Sunday, February 14, 2016

BLACK SAILS Crowned Chile J/70 Champion!

J/70s sailing Patagonia, Chile- Volcano Villarico in background (Lake Panguipulli, Patagonia, Chile)- The setting could not have been more idyllic.  Imagine your are sailing on a lake high in the Patagonian range of the majestic Andes Mountains in southern Chile.  The water is refreshingly cool (60 degrees) and so clear you can see down into the lake at least 50 feet.  In the distance are the sun-drenched slopes of jagged mountain ridges festooned with a dense green forest, rock outcroppings jutting out boldly to capture the morning sun.  A few miles to the north you can see “Villarica”, a live volcano smoking, standing proudly at sunset, its snow-capped summit bathed in an orange glow of yet another clear day summer day just north of the Antarctic Circle. Sailing in this spectacular location comes naturally to the locals who’ve grown up with it.  However, for those who’ve never seen such a juxtaposition of extraordinary landscape, it can be breathtaking.

For the third year in a row, the J/70 Chilean National Championship was hosted at Puerto Puyumen on Lago Panguipulli, thanks to the generosity of Nicolas Ibanez and the regatta’s sponsors- Santander Bank of Chile.  Heading up the Race Committee PRO duties was Cristian González; he did an amazing job considering that windward marks or the starting line were often being set in waters that exceeded 280 meters (900 ft) of depth!

J/70s sailing off Patagonia, ChileThe weather was postcard perfect, with clear deep blue skies and mountain winds (adiabatic phenomenon) that would develop mid-afternoon, affording the avid J/70 sailors to sail 3 to 4 races per day.  With sunset occurring at 9pm at night with twilight easily extending visible light well past 10pm, it was easy to sail late in the day and not realize that you were getting off the water much before 8pm!  Nevertheless, with the Chilean tradition of having dinner at 10-11pm, that didn’t matter.

While Friday’s sailing was canceled due to lack of wind by 7:30pm (the “drop-dead” time for the day’s racing), the fleet did experience a gorgeous sail home in a fast-developing southwesterly of 8-10 kts at sunset.

J/70s sailing Patagonia, ChileSaturday dawned with great promise and the weather Godz delivered- with a beautiful southerly thermal wind of 6-15 knots in the late afternoon.  After four races, it was the ALLEGRO team leading with Matias Seguel at the helm and crew of Cristobal Lira, Manuel Jose Lira and Sergio Baeza.  Their record of 2-2-9-2 for 15 pts was enough to overcome the persistent efforts of the second place team, Per Von Appen’s crew on BLACK SAILS that consisted of Juan Sanchez, Sergio Blurel and Felipe Robles.  BLACK SAILS had some difficulties maintaining consistency, but they worked hard to recover some bad starts and legs and closed with two bullets for the day to produce a tally of 3-11-1-1 for 16 pts.  Third for the day was SIRTECOM skippered by Walter Astorga and crew of Martin Busch, Jose Lopez and Ewecer Morales with a record of 8-3-2-10 for 23 pts.

J/70 sailing downwind- Lago Panguipulli, Patagonia, ChileOn Sunday, the winds ultimately filled in from the south to southeast for the first start, producing some race course anomalies the fleet had yet to contend with.  Shortly after the first start, an enormous gust filled in from the southeast, and took boats from last to first (boat in the middle right) and others from first to last (those who had gone left).  However, as was typical for the conditions, the geographically induced “wind bend” on the left-hand side of the course settled back in a few legs later and those who favored playing shifts to the middle-left of the course kept making persistent gains on those who did not.

J/70s sailing off Patagonia, ChileSailing very consistently on the last day was the regatta winner, Per Von Appen and team on BLACK SAILS.  With a 2-3-4 record, they closed out the series with 14 points to handily take the win and be declared the 2016 Chile J/70 National Champion. It was a well-earned win and they worked quite hard to make good recoveries when the chips were against them on some legs.  Starting out fast on the day with a 1st was skipper Matias Seguel on ALLEGRO, easily winning the regatta by a big margin after race 5. However, some big mistakes on course strategy cost them in the next two races, posting a 9-7 to finish with regatta with 23 pts net to take the silver.  Third was Carlos Vergara’s team on SENSEI (Diego Gonzalez, Miguel Perez, Tomas Middleton), winning the 7th race and just squeezing onto the podium by one point with 27 pts net.

Rounding out the top five was a horse race to the final race.  On a tie-breaker, it was Rodrigo Solar’s BLACK JACK over Juan Eduardo Reid’s SANTANDER at 28 pts each.

Winning the “Owner/Driver” category for the regatta was CHUCRU II sailed by Carlos Kühlenthal with his son Ian Kühlenthal and two women crew- Nikola Abello and Danya Rferrer.  Sailing photo credits- Matias Daroch/   J/70 Chile Class Facebook page.   For more J/70 Chilean Nationals sailing informat