Thursday, April 19, 2012

J/111 JAKE Wins Sydney Ocean Series

J/111 offshore racing sailboat- sailing Sydney, Australia (Sydney, Australia)- The amazingly long summer series that are sailed Down Under have no peer "Up North".  Remember, Aussie/Kiwi sailing seasons in the southern hemisphere are much, much longer than any experienced up north-- "summer" lasts over six months!  As a result, any sailboat that goes the distance over the course of the summer in these long, testing sailing seasons is deserving of any championship silverware they win.  It just so happens that one of those teams is the J/111 JAKE that has been turning heads off the Sydney Heads for several months.  Here's their report of their final race of the season series:

"With the start close to Potts Point in beautiful Sydney Harbour and the wind edging either side of south, it made for a spectacular spinnaker start heading down the harbour. As with all of this season since our J/111 JAKE was launched, our competition consisted of much larger, more expensive boats. We really feel like a dinghy on the start line however with kites set through the start in the 13 -14 knot breeze we were amongst the leaders towards the Lady Bay mark at South Head. We managed to hang onto our kite longer than most and made up some ground on the 45 and 50 footers. Kite finally down to get out of the harbour and the 80 footer BRINDABELLA already storming out the heads and heading north before the freshening southerly.

We found ourselves 2 sail reaching between “About Time” the  Cookson 12 and “St Jude” the Sydney 47 as our line to clear the rocks at North Head came into view. Up with our 120 sq.m. reacher. ‘Bang!’ the kite filled with around 20 knots in it. JAKE leapt out of the water with the crew on "About Time" cheering and clapping at the sight.  The skipper from "About Time" said afterwards, (“JAKE flew past us going to the Island - she almost lifted out of the water - we could see her keel.”). Our J/111 accelerated at such a pace exploding over the waves - we had soon left "About Time" and "St Jude" behind with one of our crew commenting we were 5th boat on the water and what a sight behind with around 15 much larger boats already in the rear-view mirror. We had not sailed in this breeze since the very first offshore race and coincidently the same course at the beginning of the season in October. This time we were ready. We had learned much about the J/111 since then and with rig tweaked for the conditions we were off. The speedo rapidly clicking, 8 to 15 knots almost instantly, then 16, 17 we were flying, the boat was on rails – solid, comfortable and so easy to steer, the crew elated we finally have JAKE in some breeze again. We wanted to keep close inshore so prepped for our first gybe, a little nervous but wait for the next wave, hitting 16 knots nooo problem, sweet as with only a few knots wind speed to boat speed difference - the gybes are so easy. Nervousness gone, the crew are playing spinny tweakers to try and get even more out of JAKE.  Breeze building slightly and now in the mid to upper twenties, confused sea but we’re making the most of the available waves. The tip of the sprit buries a few feet, no problem, crew a little further aft. Four behind the helm know and JAKE picks up another few tenths, then 18, 19, 19.1 knots....

Long Reef, just over halfway to Pittwater is looming fast so we gybe again to give it plenty of clearance. Behind us some boats are having trouble. A 50 footer ‘Never A Dull Moment’ living up to its name kite affray and struggling to get it down, off our port quarter the Sydney GTS 43 looks in trouble, they broach a few times and are soon heading back to safe harbour waters. Our friends on "About Time" have a little Chinese gybe but soon recover. JAKE is solid and the ride is surprisingly dry, water squirting out from under the mast area of the boat 10 feet either side as we nonstop plane north to Lion Island. The speedo starts doing crazy things as it exits the water. ’We are creeping up on Merlin’ calls one of the crew, she’s a fifty footer, ‘19.6’ someone shouts through the spray. Hedgy who is on his second only sail in JAKE says the top speeds are impressive but more impressive is that we are not dropping below 16 knots for many minutes at a time, the last  run was almost  5 minutes doing over 16 knots. Lion Island in Pittwater is soon in sight and we must be careful not to get under the high cliffs too early and into the wind shadow. So we throw our final gybe back toward the land absolutely screaming down the front of wave (back at the club a crew member says he saw 21.4 just before the gybe). We don’t want the ride to end and wish it was the Newcastle race we did a few weeks ago, being another 40 or so miles further north.

We are soon under the wind shadow which is unavoidable and recognized that we probably went a little too far out on the last gybe. The crew trim the boat forward again and comment we feel like we have stopped. Only doing 9.5 knots now as we head into the Lion Island mark. Merlin the 50 footer goes around it a minute ahead of us. We are 4th or 5th boat around the top mark. It’s hard to tell as the Pittwater fleets are now sailing in the same area.  It’s also an amazing site as our 36 footer settles into the long beat back to Sydney to see boats like DK 43s, Beneteau 45s, Sydney 47s and other 40 to 45 footers still sailing towards us with spinnakers set. The breeze has freshened and we see 28 knots of wind often. The J/111 is sweet to windward, very stiff and hardly slams in the building waves. We concentrate hard as some of the bigger boats begin to claw a few minutes back on us during the long beat home but checking our watches we know we have done some significant damage to them on time already. A few larger boats pass us close to Sydney, but JAKE triumphs with a third on IRC and second place overall in Sydney’s division one Ocean Pointscore Series.

Almost as impressive is the 3rd overall in the Short Ocean Point Score Series which Jake had to miss 3 races due to Sail Expo and other commitments. This astonishing 36 footer has proved itself in the most competitive local fleets around in a wide variety of conditions from gale force winds to glass-outs and drifters. It’s been a tale of David and many Goliaths. JAKE will be on the market to make room for the new J/70.  However, another J/111 is on the cards afterwards, these boats are just too much fun.  Our very best regards to all our competitors, and our crew for another fantastic sailing season filled with thrills…"  Thanks to Bobby Joe and Marie.  :)