Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WIND CZAR Repeat J/111 NA Champion!

J/111 sailing North Americans (Harbor Springs, MI)- The J/111 North American Championship was sailed over the July 24-27 weekend at the Little Traverse Yacht Club in Harbor Springs, MI.  Thirteen J/111 boats attended the event in beautiful Northern Michigan ready to race during the LTYC annual Ugotta Regatta. Blue skies, clear water and perfect breeze kicked off the regatta on Thursday as the sailors competed in three races.

At the end of Day One, WIND CZAR (Rich Lehmann) led the fleet with a 1-4-1, followed by NO SURPRISE (Dave Irish) in second posting a 2-2-5 and KASHMIR (Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson, Mike Mayer) in third with a 7-1-2 score. While WIND CZAR and NO SURPRISE were 1-2 in the first race, Annapolis YC offshore veteran Martie Roesch took 3rd.  During the second race, KASHMIR dusted off an awful first race 7th and posted their first (and only) winning race of the regatta, followed by the omnipresent NO SURPRISE (a local by the way) and Bill Smith’s WOOTON in third.  The last race of the day saw several of the top teams start to predominate, with WIND CZAR again taking a first, followed by KASHMIR in second and then Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF team from Cleveland, Ohio in third.

Day Two had a slow start, but as the afternoon breeze filled in, the race committee was able to run 3 more races.  KASHMIR moved up from third after day two, finishing the day with 20 points as NO SURPRISE took third with 21 points.  Starting fast out the blocks was WIND CZAR, again taking the first race followed by the fast-learning KASHMIR crew in second and Bill Smith’s somewhat roller-coaster riding crew on WOOTON again posting another third.  The fifth race saw Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF find their Key West Race Week winning stride, comfortably taking first and they were followed by the tenacious WIND CZAR gang not wanting to give up their “locals” advantage with a second and taking third again was NO SURPRISE (perhaps the “uber” local, Mr. Irish).  For the final race of the day, local host Dave Irish showed everyone the way home to his boatyard, winning the last race and providing lots of free beer and wine afterwards!  As he should, right?  Second was SPACEMAN SPIFF and third was KASHMIR.

Saturday, the J/111 sailors participated in the “Tour of the Bay” race.  After the wind filled in around 2pm, heavy breeze and large waves sent the sailors on a fun ride around the course.  What everyone knows about this race is that when the wind fills in, sailing in the middle of the bay is a bit like sailing into a “black hole”.  In fact, the faster you sail the “edges” (e.g. the coastline) of the bay the better you do.  While everyone expected locals to do well, and not unexpectedly WIND CZAR won the race, but taking second in the premium-counting race was George Gamble’s MY SHARONA from Pensacola, Florida (the Gulf Coast Offshore series winning team).  Third was NO SURPRISE, fourth was SPACEMAN SPIFF and fifth was KASHMIR.

The last day of racing was threatened with storms in the vicinity but the Race Committee was able to get two races off as the storms stayed off the course.  At the end of the Championship, WIND CZAR, NO SURPRISE and KASHMIR took the first, second, and third, respectively.  While WIND CZAR closed the regatta with a 3-1 to win the event in a somewhat convincing fashion with 18.5 total points, the balance of the top five was nowhere near a “closed and done” deal.  In fact, how everyone did on the last leg of the last race determined the ultimate fate for all four teams that were in contention.  Now that some of the visiting teams to that crazy bay in Harbor Springs had learned a few tricks or two, the gloves were off for the final two races.  Holding on by a thread for second place happened to be NO SURPRISE, posting a less than stellar 4-8 to keep second overall with 37.5 pts.  Just 3.0 pts back after posting another riveting, memorable 7-6 score was the KASHMIR team, just hanging on for third with 40.5 pts.  A slightly better tally of 6-3 was knocked out by Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF team to take fourth with a total of 42.0 pts, only 1.5 pts back!  Then, going from “zero-to-hero” on one day was Marty Roesch’s team on VELOCITY, posting the best score of the day (a 1-2) to close out the regatta with 42.5 pts, just a half point back from 4th.

In the aftermath of some great, incredibly close racing, many teams were discussing next steps for J/111 one-design racing.  Included in that evolution were plans for Key West Race Week in 2015 and the J/111 Worlds for 2015 in Newport, RI.  Furthermore, various formats were also considered, like just W-L courses or a mix of W-L and an “offshore random leg” course.  In the theme of “horses for courses”, it was clear that more offshore-oriented teams liked having the offshore experience combined into the modern W-L mix.  Time will tell.   Sailing Photo Credits- Gretchen Dorian   For more J/111 NA’s sailing information