Monday, January 15, 2018

CATAPULT Vaults To J/70 Winter Series Win

J/70s sailing Tampa Bay (Tampa, FL)– Fifty-three J/70 teams traveled to Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida for the middle weekend of the 2017-2018 Quantum J/70 Winter Series. Chilly, but sunny conditions, greeted the crews, with winds that ranged from 8-10 knot breezes on Saturday to 16+ knots on Sunday.  The DIYC PRO/ RC team, yet again, did wonderful job to complete three races each day… much to the delight of all the sailors on the water seeking to escape the deep freeze, sub-zero temperatures not that far north of the race course!

Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT topped the fleet with 9 net points, dropping a fifth in Saturday’s last contest and otherwise keeping all top three finishes. Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE took second place with 20 points. Brian Keane’s SAVASANA, who won the first weekend of the Series in December, was just one point back in third.

No question, this event marked the beginning for a number of teams as their “training regattas” leading up to the 2018 J/70 World Championship that will be sailed in Marblehead, MA, hosted by Eastern YC in September 2018.  For example, Ronning’s team included his 2016 World Championship tactician- John “JK” Kostecki from San Francisco, CA.  John is a past J/24 World Champion and America’s Cup tactician- considered one of the world’s best.  That’s for starters.

J/70s sailing Tampa BayGiven that SAVASANA’s Brian Keane, himself a College All-American, College Singlehanded Champion, J/80 & J/105 Champion, and has America’s top USA Olympic 49er skipper Stu McNay as his mainsheet/ tactician, it’s not surprising the competition is tough.

But, who is “Mr Pitiful”??  Seriously, a wildcard from the Northwest?? NOT!! Such is the talent in the Pacific Northwest.  Brothers Jonathan and Charlie McKee, both World Champions and Olympic Medallists in their own right in various classes, have often gotten blown-out in local racing by such local Seattle talents like Kevin Downey and friends such as the Buchan family (John, Carl, etc).

Yes, it is a remarkably smart and talented group of sailors in Puget Sound. J/24 sailors can reference world-class talents like Mark Laura (a USA J/24 National Champion) and Keith Whittemore- the 2017 European Champion on Lake Balaton in Hungary! In other words, despite sailing in flat water, no wind, and eternal mists gently wafting over Puget Sound or Lake Washington, they are not hacks.  Quite the contrary, easily some of the world's most formidable competitors!

J/70s sailing Tampa BayOf note, rounding out the top five in this event was Peter Cunningham from the Cayman Islands, sailing POWERPLAY RACING team into a strong close of a 9-4-5 in the 53-boat fleet. Not bad for a 70+ year old skipper amongst some of the world’s best sailors!

The 22-boat Corinthian division was topped by Bob Willis’ RIP RULLAH.  As a result of winning race 2, they held on to that euphoric finish position in this talented fleet to finish 10th overall.  Second was Nancy Glover’s crew on WINTER WIND, skippered by a good friend of hers, the famous Corpus Christi sailor- Mark Foster. Third in the division was Frank McNamara’s ever-consistent CHINOOK.

Each Friday of the Series, SAIL22 and North U combined forces for the “Porch Series” to offer practice races and coaching. Racing concludes at Davis Island Yacht Club on February 9-11. For more Quantum J/70 Winter Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.