Monday, January 6, 2014

SCIMITAR Wins Chilean J/105 Nationals

J/105 sailing off Algarrobo, Chile in Nationals(Algarrobo, Chile)- With shifty winds and a closely fought regatta for the top five finishers, it was anyone’s guess who would emerge from the boxing ring as the ultimate winner in this year’s Chilean J/105 Nationals.  Providing the stage for their gladiatorial combat was the Club de Yates Algarrobo, with sailing taking place on Algarrobo Bay (located about 60 miles west of the capital Santiago)- one of the summer playgrounds for Santiagoans escaping the summer heat from the city nestled up against the famous Andes Mountains.

J/105 fleet starting off Algarrobo, Chile in NationalsThe championship was raced over the December 7-8 weekend.  Saturday’s sailing had light wind conditions and only two races were completed. On Sunday, the fleet was blessed with much stronger Northwest breeze conditions, large Pacific swells and much better racing conditions. The CYA PRO and Race Committee managed to do an amazing job to get four windward-leeward course races completed before the cut-off time to send the sailors back to shore exhausted, but happy, for the exuberant awards ceremonies.

Map of Algarrobo, Chile in South AmericaIn the end, a familiar boat known to J/105 sailors in the Northeastern USA won by a large margin.  With her new owner driving fast and staying out of trouble, the famous SCIMITAR and her skipper/owner Jos√© Manuel Ugarte were crowned 2013 Chilean National Champions, accumulating a 4-6 on the first day, but following up with three straight bullets in the windier conditions on Sunday to take the title with just 13 pts total.

The battle for the balance of the podium was fierce, with three teams riding the proverbial “roller-coaster” score-line until the very last race.  The protagonists in this script were Patricio Seguel on GRAND SLAM, Jorge Gonzalez on PLAN B and Miguel Salas on BIG BOOTY.  Leading this trio after the first day’s racing was Gonzalez’s PLAN B by just two points over Seguel’s GRAND SLAM; BIG BOOTY didn’t figure in the picture yet for even the top five!

J/105 fleet sailing under spinnaker on Algarrobo Bay, ChileWith the light air specialists now having to contend with big breeze and epic waves flowing into the crescent-shaped Algarrobo Bay, the game was changing dramatically for all the players wanting to grab silver on the stage at the end of Sunday’s racing.  Continuing the process of “rising like a Phoenix from the ashes” but then getting their wings burned again after rising a bit too quickly to glory was Seguel’s GRAND SLAM.  After their 8-1 on Day 1, they again started off the day with an 8th, rose to 3rd, dropped to 21st, then won the last race!  You could practically hear the anxiety and sigh of relief that came from Seguel’s crew as they crossed the finish line to secure second overall on a three-way tie-breaker at 21 pts total for the silver medal!

J/105 sailing upwind on Algarrobo Bay, ChileGetting the short-end of the stick in the triple tie-break were PLAN B and BIG BOOTY.  Gonzalez’s PLAN B started the regatta well and seemed to excel in the light airs on Saturday, knocking-out a 3-4 to be leading the regatta.  Sunday was a different story for them, struggling with finishes of 6-9-6-2 on Sunday, but still managing to secure third overall on the podium.  Perhaps the toughest break was that taken by Salas’s BIG BOOTY.  The BOOTY “boys”  sailed five of the six races in the top five but still lost the tie-break to take fourth overall.  Fifth overall was Rodrigo Gumucio’s SPIN OUT, also sailing in the top eight all regatta-long but not good enough to hop onto the podium.

Of special note was Vernon Robert’s performance in the regatta, a renowned J/24 sailor with tremendous pedigree at National, Continental and World Championships in the J/24 class.  After clearly struggling in the light stuff on Saturday with 11-11 finishes, Robert’s ARCHIMEDES crew stepped on the gas and rattled off a 10-4-3-6 tally for the second best record in Sunday’s four races!  Seems the ARCHIMEDES gang will be a force to reckon with in future Chilean J/105 events if they’re on that steep a learning-curve!

J/105s sailing off beach at Algarrobo Bay, Chile
As an interesting side note, there’s a good chance some of the J/105 crews stayed at the famous San Alfonso del Mar Resort (above), renown for being listed in just about every Top Ten List for World’s best pools- it’s the world’s largest and deepest with a mere 66 million gallons of turquoise blue seawater from the Pacific. The pool is 1 km (0.62 mi) long, covering 20 acres, with a maximum depth of 35m (115 ft). The pool was developed by Chilean company Crystal Lagoons for a cool $1.5 billion USD.  The best part?  It’s big enough to go sailing on anytime— soon perhaps J/70 racing on this man-made lagoon!

J/105s sailing off Puerto Montt, Chile for regatta
Next-up for the Chilean J-105 class is the Chilo√© VTR 2014 Regatta, which takes place from January 25 to February 1 in the waters of Puerto Montt (see bay above) and its archipelago (see where they're sailing here).  Puerto Montt is the gateway to the Chilean Lake District, settled in the 1850s by mostly German pioneers, whose strong influence is still noticeable in the buildings and the orderly countryside. Puerto Montt is the capital of the Lakes District, one of the most spectacular areas of Chile, where beautiful lakes and dozens of active volcanoes dominate the landscape- like the impressive snow-capped Osorno Volcano.  Blue and green lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, thick rain forests, and waterfalls are the reason why this area is called "Chile's Switzerland."  Why not take a 615 mile drive south from Algarrobo with J/105 in tow to go sailing in this place— anyone need crew??

Since 2011, the J/105 class has been growing dramatically along the central part of the gorgeous Chilean coastline form Valparaiso down to Puerto Montt.  Today, there are twenty-seven boats sailed by mostly families and friends and it’s becoming the most important offshore one-design class in Chile!  Here’s where the fleet was sailing on Algarrobo Bay.   Sailing Photo credits- Berni Grez   For more Chilean J/105 Nationals sailing information.