Wednesday, June 12, 2013

J/Fest @ Cal Race Week

J/105 sailboats at Cal Race WeekOne-Design J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/105s, J/109s Lovin' SoÇal Sunshine
(Marina del Rey, CA)- Cal Race Week continues to be a highlight for many sailing teams as more and more racers discover the pleasure of late spring sailing in Marina del Rey, with afternoon breezes in the low to mid-teens, sun and perfect temperatures for racing around the buoys.  That's what the Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce proclaimed before everyone headed for the race course-- one where the boats are sailing in the shadows of the monstrous LAX Airport and having to sometimes suffer from  their noise abatement take-off procedures for such lilliputian jumbo jets like the Airbus 380!

Despite the noise to the south, the standard "sea breeze" blows most of the noise away as it fills in from the WNW and builds all day long, thanks to the mountain ranges to the east and massive amounts of concrete throughout the smog-ridden Los Angeles basin sucking in all the breeze.  The enormous benefit of this phenomenon is that sailors enjoy beautiful, crystal-clear, smog-free days along a somewhat picturesque coastline.

J/109 sailing at Cal Race WeekFurthermore, what many SoCal sailors have come to know, is that California Yacht Club has won US SAILING’s prestigious St. Petersburg trophy for excellence in race management three times in recent years! Multiple courses with separate start/finish lines minimize interference between boats in different classes and insure that most of your time on the water will be spent racing. No kidding, the Cal YC RC team does a fantastic job of keeping the pace rolling with fleets starting and finishing at the same time!

The weekend’s hospitality was a fitting complement to the on-the-water competition. There was entertainment both days, with hosted beverages on the docks after racing (yes, ice-cold, refreshing local micro-brewery beer served from a kegger on the dock!). Plus, it's hard to beat their no-host BBQ on Saturday and complimentary beverages with hors d’oeuvres at the trophy presentation on Sunday.

Enjoying every minute of the weekend were a small armada of J Teams enjoying the fine weather and fabulous hospitality.  While the regatta attracted 77 boats from around SoCal, ranging from Santa Barbara to the north and San Diego to the south, fully 38% of the fleet (29 boats) were J sailors racing one-design in J/70s, J/80s, J/109s, J/105s and J/24s.

J/109 cruiser racer sailboat- sailing at Cal Race WeekFor Saturday's racing, the wind started out in the NW quadrant and slowly backed to the WNW.  As a result, the old axiom of "left early, right late" never worked.  In fact, the strategy of the day was highly atypical for the area with "go West young man" being the order of the day.  Sunday's racing was quite radically different, too.  Despite filling in from the SW due to an enormous High pressure ridge, the wind never clocked (or did so rarely), so the breeze funneling down the coast had greater pressure and lifts coming from the left upwind (and, conversely, downwind).  As a result, the "south of the border" strategy appeared to be the order of the day.  Strange, that it was!

On Course 1, just immediately outside of the Marina del Rey harbor jetties, were the J/109s and J/105s. What became abundantly clear after the first three races on Saturday is that both fleets had runaway winners in the making.  In the J/109s, Tom Brott's ELECTRA  led the regatta from start to finish, accumulating a 1-2-1-1-1 for six pts.  Second was Bryce Benjamin's PERSISTENCE with a 2-3-3-2-3 for 13 pts, narrowly edging Peter Nelson's SPRAY that posted a 3-1-2-4-4 for 14 pts.

The J/105s saw a similar scenario.  In their case, Gary Mozer's team on CURRENT OBSESSION 2 posted straight firsts to win with 5 pts.  In second was Rick Goebel's team on SANITY posting straight 2nds for 10 pts. The real battle in the J/105s was for third, and that went down to the wire in the last race.  Snatching the bronze medal on the podium was Rich Bermann's ZUNI BEAR with a 3-5-3-5-3 score for 19 pts.  They just edge out Scott McDaniel's OFF THE PORCH with 20 pts and Steve Howell's BLINK with 21 pts.

J/70s sailing upwind after start at Cal Race WeekCourse 2, north of the Marina del Rey jetties and halfway to the Santa Monica Pier, were the fleets of J/70s, J/80s and J/24s.  The J/70s debut in the Cal Week regatta saw good, close racing. In the end, the Jenkins/ Kownacki duo on DFZ took the crown, winning with a 2-1-1-5-1 record for 10 pts.  Starting strong but fading on the first race Sunday was Karl Pomeroy's ZERO TO 60, accumulating a 1-2-3-4-2 for 12 pts to take second. Third was Dan Gribble's GO-RILLA showing they were quick learners after a very slow Saturday, amassing scores of 5-5-2-1-4 for 17 pts to snatch third overall!  They very narrowly beat-out two of their competitors on become a nearly three-way tie for third!  Craig Tallman's JAYA won that battle for 4th while Sean O'Keefe on DECOLORES 3 for 5th.

The J/80s produced one of the other perfect scorelines, with Curt Johnson's AVET again taking the crown for their "three-peat" win in Cal Race Week by taking straight firsts for 5 pts. The battle was really for the balance of the podium with the outcome determined by the last two races on Sunday.  Taking second was Steve Wyman's NUHUNU with 3-2-2-2-3 scores for 12 pts, nipping by one point that team of BLUE JAY sailed by Bob Hayward with a 2-3-3-3-2 tally for 13 pts.

J/24s sailing one-design at Cal Race WeekJ/24s nearly had another clean sweep by the top boat, but perhaps lack of practice or focus got them in trouble in the first race (or maybe it was the beer on the dock!).  Nevertheless, Dave Klatt's team on JADED dominated with a 2nd and four 1sts for 6 pts.  Second was past J/24 North American Champion, Pat Toole on 3 BIG DOGS from Santa Barbara YC, taking 1st and four 2nds for 9 pts total.  Third, just holding their edge over the next three boats was Jim Bauerley on CRITTER with a 4-4-3-6-4 tally for 21 pts.   Sailing photo credits- Bronny Daniels/   For more Cal Race Week sailing information