Monday, November 6, 2017

MOJO Smokes J/105 North Americans

J/105s sailing Galveston Bay (Seabrook, TX)- The 2017 edition of the J/105 North American Championship certainly had its fair share of surprises.  For starters, the weather in the fall in Texas can be fraught with weather fronts moving like freight trains across the prairies, mowing down everything in their path, yet the next day there can be no wind!

What was the first big surprise?  Plenty of wind for three of the four days!  And, the second one shocked most veteran J/105 sailors- what no one expected was the locals would lead a clean sweep of the podium after ten races run in four days!

Lakewood Yacht Club hosted this year’s regatta at Seabrook, Texas from October 25-29, 2017.  Twenty-two teams participated, nineteen of which hailed from Texas, while the other three very fast, championship winning teams came from California (2) and Bermuda.

In the end, it was Steve Rhyne’s local heroes from Lakewood YC that demonstrated a lot of chutzpah, guiding their appropriately named MOJO around the race track to six 1sts in the ten races sailed to win with a total of 23 pts, 26 pts clear of the next boat!  Crowned as the 2017 J/105 N.A. Champions, it is likely that no one has ever taken the title by such a significant margin.  Here is what happened on the mysterious, muddy waters of Galveston Bay.

J/105 MOJO winning North AmericansDay One
Under sunny skies and with breeze at 10-15 knots, the teams completed four races on the first day. Local Steve Rhyne’s MOJO grabbed the early advantage with scores of 4-1-1-2 for 8 points. Bill Zartler’s DEJA VOODOO put together a solid day with a line of 1-3-4-4 for 12 points and second place. Rick Goebel’s SANIT from San Diego held the third position with 21 points.

Winds began at 10 knots, when Zartler kicked off the regatta with a victory, ahead of two Class Presidents (Past President James Macdonald’s DISTANT PASSION and current President Bill Lakenmacher’s RADIANCE). The breeze built throughout the day to 15 knots. Rhyne earned bullets in races two and three, ahead of Osmond Young and Zartler in the second meeting and in front of two Californians in the third (Bruce Stone’s GOOD TRADE and Goebel’s SANITY). Goebel took the final win of the day, as Rhyne and Rick Schaffer’s DOUBLE DARE rounded out the top three.

J/105 sailing Seabrook Galveston BayDay Two
As the spotlight shined on the Houston Astros for Major League Baseball’s World Series, so did the focus on Galveston Bay.  The locals, MOJO and DEJA VOODOO, continued to dominate the fleet, as seven races were now in the books of the no-throw-out series.

By way of a 1-5-1 on Friday, Rhyne held a nine-point advantage over Zartler (MOJO tallies 15 points to DEJA VOODOO’s 24). Fellow Lakewood Yacht Club member Bill Lakenmacher’s RADIANCE moved up to third overall with 35 points.

It was another solid day on the racecourse with winds between 12-16 knots and puffs into the 20s. Rhyne earned his first of two bullets in the initial contest, trailed by Zartler and Goebel’s SANITY. Stone’s GOOD TRADE seized the win in Friday’s middle battle, as Josh Richline’s VELOCE from Corpus Christi YC and Rick Schaffer’s DOUBLE DARE made the top three. The familiar Rhyne and Zartler were the one/two punch in the last race, followed by Lakenmacher.

J/105 GOOD TRADE sailing NA's Seabrook TexasDay Three
Rhyne’s appropriately named MOJO continued to cast a spell on the fleet on Saturday. Winds at 12-14 knots allowed an additional three races to be completed for a total of 10 so far, with one more on the docket for Sunday.

Rhyne and crew posted another two race wins and added a rare sixth to give the local helmsman 23 points total. With a 26-point advantage, Rhyne had already secured the Championship in a no-throw out regatta!! An extraordinary scenario, to say the least! Zartler’s DEJA VOODOO scored 4-10-11, but maintained a hold on second place with 49 points. Lakenmacher’s RADIANCE stumbled in race 9 with a 15th place, but recovered with a bullet to retain the third position overall with 57 points. Rhyne and Goebel’s SANITY locked in the gold and silver spots in Saturday’s first two contests, followed initially by Osmond Young and then by Stone’s GOOD TRADE. Lakenmacher ended the day on a positive note, as did James Macdonald’s DISTANT PASSION from Royal Bermuda YC in Hamilton, Bermuda and Uzi Ozeri’s INFINITY in the top trio.

J/105 MOJO- winners NA'sDay Four
No races took place Sunday due to lack of wind, but it would not have mattered for Rhyne, who had already wrapped up the Championship.  His crew consisted of Brian Shores, Jake Scott, Joe Taylor, Alan Woodyard and Ryan Glaze. Fellow LYC members Bill Zartler on DEJA VOODOO and Bill Lakenmacher on RADIANCE completed the podium as 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Rhyne only bought his J/105 in the past year, lured by the strong Fleet 17 in Galveston Bay as well as this Championship at his own club. The conditions did not disappoint over the three sailing days of competition, as winds held in the teens for the duration.

“These were physical conditions, but not unmanageable,” summarized Rhyne. “After we got the lead on day one, we went into conservative mode. We felt we had speed, so we just could not do anything stupid with a no throw-out series. It was about points management.” Rhyne gave all the credit to his team, saying, “Crew is everything on any boat. I think my crew could’ve stepped on any boat and won.”   Follow the J/105 Class on Facebook here   For more J/105 North American Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.