Monday, March 31, 2014

Wet & Woolly Warsash II

J/109 sailboats- sailing Warsash series on Solent (Warsash, England)- To say there was a distinct turnabout in conditions for the second spring series race would be an understatement for the intrepid teams that gathered together to go sailing on the capricious Solent. From the “shorts & shades” balmy weather of a week ago, “wellies, woollies & slickers” were the chosen armour on a chilly weekend that brought a mixture of sunshine and heavy rain or hail showers and a strong breeze. Inevitably this took its toll on boats, equipment and sailors but the race officers set tight challenging courses keeping all the crews busy – and warm. To the course setters’ delight, this week the wind remained constant allowing true beats and runs for all classes throughout the morning.

Given a forecast north-westerly of 13-20 kts with gusts to 26 kts and just two hours after low water at the starts, the Black Group committee boat took up station at North Ryde Middle buoy. IRC1 and 2 were given a 16 mile course with 11 marks, alternating long and short legs. Although many starts were close, with jostling on the line, they were all clear. Tidal tactics were important crossing the main channel between Peel Bank and South Ryde Middle. The sun appeared from time to time but so did the lively squalls accompanied by rain and hail.

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing Warsash spring series on SolentIn IRC 1 class, after nearly three hours’ racing, the J/111 J-DREAM sailed by David and Kirsty Apthorp finished 26 seconds ahead of sistership JITTERBUG sailed by Cornel Riklin. Notably, this tight finish was produced after JITTERBUG had paused to stand by an MOB situation where JITTERBUG, quite rightly, requested redress from the RC/ Protest committee.  With seven J/111s vying for position, the standings are getting interesting already. JITTERBUG is leading the class with a  1-2 for 3 pts and J-DREAM has now jumped into second position with a 4-1 for 5 pts.  The biggest gainer week over week was Will Naylor’s crew on BRITISH SOLDIER, taking a 7-4 for 11 pts.

J/109 and J/92 sailing Warsash series on SolentThere was a full turnout of entries in the J/109 class although again two boats failed to finish. Paul Griffiths’s JAGERBOMB again performed well to chalk up a second win followed by David McLeman’s OFFBEAT. Third on the day was Dave Mcgough’s JUST SO.  As a result of this weekend’s performance, it looks like the JAGERBOMB crew have the “magic dust”, sailing fast and staying out of trouble in the corners.  Chasing them hard for the series is OFFBEAT with a 3-2 for 5 pts, now lying in second overall.  Just behind in third is Marcus Wilson’s RED ARROW team with a steady 4-5 for 9 pts.

In IRC 3 division, Nick and Adam Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE continue to lead their class by just one point after posting 1-4 scores for 5 pts.  And, in IRC 4 class, David Greenhalgh’s J/92 J’RONIMO is sailing a consistent series with finishes of 3-4 for a series total of 7 pts, just 4 pts out of first.

On the White Group sportsboat division for J/70 and J/80 the wind built from 14 to 20 knots in the half hour before Race 1.  Competitors stayed well back from the line, helped by the first of the flood tide.  All the same they were too close for comfort from the committee boat which weighted the anchor chain down and laid an inner distance mark. At times during the squalls visibility dropped considerably so that the committee boat lost sight of the windward mark at one point. At the latter part of the morning the wind dropped equally suddenly from 26 to 9 knots, making it all quite challenging.

J/70 sailing the Solent- Warsash spring seriesAt the J/70 start (Ian Atkins) impeded JOSEPH’S COAT (Marie-Claude Heys) and so took a two-turn penalty but nonetheless went on to win this and the remaining two races. DJANGO (Malcolm and Tristan Jaques) took second in Race 1 and then Joseph’s Coat took seconds in Races 2 and 3.  The top three boats are quite close in the series standings, separated by only two points!  Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY still leads with a 1-1-1-5-3-3 scoreline for 14 pts.  Tied for second at 16 pts each are DJANGO with a 2-2-2-2-4-4 tally and JOSEPH’s COAT with 3-3-3-3-2-2 in six races.

J/80 sailing on Solent- Warsash seriesThe J/80 BOYSTEROUS had spinnaker trouble right at the final turn of Race 1 and was swept down towards Lee-on-Solent in a broach, gallantly struggling with sheets wrapped around the rigging for several long minutes before making it back to the committee boat to finish fifth. Another J/80 JASMINE decided to call it a day having completed Race 1. BETTY (Jon Powell) gained a hat trick of wins despite being over the line and needing to return in Race 3. At this stage, BETTY has surged to a 5 pts lead with 5-2-1-1-1-1 scores for 11 pts total.  Behind them, it’s a jumble with teams trading places back and forth race-by-race.  Mike Lewis’s JESTER is currently second with 3-4-2-3-2-2 for 16 pts and Patrick Liardet’s AQUA-J is lying third with 2-3-3-2-4-3 for 17 pts.

After a tiring but exhilarating morning competitors were pleased to swap stories in the Warsash Sailing Club bar later where Jonathan Broad from Brooks Macdonald presented champagne to the weekly class winners. The Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series returns on 30th March with a reminder for competitors that British Summer Time starts that day too.  Thanks for contribution from Louay Habib.  For more Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series sailing information

Ingham Crowned J/24 N.A. Champion

J/24 sailing Mexico North Americans- winners Mike InghamSailors Enjoy Spectacular Mexico Sailing Conditions
(Riviera Nayarit, Mexico) – The Riviera Nayarit greeted competitors with stunning sailing conditions for the thirty-seven teams from Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Peru, Sweden and the United States.  For the entire event, the sailors enjoyed clear skies and warm sea-breezes starting off around 6-8 knots and steadily building to 12-14 with gusts to 16 kts— all 150% class genoa weather all week.  Incredibly, it was one of those near postcard-perfect regattas many sailors dream about, perhaps the epitome of the Mexican “siesta fiesta” approach to life— wake up late, breakfast at 10am, go sailing at 12pm as the light sea breeze builds, enjoy a few laps around the cans with friends and foe, sail back in for amazing post-race libations and even more stunning evening parties under the stars.  As they say, “lather, rinse, repeat”!  Bahia de Banderas can, indeed, deliver some remarkable experiences.

Digger- winning J/24 team in MexicoEnjoying it all more than most and soaking it all in was Mike Ingham’s newly-minted 2014 J/24 North American Championship crew on DIGGER- Tim Healy, Enrique Pirez-Cirera, Marianne Schoke and Max Holzer.  It was a masterful performance for them, posting an impressive scoreline of 1-2-3-1-4-1-1-1 for only 14 pts.

Behind the big winners, the second through fourth positions were separated by only two points and it all came down, literally, to how they finished the last race.  Surviving the wrestling match by grabbing a 4th in the last race, American Tony Parker’s BANGOR PACKET from Annapolis, MD finished second with 31 points.  Ian Ilsley’s JOBBIT crew from Monte Carlo, Monaco took a 3rd in the finale to secure third with 32 pts.  Coming up short of the podium was Mauricio Santa Cruz’s BRUSCHETTA of Brazil; they’re 8th race DSQ dramatically affected their chances for an “easy silver”, instead taking 2nd in the last race to settle for fourth with 33 pts.

J/24s sailing off Puerto Vallarta, MexicoRounding out the top five was an excellent performance by the German team, JJ-ONE sailed by Jeronimo Landauer.  The top Mexican team was Ken Porter’s COMEX team, taking sixth overall.  Top Peruvian team was Jimena Gavino Barbieri skippering JITANA into seventh.  The Italian team, led by Giovanni Campi on ALEBRIJE, finished twelfth, sailing well and much improved from their last outing to Mexico a few years back.  The Swedish team’s appropriately named boat- FOR FUN- took 19th under the able leadership of their rockstar skipper Andreas Olovsson.

As for the winners, Ingham is no stranger to sailing in the Riviera Nayarit, having raced three Copa Mexico’s as well at the 2007 J/24 World Championship. “When this regatta was announced, I didn’t have to look at my calendar. No matter what else was on it, I wouldn’t miss this,” Ingham said. He noted that although he has personally sailed with each of his teammates, the entire crew had never raced together before this event. He praised the conditions, saying, “I’ve probably sailed 60 days in Mexico, and we’ve never missed a day of racing, and I’ve never worn a spray top. I love the 1:00 p.m. starts, with the thermal every day!!”  Sailing photo credits- Jen Edney  For more J/24 North Americans sailing information:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

J/92s sailing off Portofino, Italy!

J/92s sailing off Portofino, Italy on the Mediterannean(Portofino, Italy)-  We recently got a nice note from Marco Cohen, owner of the J/92s DAJENU that is based in Portofino.  Said Marco, “Ciao from Portofino!  My lovely J/92s lives in one of the most beautiful ports on Earth!

So, it's a serious promise whenever you will come to Italy you are invited to Portofino. My father is a decent sailor (he used to sail J/24 #6 in Italy) but, more importantly, a great & wonderful cook!

Having said that, THANK YOU for the J/92s- she’s my favorite buddy for daily food & wine cruises and races around the Mediterranean.  Last year I have done almost 1,000 miles of sailing and nothing broken! I am still in love with this boat even after seven years!  Ciao. Va’ bene.  Marco”

Marco and his father have been long-time residents in Portofino and count amongst their local friends past J/24 sailors like Luca Bassani (famous patron of the WALLY YACHTS world) and Claudio Recchi (leader of their family business- RECCHI Spa).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

King Harbor Race Week Preview

J/35s sailing King Harbor regatta (King Harbor, CA)- From March 28th to 30th, Los Angeles are sailors will be kicking off their sailing season with competitive racing in King Harbor. It’s fun filled regatta that features not only on-the-water racing but excellent post-race hospitality with live music.  If you’ve never been to KHYC, try it some time, they really do know how to entertain sailors (hint- imagine the fun times sailors have had after the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race!).  And, for those sailors that need a “refresher” on sailing off this spectacular point that protrudes far into Los Angeles Bay, don't hesitate to ask any Ullman Sails representative (regatta sponsors) about Ullman Strategy & Recipe notes for "How to Win in King Harbor".

J/111 JATO sailing King Harbor regattaThere are a nice mix of local and visiting teams sailing in the regatta.  In PHRF A class, the J/111 JATO sailed by the team of Bill Webster and Mike Moorhead from host KHYC is hoping to get the season going with a good performance.  They will be faced with having to hold off a strong challenge from a top J/109 that sails the SoCal regatta circuit, Alice Leahey’s GRACE O’MALLEY from California YC.

PHRF B division sees a mix of J/70s and J/80s vying for class honors.  Craig Tallman from host KHYC is sailing his J/70 JAYA against the famous DFZ from San Diego YC- led by Alex Kownacki and Cole Jenkins.  Past winner Curt Johnson from California YC is skippering the J/80 AVET against Dave Angers’s MISS DEMEANOR.  In short, two interesting duels are shaping up for this weekend’s regatta at King Harbor, both with near sisterships in size and speeds— J/111 vs J/109 and the 70s vs 80s!  Should be fun sailing for all.   For more King Harbor Race Week sailing information

St Thomas Regatta Preview

J/30 sailing St Thomas regatta(Cowpet Bay, St Thomas, USVI)- The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a high point for many sailors around the world. Known as the "Crown Jewel of the Caribbean”, it represents an opportunity to shake off the winter dust in preparation for a hard summer's racing. For others, it is a chance to mix sailing and racing with a family vacation in one of the Caribbean's favorite locations. Whatever the reason, the warm clear waters, beautiful surroundings and excellent competition draw you back year after year.

This is the 41st year the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) has hosted the event and it runs from March 28th to 30th.  This year features not only competitive sailing but some new parties and a first-ever golf challenge to expand the regatta into a sailing festival with something for everyone.

Regatta director, Bill Canfield, commented, “This year we are bringing back our Saturday night party at Yacht Haven Grande hosted by Captain Morgan with the music by local favorite Spectrum Band. Like all events this is open to the public. We are also introducing two new events, a Wednesday golf tournament at Mahogany Run and then a Pub Crawl in Red Hook the same night. Great racing, parties and music. Our slogan remains ‘We love it here!’"

J/122 sailing St Thomas regattaExcitement on the high seas starts Friday with a fleet of over 70 yachts from the Caribbean, America, Europe and from as far away as Russia and Australia.  The first day is the classic “Charlotte Amalie Harbor Race” day.  You can watch from the waterfront as the fleet sails into the harbor and then starts on a second race back to the island’s east end.  Back on shore, the Jump-Up Party kicks off from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at STYC. The Becca Darling Band plays from 3-6 p.m., with the rhythms of Cool Sessions brass taking over from 7-11 p.m.

Race action continues on Saturday March 29. In the afternoon, there’s music by Sol at STYC from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Then, a new STIR tradition kicks-off with the Captain Morgan Yacht Haven Grande Party from 6:30-11 p.m. Listen to Spectrum Band on stage, while dining and imbibing at nearby restaurants and bars.

Sailors launch off on the last day of regatta competition Sunday March 30. Up for grabs is who will take their place on the podium. Music by Full Circle greets the fleet from 2:30-5:30 p.m. The Regatta Awards Ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. on the STYC beach, followed by the Final Fling party with Ah We Band playing from 7-11 p.m.

J/100 bad girl sailing St Thomas regattaKeeping that demanding social schedule in mind, there’s plenty of sailing to do around the fabled islands race courses laid out by the St Thomas YC PRO.  As one might expect, a number of good J/Teams are participating including some past class and overall winners in the 69 boat fleet (39 are of J vintage- about 57% of the total).

Topping the list is Rick Wesslund’s Miami, FL team sailing the newly famous J/122 EL OCASO (recent “Most Worthy Performance” winner at St Maarten Heineken Regatta) in what can only be described as an eclectic fleet of boats in CSA Racing I.  Rick’s team will be facing everything from little M32s to large Swan 53s and even a TP52!  Crazy, challenging days are ahead for them depending on the race course!

CSA Racing II sees the classic J/39 CRYSTAL sailed by Jerome O’Neill and his Puerto Rican team from Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club.  If CSA I was an eclectic fleet, then this one matches it for sure with a Santa Cruz 70 sailing alongside a Morris 48 and a slew of “cruisey” 40 footers.

J/105s sailing St Thomas regattaCSA Racing III may easily qualify as the most fun and demanding class in the fleet, with 6 of 10 boats being J’s ranging from the J/24 to J/105s.  Top boat in her division and a past overall winner is Robert Armstrong’s J/100 BAD GIRL sailing with a crew of  high school students from St Croix USVI.  Two well-sailed J/105s will be in the hunt, Jonathan Lipuscek’s DARK STAR from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Jordan Mindich’s SOLSTICE from Huntington, NY.  Paul Davis’s local team from St Thomas YC are sailing the J/27 MAGNIFICENT 7 and they will be chased around the course by the J/80 SUN BUM II skippered by Angel Ayala from Carolina, Puerto Rico and also the J/24 COLIBRI led by Francisco Figueroa from San Juan.

CSA Non-Spinnaker will also be dominated by J/Teams, with 4 of 10 boats competing for class honors. Topping the list is the custom J/120 JAGUAR sailed by Ben Jelic from St Maarten.  They, too, are faced with having to top past class winners like Tom Mullen’s SHAMROCK VII from Campton, NH and Stanford Joines’s J/36 PALADIN from Kings Hill, USVI.  Rounding out this fleet of J’s is Jean Braure’s J/24 BRAVISSIMO III hailing from St Thomas.

IC24s sailing St Thomas regattaIn the TOT Division (time-on-time), the J/70 MINI-CACHONDO will be sailing with Jose Teixidor and his San Juan team against yet another eclectic fleet of boats- from BOTOX BARBIE (a Hunter 54) to GUILT TRIPP (a Tripp 26) and KASTOR POLUX (a Moorings 4300 cruiser).

Finally, a healthy fleet of fourteen IC 24s (modded J/24s) are sailing, the largest class in the regatta.  Notable teams include TEAM LINE HONORS led Taylor Canfield from St Thomas YC, current US Sailings #1 ranked Open Match Race sailor; Marco Teixidor from San Juan helming CACHONDO; and Colin Rathbun from Road Town, BVI sailing TORTOLA EXPRESS.  Sailing Photo Credits- Ingrid Abery.   For more St Thomas Regatta sailing information-  Or, Facebook-

Brazil Takes J/24 Gold @ ODESUR Games 2014

J/24 Brazilian sailing team- gold medal at ODESUR games (Santiago, Chile)- Thousands of athletes from across South America recently participated in the multi-disciplinary South American Games (a.k.a. ODESUR- Organizacion Deportiva SuraAmericana).  Held every four years (between Olympic Summer Games), there’s no shortage of competition that saw 3,700 of the continent’s strongest athletes participating— among them were Brazilian gymnast Arthur Zanetti and Venezuelan fencer RubĂ©n Limardo, both current Olympic champions in their disciplines.

J/24 Crioule- sailing ODESU south american gamesThe sailing portion of the games were sailed from March 12th to 17th, on the Pacific Ocean off Valparaiso, about one hour west of the track & field and swimming events being held in Santiago.  The one-design boats included in the event were Lasers, Snipes, Sunfish, Lightnings and J/24s.  As one might expect, the best teams from Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil fought for the coveted medal positions on the podium.  In the end, it was the Brazilian team from Veleiros do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil that earned the Gold Medal, led by skipper Samuel Albrecht and with a crew of champion sailors like Georgia Silva (a 2014 Olympic Sailing Team member) and Frederick Sidou and Alexander Rimoli (together they helped the Soto 40 CREOLE win the 2013 Eduardo Souza Ramos Cup- the de-facto Brazilian/ World Championship for Soto 40s).

The J/24 fleet sailed eleven races in winds that varied greatly in strength and direction.  In fact, the last day all races were canceled due to fog and no wind.

J/24s sailing ODESU south american sailing gamesThe Crioula Brazil team led by Albrecht only won by three points, compiling a scoreline of 1-1-5-4-1-4-2-4-1-2 in ten races, discarding a 5th for 20 pts net.  Said Mr. Albrecht, “we were surprised by the result. We aimed to be on the podium, but we were not expecting to win the gold.  We knew our potential because of our victory in the Brazilian team qualifiers, but still we were surprised . Our team is to be congratulated! I also wanted to thank all the support we've had from Brazilian team this week!”

The Brazilian Team coach Mr. Samuca also commented on the championship. "The wind conditions, the number of races and boats donated by the organization, everything was perfect. Contestants also had great one-design level competition, it was great to see all the boats sailing together. Winning was hard, it shows that the J/24 class remains strong in South America.  It also shows that with training you can get to victory. Brazil sailed very well and were well-represented in the medal count, we had medals in 5 of 6 classes (Lasers- Silver/ Bronze, Snipe- Gold, J/24- Gold, Lightning- Bronze).

J/24 Argentina sailing team- at ODESU south american sailing gamesThe other excellent performance of the regatta was the Argentina Sailing Team that took the silver medal.  The Mendieta Argentine team led by Pancho Van Avermaete (and crew Rafael De Martis & Geronimo Van Avermaete), had been leading the regatta for awhile, but lost the lead in the last two races.  The Argentine’s record was 5-2-1-2-4-2-1-1-5-5, discarding a 5th, for 23 pts net.

Taking the bronze medal on the podium was the “hometown favorite”, Chile’s own Vernon Roberts.  The Chileans started out slowly, got in a few good races in the middle of the regatta, but couldn’t keep their consistency.  They scored DSQ-6-4-3-3-1-5-2-3-3, discarding the 8th/DSQ for 30 pts net.  Rounding out the top five were Peru’s Luis Alberto Olcese in fourth and another Chilean team, Matias Seguel, taking fifth.
Sailing photo credits- Berni Grez   For more ODESUR South American Games sailing information

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quantum J/70 Winter Series- Act III Preview

J/70s sailing Tampa Bay Quantum series(Tampa, FL)- This coming weekend, the third and final act of the popular 2014 Quantum J/70 Winter Series takes place on Tampa Bay, hosted by the “sailingest yacht club in the south”- Davis Island YC.  From March 28th to 30th, the grand finale for forty-one J/70s determines not only the regatta winner, but the winner of the “whole enchilada”— the Overall Southeast Series Champion (plus J/70 World’s qualifying spots- 2 Open, 2 Corinthian).

For the past two regattas (one in January and the other in February), it’s clear the fleet has experienced a combination of crazy weather and different teams showing up to challenge regatta leaders.  The series leader (both “Open” and “Corinthian”) going into the weekend is local hotshot Rob Britts sailing HOT MESS from Davis Island YC with a total of 106 pts.  However, the HOT MESS team’s position is tenuous at best if you recognize who’s sitting just behind them.  The top four boats are just separated by 9 pts.  Two points back is Mark Ploch’s SUGAR DADDY from American YC with 110 pts total, third is Jud & Cindy Smith sailing AFRICA from Eastern YC with 112 pts and fourth is Rob Butler/ Martie Kullman sailing TOUCH2PLAY with 115 pts.  Fifth is the Werner/ Barnash team on SUPERFECTA from Rochester YC standing on 128 pts.  There is no question a premium will be placed on sailing fast, smart and consistently to simply hang with the leaders.  Expect to see the top four take the proverbial roller-coaster ride this weekend as the series championship is on the line.

J/70 SCAMP sailing Tampa Bay Quantum regattaWith two Corinthian qualifying spots on the line, there’s a notable increase in this division going into the final regatta.  In fact, the fleet is split nearly 50/50 between the Open’s (21 boats) and Corinthian’s (19 boats). There have been much improved performances by some of the Corinthian teams over the past few regattas, particularly if you take into account those teams that have also sailed the Midwinters in Key West,  St Petersburg NOODs and Bacardi Miami Sailing Week.  Britts’s HOT MESS team is clearly leading the pack, but it’s encouraging to see John Brim’s RIMETTE crew from Fisher’s Island YC moving up the ladder along with Noel Clinard’s LOONATICTU and Blake Kimbrough’s NOSTALGIA from Fishing Bay YC.

New boats joining the ranks in the Open fleet are Tom Londrigan on POLARIS, Dan Cheresh on EXTREME and current J/22 World Champion Al Terhune sailing DAZZLER from Annapolis YC.  Perhaps the big question for the weekend is, will Joel Ronning’s crew on CATAPULT from Wayzata YC in Minnesota continue their winning ways (having just won San Diego NOOD last weekend)?  Or, will Henry Brauer’s SCAMP team, Mark Ploch’s SUGAR DADDY gang, Jud & Cindy Smith’s AFRICA crew or Al Terhune’s freshly-minted DAZZLER group hop atop the podium as regatta winners?

Perhaps the biggest challenge for all sailors on Tampa Bay this weekend will again be a less than favorable weather forecast.  With yet another “El Nino”-driven low pressure system driving across the southeastern U.S., the Friday/ Saturday forecast for thunderstorms and southerly winds of 10-20 kts may pose issues. But, Sunday at least looks promising with winds veering behind the front into the northwesterly quadrants with 8-15 kts winds.  Hopefully, the fleet gets in a full complement of races to complete what has been a fun series for the teams that have participated all winter.  For more Quantum J/70 Winter Series sailing information

EL OCASO “Insider’s Heineken Sailing Report"

J/122 El Ocaso- winner of St Maarten Heineken Regatta Most Worthy Performance award(Simpson Bay, St Maarten)- Bob Hillier from Line Honors reports on their “Most Worthy Overall” win as part of the EL OCASO J/122 crew in St Maarten’s Heineken Regatta.

“If you’ve never raced a Caribbean regatta, the Heineken Regatta is a great place to begin, and for 2014, the crew of El Ocaso were ready for what the regatta labels ‘Serious Fun’.  Our race on El Ocaso began with Wednesday practice day and then the windward/leeward one-day Gill Commodore’s Cup.  We won our class (Series 3), and were awarded the overall trophy for the single day event.  This really set the tone for Team El Ocaso as the full power of the Heineken Regatta began the next morning.

Long-time team owner Rick Wesslund (Coconut Grove, FL), bought the J/122 this past summer from Puerto Rico’s Sergio Sagremoso, who recently went on a speed binge with the winter purchase of a Melges 32 and McConaghy 38. Having purchased the previous El Ocaso (J120) new in 2003 when he lived in San Francisco, Rick cut his teeth sailing on the west coast before relocating to South Florida.  Led by now-recovering North Sailmaker Anson Mulder, Rick began to form a new program including a mix of previous crew, Florida talent and Great Lakes skills.  The team stays together on other boats as well in various venues, and this fact that makes our Caribbean racing even more fun; we arrive to the regatta with a team that knows each other well, and quickly dials into the boat.  Our first regatta on the new (to us) J/122 was Quantum Key West, this provided a great opportunity to learn the subtle differences between the J/120 vs the J/122…most notably, better performance over a wider wind range.  Taking a 4th in our section in KWRW was a solid start for the new boat; more importantly, we improved as the week progressed and our knowledge of “go fast” techniques improved.

J/122 El Ocaso winning St Maarten Heinken RegattaBack to the St. Maarten; in my opinion, the only downside to the Heineken Regatta is the total number of races you have for the regatta.  You have the famous “Round the Island” race on Saturday, a W/L and race to Marigot on Saturday and Sunday you race back from Marigot to Simpson Bay.  It’s a long way to come for four races, no matter how fun they are.  I could be in the minority (and with over 200 entries, maybe I am), but I’ve always said I would love to see a couple more short windward/leeward races at the Heineken.  Can’t have everything, I guess!  The event does draw some excellent yachts from around the world, from the Highland Flings to the Volvo 70s.  El Ocaso’s biggest challenges came from Y&Y Poland, the First 40s Team Boston & Southern Child, and the very fast J/100 Bad Girl, skippered and crewed by local youth sailors who had a wonderful regatta!

We sailed Friday’s Round the Island race with a solid game plan: Get in the lead and extend (advice from a wise man from Zenda, WI).  We led to the first weather mark, rounded the offset, set our kite and pushed hard all the way around St. Maarten.  This day race is a lot of fun, sprinkled with some tension as you round the leeward side of the Island.  We completed the race in 3:33:15 and took our first of two bullets; the next win was in Saturday’s (one & only) W/L race, while we got 2nd in the race to Marigot.  Every night the regatta organizers and Heineken put on the party in different locations around the Island, Friday night is the Boardwalk (Philipsburg), Saturday is Waterfront (Marigot) and the regatta culminates in an all-out party along with the prize-giving on Kim Sha Beach (Simpson Bay) Sunday evening.

As we entered Sunday’s final race we found ourselves with a 4 point lead over the kids on the Bad Girl and the solid crew of the GS43 Yachts&Yachting- Poland and the day provided plenty of drama.  After missing a shift just before the start, we found ourselves digging out from the back of the fleet and working hard to find our legs to get to the short weather mark,  in usual El Ocaso fashion we dug hard and dug out, and by the end of the third leg, we found ourselves battling for the on-water lead with the GS43.  But in typically SXM fashion, the leeward side of the Island threw things into disarray as the wind shut off in the lee of the island, with the fleet compressing right back into us.  ”Re-Start”!!

After an hour of changing through some wonderful 90+ degree wind-shifts, we reached the prevailing Easterly breeze and we were able to hold off the most of the fleet to secure our victory.  Full marks to our crew for constant gear shifting and the patience of our tactician to keep us going as fast as possible and in the right direction!

Ultimately, we won our section and were told after departing the stage from our section win, “don’t go far”.  ”Don’t go far” are magical words at the Heineken Regatta (we heard the same message in 2012) & the team was honored with the “Most Worthy Performance Overall” trophy.  The Heineken Regatta is serious fun and I strongly urge everyone to put this on your “must sail regatta” list.

Our crew: Owner/Driver-Rick Wesslund, Boat Captain/Sewer-Mike Caldwell, Tactician- Anson Mulder. Main Trim-Bobby Hillier, Trimmer- Chad Goodwin, Trimmer- Daryl Fitch, Pit- Dave Hampton, Mast- Phil Fleming, Mid-Bow- Michael Meyers, Bow- Christian Dam."  Thanks for contribution from Bobby & Sailing

Thursday, March 27, 2014

J/105 C.O.2 Crowned San Diego NOOD Champion

J/105 fleet sailing San Diego NOOD regattaCATAPULT Eclipses 70s, Taylor Dominates 24s, CAPER Owns 120s
(San Diego, CA)- The 2014 Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD saw absolutely perfect conditions for the one-design fleets of J/24s, J/70s, J/105s and J/120s. Sunny skies, high 70‘s and breezes in the 10-15 knot range were around all weekend. The 17 boat J/70 fleet was the largest one-design fleet at the NOOD regatta, followed by the J/105s with fourteen.

J/70s sailing San Diego NOOD regattaThe event began on Thursday for many of the J/70 sailors, as North Sails hosted an on-the-water clinic and took video during practice. The unique thing about the J/70 class is that it has a healthy mix of both amateur and professional sailors. The Pros have been great at helping the fleet really figure out how to sail the J/70, which has resulted in very close sailing. Thursday’s clinic had the J/70’s out sparring and working on boat handling, starting, and boat speed. On both Thursday and Friday, North Sails hosted a debrief after racing with Vince Brun, Chris Snow & Chuck Allen, along with videos and photos once again done by the pros at North Sails.

Friday came and the first day of racing saw light early morning breezes quickly fade as a strong sea breeze set in. Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT (from Minnetonka, MN), with local Coronado expert Willem Van Waay aboard, quickly jumped to a lead in the event with a strong 3-2-1 for the day. In a close second place, newcomer to the fleet, Joe Markee from San Diego YC, had his daughter Mandy and son-in-law Bill Hardesty, on board OHANA for their first J/70 race!

J/70 sailboats- sailing off San DiegoThe conditions throughout the weekend were near perfect for sailing, with the trend of strong sea-breezes filling every day. The shifty South Bay made it possible to recover from mistakes and the fleet saw extremely close racing. There were multiple races where there were 5-7 boats literally overlapping at the finish, making it challenging for the race committee and very close racing throughout the fleet. In the end, the top five for the event were CATAPULT, followed by OHANA in second, Tom Garrett’s SLOOP JOHN B in third, Karl Pomeroy’s ZERO TO 60 fourth and the DFZ duo of Eric Kownacki and Tom Jenkins taking fifth.

The J/70 fleet in Southern CA has been growing rapidly in the past three months. There is an active group of fourteen local J/70’s with many more boats on the way. The fleet has a great list of planned High Point events which include: King Harbor Race Week, Yachting Cup, Long Beach Race Week, Fiesta Cup, Ahmanson Regatta, and J/Fest in San Diego.

Sailing alongside the J/70s in South Bay were the J/24s with a showing of seven good teams.  It didn’t take long for past J/24 NOOD Champion, Susan Taylor on TAKE FIVE, to get back into the swing of things and feel comfortable in the lead, winning four of six races to take home the crown.  Finishing second was James Barney’s CRITTER followed by John Cianciarulo’s ABOUT TIME in third.

J/105 San Diego NOOD winner- Gary Mozer sailing video interviewA dominating final day of sailing in the J/105 class earned Gary Mozer and crew aboard CURRENT OBSESSION 2 the prestigious Overall Winner title at the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta San Diego. The Beverly Hills-based skipper made tactful decisions in the breezy conditions on San Diego Bay to claim top honors. As overall winner, Mozer and crew received an invitation to the Caribbean to sail against fellow NOOD Overall Winners.  After the first four races, Rick Goebel’s SANITY was tied for the lead with CO2 at nine points by virtue of having posted a 6-1-1-1 scoreline. However, ending the regatta with a 4-3 dropped SANITY into second place.  The tag-team of Tom Hurlburt & Chuck Driscoll on BLOW BOAT sailed a solid, consistent series to capture third.  They were followed by Jim Dorsey on WINGS and Steve & Lucy Howell’s BLINK!, fourth & fifth, respectively.  Watch the Sailing World video of Gary Mozer- the Overall Winner here.

J/120s sailing San Diego NOOD regatta offshoreThe “big dogs” in the J/120 class had close racing with the top three teams, in particular, playing the children’s game of “chutes & ladders” just about every race.  One bad start, a blown tack, a lousy spinnaker take-down, all lead to catastrophic consequences in this tightly packed fleet.  In six races, four different teams won races and five boats had top three finishes!  Surviving the roller-coaster ride best was John Laun’s team on CAPER, taking their class by just 4 pts.  Mike Hatch’s J/ALMIGHTY rattled off a 2-2-1 in the last three races to climb quickly into second overall.  On the flip-side of J/ALMIGHTY’s rapid ascent was John Snook’s JIM dropping into third.  Fourth was Chuck Nichols CC RIDER and fifth was Gary Winton’s SHENANIGANS.

Finally, this year's San Diego NOOD also featured a one-day North Sails Rally Race.  On Saturday, March 15, Joe Dagostino, the owner of the San Diego YC-based J/105 VIGGEN (below left), hopped aboard to go sail the first-ever North Sails Rally Race, a one-day, random-leg, PHRF-scored race.  In the end, they enjoyed a fantastic day on the water and became the well-deserved winners with his friend Tom Fisher!

Also, new to the 2014 NOOD season is the “Local Boat of the Day” award presented by North Sails.  Designed to recognize a skipper who exemplifies superior local knowledge of the course as well as precise execution during their races, San Diego YC J/105 sailor Rick Goebel (above right), epitomized those characteristics on SANITY, also in the J/105 class, claiming this weekend’s distinction.   Sailing photo credits- Tim Wilkes ( and Paul Todd (  For more Sperry Top Sider San Diego NOOD sailing information

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

J/88 & J70 at Southwest In-Water Boat Show

J/70 sailing on lake(Houston, TX)- J/Boats Southwest will be exhibiting the J/88 and a J/70 in the Southwest International In-Water Show from March 27-30.  They’re located at Hard-stand 1B/ 2B and Pier 13.  It’s the Houston areas only in-water show all year!  The show is taking place at South Shore Harbour Marina in League City. Please come on down and meet their new brokers Alan Bates and Kurt VanderWall.

In addition to “talking shop” and “simply messing about with boats and things”, there are some wonderful family amusements for all to enjoy.  The “Be A Diver Pool” will take you on the first step in an underwater adventure to explore coral reefs, shipwrecks and incredible marine life, with the opportunity to learn the basics of scuba diving in a controlled and safe environment.  Seldom do you get the chance to experience a new past-time before embarking on it— it’s free!

sharks sailing past J/70 sailboat!So kids can learn more about “Jaws”, you can have the kiddies enjoy the “Live Shark Experience”!  Sharks have captured our imagination for thousands of years, stirring the fears and fascination of ocean sailors, researchers and scientists. Their legacy has long been misunderstood, learn more about them, touch them, talk to them, feed them at the Shark Tank!

J/70 beer sponsors in TexasFor adult’s culinary experience, they’re offering a “Craft Beer Garden”- for tasting the very best in Texas “craft beers” each day at the Show with the purchase of a “tasting token”.

Once again, the Show will offer a program of over 40 entertaining and educational seminars (free) that cover a wide range of topics to expand knowledge on general boating, cruising, living aboard, exploring Houston and Mexico, learning how to get started, the must-have knowledge of staying safe at sea and so forth.  The Seminars will be held at the South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center, the official Hotel of the Boat Show conveniently located on site, hosted by technical experts, well-seasoned sailors, best-selling authors and world cruisers.  List of boat show seminars here.  Please be sure to contact J/Boats Southwest for a coupon for discounted admission. Contact-  For more Southwest International Show information

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

J/125 HAMACHI Sails Fast Vallarta Race

J/125 Hamachi sailing San Diego- Puerto Vallarta raceAll-stars Take 4th to Finish, 2nd Class & 2nd Overall!
(San Diego, CA)-  It’s just a thousand mile “slide” downwind along the Baja/ Mexican coastline towards Puerto Vallarta.  Our own Wayne Zittel, of J/World Sailing School San Francisco, said “So far, the Vallarta Race has been pretty much textbook. We started on Friday in a nice westerly, close reaching past Point Loma and into the Pacific. Before we had gotten to the Coronado Islands we were in the Code 0, then shortly thereafter the first spinnaker came up. We carried the 2A into the night, and wow, what a night!! Steady 12-14 knots and a nearly full moon lit up the slightly cloudy sky. As we work south, the sky gets clearer and the water bluer.”  The tracker showed the various sailing teams trading gybes along the Baja peninsula. “The winds have been steady enough but shifty,” notes one sailor, Karen Jewell. “At night, we have plenty of moonlight to keep the spinnaker in check and the stars and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins keep us company. But, there is way too much kelp out here!”

J/125 Hamachi winning course to VallartaThe 32nd edition of the biennial San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race started off Shelter Island, with Class 3 and 4 leaving on Friday (Mar. 14) and Class 1, 2, and Multihull departing on Saturday (Mar. 15). Both days provided summer-like conditions for the sailors to begin their 1000nm southerly slide toward beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  Tom Siebel’s MOD 70 trimaran set a new course record in what amounted to moderate breezes all the way down the track, finishing is just 2 days 8 hours.

Another report comes from Bill Helvestine’s Santa Cruz 50 Deception, one of HAMACHI’s competitors that were about 100nm behind and have never been able to reel-in the J/125!  Commented Bill, “After drifting through another never-ending wind hole, with forecasts of even less wind, a turtle doing laps around the boat, and Expedition telling us we would arrive in Puerto Vallarta sometime in August, we decided to withdraw Wednesday evening while off of Cabo San Lucas.

We had experienced large periods of no wind over the last two days, and the gribs (weather files) showed little hope for improvement during the rest of the week. With over 300 miles to go to PV as the crow flies (and likely many more miles of actual sailing), we were concerned about even finishing by the time limit on Saturday night.” So, they ended up motor-sailing with the main up, doing about 7.5 knots, headed for Puerto Vallarta and completing the MEXORC.

Their story was an accurate depiction of what was taking place in the race, especially for those sailing closer to the Baja Peninsula, where the heating and cooling of the land plays mean tricks on the wind.

J/125 Hamachi sailing off start of San Diego Vallarta raceAfter the start and for the next four days, the J/125 HAMACHI was steadily sailing at a 1st in Class and 1st Overall ORR position.  They kept trading places with the Rogers 46 in front of them for the ensuing 36 hours to the finish as they crossed from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, across the gulf, to the finish line off the westernmost cape of Bahia de Banderas, west of Puerto Vallarta.

As the only J/Team sailing, it was quite a performance.  Having assembled an all-star cast of mostly offshore & dinghy sailors from the Seattle area, Fritz Lanzinger’s tenacious Corinthian YC crew aboard the J/125 HAMACHI made a hell of a go at winning both class and overall.  Having top guns aboard like Jonathan McKee (yes, one of the famous McKee Brothers) and Trevor Baylis (Aussie 18 specialist from San Francisco) likely helped the crew sail at over 90% most of the time, playing the gybing angles fortuitously and staying in the hunt.

Puerto Vallarta sunset at dusk off Bahia de BanderasTeam HAMACHI crossed the line at dusk on Wednesday, finishing at 18:02:12 PDT. Hamachi had a great run Wednesday, avoiding the wind holes that held up much of the fleet closer to Cabo and put themselves in a great position to win the upcoming MEXORC Regatta being sailed on Bahia de Banderas.

What’s remarkable about their race is they finished about 10 hours behind a custom 46 footer and missed corrected time honors by just 13 minutes! Oh my goodness, one can only imagine how many places the HAMACHI crew felt they could’ve made up that time!  Nevertheless, an astonishing performance in a light-airs downwind slide to Puerto Vallarta for the J/125.    Sailing photo credits- San Diego YC/ Bob Betancourt   For more HAMACHI Sailing team information, please visit their Facebook page.  For more San Diego Vallarta Race sailing information

Warsash Sailing Series Springs Into Action

J/111 sailing on Solent in Warsash Spring series(Warsash, England)- The weather certainly took a turn for the better in the opening races of the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series on 16th March 2014. With a clear blue sky and temperature soaring to 18 degrees C, the River Hamble suddenly became alive with keelboats making their way to the Solent start, dinghies competing in the Hamble Warming Pan event, plus cyclists and walkers on the riverside path.   Over 100 entries were sailing with good one-design fleets of J/70s, J/80s, J/109s and J/111s along with IRC handicap competitors like the J/92s, J/97s and J/105s!

Despite the gorgeous day, the breeze had tricks to play.  It was forecast to come largely from the WNW, the wind started at NNW and swung round to the southwest, making life very difficult for the course setters. Black Group’s committee boat set up station at Flying Fish buoy laying an inflatable mark for the initial windward leg for all four classes near Calshot buoy. As the J/109s and IRC3 approached, the breeze backed, turning the next leg from a run to a fetch across to Wight Vodka buoy close to the Bramble Bank. The wind was often fickle and patchy. All boats made slow progress against the tide towards Middle Bank. At the penultimate mark the race committee sensibly signaled a course change so that the final leg returned to a true beat.

In IRC1 seven J/111s were vying for position. Cornel Riklin’s JITTERBUG headed the class with third place also taken by a J/111- Simon Boadle’s MUNKENBECK.  Third J/111 was David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM.  Rounding out the top five for a good showing in their inaugural regatta as Louise Makin & Chris Jones on JOURNEYMAKER II.

IRC3 included a mixture of asymmetric and conventionally-rigged designs. The course suited Nick and Adam Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE, which stole an enviable three minutes on handicap over their class. In fact, starting out the new season at the head of the class, just like they left it after the Hamble Winter Series!

In the IRC 4 class, past winner J’RONIMO, David Greenhalgh’s J/92, sailed well and stayed out of trouble to start off the series with a third in class.

J/109s sailing Warsash Spring series on SolentThere was a smaller than usual turnout of J/109s where Paul Griffiths’ JAGERBOMB and podium place winner last year stole a march on their friends on JYNNAN TONNYX sailed by Owain Franks & Jean Lockett.  Taking third on the day was David Mcleman’s OFFBEAT with the RED ARROW crew, helmed by Marcus Wilson in 4th.  Fifth was Dave Mcgough’s JUST SO.

White Group under CRO Peter Knight completed three races for each of the J/70 and J/80 classes. The first group enjoyed good clean starts all round with a couple of late arrivals just making it to the line in time. After a one hour race for the J/70s, a 100 degree wind shift caused some tactical quick-thinking for the J/80s. In the J/70s, Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY led around the course followed by DJANG (Malcom/ Tristan Jaques) and Marie-Claude & Paul Heys on JOSEPH’s COAT.  Amongst the J/80s, Ali Hall’s BOYSTEROUS took the gun ahead of the fast-closing BETTY (Jon Powell) and Patrick Liardet’s AQUA-J.  After this first round, the committee boat then moved close into the Meon shore.

Race 2 saw single individual recalls for both J/70 and J/80 classes as the wind became more variable, shifting south to SSW and dropping. The J/70 JOYRIDE retired after one lap with equipment issues. JUST4PLAY went on to another win but with the Jaques’s DJANGO just seven seconds behind, probably caused by returning to restart (although not in fact OCS). Race 3 saw JUST4PLAY “three-peat” in the J/70s, chalking up another win for the day to be leading the series.  In the J/80s, BETTY finally put a halt to BOYSTEROUS’s chance of a hat trick by taking the last race.

Back at Warsash Sailing Club, it was an ideal day to relax in the clubhouse garden watching the many craft on the river. Grainger Thomas from Brooks Macdonald presented champagne to the weekly class winners. After the weeks of wet and windy weather competitors and race officers agreed it had been a challenging and highly enjoyable start to this year’s series which continues next Sunday 23rd March 2014.   Sailing photo credits- Ian McLuckie.  For more Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Series sailing information