Monday, December 19, 2016

GRAND SLAM Crowned J/105 Chilean Champion

J/105s sailing off Chile(Valparaiso, Chile)- The 2016 Chilean J/105 National Championship was sailed at Higuerillas Yacht Cub, located in Con-Con Bay, from November 26 to 27th.  It was a significant milestone for HYC to host the event!  Back in August 2015, the HYC was heavily damaged in a storm that was originally forecasted to be a minor gale, but instead spun-up into hurricane-force winds that mercilessly pounded Chile’s Pacific shoreline with massive 15-20 foot waves. The Valparaiso/ Con-Con area was devastated, virtually destroying all buildings at the yacht club, including many boats on moorings and on-shore.  Three 40 footers sank that day and one 54 foot sport fishing boat was totally destroyed by waves on the rocky shoreline.

Valparaiso, Chile houses on cliff with view of J/105s sailingWhat a metamorphosis to behold! After a year and a half, the Higuerillas YC is standing again!  The club members welcomed the big fleet of twelve J/105s with open arms and red carpet treatment that went above and beyond everyone’s expectations.  Six teams were from Algarrobo and six came from the Valpara√≠so/ Higuerillas area.

On Saturday, the fleet was treated to four races, with winds up to 20 kts from the south.  The crews worked hard in the tricky, shifty winds to sail consistent and fast.  Downwind, the teams had fun surfing down ginormous 10-12 ft waves!  Big grins and “war-whoops” were heard on every downwind run!

On Sunday, the sailor’s prayers were answered, but a bit too much of the famous Chilean “vino rojo” must have been offered to Neptune and the Wind Gods!  The teams woke up Sunday morning to even more ginormous waves and even stronger winds!  With steady breezes in the 25-30 kts range, gusting higher (and forecast to get even stronger), plus waves cresting over 15 feet, the fleet realized it was going to be impossible to sail any race.  As is Chilean tradition, a fabulous Sunday brunch and awards presentation took place instead, much to the delight of the many kids that were sailing and Mom’s and Dad’s that were looking forward to well-deserved R&R after the four tough races on Saturday!

J/105s sailing off Valparaiso, ChileThe clear winner was declared, with Chile’s National Champion J/24 sailor, Patricio Seguel, guiding the appropriately-named GRAND SLAM to a comfortable win with a 1-3-1-1 record for 6 pts total.  They were chased hard around the race track by yet another Chilean J/24 champion sailor- Vernon Robert skippering ARCHIMEDES.  Robert won the second race, but simply could not match the combination of speed, crew work and brilliant tactics on GRAND SLAM; settling for the silver with a 2-1-3-2 tally for 8 pts.

While the top two boats were battling for the overall lead, just behind them it was “clear as mud” who was going to grab the final spot on the podium.  It was a three-way slam-dancing contest between Miguel Perez’s RECLUTA, Martin Baeza’s UTOPIA, and Jose Manuel Ugarte’s SCIMITAR.  After the dance floor was cleared, the teams were just three points apart.  Starting out strongly with a 3-2 was Perez’s RECLUTA in a bid to be at the top of the heap overall.  However, their last two races clearly saw both mental and physical fatigue set in, as their 4-9 closing tally was just enough to score the bronze medal with a total of 18 pts.  The other two teams were riding their own roller-coaster up and down the standings. In the end, both posted top three scores in their records, but it was Baeza’s UTOPIA that finished with 19 pts to Ugarte’s SCIMITAR with 21 pts to round out the top five.

The Chilean J/105 fleet now prepares for the central circuit that will be run from February 22 to 28th.  Fifteen boats are expected for the summer’s final week of racing!  That is an amazing turn-out for their final regatta in Puerto Montt- the largest fishing village/ town that is closest to the famous Cape Horn at the tip of South America.  It also enjoys being the jumping-off point for many cruising boats that explore the extraordinary Chilean Archipelago of Patagonia!