Wednesday, June 15, 2011

J/111s Celebrate Chicago NOODs

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing off Chicago (Chicago, IL)- The annual Chicago Sperry Top Sider NOOD Regatta continues to be one of the pinnacle events on the Chicago summer sailing schedule every year.  Attending this year's events were one-design fleets of J/111s, J/109s and J/105s.  Included in the mix were J's sailing PHRF 3 and PHRF 4 divisions.

For the J/111s, this was their first NOOD regatta as a class and the second weekend in a row that Chicago 111s have sailed against one another.  It's clear the learning curve is high and the teams are learning how to sail the boats consistently faster all the time.  As an illustration of this development, Sailing World's Mike Lovett shares an interesting interview with the MISTY J/111 team sailed by Tom and Carol McIntosh- "For Tom and Carol, as it is for so many Chicago racers, the highlight of the sailing season is the annual Chicago YC Race to Mackinac. They've been doing the 333-mile race for years, and this year, they'll be doing it on their dream Mac boat— the J/111.

"Because we do the Mac every year," says Misty skipper Tom McIntosh, "we wanted a boat that would be faster for us to come home on, and would be more fun to sail. Carol and I sail doublehanded back from Mackinac Island, and when we went out and sailed [the J/111] last summer, we said, 'Oh boy. With the roller furler—and we can use an asymmetrical when it's light—we'll make so much better time than we did before.

"It's a really simple boat," continues McIntosh. "We went with the Antal sail slides, which makes it really simple to go out sailing. And, you can go pretty fast. Last weekend, we did 11 knots downwind, right alongside the Farr 40s."

There are six J/111s competing here at the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, making this the largest gathering in the class' short history. The 36-footer won "Best One-Design Keelboat" in Sailing World's 2011 Boat of the Year Contest. Apparently, Midwestern sailors agree with SW's BOTY judges, as they've been quick to embrace the new one-design. Racing the J/111 KONTIKI V, Jim Sminchack's Cleveland-based team won the PHRF 1 division at 2011 Key West Race Week. There are three J/111s in Detroit, and there will be as many as eight racing at the Ugotta Regatta in Harbor Springs, Michigan in July.

J/111  MISTY team from ChicagoLocal J-Dealer Rich Stearns has been instrumental in getting Chicago's J/111 fleet off the ground. At last weekend's Colors Regatta, hosted by Columbia YC, Stearns and a local sailmaker went boat to boat helping his clients get up to speed. MISTY's main trimmer, Jorgen Johnson, found the sessions to be incredibly valuable— a shortcut to success. "They showed us what the boat likes," says Johnson. "That makes the learning process a lot quicker than if we had to learn it ourselves. They were telling us, 'Do this, do that. Here's the basics. Work with this, and then fine tune.' That was really, really helpful.  "We're learning," continues Johnson. "But we're getting there quickly. That's what's interesting with this fleet. All the boats are very close, and they're all going very fast!"

In the photo are the crew of the J/111 MISTY (left to right): bowman Mike Gallo, main trimmer Jorgen Johnson, mast-man John Johnson, trimmer Dave Michaels, pit/co-owner Carol McIntosh, skipper/co-owner Tom McIntosh, floater Morgan Gates, tactician Ian Gates, Gerry Gherardini.

On the race course, it was the KASHMIR team comprised of Henderson, Mayer and Brummel that led the way to the top of the podium, securing five 1sts, a 2nd and a 3rd to win by five points.  It's clear this team has taken their training seriously and have learned how to  make the 111 go well both upwind and downwind-- particularly with ace spinnaker trimmer Karen Gottwald- a 25 year Chicago-Mac veteran and member of the "Goat's Society".  Also moving up the learning curve fast is Paul Stahlberg sailing the spectacularly colored red-hulled MENTAL into second with finishes of 1-2-4-2-2-1-3 for 15 pts-- by the way the graphics are awesome!  Stephen Dabrowski sailing NIGHT HAWK finished third amassing a 3-3-2-4-3-2-2 record for 19 pts.  In fourth was Tom and Carol McIntosh on MISTY and fifth was George Miz sailing his first one-design event in the J/111 on-board IMPULSE.

Making good of his practice and training the previous weekend in Columbia YC's Colors Regatta was Kevin Saedi sailing his J/109 MOMENTUS to a convincing win in the J/109 class.  Kevin and his crew managed to win with five firsts, a 3rd and a 4th for 12 pts!  Eight points back was Irv Kerbel's K-III sailing to a 1-2-3-7-2-3-2 for 20 pts.  Dueling it out for second all regatta long was past class champion Len Siegal sailing his famous LUCKY DUBIE 2 to a 4-3-2-3-3-2-4 for 21 pts, just one point from getting the silver.  Fourth was Don Meyer sailing CERTAINLY with 28 pts and fifth was Peter Priede racing FULL TILT to 32 pts.

J/105 sailboat- sailing upwind off Chicago ILThe J/105s saw some new names at the top of the fleet involved in a real dog-fight all regatta long for the top three.  It was anyone's guess how it was all going to play out in the end, but the survivor of the duel only won by one point, narrowly "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat" in the last race!  Nevertheless, in the appropriately named MESSY JESSY, Dorin Candea managed to avoid making a mess of it all and won with a 5-2-3-2-1-1-2-5 to win with 21 pts.  Nearly beating him to the top of the podium was Blane Shea sailing STRIKING to a 4-1-1-1-3-6-5-1 for 22 pts.  Third, and sailing stronger nearly every race, was Clark Pellett on SEALARK to a 6-6-2-3-5-3-1-2 record for 28 pts-- quite a nice comeback!  Fourth was past champion Tom Petkus on VYTIS with 35 pts and fifth was the "inmates running the asylum", Anthony Bowker's THE ASYLUM with 40 pts.

In the PHRF handicap classes, Mitch Padnos' beautiful J/124 SUFFICIENT REASON from Macatawa Bay YC narrowly missed winning the entire PHRF 3 Class, but unfortunately, while finishing three points from getting the gold, lost a tie-breaker and ended up third!  In the Offshore PHRF Distance race, the J's had a good showing with Ken Ganch's J/105 GONZO finishing third, Pete and Sue Stott's J/130 SALSA finishing fourth and Frank Giampoli's J/120 JAHAZI getting fifth.  For more Chicago Sperry Top Sider NOOD sailing information