Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jammin’ J/22 Jamaica Nationals

J/22 Jammin Jamaica- girls boat draw (Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica)- The Caribbean J/22 fleet continues to have fun on their somewhat antique classic J/22s that have survived the test of time and too many hurricanes to mention.  The largest fleets reside in the Cayman Islands and on Jamaica.

In recent years, those two fleets get together and invite sailors from all over the world to come down and sail the gorgeous aquamarine blue waters of the Caribbean off Montego Bay, Jamaica- a great place to sail on the northern side of the island, a place famous for dozens of fabulous resorts.  The event is called the Jammin’ J/22 Jamaica Regatta and is hosted by the very welcoming Montego Bay YC.  You cannot beat the setting- warm weather, trade winds of 15-20 kts, sunny, and the nicest people you can imagine, sailing in a one-design fleet of J/22s.

The format is designed to encourage foreign sailors (to Jamaica) to visit as duets or entire crews of 3-4 people.  Of the fifteen-odd boats on the island, three are reserved for Kingston teams and three reserved for Mo’Bay teams- that selection is based on qualifiers.

The first qualifier was held in Kingston on the eastern end of the island.  The harbor is notorious for producing steady 20-30 kt winds daily from the east and sailing in flat water, literally!  The conditions are idyllic for anyone that loves the big breeze, gorgeous Caribbean weather, and beautiful views of 7,000 ft tall mountain peaks covered in a verdant green forest- mostly coffee!  Like its counterparts in San Francisco Bay or Lago di Garda in Italy, the combination of big mountains and long valleys literally “suck” the wind off the water and produce amazingly consistent breezes.  In the case of Kingston, it beats them all- with sunny days, 80 F, no fog, clear as a bell, and winds that can hit 25-35 kts steady, gusting higher.

As you can imagine, growing up in those conditions, Kingston sailors are a bit jaded when it comes to breeze.  They have been known to wait until 2pm or so at the Kingston YC situated at the head of the harbor in perfectly flat water for the wind to build to gear-busting conditions.  Then, after being fortified with a few J/22 Geronimo sailing Kingston, Jamaica harborRed Stripes or chasers of Appleton Estate Reserve rum, off they go, hoist the main, hoist the chute and take off in a screaming plane to the far side of the harbor about 4 miles away downwind!  There are a few videos documenting all this craziness.

Here is the sailing video highlights of a Kingston Harbor hurricane speed record attempt (thanks to the J/22 GERONIMO)

And, here is one of their friends sailing and racing in the Cayman Islands.

J/22 Cayman Islands sailing regattaThis past weekend, sailing in decent, though not crazy, winds, the Jamaican J/22 Nationals were held.  The event served as the qualifier for the Kingston teams to sail the Jammin’ event, too.  Winning the event with straight firsts was Richard & Jackie Hamilton’s RENEGADE, an all Mo’Bay crew that included another J/22 owner- Mike Morse.  Taking second and third, respectively, were the top two Kingston boats, “Cookie’s” GERONIMO and Gibson’s TSUNAMI.

The following weekend, the Montego Bay YC held their qualifiers for local boats for the Jammin’ event.  According to Mike Morse, steering his own boat AYAHSO, “we just barely made qualification for Jammin this past weekend.  We were actually tied points with Richard (RENEGADE), but he took the tie-breaker.  So, we ended up third.  Thank goodness, three spots were available for local crews.  The weather has been peculiar recently, with lots of mini-fronts coming down the Caribbean from the east, so goodness knows what the weather will be in another week!”

Reflecting that perspective was Richard Hamilton on RENEGADE, “conditions were east to southeast at 1 to 4 knots!  Thankfully, there is very little current in Montego Bay; otherwise, we would have been going sideways out to sea!  Congratulations to Peter Harper on ZIPPER for winning our qualifier.”

More news next week in the Jammin’ J/22 Jamaica preview of who’s who and wot’s happenin’!  For more Montego Bay YC J/22 sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.