Tuesday, July 25, 2017

J/Cruz Lake Ontario 300

Lake Ontario 300 tracking (Port Credit, ONT, Canada)- The eighty-six boat fleet sailing the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge presented by drive.HG started on Saturday July 15th, 2017 with little expectations to finish the race in record time.  In fact, for the 300nm race, it was quite the opposite scenario that was being entertained by the intrepid adventurers on the flooded body of water known as Lake Ontario.

Despite every possible obstacle thrown at them, like a few fronts, no wind, lots of wind and what not, the J/crews prevailed from east to west on their 300nm transit of Lake Ontario. In the end, it was Bruce Pierce’s J/122 HOOLIGAN II that placed 2nd in IRC 2 Class.  Then, Murray Gainer’s J/109 LIVELY was 2nd in PHRF 1 Class and Sean Matthews’ J/33 WEE BEASTIE III placed 4th in PHRF 3 class!  For more Lake Ontario 300 Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

An Epic Challenge- The Chicago Mackinac Race

J/29 sailing Chicago Mac RaceJ/Teams Win Four Divisions, J/109 Wins Mackinac Cup!
(Mackinac Island, MI) – This year’s 109th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac will go down in the history books as one of the toughest races ever, sharply reminiscent of the wild near gale bashing the fleet experienced decades ago when Ted Turner’s 12 Meter American Eagle won the race and he later on quipped, “that was the roughest and hardest race I’ve ever sailed in my life!”  How tough was it this year? Just 200 of the 297 starters completed the 289.4 nm course (e.g. about one third of the fleet dropped out).

Chicago Mac weatherA frontal passage hit the fleet at midnight on Saturday, just hours into the race, producing a rare “dry front” that looked menacing as it came over the water but had no rain over Lake Michigan, but was pummeling the shoreline with rain, hail, and thousands of lightning bolts racing across the sky, thunder echoing over the water to remind everyone that Nature was King! As the front passed over the fleet, a blast front of 35-50 knot winds flew across the water that no one could see, other than the fact that boats just hundreds of yards away from you would suddenly flip over into a wild broach with spinnakers flailing away and, in many cases, simply blowing up into a thousand pieces of nylon!  Look at the  NOAA Radar Archive.

Shortly thereafter, the front passed by, pulling behind it a far stronger northerly breeze than forecast, so the fleet settled into a 20+ hour beat to windward in 15-30 knot winds from the N/NE and punching into a classic 6-10 ft Lake Michigan “chop”- steep faces, no backs and constant slamming of the bow into the Chicago Mackinac trackingnext wave.  To say it was unpleasant experience would be an understatement.  By the time the fleet reached the famous first turning point at Point Betsie about 163nm up the track, about a third of the fleet had dropped out for various reasons- equipment damage, boat damage, sail damage, or simply human damage (people got sick or hurt and physically could not take it any longer).

Ironically, after the first trial by fire to get around Pt Betsie, the winds rapidly shut down between the Manitou Island Straits and the open waters headed to Grey’s Reef- the next major turning point.  In fact, it was a glass-out for several hours for most boats.  Talk about extremes!  From there on end, many felt they could swim or crawl faster to the Mackinac finish line than drift at “triple naughts” on their speedo’s!

At the end of it all, the major highlight from J/sailor’s perspective was the amazing performance by the J/109 TOA owned and raced by Bruce Danly (Lake Bluff, IL) and Jim Mitchell (Chicago, IL), winning the Mackinac Cup, the overall win for the smaller boats in the fleet!  More importantly, there’s was a “family affair”, with young sailors, husband and wife on board!

The race has always been popular with J/Teams.  The enormous contingent of sixty-nine J’s (23% of the entries), sailed in both one-design classes (J/111, J/109, J/105) as well as ORR handicap classes ranging from J/88s up to a J/145.

J/111 fleet sailing Lake MichiganJ/111 One-Design Fleet
The nineteen teams in the J/111 class knew it was going to be another battle for the entire 289nm, from start to finish.  After running through the storm front, the top five boats quickly emerged, sailing consistently faster than the rest of the fleet and employing strong overall tactics and strategies up the race course.  Once the fleet hit the Michigan shoreline around Little Sable Point, it was a frenetic game of playing shoreline shifts versus offshore streaks, the leaderboard constantly shifting between Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY, Rich Witzel’s ROWDY, the Brummel/ Henderson duo on KASHMIR, Brad Faber’s UTAH and Dave Irish’s NO SURPRISE.  It was like watching a heavyweight boxing match for those boats that were behind them.  In the end, emerging bruised, battered and grinning from ear-to-ear was none other than Marty Roesch and his amazing Annapolis YC team on VELOCITY that consisted of James Allsop, Camden Bowdren, Andrew Eyring, Jarrett Hering, Paul Luisi, Derrick Reig, and Chris Teixeira. Taking second after the long battle was Rich Witzel’s ROWDY crew (Jim Calto, Chris Doubek, Colleen Duncan, Tom Elliott, Keith Love, and Zac Schramm). The final step on the podium went to a familiar Chicago crew, Karl Brummel and Steve Henderson sailing KASHMIR with crew of Ryan Clulo, David Guba, Mark Lyons, Andy Ray, and Tom Roop.

Of note, kudos to Dave McCreight’s J/111 DARK HORSE from Annapolis. It was a scary Saturday night on July 15th, when rough weather rolled in quickly, as it does on the Great Lakes, and a catamaran flipped. McCreight’s DARK HORSE was one of the boats to stand by to assist when the Coast Guard showed up to help the five sailors in the water. Although the crew’s assistance was not needed, we’d like to acknowledge the team for their sportsmanship, safety consideration for fellow sailors, and thoughtful conduct.

J/111 Mac winners- Marty Roesch & Velocity crewHere is the report from J/111 class winner, Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY: “This was an interesting race because the navigation and strategy seemed like they were more obvious than in the past two Mac races I've done.  We were looking at SE winds at the start that were forecast to slowly build and clock to the SW before a gusty front would come through with NW winds and possible storms, followed by strong northerly winds with big waves on Sunday, then light shifty winds under a passing high pressure system on Monday.  So the plan was to stay left of rhumb until the front came in and then get across the lake, then inside at the Manitous and then see what we had to do to get across the finish on Monday.

We had a great start, winning the boat end of the line and quickly transitioning into our Code 0.  We peeled to A1.5 and then A2 as the winds slowly clocked as per the forecast.  The sailing was absolutely fantastic on the first day as we picked our way though the larger fleet and kept an eye on the competition.  We spent a fair amount of time scratching our heads as No Surprise pulled in front of us a couple hundred yards up the course (where did those guys come from??) and kept an eye on Utah and Kashmir while we kept the boat speed up and waited for the front.

When the sun went down we could see a big display of lightning to the northwest that was slowly approaching and putting on a huge cloud-to-cloud light show that was beautiful to watch.  When the NW winds finally hit it, was a very quick transition and we worked to get our A2 down and our short hoist J4 up.  We saw wind speeds build quickly into the 30s despite not feeling it on the water and in short order we saw high 30s and low 40s and then it landed.  The top wind speed we saw was 46 knots and we hit 15 knots of boat speed blast reaching under the J4 in the crazy winds and rapidly building sea state.

The was a lull for a bit after the front came through and we put the Code 0 back up, but that proved to be the wrong sail after a few minutes so we switched to the A3 and I got back on the wheel.  Due to the clouds, it was pitch black on the water and very hard to see the waves so the first 10 minutes or so were very disorienting and hard to drive in.  Luckily, a bright star popped out under the cloud deck and I was able to use that as a steering reference and get things smoothed out.

We were bashing through big waves at 15-17 knots boatspeed for a couple of hours as we headed northeast and across the lake to get to the Michigan side.  Once the jib went up, I went down for the night.

Roesch and crew offshoreWhen I woke a couple hours later, we were in pounding conditions close-hauled and heading up the coast of Michigan between Big and Little Sable Points.  We could see a few other J/111's around us and we spent pretty much all day on Monday dealing with mild seasickness among several crew members, trying to stay upright in 20-25 knot northerly winds and 6-10 foot waves, and chasing boats.  We spent a lot of time crossing and being crossed by Utah on Monday, which was alternately good and bad for morale.  These were some of the roughest conditions that I've sailed in for the amount of time we were in them and it was very challenging for the whole team.  We did a great job staying in contact with the leading contingent of 111's and staying in the game that day.

If I were to pick a point where we made a call that put us into a position to achieve our ultimate victory, I'd say it was very early in the morning on Monday.  We were south of Beaver Island and we knew the winds were forecast to clock NE to SE and we also knew that we were on the outside of the pinwheel of leader group and that that was not going to be a great place to be.  We made the call to gybe away to an angle that took our VMG to almost zero and spent a half hour sailing to the inside of the pack and much closer to the rhumb line.  Shortly after we gybed back to course the winds did exactly what was predicted and the move paid off big.  As the sun came up on Monday we saw Kashmir about 2 miles in front of us, Utah and No Surprise over near Beaver Island and not moving very quickly, and Rowdy to the north of us with a group of boats from other classes.

J/111 sailing Chicago Mac Race- sunrise!The conditions that morning were 0-4 knots of wind and very glassy. As the sun came up we could see patches of breeze on the water so we played the "connect the dots" game we play so frequently in Annapolis to get ahead of Kashmir and pull up even with Rowdy, slowly pulling past both them and No Surprise.  Once we got to Greys Reef, we were in a position to consolidate and defend against Rowdy and No Surprise and we spent 6 hours sailing the last 25 miles and staying out front through the whole afternoon.

Once we got to the bridge we felt like we had a very comfortable lead and the breeze was moving Velocity along very nicely at 6-7 knots with the lighthouse in sight.

That's when the bottom almost fell out.

Skipper Roesch on way to winning J/111 class in Chicago Mackinac RaceA mile or so past the bridge the winds started to go light on us again and it looked like the other two boats had connected with some breeze on the south side of the Straights of Mackinac so we decided to cover. As we came out of our covering gybe, I looked over my shoulder and saw No Surprise maybe 6-8 boat lengths back!  After 282nm and just 7nm left to go, we were within seconds of each other and we still had a lot of battling to do. With me on the wheel and Chris Teixeira trimming the kite, Derrick Reig and James Allsop managing the tactical picture, we got back to work and managed to extend on both them and Rowdy, finally gybing away for the finish after about an hour of dueling in the last 3 miles.

As we approached the finish line there was one last challenge - the wind completely shut down!  With “triple naught” (0.00 knots of boatspeed) on the B&G displays we found that we had about 0.8 knots of current pushing us towards the finish line.  As I looked around in a bit of a panic, I saw that everyone else was being shut down as they approached the line as well.  It took us 30 minutes of getting tossed around by ferry wakes and doing everything we could to get the boat moving to cross the finish line!

The conditions on this race ran the full gamut from 0-45 knot winds, flat water to 10 foot breaking rollers, cold to hot temperatures.  The crew of Velocity did a great job of overcoming it all, staying in the game and capitalizing where we could to win the prize in what was one of the toughest races I've ever sailed!”

J/105 sailing Chicago Mackinac RaceJ/105 One-Design Fleet
Another large, very competitive J/Class were the twenty-one boats sailing J/105s.  Like their colleagues in the 111’s, many of their top contenders in past Mac Races, Chicago NOOD regattas and other offshore events were quite well-prepared to do battle for the entire 40-50 hours on the race course.  In the end, a familiar crew led everyone home to claim class honors- it was Mark Symonds and his crew on PTERODACTYL (Tim Kerr, Michael Morin, Thad Nguyen, John Quinlan, Trey Rose, and Duane Rose).  Taking second after a 15 minutes scoring penalty was Vanessa Gates crew on STRIKING that included Will and Steven Knoop, Richard Martin, Patrick Rice, and Leslie Washburn. Third on the podium was another top Chicago boat, Clark Pellett’s SEALARK crew that consisted of Shane Montgomery, Russ & Steve Radke, John Schussler, Nathaniel Sher, and Craig Warner.

Here is the J/105 class report from the winner, Mark Symonds on PTERODACTYL: “It was one of the most challenging Chicago Mac races I have sailed.  It started out like a typical Mac Race- a pleasant sleigh ride under spinnaker.  By late Saturday, though, we could clearly see the storm system coming down the lake.  Thankfully, the really bad stuff seemed to be tracking over the Wisconsin coastline off to the west of us.  We kept our spinnaker up a little too long and suffered a knockdown in a sudden increase in winds to 40+ knots. It seemed like we were at a 90-degree angle forever, but more likely about 30-40 seconds.  We were able to retrieve our spinnaker (in several pieces) and all the control lines.  From there, the wind turned north for over 24 hours.  North winds on Lake Michigan create big, powerful waves.  We slammed upwind all of Sunday.  We were very grateful and probably lucky that no one was hurt, being tossed around the cabin or deck.  We soldiered on trying to catch Buzz and SeaLark who were launched in front of us.

When we reached the Manitou passage, we had momentary cell coverage and found that we had caught them, but that Striking had also caught up.  Four of us were bobbing for hours or ghosting along at very low speeds for quite some time.  We tried everything to get going - jib and main, spinnaker and main, spinnaker only.  We constantly worked it to try to accelerate out of the doldrums.  Three of us were neck and neck getting to Grays Reef.  This is the reason I love one-design racing - after two plus days of racing, we were in a clump of competitors who all had the same capabilities.  When we finally got past the reef and turned toward the bridge it was a drag race with the wind out of the south.  We were able to barely hang on flying a spinnaker at a tight angle the whole way.

Kudos to the whole J105 fleet.  They are a great bunch of talented and well-prepared competitors.  While many had to drop out, we were very happy there were no serious injuries.  We are looking forward to a challenging fleet this Saturday for the Bayview Mackinac Race, our division is nearly all J/Boats, including J/105s, J/109s and the very fast J/111s!”

Another notable development in the J/105 class was the confidence of women owners to assemble top-notch teams and pursue top-level performance with great teams.  Perhaps inspired by the likes of J/88 owner like Iris Vogel’s champion team on DEVIATION, Vanessa Gates’ STRIKING team is forging new paths for women owner/skippers, as well as Nancy Glover’s TEMPEST crew, the Petzold gals on GREEN FLASH, and Barbara Dael’s Y-NOT!!  Add in four husband/wife teams and there is no question the easy-to-sail J/105 with a nice, easy to manage wheel, is less intimidating and easily managed by women sailors in all extremes of weather conditions!

J109 sailing Chicago Mackinac raceJ/109 One-Design Fleet
With ten teams, the J/109 class will always be tough and competitive and this year was no different! Taking class honors after a long battle through the Manitou Straits to Grey’s Reef was Robert Evans’ GOAT RODEO with his Chicago crew consisting of Lorna Bath, Brian Evans, Christian Goebel, Michael Kearschner, Daniel Rylance, Cameron Rylance, and Keith Stauber.  Taking the silver was a nearly all-family crew- Woody, Max, John & Will Hansmann’s BLOODLINE, adding in Jim & John Lynch as well as Will & Katie Wells from Newport, RI!  The third spot on the podium was taken by Scott Sims’ SLAPSHOT II crew of Melanie Derleth, Matt Gartner, Ashley Hunsader, Preston Scruggs, John Stevenson, Rich Vedder, and Kurt Wittenberg.  What was notable about the J/109 fleet?? All of the top three had women sailors on board as part of their winning teams!  

Level 35 Class Fleet
The Level 35 Class of eight teams included a trio of J/35s, such as Rick Stage’s ALPHA PUPPY, Larry Taunt’s BAD DOG J, and Mitch Weisman’s THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER. Needless to say, they all did well. In the end, bragging rights went to Rick Stage’s J/35 ALPHA PUPPY team of Gene Benedict, Justin Kalb, Kristian Kobernus, Steve Krasowski, Kevin Starr, Aimee Strittmatter, Jon Van Norman, and Andrew Winter.  While it was an “almost sweep” of the podium, the bronze went to Larry Taunt’s J/35 BAD DOG with crew of Bruce Bustin, Denny Dryer, Brad Fisher, Jeff Fuller, Timothy Graham, Dan Nikesch, Philip Wujkowski, Jim Wujkowski.

J/145 sailing Chicago to Mackinac RaceThe class make-up for Section 2 was rather diverse, including a half-dozen Farr 40s plus the J/145 MAIN STREET sailed by Bill and Jean Schanen of SAILING magazine fame from Port Washington YC.  In the end, the Schanen family’s pretty red speedster took 5th in class with a crew that included most of the Schanen family (Bill 3, Bill 4, Bill 5, Erin, Greta, & Jean) plus a cast of characters from “da hood” of Milwaukee to Sheboygan (Dan Branson, Mike Burt, Scott Fruechtl, Nick Hayes (famous writer on all things sailing!), Dale Peters, and Richard Reichelsdorfer).

For the Section 3 division, it was a battle of the J/130s versus the J/133s.  In the end, taking J/crew honors was Tom & Beth-Ann Papoutsis’ RENEGADE in third place; their crew consisted of Paul Bader, Devin Bader, Steve Curtis, William Dooley, David Galen, Larry Kwiat, James Lowe, Joey Papoutsis, and Matthew Pinsky.  Settling into 4th place after a tough thrash was Doug Petter’s WILLIE J, with crew of Brendan Hagman, Todd Labaugh, Andrew Lauten, Doug/ Andrew/ Juli Petter, Dell & Amy Todd, Brian Turuta, and Bert Vanderweele.

Fighting for brand and class honors all by themselves in Section 4 was Randy Kuhn & James Richter’s J/44 CHEAP’N’DEEP, a proven winner based on their performances off the Chicago waterfront this summer.  For a tough Mackinac Race for a completely family crew, there’s was a notable performance to take 5th in class- their undoing was the classic “black hole” known as the Manitous to Greys Reef “depression”.  Otherwise, as contenders to win class going past Point Betsie, it was an awesome performance.  The crew included Alex Bott, Jay Butler, John Conway, Dylan Hahn, JJ Kuhn, Chuck Norris, George Richter, Pete Robinson, and Justin Theodore.

Crushing the Section 5 class was the J/122 GOTTA WANTA skippered by Bob Mampe, from Grand Traverse YC.  To say this was a veteran team of a few dozen Mac Races would be an understatement.  Perhaps Dick & Doug Devos would wish to have this “all-star” team of amateurs and friends on board instead of their payroll of pro’s aboard WINDQUEST.  Needless to say, this crew knew what to do, where to go, and played all the nuances of the Michigan coastline to just crush their class.  The crew included Tom Babel, Andrew Berge, Michael Burns, Mark Clark, Jim Elvart, Eric Geiser, Karen Nemecek, and Scot Zimmerman.

J/109 TOA- Chicago Mackinac Cup winnersThen, crushing the huge Section 7 was a past winner of both the Bayview-Mackinac and the Chicago-Mackinac Races.  Winning the Mackinac Cup overall was the extraordinary crew on the J/109 TOA.  A slightly modified J/109 it was, with masthead massive spinnakers, giant squarehead main with dual running backstays.  They flew up the course in what were arguably perfect J/109 conditions; beating upwind into giant waves, big winds, knife-like bow chopping through the waves.  Not convinced?? Ask anyone in the UK or the Netherlands why the LOVE their J/109s.  Plain and simple, it can go uphill in nasty conditions when nothing else can— except, maybe a J/122 or J/111!! Therefore, to no one’s surprise, that is what Jimmie Mitchell and Bruce Danly did with their J/109 TOA.  Equipped with awesome sails from Rodney “Dangerfield” Keenan at Evolution Sails in New Zealand, they just sent it. They crushed their fleet by hours; beating the next boat by seven hours elapsed time and nearly five hours corrected time- e.g. a “spanking” of the fleet!  The TOA crew included Mike Beasley, Rodney Keenan, Dirk Kruger, and Richie & Lori Stearns. Six hours back on corrected time to take 2nd place was another classic J/Boat, the J/35 BOZO’s CIRUCS sailed by the Metcalf family (Bruce, Chris, Eric, Chris Jr) and Ally Haramia, Eric Larsen, Tim Lathrop, Glenn & Christina McCarthy, and Brendan Walsh.

Richie & Lori Stearns sailing J/109 TOAHere is the first-hand account of why TOA managed to do what they did by two of the crew- Richie & Lori Stearns (the J/Boats dealer in Chicago):

“The 2017 race to Mackinac had just about every condition you could imagine. We were not sailing in the 109 section because “Toa” was sporting a new black square top main which was more than noticeable to everyone sailing around before the start. Co-owner Jim Mitchell started the race with the east-northeast wind a bit heavier than forecasted. We started with a code 0 with a genoa staysail under it. Once we got away from the line we began to slowly pull away from the fleet. Our sailmaker, Rodney Keenan from Evolution sails in Auckland New Zealand, was quick to want to change to our other code 0 for more speed. Yes, we had two code zeros, one sheets to the stern and one sheets about two thirds aft. They are both spinnakers and are tacked to the end of the pole. With the larger code 0 up, we then launched the genoa staysail, which is a very small sail but really fits in the slot nicely. Soon the wind shifted to more of a broad reach and Mike Beasley, Clay Danley and Dirk Kruger put up the A2 spinnaker. The genoa staysail was already up so we decided to add the spinnaker staysail. WOW! Talk about slots for directing wind! I have sailed all my life and had to go below to get my camera… four sails flying perfectly and the boat just kept pulling away from the fleet.

J/109 triple-slotting on Chicago Mac race- Volvo 65 style!!The storms forecasted for later were coming from the northwest so we just sailed north instead of rhumb line. The VMG was faster to track north than to point at Point Betsie over 100 miles away. Also, the wind was forecast to swing to a beat and we wanted to get north as far as we could.

The wind had shifted before the storm and when it hit we just had the A2 up. The wind kept building, but the J/109 was perfectly under control, and we continued to track north. There was some discussion of how to get the sail down and a letterbox takedown won. We were seeing high winds but the boat was still under control, we got ready for the take down and then the spinnaker was “gone”. The front tape and part of the sail jumped forward and wrapped around the head stay and the rest of it was torn/ blown-off somewhere on the other side of the main in 35 knots of breeze. However, we were still going 11.5 knots in a very good direction so even though it took quite a while to get the sail down, just sailing the right direction under main was perfect.

As forecasted, the wind shifted to the north and we set in for 20 hours of heavy beating. The waves built all night and increased to 10 to 12 feet. Before daylight, we were on the Michigan shore and although we were having to short tack up the beach there was much less wave action on the shore. We were with faster boats so it was hard to keep up when we were in waves, but in smoother water we hung in there much better. Rail meat was everything at this point, so anyone trying to get sleep had to change bunks every time we tacked (which was a lot). The upper bunk was hard to get into so it was really better to be on deck.

Keeping with the projected forecast, the wind continued to blow hard from the northeast until Sunday around 4:00 PM when it shifted and moderated. We rounded point Betsie at 5:30 pm Sunday night, and we felt lucky that the wind was still blowing as we got into the Manitou passage, giving us a direct shot though the passage. Early Monday morning the wind dropped under 5 knots. It was a very light, tight reach and really was hard to say where the wind was coming from. We put up the small code 0 and really got the boat going. I had never steered a sail like this on a beat. With no light on the tell tails and using the compass and speedo and feel as a guide, we started to really go fast. As the sun came up, I realized I was sailing better in the dark than when I had things to look at, generating your own wind is an odd edge to sail on. This sail caught us back up to the larger boats that had passed us the day before!  However, true to the forecast, the wind completely died.  Even cigarettes couldn’t find any wind and the boat at one point did a 360. With the help of the wind seeker, which is a fairly large light jib that has full battens, we were able to get going again. Once we got going, it was the A1 Spinnaker in light air, jibing to Greys Reef. Co-owner Bruce Danley did a great job steering through this stretch with Lori Stearns trimming the spinnaker. Looking at the tracker after the race, we noticed this was an area we really extended our lead. After Greys Reef, the A1 was still the sail and it took us under the Mackinac Bridge to about one mile from the finish, where the wind died. Thank goodness for the wind seeker, it kept us going and we crossed the line with no one behind us in sight. The door had shut and now we just had to wait to see if anyone corrected over us.”

J/88 sailing fast on Chicago Mackinac RaceFinally, the Section 8 class of 28-33 footers that often produces huge surprises in the Mac Race nearly delivered, yet again!  Nevertheless, on “digital” based YB Tracker, the J/88s were crushing it up to Saturday midnight’s squall.  Thereafter, it was a long 20+ hour slog upwind in massive, breaking, cliff-sided waves.  While 29 feet with a knife-like bow can go fast most times, it’s a tall order of fries for a J/88 to beat a J/122 or J/111 upwind based on handicap time!  Nevertheless, the tables turned rapidly in the glass-out in the Manitou Island straits going to Grey’s Reef.  The J/88s flew in their conditions and nearly pulled off the mother of all upsets overall…just wishing a few more miles left!!  In the end, winning class was Tim Wade’s J/88 WINDSONG with crew of Todd Anderson, Andy Camarda, Kristin Olson, Tripp Wade, and Andrew Waters.  Leading the J/88 sweep with their colleagues was Ben & Amanda Wilson’s J/88 RAMBLER crew that consisted of Mark Ewing, Peter Fray, Rj Mills, Ed Montano, and Jim Nachtman.  For more Chicago to Mackinac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sportboat Fun- San Francisco!

J/70s sailing San Francisco Bay J/70s & J/111s Thrash City Front Course
(San Francisco Bay, CA)- City Front sailing at its finest! Last weekend the St. Francis Yacht Club hosted the J/70 Pacific Coast Championship and the J/111 Sportboat Regatta. Bennet Greenwald's Team PERSEVERANCE prevailed after three days of racing over the 9 race series with an impressive 6 bullets. Conditions overall were mild, warm, and sunny on the City Front making this San Diegan right at home!  And, feeling right at home on the Bay was St Francis YC member Peter Wagner, guiding his J/111 SKELETON KEY to six straight bullets to win the J/111 class!

Congrats to Team PERSEVERANCE (pictured L-R including crew Dirk Johnson, owner/driver Bennet Greenwald, Ben Mercer and Victor Diaz de Leon) and to all the competitors who came. It was a small but highly competitive J/70 fleet with challenging and rewarding racing.

Second place overall went to David Schumann’s Team Bottle Rocket with crew Cody Shevitz, Terre Layton, Shana Phelan and Willem Van Waay. Sailing with a crew of five paid off for this team, as did their two days of training with Willem Van Waay before the event.

J70 Sportboat winners- Greenwald's PerseveranceFleet 19 was happy to welcome Paul Cayard back to the J/70 fleet almost 10 months after sailing with one of Italy’s top Italian J/70 Teams Calvi Network at the J/70 Worlds in San Francisco last fall. If you may recall, Cayard is a Whitbread Around the World winner, Star World Champion and America’s Cup helmsman sailing on Chris Kostanecki’s JENNIFER. Cayard will continue to sail with Fleet 19s Team JENNIFER in the J/70 Worlds in Sardinia and they found the PCCs to be a great tune up for their newly formed Worlds team. Team JENNIFER came in third overall at the PCCs.

Tom Kassberg’s Team PICKLED HERRING is always a top contender and this weekend was no different. Kassberg came in fourth place overall at the PCCs.

J/70 Corinthians winners- Christine RobinSeveral Corinthian teams sailed the PCCs including Tracy Usher's Team CHRISTINE ROBIN.  Despite some epic and memorable tacking duels up the City Front with the top teams, they managed to land 5th overall just one point out of 4th place and were the first Corinthian team.

It was a family affair for Corinthian Justin Foox’s Team FLOTEK. At the PCCs, in addition to sailing with his wife Shar, which he does regularly, Justin also sailed with his sister and brother-in-law who were visiting from Australia. His sister and brother-in-law hadn’t sailed a J/70 before this weekend and loved the boats, no surprise! Justin and his sister hadn’t sailed together in 40 years so it was an especially fun experience for them all.

J/111s sailing San Francisco BayFurther enhancing the PCCs were daily debriefs from sailing Pro’s Willem Van Waay and Victor Diaz de Leon who ran informative debriefs post racing each day for the J/70s, which one attendee referred to as “liquid gold.”  In addition, Paul Cayard had nothing but praises for the pros and their debriefs.

As always StFYC Race Committee executed flawless race course management.  In addition to the gorgeous overall and Corinthian perpetual trophy, donated last year by Justin Kromelow’s Team LOOSE LUCY, the StFYC provided frames with plaques for the winners with line drawings of the J/70.

Gorgeous images of the racing with the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background say it all... Here is the link to photos from the 2017 PCCs by Leslie Richter.  Here’s another photo link from the 2017 PCCs by Chris Ray.  For more J/70 Pacific Coast Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tabares Three-Peats J/80 World Championship

Tabares- J/80 World Champion (Hamble, England)- Rayco Tabares (ESP) is the 2017 J/80 World Champion, retaining the title for the third consecutive year, racing HOTEL PRINCESA YAIZA with a crew of Alejandro Bethencourt Fuentes, Alfredo Gonzalez, Hector Gonzalez, and Francisca Torres Jorge.

Rayco Tabares has now won the J/80 World Championship four times! The Spanish team from Lanzarote, Canary Islands, led the regatta from the first day to the last, but did survive a jitter on the penultimate day. On the last day of racing, the team scored two second place finishes to clinch the world title.

A northerly breeze ranging from 10-18 knots, with shifts both to the west and the east, provided yet another testing race course in the Central Solent. All fourteen scheduled races were completed, much to the satisfaction of the competitors, which roundly showed their approval for a World Championship that was extremely well run.

"It has been amazing.” commented Rayco. “This is the fourth J/80 World Title for us, and we are really, really happy. I want to emphasis the incredible work done by the organization of this J/80 Worlds. On the water it has been perfect with a great team running the races, and ashore the Royal Southern has been looking after all of us in a great way- Perfect organization!”

"I am really proud of my team. We are colleagues, we are friends, and we are a family. The team had worked brilliantly, leading to winning the Worlds. Except for yesterday, when we raced in a conservative mode, we have raced as normal, and the results have been great. The race area is quite complex due to the currents, but I have felt really comfortable with the medium to strong winds; it´s quite similar to the average wind speed we sail in Lanzarote.”

J/80 World ChampionshipEric Brezellec (FRA) was runner up for the second year in a row. The team from Northern Brittany, racing COURRIER JUNIOR, scored seven podium finishes, but it was not enough to win a highly competitive regatta.

Simon Moriceau (FRA), racing ARMEN HABITAT, won both races to finish the championship in third position. The team from Nantes had scored five podium finishes, including three race wins, to take third by just two points, from Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg (ESP), racing VSA COMUNICACION.

Javier Chacártegui Cirerol (ESP), racing HM HOTELS, was the top Corinthian Boat. Runner-up for the Corinthian Class was Pepequin Orbaneja (ESP), racing CENYT HOSPITAL MARBELLA TEAM, and third was Luc Nadal (FRA) racing his famous GAN’JA.

Top Lady helm was Capucine Vitel’s VITEL SAILING TEAM- CDV 22 from France in 20th place. Top all-women’s team was another French team led by Elodie Bonafous, racing J’AIME VOILE BAIED DE MORLAIX in 22nd position. Luke Patience, racing RYOKO MEKA, was the top British boat in 6th overall, suffering from a DSQ and a last race 29th that severely affected their otherwise fantastic results. Patrick O’Neill, racing MOJO was the top Irish entry in 13th place and Peter Paul de Vries, racing LED 2 LEASE was the top boat from the Netherlands in 23rd spot.  Here is how it all evolved over the course of the five-day racing series.

J/80 Worlds at Hamble, EnglandDay One
The J/80 Worlds got off to a flying start with two spectacular championship races for the 48-boat fleet.  A southwesterly wind of 12 knots built during the afternoon, piping up to over 20 knots in the gusts. With wind over tide shortly after the start, the combat zone boiled up with the J/80s powering upwind, and then surfing downwind, in a full-on foam up. Rayco Tabares (ESP) took the early lead, with Kevin Sproul (GBR) in second and Luke Patience (GBR) in third.

PRO Stuart Childerley held a practice race in the morning, and after a big wind shift, moved the course to the east. “It can be a devil of a race area but we got two good races in today, helped by the competitors who settled into the tidal conditions very well at the start, but I expect that from this fleet, which is full of talented sailors,” commented Childerley.

Reigning J/80 World Champion, Rayco Tabares, who was atop the leaderboard, won the battle of the day but the Spaniard did not have it all his own way. Reigning UK National Champion, Kevin Sproul won Race One but Rayco scored a 2-1 to Kevin's 1-4. The battle is due to continue all week.

"Coming from Lanzarote, we are used to sailing in strong winds. But the tide and short chop is something different for us,” commented Rayco. “There are strong local teams, which have better knowledge of the Solent, and there are other high quality teams from overseas as well.”

Olympic 470 Silver Medallist, Luke Patience was in third. “It is great to score two keepers on the first day, as we have only just put this team together,” commented Luke. “The plan is to try and improve our performance as the regatta develops, so we are happy to have got off to a good start in a very good fleet.”

Spain's Javier Chacártegui scored an 8-2 to finish the day in fifth. 2012 J/80 World Champion, Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg, scored a third in Race One but was over eager in Race Two, and having returned to re-start correctly, finished the day with a poor result.

J/80s sailing Worlds on Solent, EnglandDay Two
Tabares (ESP) stamped his authority on the fleet with two bullets and a second to open up a commanding lead for the regatta.  But, it was a game of snakes and ladders for the rest of the fleet.

Simon Moriceau (FRA) climbed to second place after an 8-3-1, and Luke Patience (GBR) put into two great races, but slipped up in the last race to remain in third place.

Sproul’s (GBR) team had a shocker, dropping eight places after a 19-24-13. 2012 J/80 World Champion, Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg (ESP), had a good day, scoring a 5-2-5 to move up to fourth. Whilst last year's runner up, Eric Brezellec (FRA), was called OCS in Race Four, and slipped down to fourteenth.

PRO Stuart Childerley and his team set three good races, resulting in a highly competitive start and mark roundings. It was a tough day on the Solent for the competitors; a low-pressure system brought poor visibility and rain for much of the day. With the wind oscillating in speed and direction, making the correct tactical decisions was difficult.

“We had good speed today, especially downwind, and we made the right tactical choices,” commented Frenchman Simon Moriceau. “Today, we worked well as a team, and there was good communication. When we were down in the fleet, we remained calm, and just concentrated on passing one boat at a time. Coming from Brittany, we are used to this kind of weather; it is not a problem for us.”

Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg (ESP) had a great day on the water scoring a 5-2-5 to finish the day in eighth place, which is likely to improve once the discard kicks in tomorrow. Among their crew is the youngest competitor in the championship, Luis Miro, just 12 years old. “Jose Maria is a good friend of my family, I sail Optimist normally, so this is very exciting for me!” smiled Luis. The current French National Champion, Simon Bertheau, scored an impressive 4-6-6 to place fifth.

J/80 Rayco Tabares- Hotel Princessa YaizaDay Three
Tabares (ESP) retained his lead after day three, but a crack appeared in the Spanish team's seemingly invincible armor, scoring eighth in the last race of a tricky day in the Solent.

Luke Patience (GBR) took his first race win, to move up to second place, and Eric Brezellec (FRA) had the best day of all, scoring a 3-3-1 to move up to third for the championship. Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg (ESP) scored 10-10-2 to move up to fourth.

PRO Stuart Childerley moved the scheduled start an hour earlier for racing, and it proved to be an excellent decision. “The low pressure system that came through last night had gone through and we were expecting the weather to become unstable in the afternoon, which is exactly what happened. The wind oscillated through an axis of about 45 degrees today, causing plenty of potential traps for the competitors, and the Race Committee had to adjust the course on many occasions to compensate for the bigger shifts, the mark layers and race management team did a fantastic job today.”

Today's top team was skippered by Breton Eric Brezellec; the last time Eric competed in the UK at the J/80 World Championship was in Falmouth, 2005. His team sailed the boat over 200 miles, from St Malo, with tents on board for regatta accommodation. “Time on the boat is very important, we train a lot,” commented Eric! “Today, it was important to take the shifts as they arrived, it was much more open than yesterday. Rayco (Tabares) looks very strong, it looks very hard to beat him, but this regatta has not finished, it is still possible.”

“It would have been very easy to have a shocker today,” commented 470 Olympic Silver Medallist, Luke Patience. “Chris (Grube) did a great job reading the shifts, especially in the penultimate race, but that was a far from an easy race course today. When the wind is coming off the land like that, it can shift both ways. Personally, I tried to concentrate more on driving the boat and that has also paid off.”

J/80s sailing WorldsDay Four
Brezellec (FRA) had an outstanding fourth day, scoring a scintillating 1-7-1-2, and was now within striking distance of Tabares (ESP). The defending world champion, from Lanzarote, is still in pole position, but a 4-1-16-18, has cut his championship lead to just seven points, with two races remaining. Coincidentally, the 14th July is French National Day, and everyone expected that Brezellec would be coming out with all guns blazing.

“Today was a very tricky day, with plenty of shifts in the wind and changes in the tide, and we did not get the best results, especially in the last two races, but tomorrow we will be strong and sail better,” promised Tabares.

Spain’s Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg (ESP) scored 8-4-11-1 on the day to move ahead of Luke Patience (GBR), in the fight for the podium. Simon Moriceau (FRA) slipped up in Race 10, but came back with a third in Race 12, to have a chance of making third for the regatta.

With high pressure and a light southerly gradient wind forecast, there was the possibility that the gradient breeze would be fizzled out by a sea breeze in the afternoon. PRO Stuart Childerley, moved the scheduled start an hour earlier, and made a late call to change the starting area to East Knoll.  The two decisions proved to be spot on, providing great races and enough time to get four races sailed on a top class race course.

Jon Powell (GBR) had his best day, scoring a 6-2-3-4, to move up three places. Rétho Rémi scored an impressive 11-3-4-5, to move up five places. Chris Body (GBR) came within inches of winning his first J/80 World Championship race, but was just beaten to the line by Brezellec.

“We know we had speed coming into the regatta but that is not enough in this fleet, you have to get off the line well, stay in pressure, and play the shifts. Today, we had four races that were both physically and mentally exhausting, so to post the second best results of the day is very satisfying,” commented Jon Powell.

Royal Southern Yacht Club Commodore, Karen Henderson-Williams, and Regatta Director Jane Windsor, officiated at the J/80 Worlds Prize Giving Ceremony, sponsored by Raymarine, who provided a wealth of top marine electronics for the winners. Harken and Baltic Lifejackets provided even more prizes.

J/80 Worlds sailing videos- Day 1 Highlights   Day 2 Highlights    Day 3 Highlights
For more J/80 World Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fiesta Cup Regatta Preview

J/70 sailing off Santa Barbara, CA (Santa Barbara, CA)- In what has become a new tradition for the SoCal J/70 fleet, a number of good crews will be participating in the extremely fun Santa Barbara YC Fiesta Cup over the July 22nd to 23rd weekend.  It’s not hard to see why the event attracts so many good crews, Santa Barbara is regarded as “America’s Riviera”, with beautiful Spanish mission-style buildings, a spectacular waterfront that features beaches for miles and the famous Stearns Wharf with lots of seafood, the famous Santa Barbara Zoo, lots of shopping and excellent restaurants downtown, and spectacular vistas and hiking up in the mountains that rim the bay.

In addition to all the local attractions, the amazing venue for the SBYC allows nearly stadium-style racing to take place.  Situated high on a sandy bluff next to the harbor, sailors can enjoy spectacular views from the second story bar, restaurant and balcony; the sweeping 270 degree views permitting everyone to see the sailing taking place before them on the ocean.  The SBYC members make sure everyone has fun; especially on Saturday night when the famous Fiesta Cup party takes place with an excellent band or DJ and gallons of margaritas and Mexican beer flow along with delicious tacos, salsa, chips and guacamole.

Looking forward to great sailing offshore by SBYC’s expert RC and PRO teams will be eight crews that range from San Francisco to the Los Angeles/ San Diego areas.  Amongst the leading teams should be local hero Pat Toole and his 3 BIG DOGS crew, famous for having won the J/24 North Americans in recent years.  Challenging him on his home turf will be renegade outsiders like Chris Raab’s SUGOI from Newport Beach, CA; Steve Wyman’s NUNUHUNU from Dana Point, CA; Curt Johnson’s AVET 2.01 from California YC in Marina del Rey, CA; and Tony Collis’ FLY from Kings Harbor YC and Redondo Beach, CA.  For more J/70 Fiesta Cup sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Preview

J/120s sailing off Michigan (Port Huron, MI)- When it comes to send-offs for distance races, nobody does it better than Bayview Yacht Club with their Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which starts Saturday, July 22nd for 229 teams. Friday is “Boat Night,” when entries line up their boats along both banks of the Black River for some last-minute frolicking with friends and fans during the coinciding Blue Water Fest in Port Huron. The next morning, the fleet will motor to the starting line in a parade that passes under the Bluewater Bridge and past more fans that set up lawn chairs on the shore and cheer on their favorites. Then, after logging either 259 or 204 nautical miles on their choice of two courses (Cove Island Course and Shore Course, respectively), all “Bayview Mac” sailors will be welcomed on Michigan’s magical horse-and-carriage island of Mackinac with more celebrations, including a giant awards party at the Grand Hotel’s Woodfill Park on the Tuesday after the start.

“It’s like no other race in this country,” said Greg Thomas (Gross Pointe Park, Mich.), who is set to sail the Cove Island Course. “The fun factor is huge, but more important, it’s a 92-year-old tradition where whole families live 12 months for the next race.”  Moreover, while the race is a platform for family fun, it’s also a true test of fortitude, says Thomas.

“First of all Lake Huron is a big lake. You’re alone, it’s cold and there are no cities along the way (as opposed to Chicago Mac where you are passing towns with hundreds of thousands of people). Then, on the Cove Island Course you are near the Canadian shore, so you are very alone – there weren’t even cell phone towers until five years ago. You experience this significant challenge of survival instincts and your sailing abilities, so when you finish the race you feel like you’ve really done something: you’ve met a challenge and prevailed.”

And because the race happens at the height of July and finishes at a fairy tale destination, there’s a migration of families and friends to Mackinac Island, instead of sailors getting on a plane to get out of there as fast as they can.

Bayview Mac Race“It’s truly out of a postcard, with the clop, clop, clop of horses everywhere, no cars, the fudge, the cannons going off…it’s a place turned back in time,” said Thomas.  “It’s no wonder Bayview Mac racers who get there Sunday night and Monday morning want to stay through to the awards party on Tuesday and then head back on Wednesday. It’s a great challenge followed by a great festival.”

Imagine these scenes each year of the Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race (from top left: Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, camaraderie after racing, overall winner Il Mostro near the finish, the fleet at Mackinac Island. (Photo Credit: Martin Chumiecki/Bayview Yacht Club)

The weather forecast for the race is intimidating from a tactical point of view, and a challenge for the crews based on the recent experiences of the Chicago-Mackinac racers from the previous weekend.  Shown here, the forecast wind direction (streamlines) and wind speed (color contours) 0200 hrs on Sunday morning is from the GEFS forecast model. The GEFS is the ensemble version of the GFS, a long-standing global model used by the Bayview Mac Race weather forecastNational Weather Service. The image shows the center of the low passing over southern Lake Huron and its counterclockwise wind field (red arrows have been added for clarity).  Check out the dramatic differences in wind direction based on low's quadrants along with the very weak winds associated with the low's center (1.7 knots). As mentioned above, modest differences in the timing and low's track across Lake Huron will have a dramatic impact on the wind forecast; and to adopt the correct strategy to play the wind field as it moves over the lake and switches from N/NE to SE/SW and around the clock, FAST, to W/NW!

Most of the J/Teams are sailing on the longer Cove Island course that takes the teams up to the Canadian shoreline “turn left” to head to the famous Mackinac Island finish line with the candy red and white lighthouse marking the offshore end of the line.  In Class D there is an eclectic mix of J/35s, J/109s and J/111s- all about 35 to 36 feet in length, representing nearly the entire history of offshore racing J/designs in one class!

The J/111 crews include Don Hudak’s CAPERS, Jim Cooper’s FREEDOM, Dave Irish’s NO SURPRISE, Jeff Schaeffer’s SHMOKIN JOE, and Dan Kitchen’s SKULL CRACKER.  Amongst the J/105s, top teams will include Mark Denuyl’s GOOD LOOKIN, Mark Symonds’ PTERODACTYL (recent J/105 class winner in the Chicago to Mackinac Race and hoping to complete a class double!), Doug Livermore’s VENOM, and Jim Murphy’s WINDSHADOW. The leading J/109 teams include Jim Murray’s CALLISTO, Bob Evan’s GOAT RODEO (recent winner of the J/109 class in the Chicago-Mac and also hoping for a class double!), Bill Hamilton’s PHOENIX, and Chris Mallett’s SYNCHRONICITY.  Finally, thrown into the mix for good measure will be John Stromberg’s J/92 KOHATSU and Bob Klairmont’s J/133 SIROCCO 3!

J/120 J-Hawker Detroit, MIClass C, a.k.a. the ten-boat one-design J/120 class, will have a number of the top dogs competing, such as Frank Kern’s CARINTHIA, Charlie Hess’ FUNTECH RACING, Mike & Bob Kirkman’s HOT TICKET, and Dave Sandin’s J-HAWKER.

Class F will have only one competitor from the J/stable, Dick & Dan Synowiec’s very fast and well-sailed J/33 SHENANIGAN.

The Level 35 Class G will have a record-setting participation of ELEVEN J/35s in the race (at least a recent 20 year record!).  So many new owners and faces on the J/35s, but for sure some of the veterans will be teaching the “newbies” a thing or two about the race.  These crews have done well and won class or overall Bayview Macs more than once!  They include Tim & Amie Ross’ BLACKHAWK, Ed & John Bayer’s FALCON (his 50th Mac??) and, of course, perhaps the most famous J/35 of all time in the Great Lakes- Bill Wildner’s MR BILL’s WILD RIDE!

Finally, in the Class I- Cruising division, Gary Gonzalez’s J/42 DOS MAS will be looking to cruise faster than everyone else for the coveted class win— something J/42s are known to do with relative ease!

J/34 IOR Knee DeepSailing the shorter “Shore Course” that goes from the start and straight up the Michigan shoreline to Mackinac Island are two J/crews.  In Class K is the J/34 IOR KNEE DEEP sailed fast and smart by Brett & Katie Langolf from Lake Erie- hoping to add another class win! Then, in Class N is another famous J/classic, Donald King’s J/30 CONUNDRUM.  For more Bayview Mackinac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/FEST Great Lakes Preview

J/Fest Great Lakes (Toronto, ONT, Canada)- The first Lake Ontario J/FEST regatta will be held July 21st to 23rd at Ashbridges Bay YC, just west of downtown Toronto, sailing on the beautiful, but way, way too full Lake Ontario!  That has been the big story of the year for sailors on the lake.  As of July 11, almost all of the ABYC docks were above water. The water level is likely to go down by another couple of inches by the regatta weekend and the club was hard at work getting ready to accommodate all competing boats. Most classes will be rafting and a small number of slips will be available for larger boats.

Geoff Moore of North Sails will conduct on-water and on-shore workshops on Friday afternoon and evening. Practice starts on the water and sessions on rules and protest hearings are also planned.

JAUNTY J, a J/88 family speedster, will be on display on Friday July 21 from about 11am to 7pm.  Check out the electric motor, available as standard from J/Boats, enjoy a demo sail, and see what makes this 29 footer such a fun speedster for the whole family!

The inaugural Lake Ontario J/FEST Regatta is off to a great start with forty boats registered and strong fleets of J/105s, J/27s, and J/80s.  Plus, J/33, J/35, J/109, and J/120 crews will be racing in the PHRF division.

With seventeen boats, the J/105 fleet on the lake has turned out in force with most of the top teams from the Toronto region looking forward to a fun weekend of racing and the gracious hospitality of ABYC!  Amongst the top boats are two past J/105 North American Champions; Jim Rathbun’s HEY JUDE and Terry McLaughlin & Rod Wilmer’s MANDATE!  Giving them a good run-for-the-money will be Mike Mountford’s LIVE EDGE, Mike Champman’s SENTIENT, Ian Farquharson’s SONIC BOOM, and Allan Megarry’s STARCROSS.

The J/27s have enjoyed a bit of resurgence on the western end of the lake, seven boats have registered to compete for class honors.  Familiar faces in the top teams include Andrew Riem’s CURVED AIR (a past J/27 NA Champion), Robert Kelly’s LINE DRIVE, Andre Beese’s MESSING ABOUT and Christian Greenfield’s MISS TRIXIE.

Similarly, the six J/80s will enjoy some nice racing, led by their class cheerleader Lawrence Alexander on the mighty JIGGERS!  Chasing them will be Dave Doyle’s INNOCENT BYSTANDER, Owen Schneider’s ENIGMA, and Trudy Murphy’s FEISTY!

In the PHRF class will be a mix of teams from J/24s up to the J/120s.  Those teams include Bob Eckersley’s winning J/109 BLUE STREAK, Murray Gainer’s champion J/109 LIVELY, the two J/120s that are fast offshore (Matt Emerson’s RED LEAF and Graham Toms’ THE CAT CAME BACK), Sean Matthews’ famous J/33 WEE BEASTIE, and four smoking-hot classic masthead J/35s (Paul Cavanaugh’s TOP GUN, Geoff Roulet’s JEANNIE, Chris Cumming’s BATTLEWAGON, & Paul-Angus Bark’s CRIME SCENE).  For more J/Fest Great Lakes sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fabulous Women's J/22 Match Race Clinic!

Women's J/22 Match Race training- San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- A J/22 Women’s Match Race clinic was hosted last weekend by women all-stars in match-racing, all managed and coached by U.S. Sailing’s top ranked women’s match racer- Nicole Breault from San Francisco, CA.  Here is the report of this pioneering event to get women more engaged in all kinds of sailing, and get an introduction into the craziness of the tactics associated with rules and the exciting, heart-thumping elements of match-racing “mano-a-mano” against your competitors.

Over the past weekend, from Friday through Sunday, Nicole Breault and members of her Team Vela Racing led over three-dozen women in their “San Francisco Bay Match Race Clinegatta”.  This was the first of its kind event on the West Coast. Inspired by a format that was first pioneered by match-race guru Dave Perry, Nicole was excited to welcome 36 women sailors to St. Francis Yacht Club to learn and compete on their fleet of J/22s. These ladies spent Friday and Saturday in sailing clinics on and off the water on StFYC’s fleet of J/22s; then culminated with a regatta on Sunday.

There were 36 women, nine J/22s, four to a boat. Two days of classroom work plus on-the-water drills, followed by a full day on the water, completing a round-robin, fully-umpired, Grade 5 match-racing regatta, with Bartz Schneider as PRO and Rob Overton as Chief Umpire, and Nicole Breault as Head Coach. Here is Nicole’s report below:

“Those who participated would say that the 2017 SF Bay Women’s Match Race Clinic and Grade 5 Regatta was an absolute success! 36 female sailors from the Bay Area, Southern California, the East Coast, and even St. Petersburg, Russia, assembled at the St. Francis Yacht Club on the San Francisco City Front this past weekend to take part in a 2-day learn-to-match race clinic and 1-day grade 5 match race regatta and our VELA RACING Team (Molly Carapiet, Dana Riley, and Karen Loutzenheiser).

Women's J/22 Match Race clinic participantsThe Club offered its matched set of J/22s for the Clinic and Regatta.  Some of the sailors entered as teams, but more than half entered as individuals, willing to join forces with one another to tackle learning a new game.  Adding to the challenge was that many were dinghy sailors, while others had spent years on larger boats, and they were jumping onto a small keelboat for the first time and doing so in the often-humbling winds and waters just East of the Golden Gate Bridge in July.

It really took brave hearts and open minds to take on such an intensive task. In the end, we were amazed by the progress every sailor made. It is a testament to what women can do in this sport when they get a chance and go all-in.

After two days of classroom work and on-the-water drills, the teams raced a single round-robin, fully-umpired grade five match racing regatta on Sunday, with Bartz Schneider as PRO and Rob Overton as Chief Umpire. Only a few skippers had ever match raced previously. The objective was to expose experienced women sailors to match racing and instill further interest. Quite a few participants said they would take the extensive course materials and bring them back to their home clubs to use as a template for training.

J/22s sailing women's match race clinicFriday’s instruction focused on boat-handling as a fundamental aspect of match racing. This afforded sailors the chance to get to know one another and the J/22. The 4 coaches, who comprise a team that regularly match races J/22’s, gave specific instruction on their individual tasks in getting the boat efficiently through maneuvers, how they support one another in these efforts, and the importance of clear communication roles. Friday evening shifted the discussion toward the match-racing game and Saturday’s drills exercised tactical thinking and execution in the pre-start and around the course. Members of the StFYC volunteer RC corps and several of Overton’s umpire team supported clinic sessions with mark set, flag work and a taste of how umpiring works. The sailors fully engaged their brains and their bodies in the learning. Blustery 15-20 knot winds and afternoon full of ebb chop did not stop them from trying out aggressive boat-on-boat moves and pushing for improvement each time.

On Sunday morning, racing was delayed briefly while an armada of support boats and kayaks escorted the Golden River Swim from the Golden Gate Bridge, through the race course, to McCovey Cove at AT&T Park. Once underway, the course was visited by a couple of the humpback whales that have been enjoying the Bay waters these last few weeks. In spite of all these fantastic distractions, the organizers rolled through 9 flights of match racing in west-southwesterly winds that built from 10 to 18 kts through the afternoon.

Katie Ananina of St. Petersburg, Russia (currently a student based near Miami, FL) and her crew of Bethanie Maples, Lisa Anderson, and Linda Molnar (all Bay Area sailors) swept all of their matches (8-0) to win top honors. Katie was one of the few participants who came in with match-racing experience, which proved immensely valuable for both her team and the others. According to Bethanie Maples, Katie was “laser-focused on winning, her competitive vibe was infectious… [she was] a best friend to these other crews, not a new friend. A new friend is nice and non-confrontational. A best friend pushes you past your comfort zone so you can learn more and be the best sailor you can be.”

Claiming second on the tie-breaker (6-2), was StFYC member Krysia Pohl and her teammates Susannah Carr (Seattle, WA), Johanna Altorfer and Nehal Gajjar (both from the Bay Area). Finishing third was skipper Marilyn Cassedy along with Patricia Lapadula, Jennifer Arrington, and Britney Belcher, all from Cal Yacht Club, Marina Del Rey, CA.”  Sailing photo credits- Karen Loutzenheiser (karen@mcweekly.com)  For more Women’s J/22 Match Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/22 North American Championship Preview

J/22s sailing downwind (Buffalo, NY)- The 2017 J/22 North American Championship will be hosted from July 20th to 23rd at Buffalo YC in Buffalo, New York.  Thirty-two boats are registered to compete for one of the most coveted titles in the J/22 class worldwide, after all the top USA team is often a World Champion.

There is no question this year’s event is deep with talent for a modest-sized fleet.  There are a number of local “hotshots” that will be defending home turf from the various upstate New York fleets that range from Rochester to Youngstown and Buffalo to Lake George.  Amongst those teams hoping to top the leaderboard are Tim Finkle’s TOOTS, Kevin Doyle’s MO’MONEY, Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 4 1, and Travis Odenbach’s HONEY BADGER.

Taking the local mafia head-on will be past J/22 World Champion, Terry Flynn’s TEJAS from Houston, Texas.  Another Texan team to be reckoned with will be Mark Foster’s PRESSURE DROP from Corpus Christi, a place famous for super hot, super windy conditions!  From the formidable Annapolis fleet is Zeke Horowitz’s UNCLE FLUFFY and Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY.  Yet another J/22 Champion will be sailing from the Newport, RI fleet- Mike Marshall’s BAD NEWS; indeed “bad news” for those who know how fast and smart they can be!  Then, the visiting Canadian team is Johan Koppernaes’ RAISED J from Ottawa, Ontario.  Finally, from Tawas Bay, MI is Chris Princing’s EVIL DR PORK CHOP!

The teams will most certainly be challenged by the weekend’s weather forecast.  For Thursday there are thunderstorms forecast with a frontal passage, blowing 10-20 kts from the WSW.  Friday looks to be the nicest with lighter, variable winds from the NW but swinging around the clock.  Then, Saturday’s forecast is partly sunny, turning to rain, with variable winds.  And, Sunday yet another frontal passage with a lot more thunderstorms!  Hold on to your hats, may need to bring along the old trusty fisherman’s hat to keep the rain from soaking down through your neck!  For more J/22 North American Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vineyard Cup Regatta Fun & Games!

J/120 sailing Vineyard Cup Regatta J/Teams Garner Gold, Silver and Bronze! 
(Vineyard Haven, MA)- The host for the annual Vineyard Cup Regatta was Sail Martha’s Vineyard, based in Vineyard Haven on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  The regatta is managed like the FIGAWI Race, a PHRF “pursuit style” event that has your starting time based on the distance of the race sailed and your handicap rating.  The goal is “fun & games” and not at all based on serious racing, although based on the tenacity that some boats fought to trim sails, sit on people’s wind, and cross-tacks, would have you thinking otherwise!!

The PHRF Non-spinnaker Class 2 saw two J/100s have a blast.  Taking second in class was Phil & Rob Hale’s TANGO, while taking 5th place after the two races (one on each day) was Tom Welch’s ESCAPE.

Their colleagues in the PHRF Spinnaker Racing class, it was Stephen Besse’s J/120 APRES that took class honors by a wide margin- two bullets in two races!  Third was Matt & Lisa Schmitt’s J/105 HARDTACK with a 4-4.  Sixth place was Ed Lobo’s J/105 WATERWOLF with an 8-5.  Then, sitting in ninth was John Ryder’s J/70 AMONINI with a 7-8.  For more Vineyard Cup Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

J/70 Stadium Sailing Takes off in Moscow!

J/70 Moscow stadium sailing at The Royal Yacht Club (Moscow, Russia)- The legendary Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin and the leading Russian sailing project- PROyachting- partnered again for the 2017 stadium sailing series that is taking place on the “Water Stadium” in front of Royal Yacht Club in Moscow, Russia.  The main prize for the winner of popular Wednesday Night Races will be a brand new Marine Chronograph series from Ulysse Nardin (that’s one of only 150 units made in the world- priceless!!).

J/70 sailors in Moscow, Russia- at Royal Yacht ClubFor over 170 years, the Swiss watch maker has created models that embody the latest technological developments and impeccable style. Director General of Ulysse Nardin Russia, Maxim Andrianov, commented on their partnership, "This is a very interesting partnership for both sides. First, the history of the Ulysse Nardin brand is closely connected with the sea, and we participated with the Artemis Racing team in the America's Cup, the oldest competition in the world that has been held since 1851. Of course, for us it is very important that our brand is associated with watchmaking, advanced technologies in the manufacture of watches, but also with the rich history that we possess associated with sailing and the Seven Seas. And, the cooperation with PROyachting gives us this opportunity in Russia."

PROyachting- Ekaterina Skudina- Moscow, RussiaEkaterina Skudina, a World and European sailing champion and partner in the PROyachting project, commented that “we are very glad to continue cooperation with the legendary Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin. This year is very symbolic, because Artemis Racing Team, sponsored by Ulysse Nardin, reached the final of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs and showed excellent skills. We are pleased that Ulysse Nardin is so close to the sport of sailing, and we hope their partnership with PROyachting will bring the expected result this season here in Russia. For our part, we continue to develop Russian sailing and set higher standards for our yachting events."

PROyachting is a leader in attracting and integrating the world's leading brands into Russian yachting. The creative team at PROyachting continues to come up with new formats and develop numerous projects in Russia and abroad. The popular series of evening regattas- the “Wednesday Night Races on J/70s” by PROyachting- was the most notable development for yachting life and activity around Moscow. And, watches from the Swiss brand Ulysse Nardin provide an honorary trophy. That will increase the competitive nature of the sailors for winning the Wednesday Night season series on J/70s!

During the summer season, PROyachting plans to conduct 24 days of racing, which will determine the winner of the unique Marine Chronograph watch from Ulysse Nardin. The ceremony presenting the main prize for the season will be held in November and it will be awarded as the "PROyachting- Sailor of the Year!"

J/70s sailing in Moscow, Russia at Royal Yacht ClubIn the 2016 sailing season, it was the ALEX Team that won the valuable trophy- the Marine Diver watch from Ulysse Nardin. The prize was presented personally by Maxim Andrianov from the Ulysse Nardin Russia. In total, the Wednesday Night Race series in 2016 was attended by 45 teams!

This year, the event has grown even further in popularity! At least 45 teams have registered to compete and they participate in the round-robin style format as the teams rotate in and out of boats each evening.

For example, on June 27 was the seventh day of racing for the series for the “Tuesday Training Series”. A good wind allowed the organizers to hold 5 races. The leader of the evening was Team HURRICANE, having won three races in a row; they finally broke into first place in the standings. So, the top three were Team HURRICANE (Elena Buyanova, Pavel Ovanesyan, Alexey Sikirin, & Pavel Kiriluk), then in second place was Team BIG FISH (Inna Ozhogina, Polga Selezneva, Ivan Bodyagin, & Igor Puzanov), third step on the podium went to Team MOSCOW 24 (Denis Elahovsky, Ivan Lozovoy, Eugene Sutyrin, & Valentin Uvarkin).

J/70 sailing at Royal Yacht Club- Moscow, RussiaFor the next day of racing on June 28th, the 8th evening of racing for the Ulysses Nardin Wednesday Night Races, three races were sailed in a very complex and changeable wind by top Muscovite-based teams.  The results swung wildly for many boats.  However, for those who follow J/70 sailing on a European level, a familiar face was at the top of the leaderboard.  Winning the evening was none other than Russia’s top women keelboat skipper, Valeriya Kovalenko, leading her SSA-9 team to victory (Nikolai Chernikov, Alexey Tarasov, & Sergey Avdonin).  Second for the evening was NO PASARAN (Mikhail Loskov, Nikolay Khlystov, Igor Manshin, & Valentin Uvarkin).  Third for the night was TREM (Alexandra Peterson, Andrey Dmitriev, Pavel Kirilyuk, & Andrey Novikov).  At this rate, Valeriya’s SSA-9 Team may be on track for that fancy watch!  Follow the PROyachting/ Ulysse Nardin J/70 Wednesday night series on Facebook

To learn more about the PROyachting Wednesday Night Ulysse Nardin J/70 series, please call +7 499 393 31 33, + 7 988 143 17 57 or email info@pro-yachting.ru / website- http://pro-yachting.ru Add to Flipboard Magazine.