Monday, February 29, 2016

Canadian Milev Tops J/24 Midwinters

J/24 Canadian- Rossi Milev (Tampa, Florida)– Having been the proverbial “brides-maid” for several J/24 Midwinters over the course of time, it was a tremendously relieved, and excited, Rossi Milev, the skipper of ANGEL OF HARLEM, that levitated onto the podium at Davis Island YC to receive the J/24 Midwinter Champion award.  The regatta took place from February 19th to 21st, with DIYC hosting 25 teams from across the United States, Canada and even Japan.

“I’m very happy to have finally won it, but it really wasn’t me, it was my crew,” credited Milev of Mark Liebel as tactician, Jim Traun on mast, Ron Hyat on bow and Arthur Blodgett as trimmer (picture above). The team came on strong on day two with a pair of bullets to come into Sunday with a three-point advantage, which held up when a lack of breeze kept teams ashore all day.

Woman J/24 sailors at MidwintersMilev will take home The Lambert Lai Trophy, named in honor of the previous USJCA President who passed away in December 2014. John Mollicone with Tim Healy on BLIND SQUIRREL collected second place with 19 points, and Carter White’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM placed third with 21 pts.

Milev noted that the Tampa Bay venue is “very challenging, and we ended up being lucky a bunch of times.” The event attracted a who’s who of J/24 sailors, making the competition very tough. “At least five other boats could have won it,” conceded Milev. “The top boats were here…maybe five out of the top 10 in the world!”

It’s a solid start to a year that sees his home club of Port Credit Yacht Club in Mississauga, Ontario Canada host the 2016 J/24 North American Championship from September 8-11.

First day report
It was a beautiful and pristine opening day with the teams enjoying mostly sunny skies, warm temperatures and breeze between 10-15 knots throughout the day.

White’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM from Portland, Maine may not have won any of the first four races, but steady scores in the top three put them at the head of the 25-boat pack. Jim Lampman’s HOT CHOCOLATE rebounded from a nine in the opening contest to add a 1-3-2 for 15 points and hold on to second place. Milev’s ANGEL OF HARLEM was resting in third with 18 pts.

J/24 sailor- John MolliconeClass stalwart John Mollicone with Tim Healy on BLIND SQUIRREL began the Championship with a bullet, followed by St. Petersburg NOOD J/24 winner Nobuyuki Imai on SIESTA in second place and White in third. Behind Lampman’s HOT CHOCOLATE in race two were White and Milev. These same boats juggled the standings in the next contest: Milev in 1st, followed by White and Lampman. Mike Ingham closed Friday with the victory, as Lampman and White kept their teams in the top three.

Second day report
The standings were juggled dramatically after the second day of sailing in variable winds between 6-8 knots with some higher puffs. Seven races were now completed for the event.  Milev’s ANGEL OF HARLEM leapt from third place to first after another three races went in the books. With a 3-1-1 on Saturday, Milev dropped a 7th in the opening race and had 16 net points.

Also moving up in the standings was the Mollicone/Healy duo on BLIND SQUIRREL, they notched a 1-2-3 for 19 net points and second place.  The SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM dropped to third place but was still in the mix, just two points back.

J/24 sailors at MidwintersMollicone began the day with a victory, ahead of White and Milev. Milev secured only bullets for the remaining two contests. Behind him in race six were Mollicone and Christopher Stone’s VELOCIDAD. Ingham grabbed the silver spot in the final duel with Mollicone in third.

And, with not much wind on the final day, that’s how it all ended on lovely Tampa Bay.  The ANGEL OF HARLEM soaring into the heavens while the BLIND SQUIRREL found its nuts to survive and the SEA BAGGERS packed all their bronze hardware into their kit and left!  Next!

Notably, while having a bit of a familiarization issue with the notoriously capricious Tampa Bay, Erica Beck Spencer with her all-women’s team on SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM from Portland YC got it going on Saturday and posted some awesome results- an 8-16-4 was good enough for the fifth best score for the day!  Next time, ladies!  For more J/24 Midwinters sailing information

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sailing Therapy on a Chicago J/22!

Jeff sailing J/22s offshore of Chicago(Chicago, IL)- The J/22 provides sailing therapy and extraordinary experiences for a unique individual in Chicago.  Recently, we received an endearing note from a police officer/ detective in Chicago- Jeff Snarski from Bensenville (near O’Hare Airport).  Here is his story:

“Hi, my name is Jeff Snarski and I live just outside of Chicago, but most importantly, less than a half-hour drive from Lake Michigan.

Also, I am a 48 yr old police officer/detective. I only mention this as my career is leading to an end of my sailing days, not to mention my career. Near the end of 2011, I was severely injured on-duty after an encounter with a very violent offender. I was not shot, or anything, but a resulting fight left me with a torn hip and shoulder. And, later diagnosed, back damage that has now turned into severe arthritis.

J/22 sailing off ChicagoBy 2013, (I was not diagnosed with the arthritis until 2014) I started "slowing down". Doctors did not fully understand why at this point. But, I can tell you that you just know when something is seriously wrong with you. I began to knock things off of a bucket list. At the top of that list was learning to sail. Something I had wanted to learn since I sailed as a passenger on my Dad's friend's boat.

I began my research and decided on a course through Chicago Sailing on Lake Michigan. Sailing 101. Chicago Sailing uses the J/22 as their go-to instructional boat. All I can say is I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about the wind in my face, skyline in the background, and the J/22 slicing through the early spring waves. I was so happy and wanted to do this and J/22 Chicago Sail fleet off Columbia YCadvance into my later years as a sailor.

I, more than likely, will not sail again as an active participant of a boat. But, I wanted your company to know what a heart-felt place the J/22 will always have in my heart. You build dreams and memories. I was fortunate enough to experience both until the severity of my condition fully took hold.

Thank you all for being there.  Best, Jeff”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cruising a J/105 in Patagonia, Chile!

J/105 Chile- sailing delivery crew (Castro, Chiloe, Chile)- The skipper on the delivery was 75 year-old Hernan Baeza. His crew had a wonderful time on their six-day cruise from Puerto Montt south down the Pacific coast to Castro, Chiloe- a port on the island archipelago in Chile’s Patagonia region.  They made it in time to sail the Regata de Castro where Sr Baeza and his sons Martin and Felipe took over and raced the boat (after removing bimini, table and BBQ, course!).  Here’s short video clip of them enjoying canapes and wine after a long day’s sail.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Italy J/24 Winter Regatta Series Reports

J/24s sailing Italy(Genoa, Italy)- The J/24 class in Italy continues to hold winter-long series in a number of locations.  Two of the most popular editions are sailed in the middle of the Mediterranean coastline on Italy’s western coast- southern Sardinia and also Anzio-Nettuno just south of Rome.  Here are the latest reports.

VIGNE SURRAU Commands Sardinia Series
(Torregrande, Sardinia, Italy)- The first round of the Sardinia winter circuit, sailed in the beautiful waters off the port of Torregrande, saw an enthusiastic fleet of thirteen J/24s enjoying three races over the weekend.  The fleet enjoyed southwest winds early in the day that, ultimately, swung further west with larger waves and more current.

Club Nautico Oristano and Regatta Chairman Gian Marco Patta were pleased with the outcome of the event.  “In this third event of the series, we were able to do two races with winds between 12-16 knots,” explained Marco Frulio.  “The first race was won by Antonello Ciabatti’s LYBISSONIS with a beautiful second upwind leg, tacking on the right shifts. Aurelio Bini did not start very well and his VIGNE SURRAU crew failed to make their usual recovery. Accordingly, Salvatore Orecchioni’s NORD EST took second and third was Angelo Corrias’ JADINE. After a postponed start, the RC chaired by Pietro Sanna gave the fleet a good race. Many boats favored the left side of the course. Aurelio Bini took the lead and did not let go until the end. Behind him was LIBARIUM with Davide Schintu skippering and in third place was JADINE.”

Leading the provisional ranking (compiled after eight races with two discards) is Bini’s VIGNE SURRAU with an astonishing 8 pts total.  After this regatta, they increased their lead over LEGA NAVALE CARLOFORTE’s David Gorgerino that have 19 pts.

Club Nautico Oristano ( will host the next set of races at Torregrande on February 28.  Then, the Sardinia fleet will move to Arbatax for the second half of the series, scheduled on March 13, the 3 and 17 April, and May 8. After the summer recess, the Sardinian fleet will then move to northern Sardinia, Porto Rotondo, for the third and final stage (16 and 30 October, 13 and 27 November).

J/24s sailing off Italy Winter seriesLA SUPERBA Controls Anzio-Nettuno Series
(Anzio/Roma, Italy)- Over the weekend the Rome J/24 fleet had a bit too much air, adverse weather, and extreme sea conditions for the smooth running of several races for the Trofeo Lozzi and the Campionato Invernale di Anzio-Nettuno.

As a result, the rankings after eleven races (including two discards) is that Ignazio Bonanno’s team on LA SUPERBA remains in control of the series lead.  Bonanno’s team includes Simone Scontrino, Alfredo Branciforte, Francesco Picaro and Vincenzo Vano.  Sitting in second place is a very strong team- PELLE NERA from Nettuno YC sailed by Paolo Cecamore with Soling World Champion Farkas Litkey from Hungary as tactician.  In third is the Polizia Penitenziaria in FIAMME AZZURRE skippered by Fabio Delicati. All three of these teams are strong contenders to be European Champions in 2016!

The final stages of the Trofeo Lozzi will continue on 12th March while the Winter Anzio-Nettuno Series will conclude on the following Sundays- 28th February and 13th March.  The Sailing Club Roma ( will be hosting the final set of races.

J/Sailors Lovin’ Antigua Valentine’s Regatta

Antigua Valentine Regatta (Jolly Harbour, Antigua)- With fun dinghy racing for all the family, three days of competitive round the cans keel boat racing plus a new offshore race, the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta was the place to be in Antigua for President’s Day weekend. The fun continued ashore for everybody, with top live acts and a vibrant party scene supported by Mount Gay Rum and Banks Beer. The Square at West Point Bar had a Happy Hour each evening that got the party started, and then some!  The live music came from top Antiguan bands- Spirited, Sound Citizens and Asha Otto & Itchy Feet.

J/11S sailing Antigua Valentine's RegattaThe only problem, mon, is that people gotta work sometime!  That’s what befell the crew on the new J/11S SLEEPER sailed by Jonty Layfield.  “We have just spent two days doing the regatta, but we could not finish the last day as most of crew are working,” commented Layfield.  “On the first day we had a 4th, 3rd and 2nd.  We had crazy long fetching legs where the 40 footers just sailed away.  The last race we got a 2nd as it was short windward-leeward.  Then on Sunday we got 2 firsts and 2nd, all windward-leewards.  We love the boat, she sailed really well in a wide variety of conditions- lots of control with those two rudders!”

First day report
The first day of racing at the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta was held in one Antigua's most beautiful locations. Five Island Harbour is renowned for its clear turquoise water and stunning coastline with rolling green hills and remote white sandy beaches. The sheltered location, just outside Jolly Harbour, produces flat water conditions but the wind oscillated sporadically during the day, with the wind speed pumping up from 15 to 20 knots. With the wind in the south, the higher hills of the west coast of Antigua produced unstable conditions and when the wind backed to the east, stability returned, as well as the wind speed whipping up to 20 knots. Three races were held for all four classes racing under the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) rating rule.

J/122 Liquid sailing AntiguaIn the CSAS One class, it was Pamala Baldwin's J/122 LIQUID that scored two bullets and a second to lead after the first day's racing by three points. Jonty Layfield's J/11S SLEEPER was third overall.

“A fabulous day for everyone,” smiled Ms. Baldwin. “I think about the cold weather back home in New York and I just think we are all so lucky to be sailing in such a beautiful location with gorgeous weather. This is the first real regatta of the season for LIQUID, but we have been racing with Jolly Harbour Yacht Club for several months now. The team isn't always the same but we have been spending some time on the water and maybe that showed to day. Winning is always nice, but I just love to go sailing, whether it is cruising or racing. I hope we do well tomorrow, but we will enjoy it all the same.”

The CSA Two class saw some veterans move to the forefront of the fleet.  It was highly competitive racing on the first day and it produced a three-way tie for the lead that include Tanner & Shari Jones' J/30 CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE.

Second day report
It was a very, very blustery day on Jolly Harbour.  The second day of racing was held just outside Jolly Harbour Marina, unsettled weather with numerous squalls provided difficult conditions for race officer, Paul Miller and the competing yachts. With gusts of wind topping out at 25 knots, boat handling was at a premium today and those competitors that stayed under control reaped the rewards. Three races were held for all four classes racing under the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) rating rule

Antigua J sailorsAt the end of the day, it was Baldwin's J/122 LIQUID that remained at the top of the class but the day's best performer was Jonty & Vicky Layfield's J/11S SLEEPER, taking two wins and a second, lifting the team into second for the regatta.

In CSA Two, three very competitive races resulted in a change of leader for the regatta with Tanner & Shari Jones' J/30 CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE now leading.

Third day report
By the final day of the regatta, it appeared that most of the competitors realized there was not much they were going to change in the standings.  Why? Simply looking at the attendance of the disco/party/reggae marathon the evening before meant that few crews were going to be playing at the top of their game for the last day.  Indeed, that was the case, with Baldwin’s J/122 LIQUID winning CSA One class with Layfield’s J/11S SLEEPER settling for third overall due to his A.W.O.L. crew (from sailing, that is!) having to go back to work and having to score three DNS’s for the day.  In CSA Two, the Tanner’s J/30 CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE just crushed it, scoring triple bullets to beat their fleet by a significant margin!  Thanks for contribution from Louay Habib.   Sailing photo credits-  Tim Wright/
For Jolly Harbour YC Valentine’s Regatta sailing information.

Quantum J/70 Midwinters Preview

J/70s sailing Florida (Newport, RI)- The St Petersburg YC is hosting the J/70 Midwinters from February 25th to 28th!  Many of the leaders in the J/70 class will be present.  However, missing will be the last three Midwinter champions, Tim Healey’s HELLY HANSEN and Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK from Italy.  In fact, the leading the charge at this years Midwinters may be an entirely new contingent of top teams that may be ushering in a welcoming changing of the guard.  There will be familiar faces in the crowd of veteran J/70 skippers, including J/22 World Champion Al Terhune on DAZZLER from Annapolis, MD; Joel Ronning’s champion crew on CATAPULT from Wayzata, MN; Tim Molony’s JOUST from New Orleans, LA; Kerry Klingler’s MENACE from Norwalk, CT; Joe Bardenheier’s MUSE from Boston, MA; Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND from Charleston, SC; John Brim’s RIMETTE from Fisher’s Island, NY; Will Welles’ SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM (recent St Pete NOOD Regatta J/70 winner); Dave Franzel’s SPRING from Boston, MA; Geoff Becker’s USA 25 from Annapolis, MD; and Jay Lutz’s ZOUNDS HEARING from Houston, TX (the Pan Am Games Gold Medallist in the Lightning class).

In addition, there are new teams that have started to assert their presence, most notably some from “days of futures past”.  For example, closing the last Quantum J/70 Winter Series with two bullets was Glenn Darden & Reese Hillard’s HOSS from Fort Worth, TX- these guys ain’t no spring chickens, that’s for sure.  Watch out as this veteran crew has J/80 and J/105 North American Champion belts hanging on their trophy shelves at home, not too mention a few J/24 championships of various types in the Texas Circuits and elsewhere.  Don't forget, there's a friendly “transplant” from the West Coast one-design wars, that happens to be Jacko Franco on JT 3 BALL from Kemah, Texas. Plus, a J/109 Great Lakes Champion will be joining them in the form of Leif & Laura Sigmond’s NORBOY from Chicago, IL.  Then, you have a top J/111 Great Lakes and North American skipper (top 3!), Dick Lehman from Harbor Springs, MI that will be sailing WIND CZAR, winner of one of the St Pete NOOD races. Finally, the foreign contingent includes Chuck Millican’s ELUSIVE from Bermuda, Antti Luhta’s LM INFORMATION DELIVERY from Finland; and Haroldo Solberg’s OCEANPACT from Brazil.   For more J/70 Midwinters sailing information

Thursday, February 25, 2016

J/27 Midwinters @ Mardis Gras Race Week!

J/27 sailing MidwintersA.K.A.- Lessons From the Local Heroes!
(New Orleans, LA)- Four local boats and three guests from Texas, Georgia & Canada respectively attended “class” for this year’s J/27 Midwinter Championship (February 12, 13 & 14, 2016) hosted by the Southern & New Orleans Yacht Clubs as part of Mardi Gras Race Week.

Day 1/ Lesson #1:  30 Degree shifts still count as oscillations?
Yup.  It started out much as forecast with a steady 10 ~ 15 Knots for Race 1; Norman Vallette’s DEMITASSE (the 2015 Midwinter’s Champion) besting Andrew Riem’s CURVED AIR (the 2015 North American Champion). And then, the weirdness started!!

J/27 sailing Midwinters New OrleansRace 2 & 3 for the day signaled the return of classic Pontchartrain conditions and a master class in how to manage them by DEMITASSE who notched up another 2 bullets to be perfect for the day with Merlin Wilson’s ALEGRE in hot pursuit.  Not to disparage the Southern Hospitality of our hosts, but the guests all struggled through the random drops in pressure and direction.

Day 2/ Lesson #2:  Down is a Wind Direction!
So, it started much as day one, and ended up following the same pattern.  The only way I can explain how two boats can be pointing the same direction on opposite tacks with one stopped and the other heeled over is the wind must be coming straight down.  What I can’t explain is how to play those “shifts” that equally randomized the results.

J/27 Alegre sailing Midwinters New OrleansDEMITASSE looked good all day but got caught out as much as everyone else losing 3 points to ALEGRE for the day and Al Gooch’s WIND SHIFT coming from the back of the pack to win the second race of the day prior to the wind totally shutting off for lunch break. 

When the wind finally did return (some 120 degrees left of where it was) it filled in at 4 ~ 6 knots allowing for one more race.  As a testament to the closeness of the competition the entire fleet arrived at the leeward mark of race three at the same time creating a “Full Fleet Pinwheel” which ALEGRE escaped from to gain the “right” side and the bullet.

J/27s sailing downwind- Midwinters New OrleansDay 3/ Lesson #3:  The forecast may not always be right but sometimes that doesn’t matter!
Unlike day 1 & 2 which was forecast to be a steady 10 ~ 15 all day, day three’s forecast was for starting in 18 and diminishing quickly, so the “pressure” was on to get some racing in.  Perhaps that accounts for the General Recall at the start of Race 1 as everyone pushed the line early and, in the ensuing melee to return, INSTANT KARMA missed ducking SEAMMA resulting in a collision/holing.

An hour delay ensued while SEAMMA received fleet, local and Coast Guard assistance to get her and her crew safely back to shore (everyone was OK and SEAMMA will race again after, like most ladies her age, a bit of plastic surgery).  When the racing did resume DEMITASSE continued her “master class” in managing Lake Pontchartrain at the other end of the wind scale being a constant 15 ~20 knots.  Those winds provided an opportunity for CURVED AIR to save some of her reputation as current NA Champion in perhaps the most consistent wind of the regatta by bulleting in the Race 1 and hanging with DEMITASSE who took Race 2 of the day & Alegre mixing it up in the top 3 and in hot contention on both races.

At the end of the day, despite all the wrong forecasts and variableness of the winds, both DEMITASSE & ALEGRE with their consistency proved you can make sense of Lake Pontchartrain with DEMITASSE doing the better job on this occasion by 4 points.    For the rest of us, it is either back to the shed for repairs, or to our home waters to ponder what we were taught.  Thanks for the contribution from Andrew Reims!  For more J/27 Midwinters sailing information

RORC Caribbean 600 Race Preview

J/120 sailing RORC Caribbean 600 (English Harbour, Antigua)- A record fleet with a record number of big boats were ready to take flight off English Harbour on Monday.  The weather models are predicting 14 knots of wind from the southeast at the start on Monday, freshening to 20 knots in the early hours of Tuesday morning with the wind in the east. By Wednesday morning the wind speed is due to increase and by Thursday weather models predict 25 knots of wind from the east. By the afternoon, the wind is forecast to move to the southeast and decrease.

That kind of Caribbean weather should enable the trio of J sailors participating in this year’s event to demonstrate their all-around capabilities, from light to heavy and from broad-reaching to a long uphill slog.  Sailing in IRC Doublehanded is the Trans-Atlantic Race duo on the J/120 NUNATAK- Elin Haf Davies and Chris Frost.  This team is highly experienced and should have a good race in store for them.  One of their competitors will be the new J/11S SLEEPER sailed by Jonty Layfield.  In the larger boat IRC 1/ CSA 2 division will be David Ballantyne’s J/133 JINGS, another veteran offshore team with thousands of miles under their belts— they are a bit like a train rolling down the tracks, takes them a good bit of steam to get rolling but do not be surprised to see them on the podium at the end of the race!  For more RORC Caribbean 600 race sailing information

Puerto Vallarta Race Update

J/125 sailing Puerto Vallarta race (San Diego, CA)- The 32nd running of the Vallarta Race, a 1,000nm course from San Diego, USA to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, began with staggered starts on February 19 and 20 for the 21-boat field. Here’s an update on February 21 from Peter Isler, a navigator on a 70 ft sled:

“A beautiful 24 hours of sailing out here on the Pacific and the fleet is tearing up the ocean, VMG running in 20+ knots of wind, 6 foot swells and beautiful skies. Last night was epic – (nearly) full moon running… you didn’t need a flashlight on deck it was so bright.

Everyone agreed it was one of the greatest nights of sailing ever! Tonight, we are looking for another beautiful moonlight ride – as the winds are still over 20 and the temperature should be one notch warmer (there was definitely a chill to the air last night). About 24 more hours of fun before the tricky bit comes up – the approach to Cabo and figuring out how to get through the sizable windless hole that often stretches south from Cabo for up to 50 miles.  For now, we’ll appreciate the good conditions and keep riding those waves on this endless summer day & night!”

J/125 Timeshaver- winning the raceAnd speaking of February 19 starters, the J/125 TIMESHAVER skippered by Viggo Torbensen has been doig great-- this little piece of optimism was included in their 0600 report on the morning of February 21st, “Maybe (our) fastest run to the Cape- - ever! Never letting up on the pressure with a 12 knot average for the last 24 hours, the YB Tracker shows early Sunday morning, we ducked the RP 50 Blue Blazes’ stern and took a seven hour hitch out to sea, then gybed. Blazes appeared to be doing the same on the opposite gybe. When they came back together around 1600 PST, TIMESHAVER had the edge by approximately 10 miles. As the sun goes down Sunday evening, we are both pointing southeast again doing 12 knots and playing hard to catch for the big sleds.”

On-board crewman, Keith Magnussen, had this to report February 22nd: “Spectacular sunrise and moon set off Cabo San Lucas this morning. Looks like we will be first boat around the tip of Baja on our way to our destination of Puerto Vallarta and we are sitting well in class and amongst the Saturday starters.

Great sailing so far in epic conditions. The crew is working out just like I thought.. hard work, good sailors and lots of laughs. The Hippy reports he is not in a bad mood which means he is in an amazing mood!

Had our hurdles to overcome but we did so and are positive about the race. The boat is performing well and we have seen speeds over 20kts many times. Viggo is in a great mood and enjoying the friendly banter. He is rolling with the punches and having fun bailing the boat out every off shift.. Yes we leak.

We are currently 35 miles from Cabo and hoping and praying that the wind keeps up. Last thing we want is 4 days to get to PV after knocking off 300 mile days! The Rasta kite is blazing in the sunrise and I am looking forward to getting some bronzing in today.”

Torbensen’s J/125 TIMESHAVER is racing against some turbo’d Farr 40s and their annual arch-rivals, the SC 50 HORIZON.  At the moment, the J/125 is an odds-on favorite to beat just about all boats into the finish except for Manoush Mosayedi’s RIO 100 super-maxi!  For more Puerto Vallarta Race sailing information

J/80 North Americans Registrations Is Open!

J/80 North Americans (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)- National Yacht Club and the Lake Ontario fleet welcome the J/80 Community!  Enjoy back-to-back three-day weekend summer regattas and a few days between to enjoy Toronto Canada.  Plus, there is a built-in early registration discount for our US sailors as a result of their soaring dollar.

The schedule for the 2016 J/80 North Americans will include a North Sails tune-up clinic on August 4th followed by 3 days of course racing from August 5-7 including daily prizes and social events with the championship awards on August 7th.  For more J/80 North Americans sailing information

In conjunction with LYRA, we’re hosting the Hans Fogh Lake Ontario Championship the weekend prior at Whitby Yacht Club with 3 days of course racing July 29 – 31.  Registration and more information for the Lake Ontario Championship

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old-man Winter Freezes Grevelingen Cup Series

J/35 Ragazza sailing Grevelingen Cup Netherlands (Grevelingen, The Netherlands)- The Netherlands offshore winter series known as the Grevelingen Cup can have awesome, gorgeous days in a mild European winter, or it can just gruesome.  This past weekend, it was decidedly more the latter scenario.

It looked like winter and felt like winter.  With 3.0 C on the thermometer and blowing a solid 18 kts on the whirligig at the top of the mast, it was going to be a bone-chilling cold day! Plus, it was wet and drizzly! 

Nevertheless, being the hardy bunch that they are, the Dutch sailors just tossed on some more layers, wore big hats and warm boots, donned some gloves, and hopped aboard.  Nothing was going to slow them down to brave the elements, and worse, lose a few points to their more brazen (or, crazier) competitors!

The first start sounded at 11 am on the Grevelingenmeer that saw the sailors in good spirits. With 18 knots of wind gusting into the low 20’s, it was a challenge for many to keep their sailboats under control!  Keen observers noted that the wind was quite “dense” (cold + rain) and many sails could not handle it, as evidenced by some shredded in the rigging.

Boat-handling was a key element of success.  The one-design classes wanted to keep warm, so sailed shorter courses.  The larger ORC boats sailed a longer race track (after all they had warm cabins!) and were out about an hour longer than the one-designs.

All in all, it was superb sailing and a great for “character-building” in such demanding conditions (some might say the RC PRO and volunteers might have been a “bit off their rocker” to even be on the water in such weather!).

J/80s sailing Grevelingen Cup NetherlandsAfter the weekend racing, the standings in the ORC classes saw some J/Teams handling all this rough stuff quite well.  In the ORC Inshore 1 class, the J/120 JUST US sailed by H Woudenberg is sitting in third place for the series with a 5-3-1-8-2 scoreline for 19 pts- just four point from 1st overall!

In ORC 2 Triple Number class, the J crews are having a field day.  Leading the class is the J/109 JAI ALAI sailed by JC Bornet with 33 pts total after 12 races.  Sitting in third overall is another J/109, R Bakker’s BIG TIME with 65 pts.  Then, in 4th place is Wessel van der Werf’s J/88 RAGING BULL with 83 pts followed by yet another J/109 in 7th place- the van Beelen/ Krijger team on JACK RABBIT sitting on 98 pts.  Ninth is the J/92S MUSCEL sailed by Remco Otten and in 10th place is Jan Gabriel’s beautifully re-finished J/35 RAGAZZA.

In the one-design world, the J/80s have a great turnout. Leading after 13 races is Laura Vroon’s JOIE DE VIVRE with 25 pts.  Just three points back in second place is Peter Paul de Vries’ LED2LEASE and in third is David van Veen’s nJOY.

The final weekend or racing will take place on Saturday, March 19th, followed by the awards ceremony and a well-deserved feast!!   For more Grevelingen Cup sailing information

J/Crews Sail Miami to Havana Race!

New J1000 blue carJ/120 CARINTHIA Wins Class!
(Miami, FL)- It was a beautiful, sunny day that saw the forty-six sailboats prepared for a brisk forecast at the start of the first-ever Miami to Havana Race, organized by the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC).

It was a sight that Comodoro José Manual Diaz Escrich, the founder of Havana’s Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway De Cuba will never forget.  “When I founded the Club more than 24 years ago, I dreamed we would one day see a fleet of boats from our sister city in Miami racing toward our home, and it means so much to me to finally get to see it,” said Escrich.  ‘El Comodoro’ added that while he’s seen a huge amount of interest in racing to Havana Southeast since diplomatic relations between the island nation and USA have improved, the Miami to Havana Race is unique, and truly special for the sailors of both cities.  “The relationship between Miami, Havana, and the history of the SORC is so important to sailors all over the world, and we’re grateful that so many people worked together to make this race happen so quickly,” said Escrich.

Havana, Cuba harbor approachInstead of screaming speeds and the organized chaos of a big wind race, four monohull classes milled about sedately as the starting flags flapped limply at the 1 PM start of this historic race, with 4-6 knots of wind allowing just enough power to move even the slowest boat in the right direction: South.

“We were all a bit surprised at the conditions when we got to the course, but it was a gorgeous day for spectators, VIPs, and of course all the racing crews,” said Chris Woolsey, Race Chairman.  “As long as there’s enough wind to buck the Gulf Stream no one will be complaining too much, and it’s always easier on crews when the wind starts light and builds, rather than the other way around.”

The PHRF A class features dedicated racing yachts as well as several racer/cruisers, and on a 7 PM call-in from spinnaker trimmer Dan Tucker, learned that the fleet was extremely close, thanks to very unstable conditions.  “It’s light enough that the [full-race] Class 40s can’t really get away from us, especially now that the spinnakers are down,” said Tucker, sailing aboard Gary Weisberg’s Massachusetts-based J/111 HEAT WAVE. At 7 PM, Weisberg’s boat was reaching under Code Zero with around 12 knots from the WNW after “pretty much all the spinnakers around dropped at sunset,” according to Tucker.

The first two hours was troublesome for every race team; huge shifts in velocity and wind direction provided extremely tough trimming and helming conditions, though as Tucker explained, “It’s absolutely gorgeous out here now.”

J/120 sailing to Havana, CubaWith the forecast looking moderate and relatively sedate for the next day, the fleet’s navigators had to make their most important decision of the race that night as they approached Marathon Key.  Do they head into the Straits early, minimizing distance while facing more time in the adverse Gulf Stream?  Or, do they play it safe, keeping ‘one foot on the reef’ in the protected water near the shore, jumping off into potentially worse current at Key West? As it turns out, the choice about what to do with “the Great Divide” made big differences due to the divergent strategies dealing the Gulf Stream’s capricious currents.

The winners committed to a far more aggressive strategies than most expected.  One headed much farther west before crossing the stream.  As one navigator noted, “Our weather updates convinced us to send it right down the Keys; not only did it keep us out of the current for the maximum amount of time possible, but it set us up for the lift and subsequent gybe.”

But, Frank Kern found a little treasure of his own with the opposite strategy; the Michigan-based crew of the J/120 CARINTHIA worked the South hard, gybing onto starboard only when they found a secret lane of friendly Gulf Stream countercurrent to bring them right into Havana.

“We saw over a knot of southwesterly current over on the left hand [Southeast] side of the course, and we weren’t going to miss that,” said Kern, who adds a Miami to Havana PHRF B Class victory to CARINTHIA’s overflowing resume of ocean racing wins.  Just behind them was Marcus Cholerton-Brown’s J/120 SUNSET CHILD in 5th place.

Leading the charge in PHRF A class for the J sailors was Weisberg’s J/111 HEATWAVE from Jubilee YC in Gloucester, MA, taking 4th in class.  They were followed in fifth place by Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK from Lexington, NC.

Then, in PHRC C class, it was Ken Ganch & Ed Reagan’s J/105 GONZO from Columbia YC in Chicago, Illinois happily celebrating taking the silver in one of the more eccentric collection of boats in any class- two monstrously heavy Little Harbors and a quartet of skinny Hobie 33s!  Sailing photo credit: Marco Oquendo/SORC   For more SORC Miami to Havana Race sailing information

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spectacular St Petersburg NOOD Regatta!

J/88 Wings sailng St PeteJ/Tribe Winners include J/29 & J/42!
(St Petersburg, FL)- Ninety-five keelboats sailed in what could only be described as “champagne sailing conditions” for the 2016 edition of the HELLY HANSEN St Petersburg NOOD Regatta hosted by the St Petersburg YC.  Thirty-eight of those teams (40% of the fleet) were J/Boats covering the range from one-design classes of J/70s and J/24s and PHRF racing classes that includes J/29s, J/105s, J/100, J/88, J/40 and J/42!

The forecast was promising virtually “chamber of commerce” weather all of President’s Day Weekend.  Friday started under postponement, but saw light to moderate winds develop out of the SSW, enough to get in three races for most fleets.  Then, Saturday saw a northerly die and become a WNW breeze in the moderate 6-12 kts range for at least three more races across all courses.  Then, Sunday dawned with a beautiful 10-15 kts northerly wind that ultimately died by 1:30pm when the RC PRO’s all called it quits for the day, but most courses had completed two races.

J/70 sailor Will Welles at St Pete regattaThe twenty-two boat J/70 class had close racing overall and it was a good warm-up for the upcoming J/70 Midwinters in a fortnight at the same location. Hoping to carry that momentum forward is the winner, Will Welles’ team on SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM from Newport, RI.  Welles’ crew won handily counting 24 pts total. However, behind him it was “clear as mud” regarding who would fill out the top five.  In the end, it was the Fort Worth Boat Club team of STAMPEDE, skippered by Bruno Pasquinelli that took the silver with 34 pts.  Third was Buzzard’s Bay sailor Brian Keane on SAVASANA with 42 pts.  Fourth was Geoff Becker’s USA 25 and fifth was Kerry Klingler’s MENACE.

J/24 at St Pete NOODThe J/24 class had a battle royale for the top three with the final placings determined by the last three races on Sunday.  Separated by only six points, the Japanese team on SIESTA, skippered by Nobuyuki Imai finished with 19 pts.  Just three points back in second place was Travis Odenbach’s HONEY BADGER from upstate New York.  Rounding out the top three was Carter White’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM with 25 pts.  Taking fourth was local hotshot David Mendelblatt’s FAT LADY from St Pete YC and fifth was Paul Anstey’s J-PEAS.

The world of PHRF handicap racing was fraught with peril.  The St Pete YC RC decided to start both PHRF 1 big boat class on the same starting line as the PHRF 2 little boat class!  To say the starts were a bit “hair-raising” would be an understatement— rubbing gunwales, bent stanchions and frayed nerves were the order of the day!  In the PHRF 1 Class, Mike Bruno’s J/88 WINGS from American YC avoided most of the chaos to secure a tie for 3rd place, but losing the tie-break after the last race.  Seventh went to the J/105 J-HAWK sailed by David Arata and 8th was George Cussins’ J/105 FIRE & ICE.

J/105 sailing St Pete NOODThe fourteen boat PHRF 2 Class saw the J/29 SEMPER FI repeat their overwhelming domination of the division as they did last year. Raymond Mannix’s SEMPER FI team from St Pete Sailing Association simply dominated, taking five 1sts on their way to an easy win.

J/42 SHAZAM & J/40 INTREPID Win North Sails Rally!
A little bit of practice never hurts, especially in a one-day race. The J/42 SHAZAM, Saturday’s winner of the North Sails Rally Spinnaker division, took advantage of the first day of the St. Petersburg NOOD by sailing in the PHRF 1 division on Friday to prepare. “Practicing on the buoys yesterday made our sets and jibes much smoother today,” says Staci Reed, crew aboard the J/42. “The muscle memory was there. We did six sets and douses yesterday, and two or three jibes per leg, so it helped the back keep everything working today.”

SHAZAM, skippered by Roger Gatewood, sailed in the PHRF 1 division on Friday as a practice day, before digging in to the Rally today and taking both line honors and the overall corrected win. “Two things went well for us,” says bowman Brian Wasmunt. “The J/40 INTREPID (skippered by Jeff Russo) was with us until the last leg. They were ahead of us, but every rounding we gained about three boat lengths on them. We’d jockey with them each leg, then they’d take off, but we caught up to them in the roundings.”  The North Sails Rally ran a ten-mile distance course around six marks in Tampa Bay.

“The last leg was the most defining for us,” says Wasmunt. “It got light, but we laid a line from really far out and we were able to make it. A lot of the other boats weren’t’ able to lay the line, and it started getting shifty when we finished. Wing it got stuck in a huge hole at the last leg. We put distance on everyone in the last leg. It was a little bit of luck.”  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ Outside Images.  For more HELLY HANSEN St Pete NOOD regatta sailing information

Monday, February 22, 2016

The K-Mag Puerto Vallarta Race Preview

J/125 Timeshaver sailing to Puerto Vallarta(San Diego, CA)- “K-Mag” (a.k.a. Keith Magnussen from Ullman Sails Newport Beach) is getting ready to race again on Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 TIMESHAVER on the Puerto Vallarta Race from San Diego to PV, Mexico.  Here’s the latest word from K-Mag as they get ready to rumble in this weekends start (thanks to

"Here we go again.  Another journey down the coast of Mexico might seem like déjà vu, but this time it feels so much different.  You are probably thinking, “What could possibly make this trip so different?”  Easy to answer if you skipped ahead or already know who we have coming.  This year I have decided to spend all my sailing time with the Shampain family and we have hired John Shampain to navigate us down the coast (his son Erik is the tactician on board the C&C30 Loco).

With John came long time offshore sailor Tom O’Keefe who is one of the better driver/trimmers around.  New guy Mike “Polish” Radziejowski joins as fill in bow for Cody Schlub who is off with my inshore program “Loco” in Miami.  Mike works for Ullman Sails San Francisco so it is good to have another Ullman player on the boat.  Blake Hamilton, Viggo Torbensen and I have been the core group of the team for the past 4 years and know the boat well.  I am happy to just focus on making her go fast and have the Hippy put us in the right direction.

Puerto Vallarta race courseWhat excites me is the chance to sail with the Hippy (John) who I have known since my days in the junior program at Oceanside Yacht Club.  Preparing for this journey has been an experience all on its own.  The Hippy is not so much of a hippy when it comes to boats… he is more like a dictator, which is one thing I admire about him.  Everything has been thoroughly thought through and every situation accounted for.  We still have some projects and bugs to iron out but it would not be the Timeshaver without a last minute fire drill.  I am sure that the hairs on the back of the Hippy’s neck are standing up right now.

I guess I should talk more about the race?  There are some boats in our fleet, and some other big boats in another fleet, and a bigger boat sort of all on its own, and a big boat with more hulls.  Some are blue, others white, and some have kitchens that make real food.  We will sail with the coast on our left and make maneuvers and try to go fast.  Sometimes we will go faster than others and sometimes not.  In the end, we cross a sea and end up in PV.  We are looking to do well and hope that with a little bit of luck we can improve on our second place overall in 2012 (I think that was the year but don’t quote me).

MEXORC sailing seriesI got a call from the Hippy this morning and the long range forecast looks good.  Last time I did it on this boat we saw 30kts of wind for nearly 3 days and had an epic ride down to Cabo.  Perhaps we can get a front to push us all the way to PV this time?  The earlier we get there the sooner I can surf!

Sailing with my friends is a must (read any of my stories and you will see this) so the chance to race with this group is something that I have been thinking about for a long time.  2016 has already been jam packed for me and this is another journey for me to learn and grow from."

CARPE DIEM J/70 Primo Cup Champion

J/70 Carpe Diem- YC Monaco (Monte Carlo, Monaco)- The J/70 class in Europe continues to grow in strength and numbers and the enthusiastic participation in the 2016 Primo Cup- Trophy Credit Suisse Regatta, hosted by YC Monaco, was a perfect event for teams to get excellent training for their upcoming summer season.  Forty-five J/70s, nearly twice the size of any other fleet in the event, sailed the event from 12-14 February, it was also Act 4 of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series.

In the three years since it was first included in the Primo Cup, the J/70 class has grown rapidly in the Principality, with 18 boats now racing under the Yacht Club de Monaco flag- now it’s largest one-design class!  Fittingly, it was a local Monegasque team that took class honors- Jacopo Carrain’s CARPE DIEM with crew of two-time Olympian Karlo Hmeljak from Slovenia and two Italians- Martino Tortarolo and Enrico Zennaro.

J/70 Russian team- YC Monaco"They were strenuous days during this regatta.  We had to overcome the challenge and the vagaries of the weather which left little room for error for the top boats,” explained Zennaro. “Saturday was the only favorable time for weather (sun & wind!); we were able to race and compete with a fleet that is much more competitive. It is without a doubt the best way to open a season that will take in the J/70 European Championship in Kiel, Germany and the J/70 World Championship in San Francisco!"

It was also the first time that a Monegasque sailor had topped the rankings in a major international one-design class.  Carrain was overjoyed with the outcome, “I am very happy with this result, particularly given the outstanding turnout!”

J/70 Russian teams sailing off YC MonacoOn Saturday, the fleet had their work cut out for them.  With a building westerly breeze of 20 kts and enormous seas, it was an amazing spectacle.  The conditions were met with great anticipation by the excited J/70 teams. Sixteen of the 45 boats are from Monaco and without a doubt all were the most eager to do battle with two general recalls on the counter.  After the first day of racing, CARPE DIEM was leading with top Russian sailor Mark Kaganskiy from the Konakovo River Club (Moscow) skippering YANIS into second place.  Third was another YC Monaco member, Stefano Roberti on PICCININA.

After another challenging day of sailing on Sunday, Monaco’s Minister of State, HE Serge Telle, attended the final prize-giving to hand out the trophies to the exhausted sailors. As has been the tradition, the loyal sponsor SLAM presented all crew members in the top three with garments from its Advanced Technology range.  In the end, Carrain’s CARPE DIEM took class honors.  The most surprising performance was the top Russian team on YANIS, with Kaganskiy’s crew thoroughly enjoying their victory celebration— as first Russian team to podium in the International J/70 class in a major event!  Third remained in the hands of Roberti’s PICCININA.

J/70 winners- Primo CupAs for the balance of the top five, the German’s took the next two spots with Markus Reger’s XENOPHON from Chiemsee YC in 4th position and James Ahlgrimm’s GRUN SOFTWARE AG from Berliner YC in 5th place.  It is clear the Russian J/70 teams are learning quickly, as sitting in 6th place was also the top women’s skipper in the event, Valeriya Kovalenko’s ARTTUBE from Taganrog Sailing Club and her colleagues on MOJO, Dmitrii Zaritkckii, taking 15th place and Alexander Markarov’s MAJIC in 17th place in the fleet of 45 boats— - a dramatic improvement for the Russians since 2015.  Sailing photo credits- Sven Jurgensen/ Germany, Carlo Borlenghi and Olena Ekaterina/ Russia.   For more Primo Cup- Credit Suisse Regatta information