Monday, September 2, 2019

J/111 World Champion-> SPACEMAN SPIFF!

J/111 Worlds winners- Spaceman Spiff
(Chicago, IL)- Twenty-three J/111s competed from August 20-23 at Chicago Yacht Club for the 2019 J/111 World Championship that included teams from the USA, Australia and Switzerland. It was an event that was marked by incredibly challenging weather conditions for the duration of the event. In fact, the first day of the regatta was canceled due to a massive line of thunderstorms and squalls rolling across the plains of the Midwest, dumping tropical rains, squally winds in the thirties, interspersed with moments of complete calm. Thereafter, the fleet was treated to a range of breezes that started with SW to W winds of 6 to 19 knots on Wednesday, shifting to the NE to E quadrants for the next two days, producing nearly perfect, sunny, sailing conditions in shifty, streaky winds of 8 to 19 knots.

In the end, the Ruhlman Family from Cleveland, OH, spearheaded by family patriarch and skipper Rob, ultimately were crowned 2019 J/111 World Champions on their famous SPACEMAN SPIFF. The SPIFFER’s team included Rob (Dad), son Ryan, daughter Abigail, daughter Maegan, and a cast of characters that included Marty Kullman, Doug Moose, Jim Sminchak, and Mark Wiss. Many of the Ruhlman family and friends crew have sailed together for decades. They won the Worlds in much the same fashion as they won the previous weekend’s Verve Offshore Cup Regatta. Starting out the first day of the regatta with two bullets, they also closed with a pair of bullets to win the Worlds. It was a great performance and one that was seemingly pre-ordained to see them rise to the top of the sailing world! Here is how that all came about over the three days of sailing.

J/111 Velocity at J/111 Worlds Chicago
Day Two- Gorgeous Opening Day
Following storms that rolled through Chicago on Tuesday, the fleet had to wait a bit longer still on Wednesday. Race one was abandoned due to lack of breeze and a severe shift. However, winds eventually amped up to 12-14 knots, allowing three races for the hungry teams. Despite a pair of bullets by the Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, it was Andrew and Sedgwick Ward’s BRAVO that ended the day at the front of the pack. The BRAVO crew from Shelter Island, NY only placed in the top three once, but their scoreline of 7-3-5 for 15 points put them one ahead of SPACEMAN SPIFF that added a 14 for 16 total. Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY snuck into third place with tallies of 6-8-4 for 18 points total.

SPACEMAN SPIFF earned the first victory of the Championship in the day’s opening, and lightest, affair. Jeffrey Davis’ SHAMROCK and Richard Witzel’s ROWDY followed. Swiss sailor Jorg Sigg’s LALLEKONIG outdid the fleet in the middle race, with Douglas Curtiss’ WICKED 2.0 and Ward’s BRAVO close behind. The Ruhlman family closed Wednesday the same way it started, trailed by Martin Roesch’s VELOCITY and Rod Warren’s Australian crew on JOUST.

J/111 start at Worlds Chicago
Day Three- Rocking & Rolling Northeaster
The large choppy seas on Lake Michigan were heaving and breaking on Thursday, as was the leaderboard. Roesch’s VELOCITY shot up to the top position, posting a 1-4-6 on the day. Wagner’s SKELETON KEY maintained consistent scores in the top 10, inching them up to second place with 34 points, only one point behind Roesch. Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF dropped to third but was still in the hunt with 38 points. Day one leader Andrew and Sedgwick Ward’s BRAVO suffered a 13th in the day’s final contest, leaving them in fourth place, one tick behind Ruhlman.

Roesch began the day victoriously, ahead of local boat MOMENTUS led by Kevin Saedi & Raman Yousefi and the Ward’s on BRAVO. Chicago Yacht Club’s Michael Mayer & Steve Henderson guided KASHMIR to success in the middle match, with Jorg Sigg’s LALLEKONIG and Witzel’s ROWDY next (LALLEKONIG was later DSQ’d for a windward/leeward infraction). Rod Warren’s JOUST prevailed in the final round, shadowed by Wagner’s SKELETON KEY and Sigg’s LALLEKONIG.

J/111 sailing Chicago
Day Four- Another Gorgeous Northeaster!
The Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF took control of their own destiny on Friday, nailing both race wins to earn the title of 2019 J/111 World Champion. Coming into the final day, the Cleveland, OH-based team was in third overall, but Ruhlman and his crew ended with 25 net points in the eight-race series. Five points behind in second place was day-three leader Roesch’s VELOCITY. Former World Champion Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY came in third with 34 points.

It was another wild day on Lake Michigan. PRO Becky Ashburn, summarized, “Winds were around 15 knots. Waves were three to four feet with a sideways swell, which made it really choppy.”

Under a champagne shower in the harbor, Ruhlman smiled, “I’m not sure this has sunk in yet! We have a great team, a great family. The competition was outstanding. I’m thrilled to be a part of the J/111 Class.”

Rounding out the top five was the Mayer/ Henderson duo on KASHMIR, the top local Chicago boat in fourth place and Witzel’s ROWDY in fifth as the second Chicago boat.

J/111 girl power! at Worlds
There was a special gathering on the docks on Friday morning at 9:00 AM, the final day of the regatta. The women crew that were sailing on several J/111s gathered together for a “women’s power” team photo. Represented were women from these boats: Momentus, Lucky Dubie, Varuna, Pura Vida, Spaceman Spiff (two World Champions!), Rowdy, and Skull Cracker. Follow the J/111 Class on Facebook page here
For J/111 World Championship results