Thursday, March 24, 2016

J/Sailors Cruise The Islands Race

J/Boats weather model! (Newport Beach, CA)- After a whirlwind of speculation and decision making regarding the official course for the 2016 Islands Race, the boats all finished safe in port after their 130nm adventure around the islands (Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands) from Newport Harbor to San Diego.

The Friday start featured sunny skies and a disappointing southerly wind at just 4 knots! Not to worry - the front that the Organizing Authority and Race Committee was anticipating ripped through the start area not long after the start as the Race Committee boat was traveling back to Newport Harbor. Lighter winds followed the initial squall, then built steadily as the backside of the front filled in.

Smaller sea states with 6-8’ swells and significant wind chop marked the hours following the start. Winds varied between 20 and 30 knots with gusts. According to crew member Stuart Bannatyne, “It rained hard. It was a point-to-point race, yet the way the wind was shifting made it really challenging. But it was that kind of challenge that made it an enjoyable race.”

There was plenty of other race gear casualties though. Consider one of the smaller boats out there, BLUEFLASH, a J/88 who placed second in Division 4. According to crew member Sean Grealish, whose father Scott Grealish was skippering BlueFlash, “We shredded two sails because of a bad broach. We were sailing at 18 knots boatspeed which is amazing for this size boat!”

Others weren’t as phased by the squalls. Jeff Brown onboard the J/65 MAITRI thoroughly enjoyed the rough weather and had a different idea on how to best cope with bumpy conditions and damaged gear. “This was our first time on the new boat and we were having an absolute blast. We were eating lasagna and salad from Old Venice right when our first kite blew up. So, we then we started going 10 knots with our main alone all while still enjoying our lasagna.”

Event chair Wayne Terry commended the Islands Race staff for their decision-making skills. “I think the Organizing Authority did an exceptional job with excellent leadership. We appreciated the patience from competitors as we waited to watch forecasts and tried to make the best decision.”

Upon finishing, many sailors reported that they celebrated the challenging day the only way they know how- by rushing straight to the warm, dry bar!  In fact, one of the first teams to the bar had to be Tim Fuller’s team on the J/125 RESOLUTE- they took 2nd in PHRF 2 and 2nd Overall in Fleet. Then, in ORR 2 Class scoring, they were 1st class and 2nd overall!

Another winner was Paul Stemler’s J/44 PATRIOT, taking 1st in PHRF 3 Class and 1st in ORR 3 Class scoring, too!

Finally, the aforementioned J/88 BLUE FLASH actually did remarkably well considering they blew up two sails.  Grealish’s crew managed to secure silver in PHRF 4 Class and also a 2nd in the ORR 4 Class scoring!  For more Islands Race sailing information