Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TOUCH2PLAY Takes J/70 Great Lakes Championships

J/70s sailing Great Lakes Champs at Buffalo, New York (Buffalo, NY)- The inaugural J/70 Great Lakes Championship was held over the August 10-11 weekend, hosted by the Buffalo Yacht Club and sponsored by BMW.  Twenty six boats attended, from as far away as California, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, LI Sound and Indiana, to go along with entries from PA, Ohio and NY.  There were two Canadian boats as well.

Friday afternoon before the regatta Jud Smith gave a chalk talk on the clubhouse deck followed by some on-water practice time.  Jud had some very good pointers for those in attendance.  Saturday was forecast to be light but we were treated to a much better than advertised 9-13 knots of sparkling clear sailing conditions.  Lake Erie is known for its chop and we had plenty of that to go along with the sea-breeze so the sailing was both exhilarating and challenging.  Given the discouraging forecast for Sunday (next to no wind) PRO David Searle and his team gave us five races.  Everyone returned to the club tired but happy and enjoyed a nice party and filling buffet dinner.

J/70 sailed by Dave Ullman from Ullman SailsWith five races sailed the throwout kicked in and three teams were atop the leaderboard after the first day of racing, headed by Dave Ullman, Marty Kullman, and the team of Gary Tisdale and Adam Burns.  Dave Ullman sailed beautifully to card three first places but had to take his throwout when their headstay came loose before the start of race two (lesson learned-- pin your turnbuckle!).  Kudos go to the guys on CloudSourced from Rocky River, Ohio for salvaging a 17 in race one.  Their spinnaker halyard came loose on the first hoist of the day, yet they managed to get to the top of the mast and recover it under way.

Sunday morning dawned as feared, sunny and nice but no wind.  The fleet bobbed around as the breeze teased us with puffs here and there but wouldn't build to the steady 5 knot class minimum.  Many of the boats began to drift off closer to the harbor to beat the race to the hoist.  PRO Searle came on the radio and told us to give it another half hour and we were very glad that he did, as the breeze filled enough for one final challenging but fair race.  It was light and shifty but we never stopped moving and places were changing all over.  The duel for first between Ullman and Kullman was intense and in the end Marty pushed Dave back enough to secure the win for himself.  While that was going on Jud Smith got away to a big lead and Tisdale/Burns ended up second for the race and the regatta by carding three straight seconds in the final three races.  After the smoke cleared, Ullman took third followed by Ron Copfer in fourth just two points back and in fifth was Jud Smith with 26 pts.  The racing was excellent with 6-10 places separated by only 5 points.

Top women's team skipper was Jen Wulff sailing with her husband Ray on JOINT CUSTODY, taking 6th overall. The top Canadian team was REX skippered by Scott Weakley in 8th. For some absolutely awesome photos of J/70s sailing fast all weekend long, check out Tim Wilkes photo galleries.  Sailing Photo Credits- Tim Wilkes.com.    For more J/70 Great Lakes Championship sailing information