Friday, July 19, 2013

J/70 Newport Cup Experience

J/70 one-design speedster- sailing Newport Cup- around Jamestown Island race (Jamestown, RI)- Nick Johnstone (son of Peter J of Gunboats fame and varsity sailor on the College of Charleston Sailing Team) is interning at the J/Boats office for summer 2013, enjoying a wide variety of experiences regards business, boat building & design, sales, marketing, maintenance and so forth.  Recently, Nick and friends had a chance to do some demo sails and also participate in the famous IYAC Newport Cup Race-- the highly popular "around Jamestown Island" race of about 21nm.  Here's Nick's account as a "virgin round islander" sailing the J/70:
"The Newport Cup Around Jamestown Island race was put on and hosted with ease and incredible organization by IYAC and its sponsors. The weather couldn’t have been better and a nice light, but building southwesterly breeze filled the harbor for the start.

The J-70 was fortunate to get a handful of boats entered in the regatta. I put together a crew of friends all currently on the college sailing circuit and we were all excited sail together. None of them had prior experience in the boat, but with the simplicity offered by the J-70 deck plan, they were quickly able to figure out their roles and what was required of each other.

Before going out, I happened to make possibly the single biggest mistake before racing a keelboat regatta. I forgot to clean the bottom. The bottom hadn’t been cleaned in over 4 weeks, which is an incredibly long time for a non-drysailed keelboat with no bottom paint. My friend Bobby went over and tried to clean a bit of it off with an extra t-shirt we had before racing, but the scum had amassed to so much that he used up an entire T-shirt cleaning just an eighth of the bottom of the boat and we were running out of time. The bottom reminded me of what the bottom of the Flying Dutchman from Pirates of the Caribbean must look like. It was very bad. So key advice to anyone racing, clean you’re bottom!

The second we cast off the mooring, I could feel the boat stick to the water and I knew right away this was going to be a long race. We got off the line and tacked out on a nice lane on port out to the right side of the course, but with the growth on the bottom of our boat in the light air and big chop, we might as well have thrown out an anchor. The entire fleet rolled us and a large lefty that rolled in didn’t help either.

We rounded the windward mark in DFL, or last place as some like to call it, but were determined to catch up even with our handicap. Soaking low on the downwind and playing the breeze better more intelligently than the rest of the fleet off of the western Jamestown shore, we caught back up right into the middle of the fleet. The breeze then shifted to a more due west direction, steadied out, and the fleet again pulled ahead of us. This was pretty discouraging, but it was too nice a day for us to be let down.

At this point we all switched off and took turns skippering and doing other positions in the boat and just enjoyed the rest of the race as more of a day sail. We ended up finished in dead last place and I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I lost a regatta (never), but great weather, good friends, and a simple easy boat to sail made it all bearable!"