Thursday, August 9, 2012

J/111 Wins Ugotta Regatta

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing upwind (Harbor Springs, MI)- The first ever J/111 Great Lakes Championship saw ten boats participating from the Michigan and Chicago fleets.  All of the top J/111s that sailed the recent Chicago-Mackinac Race were present, part of an illustrious, history-making fleet where ALL ten boats finished in the top 20 overall in the Mac Race!  A feat never before achieved by an entire class of boats in ANY offshore event in the world!

The Ugotta fleet of sixty-nine boats was treated to good weather and steady winds were offered to the sailors during the Little Traverse Yacht Club Regatta weekend of July 27-29.  The total fleet included J/111s racing one-design as well as J/105s.  And, there were J/Teams participating in PHRF handicap, too, including a J/122, J/42 and J/100.

“We had great wind on all four days of racing, it was spectacular,” said Vice Commodore of the Little Traverse Yacht Club, Kathryn Breighner.  The conditions made for competitive and exciting racing, Breighner noted. On Friday's One-Design Racing day, the winds were out of the east, an unusual direction for Little Traverse Bay, and made for more than unusual wind shifts and breeze lines across the bay with winds ranging from 6 to 14 kts.  By Saturday and Sunday, the more familiar localized "sea-breeze thermals" developed after 2-3 race postponements each day, making for exhilarating racing around the Bay in westerly breezes.  There was no question that some degree of "local knowledge" was required in order to be a top performer in the event, with known fast local boats going certain directions on certain parts of the race course with a high degree of consistency.

The 1st place winner of the Ugotta Regatta Overall and taking home the Credit Suisse Award and the Thomas Carruther’s Award was the J/111 WIND CZAR, whose skipper is Little Traverse YC Commodore Richard Lehmann.  “The bottom line is that the Wind Czar is very fast and we made very few mistakes, and that is the formula for success.  Being that this is Rich’s last term as commodore, the crew was pleased to accompany him with this victory," said Wind Czar crew member Bryan Burley. "We are thrilled that the overall winner is again a Little Traverse Yacht Club boat. We look forward to doing it again next year," said Vice Commodore Breighner.

J/111 one-design sailboats- sailing downwind Harbor SpringsThe J/111s had a remarkably competitive series, with fast & furious changes taking place on every leg and every mark rounding.  In fact, the pace of sailing was more akin to "chutes(snakes) & ladders" commented one of the J/111 crew members.   Winning one leg, mid-fleet the next leg, back to top three at the next mark.  All it took was 3-5 degrees wind shift and only 2-3 kts wind pressure and enormous gains could be made both upwind and downwind.  It's incredibly fun racing for those who've never experienced sailing a boat that's so close-winded, so fast and responsive that every wind shift, every piece of wind pressure makes such a fantastic difference in relative speeds.  The experienced 111 teams know by now that you're always in a "never say die mode", where truly the much-hackneyed phrase that "the opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" really does apply to J/111 one-design racing.

While the regatta is split into two "events", the overall J/111 Great Lakes Champion was the local Harbor Springs team of WIND CZAR skippered by Rick Lehmann, sailing to an unassailable score of 1-4-1-2-3-1-1 for 13 pts.  KASHMIR sailed by the Chicago team of Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson and Mike Mayer, added yet more laurels to their tremendous double-win in the last two years in the Chicago-Mac Race, managing to finish 2nd overall with a consistent score of 2-1-3-1-4.5-4-3 for 18.5 pts.  Third was a steadily improving team on IMPULSE sailed by Dr George Miz, Peter Dreher and Mark Hatfield from Chicago, amassing a score of 5-2-2-4-7.5-2-10 for 32.5 pts overall.  Fourth in the group was the champion Annapolis team on VELOCITY sailed by Marty Roesch's team, getting a 6-7-7-3-1.5-11-6 for 41.5 pts; their highlight being the big win on the Saturday "around the bay tour race" for seventeen miles.  Rounding out the top five by only a half-point back was Paul Stahlberg's Chicago/Milwaukee-based team on MENTAL with a scoreline of 7-3-5-5-6-8-8 for 42 pts.

In the end, regatta J/111 team host Dave Irish (sailing NO SURPRISE) from Irish Boatshop felt the experience was a tremendous one for all the J/111 sailors. Having been a Chicago-Mac and Bayview-Mac Race winner multiple times, even Dave felt the racing was of tremendously high-calibre, as Dave said, "you can't have enough of a lead with this fleet, even if you're way out in front you're vulnerable".  That same sentiment was echoed by past J/109 Great Lakes Champion Lenny Siegal on his latest LUCKY DUBIE, "Wow, fast fun boats.  Gotta a lot to learn still.  But, we're getting there! We're sorry our famous blender broke, otherwise the regatta may have had a different outcome!"  Paul ("Murph the Surf") Murphy sailing on the VELOCITY team from Annapolis commented multiple times on the fact that "damn, all these Chicago boats are FAST! We learned a lot about what not to do here!"  It's no wonder the entire J/111 Great Lakes fleet finished in the top 20 overall in the Mac Race!

J/105s sailing off starting line at Ugotta RegattaThe J/105s also saw some great racing in the Friday One-Design and weekend Ugotta Regatta sailing.  In the end, it was a shoot-out amongst the local boats, Carter Williams' CREATIVE DESTRUCTION and the "Little Traverse Sailors" juniors on EXIT STRATEGY.  While EXIT STRATEGY won the Friday event with CREATIVE DESTRUCTION in 2nd and Bill Petzold's GREEN FLASH in 3rd, things changed for the Ugotta Sat/Sun races.  This time around, Carter's team on CREATIVE hammered the fleet with a 1.5-1-1 to win by a landslide.  Second was Mark Gurney on BUZZ with a 3-3-2 and 3rd were the kids on EXIT STRATEGY.

J/42 sailing upwindMeanwhile, in the well-attended PHRF handicap divisions, there were some significant performances by J/Teams.  Leading the charge in PHRF 2 was Mitch Padnos on his J/122 SUFFICIENT REASON, grabbing the bronze in their division to follow up on his Division Class Win in the Chicago-Mac Race!  In PHRF 3, the J/35s were having a field day with their competition with Bruce Metcalf on BOZOS CIRCUS scoring 2nd with Ed Bayer's FALCON in 4th, Larry Schell's TOUCH OF GREY in 5th.  In PHRF 4, the J/100 COURAGE sailed by Raenette Mcmanus sailed nicely to a 5th in class.  Then, in PHRF NS Division, Bill and Judy Stellin, sailed their globe-girdling J/42 JAYWALKER to third place in their division-- not bad for a J/42 with over 30,000nm under her belt and a some trans-Atlantics in her resume!   For more Little Traverse Ugotta Regatta sailing information