Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fantastic Sail Newport Regatta!

J/70 sailing in Sail Newport RegattaJAZZ Leads J/88s, HELLY HANSEN Tops J/70s
(Newport, RI)- One of the biggest one-design regattas held all year long in the famous seaport of Newport, RI is the SAIL NEWPORT Regatta.  Hosted by its Executive Director Brad Read and the army of Sail Newport volunteers, the regatta runs for three days from July 8th to 10th with all sailing taking place in Narragansett Bay.  Two J classes participated- J/70s and J/88s.

In the J/70 class, it was a “real-time” clinic on “go-fast” all weekend long.  Consider that a combined five J/24 Worlds, three J/22 Worlds, overall & Corinthian winners of J/70 Worlds and at least five Key West winners (J/70, J/111, J/105) along with major offshore races (Stamford Vineyard, Block Island Race, etc) were in the fleet of nine boats!  That was a very deep, talented fleet!

The first race of the weekend on Friday would set the tone for the regatta.  Leading for most of the race, Jamestown resident Hannah Swett, sailing her first J/70 regatta, knew exactly where to go in the races that started in Potter Cove.  Current was a major factor, as was the wind streaks funneling off Gould Island.  However, on the final run, Heather Gregg & Joe Bardenheier’s MUSE team planed by them in a massive puff to win the race, Swett holding on for second place.  In the next race, MUSE was leading the race up the beach when they managed to find an uncharted rock and crushed it- so much for their chances for the regatta, retiring from the rest of the races on Friday.  Al Terhune’s DAZZLER (with local knowledge tactician onboard- Moose McClintock) went on to win the next two races to be leading with a 3-1-1 at the end of the day.  Second was Tim Healy’s HELLY HANSEN with a 5-4-2, third was Dave Franzel’s SPRING with a 7-2-3, fourth Swett with a 2-7-4 and fifth Will Welles’ SCAMP posting a 6-3-5.

J/70s sailing the Sail Newport RegattaSaturday brought a grey day with east/southeast winds of 6-12 kts, with shifts funneling past the Newport Bridge abutments and from Coasters Harbor YC, adjacent to the Naval War College.  The shifts came fast and furious and getting the right formula was not easy.  Nevertheless, in the first race, it was a fight all the way around the track between the newly-repaired MUSE and HELLY HANSEN, with Healy’s crew taking the gun.  At the end of the day, MUSE closed with a bullet to create a three-way tie for 4th place, with Healy now leading the regatta followed by Swett and Terhune (who had an exasperating day).

The finale on Sunday showed some promise for better weather.  However, the light northerly was very streaky, somewhat unpredictable, and virtually all the top boats were shooting corners, with no exceptions in the top four!  It made for crazy tactics, with nary a consistent strategy in sight!  Winning the first race of the day was Welles’ SCAMP, followed by Terhune’s DAZZLER winning the last race- both corner shots!  However, even Healy hit a deep corner to win the regatta, going from 7th to 2nd in one beat!  As a result, Healy’s HELLY HANSEN won followed by a cluster of boats from 30 to 36 pts total for the balance of the top five.  DAZZLER finished 2nd, followed by Swett in 3rd, Welles’ SCAMP in 4th and Gregg/ Bardenheier’s MUSE in 5th place.

Finally, the J/88s used the Sail Newport Regatta as a warm-up for the upcoming J/88 New England Championship in Newport, RI.  It was a big battle between JAZZ and WINGS all weekend.  Doug McKeige’s JAZZ won four of the six races to win with 6 pts net.  Second was the Key West Winner- Mike Bruno’s WINGS.  Third was Doug Newhouse’s YONDER, winning race three to keep everyone guessing as to what would happen next week.

According to JAZZ skipper Doug McKeige,  “Good starts, good speed, good boat handling, and a fun team was our formula.  We managed to stay under the pressure upwind and downwind. Excellent racing out in the ocean and excellent race management!”

The WINGS skipper, Mike Bruno, echoed those positive thoughts, “Very nice conditions-- far better than forecasted-- 4 races day 1 and 3 races day 2, with a 4th abandoned most the way through when the breeze shut down.  Awesome Race Committee work all weekend-- wonderful event.  Doug McKeige was the star of the 88 class, sailing a near perfect regatta. Hope we get a far bigger J/88 turnout next year, as it was a really terrific regatta.  Thanks Sail Newport for doing virtually everything right!!”  For more Sail Newport Regatta sailing information