Wednesday, January 26, 2011

J Sailors Love Sailing Key West

J/111 Kontiki V crew- winning Key West Race WeekJ/111 KONTIKI V Wins Class
(Key West, FL)- A large contingent of J sailors certainly had a wonderful time sailing in this year's Key West Race Week.  With great turnouts in the two strong J one-design classes, the J/80s and the J/105s, everyone was sure to have a wonderful time in nearly perfect Key West conditions.  The six J/24s that showed up in PHRF 3 were wondering where the rest of their buddies were from points north, east and west were hiding! Next time, come on down all!

The sailing was simply wonderful, hard to believe it's possible for the Caribbean trade winds and weather patterns to serve up five straight days of nearly postcard, chamber of commerce conditions when the rest of the world is getting blasted by massive snow storms and extreme cold.  Competitors may have wished for some days of more epic winds, bashing and crashing into ginormous waves, but one can hardly argue with benign 5-18 knot breezes from the ESE to SSW quadrants with plenty of sun!  We even had FOG one morning down in the Keys-- how weird is that?

J/105 winner- Brian Keane from Boston, MAFor the J/105s sailing their J/105 Midwinter Championship, it was obvious Brian Keane's team on SAVASANA were not only dialed up for speed for the week but were dialed into the wind as well.  Sailing to double bullets (for total of six!) on Friday simply sealed the deal for Brian's team to win by 15 points with a 1-6-8-1-1-2-4-1-1-1 tally over second place finisher Damian Emery's ECLIPSE with a 4-8-1-4-5-1-7-3-5-3 record; it was perhaps one of the largest margins of victory ever in a Key West J/105 class win. Third was WASABI sailed by Adam Rosen and Jeff Marks with 55 points with a 3-3-9-3-3-9-10-6-7-2; they started strongly but the "wheels fell off the shopping trolley", as they say, to fall back from an early series lead.  Fourth was four time Key West J/105 class winner Tom Coates on MASQUERADE just one point back with a 2-1-2-10-13-13-2-5-3-5 for 56 points; another early regatta leader that crashed mid-week.  Fifth was Gerrit Schulze sailing very well on MAX POWER with 58 points, their 10-4-7-2-4-7-1-8-11-4 was inconsistent but showed flashes of brilliance!!  Overall, it was a close finish and great regatta for the top five boats overall.

J/105 one-design fleet racing at Key West 2011For you sailing and racing fans, you can track and review each race to see who and made what decisions going around the race course by looking at KATTACK Tracking System, you can rehash it all on their archives at

For example, in Race 10, why would WASABI ever give up the right in the last 400 yards into the first windward mark and lose their first place!!  Watch it here-- awesome lesson in what happens on the race course, no "sea stories" and "hand waving tactics" here!

J/80 winners Glenn Darden and crew at Key West 2011For the J/80s sailing their J/80 Midwinter Championship, it was another strong fleet with some excellent competitors, it took that magic combination of keeping your starts clean, getting an early clear lane, avoiding the corners on the first beat and playing the packs to your advantage.  There was no question that Glenn Darden and his team sailing LE TIGRE from Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas were in a class by themselves, winning 2 of the last three races (5 total 1sts!) and taking home the big glass crown without a challenge from any of the other teams, winning the J/80 class by 11 points with a 1-1-2-1-2-2-1-1-12/zfp for 23 points.  Second was Jeff Brown's team from San Diego's J/WORLD SAN DIEGO TEAM, showing their tail-feathers to the rest of the J/80 fleet, getting two seconds in the last two races and posting a score of 6-3-5-6-3-3-3-2-2 for 33 points, nearly as consistent on the leader board as Darden's team. Sailing one of their best regattas in awhile was Mike Sudofsky on BOB DYLAN third with a 7-8-3-5-5-1-7-5-1 for 42 points, fourth was Chris Bulger on GOOSE from Buzzards Bay sailing to a 2-2-10-4-6-7-9-3-6/zfp for 49 points and fifth was Nigel Brownett and Ron Buzil on VAYU 2 posting a 5-6-1-8-1-5-4-6-14/zfp for 50 points.

J/44 White Gold rounding windward mark at Key WestFor Division 1 course, IRC 2 Class saw an enormous fight for who would get the podium honors for third place.  At the end, it was Jim Bishop's WHITE GOLD finishing fifth after getting an uncharacteristic score of 5-8 on the last day, sailing to a 3-2-2-2-8-6-3-6-5-8 for 45 points, just 3 disappointing points from third overall!  Peter Cunningham from Cayman Islands Sailing Club seemed to finish on a happy, strong note, getting a 2-4 on the last day to finish 6th sailing the chartered J/122 GAMBLER/ POWERPLAY to a 2-5-7-4-6-5-8-4-2-4 for 47 points, just 5 devilish points from third (other than the overall winner, the J/122 had the best record over the last 3 races amongst their whole fleet).

J/111 Kontiki V sailing upwind at Key West Race WeekThe PHRF A Class was an extremely competitive regatta throughout the entire week, easily the closest "delta" for any of the fleets sailing off Key West, with many races for win/place/show determined by mere seconds amongst the top five.  Tied going into the second to last race were the new J/111 KONTIKI V sailed by Jim Sminchak's SAIL Best Around Buoys winners from Cleveland and Bill Sweetser's famous J/109 RUSH.  The last race was certainly a cliff-hanger, made even more so when KONTIKI V snagged a crab pot and stopped (!!), then crossed tacks with RUSH within 100 yards of the weather mark and in a cross-tacking J/109 RUSH sailed by Bill Sweetser sailing downwindsituation, took advantage of it to jump into the regatta lead.  KONTIKI V stretched into a comfortable lead to get a 2nd to RUSH's 5th.  Jim's team sailed a smart, conservative regatta to get a very consistent 2-2-3-2-1-2-5-3-2 record for 22 points.  Not to be outdone at all, the champion RUSH team sailed a very strong regatta to get 2nd overall with a 1-1-2-4-4-3-4-1-5 score for 25 points.  Fourth was Doug Curtiss's beautiful J/124 WICKED sailed by Rodney and Alan Johnstone on the team to a 4-4-5-3-2-4-2-4-4 tally for 32 points.

J/24 sailboats- the ultimate one-design sailing boatThe J/24s still rule! 35+ years and going strong. It was pretty clear this fleet of six hard-care J/24 sailors were going to have a lot of fun.  Yes, they had a small fleet this year sailing within PHRF 3, but who cares? It's Key West, you can't not have fun sailing in clear baby blue-green water, 72 degree temps and clear blue skies and 5-18 knot winds and enjoying the amazing night life!  And, a fun time this group had, made even more so by a wonderful host and lover of sailing in general, a beautiful blond Swede gal called Evalena, more about her in a second.  In the racing category, BLAH BLAH BLAH sailed by Mark Milnes won the J/24 "class" with a 3-3-3-3-3-2-3-3-4 record for 27 points.  They were followed by Evalena Worthington on FREYA in second who sailed to a 6-4-4-4-5-4-5-4-5 score for 43 points.  Rounding out the podium in third was Matt Mullan on FLYING WASP, getting a 4-5-6-6-4-6-4-5-3 tally for 54 points.  OK, now for Evalena.  She and her husband came across the Atlantic many blue moons ago on a schooner to Key West. But, they never left! Then, they decided to open a bar?  You may all know it well-- the very popular Schooner Wharf Restaurant & Bar where the Farr 40 class normally parks themselves in front of every year!  Next year, Evalena wants to extend a special invitation to ALL J/24s to show up and be guests of The Schooner Wharf- "A Last Little Piece of Old Key West"- and determine the J/24 "Knot & Shot Contest Winners" (who can resist that invitation?!).  Learn more about  Eva and Schooner Wharf here.  Read more about her story below in the J/Community section. Sailing photo credit- Tim Wilkes.

For more Key West Race Week sailing results.  For more of the SAIL Magazine J/111 BAB Team and Adam Cort's coverage and blog.    One of KONTIKI V's crew, Nick Turney from North Sails, wrote a blog of his experience at Sailing World.

Finally, "friend of J/Boats", Doug Moy from New York and Manhattan YC member, applied his videography and editing skills to a series of daily videos, you can see them at these YouTube links.  Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4.