Thursday, May 5, 2011
(Larchmont, NY)- While not the largest fleet the AYC Spring series has seen in a number of years, the J class presence continues to grow with passionate, enthusiastic owners having fun in both handicap and one-design sailing fleets. This year seventy-seven boats in nine fleets were in attendance with forty-two J's sailing (55% of the whole fleet) in 3 handicap fleets (IRC and PHRF) and 3 one-design fleets. Again, the American YC PRO/ RC did a good job of getting in some nice course racing the a wide variety of conditions over the two successive weekends.
The eleven boats sailing in IRC 40s saw five J's racing, three J/133s and two J/120s. At the top of the heap was Tom Carroll's well-traveled team on board the J/133 SIREN SONG, sailing to a rather schizophrenic record of 8-1-8-1 for 18 pts and third in class. Just behind them by only a half point was Ron Richman's J/133 ANTIDOTE with a 7-6-2.5-3 record for 18.5 pts. A bit further down the standings was George Petrides J/120 AVRA and Jan Smeets J/133 BACCHANAL.
Rick Lyall's J/109 STORM had their hands full in the twelve boat IRC 35 class. Essentially, STORM started the second weekend in a three-way tie-breaker for first overall. However, an "experience-filled" last weekend of sailing saw them go from a 3-7-1 to a 4-6-7, dropping the 7 to get 14 pts for third in class, just winning a tie-breaker over a J/29! The other five J's experienced similar gyrations in their positions. However, one of the stronger, more consistent showings happened to be the brother team of John and Tony Esposito sailing their masthead J/29 in IRC seeking "real competition". They got it. And, kudos to them managed to start off with a bang winning their first ever IRC race, but then following up with a 1-5-6-3-5-(6) record for 14 pts, losing the tie-breaker for the bronze medal.
Whether there's five J/122s or fifteen of them, the class always has tight racing with no one boat dominating the class-- the J/122s all seem to be so equal, on any given any boat can win. This year's spring series that rang true, despite the fact that the Dragon team took the championship. Sailing strongly this year was Barry Gold on SUNDARI, starting well with a 1st, then adding a 4-4-1 to his tally to just miss first place by 2 pts. However, tied with SUNDARI at 10 pts even was the trio of Mike Bruno, Tom Boyle and Jim Callahan racing WINGS to a consistent 2-2-3-3 tally, losing the tie-breaker to SUNDARI. Finishing first was the family team of Andrew Weiss sailing CHRISTOPHER DRAGON with a 4-1-1-2 for 8 pts. Interestingly, it seemed the regatta was led by the "black ships brigade", the winning boat with green stripes and the second place boat with white stripes!
The turnout of eight J/44s continues to demonstrate the efficacy of executing a strict one-design sails program to ensure fleet equality while minimizing un-necessary investment in mylar/carbon sail inventories. What's even more interesting is to see that many teams continue to improve and the average time margin between first and last place boat continues to compress. This year's J/44 teams also saw a changing of the guard at the top of the fleet. Previous winners like Jim Bishop's well-traveled and famous GOLD DIGGER and Jeff Willis' CHALLENGE IV both won races, but didn't crack the top five! Instead, Don and Rick Rave sailing RESOLUTE pulled off a 1-2-5-4 to win with 12 pts. Nipping at their heels was Len Sitar sailing VAMP to a 3-6-3-2 for 14 pts to secure second. And, looking more gorgeous than ever was MAXINE sailed by Bill Ketcham to a DNF-3-2-1 for 15 pts, unfortunate since it looks like they were sailing strong enough to win the series.
Perhaps the same can of "whup-ass" that powered the J/44 RESOLUTE to victory was also being drunk by George and Alex Wilbanks in the fourteen boat J/105 fleet. Starting off with two 1sts, the Wilbanks' boat REVELATION added an 8-2-1-8 to win with just 5 pts! Perennial class leaders like KINCSEM and GUMPTION were wondering where they, too, could find that magical can of "elixir" ( e.g. the good stuff). Without it, Joerg Esdorn and Duncan Hennes sailing KINCSEM had to settle for second place with a 3-2-6-1-3-6 for 9 pts and Kevin Grainger on GUMPTION 3 had to hang on for third place with a 2-4-4-5-7-7 for 15 pts.
Finally, the PHRF 100s had five boats sailing, four of which were J's, two J/80s and two J/29s. Gary Corwin's J/80 ROSIE was second followed by Tim Weber's J/29 RENEGADE. Fourth was Matheus Hovers' J/29 KATOENDRA and fifth was Dan Goldberg's FRIVOLOUS. For more American YC Spring Series sailing results. Sailing photo credits- photoboat.com