Saturday, March 28, 2020

Ken Read and Doublehanded Racing Perspectives

Ken Read sailing offshore doublehanded
(Newport, RI)- an interview by Dave Reed from Sailing World

Ken Read, one of the ­biggest names in sailing, admits he’s seen the light. Looking out from his ivory tower at the top of the sport, the 58-year-old ­yachtsman’s view has been clouded by the ease of his grand-prix lifestyle. Jetting into super yacht regattas in the Med and tearing across open oceans on a 100-footer was easy for this guy.

In the distant past are the experiences that made him the natural sailor he is today. Back when he was ­making a name for himself in the J/24 class and racking up five J/24 World Championships and scoring a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year or two, he and his buddies had to do things themselves.

Then, came America’s Cup gigs, big-boat programs, two Volvo Ocean Race campaigns, and his ascent to the top of the food chain at North Sails. Charmed life and all, Read is now back in the trenches, among the mere mortals of shorthanded sailing, feet-first into the next big thing. With a stock 33-footer on loan, Read teamed up with professional navigator Suzy Leech to give coed doublehanded racing a shot in Florida during January’s Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. They won their two-boat division, but more important, Read says, they had fun. The sailing was the easy part. Getting to the start—not so much.

J/100 ComancheHow do you go from maxis and super yachts to this double­handed offshore thing—a 100-footer to a pint-size 30-footer for two?

KR: When it comes to projects that I think are good for the sport, I like to get involved, especially if it can help build a little bit of momentum in a sport that’s in desperate need of renewed momentum. Time is a prohibitive factor in sailing today; the amount of time it takes to go racing is just too much. It’s not only the time to participate. It’s all the preparation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that putting together a two-­person team in a semi-stock boat is way easier than recruiting eight or 10 of my buddies and hoping like hell they show up. Not to mention the flights and food and logistics and hotels and the personalities and the WhatsApp group ­messages—it is bloody hard.

Is it really that much harder today to go racing? Back when you were campaigning big IMS boats, you didn’t have the tools that simplify things today.

KR: Yes, that’s true, but I think there’s more competition for our time now. Also, there’s been an interesting by-product for me from this whole doublehanded experiment. I started in dinghies, then went to college and sailed in little boats, and then I graduated to J/24s. I did everything myself. I bought the boats, I rigged the boats, I faired the keels— half the time at least. We did everything ourselves, and we figured it out. I got the van, made sure it was full of gas, paid the entry, got the hotel rooms, or found people’s couches to sleep on. Whatever it took, I was in charge. Then, I got very good at delegating. We graduated to the next level, and all of a sudden, I’ve got a couple of people helping. By the time we got to the America’s Cup, the Volvo, the Comanche and the big programs like that—I got a staff. To enter a regatta and get support, I’ve got staff. And I mean staff. Now, with the doublehanded stuff, all of a ­sudden, I have no staff.

It’s been a real wake-up call for me to try to enter an event, to get a boat measured, get it to the starting line. To figure out how to get it all together to do a short, little distance race—it’s too hard. And we wonder why more people aren’t signing up for events. I’m ready to sit down with anybody who wants to talk and figure out how to make signing up and getting to and participating in a sailboat race way easier.

Read jumping off Volvo 65 Brunei off Newport, RI startBut it’s all online and ­paperless nowadays. What exactly is so hard?

KR: Yes, getting a certificate is probably as easy as you can get, but the fact that there’s still IRC, ORR, ORC, ORC Club and PHRF is obscene. Someone with common sense needs to stop the madness. We should all be sailing under one rule and get over it. Until rating rules are not-for-profit, we’re going to continue with too many rules, and it’s going to be wild frustration for everyone. I mean, I have to get multiple sail certificates because a code-zero “tweener” doesn’t measure in for IRC, but it does for ORR? It goes on and on.

The fact that the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race (which is only 150 miles and within the sight of land the entire way) has an ocean-race classification is simply crazy. It adds another layer of onboard safety equipment that isn’t even close to being needed. I know there’s a great reason for all of this stuff, but it is too hard, and until we can simplify everything, it’s not going to improve. It’s been a great lesson learned for me to not actually have staff and have to do it myself.
I want to be seen as the latest person who finally woke up one morning and said: ‘Hey, you know what? These people aren’t crazy. This is a lot of fun.’ I’m excited, and this is something completely different for me.

The volunteers who are ­putting these races together are doing a phenomenal job, by the way. They’re not making the rules, but common sense has to prevail at some stage. Shame on me for not doing this sooner and realizing how good I had it. I give a ton of credit to all these volunteers for knowing what they’re getting themselves into, which is probably months and months of complaints and questions from people like me trying to figure out how to ­register for the race.

Read Sailors of the Sea PledgeThis discussion of having too many rating rules has been on-going— for a long time.

KR: Yes, but in the Key West race, for example, there are 35 boats registered, sailing under ORCA, ORCB, PHRFA, PHRFB, ORC double­handed, ECRA Performance Cruiser. I don’t even know what that is. So, there are essentially four rules for 35 boats. That’s crazy. If we’re going to get people to want to do this more, we’ve got to make it easier for everybody. Make it easier to sign up and get measured—and don’t get me started on the required equipment. For a 150-mile race, it just seems like overkill to me.

Is this what you’re hearing from customers as well?

KR: All the time. I know I’m going to get a lot of grief for saying stuff like this by the many people who’ve been working on these systems over the years, but I don’t think anybody would disagree with the fact that it’s just bloody hard. We, as a sport, need to figure out how to make it all easier.

What makes you so certain doublehanded sailing will catch on in the United States, with or without Olympic appeal?

KR: There have been plenty of ­people doing doublehanded racing and preaching about it for a long time, and maybe we’re all finally starting to listen. There are a lot of people who may be interested in this, and the more the merrier. If boats like the J/Boats and others are fun to sail and safe offshore, then even more regular sailors will get involved.

My reason to do this really has nothing to do with the Olympics. It has to do with trying to grow an aspect of our sport here in the United States that I think has real potential. Maybe I can use my name a little bit in order to gain a little more momentum. It takes people like us to stand up and shout from the rafters and hope somebody is listening. I want to be seen as the latest person who finally woke up one morning and said: “Hey, you know what? These people aren’t crazy. This is a lot of fun.” I’m excited, and this is something completely different for me. Remember, you’re talking to a person who got so sick of windward and leeward sailing, he sailed around the world twice. I’m not afraid to switch it up. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, March 27, 2020

New Year, Better Racing @ Edgartown Regatta

J/111 sailing Edgartown Race Week(Edgartown, MA)— ’Round-the-Buoys and ’Round-the-Island or ’Round-the-Sound – there's  something for everyone at Edgartown Yacht Club’s (EYC) 2020 Edgartown Race Weekend, and sailors from across the region and the country are advised to get a jump on planning for the July 30-August 1 event.

“Edgartown Race Weekend is a popular tradition on Martha’s Vineyard and across the Northeast. We’re lucky to have one of the best venues for in-shore and coastal racing on the East Coast, which has helped make Edgartown Race Weekend one of the most appealing events on the summer racing circuit for everyone from grand-prix racers to cruising sailors,” said Event Co-chair Alex Nugent.  “Our team here at EYC has made a tangible effort to deliver what the sailors want and are enjoying working with participants to create an even stronger event.”

The event starts with two days of handicap ’Round-the-Buoys (‘RTB) racing on Thursday and concludes with a choice of two distance races on Saturday: the 20 nm ’Round-the-Sound Race (‘RTS) and the 56 nm ’Round-the-Island Race (‘RTI), which is in its 82nd running and counts as one of America’s oldest distance races.
“This year, EYC is excited to be offering free moorings for two nights, included in the registration fee for the first 50 paid ’RTI entrants,” said Edgartown Race Weekend Co-Chair Hal Findlay. “As well, we are allowing teams to switch their entries to the shorter ’RTS up until 12 noon on Friday. This gives them flexibility to decide what makes the most sense for their crews in the event of heavy wind or adverse conditions.”

J/122 sailing Edgartown Race Weekend off Martha's Vineyard
In the event the ’RTI must be sailed in light air, three “gates” give the Race Committee options for shortening course. Said EYC Race Committee Chair Bob Hurst: “We don’t like DNFs!” (DNF is the scoring designation for a yacht that did not finish.)

As for more choices, competitors have the option to sail all three days or just in Saturday’s ’RTI or ’RTS. Edgartown Yacht Club started offering the shorter ’Round-the-Sound Race in 2018 as encouragement for smaller yachts to join the fun.  Since, smaller racing boats that don’t meet the offshore safety requirements to race the ’RTI (such as J/70s) have comprised at least half of the ’RTS fleet.

“The combination of coastal/offshore racing and buoy racing allows teams of all experience levels and yachts of all sizes to utilize their full arsenal of sails and equipment,” said Nugent. “It’s a rare opportunity these days, and this optionality continues to draw sailors to Edgartown Race Weekend year after year.”

Divisional scoring will include IRC, ORR eZ, PHRF, and Multi-hull, and potentially One-Design class scoring (depending on fleet numbers). Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, and Double-Handed classes will also be featured.

Edgartown Race Weekend’s ’RTI/’RTS and ’RTB races are scored separately, with top-three prizes awarded in each class. Sailors enjoy various new on-shore activities, including a welcome party, post-racing gatherings, a Mount Gay-sponsored rum tasting, and more.

Awards for the ’RTB are scheduled for Friday afternoon and the ’RTI and ’RTS for Sunday morning. Sailing photo credits- Stephen "Block Island Steve" Cloutier.

For more information, go to www.rtirace.org or contact Margaret Passafiume, raceadministrator@edgartownyc.org, (508) 627-4364 x18. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

J/Gear March 20% OFF Special!

J/Gear- J Marmot shirt special
(Newport, RI)- The "J" Marmot Zip Layer brings quality and performance to a zip-top that can be worn alone or under a protective shell. It is a sleek and handy long-sleeved jersey when the breeze kicks in.

The "J" Marmot Zip Layer comes with the J/Class logo of your choice and can be customized with your boat name and or sail number for the entire crew!

Available in Black, Marine, or Red in sizes from Small to XXL.   Check it out here on the J/Gear website. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New J/80s Arrive in Bristol USA!

J/80 one-design sailboat
(Bristol, RI)- The first of several new J/80's on the way from France has arrived in Bristol, Rhode Island. The J/80 Class is enjoying a resurgence in North America.

The J/80 North Americans are in Annapolis, MD in mid-May and then this September the J/80 World Championship returns to Newport, Rhode Island. Newport was the site of the inaugural 2001 J/80 Worlds and the epic 2010 J/80 World Championship.

A few late-summer delivery slots are still available in time for the Newport J/80 World Championship!

For more International J/80 sailboat information. For more information, please call J/Boats (+1-401-846-8410) or email- info@jboats.com Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Big Breeze for Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series Opening Weekend

J/112E sailing Warsash, England
(Warsash, England)- Brisk conditions of force 5-6 from the SSW greeted the hardy people who ventured out on Sunday 15 March for the start of the new season. Having reviewed the forecast, an early decision was taken to postpone the Combined Sportboat Class by an hour to allow the expected wind to moderate a little from the early morning predicted 20 gusting 30 knots, but still give everyone a chance for three races.

The conditions clearly suited Simon Cavy in the J/70 JUST4PLAY who took line honours in all three races, as well as winning them on IRC corrected time in the IRC Sportboat Class.

J/70 sailing Warsash Spring Series- England
As it turned out, the wind stayed at 18-20 knots with regular gusts well into the mid-20s, which gave lots of opportunity for exciting downwind legs, but surprisingly few entertaining broaches.

Black Group enjoyed some long beats and runs or reached from the start near Goodall Roofing buoy. The windward mark for most classes was the newly named Team O Marine mark on the Ryde Middle bank, and from there the boats surfed down to Lee-on-the-Solent and back to the Ryde Middle a couple of times, before finishing just NE of the North Channel at Hamble Yacht Services buoy. Race Officer Peter Bateson noted that at 10-12 miles, the races were deliberately set a little shorter than usual, as seemed right for the blustery conditions in the first race of the season. Elapsed times ranged from 1.5 to just under 2 hours.

J/109 sailing Warsash Spring Series- England
In IRC 2 Class, Chas Ivill's J/112E DAVANTI TYRES was the winner, baulked slightly by shipping on the last run across the North Channel, but holding her lead nevertheless. Gavin Howe's J/88 TIGRIS pulled off a fourth place in the demanding conditions.

As a precaution in view of the spread of Covid-19 virus, the daily prize-giving was postponed to avoid a gathering at Warsash Sailing Club. The prizes for the day's winners have been put aside for handing over later on.

The Series continues next Sunday 22nd March, so long as the RYA and government advice continues to be that it is sensible to do so; and the two Spring Championship weekends are on 18-19th and 25-26th April.

For more Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Silverware for J/Crews @ Puerto Vallarta Race

J/125 sailing Puerto Vallarta Race offshore of Mexico
 (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)- Traditionally, the 1,020.0nm race from San Diego, CA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico has been blessed with at least 4-5 days of amazing downwind sleigh-rides offshore of the famous Baja Peninsula, with breezes often in the 15-20 kts range from the northerly quadrants. Not surprisingly, with the advent of various forms of climate change, the "new normal" was anything but a downwind sleigh-ride blasting around the end of the Baja Peninsula with a long, fast, port gybe into the finish line into the Bahia de Banderas.  In fact, it was one of the lighter races on record.

There were two J/Teams sailing in what had become a "drift-fest" for the first half of the race. Breezes built a bit more for the latter half of the race, but nothing like what the fleet had seen in past years.

J/145 sailing Puerto Vallarta Race offshore of Mexico
To get a better feel of what was happening during the race, be sure to read the KATARA team's very good PV Race blog each day.  Here is their link:  https://pvrace.com/news/article/j_145_katara_race_blog

In the end, despite the challenging conditions, both boats ended up in the silverware in their respective classes. In the ORR 3 Class, Mark Surber's southern California team on the J/125 SNOOPY took 2nd in class and 13th overall. Then, in the ORR 5 Class, Roger Gatewood's Florida-based crew on the J/145 KATARA also managed to take a 2nd in class and 12th overall; beating their J/125 stablemate overall by just 30 minutes ORR handicap time after six-plus days of racing!  Sailing photo credits- Bronny Daniels/ JOY Sailing.com.  For more Puerto Vallarta Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

J/Crews Silver in SORC Eleuthera Race

J/44 Kenai sailing SORC Eleuthera Race
J/120 KAIROS Wins Class & ORC Overall
(Miami, FL)- The inaugural 300.0nm Eleuthera Race was the final race of the 2019-2020 SORC Islands in the Stream Series. The race provided a challenging course to an exciting tropical destination with warm temperatures, crystal clear waters, and a perfect location to wrap up the season series.

The race started on March 11th off of South Beach, Miami in easterly breezes, proceeding across the Gulf Stream, leaving Great Isaac, Great Stirrup and Eleuthera to starboard, rounding the southern tip of Eleuthera, and proceeding up the west side of the island to the finish near Powell Point.

J/121 Incognito sailing SORC Eleuthera Race to Bahamas
Enjoying the conditions and finishing in just over 46 hours of sailing were three very well-sailed J/Teams.  Winning ORC B Class and ORC Overall was the duo of Hanson Bratton & Tom Anderson on their J/120 KAIROS. Then, in ORC A Class, Chris Lewis's J/44 KENAI took the silver while Joe Brito's J/121 INCOGNITO took the bronze on the podium! That was a great outcome to see all three boats garner silverware on the podium!

J/120 sailing SORC Eleuthera Race to Bahamas Islands
Incredibly, the entire outcome of the SORC Islands of the Stream Series came down not only to the final race, but to the last several hours of the race! In the end, both the J/121 INCOGNITO and the J/44 KENAI had a shot at winning the overall series. It all came down to the final few tactical moves at the end of the race. Both boats had been "in-the-money" on the overall leaderboard, but ended up dropping to fourth and fifth, respectively, for INCOGNITO and KENAI.  For more SORC Eleuthera Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/70 Heavy Air Tuning and Sailing Tips

When the breeze increases, a different set of skills are required. North Sails expert Allan Terhune, who called tactics on the winning TEAM VINEYARD VINES at the J/70 Midwinters in Miami, explains some lessons learned from a windy weekend.

J/70 Team Vineyard Vines wins J/70 Midwinters
Sailing in Breeze – Upwind
The key to speed upwind is keeping the boat flat and balanced. This is achieved two ways: rig tune and trim.

Rig Tune
We were at the top of our tuning guide most of the weekend to keep our headstay tight. One key factor is the backstay gross tune; make it TIGHT. You need to have enough throw to pull backstay on, in order to flatten out the main. Many teams took the slack out of their gross tune but didn’t make it tight. Also, I heard many people did not go to the top of the tuning guide. If this was not the weekend to go there, I don’t know what would be!

Trim
Once the rig is tuned, the goal is to keep the helm balanced, and also to be able to burp the main in the puffs to eliminate heel. The key to this is the jib sheet. If you have the sail max in-hauled like you would in lighter conditions, the main would immediately luff in puffs, forcing the bow to go down. To compensate for this, we sailed with less inhaul, and moved the lead forward one hole. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it keeps the leech correct and makes the foot powerful enough to get through the chop. We made sure the leech was close to the middle band on the spreader at all times.

We then played the in-hauler to get through waves and puffs. Our main luffed very few times, and we talked all the time about keeping the boat balanced.

As for mainsail trim, it was easy to over-tighten the outhaul and not have enough power through waves. We found that having max backstay was always faster and having enough vang on made it easy to play the sheet. We tried to NEVER let the main luff or flog. You have to be using both sails to be balanced and fast.

Sailing in Breeze – Downwind
Wow was that fun or what! Seriously though, it was HARD work!

A few things to remember off the wind in big breeze:
  • Keep a constant angle of heel of 10-15 degrees. Too much heel and you wipe out, too little and you slow down and bear off too much. You have to keep the apparent wind forward.
  • Jib trim is crucial. Molly did a great job of always keeping the jib full, but also knew when to blow it if I lost the kite.
  • Jibing: Speed is your friend. The worst thing you can do is bear off and slow down and load the boat up right before a jibe. That is when you wipe out.
  • Steer around waves and surf whenever possible. Finding a good rhythm with the trimmer and talking about the angles is the best way to identify the path of least resistance.
  • Stay in the puff. We all work so hard upwind to go .1 or .2 knots faster, but if you miss a puff downwind you will be 2-5 knots slower. The tacticians who keep their eyes out for the next puff make HUGE gains.
This regatta was a great reminder that the J/70 is truly a team boat. Everyone has a role, and if one person is not carrying their weight, the boat does not succeed. For success in heavy air, you need to develop a different set of skills. And practicing with your team when it’s windy is the only way to get better.

John and Molly Baxter's TEAM VINEYARD VINES crew of Ben Lamb and Allan Terhune were the 2020 J/70 Midwinter Champs after a relentless eight-race battle in a variety of very windy, testing conditions with gusts up to 30 knots! For more information on J/70 heavy air sailing Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Breault Leading California Dreamin J/22 Match Race Series

J/22 match racing off St Francis Yacht Club
(San Francisco, CA)- San Diego Yacht Club and Long Beach Yacht Club have again joined forces with St Francis Yacht Club to continue another year of the popular California Dreamin’ Series. A three-stop regatta designed to provide more opportunities for West Coast match racers, this series helps competitors gain experience in fully-umpired competition. The overall winner will be invited by Long Beach Yacht Club to its prestigious Ficker Cup 2021, itself a qualifier for its Congressional Cup, a stop on the professional World Match Racing Tour.

Nicole Breault of St Francis YC and her team of Molly Carapiet, Hannah Burroughs and Karen Loutzenheiser won all of their matches to win the second stop of the three event California Dreamin’ Series match racing sailed at the St. Francis YC in its matched fleet of J/22s.  Also from the St. Francis, Dominic Bove finished second with the support of Cassedy Lynch, Isabelle du Moulin and Nolan Van Dine. Matt Whitfield of Penarth YC (Wales, United Kingdom) finished third.

Caliornia Dreamin J/22 winners
From left to right: Karen Loutzenheiser, Nicole Breault, Hannah Burroughs, Dominic Bove, Isabelle Dumouline, Cassedy Lynch, Nolan Van Dine

The 2020 California Dreamin’ Series Race dates are:
  • February 1–2 (J/22s): San Diego Yacht Club
  • March 7–8 (J/22s): St. Francis Yacht Club
  • April 18–19 Ficker Cup: Long Beach Yacht Club
  • May 9–10 (J/22s): StFYC will host the USMRC Qualifier, a Grade 3 event open to anyone who wishes to participate.
For more California Dreamin' J/22 Match Race Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, March 20, 2020

#MoreKidsOnSailboats

That is the "hashtag" created by J/34 IOR owner of KNEE DEEP IV in Cleveland, Ohio- Brett Langolf. Brett and his wife and kids were asked by the U.S. Sailing Leadership Forum 2020 to do a presentation on "How to get more kids sailors involved in sailing" during their annual conference in San Diego, CA.

The Langolf family has been instrumental in getting dozens of kids sailing offshore from their local community, sailing both evening "beer-can races", as well as sailing larger weekend regattas and offshore races up to 290.0nm- the Bayview Mackinac Race on Lake Huron.

According to Langolf, "we had a great sailing industry presentation. What a huge success! And, THANK YOU for the J/Calendars and J/Stickers, they were fantastic....very popular! Here are a couple of videos from the presentation and an overall report. We are working on a written article about key takeaways from the conference."

#kidsonsailboats
#MoreKidsOnSailboats @ Sailing Leadership Forum 2020 highlights video

#kidsonsailboats
Watch "Getting more kids on board - what every sailboat skipper should know!" Add to Flipboard Magazine.