Wednesday, August 1, 2012

STORM Wins J/109 NAs @ NYYC Race Week

FLEETWING Wins 111s, KESTREL Wins 105s
(Newport, RI)- It was an unseasonably wet, dreary day in Newport for the start of the Rolex New York YC One-Design Race Week, but at least somewhere, someone was having fun. That somewhere was Rhode Island Sound where nearly 100 teams are competing in the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex on the second day of the split-format event's final four days of buoy racing.

The J/109s had individual recalls in their first race that saw yesterday's leader STORM, skippered by Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), return to the start line to successfully clear. The team fought back to eighth and finished first in the second race, but the performance was only good enough for a third in overall scoring. It left the proverbial door open for Ted Herlihy's (S. Dartmouth, Mass.) GUT FEELING to take the top spot after that team finished 4-2 today. With nine points, GUT FEELING's overall score is shared with SKOOT, skippered by Jim Vos (New Canaan, Conn.), which sits in second overall, so both teams are a slim one point ahead of STORM.

J/111 sailboat cruising to windwardThe J/111 Class's first day of competition went well for Henry Brauer's (Marblehead, Mass.) FLEETWING, which took bullets in each of two races. "The first race was great, because it was good breeze; the second race was a bit more challenging because of the lighter wind and the lumpy seas," said Brauer, who is new to the J/111 Class this year after having sold the J/105 Scimitar that he co-owned with Stewart Neff (serving as his tactician here) and with which he won the 2011 J/105 North American Championship. "We got good starts, Stewart put us in the right place, and the team did a great job trimming the sails and keeping us going the whole time. The important thing to racing well is having a good team, so there are a lot of the same people onboard that I've sailed with in the past. Having that nucleus is very important."

Saturday saw three new classes join the racing action, switching on to sunshine and light breezes that made yesterday’s rain but a memory. Sean Doyle's (Cos Cob, Conn.) J/105 KESTREL finished the day in the lead after posting two bullets for today’s two races. "The conditions were challenging with fairly light wind and patches," said Doyle, who is only in his second year competing with this boat. "We really enjoy the one-design aspect. Everyone in this class has a great attitude and is very welcoming to us as newcomers."

In IRC Class 4, Andrew Shea’s (Annapolis, Md.) J/122 DOLPHIN seemingly came out of nowhere to challenge for the lead with finish positions of 5-1-1, moving the team up to second from sixth yesterday and leaving Dolphin only one point out of first.

In IRC 3 Class,  Jim Bishop's J/44 modified IRC boat from Jamestown, RI is lying in second only 3 points out of the lead by virtue of having won two races in a row, surrounded by the latest in IRC hardware, a Ker 50 in first place and an HPR Carkeek 40 Decision in third place.

The J/109 STORM, skippered by Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), took advantage of the building southeasterly on its course to finish the day with a nine-point lead in the J/109 Class ahead of Ted Herlihy's GUT FEELING.  Just one point back from Ted is Bill Sweetser's RUSH from Annapolis, MD.

In J/111 Class, Henry Brauer’s (Marblehead, Mass.) FLEETWING continued to lead with Rod Johnstone's JAZZ in 2nd and Doug Curtiss' WICKED 2.0 in 3rd.

The final day of sailing saw weather conditions that couldn’t have been more perfect for the sailing teams racing off Newport. In the end, the Rolex timepiece was awarded to Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), skipper of STORM, which simultaneously won the J/109 class here and the 2012 North American Championships. It wasn’t easy with 17 boats and an assault by Bill Sweetser’s (Annapolis, Md.) RUSH, which finished second, and three-time and defending North American Champion Ted Herlihy’s (South Darmouth, Mass.) GUT FEELING, which finished third.

“It’s beyond words how happy we are,” said Lyall, who won the North American title once before in 2009. He explained that STORM went into today with a nine-point lead, but there was reason for concern when the Race Committee announced that three races would be conducted instead of the expected two and the team had started the day with a sixth-place finish.

“We knew we had to sail today to defend our title, and there was certainly an opportunity that we could give away our lead,” said Lyall. “We had a bad start in the first race, which put us much closer to our two closest competitors, but after that, we went back and won the next two. We sailed well and consistently, and the boat is fast.”

In the 14-boat IRC 4 class, Andrew Shea’s (Annapolis, Md.) J/122 DOLPHIN finished second overall in a very tough fleet.  In IRC 3 Class of 8 boats, the J/44 WHITE GOLD sailed by Jim Bishop gave his more modern IRC hardware a tough time, finishing just 3.5 points out of first place, placing second for the regatta.

J/111s starting one-design on startAfter winning today’s first race, Avalanche widened its point spread to four over DownTime, which had finished third, and five over Dolphin, which had finished fifth. Then in race two, Dolphin switched the tables, finishing first and leaving fifth place for Avalanche while DownTime split a corrected-time tie for third with Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, N.Y.) J/122 Wings. Dolphin, once again, had put itself within one point of winning, with DownTime only .5 of a point behind. Needless to say, the two teams were ecstatic that the Race Committee would run a third and final race. With one last shot to win, DownTime finished second to win the nine-race series by a mere .5 points over Dolphin, which finished third in that race, while Avalanche finished eighth, leaving it to collect third overall.

J111 sailing to weatherOn his second day of racing here in IRC 3, Art Santry (Oyster Bay, N.Y.), skipper of the Ker 50 Temptation-Oakcliff, had said that if his crew – comprised partially of Oakcliff Sailing Center students – kept up its stellar work, his team was going to be tough to beat. The self-fulfilling prophesy played out today, when the team finished 4-2-1 to post 16.5 points over the 20 posted by Jim Bishop’s (Jamestown, R.I.) J/44 White Gold on merit of a 2-1-2 today. Tempation-Oakcliff, also with Oakcliff’s Executive Director and veteran America’s Cup/offshore sailor Dawn Riley aboard, established its dominance early in the nine-race series and had four victories plus a tie for first in their score line.

Henry Brauer’s FLEETWING won the J/111 Class by 8 pts, followed by an incredibly toughly fought series that led to a tie-breaker between Rod Johnstone's family crew on-board JAZZ and Doug Curtiss' WICKED 2.0, each finishing with 20 pts with JAZZ getting the nod on the tie-break.

Remarkably, the scenario for the top three in the 111s played out the same for the 105s.  In this case, Sean Doyle's crew also won by 8 pts, but it was Damian Emery's ECLIPSE winning a tie-breaker on 22 pts each over Fred Darlington's TONTO!   For more Rolex New York YC Race Week sailing information