Sunday, December 29, 2013

The MUSE Perspective- Women Sailing J/70s

J/70 women sailor- Heather Gregg-Earl(Newport, RI)- Recently, the J/70 Class newsletter “Momentum” had a chance to interview Heather Gregg-Earl regards her perspectives on sailing the J/70, how she won the inaugural J/70 North Americans and what it’s like to sail the J/70 as a woman skipper.

1) You didn’t know you won until you hit the dock. What were the conversations on the way in?

HEATHER: “When we crossed the finish line of the last race, we all took a moment to decompress...none of us thought we won. We were all giving each other high fives as we knew we had a solid regatta and felt really good about how we sailed. Tricky conditions with all the good guys up and down. We were pretty consistent except one race where we had to do a penalty turn right after the start in light air landing us in 55th that race with no throw-out in the Championship. Not good! After that, we didn’t focus on the scores so much...we just focused on trying to be super consistent. On the way in, we all started to guess where we wound up. We guessed anywhere from third to fifth. Pleasantly surprised when a competitor told us the news as we hit the dock!”

2) The title came down to the final race, and you had quite a bit of ground to make up to secure the championship. What was your approach in that last race?

HEATHER: “Our approach throughout the regatta was to be consistent and keep ourselves in the game. And that definitely was our approach for the last race. Not to take too many risks as there wasn’t a throw-out race. After the first day, we stood 13th after finishing the day 5, 5, 55. With a 55th, we knew we had some hard work ahead of us to make the top 10. Going into the last race, the leader had 31 points on us and a few boats were just points behind us. Our approach was to, again, keep ourselves in the game. Given the shifty conditions and the fact that sides were paying big, we focused on making sure we were clear at the start, starting away from the pack a bit, so we could punch out and get to the side we wanted. Luckily, that worked and Billy Lynn, our tactician, did an amazing job calling the shots that final race.”

3) Tell us about your experiences thus far racing the J/70. What brought you into the Class?

J/70 MUSE skipper- women sailor Heather Gregg-EarlHEATHER: “I have to say I haven’t had as much fun sailing since college sailing!! The J/70 is a blast!! The boat is a hoot to sail, especially in the breeze. It truly is one-design, it’s manageable in terms of crew (only three other people needed to sail), it’s great value for the money, and the fleet after one year has such depth in talent. Eighty-nine boats on the line and just one year old...impressive. When I was looking for a new One-Design Class to jump into, I wanted one in which the sailing itself was more fun. And buying into a Class where I had a lot of confidence that the fleet would develop quickly and with a lot of talent was important to me. As a mom chasing my 10-year-old around the Opti circuit, I needed to make sure that the new Class I picked had enough well-attended regattas throughout the year to make it worthwhile. When I went for my first spin in the J/70 with Stu Johnstone one 20 knot day in Newport, I was sold.”

4) What expectations did you have coming into the North Americans?

HEATHER: “Our goal was to win the Corinthian Division and place in the top 15 overall and have a ton of fun with an all Jumbo crew from Tufts, my alma mater. That, we did!”

5) The conditions on the Chesapeake Bay allowed for racing on two of the three days. Did you expect it to be a generally light air event?

HEATHER: “Yes, harkening back to my college sailing days, I spent many a light air regatta at Annapolis in the fall so we were prepared for what we ended up getting. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get any racing in the second day, but my hat’s off to the PRO Sandy Grosvenor and her RC for conducting such a well-run event and calling the racing on that second day.”

6) How did you maintain your boat speed in the conditions?

HEATHER: “Constantly changing gears all the time. Overall, a light regatta but we did see the breeze up and down a bit. The racing spanned 5 to 15 knots of adjusting rig set up, sail trim, and weight placement was key.”

7) Do you feel the J/70 is a good platform for women sailors?

J/70 MUSE sailing team at Charleston Regatta- Joe B, Heather, Julia & Stu JHEATHER: “Yes! And for all you women out there who don’t know what to put on your Christmas List... Santa knows exactly where to get a J/70! All kidding aside, I think it’s a great boat for women. It’s manageable in terms of putting a program together given number of crew, and women can easily sail the boat. It’s totally manageable for women as drivers or any crew position for that matter. I’ve sailed it with an all women crew a few times, and we had a ball.”

8) Many top professional sailors have been quite active in the J/70 in its young history. Yet, you won the North Americans with a full Corinthian team. What advice do you have for fellow amateur racers who want to compete in major championships?

HEATHER: “Crazier things happen! My advice to fellow amateurs is:
  1. I think it’s great to stick together as an amateur team! Stay together!
  2. Putting together a good team with great chemistry goes a long way - don’t underestimate the power of this!
  3. Practice, practice, practice - together as a team!
  4. Make sure having fun is one of your goals- we all tend to do better when we do!”
9) The J/70 has had an amazing rise to popularity. How is the Class evolving in the United States?

HEATHER: “The Class is on fire. In just one year, they are up to 400 boats sold in North America. And another 100 in Europe. It’s a real testament to the confidence so many sailors have in J/Boats’ ability to build deep and competitive one-design fleets. This boat hit the market at the right time for sure. It’s going to be a great Class to be a part of. I can’t wait for Key West!”

As one might guess from this narrative, Heather is an experienced woman sailor.  She started in her youth on the classic Wianno Seniors off Cape Cod— a favorite of the Kennedy family from Hyannis port on the Cape.  She was three-time College All-American on the Tufts University Women’s Sailing team.  She was second in the 1984 470 Olympic Trials to JJ Fetter/Isler by just one point (JJ went on to grab a Silver Medal in the Olympics).  Heather sailed for years on J/22s and J/24s (with Etchells 22 World Champion Dave Curtis as well as the two Johnstone Brothers- Stu & Drake). Later she spent time sailing Sonars for New York YC’s Team Racing program in Newport, Sardinia and Cowes.  More recently, she sailed Melges 20s in their Winter Circuit and experienced Viper 640 sailing as well.  Ultimately, she bought her J/70 for all the reasons she outlines above- it’s the ultimate “fun” sportsboat to sail with her friends and kids.  As Heather says, “nothing else even comes close!”     For more J/70 class and regatta information

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cal State Wins J/80 Pan-Pacific Regatta

J/80 fleet sailing in Xiamen, China- Pan-Pacific Cup(Xiamen, China)- Enduring a nearly 6,000 mile flight that landed in the middle of typhoon conditions, Cal State Long Beach’s sailing team went on to capture the gold medal at the inaugural Pan-Pacific University Sailing Championship sailed this fall in Xiamen, China.  Thirteen teams  sailed from USA, China, Taiwan and Singapore over three days in matched, one-design J/80s in a unique format— first day was a long-distance race of 12.0nm followed by two days of around-the-buoys competitions.

The Cal State Long Beach sailors that sailed the regatta included CSULB Sailing Team President Shane Young, Mark Ryan, John Hill, Nicholas Santos and Tyler Webb.

The sailing team worked with connections at Long Beach- Qingdao Association and Mary Barton, the President.  Furthermore, they were coordinating with the US- China Yachting Association to promote sailing and networking events for both Chinese and American sailors.  A wonderful program to support!

J/95 Sailing Punta Gorda Sound's Shallow Waters!

J/95 shoal draft performance day sailor and cruiser- off Naples, Florida(Punta Gorda, FL)- A J/95 is sailing Florida’s expansive, shallow cruising destinations and having a wonderful time all winter long.  We recently got a report from an avid J sailor, Bob Knowles, who happens to have his J/95 parked right off the dock on his waterfront home, ready to go sailing at a moments notice.

“Thought I would send in a note about my first adventure with our J/95. Having been a J/80 guy since late 1993 (sailing J/80 #52), I have had my eye on the J/95 for our winter sailing in southwest Florida for quite some time.  The shallow draft with performance idea stuck in my mind so I finally purchased J/95 #18 STILL CRAZY from its original owner and have it here at our winter home in Punta Gorda, Florida.

We might be the first J/Boat to ever tie up at one of the shallow water cottage docks on Cabbage Key, a beautiful get away spot in southwest Florida purported to be where Jimmy Buffet penned “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. We are hoping to visit many more of these great shallow water places from Tampa Bay on down to Key West with our J/95. No need for anchoring and the dinghy ride in. With this boat we pull up to the docks along with the power boats!

We’re planning to race the boat in local and regional PHRF events and also do some weekend trips.  We can’t wait!”

Tribute to Dutch Sailor- Conny van Rietschoten

Dutch sailor Conny von Riechstofen(The Hague, Netherlands)- Dutch sailor Conny van Rietschoten was a true pioneer in the sport of sailing.  As the only skipper to have won the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race) twice, Conny van Rietschoten (87 years) died on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at his residence in Portugal after suffering a stroke.  Born on March 23 in 1926, Van Rietschoten grew up in The Netherlands. A successful businessman, he was looking for a new challenge and found it in the second edition of the Whitbread.

He skippered Flyer I (S&S 65) in 1977-78, holding off main rival Kings Legend to win the race on corrected time. He returned in 1981-82 and again won on overall time with Flyer II (Frers 76) after a thrilling neck-and-neck battle with Kiwi adversaries Ceramco New Zealand.

Flyer II sailing Whitbread RaceKnown for undertaking extensive crew training before the race, he identified and gave several then-young sailors their first major break into professional sailing, including Erle Williams, Grant Dalton, Joe Allen all of whom went on to long careers in the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Races, America’s Cup and other professional events.

For crew morale, training and team-building, Conny famously bought two J/24s to keep at their training base in the Netherlands.  The FLYER crews were often seen on J/24s in all types of weather conditions, testing the limits of the crews as well as the boats!  It was not unusual to see them out in full gales with reefed mains and jibs pulling up spinnakers sailing just offshore in the English Channel!  We’re sorry to hear of Conny’s passing and wish his family and friends well.

Friday, December 27, 2013


J/120 sailing off Houston, Texas offshore(Houston, TX)- The J/120 SHEARWATER recently finished the last 2013 Rum Race on Galveston Bay hosted by GBCA. Rum races are a somewhat informal Saturday evening pursuit race where boats start in reverse order of their PHRF rating.  Owned by Chris and Justin she has already been sailed across the the Atlantic from Porto, Portugal. Covering over 5,000nm this double handed crew intends to ultimately sail the Pacific Cup to Hawaii. Here is the report of their experience sailing the Harvest Moon Regatta.

“A week ago last Thursday was the annual Harvest Moon Regatta from Galveston to Port Aransas (150 miles).  As far as I can tell this is the biggest regatta in Texas with over 170 entrants this year.  For us, it was fine preparation for Pacific Cup.  An opportunity to actually race, sail with the spinnaker at night, steer (no autopilots allowed), and equip the boat for a Cat 3 offshore race.  From that perspective the race was a raging success as we ticked all the boxes and then some.

My parents drove down from Arkansas to join Chris & I on this little adventure.  Thanks Mom & Dad, we couldn’t have done it without you, literally, as the race organizers required a minimum of 4 people on board.  As it turns out, 4 people on a J/120, racing downwind, overnight, with no autopilot, is a skeleton crew at best.  We were w-o-r-n  o-u-t by the time we reached Port Aransas Friday afternoon.

J/120 skipper called "Dad" steering fast offshore of HoustonAs the forecast solidified in the days leading up to the start it looked very likely we would be running or reaching with the spinnaker the entire race.  With a downwind race in mind, we did everything we could to lighten up Shearwater, even taking two doors off down below (class legal).  With a light ship and only 4 onboard (we figure we were 1000 pounds lighter from just crew weight alone), that was pretty much the one advantage we might have had over the other two far more experienced J/120’s we were racing against.  We were also classed with a J/44 and a Beneteau First 44.7, making us the slowest boat in our 5-boat division and conversely the 5th fastest rated monohull in the race.  We rate 3 seconds slower than the other two J/120’s because we have an aluminum mast, and they have carbon masts.

Heading out of Clear Lake into Galveston Bay Thursday morning was a trip.  There was a line of sailboats heading out to the Gulf for as far as you could see in front of and behind us.  It was an impressive parade.  It was made better by the strong northerly that allowed us to sail along (and past) the fleet while trying out or new A4 spinnaker for the first time.  It had just arrived from Ballard Sails in Washington the day before.

For once, the forecasts weren’t too far off.  We started out Thursday afternoon in a light N-NE’ly expecting the breeze to strengthen and clock to the east overnight.  Being in the fastest division we were the last of the monohulls to start.  That provided with approximately 135 rabbits to chase out of the gate.  Much too our delight Shearwater was moving really well with the big A2/K2 spinnaker, and we quickly moved through the fleet favoring the shore, allowing us to sail over the top of the fleet in clear air.  By sundown we had passed everyone in the fleet except the other two J/120’s and a feathery light Viper 830.  Hugging the coast seemed to pay, perhaps with a little more breeze or perhaps because we ended up on the correct side of the slowly clocking breeze.  Just as it got dark we gybed onto port, passed very close to the Freeport Buoy and set our course offshore with no real intentions of gybing again until the next morning.  It turns out we were fine and fast in a straight line, but our gybes with the big chute must have looked like a circus with the tent falling down.  Complete disasters, so we resolved to minimize the suffering and wait until morning to try more circus antics.

So, off we went into the not so dark, dark, with the biggest, brightest harvest moon you could imagine.  Our only challenge was the wave, wind combination.  It seems the wind speed around 10-15 knots and our boat speed around 6.5-8 knots caused the apparent wind to constantly shift back & forth, back & forth, resulting in us zig-zagging our way like drunken sailors across the ocean.  Apparently, this wasn’t a bad way to roll as we crossed ahead of Kenai, the J/44, that owed us about 45 minutes.  Then around 2am we crossed ahead of Cyrano, the First 44.7, and they also owed us about 45 minutes.   We had also closed down on Aeolus the J/120 we’d been following since leaving the shore.  It seemed most of the boats were headed back towards the shore while we carried on south.  At 2:45am a friend took a screenshot of the SPOT tracker and as you can see, things were looking quite promising.  We were very much in the hunt, which all things considered (so little recent race experience, and a shorthanded crew…  my parents had only been on Shearwater one time previously) was a bit of a surprise.

Then at 3am, while I was driving in pretty benign conditions, averaging close to 8 knots, a bigger than average header caused the spinnaker to luff.  I didn’t drive down quick enough, the chute collapsed, and then proceeded to wrap itself around the forestay, really, really well.  Shit.  Just a momentary lapse and we were up a creek.  Chris and I both went forward, clipped to the jacklines to try and unwrap the chute from the forestay.  Unfortunately, our new spotlight clearly showed that the bottom of the spinnaker had wrapped one way and the top had wrapped the other way, so even though we could unwrap the bottom of the sail, the top part firmly clamped down on it making it impossible for it to fully unwrap.  How this is possible from only the wind that is only blowing from one general direction is beyond me.  Of course, the bottom of the sail was still trying to fill in the now increasing breeze, at times lifting me off the deck.  Standing together at the mast, allowing the main to blanket the spinnaker, we came upon some semblance of a solution.  Working together we started twisting the bottom of the sail, wrapping it, and wrapping it, and wrapping it.  We twisted until our arms hurt so much we couldn’t twist anymore, then we started taking turns while the other rested.  Eventually (45-60 minutes later?) we had the bottom 40 feet of spinnaker in a long tight snake.  We must have wrapped the sail 100-150 times (it took us forever to unwrap it again after the race).  The benefit was the sail was no longer catching the wind and we could hang onto it without being drug around the foredeck.  Now what?  The top of the sail was still wrapped around the forestay.  It was now 4:15am and we were dog tired.  The only thing we could think of was to release the spin halyard and try to pull down the sail.  If that didn’t work we’d have to climb the mast, release the spin halyard shackle and unwrap the top, in-the-dark, in-the-waves, in the now increasing wind (gusts over 20).   Not a fun prospect.  We released the halyard and…  nothing.  We pulled and shook and pulled and nothing happened.  We stopped, stared up at the situation for a bit, and then a little miracle happened, the spinnaker started to slide down the forestay.  It seems once we stopped pulling the wraps got loose enough for the sail to release its death-grip on the furled genoa.  After a few stops and starts we had the spinnaker safely below without resorting to climbing the mast or using a knife.  It took us 1.5 hours, but we got it down with no damage.  That was some sort of accomplishment.

J/120 sailors- Dad and me sailing fast offshoreChris and I were whipped though.  We could barely move.  We both collapsed in the cockpit and settled on sailing with the main only until it started getting light.  Our competitive race was over, but we decided (okay, I was forced – isn’t that like mutiny?) to continue racing nonetheless.  Around 6:30am I got the brand spanking new A4 (smaller, heavier) kite rigged up and ready to hoist.  A round of discussions ensued regarding the wind speed and amount of light.  That killed another 20 minutes or so and then we all agreed to go for the A4.  Once it was up, we were off like a shot.  The bright orange A4 was in its element with 20-30 knots on the stern.  We started averaging 9.5 knots for several SPOT updates, with some pretty nice surfs up to 12 knots.  It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing though as the waves were pretty steep and I was having to steer all over the place to keep from plowing into the backside of a wave and to keep up with the shifty breeze.  And then, much like the collapse with the A2 earlier, I didn’t react fast enough and we managed to hourglass the A4.  Fortunately, it wasn’t around the forestay.  We ended up just staring this one down.  We held our course, kept the sheet steady, kept the chute full, and slowly, but surely, the hourglass started working its way up until shazaam it unwrapped.  Phew!

It was now 8:30am we’d been flying since putting up the A4, noticeably stretching out on a few boats that had closed on us while we sailed under main only, and we’d reached the point where we needed to gybe over to starboard to head for the finish.  Did I mention how tired we were?  And it was hooting.  And we were gun shy from our terrible gybes the previous evening and the two spinnaker wraps.  We decided to sock the A4 first, then gybe, but once we got the sock down over the sail, I think we were so relieved that we made it this far without damage or injury that we just gybed and carried on with main only.  As I reflect back on the race, I wish we’d had just partially snuffed the A4, or unfurled the genoa slightly and gone ahead and gybed.  I’m sure it would have worked out fine, but we were so tired at that point, it was hard to see the merit of pushing on.

We ended up crossing the line right at noon, only 21 hours after the start.  We finished right in the midst of the 90 raters (we rate 51) and about 2 hours after the other two J/120’s.  It turns out Cyrano, the First 44.7, wrapped their spinnaker around the forestay too, with less success getting it down without damage, so we corrected out ahead them, taking 4th in our division.  Overall, I think we corrected out to mid-fleet.  Not bad considering we sailed about 7.5 hours with no spinnaker, but a bit bitter sweet considering where we were at 2:45am according to the SPOT tracker.

Harvest Moon was really beneficial for our Pacific Cup preparations though.  We learned that:
  1. we need a spinnaker net – no more spinnaker wraps around the forestay
  2. we want a smaller A2 spinnaker, something slightly bigger than the A4 and lighter cloth.  The big A2 is just a handful short-handed.  Look at this picture of us and two J/105’s that are only 5’ shorter than us.  Our spinnaker is literally twice as big as what the J/105’s are flying.  We’ll get a better rating for Pac Cup too.
  3. We need to practice gybing with the spinnaker partially snuffed and/or use the genoa to blanket the spinnaker a little during douses and maneuvers.  
  4. When we aren’t messing it up Shearwater has plenty of pace.  No worries about boat speed now. 
  5. Sailing/racing with an autopilot is a heck of a lot easier, especially when shorthanded.  Thankfully, autopilots are allowed for us in Pacific Cup.

Funny story about the awards on Saturday night.  First, it takes a long time to give out awards for 170 boats divided into about 30 divisions.  Second, Chris won the essay contest about what we did to keep our ocean clean during the race (throw nothing overboard, motor very little, keep black water in the holding tank, etc) which earned her a $100 gift certificate to West Marine.  That was worth significantly more than the race awards.  I think there is some irony in that.  It made us laugh anyway.

Shearwater remains in Port Aransas for a few weeks and then we will watch the weather and pick a good weekend to sail back to Seabrook.  We will likely use a bit of the ICW between Freeport and Galveston Bay as that cuts off some miles and will allow us to stop overnight to sleep.

Next weekend we are off to San Francisco to attend a two-day Safety at Sea Seminar.  Really looking forward to that.”   You can follow Justin and Chris sailing their J/120 here on their “Shearwater Blog”.   For more information about sailing the J/120 class

J/24 Midwinters- “Back to the Future”

J/24s sailing Midwinters on Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL J/24 Midwinters @ Coral Reef YC For 2014!
(Coconut Grove, FL)- J/24s are going back to Miami?  Some may ask, “why did they ever leave?”  Yes, the famous Coral Reef Yacht Club is the host club for the 2014 J/24 Midwinter Championship. The adopted home of Tito Bacardi and other famous “stars” in the sailing world over time, like “Old Man Diaz”, the J/24s have a long and storied history of J/24 Midwinters on the beautiful waters of Biscayne Bay.

What’s the recent NOAA Weather update for Biscayne Bay?  Just the normal stuff- SW winds 11-15 kts, bay waters a moderate chop. Skies clear with temperatures over 75 degrees.  Oh yea, it's no surprise that Wayne Cochrane's 1967 hit song "Going back to Miami" has been the winter-time anthem for many sailors around the world.

J/24 Midwinters logoAnd, for the J/24 class it’s much more than just an anthem, coming to Miami has been a ritual for the J/24 Midwinters- it’s been held on Biscayne Bay a record thirteen (13) times, more than any other venue. Five times Midwinters champion Tim Healy will return again to try for another victory. Three of his wins have been on Biscayne Bay. Historical note for J/24 aficionados, who never won the Midwinters despite winning a record five J/24 Worlds??  The winner gets a free J/Calendar (answers-> first correct post on J/24 Facebook page).

Sorry, we digress.  Did you know Cochrane's song had a line- "Gotta lay out in the morning sun”? That should mean something to you Northern-types (e.g. anyone north of South Beach).  With balmy temperatures forecast for all of February on Biscayne Bay with the classic SE sea-breeze pumping in at 10-15 kts, it’s high-times (not Colorado’s or Uruguay’s version) to head south and enjoy a few “umbrella drinks” at Coral Reef CY’s fabulous pool-side cabana bar and throw some sailing in during the day for good measure!   For more J/24 Midwinter Championship sailing information

Coast Guard Sailing Gets J/70s

J/70 sailing on Thames River in front of US Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)- Imagine for a minute what it might be like to attend one of the coolest colleges on Planet Earth and be a member of its sailing team.  One that has a unique educational, leadership and professional development program that teaches university-level students to devote themselves to selfless service to their nation and to humanity. One that has a mission to help protect people who use the sea as well as protect the sea itself for humanity.

It’s a noble undertaking to ensure the environment we live in is around for future generations to enjoy.  Remember the words of one famous sailor, as American President John F. Kennedy once remarked during the 1962 America’s Cup summer in Newport at the Australian Ambassador's dinner, “I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it’s an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins, the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came."

Located on the beautiful tree-laden banks of the Thames River in New London, CT, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is the smallest of the American service academies.  Despite its size, its impact on the world is far greater than anyone can imagine.  The young men and women that ultimately lead the US Coast Guard after graduation are those who look after the tens of thousands of miles of America’s coastline (which include the Atlantic, Pacific, the Great Lakes and associated major rivers).

J/70 sailing on Thames River in front of New London BridgeAs part of learning that mission, all cadets spend part of their first summer aboard sailboats experiencing Kennedy’s prophetic words about “committing to the sea”, to appreciate both its raw power and extraordinary beauty and why people feel so “tied to the ocean”.  In addition to their fleet of college dinghies that sail spring and fall, the Academy has a tradition of offshore keelboat sailing and racing.  Cadets have the opportunity to sail “college keelboats” around the buoys spring and fall and larger “big boats” offshore in the summer (like sailing their J/44 on the Bermuda Race, Block Island Race Week and New York YC Race Week).

Since becoming the first US service academy to adopt J/24s as their small keelboat trainer back in 1982, the Academy has continued to be a leader in college one-design keelboat racing.  This past summer, the leadership of the USCGA Sailing Team chose the International J/70 to become their newest college keelboat trainer.

Having just started sailing their first J/70s delivered in November, the Offshore Team and their coaches are excited about the prospects for sailing team development.  Both women and men sailing team members are looking forward to participating in regional J/70 one-design and national-level events-- like Key West or in Newport.  On a local basis, the Offshore Team plans to be sailing with J/70 Fleet #16 on Fishers Island Sound.

The “Bears” will be on a fast learning curve with their J/70s.  Expect to see Doug Clark (Director of Sailing), along with Jack Neades (Offshore Coach) and Brian Swingly (Intercollegiate Coach) encouraging both college dinghy and offshore sailing team members to participate in major J/70 events.  The men and women’s teams certainly have great coaching to help get them there.  Coach Clark himself was a College All-American sailor and coached the Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy to several national titles, producing numerous All-American sailors and three College Sailor-of-the-Year winners.  Recently, Coach Swingly was voted NEISA (New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association) Coach of the Year.  For more US Coast Guard Academy information   For more US Coast Guard Academy Sailing Team information

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Italian J/24 Team Sailing Puerto Vallarta

YCBG Sailing Team Launches Training for 2014 North Americans
(Bergamo, Italy)- The year 2014 promises to be an epic one for J/24 championship racing in Mexico.  Sailing in the spectacular waters of Bahia de Banderas off Puerto Vallarta, the Mexican J/24 class will be hosting the famous “La Copa Mexico” (a week-long extravaganza of over-the-top parties and some sailing and sun-tanning mixed in for good measure) as well as the North Americans- held March 15th to 22nd.  The YCBG (YC Bergamo) Italian team give us an update on their planning and progress to date, as described by YCBG President John Fields.

"Our crew will be formed by the helmsman Fabrizio Eusebio, Mr. Fasoli, Parimbelli Marzio, Puntel Daniela and me (John). If you want, you can follow us on our website.

J/24 sailing upwind in big waves off Puerto Vallarta, MexicoIn 2012, La Copa Mexico was hosted by the Mexican J/24 Class with support from the Mexican Navy.  Fifty-five teams from ten countries participated along with notable J/24 champions like Mauricio Santacruz from Brazil; Tim Healy, Mike Ingham and Chris Snow from the USA; Ken Porter, Javier Velasquez Robinson, Jorge Castillo Martinez, and Peter Wiegandt from Mexico; Vernon Robert from Chile; Jan-Marc Ulrich from Germany; Jan Isley from Monaco; and Victor Maldonado Anso from France.  Sailing in that same regatta was our YCBG Sailing Team (formed by the helmsman Marzio Parimbelli, Paul Luisetti, Fabrizio Eusebio, Fausto Gandolfi and myself- John Fields).  After very careful preparation, attention to detail and training we were determined to improve on our 35th place in the 2010 event.  In fact, we ended up sailing much better, taking a splendid 13th overall, first all amateur crew!

It was a great honor for the YCBG Sailing Team to have represented the Italian J/24 sailors and our fleet.  The event began with a surprise at the time of taking over our assigned boat- “Que Si”. But, since the boat assigned (by drawing from a hat) to Mauricio Santa Cruz was his former BRUSCHETTA (now called DIGGER), we were given the option to use QUE SI or DIGGER.  Naturally, we chose DIGGER since we knew it was a great boat!

The next day, after the skipper briefing, we had a practice race in 18-20 kts and we were very competitive, sailing in the top ten and not finishing the race since we were superstitious like many other sailors— bad luck to finish a practice race!

J/24 Copa Mexico logoOn Monday, after the official ceremony with the Governor of the State of Nayarit, we were off to the race and hoping to get as many as ten races in by Friday.  Some of the races were very demanding, with many recalls, black flags.  Some races had little wind and others had 20-25 kts of very gusty and shifty breezes.  It was very challenging with many combinations of waves, current and shifting winds, which led to many good and bad results.  We had a penalty in the second race (40 pts DFZ) but we didn’t lose heart and subsequently after five races were in the top fifteen!  Ultimately, we managed to finish 13th, thanks to much help from many friends like Chris Snow, Peter Saurer, Luis Vazquez Mota and Jorge Castillo Martinez.

For the 2014 Copa Mexico we hope the forecast is for excellent weather conditions (wind and warm weather) and great hospitality thanks to the Marina Riviera Nayarit located at Cruz de Huanacaxtle on the north side Bahia de Banderas.  As the regatta ‘chamber of commerce” message states- “Those who have had the opportunity to take part in the previous editions of Copa Mexico or the 2007 J/24 Worlds are well aware of the beauty of the place, excellent wind conditions and the excellent climate and the presence of the best J/24 sailors in the world. La Copa Mexico has become one of the most important sailing events in the world and we guarantee the 2014 edition will be a memorable one."  We hope so and will be working hard again to represent our Italian J/24 colleagues as best we can!”   For more Italian J/24 sailing information and news on YCBG Team development

J’s Star @ London International Show

New J/122E, J/111, J/97, J/88 & J/70 on display!
(London, England)- With the holidays fast-approaching consider taking the time to visit one of Europe's more famous boat shows this winter season to see some of the latest boats the J/Team has to offer.  It's a wonderful opportunity, in particular, to visit London in January to see their spectacular show from January 14th to 20th.  Enjoy "bright lights & a big city” and enjoy delicious international cuisine, evening entertainment and historical cultural attractions with friends and family!

On display at the Key Yachting stand# G168 will be the spectacular, Euro-styled, new J/122E racer/cruiser.  It’s rakish new looks and clean, inviting interior with enormous hull windows truly “bring the outdoors in”.  In addition, the International J/111 will be on display, courting new potential owners to join the fun in the Solent and the upcoming J/111 World Championships in August 2014 hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron on Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Joining this famous two-some will be the extraordinary International J/70, the one-design sportsboat for the 21st century.  With 500+ boats sold in less than 19 months since its introduction in 2012, J/70’s stratospheric rise into international prominence is unprecedented. Be sure to swing by the London Show to learn first-hand why J/70 is enjoying such remarkable popularity.  The first J/70 World Championships will be hosted in September 2014 by the New York YC, in partnership with Sail Newport, in the world-renowned waters off Newport, RI.  European interest is growing dramatically in this fun, easy-to-sail boat that can be trailered and ramp-launched anywhere in Europe— lakeside, seaside, bayside, even off your home!

In addition, the exciting new J/88 will be on display, the same boat that showed it’s smokin’ hot “booty” to the fleet on several occasions during this fall’s Hamble Winter Series down on the Solent.  J/88 is the progeny of its twin sisters before her- the J/111 and J/70 design concepts in a cute, fast, efficient 29 foot package.  Hard to beat delicate, finger-tip steering and the wide, comfy 111-style cockpit ergonomics for crew comfort.

Finally, get a chance to meet face-to-face with what is arguably one of the most successful IRC family-cruiser-racers in recent memory- the J/97.  In 2012 she was the runaway winner of 2012 Cowes Week and Scottish Week.  In 2013, one might consider J/97 a “repeat offender”, walking off with all the silverware again in Cowes Week as well as the Warsash Spring Series and Hamble Winter Series.  J/97 is a comfortable family weekend cruiser— Dad’s “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, Mom’s “weekend escape” to recharge and reflect.   For more Key Yachting /J-Boats information, contact Gemma Dunn-   For more London Boat Show information

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays- The J/Team

J/70 sailing on Lago di Garda, Italy
The J/Team

Al, Bob, Bryn, Drake, Jeff, Kendra,
Ned, Peter, Phil, Rod and Stuart

J/88 Sailing World Boat of the Year!

J/88 family friendly speedster- sailing on Chesapeake BayVoted Best One-Design Overall
(Middletown, RI)- The sweet spot for J/Boats has always been the 30-foot range, and in years past they’ve had great runs with models like the J/29, the J/30, and the J/105. To meet the demands of owners today to be able to haul and store themselves, the team at J/Boats has come up with a design that’s more versatile than any models before it. It’s not revolutionary, the judges say, but when it comes to practicality, it’s perfect. At roughly 5,000 pounds, the J/88 has a deck-stepped rig and a single-point lift so it can be hauled with a hoist and parked in the driveway— or put on the interstate for the occasional class championship.

J/88 Sailing World Boat of Year AwardThe J/88 was originally conceptualized as a daysailer, says J/Boats president Jeff Johnstone, but that market got overpopulated so they seized an opportunity to revisit their range with a design that Johnstone says is a “family boat with high-performance traits.”

“The stability and sailing comfort are right there,” says Chuck Allen. “They really got this one right. It’s big enough, yet small enough, to do a lot with. For a boat its size, there’s a big interior, a really comfortable cockpit, and there’s nothing intimidating about it. Upwind, the thing just locks into a nice groove. It practically sailed itself.”

Tom Rich praised the quality continuing to come out of Bristol’s CCF Composites (also the J/70 builder). “I think it’s an incredibly well built boat,” says Rich. “There’s nothing negative we can say about it.” (Editor’s note- this is as strong an endorsement as one can imagine since Tommy is Founder/President of NEB Boatworks in Portsmouth, RI- builders of super high-tech, all carbon/ epoxy/ foam boats like Ken Read’s Volvo 70 PUMA- MAR MOSTRO and Hap Fauth’s Mini-Maxi 72 BELLA MENTE).   Please read the rest of the Sailing World 2014 J/88 Boat of the Year article here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

J/70 Southern California Circuit 2014

(San Diego, CA)- The J/70 fleets in southern and northern California have been working through their schedules to ensure there are opportunities to sail through the winter 2014 as well as through the spring and summer leading up to the 2014 J/70 Worlds in Newport.

The two primary series for SoCal J/70 Fleet #4 are the “JK3 Winter Series” from November 2013 to March 2014 followed by the “High Point” series that runs from February to September 2014.  Interspersed are major J/70 events on both West and East Coasts.

The JK3 2013/4 Winter Series encompasses these dates at San Diego YC: November 9, 16, 23; December 7, 14-15; January 18-19; February 22-23; and March 8-9.

For the 2014 SoCal High Point Series, multiple venues are included:
- Feb 15-16 – SCYA Midwinters- Coronado YC (South Bay)
- Mar 14-16 – San Diego NOOD – San Diego YC (South Bay)
- Mar 29-30 – Kings Harbor Race Week- Kings Harbor YC
- May 2-4 – Yachting Cup- San Diego YC
- Jun 27-29 – Long Beach Race Week- Long Beach YC
- Sep 20-21 –J/70 West Coast Championships- Newport Harbor YC
- Sep 27-28 – J/Fest- San Diego YC

Key Northern California and National regattas that interleave perfectly include:
- Apr 4-5- J/Fest- St Francis Yacht Club
- Jun 14– SSC Delta Ditch Run- Richmond YC
- Jul 12-13 – Fiesta Cup- Santa Barbara YC
- Jul 19-20 – High Sierras Regatta- Fresno YC
- Jul 14-20- J/70 North Americans- Rochester YC
- Sep 8-13- J/70 World Championships– New York YC/ SailNewport

For more J/70 Class and fleet championships sailing information

J/Sailing Calendar 2014- The Perfect Sailor's Gift!

J/Calendar 2014 (Newport, RI)- For 2014 we've created another beautiful calendar for J sailors who love the joys of sailing a J in some of the most spectacular harbors and waters of the world.  Whether you are a cruising, racing or armchair sailor, these stunning sailboat photographs will transport you to wonderful sailing experiences in far away places.

The 2014 sailing calendar features photos (pictured here) of flying J/70s off Key West; a fleet of J/24s dueling upwind off Monte Carlo, Monaco; surrealistic scenes of J/80s off Santander, Spain and sailing off “the cathedral” in Palma Mallorca; a fleet of J/120s crossing Alcatraz Island on San Francisco Bay; J/111s sailing in front of the spectacular Chicago skyline; a J/42 cruising along an idyllic Maine coastline; and other gorgeous images of J/105s, J/22s and a J/125.  A great gift for loved ones, family, friends and crew (see gallery)!   Order your 2014 J/Calendar today, click here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

J/Sailors Star in Rolex Sailor of the Year Finalists!

J/70 MUSE sailing upwind at Annapolis North Americans(Newport, RI)-  The most significant sailing performances of the year are being celebrated by US Sailing with the announcement of its shortlist of nominees for the 2013 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards.  The list of nine men and six women, which includes 10 world champions, encompasses athletes racing cutting edge hydrofoils and kiteboards alongside stellar performers in one-design sailing.

The nominees will be reviewed by a panel of noted sailing journalists who discuss the merits of each nominee and will vote to determine US Sailing's 2013 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.  The winners will be announced in mid-January and honored on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, during a luncheon at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, when they will be presented with Rolex timepieces.

Six of the nine nominees for the men’s award have extensive background sailing J’s in their repertoire.  As current Etchells World Champion, Marvin Beckmann (Houston, Texas) has sailed J/24s and J/80s extensively in the Southwest.  Moth World Champion Bora Gulari (Detroit, MI) has been known to thrash around the cans with friends on J/24s (2013 Rochester J/24 Worlds) and with the J/120 fleet on Lake Huron.  Current J/24 World Champion Tim Healy (Newport, RI) has been sailing a variety of J’s over time, including being the 2013 J/70 Midwinter Champion in Key West.  Star World Champion John MacCausland (Cherry Hill, NJ) has spent time with friends on J/24s and J/29s sailing around the cans off Cape May, NJ.  Melges 24 World Champion Brian Porter (Lake Geneva, WI) sailed J/24s for over a decade in the Midwest, including being Great Lakes J/24 Champion.  Finally, J/22 World Champion Allan Terhune (Arnold, MD) has sailed just about all the large one-design J classes, including the J/22, J/24, J/70 and J/80!

J/70 North American Champion- Heather Gregg-Earl with designer Alan Johnstone presenting trophyThe impressive roster of six women nominees includes at least two women with extensive J sailing experience.  Current Farr 30 World Champion Deneen Demourkas (Santa Barbara, CA) has sailed with her husband John on their J/105 in Santa Barbara in her early days of learning how to get around the race track.  The 2013 J/70 North American Champion Heather Gregg-Earl (Boston, MA) has sailed on J’s extensively for over two decades on J/22s,  J/24s, J/70s and J/80s.  Interestingly, Heather’s win at this year’s J/70 NA’s included out-sailing the two current J/22 and J/24 World Champions (plus beating the likes of multiple J/22, J/24, J/80, Etchells, Farr 40, Lightning, and Melges 24 World and North American Champions!  A bloody impressive accomplishment given the circumstances and focus of many of the world’s top sailors in the world’s fastest growing sportboat class!).  Add on top of that fact that Heather is an “Opti-Mom” supporting her son’s activities everywhere, plus her daughter is an avid dressage rider and one can only imagine what the topic of dinner conversation is each night!

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since 1980, the annual presentation of US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards are considered the sport's ultimate recognition of an individual’s outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year.  Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 40 men and 33 women, including these distinguished sailors who have claimed the honor MULTIPLE times (note- TEN of them have extensive J/One-Design experience on their resumes):  Ed Adams, Betsy Alison, Sally Barkow, Dennis Conner, JJ Isler, Allison Jolly, John Kostecki, Buddy Melges, Ken Read, Cory Sertl, Lynne Shore, Jody Swanson, Anna Tunnicliffe and Ted Turner.

We wish them all “good luck” and hope that at least one, if not two, of this extraordinary group are the lucky winners!  For more Rolex YoY Awards sailor information

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ALICE J/24 Women’s Sailing Team Report

J/24 German women's sailing team- ALICE off MonacoImpressions From The Monaco J/24 Europeans
(Hamburg, Germany)- In early October, the ALICE crew went along with their boat on the 1,700 km long road to the J/24 European Championships in Monaco. Here is the report from the skipper of the six women crew, Katharina Witt from the Hamburger Segel Club:

“For the first time after 20 years, the Europeans were going to be held in the magical princely state along the Mediterranean.  Seventy teams from eleven countries were registered from all over the world.  There were crews from Australia, USA, Italy, UK, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, France and, of course, Monaco. By far the largest group was the Germans with a total of twenty-two teams!

J/24 ALICE sailing downwind off MonacoThe 22-hour drive was exhausting, not the least including the nerve-wracking descent through the narrow streets in Monaco! But, the sight of the Principality and the summer weather made ​​us forget all this very quickly! After the measurement process was completed Saturday and Sunday, thank goodness it went quickly and smoothly for us, we were looking forward to “practice Monday”.

We sailed with about 60 teams Monday in the race area and became acquainted with the local conditions.  Monaco is a challenging place to sail with waves, currents and shifty winds. At the same time, the large bay has the stunning backdrop of Monaco spread across the mountain slopes behind the harbor. The turquoise water was almost unreal. In the evening, we were welcomed by the Yacht Club de Monaco (whose President is Prince Albert) for the reception dinner— the participants enjoyed a delicious culinary pasta party!  Unfortunately, Albert did not show!!  We were hoping to see him!

On Tuesday commenced the first day of the regatta. After several false starts, the first race finally started under black flag. Our start was successful, to some extent, we made some good tactical decisions and were able to finish the first race 45th.

The atmosphere was great and we sailed the next two races to become better acquainted with the sailing area. After we were given a time penalty in the second race, the third race was exciting again. We sailed some good courses and finished this race in 54th.

J/24 ALICE from germany rounding markWednesday started with a postponement, giving us a long breakfast break in the harbor. After we finally went out, the wind, however, was only good enough for one race. Initially the wind was still light after the start, we managed to round the windward mark in the top half of the fleet!  But, the last downwind leg hurt us, so we dropped quite a few boats to finish 55th. We were really looking forward to the next day, which should provide more wind to get in more races but also to give us a chance to sail in breeze (which is more comfortable for us girls!).

On Thursday, the race committee sent out the fleet right at 9am, hoping to get in three races. Races with over 60 boats were a challenge for us. In each race, we learned a bit more and our tactical decisions were always better. We tried the right side on which we suspected more wind and favorable current flow.  This tactical decision was a complete success for us! We sailed well, with some exciting crosses upwind and downwind and we went even better, taking 25th at the finish! This gave us great motivation amongst our girls, so we were hoping to capitalize on this momentum for the next race.

J/24 German ALICE teamwork off startAs the fleet was waiting for the fourth race, the wind suddenly died completely.  Then, a surreal, hazy, fog-like cloud formation formed above the water and some of the locals next to us said— “it’s the calm before the storm”!  They were right!  Just a few minutes later, we were all swept up in an enormous 35 kts gust that knocked us over on our ears with just mainsail flying!  A mistral just hit us!  We were all immediately called to the port and secure our boats in the harbor.  It was a breath-taking, but outstanding experience. After a successful day on the water, we were able to hold our own getting back to land. We were very thankful for this regatta because we had achieved our goal of top 50- we fought in the overall standings to 49th!

On the last day of the regatta there was nothing to be felt by the storm. The air was still and the race committee had us postponed in the harbor. Shortly before 1500 hrs the signal was again given to follow the Race Committee boat offshore for the start of a race. The YC Monaco PRO finally decided to capture the light wind and start an eighth race. We were happy to sail one last time against the backdrop of Monaco!

J/24 German ALICE women's team ready to set spinnakerThe race started and never got higher than 5 kts of breeze.  In fact, the wind and waves persistently tried to push the boats back to shore, what an ordeal!  Many Js rocked under main and genoa to windward mark and over again under spinnaker back to the starting gate.  It was a crazy race for us.  Unfortunately, we didn’t do so well in the last race, dropping in the overall results from the 49th to 55th.  This was disappointing, but it was a great learning experience to sail against such top teams.

In the evening we were looking forward to the gala dinner with Prize Giving Ceremony at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Freshly showered and with crew outfits on, we went back in the evening to the yacht club, enjoyed the delicious dinner, and applauded the winners. The British skipper, Chris McLaughlin, and his team on IL RICCIO had shown consistently good performance for the regatta and deserved to win.

A big “Thanks” goes to Lennart, who actively supported us, and our sponsors— who made it possible for us to compete in the 2013 sailing season and sail the European Championship 2013 in Monaco. For us, the European Championship was a great success.  We left Monaco with many lessons learned, much richer in our experiences and full of new perspectives on how to improve next season! Starting with nearly 70 J/24s was very exciting and a great challenge. We had huge fun sailing in such a large fleet!  For more German J/24 fleet sailing information

J/70 Test-Sail Days @ St Pete Sailing Center

J/70 women's sailing team- on Tampa Bay, Florida (St Petersburg, FL)- The fabulous J/70 one-design speedster continues to capture the hearts and minds of sailors worldwide with fleets being established and expanding everywhere. The J/70 fleet is growing in the southeastern USA in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  With the warm weather that graces these parts during the chilly winter months, why not give the J/70 a spin if you happen to be in the Tampa/ St Petersburg region on business or visiting family and friends!?

J/Boats’ Southeast dealer, CrossCurrent Marine, and Marty Kullman from Quantum Sails are pleased to showcase the growing fleet of Florida J/70s with demonstrations and sea trials on Saturday- December 21 and Saturday- January 4 at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center. Please contact Craig Crossley at 401-330-6135 or Marty Kullman at 727-560-0164 to confirm a time to get out on the water and join in on the fun.  For more CrossCurrent Marine information- or visit their website.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sailing as a Sport- Thoughts to Consider!

(Harbor Springs, MI)- Recently, J/105 Class President Carter Williams offers a bit of history about his engagement with sailing, and an outlook for others to consider. His sage advice deserved a bigger audience!!  Please read on:

“As a teenager, I learned to sail at the American Yacht Club in Rye, NY. My dinghy coaches included the Perry’s and Dellenbaugh’s. I raced with Courtney Becker, who later went to the Olympics and America’s Cup. We had an active Big Boat program for juniors, led by Lorna Hibbard, a peer of my grandmother’s, who at age 70 still windsurfed. She taught my father to sail when he was a teenager.

After college in 1989, I went to work at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis. Over the years, I sailed occasionally on our family’s Alden 44. After 18 years in St. Louis, a few good business choices allowed me to sail again.

I picked the J/105 to start sailing again – easy to trailer, big fleet, one design and sprit pole. I arrived back at AYC one fall for the North Americans, finishing dead last. Fairly embarrassing! I regrouped, got a coach, changed around crew, and finished mid-fleet in Key West. Then, fourth in the Chicago North Americans. I raced the boat out of Harbor Springs (MI) when not traveling. This last summer, we won in class and overall for the Ugotta Regatta with a mostly junior sailing crew.

I enjoy sailing because it’s a social, multi-generational sport. Hard work, at any age, earns success. AYC’s Junior program uses a J/105 as a training boat, as we do in Harbor Springs. Courtney Becker’s brother Peter is the “new Lorna Hibbard”, volunteering to teach the next generation of juniors. These kids won the Vineyard Race this last September on the J/122 PATRIOT!

As is true with any great sailing venue, whenever I visit AYC, no matter how long since my last visit, I can pick up a conversation where it was left off, with peers of my parents and old sailing friends. Sailing and racing is a binding community that strengthens our relationships and families.

An essential element of the J/105’s continued success is the connections we make through sailing. Teaching juniors to race their first big boat, strengthening rusty skills as we wobble back in racing, moving up from a J/22 or J/24, or trying something new like racing single/double handed.

Our fleet will continue to evolve, persisting as a great boat for all kinds of sailors while adapting to new technology. I am eager to work with any of your thoughts on strengthening the Class and opportunities for the J/105 to impact sailing on all levels. The J/105 is a great fleet, and each of us makes the Class better.”  Thanks to Carter for this contribution, great advice and perspective for any good one-design class!

J/24 Dominates Hot Rum Sailing Series!

J/24 crushing Starts & Stripes off San Diego in Hot Rum seriesJ/70s & J/105s Lead Their Divisions
(San Diego, CA)- The Sinhoffer Hot Rum Regatta series always seems to be full of surprises for all who’ve sailed the event over the course of time.  Such a seemingly simple course, using the classic “pursuit-style” starting sequence with small(slowest) boats starting first and fastest last, is never quite what it seems as the boats head out to the starting line.  Other than weather that can be impacted by late summer highs bathing the fleet in warm sun and light winds or massively fast weather systems blown down from the Bering Straits whipping the eastern Pacific into a frenzy and throwing overcast clouds, 15-30 kts SW winds and 10-15 seas at the fleet, the big “gotcha” is often how the winds (or lack thereof) flow over the monstrous promontory known as Point Loma.  As a result, many a Hot Rum Series leader has seen their chances blown in the final few hundred yards sailing into the finish line off Shelter Island.

winning J/24 team in San Diego Hot Rum seriesThis year’s three weekend series saw just about every weather condition imaginable.  The first weekend was fraught with almost no wind with most big boats barely finishing and most littler boats having to take DNFs (sometimes entire divisions!).  The second go-around saw a gorgeous sunny day with 5-8 kts of breeze from the West.  Then, the final weekend was cool, partly cloudy with foggy drizzle and a strong breeze of 10-20 kts from the SW.

For the first time in years, the little boats predominated.  In fact, it was the “classic” J/24 CAROLINA sailed by Ben Nieting that not only took overall honors, winning the last race overall, but also winning Class 5!  Not far behind them overall was Dennis & Sharon Case’s J/105 WINGS, taking sixth overall and first in Class 3 and in ninth overall was Jim Madden’s J/125 STARK RAVING MAD IV.

J/125 Stark Raving Mad- sailing off San Diego in Hot Rum SeriesOn a class basis, the top dog in Class 1 for J/125s was Madden’s STARK RAVING MAD, taking 7th.  Just behind was Mark Surber’s DERIVATIVE in 9th and third of their group was Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE in 12th.

The next class was a really mixed bag of boats that ranged from 28 to 44 feet.  Class 2 had a raft of J/120s and J/124s.  Top J team was John Laun’s J/120 CAPER, taking 4th in class and top J/120.  Next was Mike Hatch’s J/120 J-ALMIGHTY in fifth place followed by Chuck Nichol’s CC RIDER.  Seth Hall’s gorgeous, navy blue J/124 MARISOL took 11th in class.

J/124 Marisol sailing off San Diego in Hot Rum seriesThe J/105s generally seem to dominate Class 3 by sheer numbers as well as by some remarkable performances.  Not surprisingly, a perennial contender topped the fleet, Dennis & Sharon Case’s J/105 WINGS.  They were followed by “birthday boy” Steve Howell (sailing with wife Lucy) on the ever popular BLINK!, taking third in class.  Ed Sanford’s J/105 CREATIVE sailed nicely to take fourth.

With a fast-growing and strong presence already in Southern California, it was only a matter of time that J/70s started to J/70 winning class at San Diego Hot Rum seriespop-up on the radar screen and do some damage even in the handicap-racing world.  Sailing in what is arguably one of the toughest fleets, Jeff Brown’s J/70 took top honors followed by Dave Vieregg’s SOGGY DOLLAR in third overall in class.  Next up with a good series was Tomm Reilly’s J/100 JASWINDER.  Of note, the J/70 fleet was not going to be denied, winning every race in class with Eric Kownacki’s DFZ taking one and Karl Pomeroy’s ZERO TO 60 taking the other.

The heart-warming story for this Hot Rum Series had to be the family crew and friends aboard Ben Nieting’s biege-colored J/24 CAROLINA, winning both counter races with ease!  Just off the pace was David Cattle’s beautifully restored J/27 BLACKADDER notching a well—earned 5th overall.  They were followed by yet another J/24, Mark Clements’ BRIGADOON in sixth overall!  Of note was a nice series sailed by Robert Noe’s pretty J/30 MAD HATTER— a beautifully maintained white boat that took 11th!   Sailing photo credits- San Diego YC/ Bronny Daniels-   For more San Diego YC Hot Rum sailing information