLATION was bridesmaid and Dave Suda sailing PACEMAKER was third.  Adam Evans and his youth team won the Handicap Title.

In true one design tradition you can always rely on great a competition. With the last days racing to go only one point between first and second and one point between third and fourth separated the top teams. At that point, Doug McGain from NSW was first with 14 points, Sean Wallis from WA was second 15 points, Hugo Ottaway from VIC in third with 22 points, Dave Suda from VIC in fourth with 23 points and Sean Kirkjian from NSW at 32 points.

For some perspective on how competitive this group was, McGain, Wallis, Ottaway and Kirkjian, are all former J/24 Australian Champions, and Suda a runner-up J/24 National Champion.  A bit like having Ed Baird, Ken Read, Jon Kostecki and John Kolius beating each other up for podium finishes separated by only five points going into the final heat.

On the second to last day, it was a postcard perfect day on Port Philip Bay, a 10 to 15 knot southeast wind matched with a flat sea and clear 28 degree temperature that saw both Suda and Kirkjian win heats putting additional pressure on the front three boats. Doug McGain and Hugo Ottaway consolidated their positions with two seconds for Doug and two thirds for Hugo. Sean Wallis had his worst day so far with an 8th and 4th, however with the one race drop system now achieved after six races completed, Wallis was still able to hold second.  The rest is history, as evidenced by Wallis's WETTY GRIPPER excellent performance on the last day, consolidating their position to win over McGain on CODE VIOLATION.  For more sailing and regatta info.    

Ft. Lauderdale Key West Race

J/122 Teamwork sailing upwind at Key West Race Week

(Ft Lauderdale, FL- Jan. 13th)- And they're off like a herd of snails in a dust storm, led by of all things ex-J/24 sailor George David's 90 foot sailing machine- RAMBLER.  A fleet of fifty five PHRF and IRC classes took off at noon Wednesday, January 13th, for the 160 nm winter classic that starts off the Ft Lauderdale sea buoy and heads south, then slowly curving west, keeping the string of Florida Keys reef buoys to starboard, finishing in the Key West channel off the old Truman Annex Navy Base.

J's are well represented in both fleets. Racing in IRC B is Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK from Lexington, NC. Sailing PHRF B is John Gehrig's J/46 FULL DECK from Ft Lauderdale as well as David Bond's J/105 LOKI from Miami, FL.  In PHRF A, Frank Kern from Grosse Pointe Park, MI is racing his well-campaigned and very successful J/120 CARINTHIA.

The race started in light to medium northerly breezes with everyone under spinnakers.  Chasing down streaks and better gybe angles has been the name of the game so far.  Some boats doing better than others as they seek to maximize VMC down course, dodging the reef, playing wind streaks and avoiding as much as possible playing shifts that take you offshore into the teeth of the fast-flowing Gulf Stream just outside the reef lines.

As of 1030 hours EST Thursday, Jan 14th, it looks like Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK is headed for a podium finish in IRC B (currently in 2nd); Frank Kern's J/120 CARINTHIA is also looking at a podium finish in PHRF A (currently 2nd); and John Gehrig's J/46 FULL DECK may get 3rd in PHRF B.  The tale of the tape will tell all if they were successful at maintaing their leads.  For you armchair sailors, navigators, racers, be sure to go to the race site and check out the action happening in real-time.  For more race and sailing information.   

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

J/80 ECC Viviendas Trophy Series

J/80 sailing in Santander, Spain- one-design sailboat

(Santander, Spain)-  The J/80 class in Santander put an end to the 2009 season, with the conclusion of the last two races of the ECC Viviendas Trophy sailed in great northwest breezes, sunny skies and steep waves.  It was a fitting end to the season considering how many times racing had to be postponed/ canceled.  The big waves were a delight for all the sailors as it made for fun, long, fast surfs downwind under the big asymmetric spinnakers.

At the end of the racing, it was YATES & THINGS sailed by A Piris that managed to stay ahead and put up the rest of the away to win the race with great ease. SPACIO 10 raced by Paul Santurde soared to second and in third finished  Javier López-Vázquez in BANCAJA.  The 2010 season will begin on January 9th with the so-called MAFIA TROPHY-- gee, we wonder what the implication is for the winners?  Photo Credit- Jesus Renedo.  For more sailing and regatta information.    

Key West Race Week Update

J/122 Teamwork- sailing Key West Race Week

Great J/80 and J/105 One-Design Fleets, Strong IRC/PHRF Racing

(Key West, FL)- With the northern hemisphere caught in a month-long vice-grip of cold weather, it's not surprising that many sailor's focus on the first warm water regatta of the year, generally the shindig hosted by Premiere Racing in Key West, FL.  As Regatta Chairman, Peter Craig, pointed out, "..we are leased with the commitment of boat owners to participate in what is unquestionably another very challenging year for all."   J/Boats are well-represented in all classes again this year.  In fact, over 1/3 of the entire fleet is composed of J's this year....what looks to be 15 J/105s, 19 J/80s and another ten J's between J/122s, J/44, J/109, J/125, J/29 and J/24s participating.

The J/80 class is hosting its 2010 J/80 Midwinter Championship and it also marks the inaugural event of the 2010 J/80 Tour that culminates in the J/80 World Championship in Newport, RI.  The entries have a very strong contingent of past North American and World Champions in the fleet.  The favorites to win-place-show in this hot fleet include Kerry Klingler of Larchmont, nY sailing LIFTED; Glen Darden from Fort Worth, TX racing LE TIGRE; Neil Martin from Hamble, England sailing JUGGERNAUT; Jeff Johnstone from Newport, RI sailing  LITTLE FEAT with a family crew; and John Storck from Huntington, NY racing RUMOR.

The J/105 class will have excellent, close competition as well with a number of class leaders and winners from past North American Championships and New England Championships participating.  Among those vying for silverware should be Scooter Simmons from San Francisco, CA racing BLACKHAWK; Damian Emery from New York racing his well-traveled and successful ECLIPSE; Ken Colburn from Southport, ME sailing GHOST with ace tactician Bobbie Slattery aboard; and Brian Keane, from Marion, MA, a perennial class leader, racing the redoubtable SAVASANA with his crackerjack crew.

Dueling it out for honors in the IRC2 class will be a combination of new and old warhorses.  Jim Bishop from Jamestown, RI will have a strong team onboard his aquamarine colored J/44 GOLD DIGGER.  They will give two J/122s a run for their money.  Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK from Beaufort, NC will be dueling with another J/122, Dave Murphy's up and coming PUGWASH with renowned sailmaker/ tactician Larry Leonard aboard calling the shots.

In the PHRF classes, Jim Madden's fast and fun J/125 STARK RAVING MAD from Oyster Bay, NY will be whistling around the course with North Sail's Gary Weisman calling tactics, wondering how they did on handicap; they're sailing with an enormous forty second per mile advantage over others in PHRF1.    Chasing S.R.M. around the track will be two well-sailed J/120s and a past Overall Key West Race Week Winner- the J/120 EL OCASO sailed by Rick Weslund from Miami, FL.  William Terry will be r acing his J/120 TAMPA GIRL for honors in this competitive class.  In the PHRF2 class, Bill Sweetser, from Annapolis, MD will be racing his champion J/109 RUSH and hoping to hold off the small boat in their class, Steve Thurston, from Barrington, RI racing the J/29 MIGHTY PUFFIN.    In PHRF3, some die-hard J/24s sailors  will be having a blast enjoying the camaraderie, fun and sailing that so epitomizes Key West Race Week.  Mark Milnes from Key Wey will be racing BLAH BLAH BLAH and Joe Naroski and Norm LeBlanc will be vying for braggin rights with NOJOE.  For more regatta and sailing information.    

J/109 China Cup

J/109 sailboat- China Cup- sailing upwind

WHISKEY JACK Second in China Cup IRC Class

(Hong Kong, China)-   The Hong Kong Yacht Club-based J/109 WHISKEY JACK finished second in the IRC division of the 2009 China Cup International Regatta sailed last month. Here's an update and report that came in from her owner Nick Southward.

“The third China Cup International Regatta, held at Longcheer Yacht Club at Daya Bay in Shenzhen, China, is China’s only international sailing regatta. Teams from all over the world come to participate, in either chartered Beneteau’s or IRC racing yachts from Asia. China is new to the art of organizing regattas, so their style may not have been to everyone’s taste. However, if you just wanted to go and sail for four days in good weather, flat water and decent breeze then this was the place to be in late October. We took our J/109 WHISKEY JACK up for the regatta, which consisted of a 32-mile passage race from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on Day 1 and six windward leeward races spread over the remaining three days.

UK-Halsey Hong Kong’s Barry Hayes has referred to the J/109 as an IRC speed demon, but having a speed demon is one thing; doing everything right to make it win is another. Fortunately, Barry was with us and we were finally able to prove just what a demon she is.

The boat was sailing higher and faster than the main opposition, some extremely competitive and well sailed A35’s, and we finally managed to nail them and the rest of the IRC racing fleet. We won Sunday’s racing with a 1-1-2 and went into the final day tied for 1st place with one of the A35’s. Conditions on the final day were 25 knots of wind and a short steep chop. We made the decision to play it safe and didn’t push the boat too hard and that earned us second place for the regatta. The price of first for the A35 RED KITE was some blown kites so we renamed her Dead Kite!”.  Photo Credit- Carlo BorlenghiFor more information about sailing J/109s.