Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fun-Lovin' J/FEST San Diego '70's Celebration!

J/Fest Zunni Bear winners“Saturday Night Fever” Award to Team ZUNNI BEAR!
(San Diego, CA)- It was an outstanding weekend for racing and nostalgia, San Diego Yacht Club hosted the 22nd annual J/Fest Regatta on September 22-24, 2017. Over two days, 27 J/Boats raced on San Diego Bay and ocean courses in 4 classes and competitors had the opportunity to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of J/Boats at numerous social events scattered throughout the weekend.

Anyone who participated can tell you that this year’s J/Fest was a weekend full of fun and camaraderie amongst competitors and guests.

J/Fest Rock Starz!!Starting with a sellout crowd on Friday night, almost 100 attendees heard from J/Boats President, Jeff Johnstone, in SDYC’s Frost Room. Johnstone presented on the “Past, Present, and Future of J/Boats”, an appreciated topic for these sailors. Following the first day of racing on Saturday was the spirited “Sending it Back to ‘77” Party on the Spinnaker Deck and Sail Wash Lawn. With the help of 70’s music from the band “Side Traxx” (the lead singer is SDYC member Mike Palumbo), J/Fest sailors fully adopted the theme and time-traveled back to the 1970s, which is very apparent if you look at photos from the event. S/C Kyle Clark won the oldest J/Fest t-shirt competition (J/Fest was started back in 1986) and Rich Bergmann and his crew on ZUNNI BEAR won the best dressed contest, with one crew member decked out in a tie-dyed suit!

On to the racing: Race Committee PRO Becky Ashburn reported sunny and warm conditions on Saturday morning with a light breeze. Winds were about 5 knots in the morning, and Race Committee arrived on station to find a car carrier parked where the weather mark should have been. They moved further south to avoid other obstructions, but that left the J/70s to motor almost 3 miles past Zuniga, which is a long way for those little boats! Luckily, they made to the course with a few minutes to spare.

J/120 party at San Diego YCRaces started on time - the 4 J/120s and 9 105s got a clean start and headed out on a 4 leg course. The 13 J/70s, having had too much coffee that morning, couldn't quite settle down, so R/C started with a general recall for that fleet. After that, R/C ran the scheduled 3 races for all 3 fleets, finishing the last race upwind. Course distances were about 4.5 miles for the J/120s, 3.8 miles for the J/105s, and 3 miles for the J/70s.

Ashburn believed that day 2 was forecast to be much breezier. In order to get longer courses with less of a commute for the small boats, R/C set up just outside Zuniga jetty. After chatting with competitors from the fleets, as well as the J/70 Coach (Willem Van Waay, who recently won the J/70 Worlds), R/C made a bit of a change to the lineup. J/120s and J/105s started race 4 on time, and then R/C added a break between fleets so the J/70s had the chance to ping the pin and signal boat while keeping clear of the other fleets - something that was a bit of a problem the day before. This setup seemed to work, making all 3 fleets AND the coach happy- win, win! Sunday’s 2 scheduled races began in wind that started at 9kts and built to over 16kts during the last leg of race 5. One J/70 (Huckleberry) reported rudder damage during race 5 and had to be towed home, but everyone else had a beautiful sail in, with 22kts of breeze in the channel!

Meanwhile, the 3 PHRF boats raced on a random leg course that provided a full tour of San Diego Bay. One race per day was scheduled, and they were to be scored Time on Distance. They ran their longest course option on Saturday and then did the same on Sunday. The breeze picked up so much on Sunday, though, that it ended up being a really short day for Mad Hatter, with just over 1 hour of sail time!

The four class winners were Robert Noe on Mad Hatter (PHRF- 1), John Laun on caper (J/120), Chuck Driscoll on Juiced (J/105), and David Hochart on USA-540 (J/70).

This was Robert Noe’s first class win at J/Fest, though he has won a few races over the years. “The crew and I loved the venue. It had enough wind and a good race course, 12 miles of races for PHRF, and outstanding R/C work. The trophies were outstanding, framed LPs of our favorite old groups. We could not ask for a better two days of racing.”

J/120 CAPER- winner- John LaunThe 2017 J/Fest marked the fourth time that John Laun and his team on CAPER have been J/Fest class winners. “J/120 fleet racing is a kick. We have a lot of fun with great skippers and crew and exciting close racing. Conditions this weekend were perfect with just enough variety in breeze velocity and shiftiness to make it challenging all the time. My favorite race was the last race, the second one on Sunday – it was the longest course and the most breeze. J/120s really come alive at 16 to 18 knots of breeze.”  Behind CAPER, it was a battle for the other podium spots.  After starting off slowly with a 2-3-4, Chuck Nichols’ CC RIDER got it going in the end to post a 2-2 to grab the silver.  Meanwhile, Scott Hogan’s SHAMROCK nearly threw away a near-certain third place finish after posting a 4-4 on the last day to take 3rd on a tie-breaker over Ernie Pennell’s MAD MEN at 16 pts each.

J/105 sailors- the Howell'sThe J/70 fleet also had an exciting last race on Sunday. There was a tiebreaker going into the last race, which was ultimately won by David Hochart who ended the regatta as the J/70 class winner. “Going into the last race we had to decide whether to go one-on-one vs Team Fly to get more than three points between us to win the regatta. We ultimately decided to start close to them on the line but not be aggressive and sail a clean race. We ended up winning the last race and it was close as they finished fourth which resulted in a tie. Exciting to have the regatta decided by the final race!”  By virtue of losing the tie-breaker, taking second was Tony Collins’ FLY.  Third was taken by Drew Belk’s KAWAU BAY with 22 pts, followed by Curt Johnson’s AVET 2.01 in fourth with 25 pts and Steve Wyman’s NUNUHUNU with 26 pts- close-racing, indeed!

Hochart also expressed how he felt the whole weekend of racing went. “My team enjoyed a great event hosted by SDYC, J/Boats, and the event sponsors. We were very fortunate to have the event organizers support Willem Van Waay coaching all teams in the J/70 fleet. It was a rewarding event for the team as we were able to develop our teamwork thru the coaching and learning from other teams.” 
The J/105s experienced a solid turnout with most top-teams in attendance.  Taking the win was Chuck Driscoll’s JUICED, winning the class handily with three bullets in their score-line for just 8 pts total.  However, for the rest of the crews it was an incredibly tight battle for the balance of the podium and, in fact, the top five- just four points separating four places!  Second and third place was determined by a tie-breaker at 18 pts apiece, with Steve & Lucy Howell’s BLINK! winning on count-back over Stew Cannon’s J-OK.  Just one point back in fourth place was Jeff & Karen Brown’s SWEET KAREN with 19 pts and placing fifth was Rich Bergmann’s ZUNI BEAR with 20 pts! “Holy tightrope” exclaimed Robin to Batman!  Where you finished in the last race pretty much determined how you finished overall!

J/Fest thanks their 2017 event sponsors: Pantaenius Yacht Insurance, Shelter Island Boatyard, Novamar Yacht Insurance, Nielsen Beaumont, Rigworks, Ullman Sails, and JK3. In addition to being the title sponsor of the whole event, JK3 provided the entire J/70 fleet the opportunity to receive coaching from Willem Van Waay over the weekend- a very unique and original element of the weekend.  For more J/Fest San Diego sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.