Thursday, March 31, 2011

Light Winds Plague Solent Sailors

J/80 sailboat- sailing off start line on Solent Warsash spring series
(Warsash, Southampton Water, England)- For the third week running, the challenge greeting competitors in the Warsash Spring Series on 27th March was how to get their boats along in light conditions, when the breeze rarely reached double figures.  Global warming perhaps?  After affects of the thrice-decade "super moon" phenomenon? For Black Group, a half hour lull gave three classes a real test to round the first leeward mark where a large parking lot built up. However, a gentle wind returned, with some classes completing their courses whilst others were shortened. White Group, off Hill Head, experienced an even shiftier breeze and did well to get the planned three races in for J/80s.

IRC1-B sees Niall Dowling's crew on the J/111 ARABELLA hanging tough in very trying light and variable conditions, lying second with a very consistent 2-3-3 score and is lying in fourth overall IRC just four points outside of third.

In IRC3 Jamie and Mike Holmes J/97 JIKA-JIKA continues to lie second on a tie despite a disastrous thirteenth.  In fact, tied for second is Andy Howe's J/92 BLACKJACK that has a consistent 7-8-5 for 20 points.  Bill Blain's J/97 BATFISH IV is still learning the ropes and is currently in 11th.

J/109 sailboats- sailing around mark at Solent Warsash spring seriesThe sixteen boat strong J/109 class continues to see Dave Mcleman's OFFBEAT lead the fleet with a 6-3-3, remarkably consistent despite the often challenging conditions that leave other teams gasping for air wondering where to go next!  However, sailing nearly as well is Mike and Sarah Wallis' JAHMALI with a 9-4-1 just two points back.  And, not to be counted out of the front of the fleet yet is Dave McGough's JUST SO with a 3-9-5 for seventeen points.  Interesting.  To finish in the top three of the J/109 class you have to be averaging under sixth (6th) place? Holy Jersey Cows!!  That's an epic, anxiety-inducing average, to beat (or meet), eh?! To give you some perspective, last year's "high rollers" who could do no wrong, Dave and Kirsty Apthorp's J-DREAM are blasting along with a 4-2-18th?? Next weekend is sure to jumble the standings again.  Never, ever a dull moment in this fun, exciting racer-cruiser class.

In the J/80s, Stewart Hawthorn (JUMPING JENGA) has a three point advantage over Patrick Liardet (AQUA-J) whilst Dan Brown (HENRI-LLOYD SHOCKWAVE) in third is just one point ahead of Terry Palmer (JUST DO IT). But, lurking just behind this group is John Cooper on OI!, getting a 2-2-1 in his last three races to simply prove a point-- they're just getting tuned up and on track!  For more Warsash Spring Series sailing results.    Sailing Photo credits- Eddie May Gallery   

J's Frolic @ Royal Lymington Series

J/109 sailboat- sailing past mark on Solent, England
(Lymington, Hampshire, England)-  This year's Spring Series for Keelboats off Lymington (yes, the far, far Western part of the Solent near the famous Needles) started on the day the clocks went forward but there were no reports of anyone oversleeping such was the enthusiasm to get out on the water after the winter. The weather rewarded everyone with an almost perfect spring morning in the Solent.

A north easterly breeze, occasionally getting up to 17 kts, and an ebbing tide for the first race gave Race Officer Roger Wilson the opportunity to set a couple of laps 'round the cans' with a moveable mark to windward and down to 'Royal Lymington' via 'Berthon' for the big boats, with shorter but similar courses for the Lymington Handicap fleets. There was some close racing as the fleets beat up against the tide along the mainland shore and enough wind for a tactical gybing run back down-- as the infamous "Fish" (Bob Fisher, eponymous writer extraordinaire for Yachts & Yachting) describes it, "just dragging through the mud".

This year the innovation of a separate finish boat produced a quick turn round between races and although the tide had changed and the wind dropped during the second race everyone managed to complete their two windward leeward laps and get back to the Club in time for lunch-- and avoid too much dragging through the mud!  Class 1 IRC saw good competition, with William Newton's J/105 JELLY BABY taking line honours in race 2. Currently, Robin Taunt's J/109 JIBE lies third and Bill's JELLY BABY in fourth.  For more Royal Lymington Series sailing information.   

Locals Dominate J/24 Texas States

J/24 sailboat- the largest one-design keelboat worldwide- sailing at markLocals Dominate J/24 Texas States
(Austin, TX- Mar 20) - Local Austin sailor Ryan Harden won the 2011 J/24 Texas State Championship with an impressive display of sailing, never crossing the finish line outside of the top two over the six race series. Harden topped a competitive fleet that included 3-time J/24 World Champion, Mauricio Santa Cruz, and perennial Southwest Circuit Champion (and Harden's 25-year older brother) Bob Harden.

Conditions were perfect, with temperatures in the mid 80s and winds ranging from 15 to 25 knots. Harden, sailing some 100 pounds light of the maximum allowed weight, chose to use the 100% jib in all the races, much to the dismay of some of the more hardcore teams. After seeing Harden's domination of the early racing, by the final race all but two boats had switched to the small jib looking for a similar speed advantage.

The Texas State Championship is the first regatta of the 2011 Texas Circuit, and with the U.S. Nationals slated to be held in Texas in May, racing was highly competitive as teams worked to tune up for the big event.

Although Harden held a comfortable lead, racing for the remaining top spots was extremely tight with three teams tied for second heading into the final race. In the end, second place overall went to Eric Faust, who posted two bullets on the final day to edge out Santa Cruz and Bob Harden in the standings.  Final sailing results for J/24 Texas States courtesy of can be found here.   

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Manhattan YC- Launches Corporate Sailing League on J/24s

J/24 Manhattan YC- corporate sailing league program Manhattan YC is launching the Corporate Sailing League to sail on Thursday nights. Made famous many moons ago (remember MYC's been going for 25+ years), after the corporate raiders of Wall Street fought in boardrooms across the world, they'd relax in the afternoon and go sailing on J/24s right off the South Street Seaport Waterfront.

Today's version is undeniably more fun, much, much more affordable, easy-going and, in fact, more entertaining!  After all, now there are nearly FORTY (40) J/24s (versus just 12 in the old days) sailing out of North Cove Marina at the tip of Manhattan (just north of Battery Park) and with lots more potential for fun and games with fellow New Yorkers blasting around the NYC waterfront.

How can you not appreciate spectacular sunset sails in front of THE City, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty- the Goddess of Freedom herself!?  You owe it to yourself (and your business colleagues) to enjoy this rather extraordinary experience.

Call Mike or Emily at 212-786-3323 or email-  BTW, he's on Dennis Conner's speed-dial list, too.  Read more about this cool sailing experience- the Corporate Sailing League.   

J/30 upgrade ideas from SAILING magazine

J/30 sailboat- cruiser-racer-day-sailing Convert a Rhode Island School of Design interior to a "shabby chic" ultra-modern, retro upgrade? Hmmm. Yes. It's possible.  If you use today's Ultra-leather or Ultra-suede fabrics to impart sumptuous, exotic, sexy, comfort for your crew (chicks dig it, but so do the guys).  OK, buying the J/97 may be out of the question for today, so let's have fun on a J/30?? You bet.  Plenty of room to play.  See what SAILING magazine talks about here from a practical point of view.   J/30 SAILING redux:   

J/24 Sailing Ace Terry Hutchinson Racing AC34 Cats

J-Cats!  Cool cat kind- Terry Hutchinson sailing AC45s in New ZealandPast J/24 sailing ace Terry Hutchinson is now sailing for the AC34 on Team ARTEMIS. This past week he was caught on tape sailing one of the new AC45 cats for practice.

While fellow J/24 cats like Ed Baird and Chris Larson were kicking it back and sailing in the Rolex Cup regatta down in St Thomas, Terry was pushing the limits of disaster-- in cats those who live closest to the edge most consistently win, simple math.

Just ask Kenny Read about sailing Formula 40s in the Pro Circuit back in the 80s, remember that famous picture of them with bows stuck in the water on San Francisco Bay and the whole crew hanging on for dear life?  Should be fun and interesting to watch, just don't want to be a body hurtling through the hyperspace after a "double-poke" with a 72 foot cat cart-wheeling over my head, too.  Good on ya mates for pushing the envelope of performance!  Sure is fun to watch!    Watch this YouTube video of how they do sailing these machines here:   

Friday, March 25, 2011

J/111 Atlantic Boating News Test

J/111 one-design sailboat- the ultimate sailing machine
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)- The J/111 speedster has now been tested in a number of different venues and is proving to live up to its billing as a fun, fast, easy-to-sail boat by all types of sailors- experienced offshore sailors, to local club racers, to shorthanded sailors wishing to sail single or double-handed.  The 111s successes across a variety of handicapping systems in a wide-range of weather comes as a pleasant surprise, again proving that a good all-round design that can sail upwind, reaching and downwind should do well in the hands of both the world's best as well as the local club sailor.  Recent events run under PHRF, IRC, ORR have proven the 111 to be competitive, a comforting factor to know that "beer-can" racing will always be fun locally while one-design sailing events grow regionally, nationally and internationally.

To date, 111s have managed to win Key West Race Week PHRF 1 Class with a J/105 crew from Ohio steering it for the first time in their lives in light to medium conditions; place 2nd in the BMW Auckland Regatta against highly modified, monster-garaged Kiwi boats under PHRF-NZ TOT system; cruise into 2nd in class and 3rd overall in the renowned Cabo Race from Newport Beach, CA to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a 600nm romp down the coastline sailing ORR handicap; and this winter prove in both the Solent, England and in San Francisco, CA that under IRC at 1.093 the J/111 is capable of being competitive and grab its fair share of silverware- from the Three Bridge Fiasco to the Solent's Winter/Spring Series.

J/111s are not only demonstrating they're fun and fast to sail, they've got the comfortable cockpit, sweet accommodations and standing headroom to fulfill the needs of the most demanding weekend club racers- your friends and family.  Yet, for the thrill-seekers who appreciate extraordinary performance and the strength and robustness to qualify for ISAF Offshore Certification specifications for offshore sailboats (the first sailboat to do so globally), it's nice to know it can go around the cans or fly offshore against some of the world's best sailboats.  Read more about what sailors in Nova Scotia, Canada discovered when they test sailed the J/111 for the first time off Halifax, NS- it's an article in Nova Scotia's Atlantic Boating News.  For more information on the J/111 one-design speedster sailing review and boat test.   

Rolex Regatta St Thomas

J/122 Lost Horizon- sailing Rolex Cup St. Thomas Regatta
A Visual Feast for J's Racing
(St Thomas, USVI)- As it has proven for 38 years, the International Rolex Regatta is a racing getaway that is as much about serious competition as it is about the festive yet relaxed Caribbean experience that host St. Thomas Yacht Club has created around it. The three-day event is scheduled this year for Friday, March 25, through Sunday, March 27, and features race courses that accentuate the coastal beauty of the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as shore-side gatherings - including a reggae music concert and uniquely staged Rolex Awards Ceremony - that remind visitors why "tropical" and "paradise" go so well together.  The sailing includes three days of weaving through the visually arresting cuts, cays and islands of the U.S. Virgins. Teams from the U.S. and Europe are always among those to beat, but no one dismisses the home-grown talent from St. Thomas and islands farther afield such as Puerto Rico and St. Martin.

"With dependable trade winds, great racing is assured, and we work hard to make it easy for sailors and their families to participate," said Regatta Co-Director Bill Canfield, explaining that the St. Thomas Yacht Club is the central meeting place for breakfast each morning and socializing after racing, with the exception of Saturday night’s party at Yacht Haven Grande for which transportation is provided.

"One of our traditions is the ‘town race’ on Friday, where the entire fleet races from the east end of St. Thomas right to the heart of the bustling commercial harbour of Charlotte Amalie," added Canfield. "Once the fleet is finished there, we start them again for the race back home. It gives us a chance to share the spectacle of a mass of colorful spinnakers with the people who live on St. Thomas and others who are visiting, and it gives the racers an opportunity to see St. Thomas’ beautiful and historic capital. Racing is rounded out on the weekend by a high caliber mix of island races and windward/leewards designed to test skills and showcase the stunning shoreline."  Just for fun, check out the Rolex Cup sailing instructions here, wonderful "chamber of commerce" friendly courses taking you on a tour of St Thomas and St John.

Amongst the top J's racing will be the J/122 LOST HORIZON sailed by Caribbean champion Jim Dobbs from Antigua.  Keeping Jim honest will be another champion crew aboard the J/120 EL OCASO sailed by Rick Wesslund from Miami, FL.  Also participating are the J/110 CANDELA from Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Juan Bosch's beautiful cruiser-racer.  Speaking of which, Bob Read's J/40 NEPENTHE (sans sons Kenny and Brad) will be cruising the courses with fun and with panache.  Not far off the pace will be the J/36 CAYENITTA GRANDE sailed by Tony Sanpere from St. Croix, USVI and the J/95 SHAMROCK VII skippered by Tom Mullen and his fun-loving crew.  Dueling for 27 foot honors amongst the J's will be the two J/27s, MAG 7 sailed by Paul Davis from USVI and NO SEA DEM skippered by Chris Hardin also from USVI and the J/80 OTRA KOSA sailed by Kike Gonzalez from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sailing Photo Credit- Tim Wright-   For more Rolex Cup sailing information   

Lake Ontario 300 Challenge

Lake Ontario 300 yacht race
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)- Challenging other well-known freshwater "classics" is the Lake Ontario 300, a 300+ nautical mile race that is arguably the "longest" freshwater race in the world (save for the "SuperMac").  This year, it will be a veritable onslaught on overall and class honors by a range of very well sailed 35 foot J's- J/35, J/105 and J/109s.  Three of whom have placed or won in class or overall in the past five years.  The class and overall possible leaders include the J/105 CASUAL ELEGANCE- Geoff Clarke from Toronto; the  J/35 SHORTHANDED- Mike Pietz from Brampton; the J/109 BLUE STREAK- Bob Eckersley from Toronto; the J/109 CARPE VENUS- Denys Jones from Toronto; and the J/109 LIVELY- Murray Gainer from Toronto.

This year, you will be able to follow the before, during and after events of the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge at and as they happen. All participants will have instant access to upload photos and stories while racing and share them with friends, family and more than 25,000 subscribers across Canada.  For more Lake Ontario 300 sailing information.   

J/111 STELLA Shines in BMW Auckland Regatta

J/111 one-design sailboat- the ultimate sailing machine- sailing BMW Cup Auckland, NZ
(Auckland, NZ)- Light air sailing skills were at a premium as the fleet of yachts competing in the 2011 BMW Auckland Regatta seldom saw the breeze move into double figures throughout the three day event.

Under normal circumstances, a three-day regatta in Auckland tests a wide range of skills as the city lives up to its four-seasons-in-a-day reputation. However, 2011 saw just summer heat and gentle breezes combine with unusually high tides to turn the regatta into a tactical chess game.

For the final day of racing, the yachts were sent on a scenic course around some of the islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf. Many yachts chose to hug the shorelines to either cut the corners or escape adverse tidal flows – and an unfortunate few paid the price by hitting the bottom. Embarrassment apart, none suffered any serious damage.

J/111 Stella sailing downwind off Devonport, Auckland, New ZealandThe competition was fierce amongst the cognoscenti in Class B.  A turbo'd Mumm 36, a monster'd Elliot 1050 and the super monster-garaged Big Sled Red were up against the one-design spec'd J/111 hull #1 STELLA. Many saw STELLA during sea-trials off of Newport, RI last August and then later in Chesapeake bay at the Annapolis Boat Show.  Down in the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, the J/111 showed her tail-feathers enough times (first across the line in 5 of 8 races) to win the Line Honors trophy and to finish 2nd on PHRF-NZ handicap. Congratulations to Pat Kabris and the Stella crew for a successful debut!

The BMW Auckland Regatta is jointly run by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Bucklands Beach Yacht Club. Sixty one yachts in seven divisions competed in the regatta.  For more BMW Auckland Regatta and J/111 sailing information.   

Thursday, March 24, 2011

J "Musketeers" Crash The Cabo Race Party

J/111 sailing Cabo Race to Mexico
J/111 and J/145 Second In Class, 3rd & 4th Fleet, Respectively!
(Newport Beach, CA)- OK.  The forecasts for the classic 600 nm sprint south down the Cal-Mex coastline to "Cabo" was daunting-- the Friday starting group (including all  J's) looked reasonable, but the Saturday starters looked troublesome.  With any luck, the Class C & D fleet would be treated to early jib reaching that would morph into high-speed spinnaker reaching as the fleet moved south; the winds typically move more into the NW quadrants at this time of year the further south you get.

For the three "J-Musketeers" participating, leading the charge down the track was Tom Holthus' J/145 BAD PAAK from San Diego, CA.  The veteran J/124 GOOD CALL sailed by Tom Barker from San Diego and the "new kid on the block", the J/111 speedster INVISIBLE HAND sailed by Frank Slootman and crew proved to be "double-trouble" for the fleet and their own class.  Given the fact that winds hit 15-20+ knots, it was an epic ride down the coast for this gang of serious speedsters- a trio of trophy-hunting thieves. Other than the unfortunate withdrawal of GOOD CALL within 50 miles of Cabo (due to a crew injury), all three boats would have made it on to the podium!  The two that did grab trophies were Frank's J/111 INVISIBLE HAND getting 2nd in Class D and 3rd overall and Tom's J/145 BAD PAK getting 2nd in Class C and 4th overall sailing under the ORR (offshore racing rule) handicap system!  Here is what happened:

cabo race storm frontOn Saturday Class C and D started in light to moderate winds. By Sunday, a massive front with strong breezes and very choppy waves hit the tail-end of the Cabo fleet (see photo to right), primarily affecting the big boats in Class A & B that started a day later than Class C and D.  A and B basically got hammered and a bunch of top boats dropped out later on Sunday, early Monday morning (California "sleds" and modern, lightweight "wedges of cheese" cannot sail well upwind, period).  Meanwhile, SoCal was drowning in water with record rainfalls generating road closures and massive mud slides.  Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) was washed out and Santa Barbara set a record of 6" rainfall in 24 hours with yet more to come.  Perhaps some of those J/24s and J/105s in SB Harbor may be put to good use as second homes!

By Monday, Class C and D saw light winds south of Cedros Island and made significant headway south along the coast.  Frank's team aboard INVISIBLE HAND reported on, "C & D divisions had steady but light pressure for the start.  Most everyone worked offshore to pick up a bit more pressure into the evening.  Looks like the boats outside the rhumbline did a bit better on the morning report.  With very little time on the new J/111 we are happy with her performance thus far.  Moves very well in the 14-17 knots we had for the majority of the night and held impressive speeds during the lighter 8-12 knot periods.  Tomorrows GRIB looks quite interesting with some challenging decisions for the next day or so.  We'll keep pressing the cloth and hopefully we won't get smacked by the the Southerly moving through."

Sailing to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico harbor -looking towards finish line- sailboats in harborOn Monday afternoon, fleet compression was occurring as the northwesterlies filled in and continued building behind Class C and D.  With approximately 300 NM to go (finish line off harbor to the right), the fleet saw increasing pressure from the NW, which usually dominates the Baja peninsula this time of year.  By late evening, the night-time pressures increased to 18 knots along the lower Baja California peninsula and the entire fleet flew chutes with increasing speeds through the night, taking advantage of a clear, moonlit sky with warmer winds.  The Monday afternoon Anarchy report from Frank's INVISIBLE HAND was, "Well, as expected, the last 36 hours on the course were full of challenges.  The A & B classes that started Saturday got the full impact of the southerly system and the retired casualty list is larger than those still racing.  The boats in our class (C) had very light winds out of the south.   We looked OK at yesterday's check-in but after 24 hours beating into a light southerly we could not overcome the longer waterline of our class competition so we slipped a place but held the same in the overall.  The GRIBs have been consistent so we still have some running to look forward to over the next few days and hopefully reel in those that slipped by.  To still be in full foulies on the 3rd night was not what we expected and the shorts are still in the crew bags.  This is not what they said it would be in the brochure!  The boys on deck just unfurled the Code-0 and dropped the Light #1 to see if we can get a bit more out of the new J/111.  We've got our work cut out for us, back to the grind."

typical Cabo Race sailing conditions- 10-20 knots northerlyBy Monday nightfall, it was amazing to see the Class C and D boats locked in a very strategic duel with roughly 170NM to the finish (winds looking like this photo to right!).  It was a very interesting strategic mix off Cabo San Lozaro in the early hours of the moonrise as the Class C and D boats were making tactical turns downwind and a break for the beach for offshore-wind pressure or better sailing angles by going slightly outside on the right side of the course.  It was in this part of the race were some boats made significant gains and others lost out some distance on their competitors--- the J/111 INVISIBLE HAND happened to be one of the latter.  The afternoon Anarchy report from INVISIBLE HAND stated, "we were finally able to stop sailing upwind Monday and had a spinnaker up by late afternoon.  The morning check-in showed what we expected with us still in 3rd in class since the prior 24 hours still included a lot of upwind work.  Since dark we started to put on pace with winds of 10-20 knots.  There were pretty large swells rolling through with another direction wind wave so driving was challenging as the stern quarter kept getting checked around.  The 6am morning scheduled radio report had us 17 miles behind the Beneteau First 40.7 NOAS 2 with 179nm to the finish.  To our surprise we spotted them and crossed several miles in front by 2:45pm this afternoon.  So we made up quite a bit of miles in just under 9 hours with boat speed in the 10-13 knots range.  We have about 90nm to the finish so we hope to be able to make up more of the time lost on course while sailing upwind.  The swells have now reorganized and are allowing us a much better average not fighting to keep the boat on course.  Finally feels like we entered a Mexico race, the Sun is finally out and so are the shorts. Hopefully the wind will hold and we will finish in the wee hours Wednesday morning."

J/145 Bad Pak- 2nd Class C in Cabo RaceBy Tuesday midday, it was clear that all three boats were simply flying down the race track to Cabo.  Tom's J/145 BAD PAK was averaging 10-12 knots under spinnaker, gybing back and forth to maintain speed and angle.  Perhaps one of the best navigated J's was Tom's J/124 GOOD CALL.  For most of the race it was pretty certain GOOD CALL was likely winning Class D and was well positioned to take overall honors for the fleet.  The boys on the J/111 INVISIBLE HAND were both planing and surfing at times up to 15 knots and having an amazing ride.  However, they took a few meanders both right and left that chewed up a few too many miles versus their competition, first gaining big chunks of distance, then losing ground quickly in an hour or two.  By Tuesday afternoon, the gang on the J/145 BAD PAK sailed a great race, kept pressing hard, finishing at 4:14 pm off the beach at Cabo.  Just before the finish, a crewman was injured on GOOD CALL, necessitating an emergency VHF call, help from the Mexican Navy and the withdrawal of GOOD CALL (we hope he's OK).  Locked in a boat-for-boat battle with a First 50 and the First 40.7, INVISIBLE HAND played the last few gybe angles into Cabo well to pass both, but then in yet another nail-biting finish, lost the First 50 Sarasvati II within the last 0.5 mile at midnight Tuesday.  INVISIBLE HAND finished at 00:31:22 am!  Congratulations to all three J's for great sailing, great seamanship and heads-up sailing at the end of the day.   For more Cabo Race tracking and sailing information.  See this great example of how to use Facebook for sailing events and regatta reporting.   

San Diego NOOD Regatta- A J/Festival

J/80s like Underdog racing upwind at San Diego NOOD regatta.
A J/Fest of J/24s, 80s, 105 and 120s
(San Diego, CA)-  While the Cabo Race sailors on Sunday were getting pounded by the massive low pressure system traversing the southern California coastline, the Sperry Topsider NOOD Regatta in San Diego had great winds and some great sailing.  The strong turnout of J's, the large J/120 and J/105 classes and the very competitive J/24s and the J/80s, made the most of Sunday's windy conditions to get in good, hard, fast races.

J/105 one-design sailboats- sailing SW NOOD San Diego regattaAs the largest fleet in the regatta, the eighteen boat J/105 fleet has attracted a good out-of-town contingent,   The local California contingent of class leaders like the Case's WINGS and Howell's BLINK! had an off weekend, neither cracking the top five.  Sailing a very strong regatta was Long Beach YC's Gary Mozer on CURRENT OBSESSION 2, sailing to 3 straight firsts to win by 5 pts over San Diego YC's Tomm Hurlburt on BLOW BOAT.  Third was SDYC's Chris Logan sailing his PHOLLY to a 2-4-8 for 14 pts.    Fourth was OFF THE PORCH skippered by Scott McDaniel from SLBYC to a 11-3-4 score for 18 pts, beating on a tie-breaker TRIPLE PLAY sailed by Dave Vieregg from SDYC with a 4-5-9 record for 18 pts.

J/120s CAPER sailing SW NOOD San Diego regattaThe J/120 fleet saw eight very competitive boats sail three solid races.  This year it was CAPER sailed by San Diego YC's John Laun that walked off with the gold, sailing to a 1-1-3 for 5 pts.   Lying second was last year's winners, Chuck Nichols and his SDYC team racing CC RIDER to straight 3rds for 9 pts.  Were it not for a first race snafu, Peter Zarcades' MELTEMI from SDYC might have gotten second, sailing to a 6-2-2 for 10 pts, just one point back from second.  Fourth was J-ALMIGHTY sailed by Mike Hatch from CRA and fifth was SHENANIGANS skippered by Gary Winton from CBYC.

J/24s sailing upwind at SW NOOD regatta in San DiegoThe local SoCal J/24s showed up in force with a very competitive fleet of thirteen J/24s to vie for "top dog" billing in SoCal over the course of four tightly fought races.  As it turned out, THE top dog was, in fact, THREE BIG DOGS from Santa Barbara YC, sailed by current J/24 North American Champion Pat Toole.  Their 1-1-2-1 record just beat out past National/ NA Champion Chris Snow on BOGUS from San Diego YC who raced to a 2-2-1-2 record, trading out all of the top two spots in the fleet with Pat's TBD team.  Third was ON BELAY raced by Don Taylor from RYC, sailing to a 3-5-7-3 and beating on a tie-breaker SUPER STRINGS sailed by Norm Hosford from DPYC that had a 7-3-4-4 tally.  Fifth was Erik Hemmi from SWYC.

J/80s sailing around windward mark at SW NOOD Regatta San DiegoFinally, the ten J/80s had perhaps the closest racing of all the J one-designs, with the top five only separated by 13 points after seven races.  Winning this tight fleet was Curt Johnson from California YC racing AVET to a 1-6-1-2-3-2-1 for 16 pts.  Steve Wyman survived an unfortunate occurrence in the last race where a trailing competitor hooked his backstay and broke their mast, getting average points for that race.  As a result, Steve's NUHUN from Dana Point YC got a 3-3-2-3-6-3 record for 20 pts.  Just behind in third was Kurt Wiese from NHYC sailing to a 4-2-5-7-1-3-3 score for 25 pts.  Two points back in fourth was another "dog boat", UNDERDOG raced by John Steen from SWYC and sailing to a 2-5-3-1-4-1-11 score for 27 pts.  And, just two points further back again was BLUE JAY raced by Bob Hayward from SMWYC to a 5-1-4-4-8-5-2 record for 29 pts.

Mike Lovett at SAILING WORLD magazine interviewed John Steen- "According to the crew of John Steen's UNDERDOG, the J/80 is the perfect boat for ripping down the swells at the Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD.

For Kyle Archer and the crew of John Steen's UNDERDOG, getting into the J/80 class had a lot to do with envy. "About nine years ago, we were sailing the NOOD down in South Bay aboard a chartered J/24," says Archer. "We were having a lot of fun with the crew we had, but we were watching the J/80s launch their spinnakers, come up on plane, and just rip by us. That drew John's interest, and he asked us, 'What do you think about switching over the J/80?'"

The crew's enthusiastic reply inspired Steen to research the class and ultimately purchase UNDERDOG.  "There's a lot of things we like about the boat," says Archer, who serves as jib and spinnaker trimmer. "You don't have to worry about putting together a big crew. It's big enough to be comfortable in the cockpit, and it's easy enough to put on a trailer."

The portability of the J/80 has helped nurture a strong fleet up and down the West Coast. The UNDERDOG team frequently leaves its home base at San Diego's Southwestern YC to attend events in the Los Angeles area and beyond, and boats from the north return the favor by traveling to events like the Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD. Although UNDERDOG was not able to make the trek to the J/80 Worlds in Newport, the team is encouraged to know that local boats can compete on the international level. "We were just hearing some stories from the Worlds last night," says Archer. "It gives us some vindication to know that boats from our area are competitive. It gives us a way to measure up."

As much as Archer and his UNDERDOG cohorts would've loved to join the J/80 class's East Coast tour last year, there's nothing they enjoy more than hooking into a Pacific swell and blasting downwind. "When we get a big swell and we turn and burn under the spinnaker, it's just so much fun. The water's coming across the bow, hitting you in the face, and you're just hanging on for dear life!!"  Sailing Photo credits- Tim Wilkes.  For more Sperry Top-Sider NOOD San Diego sailing information and racing results.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

J/80 Phoenix Cup- China Rising!

J/80s sailing Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong Yacht Club in China
Johnstone Wins On Global TV Broadcast To Billions!
(Hong Kong, China)- One day in the future it may seem like a turning point – the first ‘local’ regatta to be televised live in China. So we’re not talking about the Olympics here, or even one of the fly-by-night pro events – Volvo, Clipper, Extreme 40s, whatever – but club sailors, in J/80s, in Hong Kong harbour. Sort of, a Club event all grown up for billions of Chinese.

The event was sponsored and broadcasted by Phoenix TV. Apart from CCTV, Phoenix is the biggest broadcaster in China, and that makes them pretty ginormously huge. The Phoenix Cup is a fleet racing event to be sailed in J/80s, based out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and with race management provided by RHKYC. That guarantees good organization – all that’s needed to make the event shine is a bit of sun.

J/80 chinese crew- sailing Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong, ChinaIt was an inauspicious start for the first day – cold, rainy and miserable, and with a distinct lack of wind. Competitors looked out gloomily out from the balcony at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Many wondered – with some justification – whether the racing might be canned altogether. But when you have the assembled millions of Phoenix TV’s China audience just waiting to switch off the horse racing and the game-show channel and switch on to small boat racing in Hong Kong harbour on a Saturday afternoon – well, you’d better not disappoint!

First practice race, 1330 hrs start. Time for the live broadcast crews to practice their swing-and-pan shots, time for the pretty TV anchors to put on the foul weather gear, time for action on the water. The first start became a General Recall as almost the entire fleet of 22 J/80s was pushed gently over the line by the tide. Second start, same story. Third start and the fleet was away ‘clean’ for what is usually known at RHKYC as a ‘Sunset’ race (triangle-sausage-finish), right in front of the clubhouse.

The starting gun must have woken up the wind gods, as all of a sudden the breeze piped up, and crews suddenly found themselves sailing in 12-15 kts. A short beat to the windward mark – maybe 300 m – and then up went the colorful Phoenix TV and spinnakers. It was enough to make a photographer’s heart glad in spite of the clinging grey (and the incessant rain) as the harbour broke out all over in a rash of red and yellow.

J/80s sailing off Hong Kong, China for Phoenix CupLeeward mark roundings with a little pressure in the sails proved troublesome for some, and a few ‘interesting’ moments were witnessed - and in some cases recorded. Tiffany Koo and a well-drilled crew on JELIK 6 led all the way round the track and finished with a healthy lead, but you know what they say about winning practice races…

An interlude on shore allowed time for lunch before the ‘main event’ at 1600 hrs - timing dependent upon the arrival Guest of Honour, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR. He’s a busy man on a Saturday afternoon, so we just had to wait for Sir Tung. The rain came and went, and came again, and the breeze wasn’t quite so sure. But Mr Tung was on time and so was the start, and this time there were no recalls. Right on cue, in came the breeze, and the rain stopped. We never got the sunshine, but the fleet did get some good racing.

Fast-starting boats at the pin end set the pace for the first part of the race, with the fleet heading up towards the Hung Hom buoy before the pressing down towards the Shau Kei Wan mark. Almost all the boats held the North Point shore to stay out of the incoming tide, and were lifted along the line beneath the Island Eastern Corridor. 'We were tacking along the shore’' said Jim Johnstone later, 'but only changing 10-15 degrees on the compass heading between tacks. It felt really good.' But there are two sides to any race course, and JELIK 7 with Louie Perfectua at the helm ‘went the other way’. Standing on past Hung Hom and then all the way into Kowloon Bay and towards the old airport runway – a longer course, and crossing the tide completely, but at Shau Kei Wan they had a commanding lead of maybe 20 lengths. The scrap was for second place between ALCHEMIST (Nigel Reeves), JELIGNITE (Jim Johnstone), and HAKAWATI (Dan Tullberg).

J/80s sailing downwind at Phoenix Cup off Hong Kong, ChinaThe race was Perfectua’s for the taking, but the run back down back to Hung Hom was less kind than the beat up. ‘Low, slow, and straight down the middle’ was JELIGNITE's program, while JELIK 5 tried to run the angles – but although there was wind, there wasn’t enough to get a J/80 planing, and the extra distance took a toll. Perfectua later acknowledged that the v2.0 J/80 asymmetrics being used by most of the fleet (but not JELIK 5) allowed for deeper running, and a distinct advantage. By Hung Hom, JELIGNITE was in the lead, and ALCHEMIST (complete with Phoenix TV anchor smiling prettily under her Phoenix TV hat) had pushed into the second slot.

The race had to last 90 minutes, according to the TV people, so the next leg went back up to Dock buoy and then returned to Hung Hom. A bit like running a pursuit race, and trying to hit a specified time for the first finisher. No matter: an ‘S’ flag on the Cheoy Lee at Hung Hom was a finish line, with JELIGNITE cruising home to a comfortable victory. And the camera boat got back to Kellett Island and under cover, beating the nasty-looking rain squall coming in from Central.

It was a brisk reach from the Hung Hom finish back to the RHKYC - the lucky ones got there before the rain re-started. And then at 1900 hrs, to coincide once again with live broadcast, prize-giving time with Mr Liu Chang Le, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix TV, and Mr KK Yeung, Executive Vice President and CFO. On this, the company’s 15th birthday, Mr Yeung declared the Phoenix Cup to be a resounding success, and looked forward to another edition next year.

Jim Johnstone's commentary- "It was fantastic seeing 22 J/80s out in the harbour this weekend - really pleased we got a little breeze to get us around. You can find sailing tracks for the second (main) race of the day here - sure we all have something to learn from this information.   

J's Sweep Banderas Bay Regatta

J/130 Sceptre sailing Banderas Regatta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
(Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)- Banderas Bay offers some of the finest sailing anywhere in the world. Winds 10-18 knots, water temp of 75 degrees, flat water, and clear blue cloudless skies.  Plus, the hosts like Vallarta YC are simply amazing, treating you like family and kids simply love it.  It's not hard to figure out why the BBR event continues to grow in popularity every year.  This year's version was the largest ever Banderas Bay Regatta with over 50 boats racing a three day event.  Three J's in Division A raced against a competitive class of 10 boats. The J/160 BLUE sailed by Ken and Cheryl Sears and two J/130s, SCIROCCO owned by Lee Pryor and Cathy Sweet and SCEPTRE owned by Bob Musor. BLUE is berthed in the Puerto Vallarta; SCIROCCO is based in Oceanside California and SCEPTRE is based in San Francisco. In addition, three J/80s from J/World were racing in Class D. 

J/160 sailing off Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Banderas Bay RegattaThe race on Thursday was a 20 mile distance race taking the fleet up beating to Punta De Mita setting up a nice 10-12 mile mile spinnaker run around a mark and back to a downwind finish in Nuevo Vallarta. The J/160 BLUE finished second while the two J/130s battled it out until SCEPTRE blew a tack line in the last mark rounding. SCIROCCO finished 3rd and SCEPTRE finished 5th.

Unfortunately, Friday's racing was canceled due to the tsunami that originated in Japan. The waves that hit the marinas in Banderas Bay made entering and exiting the three main marinas too dangerous to go sailing on Friday.  In fact, most boats put out to sea to avoid any possible damage.

The race on Saturday was a triangle and two windward-leewards in ideal conditions. Winds 14-18 knots shifting from the SW to W. Bo Musor exclaimed, "It has been a long time since I have lined up against another J/130 and it was great fun. SCIROCCO and SCEPTRE were neck and neck around the course with SCEPTRE prevailing at the finish. SCEPTRE finished 4th but only 10 seconds out of second. SCIROCCO finished 6th."

Final overall placings for Class A in the regatta were the Sear's J/160 BLUE in second, Pryor and Sweets J/130 SCIROCCO in third and Musor's SCEPTRE tied for fourth.

J/80s sailng Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Banderas Bay as one-designsIn the J/80 group sailing in Class D, it was a horse race between all three J/80s to determine where you finished in the top three.  In the end, the Team J/World #4 won with a 2-1 followed by Team J/World #5 with a 1-2 and third was Team J/World #2 with a 3-3.

Bob reports that "SCIROCCO is heading up to the Sea of Cortez for 6 weeks of cruising while SCEPTRE will be returning to San Francisco via Cabo St Lucas in June. She will stay in San Diego for a month and then head back to SF Bay."    Sailing photos by Strange Bird Photos    For more Banderas Bay Regatta sailing information.   

Mardis Gras Regatta Winners Get Beads and Silver?

J/24 Mardis Gras winners
J/22 and J/24 Crews Last Seen Wandering Down Bourbon St
(New Orleans, LA)- In the "how can this possibly be so much fun, it must be illegal" department, a gregarious bunch of J/22 and J/24 crews were determined to make the most of visiting New Orleans during the infamous Mardi Gras celebration.  An intrepid group of J/22 and J/24 sailors were apparently wandering down the famous Bourbon Street having an outrageously good time.  One crew member happened to be accumulating a LOT of beads to wear around her neck.  Now, if you know anything about Mardi Gras, you "qualify" to get those beads by showing off certain "assets" to party-goers dancing in the Congo lines that spontaneously form all night long.  Needless to say, just about everyone was having a ball.

J/22 Mardis Gras winnersAs for the racing, it seems that the Congo line dancing to music was translating onto the race course with home-boy Benz Faget leading the J/22s home with nearly all firsts sailing his great yacht called, appropriately, FATS (a New Orleans famous jazz musician).  Second was Bob Muller with nearly all seconds and third was another local boy, Dwight LeBlanc III sailing WAVEMAKER well enough to almost spoil the party for Muller to snag second place.

The J/24s had a fun time themselves with Troy Cruthirds sailing JUS MAGIC into first, followed by Peter Fischel racing RUMBLEFISH in second and Kevin McCaffrey aboard SIREN getting third.

For some entertainment, you can see this YouTube Sailing Video of the Mardis Gras Regatta here.   For more Mardi Gras Regatta sailing information.   

Southampton Winter Series- J/109s & J/92s

J/109 and J/92s Win Classes
(Southampton, England)- With 41 entries in two IRC and two RSYC classes, the Royal Southampton YC played host to yet another good winter series for the devoted sailors who call the Southampton Water "home".

The series started off with a bang.  The first day or racing was a blustery day with a warm SW gradient wind of 22 knots gusting up to 30 knots, certainly enough blow away any cobwebs accumulated from Christmas and the New Year's holidays.  Over the course of the next few weekends, conditions improved markedly.  The penultimate race day was fresh bright and sunny with a moderate breeze from W to NW and a rapidly ebbing tide  setting the challenge for the race management team.

With the committee boat near Hover 1 all 4 Classes were sent off to Royal Southampton buoy newly laid after its winter overhaul before continuing round laid marks before cascading back down to the finish at Netley. The ebbing tide caught a couple of hapless skippers out who "parked on the putty" between races but both managed to escape and get started on a reconfigured course after the wind veered enabling a windward – leeward course to be set for the first time this series however as all those avid meteorologists know it was a front going through that caused the wind shift and with it came rain. Lots of it and heavy!

For the series, the Class 1 winner was J-DREAM – Kirsty and Dave Apthorp’s J/109. Nial Dowling's J/111 ARABELLA also won four races but did not do the whole series so just missed the Class win.  In Class 2, the winner was J'RONIMO – David Greenhaulgh’s J/92 with JAMMIN – Pete, Andrew and Matt ‘s J/92 in second.  Finally, in Class 3 - JAMMY-  Jon Stevens and Louise Curtis’s J 80 ended up second overall.  For complete RSYC Winter Series Sailing results and information   

J/124 Sailing in Sydney, Australia

J/124 sailing off Sydney Harbour, AustraliaDean Veverka, working with Southern Cross Cables from Auckland, New Zealand and sailing his J/124 in Sydney, Australia just sent along a nice note about his experiences sailing his J in Australia:

"We had a big win in our final race on Sunday, big breeze 20+ knots with gusts of 30 knots.  Unfortunately, we blew the headsail 400 meters from the finish but still managed the double of line honours and handicap win of more than 5 minutes!!

The photo of our boat here on its mooring, is in front of our sailing club, Sydney Amateurs Sailing Club (one of the oldest in Sydney, est.1875).  Awesome, lovely boat!"   

More Light Winds In Warsash Spring Series

J/80s one-design sailing- Warsash spring series, England
(Warsash, Southampton Water, England)- The second meeting of the Warsash Spring Series took place on Sunday 20th March. It was a busy day where 150+ keelboats shared the water with 80 dinghies from the Hamble Warming Pan event. Again the wind was light - around 6 to 9 knots – but after an initial postponement, all classes eventually completed their races on schedule. Tacticians had the challenge of strong west-going spring tides throughout the racing. Unusually, the breeze was less steady for the White Group of sportsboats racing in the entrance to Southampton Water and this fleet finished when Black Group were already heading for home.

J/111 sailing Warsash spring sailing series- EnglandIn Black Fleet IRC 1 Class, Nial Dowling's J/111 ARABELLA had another tough outing in the light winds and huge tidal conditions.  As the eastern most course, the Black Group committee boat anchored north of Fastnet Insurance buoy. Courses were designed and redesigned. The breeze showed 187 degrees at 0915 as the course setters started their work and then clocked steadily round to 262 degrees at 1000 where it stayed from then on until 1400. Using a mixture of permanent and laid marks, the windward legs finished just east of the Bramble Bank. The runs against the tide were interspersed with a tight spinnaker reach to ring the changes. IRC1 got off to a clean start and ARABELLA kept close company with the top big boats all the way but got nipped in the end to get sixth overall and 3rd in IRC1-B class, she is now lying second overall in IRC1-B with a 2-3 record.

The increasing weather-going tide was always going to present tacticians with a problem timing runs into the line. What became noticeable at the leeward mark, Fastnet Insurance, was that the west going tide was much stronger than many boats anticipated. Those that ran down from the top mark in the main channel on port tack had much greater difficulty in judging the layline when they gybed onto starboard. Those who had come across towards the mainland shore first had a much easier life. In IRC3, many of the top J's figured out the tactical dilemma, with Jamie and Mike Holmes J/97 JIKA-JIKA getting third for second in the series.  Andy Howe's J/92 BLACKJACK was eighth and now lies fourth for the series.  Bill Blain's J/97 BATFISH IV sailed a great race and managed a 4th place, moving them rapidly up the series standings to 10th overall.

J/109s sailing one-design at Warsash Spring sailing series- rounding markThe sixteen boat strong J/109 class had a cracking start and Matthew Boyle’s SHIVA chose the committee boat end to take an early lead on the beat. The fleet rounded Royal London buoy nose to tail and hoisted spinnakers. By the time Fastnet Insurance had been reached Dom Monkhouse's ME JULIE had sneaked a short lead with SHIVA in contention. These two extended their lead but on the last beat SHIVA kept her lead whilst ME JULIE slipped back into the clutches of J/DREAM, OFF BEAT and JAHMALI to finish fifth. This was close and exciting racing and the general consensus of the teams was that “it didn’t get much better”.

J/80s sailing on reach at Warsash spring seriesThe J/80s pushed the line on the first of their three races. The ‘X’ flag, signifying an individual recall, was raised and lowered constantly during the final minute with JUMPING JENGA (Stewart Hawthorn) and Gordon Craigen’s SWALLOW over the line. JUMPIN JENGA returned to start properly and went on to make up ground for sixth place. SWALLOW either missed the recall flag or took a chance but had to score an OCS. Last week the RAF team on SPITFIRE was all-conquering, but this week they struggled to find the same form in similar conditions. Their scoreline of 5,5,3 just keeps them at the top of the table but seriously challenged by AQUA-J (Patrick Liardet) who took one race with JUST DO IT (Terry Palmer) and JUMPIN JENGA taking the others. JUST  DO IT was one of three boats counting an OCS in the second race as the weather going tide eased.  For more Warsash Spring Series sailing results.    Sailing Photo credits- Eddie May Gallery   

J/41 SOUAY I Cruising Thailand

J/41 sailboat- at anchor off Thailand* Speaking of offshore racing and cruising experiences in far-flung islands and harbors across the Pacific, ever hear of renowned French offshore sailor/cruiser Jean Rheault?  Jean is yet another J/41 aficionado, sharing a love for the beautiful, rakishly ended IOR J/41 along with other notable sailors you may know like Ken Read of PUMA and Scot Tempesta of Sailing Anarchy infamy.  Jean has loved the J/41 for years, sailing it across the Pacific and continues to do so today sailing in the fabulous waters off Malaysian and Indonesia and Thailand.  He bought his first J-41 in 1997, MERRIMAC, which he lost on the Sable Island sand bank on a trip from Newport, RI across the Atlantic to the Azores Islands (note- it was the same MERRIMAC sailed by Bob and Stu Johnstone in the 1985 Admiral's Cup trials in Newport).  Jean then bought his current J/41, now called SOUAY I, in Newport Beach CA when it was named SEQUOIA.  He then single-handed the J/41 across the Pacific to Thailand where it got a brand new teak deck with a bimini salon cockpit and a V-berth.

J/41 Thailand crew sailng offshore to Phuket King's CupAfter sailing in December in the Kings Cup (Phuket, Thailand), winning Modern Classic Class BTW, Jean says, "I am sailing solo from Phuket-Thailand to Pattaya-Thailand, via Singapore.  I bring SOUAY I in the Indian Ocean to do the area regattas. Now I am sailing back to China Sea, there are 2 regattas this spring-- Top Of The Gulf in Pattaya and the Samui Regatta."  After that, SOUAY I heads back to Ocean Marina near Pattaya are south of Bangkok.  Jean encourages any J lovers to visit him in Thailand, SOUAY is available for day and event charters- he says "the wind is 10 to 12 knots 80% of the time, weather is 28C to 32C all year long and the ocean is at 30C. J/41 deck pad/ party pad for cruising under bimini topIt's simply spectacular sailing.  Plus, SOUAY I charms everyone who's seen and sailed her with her beauty and her grace-- everyone loves her- from Olympic sailors who appreciate the J-Boat helm sensation, to very famous TV and Movie Stars in Thailand, they lay back in the big cockpit bed under the bimini, relax and drink a glass of cool white wine, and then they want to stay for a  life-time..... not joking!"  No worries there Jean, we believe you based on these beautiful and amazing pictures of your experiences with many new-found sailing friends!   

J/24 Naval Academy Regatta- Livorno, Italy- April 9-17

J/24 Italian Naval Academy sailing team The Trofeo Accademia Navale e Citta di Livorno, now commonly known as the TAN or the Academy Trophy, has been held annually since it was first organised in 1981– as the Centennial Regatta– part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Italian Naval Academy.

The enthusiastic support of the sailing clubs and citizens of Livorno represents a significant contribution to the success of the Trophy, which has become a major sailing event not only in national but also international circles.  This year they expect over FORTY (yes, 40) entries from naval academies around the world sailing the world's most popular one-design offshore keelboat- the J/24!

J/24s sailing Trofe Academe Navale off Livorno, ItalyThe Livorno coastline provides the perfect setting for all of the activities associated with TAN focusing on the historic site of the Naval Academy as a natural point of reference, guardian and treasury of the highest naval and sailing traditions.  The Academy Trophy is characterized by two equally important traits: on the one hand, sound athletic competition and on the other, the desire for exchange and interaction, not only with other athletes but also with those passionate or simply curious about sailing, involving both the institutions and citizens of Livorno.

Under the prestigious and longstanding patronage of the President of the Republic, the TAN continues to proudly welcome international teams to the regattas (in 2010 20 foreign navies were represented) while committing itself to the five objectives which have guided its organizers so far: athletic and competitive excellence; the exchange of expertise and experience; the international character of the event; the inclusion of disabled athletes; and finally the social, cultural and recreational activities designed to attract large-scale participation at the docks and in the city.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the 130th of the Italian Naval Academy, many of the events that will take place during the 28th edition of the TAN will have a markedly historical connotation, evoking national spirit and traditions.  IF you happen to be in Italy during April 9th to 17th, by all means swing by Livorno and enjoy the festivities-- trust us, the Italian Navy knows how to throw a lavish, extravagant, very fun party.  For more sailing and event information for the Trofeo Accademia Navale in Livorno, Italy.   

Mardis Gras Regatta Winners Get Beads and Silver?

J/22 and J/24 Crews Last Seen Wandering Down Bourbon St
J/24 Mardis Gras winners
(New Orleans, LA)- In the "how can this possibly be so much fun, it must be illegal" department, a gregarious bunch of J/22 and J/24 crews were determined to make the most of visiting New Orleans during the infamous Mardi Gras celebration.  An intrepid group of J/22 and J/24 sailors were apparently wandering down the famous Bourbon Street having an outrageously good time.  One crew member happened to be accumulating a LOT of beads to wear around her neck.  Now, if you know anything about Mardi Gras, you "qualify" to get those beads by showing off certain "assets" to party-goers dancing in the Congo lines that spontaneously form all night long.  Needless to say, just about everyone was having a ball.

J/22 Mardis Gras winnersAs for the racing, it seems that the Congo line dancing to music was translating onto the race course with home-boy Benz Faget leading the J/22s home with nearly all firsts sailing his great yacht called, appropriately, FATS (a New Orleans famous jazz musician).  Second was Bob Muller with nearly all seconds and third was another local boy, Dwight LeBlanc III sailing WAVEMAKER well enough to almost spoil the party for Muller to snag second place.

The J/24s had a fun time themselves with Troy Cruthirds sailing JUS MAGIC into first, followed by Peter Fischel racing RUMBLEFISH in second and Kevin McCaffrey aboard SIREN getting third.

For some entertainment, you can see this YouTube Sailing Video of the Mardis Gras Regatta here.   For more Mardi Gras Regatta sailing information.   

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Copa del Rey Invites J/80 class

J/80s racing off Palma de Mallorca, Spain
(Palma de Mallorca, Spain)- The J/80 class has been invited to participate in one of the most prestigious events on the Spanish sailing calendar, the eponymous Copa del Rey held on the beautiful bay and waters off Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  The event is hosted by the Real Club Nautico de Palma e Mallorca and includes select one-design classes, IRC and Maxi boats.  The regatta will run from July 30th to August 6th.  The entry limit is 40 boats and 5 berths have been reserved for foreign (non-Spanish) competitors, so please chose your best team and make an early entry.  If you wish to sail, you can find more information on sailing a J/80 in Copa del Rey.   

Topsport Flanders Regatta Invites All J/One-Designs

J/80 belgium racing week in nieuwpoort, belgiumJ/22s, J/24s, J80s Invited
(Nieuwpoort, Belgium)- Every year the week of racing off Nieuwpoort brings great camaraderie and excellent competition. This year, the Topsport Flanders Week organizers are extending invitations to participate to all J/22, J/24 and J/80 sailors who wish to avail themselves to wonderful Belgian hospitality.  The regatta runs from July 2nd to 6th.  If you wish to participate in the competition, you can find all information here-   

Classic Cabo Race- Preview

J/111 sailing Cabo Race to Mexico
J "Musketeers" Speeding Down The Beach!
(Newport Beach, CA)- Forecasts are looking good for a classic offshore California event, the Cabo Race to take place this coming weekend.  That classic sprint going south down the California and Mexico coastline to that quintessential beach town called "Cabo".  With any luck, the fleet will be treated to early jib reaching that turns into more high-speed spinnaker reaching as the fleet moves south and winds typically move more into the NW quadrants.

For the J trio participating, leading the charge down the track should be Tom Hothus' J/145 BAD PAAK from San Diego, CA.  BAD PAAK is a veteran SoCal offshore racer and is a known speedster in these conditions, hoping to add a bit more silverware to their already impressive collection that includes TransPac Race wins.  Running neck and neck down the coast may be the veteran J/124 GOOD CALL sailed by Tom Barker from San Diego and the "new kid on the block", the J/111 speedster INVISIBLE HAND sailed by that fun-loving crew from San Francisco Bay, Frank Slootman and crew.  Given the fact that winds could hit 15-20+ knots with TWA's on starboard tack running around 110 to 140 degrees, it could be an epic ride down the coast for this gang of serious speedsters- a den of trophy-hunting thieves thicker than the "three musketeers."  We wish them luck and look forward to following their progress down the track.
For more Cabo Race tracking and sailing information.   

San Diego NOOD Regatta Preview

J/105 sailing off San Diego
A J/Festival of J/24s, 80s, 105 and 120s
(San Diego, CA)-  Starting this weekend, the Sperry Topsider NOOD Regatta in San Diego expects to have some good winds and weather.  There's a strong turnout of J's, particularly the J/120 and J/105 classes, including the J/24s and the J/80s, making up most of the biggest fleets at this years' STNR-SD.

As the largest fleet in the regatta, the seventeen boat J/105 fleet has attracted a good out-of-town contingent, including teams from Chicago, Blane Shea on TEAM STRIKING and Clark Pellett on J-OK.   The local California contingent will be strong as always, including John Howell on BLINK!, Don Poppe on the champion ROCK & ROLL from Santa Barbara, past champions Dennis and Sharon Case on WINGS and Rich Bergman on ZUNI BEAR.  There's no telling with this fleet how the results will pan out but, as in past San Diego NOODs, it often comes down to the last race!

The J/120 fleet has a strong turnout with eight very competitive boats.  Sure to be in the hunt for class honors will be past champions Chuck Nichols on CC RIDER, John Laun's CAPER, Peter Zarcades MELTEMI and perhaps even Jed Olenick on DOCTOR NO.

Showing great resilience, the local J/24s gang are showing up in force with an excellent fleet of twelves J/24s showing up to vie for top dog in SoCal.  Hard to handicap this group, but certainly amongst the leaders will be current North American Champion Pat Toole on 3 BIG DOGS from Santa Barbara, past National/ NA Champion Chris Snow on BOGUS (one of North Sails top one-design leaders) and past NOOD Champion Susan Taylor on TAKE FIVE.  It should be quite a fight amongst these three boats for the top three.

Finally, the J/80s have showed up in force as well.  Talk about out-of-towners, the long-distance award must surely go to Nizar Abuzeni sailing ARROW from St. Paul, MN and the St. Croix Sailing Club (USVI).  Past NOOD Champion Curt Johnson sailed AVET will be a contender as most likely will be John Steen on UNDERDOG, Kurt Wiese on 1316 and Mark Hunter on IN-APPROPRIATE.  For more Sperry Topsider NOOD Regatta- San Diego sailing information.   

Rolex Block Island Race Week & J/122 North Americans

J/122 sailing Rolex Block Island Race Week(Block Island, RI- June 20-24)- This year's Rolex Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week serves as both the 2011 IRC East Coast Championship and the J/122 National Championship. The event also will feature the debut of a new J/111 class and has eliminated former PHRF restrictions that will open up the event to more sailors.  Boats will be competing for individual class trophies daily and Rolex watches as overall prizes for top performances on each of the racing circles. A traditional around-the-island distance race will also be included, with a Rolex watch to be awarded to the top IRC boat.

The J/105 class, which is known for holding the longest one-design participation record in the history of the regatta, has always had a strong fleet and already six boats, out of an expected 24 or more, have signed up. 'There has been J/105 class racing at Block Island since 1996, and we have been there every year,' said Nelson Weiderman (Wickford, R.I.), owner of the J/105 Kima. 'It is a family vacation for us, and I’m hoping to have my daughter and two sons join us with their children. The family thing is big for me, and a week-long event is highly unusual, so there will be beach time for all who do not race.'

Weiderman, who sailed Kima to victory in the 2010 New England Solo/Twin, said he isn’t necessarily expecting to win at Block Island the year. 'Our best year at Block Island was when we came in second (1998),' said Weiderman. 'Coming in top half would be great, but having fun is of primary importance.'

Unlike the veteran J/105 class, the J/111 class will be testing out Block Island Race Week waters for the first time in history. 'There won’t be too many boats at Block Island, since it is the first regatta for the class and only around sixty hulls have been sold,' said David Tortorello (Fairfield, Conn.), owner of the J/111 PARTNERSHIP. 'We sold our J/122 of three years and are waiting on the new PARTNERSHIP, which is still in the box.'

Tortorello is no stranger to the regatta and has participated for many years, including in 2007 and 2009 aboard the J/122 PARTNERSHIP. 'It is more fun than you’ll ever have. The whole group is one big happy family, and Block Island is the best venue around here.'    For more Block Island sailing information.   

Light Start to Warsash Spring Series

J/80 sailing Warsash Spring Series
(Warsash, Southampton Water, England)- The Warsash Spring Series lived up to its name on Sunday 12th March, when the first day's racing was held. Early risers may have been greeted by the sound of foghorns and a fine if persistent drizzle but as some 1,000 sailors made their way to the sailing area, conditions steadily improved. The fog lifted and the sun appeared. The breeze however was very light at times.

On the Black Group committee boat, stationed on the Ryde Middle bank, the race officers were pleased that the forecast veer from south to north-west happened early. A short postponement of 30 minutes enabled the wind to steady and satisfactory courses could be set. Initially these included a cascade of windward/leeward legs finishing off Lee Point. In the event, with the development of windless patches and with time marching on, Black Group courses were shortened at the fourth or sixth mark.  All competitors were pleased to complete within the limit and gain their first result on a difficult but challenging day. Back at Warsash Sailing Club competitors were able to relax in the clubhouse garden where the weekly champagne prizes for class winners were presented in the balmy spring-like conditions.

J/111 rounding mark during Warsash Spring seriesIn Black Fleet IRC 1 Class, Nial Dowling's J/111 ARABELLA had a tough go of it in the crazy conditions as one of the little boats in the big boat class, getting a 5th correct.  As one competitor put it, "very light 5kt winds with big holes this week. We were fully parked with all the zeros on the log for about 20 min. Obviously a lovely 12 knots filled in as we motored in…"

In IRC 3 Class, the J's faired a bit better, managing to navigate around the "black holes" that developed on the course a bit better than most. John Taylor's J/92 J'RENIMO was third and Mike, Jamie Holme's J/97 JIKA-JIKA was fourth and Andy Howe's J/92 BLACKJACK was seventh.  However, after Bill Blain's J/97 BATFISH IV and Chris Jones' J/105 JOURNEYMAKER V get their IRC ratings squared away, we might see the standings jumbled yet again!

J/109 offshore one-designs sailing on SolentThe sixteen boat strong J/109 class had another strong start to their highly competitive series.  After the dust settled, the top three finished with a minute of each other.  Leading the charge home was VELVET ELVIS in first, followed by Paul Griffith's JAGERBOMB in second, JUST SO in third, Paul and Kirsty Apthorp's champion J-DREAM fourth and SHIVA fifth.  The J/109s had the benefit of watching the starts of IRC 1 & 2, when many of the boats had been late due to the strong tide keeping them back from the line.  The J/109 Class hit the line on time and at speed and saw J-DREAM (David & Kirsty Apthorp) and VELVET ELVIS (Velvet Elvis Racing) continue their battle from 2010.  Whilst that battle ensued JAGERBOMB (Paul Griffiths) who were new to the fleet in 2010 rounded the windward mark, hoisted their spinnaker and set off downwind to the first passing mark.  VELVET ELVIS and J-DREAM were left in their wake.  JAHMAIL (Mike & Sarah Wallis), SHIVA (Matt Boyle) and DESIGNSTAR (Roger Phillips) were all hot on their heels.  JAHMAIL was caught out by the passing mark and had to drop her spinnaker to make it round – costing her 4th position.  During the long run to JAGERBOMB had disappeared into the distance and did not appear to suffer from lack of wind which affected most of the fleet. JUST SO (David & Mary McGough) and JUMPING JELLYFISH (David Richards) maintained momentum and made big gains.  A further beat saw newcomers to the fleet JET (Alan Neilson) overtake DESIGNSTAR and AUDAJIOUS (David Jobson) before engaging with ME JULIE (Dom Monkhouse) and JAHMAIL.  This battle continued to the finish when ME JULIE was the middle of the sandwich and crossed the finish line 24 secs behind JAHMAIL and 28 seconds ahead of JET.

The final beat saw JAGERBOMOB and VELVET ELVIS push each other off Ryde Bank into the tide which left J-DREAM unsure whether to go with them, or to cover JUST SO, SHIVA and OFFBEAT (David McLeman) who had all chosen to stay on the bank out of the tide.  VELVET ELVIS and JAGERBOMB were having a great battle.  VELVET ELVIS managed to climb above her, preventing JAGERBOMB from tacking to cross the finish line.  A quick tack from VELVET ELVIS allowed them to snatch victory.

J/80s sailing- rounding mark at Warsash spring seriesThe J/80s are again sailing multiple races and managed to get in three before retiring for the day to the Shore House for Pimms and Guinness and to watch the England vs Scotland International rugby match.  Simply dominating the first day of racing for the dozen sailors on the Southampton Water was none other the SPITFIRE gang, they were absolutely on fire!  Skipper Tony Hanlon of the Spitfire Team managed to fire off three 1st to win the day with a measly 3 points.  A tough hombre behind them was John Cooper on OI! rattling off a 2-6-3 in the goofy wind conditions to get second for the day.  Patrick Liardet sailing AQUA-J was third only one point back with a 6-4-2.  Fourth was Terry Palmer on JUST DO IT and fifth was Dan Brown on HENRI LLOYD SHOCKWAVE.

With eager anticipation race 1 got underway and it was clear that the tide over Hill Head plateau was just as dubious as the 30deg wind shift up the first beat. The fleet came together at the windward mark which was really exciting for the hoist battle. A reach to the next mark certainly reminded everyone how important it is to trim trim trim but still the fleet was incredibly close together. Fast forward to the final down-wind leg – the fleet were still really close but at the finish it was Tony Hanlon’s “Spitfire” taking line honours, followed by John Cooper’s “Oi!” and Stewart Hawthorne’s “Jumpin’ Jenga” 3rd.

J/80 sailing upwind at Warsash spring seriesRace 2 saw pretty much the same conditions with much more tide – many boats elected for the committee boat end but struggled to cross the line on starboard, a rather cheeky port tack flyer by Terry Palmer’s “Just Do It” gave the needed boost for the first beat with many boats tacking onto port as soon as a gap appeared. Many boats went hard inshore up the beats which should have aided with cheating the tide but this wasn’t the case. At the first windward mark it was Cowes based Douglas Neville-Jones with “Jasmine” leading the fleet chased by “Spitfire” then “Just Do It”. A matter of picking your gybe correctly was the call and “Spitfire” edged into the lead. On the next beat it was all about drag-racing and who could speed up towards the windward mark, “Spitfire” held the lead but closely chased by “Just Do It”. On the run a shortened course was called by the Race Officer and “Spitfire” took her second win of the day followed hot on her heels was “Just Do It” and then “Jasmine”

In an effort to get the fleet home, the Race Officer repositioned the start at the leeward gate of the SB3 course and a new course was issued for the final race. No one can argue that the J/80 fleet aren’t competitive as Race 3’s first attempt saw many of the fleet OCS and a general recall was called. The second attempt got away with only an individual recall and just after the start the wind decided to back 30 degrees  thus making those on the left hand side of the beat control the windward mark. The fleet like in Race 1 was incredibly close throughout the race until the final beat to the finish. Patrick Liardet and “Aqua-J” performed what can only be called a master-class as she sailed out to the right hand side of the course and performed a slingshot into the finish pretty much overtaking everyone. But it was the team of “Spitfire” again showing her transom to the fleet taking the final race (and a clean sheet may I add) of the day with “Aqua-J” second and “Oi!” third.   For more Warsash Spring Series sailing results
Sailing Photo credits- Eddie Mays