Friday, August 31, 2012

Dennis Conner- Mr America's Cup- Sailing J/105 NA's

(San Diego, California)- The J/105 Class latest owner, Dennis Conner, recently had an interview with the J/105 Class and shared his thoughts on his newest fleet as well as his sailing career.  When asked what led him to purchase the J/105 PHOLLY (Lowell North's original boat #3), his answer was clear- the 2012 J/105 North American Championship at San Diego Yacht Club this October 17-21. He summed it up simply, "I like to race, and this is a chance to race against friends, like Dennis and Sharon Case."

Long-time members of the J/105 Class, the Case Family actively campaigns WINGS, and as Conner's neighbor, just might have had a little influence on DC's recent purchase. "Case is the favorite to win the championship," Conner said proudly of his friend. Although he has yet to race on a J/105, Conner plans to learn his way around DC's PHOLLY in the coming weeks prior to the North American Championship. With almost 700 J/105s in existence, hull #3 has obviously been around for a while. Does DC's PHOLLY need a little TLC? "It needs a little help because it hasn't been sailed much," he admitted. "Our local fleet takes excellent care of their boats, so I'll have to get mine up to those standards. They are such beautiful boats."

Conner noted that J/105 Fleet 8 has a reputation for its intensity and he commended the Class for its favorable reputation. "The boats hold their value quite well, which is a testament to the Class." Regatta participation has gone down in many classes over the past year or two, but Conner complemented the J/105 Class for holding its own compared to other fleets. "The J/105s really are a robust Class. We've seen the Etchells fleet drop locally from 45 to 12, but not the J/105s." He called out two primary factors in the current struggle facing many fleets and yacht clubs in maintaining members and participation-time and money. "With two people working, not everyone has the time it takes to be competitive."

In his opinion, the J/105 Class has built-in cost control with its sail purchase limits, plus used boat prices are very reasonable. "This bodes well for the J/105 Class." In a career with a plethora of achievements, three particular accomplishments stick out in Conner's mind. "Winning the Star Worlds in 1977 with 89 boats," he recalled. "It was in Kiel, Germany, and we won every race." And it would be hard not to recall the four America's Cup victories and a bronze medal from the 1976 Olympics.

The champion was quick to tip his cap to a few other fellow contestants, including Buddy Melges, runner-up in the "America's Greatest Sailor" contest, and legendary Lowell North. "I really look up to Lowell," Conner commended. "Imagine, four Star National Championships and being the world's best sailmaker. He is my hero." Conner is registered for the J/105 North American Championship, and predicted entrants will see ideal conditions on the race course with steady Southwest breezes of 7-14 knots. He also expects stellar shoreside activities at the San Diego Yacht Club. As far as his own expectations, "I'm not sure what to expect. I'm realistic, and my goal is to be competitive and enjoy the regatta. I'm just excited to be part of it!"

Scandinavian Boatshows- J/111 & J/109

J/111 sailing Scandinavia (Marstrand, Sweden)- The J/111 will be on display at the "Open Yard" Boatshow on the West Coast of Sweden from August 23rd to 26th.  Thereafter, the J/109 will be displayed at the "Oslo Floating Boat Show" from September 23rd to 26th.  If you wish to see either boat or request a demo sail on-board one, please be sure to contact Jan Nillson @ Marstrand Yachts- email-

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Heather Gregg-Earl Dominates Nantucket Pro-Am Regatta!

Heather Gregg-Earl sailing IOD on Nantucket (Nantucket, MA)- Nantucket Race Week’s featured IOD Celebrity Invitational Regatta started with a whimper and finished with a bang. On day one, PRO John Mendez and his hard working team managed to complete just one race in a light northerly, followed by abandonment and towlines to get everyone home. A day later, Nantucket Sound delivered signature conditions, 15 – 20 knots of wind, four tight races with constant changing of positions, and many exhausted crew by day’s end.

In the regatta’s unique format, many of North America’s best sailors act as tacticians, each being matched with a participating helmsman and team whose regatta fees and “bids” for tactician selection raised nearly $50,000 for Nantucket Community Sailing. The local IOD Fleet Association makes its fleet of identical International One Design sloops available for the benefit of the NCS fundraiser.

In the end, Heather Gregg-Earl of Stage Harbor YC and New York YC (J/70 owner and past J/24 Champion sailor and Tufts Jumbo Collegiate All-American Woman Sailor) became the first female winner of the event. Her celebrity tactician was sailmaker and champion Robbie Doyle, along with crew members Miles Cameron, Michael Obuchowski and Will Christenson.

Runner-up Gary Jobson (J/22 owner), President of US Sailing and Honorary Chairman of Nantucket Race Week entered as helmsman for the first time, switching from prior years’ role as tactician (for Democratic Senator John Kerry in each of the past two years). Jobson’s tactician was Dee Smith, who has been consistently near top of this competitive fleet three consecutive times. Together the crew might have been dubbed "Team Who’s Who", with champions and longtime sailing partners Jud Smith, Hank Stewart and Jim Porter.

Nantucket IOD fleet founder Peter McCausland was a strong third place, with tactician Geoff Moore (J/24 Champion) and McCausland’s regular crew members Steve Mead, Fritz McClure, Charlie McGill and Graham Kilvert.

Other Celebrity Tacticians rounded out an all-star roster, together representing countless national, world and collegiate championships, Americas Cup contests, Olympic Games, and offshore events – Chuck Allen, Sally Barkow, Andrew Campbell, David Dellenbaugh, Kevin Farrar, Cam Lewis, Dave Perry, Mark Reynolds and Will Welles (bold are all J/Sailors!). Honorary Chairman Tom Whidden welcomed participants at the opening reception, where Ken Read of Puma Ocean Racing (and past multiple J/24 World Champion) later presented thrilling video of the Volvo Ocean Race. Later, at the trophy presentation, Whidden said, “My wife Betsy and I love to come to this wonderful destination, it's great sailing for a great cause. We appreciate all that Nantucket Community Sailing stands for, and we are delighted to have an opportunity to lend our support.”   Sailing photo credits- Karen Ryan Photography   For more Nantucket Race Week Pro-Am sailing information

J/22 Sailor Wins Cowes Week IRC 0 Class!

J/22 and J/29 owner- POWERPLAY- Peter Cunningham(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- J/22 owner and past J/29 owner of boats called POWERPLAY, Peter Cunningham of the Cayman Islands, managed to walk off with top honors in IRC Class 0 in the AAM Cowes Week in his latest POWERPLAY, a recent vintage TP52 that includes past J/24 Champion Tony Rey amongst his crew as tactician! 

Congratulations to Peter, Tony and crew for a job well done on the Solent!  Sailing photo credit- Rick Tomlinson

J/111s BLAST Chester Race Week

J/111 sailing upwind at Nova Scotia(Chester/ Halifax, Nova Scotia)- Chester Race Week started out slowly and with challenging weather, but ended with glorious sun and good wind. The competitors were happy with the race management and the evening parties, which didn't start until 9:30pm and were extremely well attended with 3 great local bands and wonderful Dark'n'Stormies at the bar!

The regatta featured a huge turn-out of J's ranging from the classic J/22s, J/24s, J/27s, J/29s, J/30s, J/35s and J/36 to J/92s, J/109, J/120s, J/111s, J/42 and J/44- a total of thirty J's in all, about 36% of the fleet of 92 handicap racers.

Leading the charge in the Alpha 1 Division were the two J/111s, BLAST (Mark Surette from Royal Nova Scotia YS) and STAMPEDER (Dave Connolloy from Chester YC).  BLAST managed to pull off a strong series counting six 1sts, a 2nd and 3rd to finish with 11 pts net, well clear of the next boat by ten pts!  STAMPEDER sailed a very nice series to collect a 7-2-2-3-6-2-5-6 for 33 pts net to grab fourth in their division.

In the Alpha 2 Division top dog was the famous J/92 POOHSTICKS (Colin Mann from Lunenburg YC), pulling off a 7-1-6-6-3-4-5 for consistent finishes to grab fifth in their division.  Finishing just behind were the J/35s and J/36s, most all suffering from a controversial second race DSQ factored into their scores!

J/29s sailing one-design- Nova Scotia Chester Race WeekIn Bravo 1 Division the J/30 FLUX (Jordan MacNeil RNSYS) sailed a consistent regatta, garnering a 5-3-4-5-scp-1-4-2 for a net of 24 pts, finishing 4th by virtue of losing a tie-breaker for 3rd overall.  Johnny Wynacht, Canadian J/24 and J/29 National Champion sailed the first J/70 in Nova Scotia, finishing a credible 6th in their first outing with a slow start, but rapid finish-- scoring 9-9-6-7-1-4-3-8 for a 38 pts net, just 12 pts from the podium.  Not bad for the first day sailing the J/70 and not knowing which strings to pull first!

In Bravo 2 Division the J/30 GROOVIN (Greg Hammond) finished second with a consistent record of 4-4-3-1-2-2-5-1 for 17 net pts.  The J/22 CHEAP THRILL (Karen Fowler) was sailed fast by her lady helmsman, gathering a respectable (and very fast) 2-2-4-7-dnc-6-4-6 for 31 net pts.  Other than her DNC, Karen would have easily factored into the top three!

In the Distance 1 Division the J/120s performed brilliantly, with the J/120 BRILLIANCE (Richard Calder from RNSYS) scoring a 4-3-1-1 for 9 pts net to handily win their division.  Fourth was the other J/120 BLACK PEARL (Ross Leighton from RNSYS) with a 3-6-7-2 for 18 pts net.

In Distance 2 Division the J/109 WISC (Paul Rafuse from RNSYS) sailed beautifully to get 4-1-7-4 to finish with 16 pts net, good enough for 2nd in their division.  Also sailing well was the gorgeous J/42 CASTANEA (Paul Conrod from RNSYS) that managed a tally of 2-6-3-7 to net 18 pts, just 2 pts off 2nd.  Close racing, indeed, in this group of fast cruiser-racers!

J/24 one-design sailboatFinally in the two J/One-Design divisions you have a literal wolf-pack of J/24s and J/29s sailing, neither fleet was won in a runaway.  In fact, the regatta outcome hung in the balance of the last race or two for both fleets!  In the J/24s, it was Greg Blunden on ADRENALIN RUSH that won a tiebreaker over Hamblin's JAMMIN. Blunden's `-5-3-1-1-3-2 for 12 pts net won on 1sts over Hamblin's 9-1-2-2-3-2-2 for 12 pts, too.  Third on the podium was decided by yet another tie-breaker!  "Holy Tie-breaker Hell" said Robin to Batman.  How can this be?  Ross Romney's RUSH HOUR managed to score a 6-6-1-4-2-5-4 for 22 pts and Ted Murphy's JUVENILE DELINQUENT tallied a 4-7-4-5-4-4-1 for the same 22 pts, but lost.  The nod went to Ross's RUSH HOUR crew to fill out the 3rd spot on the podium.

chester sailing week volunteersIn J/29 World, with even more on the line with the recent J/29 North Americans having been run nearly concurrently, it was going to be "local bragging rights" to see who could party hardest, go the fastest, sail the smartest to win this division!  In the end, it was pretty remarkable to see Andrew Childs' team on SILVER WOMAN top the 29 charts with a spanking of the class- a 1-1-4-4-2-1-3 for 12 net pts laid down the gauntlet for all to match.  Next up was past champion SCOTCH MIST IV sailed by Chris Mac Donald with a 6-2-5-2-1-4-2 for 16 net pts.  Third sailing well were Matt & Scott Christie with a somewhat steady 3-3-3-5-8-2-1 for 17 net pts (imagine what might have happened had they not had to toss an 8th!).  Fourth was the Williams/ Matthews crew on PARADIGM SHIFT and 5th was Jim Mason's SATISFACTION.  Sailing photo credits- Heather McGuire/ Tim Wilkes -   For more Chester Race Week sailing information

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

J/111 BLUR Frosts Scandinavian Sailing Circuit

J/111 sailing Sweden, Norway, Denmark on Baltic Sea(Stockholm, Sweden)- It's been a great season for many of the Swedish J/Boats.  Long time J/boat aficionado, Peter Gustafsson, got his new J/111 BLUR in time for SPI-Ouest France and managed a top three finish! But before handing his old J/109 BLUR over to the new owner, he and his team won both the Marstrand Big Boat Race and the inshore part of AF Offshore Race (Around Gotland Race).

Back on-board the new J/111 BLUR for the balance of the Scandinavian sailing summer, they quickly adapted to the boat. Here's Peter's quick summary of their sweet summer season aboard the 111:

"We were 3rd in the super competitive R40-class in Færderseilasen in Norway, 2nd in class in Around Hermano, winning the feeder race to Around Tjorn and last weekend they topped it off with a 3rd overall of 436 boats in Around Tjorn, Sweden's largest yacht race.

The Around Tjorn is the highlight of the year for many, gathering all kinds of boats and sailors. This year we had Fredrik Loof straight from winning the Olympic Gold Medal in his Star and the Swedish guys from GROUPAMA (Volvo Ocean Race Winners) racing in the 28 mile race around the island of Tjorn.

We had very close racing with the two First 40s that came first and second. We led on the first beat despite winds up to 14-16 knots but when it opened up, it quickly became a waterline race. We knew we were faster downwind, so we just had to hang in there. Turning the corner, the chase begun through the narrow passages in the archipelago. It was just crazy, doing 15 knots with the big kite just a few feet away from the rocks. In the end we were very close but lost out on handicap.

To round of a great weekend I did the same course solo on Sunday after the race. We were ten boats that tested if the format would work for a new solo race in 2013. Sailing the J/111 solo worked beautifully!! I really love the boat.

On the agenda for the season is to top 20 knots-- so we have the crew on standby for one or two September low pressures!"  We wish them well.  We have NO DOUBT (like the famous musician) they will top 20+ knots boatspeed!

Other J/boats that's are winning races in Sweden are J/105 JAVELIN with Sebastian Larsson who won Around Naset overall and the J/97 SAILING FOR JESUS skippered by Lennart Jansson who won his class in Hermano Runt.   Sailing photo credits- Ake Fredriksson
Sailing reports:

J/97 Scotches Cowes Week

J/97 offshore cruiser racer sailboat- sailing CowesJ/109 Wins Black Fleet Overall
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- As has been the case over the past several Cowes Weeks, the thousands of sailors having fun divining what the weather Gods have in store for them on the capricious Solent will always be a source of endless debate in the Guinness tent-- for both the podium winners that day as well as those who were on the losing end of the bets on which way was better or fastest.  In the end, following on their great performances in Scotland and Ireland, the J/97 FEVER GLENFIDDICH (scotch, that is!) sailed by Grant Gordon and crew had a dominant performance to eclipse IRC Class 5.  Other J/stablemates faired well in the broad cross-section of conditions presented to them over the course of the week.

The regatta dawned bright and sunny on day one with a brisk east to south-east wind averaging 15-20 knots, but with gusts above 25 knots, provided exhilarating conditions for the first day of racing. With the strongest gusts forecast to be in the Eastern Solent, the dayboats in White Group classes starting from the RYS line were sent on a downwind leg to a course in the western Solent, before beating back to finish on the RYS line.

In IRC Class 2, Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas’ J/111 SHMOKIN' JOE led the fleet away, all starting towards the northern end of the line. However, while SHMOKIN' JOE and others were the first boats to cross the finish line, all had been among the seven in the class that were OCS at the start! Ouch.

J/109s sailing on a reach at Cowes WeekBy the second day the fleet saw plenty of sun and a south-westerly breeze that built to give perfect sailing conditions in 14-17 knots of wind for the event’s Family Day.  An erratically moving weather trough that brought a line of showers and light winds to Cowes just before racing was scheduled to get underway presented a headache for race officials. With the trough forecast to leave a 50-60 degree windshift in its wake, the ideal was to wait for it to pass, but it had earlier stalled for 90 minutes and threatened to do the same over Cowes. To everyone’s relief it moved away just in time to allow the starting sequences to get underway with minimal delays.

The J/109 class enjoyed the closest of racing today, with tightly fought battles right round the 19.6-mile course and a number of protests. At the start, the pack was bunched at the northern end of the line near the committee boat, with Christopher Sharples and Richard Acland’s JOLENE ll looking best placed.

J/109 offshore one-design cruiser racer sailboat at Cowes, EnglandJOLENE ll quickly tacked onto port, with Alex Ohlsson and Neil Maclachlan’s JAI HO following close behind and Dutch entry Arjen van Leeuwen’s JOULE just astern, but to windward. When they passed to the south of Lepe Spit on their way to Cowes Radio buoy, JOLENE ll still looked best placed at the head of the fleet, but it was clear many boats were locked in tight battles.  As they ran past Egypt Point under asymmetric spinnakers on the way to the finish, the leading group was still neck and neck, with each boat surging back and forward by half a length as they alternately picked up speed in a gust, or on top of a wave.

In the most adrenaline-filled finish of the day, JET, sailed by the Stanley, Walker and Williams team, extended into a marginal lead three boat lengths from the line. Two seconds after she took the winner’s cannon, another resounding bang signaled Jonathan Calascione and Jonny Goodwin’s HARLEQUIIN crossing the line. The podium appeared complete when Jamie Sheldon’s JIGSAW finished eight seconds later. With JOLENE ll crossing the line 16 seconds afterwards, the first four boats finished within 26 seconds of each other. However, both leading boats were the subject of protests. HARLEQUIN had accepted a time penalty, leaving her fourth and JOLENE ll third. But JET lost her protest and was disqualified, leaving JIGSAW as winner of the Royal Thames Danish Dish, with JOLENE ll second.  There was still more drama to come in this fleet – the next two boats in the class – JOULE and Tony Dickin’s JUBILEE – finished, just six seconds apart. Less than two minutes after that, the line was thick with J/109s, with seven boats finishing in only 38 seconds.

“The finish was great,” says Ross Walker of JET, the first boat across the line. “It’s what one-design racing is all about – it was fantastic to have four boats finishing in line abreast at the end of the race. Even though we lost the protest we’re still very happy because it was such as great race – the course setters did a grand job and the lead changed several times.

‘The class this year is still very competitive, but it has more of a family and friends feel than in the past. Most of my crew are teenagers, who are having the time of their lives – we have two of the children of the crew of BASIC INSTINCT [another J/109] on board, as well as my goddaughter, while my daughter is racing on JIGSAW.”

J/80 sailing downwind at Cowes- women's teamIn the J/80 class, Gillian Ross’s ROCK & ROLL started closest to the outer distance mark, nicely powered up and close to the line, and was first to tack offshore. Doug Neville-Jones’s JASMINE started towards the inshore end and was similarly well placed close to the line.  A few minutes into the race, Jamie Diamond’s RASCAL, the most inshore of the fleet, appeared to hook into a favourable wind shift. AQUA-J, sailed by the Stuart, Evans and Simonds syndicate, also clearly liked the look of the left-hand side of the course, tacking onto starboard and passing ahead of RASCAL. The rest of the fleet at this stage, however, opted to stay offshore in the stronger tide.

By the finish Simon Ling’s RAFBF SPITFIRE held a big lead, almost three minutes ahead of another Young Skipper’s trophy contender, William Goldsmith’s EXESS, who in turn enjoyed a three and a half minute advantage over JASMINE in third place.

By the time of the Sportsboat start at 1125, the sun was streaming through ever-larger gaps between clouds with increasing intensity and frequency. The majority of the fleet, which is racing under IRC, opted to start at the outer end of the line, with Royal 4, one of the modified J/80s owned by the RYS and Royal Thames YC looking good. On corrected time the lower-rated boats came out towards the top of the fleet. Charlie Esse, Anthony Esse and Jason Sivyer’s modified J/80 DARWIN PROPERTY INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT was second.

On Monday, the defining feature of the third day of the regatta was a gusty and shifty southerly wind that varied from less than 10 knots at times to gusts of more than 20. After a bright morning, a band of cloud with showers on its leading edge was moving eastwards towards Cowes, with very light winds forecast to follow in its wake. As a result, relatively short courses were set to make good use of the day’s best winds.

By Tuesday, the fourth day, Cowes dawned with plenty of sun and light southerly winds that started to build at 0900, reaching 10-12 knots by the time of the first starts. Later the breeze increased still further, to give puffs of up to 16 knots by late morning, before easing back to a mean speed of just over 10 knots.

White Group dayboats that started from the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) line headed towards the east, fighting an ebb tide. Despite this, a lot of boats were over the line at the gun, and two starts had to be recalled. At the other end of the spectrum were those who allowed themselves to be swept too far down tide of the start. Most of the successful boats started around one-third of the way out from the shore, where they gained some advantage from a weaker tidal stream but were also able to protect their air from other boats.

Then came an enormous wake-up call on Wednesday-- the proverbial "tempest in a teapot", and then some!  A vigorous and unstable cold front, associated with an un-seasonally deep low pressure system moving across southern England, upset plans for racing at Cowes Week today. Although mean wind speeds for much of the day were not forecast to be particularly severe, the possibility of sustained squalls of 33-34 knots was a serious concern for race officials.

J/80s sailing in a near gale offwindAs a result racing was abandoned for the dayboat classes in White Group and also for the smaller boats in Black Group, while the larger boats continued racing. It turned out to be a frustrating morning for many, with big holes in the wind between the showers, along with mammoth wind shifts. Between 1340 and 1350 the wind at Lymington Starting Platform varied from 9 to 33 knots, shifting by almost 40 degrees. Over the next 10 minutes it held a more constant direction, but rapidly strengthened to an average of 27 knots, with peak gusts of over 42 knots.  The squalls moved quickly up the Solent, with the first big gusts hitting Cowes just after 1400, as the leaders in IRC Class 4 were closing the finish. Flogging sails could be seen on boats that weren’t ready for the sudden change in conditions, while those who were prepared to quickly change gear for the stronger winds powered past, making good gains

By the sixth day, Thursday, the weather started settling down as the fleets themselves also started to establish a pecking order with regards to whom had begun to establish almost unassailable leads over their competitors.  With winds averaging 15 knots, with some stronger gusts, the sailors were provided ideal conditions.  This led to a fifth win for Jonathan Calascione and Jonny Goodwin’s J/109 HARLEQUIN, putting them at at the head of the class’s overall standings, while a fifth place for Christopher Sharples and Richard Acland’s JOLENE ll was sufficient to secure second overall. However, half a dozen boats were still in contention for third with two days to go.

Meanwhile, able to secure class victory with a day spare with a third place was Grant Gordon’s J/97 FEVER GLENFIDDICH in IRC Class 5- truly a dominating performance in a very tough class over many past IRC 4/ IRC 5 Cowes Week champions in the class, including Adam Gosling's Corby 30 YES!

The seventh day, Friday, saw racing concluding for the White Group dayboat classes, including the J/80. The first leg was a tight spinnaker reach for most classes, with the most enthusiastic competitors hoisting as early as possible. However, only the best sailors were able to get them filling in the disturbed air on the start line and for some it was initially more of a hindrance than a benefit.

J/80 sailboats- starting off Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, Isle of Wight, EnglandAn individual recall on the J/80 start saw the Stuart, Evans and Simonds syndicate’s AQUA-J return to restart. It was only when the X-flag remained up that William Goldsmith’s young crew on EXESS, contenders for the Under 25 Trophy, and lying second overall in the class, realized they also needed to drop the spinnaker and return.  Goldsmith’s crew did well to recover their big deficit, finishing third behind Simon Ling’s RAFBF SPITFIRE and Jamie Diamond’s RASCAL. Ling won the class overall, counting only first places, with Goldsmith second, and a fourth place today was enough to secure third overall for Geoffrey Payne’s SURF & TURF by a two-point margin.

Although a handful of winners had emerged Thursday amongst various classes, Friday was the last day of racing for the overall prizes for Black Group classes. Jonathan Calascione and Jonny Goodwin’s HARLEQUIN had already secured an overall win in the J/109 class, but was out again today, notching up an impressive sixth win to take overall victory in Black Group. Grant Gordon’s J/97 FEVER GLENFIDDICH won IRC Class 5 again to take second in Black Group.

A new prize for 2012 was the J/111 Cowes Week Challenge Trophy, which went to J/111 class winners Jeez Louise, skippered by James Arnell. This is the second consecutive year a Brighton-based crew has won the class, with Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas’ Shmokin Joe winners in 2011.

In the J/92 & J/92s Division, J'RONIMO won with BLACK JACK 2nd and JUST ENOUGH 3rd.  In the J/97 Division, it was FEVER GLENFIDDICH leading the pack home, followed by JACKAROO in 2nd and JET in 3rd.  In the J/122 Division, GHOST was first followed by THE SISTERHOOD in 2nd and MINT JULEP in 3rd.

J/80 junior sailors- racing Exess off Cowes at Cowes WeekIn the extra-special awards category, the Under 25s Trophy went to the gang on the J/80 EXESS with William Goldsmith!  Job well done mates!

Additional J Boat success was had by the new J/70, which entered the sportsboat class on day six. After a disappointing start at the back of the fleet, the exciting new 23 footer managed to charge her way through the fleet to finish second over the line. After the handicaps had been applied, the J/70 had earned her maiden UK victory!  Sweet!  Thanks for the news contributions by Rupert Holmes.  Sailing Photo credits- Rick Tomlinsom   For more Cowes Week sailing information

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

J/Boats @ Southampton Show

J/111 sailing RORC seriesJ/70, J/80, J/109, J/111 & J/122
(Southampton, England)- Key Yachting Ltd will be exhibiting five J/Boats at the Southampton Boat Show in September, including the new J/70 Speedster which will be making its UK debut.

The J/70 Speedster is J Boats’ first ramp-launchable keelboat - designed to fulfill the growing need for an easy to own, high performance one design, that is exciting to sail, stable enough sailboat for the family, and built to last. A natural evolution of its J pedigree, the J/70’s 23.0 feet of sailing length with high aspect, all carbon rig and deep, lifting keel provides spirited performance and stability that feels like a much larger boat.

The J/80 is a well-founded class in the UK.  Sportsboat classes come and go but the International J/80 (now in her eighteenth year) has truly come of age. The on-going strength of the class was proven this year with the entry of over seventy-five J/80s in the 2012 World Championship in Dartmouth in this summer.  Delightfully easy to sail, yet capable of 18 knots on a breezy day, the J/80 has its own class for the Round the Island Race and at Cowes Week and at many other regattas around the UK .

The J/109 is a fabulously successful cruiser-racer- it's lively enough to hold the interest of youngsters yet stable enough to instill sea-going confidence in sailors of all ages. The boat accelerates in the lightest of puffs, and short-tacks nimbly through narrow channels under mainsail alone. J/109 owners state this racer-cruiser is the ideal marriage of true cruising comfort and sailing performance whether daysailing, racing or cruising.

The J/111 Speedster is a powerful offshore 36 ft speedster as well as an International One-Design race-boat. Following an astonishingly successful offshore record in the first two years, the J/111 has set the precedent for her market.  The J/111 is a purposeful-looking, thoroughly performance-orientated boat.  She is balanced and easily driven as her third place in the 2011 Doublehanded Fastnet Race proves.  There is nothing like the J/111 on the market at the moment- her race results speak for themselves and she has proved herself time and time again across a variety of conditions both inshore and offshore.

The J/122 may be the quintessential 41 foot offshore cruiser racer. With its sailing-friendly deck layout and cockpit design and comfortable arrangement plan below, the J/122 is as easy to handle around buoys as it is handling your guests. Quick and responsive, powerful and stable, easy to handle and a pleasure to steer, plus a roomy hand-crafted cruising interior, the J/122 is indeed what sailing is all about. With a modest displacement, low wetted surface, and a powerful sailplan the J/122 delivers true all-round performance.  Proof? In Key West Race Week 2012, the J/122 was 1st, the J/111 2nd and the J/109 3rd!  Tough choice for cognoscenti of offshore sailing performance, comfort and speed-- a bit like comparing a Mercedes AMG S65 saloon to a Porsche Carrera 4 GTS and a BMW M-Series X5 SUV.  For more Southampton Boatshow information, please contact J/UK Key Yachting at "".

Monday, August 27, 2012

Penobscot Bay Rendezvous Fireworks!

J/160 offshore cruiser sailboat- sailing Penobscot Bay TRUE Wins J/160 Cruise!
(Camden, Maine)- Last year's inaugural event was a smashing success! The 2012 Penobscot Bay Rendezvous, August 16-19 once again proved to be one of Maine's most exciting sail and powerboat regattas of the season. Super yachts, to classics to performance racers, passage-making power cruisers, Picnic Boats and lobster yachts all participated. The Penobscot Bay Rendezvous is a celebration of boating, featuring daily races for sailboats and a Poker Run and Photo Pursuit events for powerboats, the participants were treated each night to lobster bakes, barbecues, dancing and fireworks.

Rockland was the center of attention on Friday with the "Texas Flying Legends" airshow starting the event off the Rockland breakwater. Saturday’s destination was Camden Harbor where guests danced the night away to the seven-piece dance band "Groove Authority".

This year was the first ever J/160 North American Championship with five J/160s participating!  The underlying premise for the J/160s was keep it simple and keep it fun.  They had a one-design start with a simple but modest handicap of six seconds a mile given to the shoal draft boats.   #3 jibs and mainsails were the full sail complement so two of the boats were easily handled with one couple sailing double-handed. The competition was spirited with fine 20 knot breezes on Friday, a challenging day of light air on Saturday and a bit more breeze on Sunday. Abundant sunshine, mostly blue skies, lobster pots, seals and the Camden Hills as a back drop made for a glorious sailing experience.

P51 Mustang Thunderbolt sailing over J/160s in Penobscot Bay, MaineAll participants were treated to fabulous parties,  an intimate (50 yards away) fireworks display, a unforgettable half hour World War II era air show amongst the fleet pre-start on Friday, live music and of course great camaraderie.

All of the 160s have been down island, Mexico, or across the "Big Ponds" (Pacific or Atlantic).  Some skippers were in their second race ever-- and some had more extensive experience.  The winner, Howie Hodgson is in his second year with his 160 TRUE, with a custom and elegant interior with three heads, three cabins and a massive nav station - perfect for this long legged Greyhound of a yacht!

The J/160 class order of finish was as follows- 1st TRUE (Howie Hodgson), 2nd ATLANTIC (Ben Blake), 3rd HERON (Jay Pasco-Anderson), 4th SEPTEMBER MORNING (Judy Jellinek) and 5th LADY HAWK (Steve Grigg).

PHRF 2 had a battle royal on Sunday with the J/80, J/29, and two J/100s all tied for first with five points.  The J/100 skippers are both retired gentlemen with strong racing backgrounds and competitive juices still running in their veins.  The J/29 was sailed by Larry Turner, a former America's Cup bow man who took delivery of his new but well used boat the day before the Rendezvous--- and a very well sailed local J/80 with owner Jesse Henry and Penobscot Bay Wizard and all-time J/24 genius, Jeff Dinse on board.  Local knowledge won the day!  Jesse's J/80 CHAISE LOUNGE won over Larry's J/29 RENEGADE.

In Double-handed, Tom Babbitt's laid back approach on his J/42 BRAVO (full cockpit cushions and dodger deployed, full bookshelves below, shoal draft, aluminum mast, grill on the stern rail, crew average age in the sixties ) proved victorious with grit on the windy day (refusing to reef with a 155 percent genoa in 20 knots) and intense concentration (for senior citizens) in the tricky light stuff.

Single-Handed saw Scott Miller on his J/122 RESOLUTE, veteran of a couple of short-handed races to Bermuda, take the top prize over Ron Hart on his J/109 for a J-sweep of the top two spots.   Sailing photo credits- Billy Black

J/70 NYYC IQS Preview

J/70s sailing off Newport, RI (Newport, RI)- This year's NYYC Invitational Cup U.S. Qualifying Series (USQS) will feature twelve new J/70 speedsters! The J/70 will join the NYYC’s fleet of Sonars when 24 of the nation’s most competitive yacht clubs compete in the NYYC USQS off Newport, RI from September 4 to 8, 2012. The top three finishers will earn the right to compete in the 2013 NYYC Invitational Cup presented by Rolex.

The USQS will continue the successful format from 2010 in which teams compete in two fleets of one-design keelboats. By utilizing the J/70, a modern high-performance planing keelboat 23’ in length with an asymmetrical spinnaker – along with the 23’ Sonar with its symmetrical spinnaker -- the NYYC is raising the bar for competitors by testing their versatility across different boat designs as well as allowing the final decision to be made in a boat closer in philosophy to the NYYC Swan 42 -- the yacht used in the international event.

Of the twenty-four yacht clubs participating across the country, several are known to have top crews participating.  Ft Worth Boat Club has Glenn Darden from Ft Worth, TX (also a NYYC member) skippering for their team- Glenn is a past J/80 World Champion, J/105 North American Champion and top NYYC Swan 42 sailor. Also a factor in the top of the fleet will be Eastern YC's Billy Lynn, past Sonar World Champion and top J/24 and J/80 sailor from Marblehead, MA.  Alan Field from Cal YC is sailing their entry, Alan is a champion Melges 24 sailor from Marina del Rey, California.  Past Olympian Andy Lovell is sailing for Southern YC from New Orleans, LA; St Francis YC is sending champion sailor Peter Vessella; and Storm Trysail Club from Rye, New York is sending a "Q-ship" team of undercover agents that includes Jimmy & Brenda Crane.

Many other clubs are fielding top teams, including Bay Head YC from New Jersey (Russ Lucas, Mike Fortenbaugh and Peter Wright); Carolina YC from South Carolina; Edgartown YC from Massachusetts; Fishing Bay YC from Virginia; Florida YC from Jacksonville, Florida; Grand Maumelle SC from Little Rock, Arkansas; Grand Traverse YC from Michigan; Indian Harbor YC from Greenwich, Connecticut; Larchmont YC from New York (Danny Pletsch, Clay Bischoff and Cardwell Potts); Little Traverse YC from Harbor Springs, Michigan; Nantucket YC from Massachusetts; Newport Harbor YC from California; Pequot YC from Connecticut (Dave Rosow and two Dellenbaugh's); San Francisco YC from California; Seattle YC from Washington; Texas Corinthian YC from Kemah, Texas; and Youngstown YC from New York.  The competition promises to be fast, furious and extremely competitive.  Last time around, packs of boats were rounding marks en-masse leading to massive changes around every corner of the race track-- it was a bit like the children's game- "Chutes & Ladders"!  Anything that can happen, will happen.   For more New York YC Invitational Qualifying Series sailing information

Friday, August 24, 2012

German J/80 Youth Team Report

J/80 one-design sailboats- sailing off Berlin, Germany* German J/80 Youth sailing team report- from Fynn Terveer- like their Long Island Sound youth sailing buddies, this German J/80 youth team has been having a fun and successful season sailing their boat "Bibelot GER 529".  Here's Fynn's report-

"Our team of BIBELOT GER 529 got funding from the German J/80 Class Association to participate in the 2012 German J/80 Open sailing circuit this season.  Some of you we have probably already met, others we have not met on the race course. Therefore I would like to report briefly on our crew.

Our crew is comprised of Malte Harneit (18 yrs old) on main sheet, Felix Stallforth (19 yrs old) on jib sheet, Patrick Flob (17) on the gennaker, and me Terveer Fynn, as skipper.  All of us have been sailing for about five years in the Kieler Yacht Club. Here Felix and Malte had been sailing 29ers for two years in the Kieler Yacht School. Good things have been happening there with great changes for junior sailors.  Patrick and I have sailed for five years and active in the yachting school, along with 35 other young members, we added four more boats and two dinghies.

As with most other J/80 teams, we are ready to race in the Schlei One Design Cup and at German Open in Flensburg. Furthermore, we are ready to sail in Berlin or Hamburg, provided there are enough sailing teams to race us!! We are looking forward to a fun end-of-the-season sailing program!  Best regards, Fynn!"

J/22 Micro-scale Models!

J/22 micro-scale model* J/22 Scale Model Size of a Quarter?  Amazing.  It's beyond comprehension how artist/ modelers can do the proverbial "ship-in-the-bottle" and have it come out looking so cool and in such detail.  Nevertheless, artist/ modeler Ric Skinner managed to do this for a J/22 with next to no information, other than pictures and drawings found around the Internet.  Said Ric, "Your readers may be interested in this. For my son’s 30th birthday I scratch-built (no plans, no kit) a 1:176 scale model of J/22 #1078. I used what J/22 photos I could find on the Internet, a couple very basic profile and deck plan views. I would like to make another J/22 at a larger scale with more detail.  My son Greg recently purchased J/22 #1078 with 2 other guys. They’ve been racing in the J/World Annapolis Thursday night races. I’m not a sailor, but have a keen interest in the sport. My hobby is normally building 18th & 19th century wooden ships & boats."  So, for any of you J/22 sailors who want a fun, quick easy model of your boat as a Christmas tree ornament, or perhaps a more formal version, please don't hesitate to contact Ric Skinner on email.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LI Sound Jrs Sailing Offshore Crush Fleet

J/105 Long Island Sound junior sailors- sailing fast downwind (Long Island Sound, New York)- During the summer months, the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound has seen increasing interest and attendance in offshore sailing amongst the junior sailors.  The two most prominent regattas of the year include the Dorade Trophy for around-the-buoys big boat racing as well as the Beach Point Junior Overnight Race.  How cool is that!?  Junior sailors going offshore on big boats with coaches learning what it takes to navigate, make safe offshore tactics and strategies, select the right sails for the conditions and learn how to steer and trim fast offshore?  Sign me up!

J/105 junior sailors- sailing fast reachingThis past week, one of the ring-leaders of this fantastic offshore program for kids, Jordan Mindich from Lloyd Harbor YC, provided a quick update on the action going on in Long Island Sound.  In the Dorade Trophy event, seven great kids from the Centerport Yacht Club together with their instructor and owner's representative Mike Sterflinger took 1st overall on the J/105 SHAKEDOWN with a 5-1-1- record for 7 pts! With PHRF 2 being a nearly all J/105 division, it was going to be a battle amongst the kids to see who was king-of-the-hill, with J/105 teams taking 7 of the top 10!!  Second was Collamore Crocker's team on PEREGRINA with a 1-3-5 record for 9 pts.  Third was Lincoln White's team on MORNING GLORY, fifth was Scott Florio sailing Barry Gold's WARHORSE to a 3-4-9 record for 16 pts.  Seventh was John Horan's group on CUSH with a 9-2-11 score for 22 pts.  Eighth was David Greenhouse's team on SKIPPERDEE with a 6-10-7 for 23 pts and tenth was Connor Kasper's team on PLAYSTATION with a 8-9-10 tally for 27 pts.

Next up was the Beach Point Junior Overnight Race.  This time, the junior sailors on Long Island Sound J/Teams won ALL the divisions!  That's totally awesome.   In the J/105s, it was Com Crocker's MORNING GLORY first, followed by SHAKEDOWN in second and PEREGRINA in third.  In Division A-1 Racing, the J/122 PATRIOT won and in Division A-2 Racing the J's swept class with the J/105 CUSH (John Horan's boat) winning followed by the J/109 STRIDER (Adam Loory's boat) and the J/109 STRATEGERY (Jack Forehand's boat).  Congratulations to all kids, the next generation of J/Sailors starting to rule the roost!  Sailing photo credits- Rick Bannerot

Fun J/105 SoCal Fall Series!

J/105 one-design sailboats- sailing upwind off San Diego (San Diego, California)- Amazing!  San Diego J/105 sailors have planned a month-plus of sailing J/105s for you to enjoy off San Diego sailing in the famous harbor racing around battleships, cruise ships and ducking for cover from C/130 and F-117 "fly-by's" to reveling in the spectacular coastline offshore that includes the gorgeous Point Loma and the remarkable city-front and the ghostly haunts of the classy Coronado Hotel on the beach-front!  Plus, the sailing conditions are generally awesome, with a cool, gentle sea-breeze developing most days providing some laid-back SoCal-style sailing in 6-10 knots of breeze with loads of sunshine.  The series of J/105 events include the following dates:

Oct 13-14- SoCal J/105 Champs
Oct 17-21- J/105 North Americans
Nov 2-4-    J/105 Masters
Nov 9-11-   Lipton Cup

The San Diego J/105 fleet offered the following Top TEN Reasons to sail a J/105 in SoCal for a month!  Here you go---

# 10- Logistics - Inexpensive trucking to get your boat to San Diego - contact us for references!  Free trailer storage!  Free trailer usage!

# 9- Awesome Venue - San Diego Yacht Club is famous for great racing and world class race management. Enjoy Spectacular sailing off Point Loma and Coronado.  SDYC is also home to many national and international champions.

# 8- So much to do! - San Diego offers endless opportunities for activities that your family will enjoy!  Spend the day relaxing at the beach, visiting picturesque seaside villages, exploring the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, Amusement Parks, the USS Midway, and plenty more options to discover something new!

# 7- Great Deal! - Driscoll Boat Works is offering a deal on getting your boat ready to sail once in San Diego - Service includes launching the boat and stepping the spar (and re-hauling and un-stepping after the event) all for $500.00! Contact Chuck Driscoll at for more details.  WOW, now that's a great deal!

# 6- Practice Opportunities - The SoCal Champs will be held the weekend prior to the NA's, open to all J/105s, an excellent tune-up and practice for the big event!

# 5- Dennis Conner - The newest member of Fleet 8 is already registered for the North American Championship!  How much fun would it be to race against American's Greatest Sailor- America's Cup Champion, Etchells 22 World Champion, Star World Champion, SORC Champion, El Toro World Champion (really?)!

# 4- Sail Inventory - For those in the San Francisco fleet, there is a provision in the Notice of Race allowing the purchase of additional inventory of sails for Southern California sailing!

# 3- Camaraderie - Catch up with your J/105 friends from around the world gathered in San Diego as we share our sailing exploits with each other after a great day of racing!  NOTE- the San Diego YC bar, restaurant and porch are amongst the nicest in the world.

# 2- Social Events - Not only will the on the water activities be enough reason to come to San Diego, there are festivities planned to keep all entertained!  Highlights include the "Taste of Point Loma" at SDYC, showcasing an eclectic array of eateries offering signature selections to enjoy as well as wine and beer tasting!  The "Surfin' Safari" will be a rockin' beach surf party with extraordinary local cuisine, cool libations, and all that is unique to San Diego!

# 1 Reason- Awesomely Great Weather - San Diego is a fantastic place to sail in October with fabulously sunny, warm weather and consistent breeze!   For more J/105 Fall Series sailing information

NORTHERN SEITZ Wins J/27 Lake Ontarios

J/27 one-design sailboat- sailing across finish line (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)- Like their "bro's" and colleagues sailing in the J/29s a bit farther East on the Canadian seaboard, the J/27s managed to also attract a strong contingent of teams from across the eastern parts of North America to sail in the J/27 Lake Ontario's off Oakville (near Toronto).  Here's the report from Dirk Sell, skipper of WILLY-T:

"The ten J/27's battled it out for two days on Lake Ontario for the Championships. Boats came from Beverly Mass, Collingwood, Hamilton, Etobicoke, Buffalo and the local Oakville Fleet. Saturday, gave new meaning to the term battled. Winds started in the low teens and steadily increased throughout the day, and by the 4th race, were well into the low twenties with gusts approaching 30 kts. 10- 12 ft waves were crashing the foredeck.

J/27 sailboats- sailing fast downwind on Lake Ontario12 kts down wind was the norm, with CURVED AIR reporting over 14 kts. Those rarely used No.3 jibs were the order of the day for most of the fleet, although some chose to use No.1's, to keep the boat driving into the waves. Sunday arrived with more subdued, although fluctuating and shifting, winds in the 8-12 kt range. The seas had diminished so it was great "27" conditions for 3 more windward/leeward races."

Said the gang on CURVE AIR, "It was EPIC J/27 conditions on Saturday with 20-30kts breeze and waves. So far no-one has come forward with a better top speed of 14.3 Knots which we did under chute...we weren't as fast when we hoisted the chute sideways...but to be sure we did it a second time to confirm and after a bit of shrimping on the douse...decided to fly it as a flag to dry it out. Good Fun...everything is soak and everything still hurts.

J/27 sailboat fleet- ready to go sailing on Lake OntarioOtherwise the American's have invaded Canada Again (we've got our eye on you Seitz)...4 Races Yesterday...another 3 far it's a bunch of kids in their dad's boat (CAN-99 Messing About @ 9 Points) and first year of sailing it holding of Michael in Northern Seitz (USA-108 @ 10 Points). 3rd place in at 15 Points with a chance if they can manage to get off the line decently...and finish goofing around with the chute...yes that would be me (CAN-59 Curved Air).

There are GoPROs all over MESSING ABOUT so the on-board videos should be awesome...once I get the links to everything will certainly share...looking forward to them."

As for the crew on STARLET, here's what they had to say, "Thanks Andrew for all of your hard work in organizing this regatta. I have no doubt that it will continue to grow once word get back to other 27 owners about how much fun the weekend was!  As for us on STARLET, we had a great time! We didn't really buy the boat with the intention of doing much racing aside some JAM club racing with the kids but this weekend might make us change our mind on that. Even though we were shorted handed after dropping off 2 seasick crew on Saturday, the downwind rides were a blast! Sunday was good, fun tight racing as well!"

The final results were the following: 1st place- NORTHERN SEITZ with 20 pts, 2nd was MESSING ABOUT with 21 pts, 3rd was CURVED AIR with 25 pts, 4th was STARLET with 31 pts and 5th was SHAZAM losing the tie-breaker with STARLET.

In conclusion, Dirk commented that, "Our target for 2013, is 15 or more boats.  There are expressions of interest from 3-4 boats in addition to the 10 from this year.  So lets make it happen.  Oakville is a wonderful venue with downtown a 7 minute walk from the docks. The Oakville Jazz Festival was taking place on the same weekend, so the evenings had plenty of options for food, drink and entertainment. Thanks to Andrew Reim (Curved Air #59) and the Oakville Yacht Squadron for a hosting a great event."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

JAEGER Wins J/29 NA's

J/29 sailboats- sailing North Americans Nova Scotia (Lunenburg, Nova Scotia)- The local J/29 fleet in Halifax, Nova Scotia and 29 owner Matt Stokes did a remarkable job to attract a fleet of fourteen J/29s to race in this year's Halifax BMW J/29 North American Championship hosted by the Lunenburg Yacht Club.  Here's the rather amusing report and commentary from Johnny Heseltine, one of the co-owners of J-ZEUS I-19.

"The pre-amble to the J/29 North Americans was the Charlottetown Race Week, the event attracted a respectable fleet with four Nova Scotia J/29s packing it up and hitting the road to take on four Island boats. The Nova Scotians dominating this time around. What the results clearly indicate is that J24 ace Johnny Whynacht, who has recently joined Quantum Sails as their Atlantic Canada rep and has also taken over Larry Creaser’s super fast Jaeger, got off to a flying start. John and crew won all four races on the first day of the event and looked ready to run away. On the second day, however, he slipped just a bit (not much) and then tripped with an OCS that opened the door for the steady Christies in the always dangerous Colmonell. Behind the two front runners were the class’s two co-Presidents, who went at the last day tooth and nail.

Johnny’s downfall came in the second last race when he was called over early and unwittingly sailed the race not knowing it would be his drop. He was joined in his disqualification in that race by Randy Johnston in J2K. John and Randy were in fact the fourth and fifth starting line violators in the event joining three who were black flagged in the second race. The current in Charlottetown is always a challenge and can make starts especially tricky when it is running against the wind.

Critically for Johnny, the second last race was Colmonell’s third consecutive win and made a horse race out of what had been a runaway. Notwithstanding a starting run of four firsts and a second, Jaeger had to beat Colmonell in the final race to hold on to the regatta lead.

It turned out not to be. Colmonell edged Jaeger with a second over Jaeger’s third, providing a one point regatta victory. The race was won by Andrew Childs in Silver Woman, who finally created some separation between himself and Satisfaction with which he had exchanged blows through eight races. With a bullet against Satisfaction’s seventh and took the last spot on the podium by six points.

J/29 sailboat- sailing into spinnaker setThe win puts the reigning season champs into first for 2012 but there’s lots to go yet. Johnny Whynacht has certainly shown he has what it takes, and Silver Woman and Satisfaction are also clearly capable. I’d like to think that J-Zeus II9 will have something to say and I’m sure Dog Party can’t be counted out. All will be at the North Americans in Lunenburg, which promises to have 18 boats and, consequently, will play large in determining the champion under this year’s boats beaten arrangement.

When I got J-Zeus II9 into Lunenburg on Sunday the subject of the social schedule for the North Americans came up. If we were going to sail for three days, Lorna wanted to know when she could come down and cut a rug. I knew there was a BBQ because tickets were offered at a discount when I registered. I realized, though, that I didn’t know when the BBQ was going to take place or much about what was going on the other two nights besides Prize Giving on Sunday, which is a classic no-brainer. Last night it came up that West Nova Fuels is sponsoring the band for Pub Night, although I didn’t know what Pub Night was or what night it might be.

It all prompted me to ask Ian Mann, who is in charge of this stuff and seems to be a very well organized man, for a few specifics so I could detail our Schedule page and tell my wife what night would be best to make the trip from Halifax for a little action. As it turns out, Ian and Lunenburg Yacht Club have done some very fine work. After racing on Day 1 a beer keg will be available along with free samples of product from Gosling’s Rum. Day 2 will also justify another keg after which LYC will host Pub Night with the band kindly provided by West Nova Fuels. Day 3 Sunday, of course, will wrap up with prize giving, another area in which LYC has traditionally excelled thanks to the exceedingly generous sponsorship of the Yacht Shop.

As it all turned out, Lunenburg Yacht Club was, once again, a perfect host. Excellent race management on world class sailing waters. The weather wasn’t completely perfect but, on the whole, it was pretty good. Two days of sun with light to medium winds on either side of a day with some fog and rain, and heavier but far from crazy breezes. It provided a good and varied test that was fair for everyone. Ample opportunity for 11 double windward-leeward races.

We had hoped for 18 boats, which would have set a record for J/29 one-design racing. In the end, only 14 showed up. All were from Atlantic Canada. They definitely included lots of good sailors, though, keen to make a run at the biggest prize we’ve ever been able to offer for J29s in our region. There were no easy races and lots of interesting incidents, some of which I observed from my spot as spinnaker trimmer and boat tuner on J-Zeus II9. To organize things I’ll run down each day in order and hope that readers won’t be annoyed by a J-Zeus II9 bias that I think is pretty hard to avoid under my circumstances.

J/29s crossing tacks sailing upwindFriday's Sailing
The forecast for Friday was light winds. According to Windfinder, it would only be blowing one knot at noon when the first race of the regatta was supposed to start. We set JZII9 up loose in expectation of a drifter but as things got underway the wind came up nicely into the 5 to 10 kt range. Erik Koppernaes, who makes our sails and sails our boat when we really want to do well, got a great start to initiate a pattern that prevailed through the regatta. We were just above former Laser North American Champion Andrew Childs, however, and Andrew quickly edged in front of us and was soon lee-bowing us. From there Andrew excelled and we did not. He moved to the front and won the race comfortably over Johnny Whynacht in Jaeger with Lunenburg stalwarts and many times fleet champions, Scotch Mist IV, in third. We slid back to 10th and I reckon would have been last if the race had gone another two legs.

We couldn’t point and we weren’t very fast in a straight line. We quickly assessed that our rig was too loose and set to tightening things up for Race 2 in the hope that half a year of preparation wasn’t going amount to repetitive double digit placings. Fortunately, we hit the numbers for the second race, which saw a bit more wind than its predecessor. Erik won his second start in a row and this time, instead of getting rolled by a superb young sailor, we pulled away and were soon sailing on our own with only Jaeger close on our tail. We bounced back with a win followed by Jaeger and Silver Woman.

The third race was sailed in slightly stronger but still moderate breezes. This time Jaeger got out in front with JZII9 tagging along. On the last downwind leg Dog Party took advantage of a sloppy spinnaker gybe on our part to squeeze into second and put us into third spot. Having Jaeger tack on top of us and watching them gybe downwind in front of us gave us a very good idea of the quality of their sailing and what we were up against.

With the wind building slightly more, we did a little more tightening and set out for further improvement. Once again, Erik won the start and quickly set out for the righthand side of the course. This time, we led at every mark and won very comfortably. Evan Petley-Jones and Jim Mason followed us in Satisfaction. After them, damn it, came Jaeger.

The first day was obviously encouraging to us. In my opinion, Erik won all four starts, even in the first race when we came 10th, and we had won two races. On the other hand, Jaeger had sailed better and more consistently, and they held the lead. It was also clear from our tenth that there was a very thin line between getting it right and missing completely. Starts, mark roundings, interference from other boats, breakdowns, and boat tuning could all jump up and bite sailors where it hurts and often did. Dog Party pipped us in Race 3 but then came 12th in Race 4. Lots of other boats rose and slid in the same way throughout the regatta.

Saturday's Sailing
The second day of the regatta saw wet and overcast weather. Visibility was periodically limited and winds were stronger. Larger waves made it difficult to find the marks at times as their red colour didn’t always stand out as much as I would like. I wasn’t really keen on the marks, which were all red tetrahedrons that were difficult to distinguish from each other and could disappear behind waves in even moderate conditions. My only criticism of otherwise terrific work by everyone involved in the Race Committee.

The first race of the day went well for JZII9. We were late getting to the starting area along with about four other competitors and were very fortunate when Race Officer Andreas Josenhans uncharacteristically postponed. We pulled it together quickly though. We spent a lot of time on set up on the way out and when Erik pulled off yet another perfect start, we leapt ahead for another comfortable win. Jaeger, however, stayed with us for another second, followed by Scotch Mist IV, which recorded its second third. By this point, JZII9 had won three of five races but we trailed the much steadier Jaeger by five points thanks to our stumble out of the gate.

Just as we appeared ready to make our move on Jaeger, we tripped again. Whereas Erik had been starting beautifully in the first five races, a boat that might as well remain nameless chose to drift through our preferred area by the Committee boat with no apparent awareness of the rights of leeward boats or their obligation to go up when asked/yelled at. We got pinned out a bit and had to work through several boats on the windward leg. We played the left as I recall and just could not get by Satisfaction and Silver Woman, as well as Joy Ride, in which Gerard MacDonald had put together a boat full of excellent sailors led by helmsman Jeff Brock, who were all starting to get a handle on their boat. In front of all of them was the ever reliable Jaeger, which sailed to a comfortable win, followed by Satisfaction and Silver Woman. We passed Joy Ride upwind but lost them on the downwind leg to record a fifth and undo the good work we’d done in the previous four races (in the past, by the way, I would have been high fiving everyone after a fifth but Erik has been raising my standards).

We weren’t done for our part though. We made some more adjustments to the rig for the strengthening breeze and went after another one. Once again, Erik nailed the start. We went right and came out on top. Jaeger for once, wasn’t immediately on our tail. We won another comfortable one followed by the reigning Atlantic Class Champions in Colmonell and the persistent Andrew Childs in Silver Woman. Jaeger’s crew dug themselves out a moderately deep hole to finish fourth.

For the fourth and final race of the day we again adjusted the rig and went after another win. I’m a little sketchy on the early details of the race. We started every race near the Committee boat and started all but two very well so it gets hard to remember which one we sailed a minute and then flipped versus the ones where we flipped right away. I can’t recall exactly where we were around the marks but I vaguely recollect that Satisfaction held the lead at the first windward mark and the leeward mark. I believe we caught them on the second upwind leg because we had the lead as we sailed downwind to the finish.

Satisfaction and JZII9 sailed neck and neck to the finish in a fresh breeze but declining visibility as fog closed in. We were slightly ahead the whole way. Satisfaction attacked us from leeward at one point to push us slightly to the lefthand side of the leg. We were on port and considered later on that we should have simply gybed to starboard and forced Satisfaction to the righthand side of the finish line where we could have held them as the leading and leeward boat until we chose to go to the line. Unfortunately, its not what we did at the time. The little push they gave us to the left turned out to be critical because the Committee boat end of the line was strongly favored. Satisfaction never actually passed us but beat us by a few feet thanks to the angle of the line. In third was Joy Ride which managed to stay out in front of Jaeger, much to our delight.

Our one-two in the last two races finally closed the gap on Jaeger, which had recorded two fours. JZII9 finished the day one point ahead of Jaeger. Day 3 promised to be an interesting two-boat contest given that Jaeger and JZII9 had a healthy lead over Satisfaction and Silver Woman, which were also separated by one point, and seemed likely to focus on a fight between each other. JZII9 did however have that tenth from Race 1, which was lying like a ticking bomb ready to blow up underneath us at any time.

J/29 North Americans winnersSunday's Sailing & Finale
As the third day started, we on JZII9 were thinking about two things: how to reset the rig for what looked to be much lighter weather than the preceding afternoon and how to handle Johnny Whynacht and his excellent crew in Jaeger if they came after us. As the first race of the day went into the starting sequence, Jaeger was indeed tracking us, although it was too early for America’s Cup style circling. For the second time and for no particular reason other than the fact that nobody can win every start, JZII9 was not first off the line. At best, we were fifth and Jaeger was at least third. Johnny covered us carefully upwind and rounded the windward mark in third. We were probably in sixth.

We sailed downwind in a moderate breeze without too much trouble, holding our position behind Georgia Girl, which was in fifth. As we approached the leeward gate, however, we were confronted with three marks in a more or less even row. As I mentioned, all of the marks used for the event were identical tetrahedrons, excepting that they had a stripe on one corner, which I for one hadn’t noticed previously. The three marks in front of us were arrayed from left to right as follows: white stripe, blue stripe, white stripe. Two were clearly the gate and the other, just as clearly, was the pin end of the starting line — the question was which was which. We were sailing to the blue striped mark in the middle when it became clear that Georgia Girl was sailing with deliberation to the mark on the outside with the white stripe that matched the lefthand mark. As the other four boats in front had chosen to go right, we had no other guide. While we thought the middle mark was the right one, we noted that Georgia Girl was going to a white striped mark that matched the lefthand mark and seemed pretty sure about what they were doing. We travelled tentative for about three boat lengths on a reach toward the mark until we looked over our shoulders and saw the next boat rounding the blue striped mark that we had thought was the righthand gate.

With the confirmation of the herd behind us, we headed up three boat-lengths below everyone who came around behind us, in ninth instead of fifth (we had passed Georgia Girl thanks to their mistake but the net effect was not so favourable). We were furthermore stuck on the lefthand side of the course while Jaeger sailed to the right beyond our reach following Jaeger and Dog Party. That was the order of finish, with JZII9 racking up our second tenth of the event and essentially sucking the drama out of what was left of the day. Most of our competitors didn’t know it but it was all over. JZII9 had registered as many points in one race as we had in the previous five races combined and we had to count those points.

Jaeger’s worst race was a fourth. They could count everything they had sailed. We, on the other hand, had two tenths and Satisfaction had just won her second race in a row putting her just two points behind us. We needed Jaeger to sail two consecutive tenths or something similar for us to win and we couldn’t take any active part in it because we would risk finishing behind Satisfaction and falling out of second. We just had to do our best and hope for the unlikely possibility that lightning would strike Jaeger (it was sunny and clear).

We did at least bounce back for the third time after a bad race. Erik won yet another start, we went right, and led all the way around the course for our fifth win of the event. Johnny and his crew did not stumble, however. Once again, they stuck to our tail and finished second. In third was Silver Woman. Satisfaction finished seventh, which took the heat off of us.

As the eleventh race started, Jaeger had won mathematically let alone by all realistic scenarios I could imagine. Satisfaction realized as well that their shot at second was remote. The only issue left to be settled was whether Silver Woman could beat Satisfaction by enough to make it into third place. For the last start, we stuck to what had worked so far and it worked again. We won our ninth of eleven starts at the Committee Boat end (I realize I am the sole adjudicator of this but I call them as I see them) and set out to the right for what was probably the 17th time in 21 windward legs we had sailed to that point. At the leeward end, Satisfaction forced Silver Woman over the line and both were called over early. Satisfaction was in a better position to return, however, and established a good lead over Silver Woman at the back of the pack. Eventually, Satisfaction finished sixth over Silver Woman’s seventh to secure third overall.

We led the race by a good margin until we were approaching the second windward mark at which point the wind lightened and our rig, which I had been tightening as we went along, became sluggish. Johnny Whynacht, who naturally enough was in second, closed over the last quarter of the leg to get into a threatening position as we started the downwind leg. We went right and Johnny went left. It turned out that left was better and when we came back together at finish line, Jaeger had us by a boat length for a win that was a microcosm of the regatta. We had started well and sailed fast but Jaeger sailed more consistently, handled their boat a bit better, and got us when it counted.

For the final top three, it was Johnny Whynacht's JAEGER in 1st place with 21 pts net, followed in second by our team on J-ZEU I-19 (sailed by Erik Koppernaes & your's truly John Heseltine) with 27 pts net and in third was the combo of Evan Petley-Jones & Jim Mason sailing SATISFACTION with 40 pts net.

When the regatta is over the hardware has to be distributed. Good prizes have always been a tradition at Lunenburg. The Yacht Shop has been a sponsor of every event and they have always loaded the table with top quality swag. In some years they've given prizes for the top four in each race, a custom I particularly liked because I have a bit of a penchant for fourths. Other years they've given prizes to the top five overall, another time that they reached down to reward J-Zeus II9.

This year the spin was toward some fun prizes as well as to reward the top performers. In addition to rewarding race winners, LYC gave prizes for the Best Dressed Crew, the Best Road Story, and the Best Regatta Blooper. Class co-Presidents Evan Petley-Jones and Andrew Childs also sprung some surprise thank you's for making regatta arrangements.

J/29 Foxfire- sailing fast in styleThe Best Dressed Crew went to Mac Morrison of Foxfire, who is an unquestionable style leader. Mac's is a cracker jack boat refinisher (he did some fine work on the cabin of JZII9 before the regatta) and knows how to make things look good. His own boat is a picture with an immaculate finish and a very professional custom logo. He shares his boat with his sister and girlfriend who add a nice woman's touch to everything including super cool black outfits that they will have to put in a trunk when they reach 30. Being a gentleman, Mac took his opportunity to thank some fleet members for helping him get started with his boat. It's one thing to look classy but another to live it.

Best Road Trip went the crew of Georgia Girl, who sent up one of their number to recount the tale. I have to admit that I had a hard time following the details but I did catch that it had to do with bringing their boat back from Atlanta and getting hung up in at customs in Houlton, Maine. I make it a rule to never discuss any interaction that I've ever had with Customs but I appreciate this was competitive story telling.

The third fun prize for the regatta's most awkward moment went to Jeff Brock in Joy Ride. Again, I had a lot of trouble making out the story but I couldn't get over the irony of Jeff Brock winning a blooper prize. Of all the sailors in the event no one exudes more competence. I don't know how the Race Committee missed out on our marking rounding misadventures in Race 9 but they may have felt that was too much of an open sore.

Before the formal prizes got dished out, Andrew Childs also handed out two awards recognizing contributions to making the North Americans happen. I want to mention them, first, because one went to me for which I was very grateful and slightly moved and, second, because the other went to the person who did more than anyone else to make the North Americans a success in Lunenburg. My role was to have the idea to get the North Americans here and fail in the attempt to do so. All I can say is if I had a prize for every stillborn idea I've ever had I'd need a warehouse.

J/29 "yellow banana" sailing upwindThe second went to Matt Stokes, who worked with everything he had to cajole people to Lunenburg once he and Andrew Child's dusted off my dead concept. He wrote a letter to every J/29 owner who was a prospect to participate and communicated incessantly to encourage them to follow through. He arranged to get the North Americans trophy from John Edwards in the US, stimulated a lively discussion of the event on Sailing Anarchy's forum, and did a hundred other things to make the event happen. He also did it from Canmore, Alberta, something I didn't realize until about a month before the regatta, when I asked about his participation in a regatta here. Evan Petley-Jones and Andrew Childs also did a lot for the event that no one recognized and they too deserve a round of applause but NOBODY DID MORE TO MAKE THE 2012 NORTH AMERICANS HAPPEN THAN MATT STOKES.   Sailing photo credits- John Field   For more J/29 North Americans sailing information

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FLEETWING Flies @ Downeast Race Week

J/111 sailboat- sailing fast on spinnaker reach (Northeast Harbor, Maine)- The pinnacle of offshore yacht racing in the Downeast summer calendar is the Downeast Race Week hosted by both Kollegewidgwok YC from Blue Hill, Maine and the Northeast Fleet based in the famous summer colony of Northeast Harbor, Maine.  The event is a fun, eclectic format of three point-to-point races, one per day with a choice of up to five courses for each day depending on wind, tide and fog (of course!).  In between, raft-ups and social events are planned spontaneously on the boats or ashore depending on where the fleet finishes for the particular evening.

This year's event started off the Long Ledge Green bell just outside of the Western Way, located SW offshore of Southwest Harbor (most renown for the Hinckley Yachts boatyard in Manset).  The race chosen was the "Round the Black Islands (two of them!)" to starboard and finish in the gorgeous Bartlett Narrows on the NW side of Mt Desert Island.  It was a very foggy day offshore with a light ESE breeze of just 3-5 kts.  Nevertheless, one of the world's best PRO's- Fran Charles, MIT Sailing Director and Northeast Fleet Manager- was clever enough to send the fleet off on an easy reach around the track that led everyone back into Blue Hill Bay into a near fog-less clearing.  Leading the fleet home after a shortened course 18nm of sailing was Henry Brauer's J/111 FLEETWING, winning on elapsed time for the fleet as well as finishing 2nd handicap.  Tom Rolfe's J/105 SIDEWINDER sailed a nice race and managed a 6th in fleet.

J/111 Fleetwing sailing fast with spinnaker in MaineThe second day of sailing took the fleet on the Hanus Ledge Course- it ran from the Bartlett Narrows, through the Bar Island Channel, leaving Swans Island to port to round Hanus Ledge to starboard and a straight run to the finish off Bosun Island at the opening of the spectacular Eggemoggin Reach (which we never saw due to pea soup fog!).  Starting in near drifting conditions with winds doing 360s around everyone, the fleet was ultimately pushed into a building SE breeze.  Leading the charge out of the bay towards Swans Island was David Rockefeller's well-campaigned IMX 45 CYBELE.  After passing through the two channels and rounding Hanus Ledge (minus snagging three lobster pots and hitting an uncharted "bump" underwater), Henry's J/111 FLEETWING team managed to mow down David's crackerjack team on CYBELE to again finish first on elapsed time and win the race overall.  In this race, J/Teams took 3 of the top 5!  Next up was Tom's J/105 SIDEWINDER in 4th and 5th overall on handicap was an amazing performance by Scott Miller single-handing his J/122 RESOLUTE to third boat to finish!

The last day of racing again saw a lot of fog rolling in at the start off Bosun Island.  The course was simply called the "Swans Island Course"-- doh, just go out the bay, turn left around Swans and head down the narrows between Placentia and the Gott Islands to finish at the eastern end of the narrows!  Simple.  Yeah.  But, complicated as hell when you consider that every turn around that rather large island presents yet another challenge in wind strength, direction and yet more (or less) fog.  After an inauspicious start, Henry's J/111 FLEETWING team managed to snag a pot we called "Jaws" that wouldn't let go just 3 minutes into the race.  After fighting it for a few more minutes, FLEETWING cleared out on port tack behind the entire fleet headed upwind to the SW corner of Swans before turning left underneath Marshall Island to continue the partial circumnavigation of Swans headed home.  Despite catching the pot, FLEETWING managed to snag a 15 degree right shift with velocity to rapidly catch the fleet again. But, "destiny" was not the rule of the day for the FLEETWING crew.  Yet another lobster pot leapt out of the water to snag her keel, and yet again FLEETWING ended up giving several hundred yards to her competitors (remember the one at the start?).  In the end, the FLEETWING team prevailed, winning yet their third race boat-for-boat on elapsed time and sailing well enough to finish 2nd overall on handicap in what became a true "little boat, slow PHRF" race for handicap honors.

In the end, it was quite a showcase for the J/111's ability to accelerate and sail fast across a broad range of conditions both upwind and downwind in the capricious, lighter winds of Downeast sailing!  Remarkably, out of five possible trophies to win, the FLEETWING managed to haul in a LOT of hardware-- winning them all with her 2-1-2 overall record!  Amongst the silverware gracing the FLEETWING trophy shelf are:  The MAX Trophy for 1st Overall DERW; the Paul Nevin Cup for 1st Overall all Classes on Saturday and Sunday; the Becton Trophy for Lowest Cumulative Elapsed Time all 3 Races in Fleet; the Morris Trophy for 1st in Division 2 on Saturday and the Arundel Plate for the Best 2 Days Combined in Division 2.  Congratulations to Henry and the FLEETWING crew!  Tom Rolfe's J/105 SIDEWINDER also sailed a very good regatta, rattling off a 6-7-4 for 17 pts to secure 4th overall.

For a fun video to watch that captures the feel and atmosphere of the weekend on video, please take a look at "Roll Away the Dew" on Vimeo.  For more Downeast Race Week sailing information