Friday, June 27, 2008

J’s Fly Uphill to Bermuda

Imagine 3 to 4 days of sailing upwind in big chop, shifty winds, large current eddies, and with folks back home second-guessing your every course change via satellite tracking, and you’ll have an inkling of what racing was like in the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race. Many a nice meal was put on hold while crews acclimated to the bumpy conditions that greeted the 200+ boat fleet as they moved through the Gulf Stream along the 630 mile passage from Newport to Bermuda. No spinnakers were to be seen and several boats reported tacking onto the layline 200-300 miles from the finish.

J owners turned out in record numbers and represented 22% of the entire fleet - the first time J has surpassed Swan (14%) for the most popular brand/design in a Bermuda Race. From Doug Hannah’s J/109 OFFBEAT (one of the smallest boats in the fleet and sailing double-handed) to Jim Madden’s J/65, BRAND NEW DAY, there were 14 different J designs sailing. And J owners made the most of it. 52% of the top 25 overall finishers in IRC were J’s, and owners collected 26% of the top three places in all divisions and overall combined. That’s a lot of silver!

Performance highlights:
Lenny Sitar aboard J/44 VAMP sailed to victory in the hard fought J/44 class (the only one-design class in the fleet), and was the top J finisher overall in IRC. In fact, the top four J/44s finished within 35 minutes of each other after nearly 4 days of racing!

Tom Carroll on the J/133 SIREN SONG finished 2nd under IRC in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division just in front of Mark Hansen’s J/145C SWEET LORRAINE. Howie Hodgson had his J/42 TRUE moving like a thoroughbred to finish as the top J/42 and 2nd in Class 3 under ORR. George Petrides on AVRA was top J/120 finisher and came out 3rd in Class 4 ORR.

One of the more impressive class performances was that of TABASCO a J/46 skippered by John Levinson, who sailed to victory in the Class 6 ORR ahead of the fleet of J/122s, who had a great battle on their own. With several lead changes right down to the wire, David Askew and Ken Comerford on the J/122 FLYING JENNY VI were first to finish by only 1 min 7 seconds over Marc Glimcher on CATAPULT and 35 minutes over Stephen Furnary on PATRIOT, who had been the J/122 pace-setter for most of the race. After handicaps were applied, the top J/122s in ORR were CATAPULT, PATRIOT & FLYING JENNY VI. Under IRC, it was FLYING JENNY VI, CATAPULT then PATRIOT.

Jim Madden’s J/65, BRAND NEW DAY made her Bermuda Race debut by finishing 2nd in the Class 9 ORR maxi division, against the likes of the RP80 SHOCKWAVE, Frers 80 HEXE, RP66 ZARAFFA, J/V66 DEFIANT, etc.

In the Class 14 Cruising division, the Willauer family aboard their J/46 BREEZING UP proved again just how nice an upwind sailing boat the J/46 is, by winning line honors and 2nd on corrected time (as the second smallest boat) against a Hinckley 59, Apogee 50, Swan 53, Baltic 52, and several others. Four of the 9 boats in the double-handed division were J’s, and Hewitt Gaynor aboard his J/120 MIREILLE took line honors and corrected to 2nd, only 17 minutes behind Rich du Moulin’s LORA ANN.

We congratulate all the J owners for participating in the Bermuda Race and look forward to seeing many more new faces in 2010.

Monday, June 23, 2008

J’s are 55% of Block Island Fleet

Block Island Race Week has been a magnet for J sailors for years and 2008 was no exception. While overall regatta enrollment was down from prior years, you wouldn’t have known it by the quality and quantity of racing packed into the week. Regatta hosts Duck Island Yacht Club and Zuse, Inc. ran 11 races over 5 days, including the classic Round the Island Race midweek. With the Newport Bermuda Race drawing away most of the larger boats, the tightest action was found in the J/105 and J/109 divisions, where in each case the eventual runner-up ran off a streak of 4 bullets over the final two days to make things very interesting. J/105 veteran Damian Emery on ECLIPSE edged out Brian Keane on SAVASANA and Ken Colburn on GHOST to capture the J/105 class; while Greg Ames and Steve Kenny on GOSSIP held off a late charge from Ted Herlihy (GUT FEELING) to win the J/109 class by one point. Other notable finishes included the Esposito family aboard the J/29 HUSTLER who won PHRF 2 with Ira Perry on the J/29 SEEFEST finishing 2nd. Results

Friday, June 13, 2008

J/24 Worlds Go Italian

Andrea Casale of Italy didn’t have to sail the last race to win the 2008 J/24 World Championship. In fact none of the fleet left port as storm conditions blew across northern Sardinia on the final day of racing, hosted by Club Nautico Arzachena in Cannigione, Italy. There was still a lot of racing to talk about with 8 races over 5 days, 76 boats and an incredible 17 countries represented. Any of the top six teams had a shot at the title going into the last 2 races. Milev Rossi of Canada finished a close 2nd to Casale followed by Ian Southworth of Great Britain and Daniel Glomb of Brazil. Mark Hillman of Annapolis, MD was the top US finisher in 6th, including back-to-back bullets in races 3 & 4. Annapolis will be the site for the 30th Anniversary J/24 Worlds in 2009. 2008 event website

Record J Fleet to Bermuda

The Newport waterfront is rapidly filling with boats in preparation for next week’s 2008 Newport to Bermuda Race. A record 46 of the 198 boat entries are J’s, which is 23% of the fleet. Of the 13 different J designs in the event, the J/44 leads the way with 14 teams (Jim Bishop's GOLD DIGGER pictured), following by the J/120 with 8 (3 in the double-handed division) and the J/42 with 7. The J/122 fleet makes its Bermuda Race debut with five entries, including Andrew Weiss aboard CHRISTOPHER DRAGON, who won IRC Class 7 in 2006 aboard his J/130 of the same name. All boats will be equipped with GPS transponders so that fans back home can track the progress of their favorites during the race. event website

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Helen C. Johnstone, Sailor

Helen C. Johnstone, 47, an outgoing, caring and much loved member of the J Boats sailing family from Newport RI, died during an outing on the Potomac River the morning of June 4, 2008 in Washington, DC where she resided.

Helen was born in Cali, Colombia on September 7, 1960. She was a graduate of the Choate School and the University of Rhode Island. She has served as an instructor at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School and J World Sailing School, and was a leading sales producer at Bloomingdales, Chico ’s and Ann Taylor stores in the D.C. area.

She was a competitive figure skater in her youth in Wilmette Il. Sailing accomplishments included 1st in the 1976 National Interscholastic Champs, a 3rd in 470s at the 1975 US Youth Champs and a 6th in the 1985 International Women’s Keelboat Championships. In 2007, she was a key member of the winning J/105 in the Newport Regatta and on her father's J/100 in winning the Maine Retired Skipper’s Race.

“Heli” will be greatly missed by her family and friends. Her immediate family includes her parents, the Rev. Mary and Robert L. Johnstone, III of Boston and Newport RI; brother Stuart of Lake Forest, IL, and his sons Hunter and Ford; brother Drake and wife Elizabeth of Charlottesville, VA, and brother Peter of Jamestown RI and his son Nick and daughter India.

A memorial fund has been founded in Helen's honor to provide scholarships for under-privileged youth. Tax deductible donations may be sent to the: Helen C. Johnstone Memorial Fund c/o Sail Newport 60 Fort Adams Drive, Newport, RI 02840.

Friday, June 6, 2008

2008 Northeast J/Cruise

J owners will be gathering in picturesque Camden, Maine over the weekend of August 1-3 for some fun sailing and socializing, downeast style at the 2008 Northeast J/Cruise. Wayfarer Marine will be headquarters for the event, which is being hosted by East Coast Yacht Sales and J Boats. Enjoy meeting fellow J sailors, checking out each other's boats, and participating in a low key pursuit day-cruise in Penobscot Bay. You can leave your spinnakers and genoas ashore! All J owners are invited to attend. Click here for more information.