Thursday, March 6, 2014

J/Teams Smoke Border Run!

J/111 Stampeder- sailing Border Run Race off Newport BeachJ/111 Tops San Diego, J/124s Leaders in Dana Point
(San Diego, CA)- On Saturday, February 22, hundreds of sailors set sail to race to Dana Point and San Diego in the 2014 annual Border Run International Sailing Event. Everything was set in place— the boats, beautiful warm weather, a half moon for night-time sailing, plenty of dolphins and whales and a spectacular sunset - everything except the wind. But that did not stop sailors that came from far away as Arizona, Texas, New York and Maine, from having a great time. In the end, a total of 11 diehard crews out of 94 crossed the finish line before the race deadline.  And, it was three well-sailed J/Teams, in the most demanding sailing conditions, that led most everyone home at the top of their divisions!

It all started off on Friday night at the Balboa Inn in Newport Beach at the Pre-Race Send-Off party with live music, good food and guest speaker, Gino Morrelli, from Morrelli & Melvin yacht designers of America’s Cup fame. Gino gave Border Run sailors a first glimpse into the new AC boat and the possible venues of the next America’s Cup. It was a great way to start the event.

“Gino was awesome! He explained the differences between Team New Zealand and Team ORACLE USA from the technical side and the future of the next America’s Cup with a great visual presentation. During the ‘question and answer’ part of the presentation I could see the reaction of the sailors - they were really into the discussion,” said Randy Reynolds .

Sunset over the Pacific- Border Run Race off Newport BeachThe next day was race day. At 11:00 AM off the Balboa pier in Newport Beach, the 6th annual Border Run fleet started off in a southwest wind heading toward Dana Point and San Diego. The race committee from South Shore Yacht Club started all classes in flawless form. In keeping with the Border Run’s theme “Where Everyone’s Invited”, boats of all kinds and sizes, ranging from 14 ft to 70 ft, crossed the starting line to take on the challenging course.

There were boats of every size and shape competing on the race course. The fleet included some of the highest profile yachts on the West Coast. Boats ranging from sleds, cruisers, dinghies, sportboats and multihulls - all were represented.

High profile sailors were also lining up at the start – spectators were craning their necks to see Dennis Conner (of America's Cup fame) sailing his beloved wooden boat classic SPLENDOR and Cam Lewis sailing the fastest boat on the course, Enloe’s MIGHTY MERLOE (Editor’s note— both veterans of J/24 sailing wars in the past!).

After the start, just four hours into the race, most the fleet were carrying their spins or code-zeros when the wind switched to a south/southeast wind direction. That meant sailing to weather in very light winds in only 2-4 kts of breeze. Eventually, this took a toll on the fleet and crews started to drop out like flies on a hot summer day, one by one they radioed and headed back to homeport. Out of the 94-boat fleet, only six boats finished the Dana Point course and only five finished the 70-mile San Diego course.

J/124 Marisol- sailing with Seth Hall and teamAt the Trophy parties in Dana Point and San Diego, the event ended with sailors trading sea stories about the great competition before the wind shut off.  They spoke of the clear night skies with a bright half moon, the abundance of dolphin and whales swimming through glowing phosphorescence and an incredible sunset complete with the elusive "green flash". Even without wind, sailors on both courses expressed that the event was a great time and the adventure of sailing in light conditions was worth the trip – saying that they will be back next year.

And for the eleven boats and their hearty and tenacious crews that finished the challenging course, they can take pride that they finished the 2014 Border Run, going into the record books as sailors that won’t give up. John Marshall of South Shore Yacht Club, Race Chairman, said this about the event, “anyone can sail with good wind – only the best sailors can race and win with light winds.”

Of those eleven boats, three were J/Teams- 28% of the finishers!  Imagine that.  In fact, these teams reveled in the light-going despite the challenges faced by others.

Taking 1st in PHRF Light B in the San Diego race was the J/111 STAMPEDE, sailed by Glenn Griley and friends from King Harbor YC.  This was the first test of the STAMPEDE team in SoCal offshore racing and may prove to be an auspicious beginning for this new West Coast J/111 team.

In the Dana Point race, the two J/124s dueled one another all day and all night long.  In the end, Seth Hall’s veterans on MARISOL took second and beat their stablemate CIRRUS, sailed by Tim Harmon, home by just a half-hour.  Remarkably, MARISOL just missed finishing first overall by a little over one minute corrected!  Good grief.  Next time Seth may toss a few more heavy items onto the dock before leaving for the next race!  For fun, check out the YouTube sailing video posted by Tim Harmon’s J/124 CIRRUS from another regatta.   Sailing photo credits-  Bronny Daniels/   For more Border Run International Race sailing information