Monday, March 18, 2019

MORENITA Wins Dramatic Chilean J/70 Nationals

J/70's sailing off Chile
(Algarrobo, Chile)- A highly competitive fleet of nineteen boats eagerly rigged up, tuned their boats to perfection, and headed out across the Pacific Ocean to the starting line for the 2019 Chilean SANTANDER J/70 Nationals. Hosting the regatta was the Cofradia Nautica del Algarrobo.  As the fastest growing class in Chile since the J/24, and with the best sailors in South America, the J/70 continues to attract the best talent for both skippers and crew. What no one anticipated was the regatta's outcome was going to be determined by a tie-breaker based on the results of the final race.

In the end, it was an incredibly hard-fought regatta for the two protagonists in this year’s J/70 Nationals. Both sailors have tremendous pedigree as both have won many championships in J/24s, Lightings, Soto 40s, and Snipes, to name a few.  Winning the tie-breaker was Mathias Robertson’s MORENITA with a 3-1-4-1 record for 9 pts.  Losing the countback to settle for the silver on the podium was Pablo Amunátegui’s SANTANDER with a 2-2-2-3 scoreline.
J/70 Morenita- Chilean Nationals winners
Meanwhile, the Corinthians Division celebrated their winners José Antonio Jiménez’s team on DARK SIDE.  Here is what took place each melodramatic day on the water.
J/70's sailing Chilean Nationals
Day 1- Friday- Big Seas, Big Battle
The first day of racing started off with winds of 10 to 12kts from the northwest with very choppy seas from a large frontal system offshore. The PRO managed to run two races before the offshore wind finally shut down, a frequent occurrence after a slow moving frontal system passes over the Andes.  Typically, the land heats up in such circumstances and creates an onshore, sea breeze from the west/southwest.  But, that was not the case this time around.

The Robertson brothers, Ro Robles and Pino Cubillos, took the lead at the end of the first day with a 3-1 score for 4 pts.  The Robertson’s are from amazing Chilean sailboat racing pedigree; they are sons of Felipe Cubillos, their father raced in the Portimao Race (35,000nm around the world in Class 40) together with José Muñoz. Tied on points with the Robertson’s was Pablo Amunátegui’s SANTANDER with a 2-2 scoreline for 4 pts as well.
J/70 women sailors in Chile
Day 2- Saturday- Light Air Dramas
On Saturday, light wind conditions offshore persisted, prompting an onshore postponement until 1500 hrs! Desperate to get in at least once race, the PRO sent the fleet offshore at 1530 hrs to get in just one race for the day. Incredibly, it was SANTANDER that maintained their steady pace, with skipper Amunátegui posting yet another 2nd place to take over the lead of the regatta.  Sitting just two points back was Robertson’s MORENITA with a 3-1-4 tally for 8 pts.
Volvo J/70 sailing off Chile
Day 3- Sunday Crazy, Dramatic Finale
The final day dawned with more light winds. The forecasts looked a bit dismal, unfortunately. Again, the PRO had to do an onshore postponement at 0900 hrs that lasted, coincidentally, until 1500 hrs. At that point, the decision was made to make an attempt to get in one more race in about 6 kts of breeze from the normal seabreeze direction of West/ Southwest. The stakes were high, as whatever the outcome of the race, it was going to determine the championship.

MORENITA had a fantastic start on the RC side of the line with great speed. From there, they took the lead at the first weather mark and simply sailed away to win the race. Meanwhile, their principal competitor, SANTANDER rounded in 5th place. At that point, it seemed like the regatta was over for SANTANDER. But, the drama was only going to build dramatically as the fleet continued to go around the buoys.

On the first run, the wind went a little to the right and SANTANDER and Francisco Perez’s ELEANOR RIGBY were the first boats to gybe. Andres Ducasse’s TSUNAMI and Juan Reid’s WINDMADE/ DREAM YACHT CHARTERS stayed close to shore, looking for more pressure.

Then, the left shift came in and both SANTANDER and ELEANOR RIGBY had a good recovery, but it was not enough. WINDMADE/ DREAM YACHT CHARTERS managed to gybe and run into the leeward gate in front of SANTANDER; 4th at that moment in the race, but still 2nd in overall in the standings.

On the second windward leg, with good speed, SANTANDER took the left (closer to shore) and both TSUNAMI and WINDMADE/ DYC took off to the right on port tack, despite the left-swinging wind direction. SANTANDER made it work along the shore and rounded the second windward mark in 2nd place.  Next, was TSUNAMI in 3rd, WINDMADE/ DYC in fourth, ELEANOR RIGBY 5th, and Matias Seguel’s VOLVO in 6th.

IF nothing changed on the downwind run to the finish, SANTANDER’s big gain meant they would be winning the regatta!  However, positions could, and did, change!

Again, the wind shifted into the right in the final 100 meters upwind at the weather mark, so WINDMADE/ DYC and TSUNAMI gybed onto port downwind, onto the favored gybe. Meanwhile, SANTANDER was still in second place, choosing the right side of the course downwind, closer to shore. Notably, the wind was decreasing in pressure and making everything more difficult tactically across the entire course.

In the final approach to the finish line, SANTANDER made two gybes, in front of TSUNAMI and WINDMADE/ DYC.  But, they did not block WINDMADE/ DYC, who was free to sail a faster angle to the RC finish boat.  Incredibly, WINDMADE/ DYC finished in 2nd by one foot (!) ahead of SANTANDER! Thus, putting SANTANDER in between them and TSUNAMI at the finish! Those two gybes by SANTANDER may go down as the “text book” wrong move, hopefully never to be repeated again by the moribund crew!

As a result, MORENITA won, with SANTANDER losing the tie-breaker to take second, with VOLVO third.
J/70s sailing upwind at Chile Nationals
Rounding out the top five overall was also determined on yet another tie-breaker on 21 pts each! Winning that “mano-a-mano” combat was Reid’s WINDMADE/ DREAM YACHT CHARTERS, taking fourth over Ducasse’s TSUNAMI in fifth place. Wow, that last race completely jumbled the ENTIRE top five standings in just 100 meters of the finish line!! Panic and anxiety in Algarrobo!!

Meanwhile, in the Corinthians division, José Antonio Jiménez's DARK SIDE finished 6th overall with only Jimenez family members on board.  Taking second was Patricio Natho’s TRILOGIA and in third was Cristóbal Pérez’s IL MOSTRO.

The Race Committee was managed by Fernando Pérez Spencer and assisted by Claudio Gonzalez and Javier Alias Corniza. The Protest Committee was chaired by Claudio Salvatore. Begoña Gumucio was the PRO for the regatta and also coordinated all the activities ashore. The ex-Olympic sailor was crucial for the success of the championship on the water, social events, and the award ceremony.

On Saturday morning, the 2020 J/70 Nationals host club and town was decided and the two finalists were Algarrobo and Lake Rapel. The Chilean J/70 Class directors are looking forward to sail outside Algarrobo and hope to resolve the logistics scenario to go sailing on Lake Rapel in the foothills of the Andes Mountains; the lake is about 2 hours south of the capital city of Santiago ~ 100 miles. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Bacardi J/70 Series Gets CATAPULT’ed!

J/70s sailing Bacardi Cup (Miami, FL)- Thirty-seven J/70 teams from ten nations (USA, Argentina, Italy, Monaco, Brazil, Great Britain, Chile, Germany, Canada, and Mexico) sailed the third and final series of the Bacardi J/70 Winter Series- the Bacardi Invitational- this past weekend in simply stellar weather conditions for all three days.  Coral Reef YC hosted the event, in coordination with Biscayne Bay YC, and the combined PRO’s managed to run eight races, much to the delight of the sailors.

A stellar fleet was assembled for the event, following on the previous week’s J/70 Midwinter Championship that was hosted in the same venue. In the end, it was Joel Ronning’s crew on CATAPULT from Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota that won, with crew of Victor Diaz de Leon, Patrick Wilson, and Chris Stocke.  It was a very difficult regatta strategically and tactically for many of the top teams in the J/70 fleet. Here is how it all went down over the three-day series.

J/70s sailing Bacardi Cup off Miami, FLDay 1- Thrilling, Gorgeous Thursday
It was one amazing sailing day in Biscayne Bay, with typical Miami winter conditions of strong breeze, sunshine and small chop. Racing didn’t get better for the 165 teams racing at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta.

Three races were wrapped up for the J/70 fleet. Three different teams won races and it wasn’t easy task to grab victory amongst such super competitive talent. Owner-driver Carlo Alberini on CALVI NETWORK controlled the leaderboard with scores of 2-6-1 and sat on a 3 point advantage over SURGE (USA) helmed by Ryan McKillen with World Champion tactician Mark Mendelblatt. Two points behind in third was Monaco’s G-SPOTTINO driven by Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio.

“Beautiful day out there today for yachting in Miami,” said a happy Ryan McKillen on SURGE. “We had a good day, a seventh, a fourth and a third. Our third Miami event, the Bacardi, and then we snuck in the J/70 Midwinters two weeks ago. So, we did a lot of sailing in Miami this winter.”

J/70 sailing upwind at Bacardi CupDay 2- Fabulous Friday
Miami and the South Florida woke up under a cloudy sky with the wind blowing vigorously at 15 to 18 knots from the East/North East. All races started on schedule at 1100 hours across the different race courses on Biscayne Bay. Three races were wrapped up for the J/70s.

Tough and close battles unfolded on the J/70 course, with the top two teams separated by just four points. Italy’s CALVI NETWORK lost their overnight lead after mistakes in their gennaker drop at one leeward gate rounding, giving the opportunity for CATAPULT (driven by Minnesota’s Joel Ronning) to break away into the top spot. But, with two races on Saturday the game was still wide open. SURGE dropped to third place, and was an 11-point deficit to second.

“It was a fantastic day in the bay,” said Carlo Alberini of CALVI NETWORK. “The race course here is always interesting and different. “We’re four points from the leader and we’re not going to make it easy for them tomorrow. This year we celebrate our team’s 20th anniversary that started in 1999. We’ve been to this event many times and it is one of our favorites!”

J/70s sailing downwind at Bacardi CupDay 3- Spectacular Saturday Finale
Miami and Biscayne Bay today showcased the best day of racing as this iconic racing venue said good-bye to the 500 sailors who competed at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta. A great Easterly breeze of around 10 knots, sun shining, warm, and wave chop a lot less than the previous days, made for a perfect race day. All of the classes finished their scheduled races.

In the J/70s, the winners were the team on CATAPULT, featuring Joel Ronning, Victor Diaz del Leon, Patrick Wilson and Chris Stoke. They were the most solid and consistent of the fleet with every score inside the top 3, after discarding their 11th in race 3. They racked up a 16 point advantage over second placed Americans onboard McKillen’s SURGE with Mark Mendelblatt J/70 Bacardi Cup winners- Catapultcalling tactics along with Jon Wallace and Sam Loughborough.  Then, in third was Italy’s CALVI NETWORK with Carlo Alberini driving with crew of Stefano Cherin, Jas Farneti, and Marco Furlan.

Rounding out the top five was Will Welles’ SCAMP in fourth with crew of Zeke Horowitz, Jake Doyle, and Reed Baldridge.  Fifth was the Mexican team on WOODSTOCK, skippered by Fernando Gutierrez, with crew of Willem van Waay, Javier Gutierrez, and Leopoldo Turco.

“This was a very fun team to sail with we all got along very well,” commented Ronning on their win with Team CATAPULT. “This group of people is very good at what they do. We had tremendous fun; we were able to minimize mistakes by keeping the dialogue open and if there were any issues they were taken care of right away. It’s a phenomenal event and one of the premier series in the world. It’s very well organized. We love Shake A Leg, we love Bacardi, everybody is so welcoming and we will definitely be coming back.”  For more Bacardi Cup J/70 Winter Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

San Diego NOOD Regatta Preview

J/105s sailing San Diego NOOD (San Diego, CA)- The 2019 edition of the Helly Hansen San Diego NOOD Regatta is taking place this coming weekend from March 15th to 17th, hosted by the famous San Diego Yacht Club on Point Loma.  The regatta has become synonymous with the start of the sailing season for most teams involved in one-design and round-the-cans racing in the San Diego region. It is the premiere event to start the season for various J’s; including the J/70s, the J/105s, and the J/120s.

The forecast is promising, with temperatures ranging from mid 60s F in the day, with predominantly sunny skies and winds varying from 8 to 15 kts from the West to Northwest.  Remarkably, it seems to be a conspiracy to deliver near postcard-perfect conditions ordered up by the local San Diego Chamber of Commerce!

J/70s sailing San Diego NOOD RegattaLooking forward to such “shorts and shades” weather is the largest class at the event, the fifteen boat strong J/70 fleet with participants from as far-reaching as Guadalajara, Mexico; Miami, FL; and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Teams to look for on the leaderboard should be Pat Toole’s 3 BIG DOGS from Santa Barbara YC; Curt Johnson’s AVET 2.01 from California YC; Jeff Janov’s MINOR THREAT California YC; Chris Raab’s SUGOI from Newport Harbor YC; Fabian Gomez-Ibarra’s VAGAZO crew from Coronado, Mexico; and Pamela Rose’s ROSEBUD from Chicago YC.

The J/105s are fielding a talented fleet of eight boats with many familiar faces hoping to get a jump on their friendly competitors in their first regatta of the year. Many past SDYC NOOD champions and podium finishers are in the mix, including Jon Dekker’s AIR BOSS, Steve Howell’s BLINK, Stew Cannon’s J-OK, and Chuck Driscoll & Tom Hurlburt’s JUICED.

J/120s starting at San Diego NOOD RegattaWith five boats, the J/120s are all about consistency and who’s showing up for the party with a well-oiled machine in the form of crew- trimmers and tactician!  It is never easy to handicap this fleet.  Nevertheless, watch for the usual suspects like John Laun’s CAPER, Chuck Nichols’ CC RIDER, Ernie Pennell’s MAD MEN, and Tim Hogan’s SHAMROCK to be fighting for the top of the leaderboard. 

In the North Sails PHRF Rally, the J/105 VIGGEN sailed by Tom Fisher from San Diego, CA will be looking forward to their Saturday on the water with family and friends.  For more Helly Hansen San Diego NOOD Sailing Regatta information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monaco J/70 Winter Series V Preview

J/70s sailing off Monaco (Monte Carlo, Monaco)- The fifth and final event of the Monaco J/70 Winter Series will be taking place this weekend from March 14th to 17th, hosted by Yacht Club de Monaco, with sailing taking place offshore on Hercules Bay in front of the famous Casino.

A fleet of thirty-nine highly competitive J/70s from across Europe and other parts of the world will be participating in up to ten races over the course of the weekend. Those teams hail from Monaco, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Ireland, Brazil, Great Britain, Finland, Ukraine, and Sweden.

J/70s sailing off MonacoThe previous regatta for this fleet was the Primo Cup- Trophee Credit Suisse that took place three weeks ago. Winning that event was Monaco’s own Ludovico Fassitelli on JUNDA- BANCA DEL SEMPIONE, with the Irish crew of SOAK RACING (Marshall King) and the Swiss team of JERRY (Tom Studer) rounding out the podium.  However, the two stalking horses behind this trio were perhaps the most formidable of all.  The winner of Act III was the Russian Andreï Malygin skippering MARIA, taking both the Open and Corinthian titles. And, the winner of Act II was the YC Monaco team of CHARISMA, skippered by Nico Poons.

With all five crews hoping to take the overall Winter Series title in the grand finale, it will be quite a battle amongst those teams.  All are well-prepared and are hoping to gain valuable experience as they keep a weather eye out for how they stack up against the world’s best for the 2021 J/70 World Championship that will be hosted by YC Monaco.  For more Monaco J/70 Winter Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Warsash Spring Series Preview

J/109s sailing Warsash Spring Series (Warsash, United Kingdom)- The Warsash Sailing Club is about to undertake its annual rite of spring- two events that run from mid-March to the end of April.  The first is the Helly Hansen Spring Series that starts March 17th and runs every Sunday until April 28th.  During the mid-series break, the Warsash SC hosts the Spring Championship that runs over two weekends from April 13-14 to April 27-28.  It is a hugely popular event for J/sailors to get themselves tuned-up for the major summertime events on the Solent and for the RORC Offshore events that run all summer.

The larger J’s are sailing on the Black Group/ Championship course; that includes a large IRC contingent of J/teams sailing J/111s, J/112E, J/122, J/88s, J/92, and a J/99.

J/112E sailing on Solent, EnglandIn the Black Group IRC class are:
  • five J/109s: Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE, Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN, David Richard’s JUMPING JELYFISH, and Rob Cotterill’s MOJO RISIN’;
  • four J/111s: Paul Griffiths’ JAGERBOMB, Chris Jones’ JOURNEYMAKER II, Tony Mack’s McFLY, and Simon Bamford’s KESTREL; and
  • Chaz Ivill’s J/112E DAVANTI TYRES and Chris Daniel’s J/122 JUNO.  
All are familiar boats, all famously fast! That should be an interesting class to watch!

J/88 sailing on Solent, EnglandA new Black Group J/Sprit Class includes the following teams:
  • five J/88s: David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM, Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL, Richard Cooper’s JONGLEUR, Dirk & Dianne van Beek’s SABRIEL JR, and Gavin Howe’s TIGRIS; and
  • David Greenhalgh’s J/92 J’RONIMO and Adrian Johnson’s J/105 FLAWLESS J.
The smaller J’s race on the White Group/ Championship course include the J/70s. Dueling for leadership all spring long should be Doug Struth’s DSP, Paul Ward’s new EAT SLEEP J REPEAT, Graham Clapp’s JEEPSTER, Philip Rees’ BRYN, Calascione/ Ripard’s CALYPSO, Alex James’ POLARIS, and the Ian Wilson & Marshall King duo on SOAK RACING from Ireland.  For more Helly Hansen Spring Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

JUNO Tops J/70 NSW State Championships

J/70's sailing off Sydney Harbour, Australia
(Sydney Harbour, NSW, Australia)- The New South Wales J/70 State Championship regatta was held in glorious warm weather on the first weekend of March on Sydney Harbour. Racing was held at the entrance of Sydney Harbour, so the Pacific swell became a factor along with a flood tide and the occasional passing ferry during the next two races. This was the first regatta held by the Australian J/70 Class Association after a great effort by J/70 racers and lawyers Peter Ryan and Adrian Kiely, and others that led to official recognition by Yachting Australia.

The racing was closer than in previous years, with at lot of congestion at the turning marks and many new hot shots from the Olympic classes making an appearance.

Racing was delayed on the first day while the PRO waited for the sea breeze to settle after swinging through 30 degree shifts either side of ENE at 6-10 knots.  After the delayed start, the major shifts returned and boats that correctly picked the right side of the course opened large leads, with Tim Ryan and his team on JAMES 007 winning race 1.  Races 2 and 3 were both won by ex-Etchells and America’s Cup sailor Jervis Tilly and his team on JACKAL from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

On Sunday, the crews enjoyed the forecasted slight increase in pressure to steadier ENE 10-15 knots. With two wins and a second place, JACKAL had a strong lead after day one.  Australian J/70 class President Andrew Thompson and his JABBERWOCKY team, representing the host club of Middle Harbour Yacht Club, showed great speed to win race four. With the sea breeze strengthening for the final race, Reg Lord and youth match racer Tom Grimes with new crew George Richardson and Mitchell Evans on JUNO found the groove and won the final race after placing second in the previous four races.

After a visit to the protest room regarding rule C3.1(c), the final results were the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s JUNO and JAMES 007 in first and second for the second consecutive year. Then, JABBERWOCKY placed third, just ahead of JACKAL in fourth.  Finally, rounding out the top five was Paul Breslin’s fast improving MADNESS in fifth. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/22 Midwinter Championship Preview

J/22s sailing regatta (Fort Walton Beach, FL)- The J/22 class will be hosting their Midwinter Championship at Fort Walton Yacht Club in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  The J/22 sailors seemed to enjoy the tremendous hospitality at FWYC in the past and, as a result, the J/22s will have one of their largest Midwinters in years- with thirty-two boats registered to go racing from March 14th to 17th.

Not surprisingly, many of the usual suspects from across the country are making their annual winter pilgrimage south for the regatta; just about all the major J/22 fleets are well-represented.  Some of those leading teams include Mark Foster’s PRESSURE DROP (with Rod “Caracas” Favela and Travis Odenbach as crew); Casey Lambert on BLACKBURN MARINE RACING from Houston, TX; Chris & Jennifer Princing’s TEAM AWARD & SPORTS/ EVIL DR. PORK CHOP from Tawas Bay, MI; Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY from Annapolis, MD; Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 4 1 from Youngstown, NY; Mike Marshall’s BAD NEWS from Newport, RI; Benz Faget’s FATS from New Orleans, LA; and Farley & Barrett Fontenot on REPEAT from Houston, TX.  That is quite a rough bunch of hombres to have to contend with for the podium!  There are more than a few Worlds, North American, and Midwinter Championships spread amongst that group! For more J/22 Midwinter Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Race Preview

J/121 Blue Flash sailing Cabo Race
(Newport Beach, CA)- The 20th running of the 800.0nm Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas International Yacht Race starts this week. This edition of the race will be especially exciting as the West Coast prepares for a huge season of offshore sailing leading up to the 50th Transpac. The first ORR handicap classes start Thursday, March 14th at 1300 hrs, followed by five more ORR handicap classes starting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Typically a downwind run to Cabo San Lucas, racers enjoy the sunny afternoons and warm, moonlit evenings as they journey down the coast.  The race is a test of weather routing, excellent navigation, and the crew pressing hard 24 hours a day.  For the most part, it is a very reachy race early.  Then, as the fleet makes its way down the coast of Mexico, the winds move further aft and the boats start gybing in northerly winds that can often peak at 15-25 kts during the daytime.

Three very fast J/crews will be on the race track offshore, all hyper-fast reaching machines that have proven to win their fair share of offshore silverware.  Making her race debut will be Scott Grealish’s brand new J/121 BLUE FLASH! After winning its class in the Storm Trysail Club’s Bermuda Race last year, this will be the first true “downhill” test of the J/121 against many of the best SoCal offshore speedsters.

Perhaps the biggest competitor that BLUE FLASH will face is one of the famous J/125s, Viggo Torbensen’s TIMESHAVER from Dana Point YC. TIMESHAVER’s favorite whipping post has been their buddies on the SC50 Horizon. They may now have to add Grealish’s J/121 BLUE FLASH to their “watch” list as they make fast progress down the Mexican coastline.

Finally, do not count out Seth Hall’s J/124 MARISOL from Newport Beach, CA.  Their team has proven that in lighter offshore races, like the Newport to Ensenada Race or the SoCal 300 sailed earlier in the year, they have the light air reaching speed and narrow, easily-driven hull to sail fast and get a podium finish.  Live YB Tracking of the race here.   For more Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Race sailing information

STC Block Island Race Week Update

Block Island Race Week
(Block Island, Rhode Island)- The Storm Trysail Club’s Vice Commodore & the Block Island Race Week Event Chair, Ed Cesare, stated, “preparations are well underway for Storm Trysail’s Block Island Race Week 2019. With format developments both on and off the water, the 28th edition of the biennial event promises not only a high level of windward / leeward competition for those that seek it, but an equally spirited but more relaxed experience for teams that want to both race hard and enjoy other aspects of the week as well."

IRC and ORC yachts on the “Red Circle” will experience “Solent Style” racing with one or two windward /leeward races, followed by a race around drop and government marks.  This format tests different tactical and boathandling skills and reflect the racing at Cowes Week, the progenitor for Block Island Race Week. We expect a number of IRC boats from the UK to be at the event, so they should feel right at home.

Block Island Race WeekA third on the water development is the “Plus One” division.  Designed to reduce crew logistics for owners with busy schedules, the Plus One concept promotes “right sized” crews by allowing one crew member per 10 feet of waterline of the yacht “plus one” more. We’ve found that jibes always go better offshore with one watch below, so don’t be surprised to see some crisp boat handling on this course, notwithstanding the need for fewer sandwiches and bunks (ashore or afloat)!

Of course, one-design classes such as the J/105s and J/88s will hold Championship Regattas and the PHRF Fleet can expect Storm Trysail’s usually high level of race management where full boar windward / leeward duals will unfold.

Ashore, we are bringing back the lay-day! 
The specific day will float based on weather but there will be one.  The Young Member’s Committee, led by Erick Stork and Will Gammell, are planning a full slate of events in cooperation with sponsors Musto clothing and North Sails.  Look for more on this in the coming weeks, such as fun team competitions (to include the traditional tug of war) along with more relaxed activities (think Niki Beach, for those that know! It will provide a well-deserved day of fun for all.  Additionally, this year the tent will be open right after racing, so crews can gather for social time before heading back to their house for dinner.”  For more STC Block Island Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

DARWIN ESCAPES Sponsors J/70 Worlds

J/70 World Championship in United Kingdom
(Torquay, England)- The Royal Torbay Yacht Club are pleased to announce that Darwin Escapes, one of the UK’s leading holiday park operators, has been appointed as headline sponsor for the 2019 J/70 World Championship being held in Torquay from August 29th to September 6th. The club has a long and distinguished history of hosting major international events and is looking forward to welcoming the J/70 Worlds sailors to Torquay.

The J/70 World Championships 2019 will bring elite racing sailors from around the world to the internationally renowned sailing destination of Torbay, on the “English Riviera”, where they can expect to enjoy a cordial welcome, first class racing and great hospitality.
J/70s sailing offshore
“Darwin Escapes is delighted to be sponsoring the 2019 J/70 World Championships and we are looking forward to seeing some of the most talented sailors in the world competing in Torbay next August in this dynamic sailing class,” commented Lindsey Esse, Managing Director of Darwin Escapes. “Here at Darwin Escapes, we are passionate about being the best, to ensure guests at our holiday parks have the best possible holiday experience when they stay with us. We know that everyone competing in the J/70 World Championships will have that same ethos and will be striving to perform to their best ability at the highest level. We hope that everyone taking part has a successful and, most importantly, an enjoyable week sailing in Torbay.”

Bob Penfold, Race Director of Royal Torbay Yacht Club, remarked, “The support of such a high profile sponsor is an enormous boost to the event and working with Darwin Escapes will help the club in staging a truly memorable World Championships.”  For more J/70 UK Class information   For more 2019 J/70 World Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2019 J/GEAR Spring ShakeOut!

J/Gear 20% off spring special
(Newport, RI)- Spring is just around the corner, believe it or not!  While you are escaping or experiencing the crazy spring weather so far, it is high time to consider getting yourself and the crew ready for another fun summer of sailing on the high seas!

To help get you in full swing, J/Gear is offering to all J/Owners a 20% discount on all crew gear orders through April 2019.

Go here to J/Gear (http://jgear.vsport.biz/) and start shopping.  Then, use the following discount code at checkout: JB2019st.   Please note- 1/2 models and Custom J Prints do not qualify for the discount. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Miami to Havana Race Preview

Havana, Cuba, Marina Hemingway
(Havana, Cuba- The Southern Ocean Racing Conference and Coral Reef YC are hosting their fourth annual Miami to Havana Race, starting on March 13th, Wednesday. The race starts just off South Beach, Miami, then it takes you down around the curve of the Florida Keys, and across the Gulf Stream to Havana, Cuba to the finish line off Marina Hemingway.

The festivities get underway on Tuesday March 12, with a pre-race party and Competitors’ Meeting hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club, with the start on Wednesday morning. Once cleared in at Marina Hemingway, each boat will have a gracious "red carpet" welcome from the staff at the marina, which looks forward to welcoming competitors to their facility once again. Most after race festivities are set and it will be another banner year for the ride to Havana.
Chevy's in Havana
Looking forward to the “Havana experience” and sailing in the ORC Division is Andy Wescoat’s J/109 HARM’S WAY from Spring, Texas and the Galveston Bay Cruising Association. They have been racing most of the SORC events this year, starting with the Miami to Palm Beach Race, then the Miami to Nassau Cup Race, then the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race.  Currently, they are one of the leaders in the ORC division and hope to get yet another podium finish!  Good luck to them!  Watch the Miami to Havana Race promo sailing clip here   Follow the Miami to Havana Race on Facebook here   For more Miami to Havana sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

J/111 Wins Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race & Lincoln Race Week Regatta

J/111 sailing off Australia
(Adelaide, South Australia)- Rob Date and crew from the J/111 SCARLET RUNNER 11 recently sailed in the 160.0nm Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race, followed by the Teakle Classic Lincoln Week Regatta.

Rob’s J/111 home port is near Melbourne in Victoria, so the crew sailed the 550+nm trip to Adelaide against the predominant westerly “roaring 40s” winds to compete in the regatta!  The SCARLET RUNNER crew was, for the most part, inexperienced offshore ocean racers. The team included Rob’s daughter, his future son-in-law, his best mate for more than 40 years, and the balance being the usual inshore race crew; there was seven crew in total.

The Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race started in the blue waters of the Gulf of St Vincent off Adelaide.  FOrty boats left the Outer Harbour/ North Haven Marina in Adelaide on Friday about 3.00pm to compete in the 160 nautical mile race.  It is “South Australia’s Premier Ocean Race” and, now in its 69th year, it has proven that it provides all the challenges of a Category 3 offshore race.

The route takes the fleet southwest from Adelaide to Marion Reef at the foot of York Peninsula along the foot to the spectacular Cape Spencer.  Then, the fleet heads northwest past Wedge and Thistle Islands and Dangerous Reef to Port Lincoln, nestled snugly in Boston Bay.

The race started with a port tack beat for 35.0nm. After passing Marion Reef, the course freed up. SCARLET RUNNER 11 put up the code zero and was doing 14 kts with the occasional knock down. Unfortunately, the zero did not last the distance. After passing the bottom of the York Peninsula, the J/111 went into downwind VMG running mode as the wind pressure dropped.  The final 20.0nm had them running downwind under A1 spinnaker.  SCARLET RUNNER 11 achieved the fastest time for this section of the race.

The distance race was then followed by the Teakle Classic Lincoln Regatta with a mix of inshore and coastal courses over four days.  The fleet sailed six races, making the most of the fantastic sailing in Boston Bay and among some of the surrounding Islands. One race finishing at an isolated beach for a BBQ, drinks and beach cricket.  Then, the second race of the day was a downhill sleigh ride back to the marina!  It was a cracker of day, that one!

At the conclusion of the regatta, after all points scored for the Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race and the Lincoln Race Week, it was SCARLET RUNNER 11 that topped the Division 1 leaderboard- scoring 1st on AMS (9 points), 1st on PHS, and 2nd by just two points on IRC. That was a very impressive result considering the competition, which included a Farr 40, First 45, First 47.7, Melges 32, Sydney 38’s, and a Sydney 47. Congratulations to Rob and the crew and we hope for fair winds for their homeward journey to Melbourne.  Sailing Photo Credit- Alex McKinnon Photography Add to Flipboard Magazine.

CLEAR AIR Crowned J/24 Midwinter Champion

(Tampa, FL)- Twenty-nine teams from the USA, Canada, and Japan participated in the 41st J/24 Midwinter Championship, hosted by Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, FL.  The racing was close over the three days, seeing change-ups on the leaderboard after every day.  In the finale on Sunday, it was a tight battle for the top three spots on the podium, with just five points separating the top three after eight races on northern Tampa Bay.

Winning the 2019 edition of the J/24 Midwinter Championship was the 2017 J/24 World Champion Rossi Milev, sailing with his Canadian crew on CLEAR AIR.  The team was comprised of Dan Borrer, Gayle Gray, Vince Somoza (boat owner) and Mark Goodyear.  Here is how it all went down over the three days of tough, competitive racing in the world’s largest one-design keelboat class.

Day 1- Sunny seabreeze
The regatta started out slowly, with many of the crews anxious to get racing underway. However, the gorgeous sunrise revealed a “glass out” on Tampa Bay, without a zephyr of wind in sight. The teams simply waited for a few hours and many could be seen nervously fidgeting with their boats and rig tune, anticipating a light to moderate seabreeze to develop later in the day.

Just after lunch, the winds rose to around 6 knots and then built to 10 from the SSE, allowing three races under blue skies and temperatures near 80. Robby Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM, a full-blown “local knowledge” crew from Davis Island YC, led at the conclusion of racing on the first day with a steady 7-2-3 for 12 pts total. Milev’s CLEAR AIR sat five points back after scoring a 2-1-14 for 17 pts.  Then, Mark Laura’s BABA LOUIE crew from Seattle, Washington was just one point further back with 18 pts after posting a 6-7-5.

Carter White’s YouREGATTA kicked off the Championship with line honors in the first race, ahead of Milev’s CLEAR AIR and Travis Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER. Milev moved up to the top spot in Friday’s middle race, with Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM and Dan Busch’s BUSCHWHACKER completing the top three. It was Tony Parker’s turn for the victory with BANGOR PACKET in the final duel, along with James Freedman’s MISS CONDUCT and Brown leading the group back to shore.

Day 2- Another gorgeous sunny, moderate day
Beautiful Florida weather again greeted the competitors on the regatta’s middle day.  Yet again, it was a near “glass out” to start the morning, with a postponement onshore. Nevertheless, the sea breeze kicked in again around noon and racing got underway at 1:00 pm with SSW winds of 6-12 knots. The conditions were perfect to run three more races in genoa-only conditions.

Freedman’s MISS CONDUCT continued their solid performance with Saturday’s opening win, as Brown and Milev followed. The Nova Scotian Evan Petley-Jones and team on CAN 4025 found success in race five, ahead of Mollicone and White. Parker’s BANGOR PACKET, John Mollicone’s HELLY HANSEN (himself a J/24 World Champion with yet another World Champions as tactician- Tim Healy) and Michael Quaid’s ICE CUBE comprised the day’s final top trio.

After six races at Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, FL, four teams were within four points to determine the J/24 Midwinter Championship. Milev’s CLEAR AIR moved up to the top of the 29-boat pack with 18 points, after dropping a 14 from Friday and keeping scores of 2-1-3-7-5. White’s YouREGATTA leap-frogged into second place with 20 net points, benefiting from discarding a 12 in race two and holding remaining scores in the top six. Day one frontrunner, Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM, dropped to third with 21 points, although just three points off the lead. Mollicone’s HELLY HANSEN ended Saturday with back-to-back seconds, leaving them four points behind Milev with 22 pts net, after tossing out a disastrous first-race 24th place.

Day 3- Thrilling Finale!
Sunday dawned with a near carbon-copy of the first two days.  Yet again, the fleet waited for the seabreeze to develop and with more blue skies, temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, the breeze built into the 6-10 kts range to permit the DIYC PRO to run two more races.  For the top three boats, it was an “all or nothing” battle to determine the 2019 J/24 Midwinter Champion.

Recognizing the need to put some distance on their competitors, Milev’s CLEAR AIR crew managed to pull off a first race win to put lots of pressure on the other crews.  White’s crew managed a third and Mollicone’s team actually fell back on points by scoring a fifth place.  Going into the final race, Milev simply had to finish within four points of White and eight points of Mollicone to win the title.  In the last race, Mollicone’s HELLY HANSEN put their boat into high gear and won the race handily, followed by Travis Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER in second and White in third, with Milev crossing in fourth to take the Midwinter title with three points to spare.

Behind Milev’s jubilant Canadian crew, it was White’s YouREGATTA that proved to be the most consistent team, closing with a 3-3 to take the silver.  Meanwhile, after their awful 24th place on day one, the Mollicone/ Healy combination on HELLY HANSEN flew back up the leaderboard to, ultimately, take the bronze. Rounding out the top five were Parker’s BANGOR PACKET in fourth and Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM in fifth position.

This event was Milev’s first since winning the 2017 J/24Worlds. “It felt great to be back,” said Milev. “We didn’t have the gears, since we haven’t sailed for a while.  But, every day we got a little better.” Although Gray and Goodyear were part of the World Championship crew, Borrer and Somoza were newcomers to CLEAR AIR, yet “clicked from the get-go.”

About Davis Island, Milev summarized, “It’s one of my favorite places in North America to sail. It’s the friendliest yacht club by far. The breeze this weekend was unbelievable. I’ve sailed here a lot of times, and this is the steadiest I’ve ever seen it. On Saturday, we had 15 minutes on one tack, and we never got a shift.”  For more J/24 Midwinter Championship sailing information

Monday, March 11, 2019

WILD DIVISION Wins Radio Monte Carlo J/70 Winter Series

J/70s sailing at Sochi, Russia (Sochi, Russia)- Over the March 1st to 3rd weekend, the final stage of the Russian J/70 League Radio Monte Carlo Winter Series took place off Sochi, Russia, with sailing taking place on the capricious Black Sea. Hosting the event for the twenty J/70 teams from across Russia was FGBU “Yug Sport”.  For the third year in a row, the winner was the Chechen Republic’s WILD DIVISION, skippered by Alexander Bozhko (one of the premiere crew members on Valeriya Kovalenko’s famous Russian J/70 called ARTTUBE RUS1)!

In early March, the weather in Sochi changes rapidly and is very inconsistent.  Storms and cold with giant waves one day, perfect sunny warm spring weather the next.  Not surprisingly, Sochi’s weather gods lived up to that reputation for the first day of racing for the anxious crews watching the ferocious weather offshore.  It was so nasty, the boats were never rigged; not surprising considering there were 10-15 foot waves at the harbor mouth and 20-35 kt winds!

“To our great regret, the finale began very poorly,” commented the Chief Judge of the competition, Nikolai Yushkov. “The first day was stormy, such that we could not even get out sailing. The waves were huge, breaking way over the pier, the wind was very strong, and, of course, there was no point in breaking the boats.”

On Saturday, the wind abated, dropping into the 10-20 kts range. Although the waves were still big, the organizers decided to go sailing. As a result, they turned out five races, with varying winds and difficult conditions. When the wind strengthened in the afternoon, and breakdowns began to occur on the boats, the racing was stopped- with the hope that the weather would improve on Sunday.

J/70s sailing off Sochi, Russia“Thankfully, the Good Lord heard us and gave us a most magnificent day on the final Sunday,” continued Nikolai Yushkov. “We had nine races. There was a beautiful wind, the perfect direction; the sun came out, which warmed all the participants. The day was very productive overall. The struggle for the top of the podium was very hard. The winners of the Winter Series will show themselves well in the National Sailing League, they will be able to race and fight for prizes.  They are very good sailing teams.”

The winner of the Winter Series was the WILD DIVISION Team from the Chechen Republic Sailing Federation. Throughout the winter season, the team stayed among the leaders of the series. “At various stages of the series, we changed the composition of the team, we trained hard, we tested how to improve our boathandling,” said Bozhko, the team’s skipper. “And, in the finals, the team really wanted to win. On the first day, there was a strong wind, but we managed. We were able to show a good result; we managed to get three 2nds!”

In the six races on Sunday, the WILD DIVISION crew won three races, took two 2nds. Such consistency enabled them to bypass all their rivals and their Chechen team won the gold medals for the overall series.

J/70 Sochi Winter Series winners“We decided to perform our best in the Sochi J/70 Winter Series, to show the world that sailing in the Chechen Republic has not been forgotten! In fact, it is developing,” said the President of the Chechen Sailing Federation, Hassan Hajiyev. “The federation is very young, it is only 2.5 years old. The team is the innovation of Alexander Bozhko. Alex gathered our team together and he trained them.  Now, our Chechen Sailing Federation is taking the first steps to develop sailing in Chechnya. So, we hope to encourage the young guys, the young girls in this beautiful sport, that includes not only physical exertion, but also the human intellect, it is like chess on the water. This is very important for human development. A yachtsman must know geography, physics, and geometry. Accordingly, the preparation of the children must be at the same level, we must begin to teach them from the beginning such intellectual challenges!”

Second place in the series finals was taken by the crew of ZID ART Sailing team from Moscow. Last season, the team sailed in the Premier Division of the National Sailing League and won the right to move to the top division.

J/70's sailing off Sochi, Russia on Black Sea“For us, the Winter Series was a serious training process and preparation for the Higher Division of the NPL,” said the skipper of the team Zoran Paunovich. “What we wanted to achieve, we achieved. We risked a lot, we tried many different options. A lot of things happened to us. We tried to find ways out of such situations, and to a greater degree succeeded. The first race day here, we demonstrated that we could win in such tough conditions. And, the second racing day showed, that in good conditions, we can not only win, but also lose. This year, we plan to be in the top ten of the NPL Supreme Division. We also want to participate in the J/70 European Championship in Italy in June of this year, but without any special ambitions. This year should show what we are ready for and what we can do!”

Another debutante of the Winter Series, the M*Sailing Team from Rostov-on-Don, was ranked third. The result was excellent, but the team that led in several stages probably wanted more.

“Today the weather was atypical for Sochi. Twisted, twisted, there were some holes, puffs from the right and left,” said the skipper Andrey Malygin. “There were no unambiguous solutions. And, the one who read the weather better, he won. All teams were even, everyone prepared for the final.  All the teams had their best sailors pushing hard. I think our result is normal; there were a couple of errors. But, in general, everyone is happy!”  For more Russian J/70 Sailing League Sailing Information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Spectacular Heineken St Maarten Regatta

J/122 sailing Caribbean
J/122 and J/105s Collect Lots of Silverware!
(Simpson Bay, St. Maarten)- The 37-square-mile island of St. Maarten was first settled by the Arawaks and was discovered by Christopher Columbus on behalf of Spain in 1493. Columbus sighted the island on November 11th, the holy day of St. Martin of Tours, and so named the island after him. For the next 150 years the island was passed between Holland, England, France and Spain. The old stone forts that guard many of the island’s inlets are proof of the island’s turbulent past. In 1648, St. Maarten was peacefully divided between The Netherlands and France, and today is the smallest landmass in the world to be shared by two sovereign nations.

Continuing in the traditions of its seafaring heritage, the leadership on the island concluded they should invite yachtsmen from the Caribbean to enjoy their fun-loving approach to life and created the first St Maarten Regatta in 1980.  Now in its 39th year, the notion of having “Serious Fun” has evolved into the largest regatta on the winter Caribbean racing circuit- the wildly successful Heineken St. Maarten Regatta, sailed off Simpson Bay.
J/122 sailing St Maarten Heineken Regatta
The 2019 edition may be remembered as the “best ever” by the 110 teams and 1,500+ sailors; with simply amazing weather conditions all four days of the regatta from February 28th to March 3rd, Thursday to Sunday. All four days were marked by blazing sun, 10-20 kt tradewinds, 3-6 ft seas, and temperatures hovering in the low 80s.  Basically, postcard perfect, Chamber of Commerce sailing conditions.

Several J/Crews participated in this year’s event. The J/105s trounced their CSA 4 Racing class while the J/122s also pushed everyone hard in CSA 3 Racing class to collect more silverware for their trophy rooms! Following are the daily reports that outline the Serious Fun and hot racing action each day.
J/145 sailing off St Maarten in Caribbean
Day 1- Almost Perfect Sailing?
With near perfect conditions, the start of the regatta saw the fleet streaming out through the bridge in time for the race starts.  Boats set their sails as they headed towards the three separate start areas.  The wind, which had been fairly steady at 14 knots, piped up, sending some 20 knot gusts through the fleet, making for some white knuckle excitement amongst the crews.

In Marigot Bay, the ORC Performance fleet, along with the CSA classes 1, 2 and 3 had been set a windward-leeward course, which led to some extremely close competitive racing. A unique feature of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is that all classes finish at the Heineken mark, close to the famous lifting bridge into the lagoon and the Port de Plaisance Marina where the majority of the boats are moored.  By 3pm, the boats were lining up to get through the bridge, with the customary celebrations, dancing and fancy dress to entertain the crowds, many with a welcome cold Heineken in hand!

After recuperating from the RORC Caribbean 600 Race, the J/145 KATARA, skippered by Roger Gatewood from St Petersburg, FL, managed a solid performance on the opening day in the seven-boat CSA 2 Racing class.  His largely Tampa Bay crew pulled off a 3rd and 4th to be sitting in third place.

Similarly, Pam Baldwin’s J/122 LIQUID from Antigua started off somewhat emphatically with a bullet in their first race of the eight-boat CSA 3 Racing class.  That opening gambit was followed up by a 4th in race two to close the day sitting in third position on the podium sitting just one point from first place.

The largest class in the regatta was the fifteen-boat CSA 4 Racing class.  Having such a large group of boats that ranged from 30 to 44 feet on the starting line made for some interesting (and harrowing) moments.  Reveling in the conditions was the classic J/30 BLUE PETER/ CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE, skippered by the Antiguan duo of Tanner & Shari; their 2-2 for just 4 pts. However, their points total was matched by the Barbados team on the J/105 WHISTLER, skippered by Peter Lewis; technically leading their fleet with a 3-1 for 4 pts, too.

Perhaps the craziest scenario that one could imagine took place on Jordan Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE. After rounding the weather mark in 1st place boat-for-boat in the fleet, they set the spinnaker, started to plane down a few waves, then lost their steering. Consequently, after spinning out, broaching, and getting the spinnaker down, they discovered their steering cable broke.  A quick “fix” was to insert the aluminum emergency tiller in place at the top of the rudder shaft and keep racing!  Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to steer a J/105 with a 3 foot tiller on a poorly-balanced rudder in big seas and big breeze. SOLSTICE salvaged a 7th in the first race and, still sailing with the short tiller, could only manage an 8th in the second race when the winds were blowing into the low 20's.
J/122 El Ocaso sailing St Maarten Heineken Regatta
Day 2- Best’est Day Ever?
Amazing, best day ever, champagne sailing, and wow, just wow, what a day! Those were just some of the words that were used to describe Friday’s Round the Island Race.  For some it was serious sailing, and for others “Serious Fun”; but every sailor coming ashore after this epic race had a different story to tell, an unforgettable experience to recount, and a memory to savor forever.

The Round the Island Race is one of the highlights of the four-day event.  For many, this race offers the first time to see the whole island from the unique perspective of the sea.  For those who have sailed the regatta many times before, they know the excitement of a reaching start, the long beat up the channel between St. Maarten and Anguilla, and the challenges of the big Atlantic swell and choppy seas past Pelikan Rocks at the far eastern end of the island before the final 6.0nm leg to the Heineken finish line off Simpson Bay.

It’s a game of catch up, with the slowest boats starting first, while the super-fast Maxis and Ocean Racing class start last.  With at least 25 nautical miles ahead, not counting the extra distance required as boats zig-zag up the beat, for many boats it was going to be an exhilarating, action packed ride, while for others it was a chance to relax, enjoy the sights and top up the tan.

Peter Lewis and his crew on the J/105 WHISTLER won CSA Class 4. “We got the best start, sped off, and never saw the others in our fleet again,” said Lewis.  Nevertheless, Lewis was chased hard by the re-energized team on the J/105 SOLSTICE; Mindich’s crew produced a great performance, taking 2nd place for a J/105 sweep of the top two spots, finishing just 1 min 52 sec behind.

Meanwhile, the J/122s loved the Round Island Race, with Baldwin’s LIQUID taking third place to hang onto their 3rd position overall; they were a scant 4 sec back on corrected time from second place!  Their stablemate, the J/122 EL OCASO sailed by TEAM SLOVAKIA also sailed fast to take fourth place just 45 secs behind on corrected.

Gatewood’s gorgeous J/145 KATARA again won the race on elapsed in CSA 2 Racing class, but could only manage a 4th on corrected.  Despite soundly beating two XP44s and a First 47.7 by at least eight minutes elapsed, they could not correct out on handicap time over those boats optimized for the Caribbean circuit- all sailing with #3 jibs of 102% to 109% LPs.  Later, the KATARA crew would lament that not getting rated with their 135% #2 cost them the series, e.g. an easy win!
J/105 sailing Caribbean St Maarten Heineken Regatta
Day 3- More Gorgeous Weather- Hallelujah!
Saturday’s racing saw some exciting starts and closely fought first beats.  With a more easterly breeze, the fleet again enjoyed 10-20 kt winds and big seas all day.

The CSA 2, CSA 3 and CSA 4 fleets had two short races, setting off from Simpson Bay to beat up to a windward mark set just off Fort Willem.

In the CSA 2 Class, the “pecking order” was beginning to manifest itself and continue, coincidentally, for the last three races of the regatta.  Winning every race boat-for-boat by at least 9-10 minutes was Gatewood’s J/145 KATARA.  Having consigned themselves to on-the-water victory, the crew made the most of it and partied home to the Heineken finish line, collecting two more 4th places to end the day in 4th overall.

Loving the format for the two races and loving the conditions were the twin J/122s.  The first race was shorter and took an hour elapsed, while the second was at least twice as long and took around two hours to complete.  In the first race, the corrected time spread for the top four boats was a mere 54 secs. Taking third was Baldwin’s LIQUID with a time of 54:54, while just 2 secs back was TEAM SLOVAKIA’s EL CASO finishing with 54:56! In the second, much longer, race, Baldwin’s LIQUID team launched themselves into a big lead and never looked back, winning the race by nearly 2 minutes corrected time.  That result put them into third overall with just one race left.  TEAM SLOVAKIA EL OCASO missed third by just 6 secs; they could be seen later mumbling in their Heineken pints about how they had left at least 30 secs on the race track due to boathandling errors!

In CSA 4 Class, there was a significant reshuffling of the leaderboard after two boats sailed the wrong course, most notably the regatta leader, the J/105 WHISTLER.  Sailing “lights out” was Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE, winning both races to vault up the ladder to second overall.  Lewis’ WHISTLER was DSQ’d in the 5th race for rounding the wrong mark.
Heineken St Maarten Regatta show
Day 4- Thrilling, Sparkling Finale!
On Sunday, the competitors were again greeted with the unforgettable memory of sparkling azure blue seas, sandy white beaches and windswept ragged rocks.

For the final day’s racing, Race Director Paul Miller and his team devised a format that would create a wall of sails as the boats streamed downwind to the Heineken finish marks.  Using two different start areas, the slower boats set off first, with all the boats sailing to the same first windward mark, before heading different course lengths along the south coast and for the faster, classes, up the east coast of St. Maarten, then turning back past Pelikan Rocks on a long spinnaker leg to the finish.

“We set courses of differing lengths, which will get as many boats as possible spinnaker sailing together back towards the finish, creating an amazing and memorable visual image of boats heading back towards the airport and bridge,” said Paul Miller.

For many classes, this final race would prove crucial to the overall results.  For some, their results had already ensured a place on the podium.  With the 15-18 knot trade winds, nearly all the boats chose to close tack up the shore, with the shifting wind and choppy seas approaching the famous Pointe Blanche, providing plenty of opportunities to win or lose places.
Super yachts at J/Boats regatta
CSA 4 class was won by Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER who took the bullet in the final race to win the class overall. The skipper on SOLSTICE, Jordan Mindich commented, “it was a fun race against Peter’s team on WHISTLER. We rounded the Heineken Gate in the lead, expecting to win the final race, but a few crew errors on our part, and one last huge surf down a wave right at the finish by WHISTLER gave them the win by just 2 sec corrected. Congratulations to them, it was a well-deserved win overall.”

At the prize giving, Lewis’ WHISTLER was presented with the “Most Worthy Performance Overall” Trophy by the Minister of Tourism- Stuart Johnson.  Needless to say, the WHISTLER crew was jubilant, as it was the first time ever to win the honor.

In a similar fashion, CSA 3 Racing class had a very tense final race for the top three leading boats. Baldwin’s J/122 LIQUID again stomped, crushing their class with an emphatic boat-for-boat win by 3 min 30 sec, believing they had won the final race as they savored their beers after the finish. However, that huge margin on elapsed time was not enough, as they later discovered they took second place by a mere 4 sec on corrected time.  A bit frustrated they were! However, to add to their thrilling, anxious finale, that meant they were tied on points at 10 each with Scarlet Oyster; but won the tie-breaker to take the silver!

Meanwhile, Gatewood’s J/145 KATARA again won their class by over 4 min elapsed and, yet again, settled for fourth place to take fourth for the regatta in CSA 2 Racing class.

The Heineken St. Maarten Regatta delivered on its promise of four days of serious sailing, with upwind legs dousing the crews hiking on the rails with warm water from the waves breaking over them.  Spectacular champagne sailing with roller coaster downwind legs, with a myriad of colorful spinnaker kites flying in the trade winds.

For the sailors, the adrenalin of achieving the perfect start, the tension of getting the tactics right, the physical challenges of racing to the max, and the relief and jubilation as the boat crossed the famous Heineken finish line were all part of the serious sailing experience.

And, as the crew celebrated their day on the water, there was the fun of the boats jostling to get through the lifting bridge, with music, on-board dancing, outrageous dressing up, with the cheers and dousing from water pistols aimed at the boats from the crowds observing the procession from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.  In the lagoon’s marinas, the crews cracked open ice cold Heineken and relaxed in the sun, chatted over the day’s activities before getting ready for the final night of Serious Fun.

Crews, families and friends savored the tasty offerings from local restaurants in the regatta village, sharing the banter with old friends and new, before the Regatta Village turned, yet again, into the best festival venue ever, with the massive stage set up for an outstanding line up of artists playing serious funk, Caribbean jam, hip hop to reggae, and the final night’s legendary sets from Shermanology, Orange Grove and The Jacksons.

It’s the combined mass of all these elements that make the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a unique event attracting more than 1,500 sailors from 22 countries.  The event has seen widespread praise, enthusiasm and overwhelming support for everyone involved, especially in the wake of recovery from the devastation incurred by Hurricane Irma.  The most frequently used phrases heard from sailors during the week included, “a great day sailing”, “it’s the best”, “awesome” and “we’ve had an amazing time”.  In other words, “Serious Fun”!   Sailing photo credits- SaltyColours/ Laurens Morel

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For more Heineken St Maarten Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.