Friday, June 3, 2011

J's Triple-winners in Block Island Race

J/105 sailboat- sailing double-handed in Block Island race
J/105 JADED Overall Performance Champion!
(Stamford, CT)- Pretty remarkable what two guys on a green J/105 can do over 185 nm of challenging sailing-- they beat George David's RAMBLER 100! Yes, a J/105 beat a JK-100 footer fair and square for the "Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy" Best Overall Performance in the race amongst the entire fleet of 61 boats! A remarkable accomplishment considering that RAMBLER 100 set a new course record of just over 15 hours!

What happened and how come the J/105 took the top honors?  It was yet another "classic" Block Island Race.  A navigational challenge it will always be and those who got it right simply spanked those who didn't.  There were several significant decision points in the race, including (i) how soon to dive for the Long Island Shore in the dying northerly after the start to get the developing southerly breeze, (ii) how far in do you go to take advantage of the flood, changing to ebb counter-current along the shore and, finally, (iii) going out and back to Block Island, do you latch on to the Plum Gut "current elevator" or take the chance that there's even more current and breeze out in the Race past Gull Island and Valiant Rock?

J120, J/35, J/109 sailboats- start sailing down the course to Block IslandPeter Rugg (New York, N.Y.) on the J/105 JADED (pictured above) saw the advantage of going to the Long Island shore right away, but since he started first in the 11-boat double-handed class (sailing with Dudley Nostrand of Hamilton, Mass.), he had no other classes to follow there. “The NOAA forecast said five knots out of the southeast for the next couple of days, but because we didn’t have that at the start (it was out of the east and even a bit north of that), we didn’t think it would hold. We were the first boat to tack to the Long Island shore, and when we saw other boats sailing there in a 15-knot southerly to southwest breeze, we said ‘holy smokes this is important.’”

About a mile from Plum Gut, Rugg noted that only those with code zero sails were able to stay high enough on shore to avoid “running into competing doldrums” in the middle of the Sound. “When we got close to the Gut, the breeze died, but we had just enough wind to squeak around the corner and be flushed through the Gut on a fair current,” said Rugg.

J class sailboats- sailing off the starting line for Block Island raceRugg said JADED ran into a bit of a drifter on the north side of Block Island near the "1BI" turning mark, but the south side greeted them with more wind, some chop, and the lasting impression of baby nurse sharks all around. “The last two miles to the finish were the worst,” said Rugg. “The wind dropped, the tide was taking us away from the mark, and we were rolled by another double-handed boat. We just had to finish before we gave away our time to the other boats.”

JADED did that successfully, winning not only the Gerold Abels Trophy for the best performance by a double-handed team but also the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy, awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance.

Finishing 5th in the IRC Double-handed Division behind JADED was the J/35 PALADIN sailed by Jason Richter.  Just three minutes back on handicap was Andrew Berdon's J/109 STRIDER, then Adrian Begley's J/109 MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN in  7th, Hewitt Gaynor's J/120 MIRIELLE in 8th and Gardner Grant's J/120 ALIBI rounding out the top ten.

J/44 sailboat- sailing Block Island raceThe IRC 40 Class saw the J's dominate, taking 8 of the top 10.  First was Phil Gutin's J/44 BEAGLE, narrowly beating Andrew Weiss' J/122 CHRISTOPHER DRAGON by only 8 minutes after 28 hours of sailing in mentally taxing conditions.  Third in class was Joe Healey's J/120 SOULMATE.  Fifth was Len Sitar's J/44 VAMP, sixth Rick Oricchio's J/120 ROCKET SCIENCE, seventh Norm Schulman's J/44 CHARLIE V, eighth George Marks' J/122 GEORGETOWN III and tenth George Petrides' J/120 AVRA.

IRC 45 saw the two big boats in the class, the J/130 DRAGONFLY and the IMX 45 XCELSIOR duel it out for line honors for most of the race.  At the end, Colin McGranahan's DRAGONFLY missed line honors by 2 1/2 minutes but won on IRC handicap by just over a minute!

Finally, in PHRF 2, Steve Levy's J/120 EAGLE persevered despite being caught on the wrong side of the two big decisions early on to just miss second by 30 seconds on handicap, securing a third in class.  For more Storm Trysail Block Island Race sailing information.