Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Team LUCA Wins J/24 Worlds

Team Luca- J/24 Worlds winners- sailing off ArgentinaSouth American Teams 8 of Top 10!
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)- The 2011 J/24 Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina sailed this past week had 58 crews from 9 countries.  It marked the first time in decades that Americans did not factor as the principal leading boats in the top five.  Instead, the South American teams continue to chip away at the J/24 world order once led by mostly Europeans, Australians and Americans.  This year's regatta may be seen as a watershed event as it was clear the South American teams continue to ascend into the top ranks of the J/24 class worldwide and are raising the level of their game quite significantly.  This year, Argentina’s Alejo Rigoni sailing LUCA with crew Gustavo Gonzalez, Joaquín Duarte Argerich, Fernando Gwozdz and Sergio Armesto are crowned the 2011 J/24 World Champion after securing the victory on the final day of racing. Rigoni's LUCA is the first Argentine team to have won the J/24 Worlds in the three decades the J/24s have been racing worldwide as the world's largest international one-design keelboat class.

J/24 one-design sailboat- sailing J/24 Worlds ArgentinaAfter the first three days of racing, the American Tim Healy of Newport, Rhode Island was at the top of the leader board leading by nearly 20 points, a seemingly unassailable lead at a World's event.  However, as they say in "da'islands", it was "movin day, mon."  Just over the hump of the middle stages in the regatta, either you show that consistency or you crack.  And when the cracks form in the veneer of impenetrability, sometimes things don't turn out so well or as one would want it to be.  In this case, 11TH HOUR RACING sailed by Healy's team saw some of the "wheels fall of their shopping trolley".  Two races were completed on the third day under sunny skies with winds ranging from 10 to 18 knots. After a general recall in each race, Principal Race Officer Teodoro Kundig was again quick to hoist the black flag to keep the aggressive fleet under control.  And this little black flag would prove the undoing of many teams.  In the day’s first race 18 of the 58 boats (including Healy) were scored BFD after two general recalls under the black flag. On the next attempt the fleet finally got away and Peru’s Luis Olcese hit the pin end start perfectly. Olcese led the fleet until the final few meters when he was run down by Alejo Rigoni who took the win. Conditions were more challenging for the second race as the wind had again built to around 18 knots, kicking up a very confused sea. Healy rebounded from his black flag disqualification to win the race going away followed by local favorite Matias Pereira in second.

Argentine J/24 Women's sailing team- Top Women at J/24 WorldsThe morning of the last day dawned with a weather forecast sure to strike fear in the hearts of the top contenders.  It was certainly going to be a challenge to get a race going before noon.  The RC tried to get something started in the morning and actually did start a race on the first try under black flag with the current running away from the line. The wind quickly died, as everyone expected, forcing the race to be abandoned. At 1430 the wind had finally filled enough to race and the event’s riveting, drama-laden final ninth race, also started on the first try under the black flag!  American Mike Ingham on RELOADED led at the first mark, and wound up third at the end to move up to third overall in the standings.  Francisco van Avermaete of Argentina on MENDIETTA won the last race to secure the 4th place overall.  Luis Olcese on GUERRERO from Peru finished second overall, a remarkably strong performance and the best ever by a Peruvian team in the J/24 Worlds!  Of special note was the best finish by a Uruguayan team was Pedro Garra on EXTASIS in 9th overall, the best Chilean team was Matias Seguel's team on Team VOLVO in 10th overall.  Also, the top Italian team was Ignazio Bonnanino on SUPERBA in 20th overall and top Australian was Sean Kirkjian on DEATHSTAR in 30th.  Brazil's past J/24 World Champion, Mauricio Santa Cruz, had to bail from the Worlds for personal reasons, so top Brazilian team was Nelson Horn Ilha on DIFERENCIAL SAILING TEAM in 37th.  Congratulations must go to the top Womens' team (pictured here), an Argentinean crew led by Mariana Crousse on NUBARRON with six women leading the charge into a very respectable 32nd place, a top half finish and beating half the American J/24 teams!  Sailing photo credits- Jorge Cousillas/ El Ojo Nautico.   For more J/24 Worlds sailing information   J/24 Worlds Youtube video- an entertaining view sailing on an Argentine J/24 team.

Summer Sailing In Hamble Winter Series

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing off Hamble Winter Series J/97 JIKA-JIKA Leads the IRC3 Pack
(Hamble, England)- The recent stunning weather lasted long enough to bathe Sunday’s Garmin Hamble Winter Series racing in a beautiful sunshine and light breeze. All classes enjoyed some close racing and many remarked on the champagne sailing conditions that felt more like a summer’s day than the distant end of November.

After an hour’s postponement to allow a thick "pea-souper" fog to clear enough for the race committee to see their own start-line, racing got underway in 9 to 12 knots of breeze, which oscillated from 090 to 110 degrees.

Some over-enthusiastic jockeying by the combined IRC 0 and IRC 1 starters saw a General Recall and the use of a Z flag on the restart. Nevertheless, the J/133 JINGS! managed to stay away from the fray and post a good score to stay in the top five in IRC 0, snagging their fifth 4th place in a row to maintain, appropriately enough, fourth place overall (and are just 2 pts out of third).  In IRC 1, Ivan Trotman's J/122 JOLOU sailed a good race to finish 4th and fourth position in a tie with Chaz Ivill's J/111 JENGA VI.  In fact, 2nd to 8th are all within 7 points of each other, making it the proverbial horse race for the second and third spots on the podium, presuming of course the leader doesn't' stumble too badly.

J/109 sailboats- sailing downwind at Hamble Winter SeriesThe J/109s followed suit, jumping the gun but finally getting a good race off.  This time it was David Richard's JUMPING JELLYFISH showing up for the first time all Winter Series long and managed to post a first, beating series leaders, Richard and Valerie Griffith's OUTRAJEOUS by 40 seconds.    Third in the race and still second in the series was Dave and Mary McGough's JUST SO.  This last race puts the next three teams in a nearly three-way tie for third overall-- it's getting tougher to maintain consistency for some of these teams over the course of four fortnights!  In their current order are 3rd, Paul Griffiths' JAGERBOMB with 21 pts, fourth David Jobson's AUDAJIOUS also with 21 pts and fifth is David McLeman's OFFBEAT with 23 pts.  Showing improvement over time has been Owain Franks' JYNNAN TONNYX, getting their best finish to date in the series with a fourth place.

J/97 Jika-Jika sailing downwind on Solent, EnglandIRC 3 was dominated by the up-and-coming J/97 class, with Mike and Jamie Holme's JIKA-JIKA beating Richard Watney's JEOPARDY 2 to take first place.  Five J/97s are racing in IRC 3, with JIKA-JIKA winning class by a wide margin, followed by Nick and Adam Munday's INDULJENCE 2nd in J/97s and 6th overall.  Third in the J/97s is Gillian Ross' INJENIOUS.  The two J/92s' are also having fun racing, with David Greenhalgh and John Taylor's J-RONIMO sitting in 5th and Andy Howe and Annie Kelly's BLACKJACK in 7th.

Back in a packed clubhouse, Race Day Sponsor Elvstrom Sails’ Jeremy White presented prizes for the podium positions. Next Sunday sees a full program of racing, with the first start at 1000 and the day sponsors are our Media Partners Y&Y. Let’s hope that the balmy weather holds for the rest of November!  Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth.  For more Garmin Hamble Winter Series sailing information

JALAPENO Burns Benelux J/80 Championship

J/80 sailboat- sailing Benelux National Championships (Grevelingenmeer, Belgium)- Last weekend the Benelux J/80 sailors were greeted by unseasonably warm, sunny weather like their British counterparts across La Manche (the Channel).  In the the bright weather was some "bright sailing" by Team JALAPENO, sailed by Erik Scheeren.  "Hot weather, hot boat", they played a dominant role all weekend.  The first race marked the JALAPENO boys "thankful" streak as well-- after a failed start in race one, they chose the "other side" of the field and the race course, this decision ultimately resulted in a spectacular first place in race 1!

J/80 one-design sailboat fleet- sailing off starting line- Belgium & Netherlands NationalsThe mild weather and shifty breezes resulted in position changes every race for the compact fleet.  Amazingly, the mild weather also resulted in conservative starts, no recalls, an unusual scenario for the J/80 fleet!  One team got their boat well underway while others were looking for the right settings.  Plus, while the wind strength was building gradually all day, one also had to be looking for wind streaks and stay in them.  This was especially important for finding the right course for downwind speed to the finish line.  Saturday saw a lot of good racing!  At the end of the day, Laura Vroon's JOI DE VIVRE stayed close and took a first place in race 4, but it was not hard enough to beat TEAM JALAPENO, who were hotter than hot!

On Sunday, the Grevelingenmeer was just like the rest of the Netherlands (or for that matter, the rest of Europe), with a dense fog shrouding the entire lake.  After the racing was postponed twice, it was decided not to sail anymore race.  This made for a slightly anticlimactic finish for the regatta, but despite the limited number of races, there was no dissatisfaction with the results-- it was quite clear to most all of the contestants that the superior performance of TEAM JALAPENO on Saturday made them a worthy 2011 Benelux Open Champion!  And, speaking of being "thankful", we must give "Thanks" to Tom-Erik "Chief" of the lake and Grevelingencup organization.   For more J/80 Benelux Open Championship sailing information

Monday, November 28, 2011

US Naval Academy Wins College Match Race Nationals

J/22 one-design sailboat- US Navy Sailing Team- sailing match race on San Francisco Bay, CA (San Francisco, CA)- A revolution in the making?  US Navy Midshipmen learning how to sail, plus sail fast and smart?  No one would've predicted that outcome in the recent College Sailing Match Race Nationals this fall.  After all, the US Naval Academy has been known over time for fielding some good dinghy teams, occasional good women's teams and were, of course, expected to win, place or show in their own regatta held in those massive lead-mines known as Navy 44s (hardly a sailboat, some say, as they drag half the world's Seven Seas behind them once they achieve 6.666 knots of boat speed).

J/22 sailboat- Tufts sailing team match racing at College Sloop Match Race nationalsNevertheless, the "Middies" pulled off what many see as the "coup of the century", at least in this relatively young 21st century (just 88 more years to go to break more records).  Co-hosted by the California Maritime Academy and St. Francis Yacht Club the top college sailing teams in America gathered together on the infamous San Francisco Bay to challenge one another in StFYC's matched J/22 one-design fleet to determine the top intercollegiate match racing team in America.

As some of the older college sailors will recall, the Sloop Nationals used to be a fleet-racing regatta often sailed in various locations in J/24s, Shields and what not.  Recently, the decision to change over to match-racing to reflect the times and interests of college sailors seeking new and different challenges led to this new format.  It was a popular decision that led to renewed enthusiasm for this fall classic.

Ten teams representing all seven ICSA conferences sailed the J/22s with spinnakers; each team had one skipper and two crew members aboard. Racing took place in front of the Golden Gate Bridge under a range of weather conditions including light wind, rain and strong current (to be expected, of course).

J/22 one-design sailboats- sailing college match race nationals on San Francisco BayThe first day of racing began with a southwest breeze 8 – 12 knots with shifts, a variety of puffs and an ebbing current. As the day progressed the current got stronger making pre-start techniques between the boats more difficult because they had to fight with the current and position themselves properly to beat one another at the start. The current played such a role in the start that at times boats were starting on port because they could not make the line on starboard tack, a highly unusual situation. It was a long day of racing with the race committee and volunteers completing 45 races. The US Naval Academy team of Jason Carminati skippering with team-mates Taylor Vann and Killian Corbishley lead after the first day of racing with a record of eight wins and one loss.  Roger Williams University team skippered by Alec Anderson with crew Annie Schmidt and Dylan Vogel was second with seven wins winning a tie-breaker over Tufts University-- they were skippered by sophomore Will Haeger with crew Maggie Bacon and Dave Liebenberg also with seven wins. Stanford University was in fourth with six wins.

J/22 one-design sailboat- sailng upwind off Alcatraz Island on San Francisco BayDay two racing was postponed all morning due to a lack of wind. The breeze was only 2 – 4 knots, which was not enough for the boats to sail in given the strong current on the course. At about 2 p.m. racing resumed and the format of the regatta had to be amended due to the late start. A Gold Round Robin was eliminated for the top six teams, which would have determined the seeding for them in the quarterfinals. The Repechage round instead began the day’s racing with the teams in 7th – 10th places competing for the last two spots in the quarterfinals. University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin advanced to the quarterfinals with the original top six teams. The light winds continued and the current remained a challenge for the teams especially on the downwind leg where the current swept the boats sideways across the course.

The third and last day of the event sailors were again greeted by light breeze on the Bay and the usual strong current. Sailing resumed with the remaining races in the quarterfinals as boats fought the current and light wind. The teams who advanced to the semi-finals were Navy, Stanford, Roger Williams and University of Southern Florida. In a repechage semi-final round the remaining teams sailed for 5th – 8th place. Simultaneously, a knockout round between the University of Oregon and the University of Texas A&M took place with the teams finishing 9th and 10th respectively in the event.

J/22 sailboats- sailing to starting line- college match race sailing regattaAfter all of the semi-finals racing completed it was on to the finals with a match-up between Roger Williams and Navy and University of Southern Florida (USF)(skippered by Bill Stocke with Abagail Featherstone and Chris Stocke as crew) and Stanford (skippers by Nick Dugdale with crew of Kevin Laube and McKenzie Wilson).  After the first few races there was a large wind shift and some rain came in which caused the finals and petit finals racing to be postponed. With everything re-set the racing continued with Stanford and USF in the petit finals and Roger Williams and Navy in the finals. Stanford won the petit finals placing third at Nationals and USF therefore finished 4th.  Going into the third finals race the racing was close and Navy and Roger Williams were all tied up. The breeze had increased with the wind shift making for better sailing at this point. In the end Navy took the last race winning Match Race Nationals and Roger Williams finished second in some fantastic sailing.

Ian Burman, head coach for the US Naval Academy Sailing Team attributes their success to having a strong keel boat skipper Jason Carminati ‘12, who placed third at Sloop Nationals two years ago and great crew work on the boat by Taylor Vann ‘13 and Killian Corbishley ‘14. “Really a great deal of the credit for our success goes to our assistant coach Brendan Healy who lead the charge in match racing and was with the team every step of the way. It was a real team effort and we also had a lot of people practice with us and give us a lot of help so that we were prepared for anything at this event,” explains Burman.

St. Francis Yacht Club and California Maritime put on a great event along with the help of volunteers and umpires who are an integral part of match racing. The racing was competitive and in challenging conditions, but the Chicago Match Race center kept viewers up to date with live video feed and Twitter updates.    Sailing photo credits- Chris Ray  For more ICSA College Match Racing sailing results.

Cherry Defends RYA National Match Race Crown

(London, England)- Racing J/80s on the Queen Mary Reservoir just underneath the flight paths from Heathrow Airport, Nick Cherry defended his RYA National Match Racing title this weekend for the fourth time! Eleven teams showed up to do battle, with skippers and their crews having earned their berths at the grand final through five qualifying rounds, their positions in the ISAF Match Racing world rankings, or as defending champion.

In addition to Southampton’s Cherry, the impressive line-up of teams that qualified include Skandia Team GBR and Women’s Match Racing World Champion, Lucy Macgregor; Britain’s top ISAF ranked skipper, Poole’s Mark Lees; and Mark Campbell-James who holds three RYA National Match Championship titles (2009, 2008, 2005).  "The kids" also joined the party in the form of the RYA’s Youth National Match Racing Champion James French. Said young James before the regatta stared, “We are really looking forward to the finals at the Queen Sailing Club where we will have the opportunity to race against some of the best match racers in the country. We are as prepared as we can be and are looking forward to competing against a lot of the older teams at the event. Having competed in the Governor’s Cup, I hope my experience will pay dividends and that we can get a good result come the end of play on Sunday."  This group of match-racing mercenaries all got underway Friday morning (18 November) with a 22 flight round-robin which was followed by knock-out quarter-final and semi-final rounds before the Champion was to be decided in the final round on Sunday 20 November. 

J/80 one-design sailboats- match race sailing in England at RYA regattaAt the end of the day, the event was overshadowed by frustrating sailing conditions across the course of the three day regatta only allowing for a number of round robin races to take place. With an array of match racing talent in attendance at Queen Mary Sailing Club (Staines), the first day of the grand final welcomed a promising 10-12 knots allowing for nine flights to take place before poor light meant racing was abandoned mid-afternoon.

Day two of the Championships was another slow start for the 11 teams who had qualified for the event over the course of the year. With light, intermittent winds flicking left to right, the race committee managed to make it through to flight 15 by the close of play on day two (Saturday 19th November).

With no racing on the Sunday due to heavy fog (!?), Nick Cherry was awarded the prestigious title on his percentage of wins in the round robin stages. Across the two days of racing, Cherry and his crew won six out of the seven races while Mark Campbell-James won seven but lost two therefore finishing in second place with a lower percentage of wins to that of Cherry. Skandia Team GBR’s Lucy Macgregor finished the weekend in third after winning three out of her four races.

On winning the trophy for a second consecutive year and for a staggering fourth time (2011, 2010, 2007, 2006), matching that of fellow match racer Mark Campbell-James who finished runner-up for a second consecutive year, Cherry commented: “We are delighted to win! Looking at the trophy Mark CJ is the only skipper with his name on it as many times and one was a first equal - So I’m claiming the most outright wins of this trophy!  

Cherry skippered his crew of Matty Adams, Connor Myant, Sam Richmond to a total of six out of seven race wins giving them an 85.7% win percentage clinching them the 2011 RYA National Match Racing title.

“One of the main things that went well was our draw in the pairing list! We ended up racing most of the lower ranked teams and none of the top seeds so have to acknowledge that was a factor. Our closest race was against BUSA ladies, skippered by my girlfriend Charlotte Lawrence which after several lead changes came down to inches at the finish. That was certainly a battle I was glad to win,” said Cherry.

“Although I haven't done a lot of match racing this year due to my focus on the Figaro with the Artemis Offshore Academy, we have sailed as a team for a long time and were always confident we could put up a good fight. Going into the event I would have certainly put Skandia Team GBR’s Lucy Macgregor and her crew as favourites, having trained with them earlier in the year it's obvious that their hard work and new coaching setup has made them a strong unit. I was also looking forward to a good race with Team Wight Match, having crewed for Sam in Bermuda last month it could have been a bit of a grudge match if there had been wind on Sunday!”

Cherry added: “We had some good close races this year, however I think the key to our success was always sailing in a low risk style by just doing enough to get the points on the board. Out teamwork is also a crucial factor in our success as well as our experience and of course this weekend the weather was also a big factor.”

The event this year has been a huge success and an enormous "Thank You" on behalf of everyone must go to the Royal Thames Yacht Club for all their help and support in running yet another successful RYA National Match Racing Championship.  For further sailing information on the RYA National Match Racing

ECC VIVIENDAS Leads El Trofeo Maqueche

J/80 sailboats- sailing into starting line at Santander, Spain (Santander, Spain)- If the previous weekends were tough on the past J/80 World Champion, it was clear that Pichu Torcida and team were not going to take the defeats lightly.  This past weekend, with spectacular winds, sun, gusty westerlies in the Bay of Santander, the J/80s were simply flying around everywhere, most of the time upright!  After a month worth of October's light wind conditions, the sailors were happy to see the more typical breezes of this time of year.

J/80 sailboats- sailing on reach off Santander, SpainThis regatta is fun because it incorporates both buoy racing and "coastal tours" for the 20 sailing teams that were participating.  The coastal tours were starting and finishing in front of the Club Maritimo and turns in front of Marina Beacon Bay of Biscay in Camargo, and turns near the Isla Horadada. The sections of the course heading west saw spinnakers hoisted, vibrant in color, pulling with enormous power, with boats exploding off the tops of waves.

The best team of the day was ECC VIVIENDAS, with Pichu Torcida scoring a 2-1 for 3 pts.  They were three points clear of a three-way tie for second place, which included Paul Santurde/ Dave Madrazo's GO FIT with a 1-5, SOLUCIONES CINCO's Alfredo Gonzalez with a 4-2 and NEXTEL's 3-3.

Watch this group of world-class sailors continue to duel for the top of the podium over the next few weeks, a bunch of tough hombres who don't give any quarter in the tightest of situations.  For more Spanish J/80 sailing information

Sunday, November 27, 2011

J/80 GO FIT Wins Trofeo A&G Private Banking

J/80 sailing team - Go Fit sailing off Santander, Spain (Santander, Spain)- After a break at the end of the summer, the Spanish J/80 teams are at it again, sailing their fall and winter series on both the chilly Bay of Biscay on Spain's northern Cantabrian coastline and the warm, sunny, southern climates along the southern coastlines in the Mediterranean.

Off Santander, twenty-eight teams congregated to sail for the honors of the coveted Trofeo A&G Private Banking.  Top Spanish J/80 sailors, Jaime Piris (FONESTAR) and David Madrazo (GO FIT), shared the wins in the two days of racing sailed on a "spring-like" weekend.  The J/80 class returned to enjoy a weekend of excellent afternoon racing in the Open Sardinero with spring weather and a fairly steady northeast wind of 8 knots.  The races were very exciting, with many options and opportunities for different parts of the course to gain and lose.  However, it seemed that the northern part of the course farthest from land paid over the parts on the downwind legs.

The day opened with two strong candidates to win the Trofeo A&G Private Banking, which were Pichu Torcida's ECC VIVIENDAS and Dave Madrazo's GO FIT, separated by only 2 points.  The first race of the day proved to be a determining factor in the series.  While FONESTAR's Jaime Piris won and MAQUECHE's Alfonso Pascual and Iñaki Samaniego finished second, it was GO FIT's Madrazo who had a fierce fight to beat OPTICA CENTRALE for third place to retain a slim one point lead going into the last race over Torcida's ECC VIVIENDAS.

For the final race of the weekend and the series, it was going to be a big battle between GO FIT and ECC VIVIENDAS.  In the end, GO FIT maintained control of the race and took the final race to become the overall winner after eight races.  It was quite an accomplishment for Madrazo to win over Pichu Torcida, a two-time J/80 World Champion!  Behind these two, the rest of the top five included third- LUPA (Obregon), fourth- BANCAJA (Lopez-Vazquez) and fifth- MAQUECHE (Pascual).   For more Spanish J/80 sailing information

Miami-Nassau Cup Race update

(Nassau, Bahamas)- Last week, we reported on the Miami-Nassau Race and why it has retained its popularity with many sailors over the course of time because of its allure as one of ocean racing's "classic" offshore courses- challenging, beautiful, often a sleigh-ride and a fun destination to get to when the racing's all said and done.  We received an update from one of the crew-members sailing aboard the J/105 Team LOKI.  Read on and enjoy Anson Mulder's commentary:

"On Nov 10, LOKI joined 16 other boats off Government Cut in Miami for the start of the Miami to Nassau ocean race . The 176 nm race course was wedged between a high pressure system to the northwest and Tropical Storm Sean to the northeast, so the forecast was for a meaty northerly gradient in the low to mid teens, with the potential for 20 knots in the Gulfstream.  However, NOAA broke its promise and much of the race was sailed in 8-11 knots, which- combined with an incredibly bright full moon - made for a memorably pleasant overnight ocean race.

Team LOKI launched the 1.5oz A3 reacher amid a cluster of boats in the PHRF start and soon was out near the front of the pack with the leaders, including J120s CARINTHIA, HOT TICKET, and TAMPA GIRL. The Gulf Stream proved more confused than menacing and the anticipated big seas/big waves never materialized. By moonrise, LOKI was around Great Isaac and by Great Stirrup the nav lights on the leaders were still in sight - a sign that LOKI was probably leading the PHRF fleet on corrected time.

The sun brought with it light winds in the morning of Nov 11 and the NW breeze meant a dead run under the .6oz A2 to New Providence Island. It was hard for the LOKI crew to forget last year's blast reach across the Tongue of the Ocean, regularly hitting boat speeds in the teens. As the leaders called in their finish times, the Lokies knew it would be close with the J/120s.  A picturesque finish in impossibly blue water under the eye of the lighthouse left LOKI the winner of PHRF 2 class and 4th overall - 30 seconds behind CARINTHIA and 30 seconds ahead of TAMPA GIRL!"

J Sailors- Winning & Surviving on World Stage

Ken Read's Volvo 70- PUMA Mar Mostro- surviving under jury rig* Win Some, Lose Some.  Tough week for "los amigos y hermanos de J/24s".  For starters, kindred J/24 spirits in Argentina were winning the J/24 Worlds.  But, their mentors and heroes were suffering interminable bad breaks.  For one, Ken Read's Volvo 70 PUMA Mar Mastro suffered the worst fate anyone of us could imagine, watching their super high-tech Scott Ferguson/ Hall Spars custom special carbon uber-rig simply fall over the side in three pieces in just 20+ knot winds in a long period 10-12 foot swell about 3 pm UTC off Brazil, about 700 nm from nowhere on Monday, November 21st.  What gives?  Maybe a symptom of the massive forces/ acceleration experienced in the first 48 hours of the race?  Certainly the conditions back then were bad enough to knock two of their competitors out of contention already (Abu Dhabi and Team Sanya).  Nevertheless, they're still "Thankful" for surviving to date.  Also, still surviving (and leading) are Iker Martinez on TELEFONICA, the ETNZ CAMPER boys and the French Connection on-board Franck Camas's team on GROUPAMA.

J/24 World Champion Terry Hutchinson sailing AC45 catamaran at Americas Cup World Series* A world apart and surviving in a tactical way was Terry Hutchinson on ARTEMIS RACING.  Sailing strongly in the America's Cup World Series on the AC45 cats in the racing leading up to the final days, Terry's team were handily in the top four.  But a shift here, a hole there and in the blink of an eye (e.g. 30 seconds) their hopes were dashed from competing for the finals.  Next up?  First race in 2012 is in Italy followed by Newport in late June!  Should be quite a sight to see these 45 foot cats flying around Narragansett Bay at light speeds between Castle Hill Light and the Newport Bridge!  Maybe some wise guy named Larry will show up with an AC72 foot version and show it off, too!?  Now, that would be very, very cool.

J/42 Survives Massive Tropical Storm

* Shane's J/42 Survives Massive Tropical Storm "Sean" Sailing to Caribbean- long-time J/Boat owner Shane Creamer (J/32 and J/42) recently experienced real survival while delivering his J/42 BARUNA from the Chesapeake Bay down to Antigua in the Caribbean.  Here's Shane's account as reported by Bob Warner at the The Philadephia Enquirer-

"Tropical Storm Sean was barely a blip at the end of the 2011 hurricane season, a disturbance that developed in early November in the South Atlantic and eventually veered northeast toward Bermuda, never getting within 200 miles of the U.S. mainland.

It was no blip, however, for the executive director of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, J. Shane Creamer Jr., who battled 60 m.p.h. winds and 20-foot waves for four days while skippering a 42-foot sailboat through the storm.

"You've read about things like this, but you don't understand it until you go through it," Creamer said Monday, back at work but still sore from two cracked ribs - one the result of a shipboard stumble, the other suffered when he was knocked overboard by a wave in the middle of the storm.

Creamer just turned 50 and was celebrating with a 1,700-mile trip from the Chesapeake to Antigua in the Caribbean, aboard a J-42 sailboat named Baruna after the Hindu god of the sea. He had three crew members - his girlfriend, Jennifer Eckert, and two friends from Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"We were using a professional weather routing service, and they'd send e-mails to us over the satellite phone," Creamer said. "We were already in our third day, across the Gulf Stream and several hundred miles from shore, when we were advised we'd encounter a system with sustained winds over 40 knots."

When the storm hit, actual winds reached over 50 knots (50 knots equals 57.6 m.p.h.), and the waves were too high for the boat to head in any direction but downwind - luckily, south-southwest, the same general direction the party wanted to go.

About halfway through the storm, 450 miles off the coast of Florida, a wave broke over the boat, knocking out its communication equipment and instruments. Another wave knocked the boat on its side and Creamer slipped into the water, but he was wearing a harness tethered to the boat and was able to climb back on, with help.

Eckert was hit in the pelvis by a flying refrigerator hatch, and another crew member, John Danly, was thrown from his berth into a steel ceiling rail - bending the rail but leaving himself unable to straighten his leg for the next six weeks.

The battered boat and crew limped into Antigua after 11 days, roughly on schedule. But Creamer needed five days to arrange for repairs and missed last week's meeting of the Ethics Board - the first he had missed since he got the job in 2005.

"You learn a lot about yourself and the people you're sailing with," Creamer said. "Everybody stayed calm, nobody panicked and the boat came through. . . . I don't want to go through it again any time soon, but on one level I'm glad I've seen that and survived it."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Perfect Sailing Gift- The 2012 J-Sailing Calendar

J-Sailing Calendar 2012 The Perfect Gift For People Who Love Sailing!
(Newport, RI)- For 2012 we've created another beautiful calendar for J sailors who love the joys of sailing a J in some of the most spectacular harbors and waters of the world.  Whether you are a cruising, racing or armchair sailor, these stunning sailboat photographs will  transport you to wonderful sailing experiences in far away places. Enjoy the color and excitement of J sailing with these gorgeous photos. The calendar features photos of a J/44 powering upwind off Key West, a flying J/24 on the Chesapeake, J/125s dueling on San Francisco Bay, surrealistic scenes of J/80s off the Cantabrian and Brittany Coasts, a J/120 and J/95 playing in the azure waters of the Caribbean and J/105s parading past Alcatraz in a pastel of colors.  A great gift for loved ones, family, friends and crew!    See the 2012 J/Calendar and order now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CO-PILOTES Dominates French J/80 Nationals

J/80 sailing French Nationals off Saint Cast, France (Saint Cast, France)- The record fleet of seventy-four boats were treated to a superb weekend of sailing in the 2011 French J/80 Nationals, hosted in Saint Cast along the Bay of Biscay by Centre Nautique Saint Cast.  The event also marked the "changing of the guard" amongst the leaders in the French fleet.  Many of the top teams that had been dominating the standings all season long found themselves fighting for contention at the top of the fleet.  A new leader emerged that probably surprised everyone in the fleet, the team of CO-PILOTES for YC Granville won sailed by the team of Benoit Charon, Christian Ponthieu, Gael Fichet and Olivier Camebourg.  And, they won BIG!  Twenty four points big after seven races!

The first day of racing dawned with spectacular sailing conditions.  Gorgeous weather, moderate breeze, sunny.  Most importantly, the 74 boat strong fleet managed to get in three races on the first day.  It was an impressive level of competition.  At the end of the first day, the leader-board saw Yannick Le Clech's COTE D'ARMOR BLANC in first with an 8-2-5, followed by Charon's CO-PILOTES in second with a 2-13-4 and Clement Guihot's APCC J-PRANGOO in third with a 7-6-15.  Clearly, high scores for all in the top three.

J80 sailboat- rounding mark at French Nationals, Saint Cast, FranceDay two was a tough day for most teams.  Only two races were sailed that put a premium on getting clear lanes, clear air and to the correct side of the course.  Large gains and losses happened to many of the teams.   After a delay due to the presence of haze, driven by the wind, the fleet sailed in light ESE winds from 2 to 9 knots under clear skies and mild temperatures.  A pretty day for sailing, but tough on the tacticians!  There was a tremendous premium on getting off the starting to get to where you needed to go.  And, the multiple general recalls only heightened the anxiety for the top skippers in the fleet.  After the clouds of dust cleared from the battlefield, a new leader emerged to lead the pack, Charon's CO-PILOTES overcame great odds to win both races!  Dropping back significantly was Le Clech's COTE D'ARMOR BLANC with a 9-DSQ.  Ascending rapidly up the ladder was Quentin Ponroy's JIINGLE with a record of 3-10-24-12-7, good for third overall going into the final day of racing.

J80s sailing around mark off  FranceThe third and last day of the French J/80 Nationals was an opportunity for the committee to launch two nice races in a 12-15 knot wind, an ideal setting for the final, determining races in the regatta. The best performances of the day went to top French women skipper, Christine Briand, racing J'ILE DE RE to a 5-6, and also to Simon Moriceau sailing INTERFACE CONCEPT III to an 8-2.  As a result, the top five again saw a significant change in the standings as some of the top French teams all season long prevailed in their consistency to stay in the top ten in most races.  Sailing a superb regatta, and "congratulations" to his team, was Benoit Charon's CO-PILOTES from YC Granville, finishing out with a 7-10 for just 25 points after 7 races!  Behind them in second was Nicolas Troussel's BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL with a record of 14-8-33-11-2-1-13 for 49 pts (drop included).  Third was Quentin Ponroy's JIINGLE, fourth was Christine Briand's J'ILE DE RE and fifth was top French sailor at the J/80 Worlds, Eric Brezellec on the familiar INTERFACE CONCEPT II.

Congratulations to the CNSC Race Committee for getting off seven excellent races over the three days.  Not an easy task considering the conditions of the wind, current and the aggressiveness of the fleet that caused a number of general recalls.    Sailing photo credits- Luc LeGrand/ Fox Images  For more French J/80 Nationals sailing information

J's Crush Miami-Nassau Race

J/105 Loki sailing Miami to Nassau, Bahamas Race (Nassau, Bahamas)-  The old Southern Ocean Racing Circuit (SORC) off Florida was one of those events back in the 80s that many sailors remember well.  It was the pinnacle of the IOR, that crazy handicap rule that created "pinched-end" boats that could go upwind remarkably well, but provided their greatest entertainment and challenges downwind!  With teeny booms, monster fore-triangles with long poles meant you could set ginormous masthead spinnakers.  Downwind, a fleet of IOR boats were something to behold, especially when they set their colorful "bloopers" alongside their spinnakers in 25-30 knots of wind-- the betting parlors were going crazy trying to guess which boat would do the classic, nearly ritualistic, "gybe-broach dance" first.  The result of this out-of-control activity was performing the proverbial "yard sale" with all their "laundry" (e.g. shredded spinnakers) blown across the water!  While the IOR boats all but disappeared off the world's racing circuits, the actual race tracks around Florida and the Bahamas left many with fond, happy memories of some extraordinary sailing-- in particular the criss-crossing of the Gulf Stream, the Bahamas Banks and all the wildlife!

The SORC has been resurrected to some degree in the past few years, but it's still a mere shadow of its former self.  The Lauderdale Race, the original "feeder race"for the SORC, is still popular since it now "feeds" Key West Race Week.  A recent addition was the resurrection of the classic Miami-Nassau Race, popular for its Gulf Stream crossing, the passage across the Bahamas Banks and the Tongue of the Ocean, and the gorgeous finish off Nassau's Paradise Island.  It can be an idyllic offshore passage with spectacular scenery-- flying fish, hammerhead sharks, giant 12 ft sunfish, "square groupers", or just a full moon in a 15-20 knots WNW for a truly magical crossing in these parts- shorts and t-shirts the whole way!

Leading the charge for awhile in this year's Nassau Cup Ocean Race was none other than Frank Kern's crew of veteran ocean-racers sailing the equally well-traveled (and successful) J/120 CARINTHIA.  Not much will slow down this crew from Detroit- famous for sailing (and winning) a few hundred Mac Races amongst them.  In the end, Frank's good friend from Detroit, Bob Kirkman and buddies aboard the J/120 HOT TICKET, managed to sail a bit smarter and faster to edge out CARINTHIA for bragging rights in the "120 class"-- getting 2nd in PHRF 1 and first 120 home.  With Frank's CARINTHIA in 3rd PHRF 1, Bill Terry's team had their hands full with the boys from "8 Mile" (or someplace close by), so had to settle for 4th in PHRF 1 and 3rd in the 120s.

Not to be outdone or outshone by their stablemates, it was pretty evident that David Bond's J/105 LOKI knew their way around the race track from Miami to Nassau.  Having been a veteran of this offshore classic for years, David and crew sailed an excellent race to finish just off the skirt-tails of the 120s, and managed to take PHRF 2 by a significant margin.  For more Nassau Cup sailing information

J/97 JIKA-JIKA Still Dominating IRC Class 3

Fun sailing on summer winter sailing series in England Warm, Sunny Hamble Winter Series Resumes
(Hamble, England)- After a break last weekend, racing resumed in the Garmin Hamble Winter Series yesterday with bright sunshine and an unseasonably balmy air temperature. Isn't that an oxymoron- "warm, sunny, winter series"?  Go figure.  The breeze filled in to a patchy ESE’ly, starting at a gusty 20 knots, which dropped to as low as 8 knots in the lulls as the afternoon wore on. Race Officer Jamie Wilkinson set a series of windward-leeward courses stretching up and down the East Solent, and all starts got underway on time. There was some impressive surfing downwind and the odd broach and kite wrap to add to the excitement - but most boats reveled in the shifty, gusty conditions and there were big grins ashore after racing. Some crews said it was the best day’s sailing they’d had all season!  Perhaps there is something good to be said about all this global warming stuff-- palm trees, shorts & shades and gorgeous sailing in England, in mid-November?

J80 sailboat- sailing on Solent, EnglandIn IRC 0, Dave Ballantyne's J/133 JINGS! continued to sail a consistent series, grabbing a fourth place to maintain their position of third overall in a strong nine boat fleet.  In IRC 3, the domination of Mike and Jamie Holmes' J/97 JIKA-JIKA is quite impressive, rattling off yet another bullet to account for six firsts in seven races.  Their lead is now up to 8 pts over the next boat.  Fifth is David Greenhalgh and John Taylor's J/92 J-RONIMO, sixth is Nick and Adam Munday's J/97 INDULJENCE and seventh overall is Andy Howe and Annie Kelly's J/92s BLACKJACK.

J/109 sailing upwind on Solent Garmin Hamble Winter SeriesIn the one-design J/109 world, it was Richard and Valerie Griffith’s OUTRAJEOUS who crossed the line first, extending their lead overall.  Like their stablemates sailing the J/97 in IRC 3, the Griffith's have accounted for five firsts in seven races.  Apparently, they've either gotten a lot smarter, a lot faster or are just making less mistakes.  However you look at their new-found performance, it's great to see some new stars rising to the top.  David and Mary McGough's JUST SO got a second over the weekend to maintain their second position in the series.  They're effectively in a four-way horse-race for the silver/ bronze on the podium with Paul Griffiths' JAGERBOMB in fourth tied with David Jobson's AUDAJIOUS in fifth and just two points back is David McLeman's OFFBEAT with 24 pts in sixth-- is anyone breathing yet?  My goodness that's a tough fleet! Forgetting the helmsmen for a second, the tacticians must be seeking a bit of solace in the Guinness for making any mistakes!  Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth.  For more Garmin Hamble Winter Series sailing information

Monday, November 21, 2011

J/111 BLUR.se Sailing Test

J/111 sailing on Baltic off Kappeln, Germany(Kappeln, Germany)- Last weekend during the eponymous "happy-lucky" date of 11-11-11, Peter Gustafsson (founder of blog website "blur.se") and friends hopped aboard the J/111 PIRANHA in Kappeln, Germany to go for a test sail on the Baltic.  Thanks to Henning Mittelmann, the German J/Boats dealer- Mittelmann’s Werft, the "boys" went out and had a great sail in nearly perfect weather.  As the successful owner of the J/109 BLUR from Gothenberg/Marstrand, Sweden, Peter's commentary below provides good perspectives for those who've raced various J's in the 35-36 foot range over time (J/35, J/36, J/34 IOR, J/105, J/110, J/109):

"I’d never been to Kappeln in northern Germany before, but it turned out to be a charming little town that's probably bustling with tourists in the summer. Understandably, mid-November was a bit slow but we hadn’t come to spend time on the beach or party. We found the boat parked right outside our hotel, and as the date was 11-11-11 we took that as the sign to get serious about the 111.  After dinner we checked in to our hotel, Pierspeicher Gästehaus, an beautiful old industry building right at the harbor that’s been renovated for five years and now have a distinct marine theme. And it’s hard to beat the view from my hotel window.

J/111 Piranha in Kappeln, GermanySaturday morning dawned pretty cold and with ice on deck.  But, the forecast was for southerly wind 14-18 knots decreasing during the afternoon. And sunny. So we couldn’t have asked for better weather.  The boat looks fast already at the dock. Low, light, slender and functional. Just like a parked sports car longs to get driven when it’s parked. Very much “the speedster” that J/Boats referred to when they presented the design.

It had been blowing Friday, so the sea state was still pretty messed up. With a new boat, different sails (the sails was from local sailmaker Tommy Sails) and an crew not used to the boat it was hard to find the groove at first.  At first I tried to sail it the same way as my J/109, that’s a weaker boat. But as soon as I put the hammer down, accepted a bit more heel and went for speed the boat light up and reached the target speed 6.9-7.1.  Naturally you need time in the boat to be able to keep your average speed up, but it shouldn’t be hard to find the right settings.

My theory was that the J/111 would make an excellent shorthanded boat for Scandinavian waters. Small enough to be handled by two. Easy setup with furling jib and asymmetrical spinnaker on a retractable sprit. But racing in our waters it’s not uncommon to have 16-18 knots sea breeze during the afternoon, and then just 2-3 knots during the night, so you need to be able to perform at both ends of the scale.

J/111 sailing upwind off Germany in the Baltic SeaSo the J/111 performs OK upwind. Check. But that’s not why people buy this boat. It’s for the downwind experience. Moderate displacement (4,200 kgs), and +130 m2 kite could lead to big smiles in a blow.  We’ve seen many videos and stories about 111's topping 20 knots.  Everyone was a bit careful at first, starting out with a smaller kite. Shape (and color) was a bit different from what I’m used to, but to get a feel for the boat, it was close enough. With the waves coming from the side it was hard to get going, but after a jibe and some bigger waves we took f and did 12-13 knots.  Big difference compared to the J/109, the 109 really loads up before getting up to speed. On the 109, we usually can make 10-11 knots quite steadily but it’s hard to go faster even in a blow. Our record is 20 knots in extreme conditions, and that ended when the R5 exploded in a big broach!

As the wind came down we shifted to the bigger kite and the boat was fun to drive in just 12 knots. At the end of the day we did 6.6 knots in just 6 knots of breeze when we heated up. Nice!  The J/111 is much more like a J/80.  Slippery and responsive to both puffs and handling and I’m sure it will be fun downwind throughout the wind register.

All in all, a great sailing boat with everything set up right to go sailing without any hassle.  Just like a station wagon from Audi, BMW or Volvo that are both practical and great drive when the whole family are heading for the ski slope. But they can’t beat a Porsche or Aston Martin for that weekend drive. The J/111 doesn’t pretend to be everything for everyone."   For more BLUR.se Sailing Review of J/111 PIRANHA   And, here's a Slide Show of J/111 Sailing in Germany

Sally Barkow Wins Womens J/22 Match Racing!

J/22 match racing sailors-  Sallly Barkow sailing J22sMidwest Girls from the "Land of Cheeseheads" Bring it Home!
(New Orleans, LA) – The 2011 edition of the US Women's Match Racing Championship, hosted by Southern Yacht Club, came down to a thrilling finish in Sunday’s final series. In a rematch of last year’s Championship round, skipper Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.) defeated defending two-time Champion Genny Tulloch (Sausalito, Calif./Houston, Texas) in the fifth and final race for a 3-2 win and her third Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy, second as a skipper. The womens' teams all sailed J/22s on Lake Ponchartrain supplied by Southern YC's active J/22 one-design fleet.

J/22 womens match racing- sailing upwind“We had a great final series with Genny in tough conditions and really shifty winds,” said Barkow. “We like having great matches with her team. Unfortunately, she didn’t see the change of course at the entry.”  Tulloch had a lead at the start of the decisive fifth match. However, they incorrectly rounded the first upwind windward mark and never recovered. Tulloch came from behind in the final series twice after trailing 1-0 and 2-1.

Barkow and Tulloch finished off their semifinals opponents the morning of the last day to advance to the finals. Barkow defeated Kaitlin Storck (New Orleans, La.), 2-0, and Tulloch beat Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.), 3-0. Storck finished third by defeating Roble, 2-1, in the Petite finals.

J/22 womens match race sailing crewBarkow’s crew included Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham (Miami Beach, Fla.), Alana O'Reilly (Charleston, S.C.) and Amanda Callahan (Portsmouth, R.I.). Crewing for Tulloch was Alice Manard Leonard (New Orleans, La./East Haven, Conn.), Jennifer Chamberlin (Washington, D.C.) and Elizabeth Hall (Cary, N.C.). Roble sailed with Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.), Darby Smith (Wilmette, Ill.) and Jennifer Wilson (Chicago, Ill.).

Barkow, the #3 ISAF ranked women’s match racer in the world, was 19-3 overall this week. Tulloch, ranked #11 by ISAF, was 16-6. They each had successful outings at the 2011 US Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta last October at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club (Fla.). Tulloch finished second and Barkow was third. Barkow, Kratzig-Burnham, O’Reilly, Tulloch, Manard Leonard and Chamberlin are all members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.  Of note, Sally Barkow was a coach/ mentor to Steph Roble back in Steph's Optimist racing days.  Clearly Steph's learned a lot and stepped up her game to be amongst the top of women's match-racing while she's still in college at Old Dominion University in Virginia-- watch for this rising star in the future!  For more US Women’s Match Racing sailing information