Friday, September 16, 2016

Brilliant, Epic, CYC Round Island Race!

J/70 winning Conanicut Round Island Race (Jamestown, RI)- Imagine the scenario.  For about a week, a tropical disturbance lovingly called “Hermione” (after the famous heroine in the Harry Potter series of books/ movies), slowly meandered its way from the western Sahara in Africa, across the Caribbean, wandered around the Gulf of Mexico, then strolled towards the northeastern USA shoreline (the most populous and wealthiest 400nm stretch of real estate on the planet), often acting like a drunken sailor- truly meandering and walking in circles without a definitive mission in mind, other than to annoy sailors in New England!  The forecast kept changing for days and with Monster Storm Sandy as a recent nightmare to forget (which shut down New York City), many people were experiencing anxiety attacks (e.g. they were freakin’ out!). For the Labor Day weekend in New England, the forecasts ranged from a full-blown hurricane to nothing other than a mild tropical disturbance blowing 15-30 kts. In the end, little “Hermione” ended up being a 22-day weather event for most in the northeast with a somewhat benign impact, other than lots of rain.

J/22 starting Conanicut Round Island RaceWaking up Sunday morning, no one could believe what they saw!  Blessed with NE winds of 15-25 kts, clear, sunny, with torn-cotton clouds racing across the skies, the fleet of 65 intrepid adventurers (out of the original 96 boats registered!) congregated in front of Conanicut YC, looking forward to a counter-clockwise blast around Narragansett Bay- easily one of the most popular races run all year long in New England.

The start was off the CYC starting line, just south of the Newport Bridge.  The first mark to windward was a starboard-tack favored beat of 5.1nm. Then, the fleet turned left at Can #3 going to Can #5 at the northern tip of Conanicut Island (about 1.8nm), then a super-fast 9.5nm planing reach from Can #5 to Beavertail Bell off the southern tip of the island, then a 4.0nm beat against a ripping 1.5-2.0 kts current, clawing around the Dumplings Bell for a last left turn to the finish, a fetch on starboard of 1.25nm.  No matter how you looked at it, it was going to be a hugely favored big-boat race for the overall finishes!

J/70 sailing downwind- Conanicut Round Island Race“I’ve wondered all week if we would actually be able to do a race on Sunday,” said Conanicut YC RC Chairman Alan Baines.  “However, everything turned out all right and the fleet started in a breezy northeasterly wind, heading up East Passage, and around the top of the island before flying downwind down the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. Rounding Beavertail Point, competitors experienced enormous swells, before beating back up the Bay to the finish off Conanicut Yacht Club.”

Overall, J/Teams did quite well.  For starters, it was an amazing performance by a number of J/Crews. The first two boats around Beavertail Bell (15nm into the race!) were the J/35C SUGAREE sailed by Jim Cornwall and Dennis Nixon’s J/29 LYNX! Fourth boat was Suzy Leech’s amazing team on her J/70 JUNKANOO!  Leech commented, “this was the most amazing Round Island Race ever!!  The weather was just unbelievably perfect! Sunny. Windy, gusting to 25 kts plus! Planing for 9 miles down the Bay’s western passage, wow! We even crashed twice (massively), with me swimming in a monster broach (Stu J fell on the tiller)! Loved my crew- Stu & Julia J and Joey B!”

In the end, the top J/crew overall on corrected time was the Sertl family from Jamestown- Katja, Mark and Cory sailing with J/22 World Champion Mike Marshall aboard their boat LUCY! They won the J/22 class and placed 6th overall!  Quite an accomplishment in a very “big boat” favored race.  Taking second in the J/22s was Neil McDermott’s KONA and third was Bill Porter’s CONUNDRUM.  As a result of their amazing performance, the Sertl Family were awarded the Robert MacLeod Rear Commodore Trophy (Day-sailer, Fastest corrected time)!

J/70 Junkanoo- Suzy Leech sailing Conanicut Round Island RaceSecond J/crew overall was Ms Leech’s team on her J/70 JUNKANOO- with Stu & Julia Johnstone on bow & superstar Joe Bardenheier on mainsheet/go fast.  After a somewhat slow start, their J/70 caught the leading J/22 at Dutch Harbor Island, then flew down to Beavertail Bell, rounded the mark in monster waves from the latent Hurricane Hermione, and fought their way home with the rest of the fleet against an ebb tide to the finish.  As just 7th boat to finish in the entire fleet of 65 boats, JUNKANOO won the J/70 one-design class and took 16th overall (just two crashes and 8 minutes corrected from the overall win!).  Second in the J/70 class was Gordon Fletcher’s GIJIMA from Wickford YC and third was Chris Murray’s LUCKY from Ida Lewis YC.

Winning PHRF B Division was Dennis Nixon’s J/29 LYNX from CYC with Jim Cornwall’s J/35C SUGAREE taking second place! Continuing the winning theme for J/teams was Mike Hill’s J/24 OBSTREPEROUS from Ida Lewis YC, winning PHRF E Division with Matt Coughlin’s J/24 RISKY BUSINESS in 2nd, Marc Holdwaway’s J/24 MUTINOUS DOGS in 4th, and Dan Borsutsky’s J/30 VOLADOR in 7th.

In PHRF F Division, Paul Grimes’ family crew on the J/35 BREAKAWAY was fourth place.  Then, in PHRF G Division, John Sahagian’s J/109 PICANTE took third overall.  Four J/crews sailed PHRF H Division, with Sean Doyle’s J/105 KESTREL taking 2nd, followed by Doug Newhouse’s J/88 YONDER in 4th, and EC Helme’s J/92 SPIRIT in 6th place.  Sailing photo credits- Cate Brown  For more Conanicut YC Round Island Race sailing information