Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New England J/Fest Announcement!

New England J/Fest (Bristol, RI)- The first New England J/Fest Regatta is being hosted by the Bristol Yacht Club over the August 13-14 weekend.  East Coast Yacht Sales and North Sails are the Partner sponsors in this regatta limited to J/Boat owners and crew with racing taking place on upper Narragansett Bay.

This event capitalizes on similar successful J/Fest Regattas held in other US regions where participation has exceeded over 70 boats.  The event coordinators are anticipating 75 boats on the starting line with One-Design starts for classes with 5 or more boats.  There will be on-shore festivities including a barbeque and entertainment on Saturday night with awards following racing on Sunday.

Narragansett Bay is considered “home waters” for many of the iconic high performance J/Boats that were built at the former Tillotson-Pearson Inc.  They have a very strong following and very active class associations that include world-class champion sailors. 

The 2016 New England J/Fest regatta is scheduled the weekend between Buzzard Bay Regatta (5-7 August) and the Ida Lewis Distance Race (19-20 August).  This allows boats that travel to compete in three back-to-back events at different venues around Southern New England.  This regatta has also been designated as a special event for certain J/Boat classes as follows:
  •     J/30 Class - Southern New England Regional Championship
  •     J/70 Class - Narragansett Bay Championship
  •     J/109 Class - Part of the East Coast Regatta Series Championship
The Bristol Yacht Club has been selected to host the regatta that will include two full days of One Design and PHRF racing along with the regatta party, dinner and award ceremonies. The Bristol Yacht Club is a relaxed and family friendly place located in the geographical center of Narragansett Bay. The waterfront town of Bristol has many diverse dining experiences, parks, museums and serves as the beginning of the East Bay bike path. The BYC offers convenient and safe parking, ample short-term docking and a professional staff. There will be moorings available from the Bristol Yacht Club, Bristol Marine, Herreshoff and the Harbor Master.

Take note of the date and please consider joining us for some great racing in Bristol RI.  Information regarding the regatta including logistics, mooring availability, barbeque signup and hotel accommodations are all located on the Regatta Web Site: http//jfestnewengland.com.   Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Please contact the Regatta Chairman for more information- Bill Kneller- email- bill@109.org.

FLOJITO Crowned J/70 North American Champion!

J/70 North American champions- Fernandez's FLOJITO Y COOPERANDOFranco Tops Corinthians Division
(Seabrook, TX)- Thirty-nine teams competed in the third TORQEEDO J/70 North American Championship hosted by Lakewood YC in Seabrook, TX.  Teams from Brazil, Japan, Mexico and the USA sailed in a wide variety of conditions on the choppy and stormy Galveston Bay over the weekend of May 19th to 22nd.  The sailing was punctuated by a fairly classic setup of a stalled front over the Gulf of Mexico forming a ridge that continually spawned rain, clouds, thunderstorms, localized flooding and random bits of wind.  The Lakewood YC’s PRO and RC team demonstrated their experience and local knowledge and did a commendable job of getting in seven races over the four days.  In theory, fourteen races were possible, but a lack of wind on the first day, a wildly shifting breeze on the third day did nothing to help that matter.  In the end, reigning J/70 World Champion Julian Fernandez Neckelmann and his crew on FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO (Willem van Waay, Bill Hardesty and Danel Belausteguigoitia) were crowned the 2016 J/70 NA Champions.

J/70s sailing Galveston BayDay 2- Friday
After the first day of racing was canceled due to a massive line of thunderstorms laden with hail, lightning and tornado warnings, the fleet was chomping at the bit to get some racing done on Galveston Bay.  The indoor golf games and Formula One go-kart racing were not enough to satiate the competitive juices of the J/70 sailors on their impromptu “lay day”.  On Friday, the weather Gods cooperated, somewhat, ginning up a marginal day of racing in flukey 6-8 kts of wind.  The FLOJITO crew started off with a bullet, appropriately enough, and sailed off to an early lead with a scoreline of 1-3-1-11 over four races.  Just eight points back was Bruce Golison’s MIDLIFE CRISIS crew from Alamitos Bay, CA and Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE from Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas was third.

FLOJITO scored the first win, ahead of Golison and Jack Franco’s 3 BALL JT. Those same three teams swapped places in the next contest, with Golison 1st, Franco 2nd, and Neckelmann 3rd. It was FLOJITO’s turn back at the top in race three, trailed by Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY and current J/70 Midwinter Champion- Glenn Darden’s HOSS from Forth Worth Boat Club.  In the final race of the day, it was Phil Haegler’s CLOUD NINE from Rio de Janeiro YC in Brazil leading, followed by Will Welles’ SCAMP then Darden’s HOSS in third.

Keane's SAVASANA sailing J/70 NA's in HoustonDay 3- Saturday
Two more races went in the books on Saturday with very light breezes from the north (when it was cloudy) and to the ESE (when it was sunny).  It took a lot of patience by the LYC PRO to accommodate the sailors itching to get a race in.  However, 60 degree shifts and wind speeds fluctuating from 1 to 7 kts was not exactly a recipe for a “fair” race. For the FLOJITO team, it was feast or famine as a 13 in the opening meeting briefly dropped them out of the regatta lead. But, a bullet in the day’s only other contest gave the Mexican team 17 net points, four in front of Golison’s MIDLIFE CRISIS (who recorded a 5-8). Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE held third place with 28 points, with Darden’s HOSS hot on his heals with 29.

In the 5th race, Pasquinelli bested Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY and Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER. Following a pause to allow the wind to stabilize (which it did at 6-12 knots from the ESE), Neckelmann and teenager Gannon Troutman’s PIED PIPER renewed their Charleston Race Week battle, with Neckelmann earning the win. Brian Keane’s SAVASNA was third. Jack Franco’s 3-BALL JT held a healthy lead in the 10-boat Corinthian division.

J/70 North Americans- sailing off startDay 4- Sunday Finale
After an hour postponement due to another series of fickle thunderstorms developing over Galveston Bay, the fleet departed LYC’s docks anticipating getting at least two more races on their scorecards.  The cloudy skies parted magically as the first start was about to get underway, the breeze built to 10-13 kts from the ESE, and all was good in the world of J/70 racing on the Bay!  After two general recalls, the fleet took off.  Many locals favored the right hand side of the course, local knowledge has seen that “sunny days, go right” after the seabreeze develops almost always pays.  But, not this time.  Several top boats tanked while others that had been forced left after the start magically saw the breeze swing left 20 degrees and increase 1-2 kts!  Can’t knock a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak!  At the end of the first race of the day, the seventh for the series, the FLOJITO gang worked hard to get back into 3rd place, effectively closing out any chances for other teams to catch them.  Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY took 2nd and winning was Darden’s HOSS with Olympic Gold Medalist Jonathan McKee calling tactics.

The LYC RC and PRO team tried valiantly to get in another race with just 20 minutes to go before time expired (1330 hrs) to start races on Sunday. However, the fleet was less than cooperative, with two general recalls and a black flag start producing yet another general recall.  After that ugly scenario, the PRO canceled racing for the day; it was unfortunate since the breeze and weather conditions were just about perfect for another great race- sunny and 10-15 kts from the ESE! 

Hughes' J/70 HEARTBREAKER sailing J/70 NA'sAs a result, the FLOJITO crew from Club Nautico Valle de Bravo were crowned 2016 TORQEEDO J/70 NA Champions with 20 pts net with a comfortable ten point lead.  Second was Darden’s HOSS from Fort Worth Boat Club with 30 pts net.  Third was Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY with 32 pts, 4th Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER with 34 pts and 5th Golison’s crew suffering a MIDLIFE CRISIS after such a strong start to the regatta.  Losing the tie-breaker for 5th on 37 pts each was Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE.

Neckelmann, from Mexico, credited his team that has been together for more than a year. He also thanked the Race Committee, saying “It was just a very tough weekend with complicated conditions for them to run races. They did an outstanding job.” Expect to see Flojito y Cooperando at the J/70 World Championship this fall in San Francisco. “I’m just very happy to be sailing J/70s,” Neckelmann said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun, and the Class is going the right way. We’ll keep growing and having big fleets.”

Winning the Corinthians Division was Franco’s 3-BALL JT with 71 pts.  Taking second was Doug Strebel’s BLACK RIVER RACING with 116 pts, third was Forbes Durdin’s MOJITO with 125 pts, fourth Tracy & Christine Usher’s CHRISTINE ROBIN from San Francisco and fifth Tim Molony’s JOUST from New Orleans.   For more TORQEEDO J/70 North American Championship sailing information

Monday, May 30, 2016

WV Almere Centraal Leading Netherlands J/70 Sailing League

J/70 sailing Netherlands Sailing League (Gouwzee Waterland, Monnickendam, Netherlands)- Host for the first edition of the Netherlands J/70 Sailing League (EredivisieZeilen.nl) was the Waterland Yacht Charter Monnickendam team.  Over the three-day weekend, they managed to run thirteen races for the eighteen teams that were participating in the first full season of league-style racing.

At the conclusion of racing on Sunday, it was the WV Almere Centraal team of John den Engelsman, Willem Jan van Dort, Nova Huppes and Irena Doets that took a commanding lead after the second day of racing and win by the astonishing margin of 15 points, winning 10 of 13 races in total!  Here is how it all came about.

J/70s sailing Netherlands Sailing League off MonnickendamDay 1
After the first day of the first round, the team of RR & ZV Maas and Roer won no less than four of the six races. The matches were sailed on the Gouwzee on the Monnickendam coast.  Here were some of the reactions from the sailors after the first day.

Max Fisher- skipper of RR & ZV Maas and Roer in Roermond- gave the following explanation: "It was actually quite good for us. Better than expected. We are very satisfied. All the other teams have also trained and do not know what to expect. We had hoped to be in the top five. But, this is a great success for us today! Compared to last year, you will notice that more teams are able to win races at the top of the fleet. You notice that other teams have trained a lot and boat handling is much better. Teams go around the buoys better. So, the racing is much, much closer, it is absolutely exciting!”

John den Engelsman, crew on WV Almere Central was very satisfied. "We had a fantastic day. For everyone perfect conditions. A bit more sunshine would have been nice. But, as a team, we have done very well. We once made a mistake and have clung to the top mark. But then we actually made more mistakes!  Still, we are very pleased with today.  The level of sailing was much better than last year. All teams have been training and that you can see that on the water. All teams were doing a much better job all around.  We have a mixed team two very good women on our team- they are used to training hard."

J70s sailing off start at Netherlands Sailing LeagueDay 2
On the second day of sailing, it appears the teams were becoming more evenly matched, with the exception of the mixed team of WV Almere Central. WV Almere Central was now eight points ahead of the number two team- RR & ZV Maas en Roerin. In third place was the team of WV Brassermermeer.

One team sailed a nearly faultless day. Nova Huppes of WV Almere Central gave the following explanation, "It went very well for us. Only firsts and one second place, so we can be satisfied with our performance. Our secret is good teamwork. We have all been on board for a while and divided our responsibilities very well, so no one has too much to do and no one too little.  We had a great day!  Too much sun, so we cannot complain! Tomorrow, we will try to defend our lead!”

The general conclusion of all eighteen participating teams is that the level of the entire fleet is rising quickly. The J/70 is easy to learn how to make it go fast, especially in flat waters of the lakes and bays.  As an example, the position changes on second day were remarkable, with teams going up and down the results ladder like a roller-coaster.

Sailing their inaugural series, the Haarlem Jachtclub had a good weekend of sailing. On the first day, they had to score all DNC’s because of responsibilities at school!  However, the talented young team sailed well on Saturday and posted a few thirds along the way.  Their skipper, Bart Lambriex, took silver at the Optimist Worlds in 2011. Lambriex wants to sail the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the 49er class. Commenting on their performance, Lambriex said, "It was very rough getting used to sailing a keelboat. Many things are going well but some things are not going so well. What is not going well are those typical J/70 things that have to do with operating the gennaker. Especially the crew, learning how to raise and lower it correctly without shrimping it! So, for us it means getting better on technique!  Tactically it went well. We won some starts and often sailed the right side of the course. Nevertheless, there is much room for improvement. Tomorrow is a new day!"

On the final day of racing on Sunday, the Watersportvereniging Almere Central took a commanding lead after winning four more races in a row, taking the series by the commanding margin of 15 pts. Led by their experienced helmsman, John den Engelsman, they were a class apart. They sailed a near flawless regatta, with perfectly executed maneuvers. And, if they were at all threatened, the mixed team from Almere defended with great skill and ferocity.

Behind them, it was it was a huge battle for second place.  The number of race victories was decisive to determine who beat whom in the final standings. Three teams tied on 31 pts each after 13 races!  Winning the tie-breaker to take the silver was Watersportvereniging Sneek, then in third was Roermond Rowing and Sailing Club and in fourth was Watersportvereniging Brassermermeer.  Rounding out the top five was WSV Almere Haven.

J/70 Netherlands Sailing League winnersJohn den Engelsman (54 yrs old), skipper of WV Almere Central was very satisfied.  He has sailed in the Nations Cup Match Race Worlds with Roy Heiner.  As helmsman, he has won the J/22 Worlds and X35 Worlds and has raced for 40 years.  John said, "It was a super weekend with 18 clubs from the Netherlands with superb sailing conditions. My team has really done very well. What's our secret? We sail together in many sports boat competitions. For five years in the Melges 24 and in the past few years in the J/22 and X-35."

Menno Berens (33 yrs old) of WSV Sneek said, "It's super exciting. Many struggles. Nice short racing.  Great competition. Boat handling should be good. But, in addition, there are also critical tactical decisions to make, which is nice. Our coach (Coen van Esch) is the boss of the WSV Sneek team. The coach determines and selects the crew. We started with a large group. First, he determined the skipper, Maarten Jamin- an old hand who was twice Yngling World Champion. Then the coach added a few young guys from the Laser class (Martin Smith and Eric Jan Westerhof). One of them was World Youth Laser Radial Champion."

Martijn Worse Ling (42 yrs old) sailed for Watersportvereniging Brassermermeer and was enthusiastic about the sailing league format; ”this is fun, an exciting format! There were very many close races of high quality. Everything is very tactical. With the exception of WV Almere Central, of course. It's also really nice to get out and sail for your club. This is truly an asset for the sport of sailing! This tastes great, we want more like it!”  Watch some good YouTube sailing video action here.

The next events for the Netherlands J/70 Sailing League (eredivisiezeilen.nl/) are:
  • Jun 10-12 – Gieseplas Havenweg, Giesbeek
  • Jul 1-3 – Westeinder Vrouwentroost, Aalsmeer
  • Sep 9-11 – Veerse Gat Torenwal, Veere
  • Sep 30– Oct 2 - Weerwater Esplanade, Almere
Sailing photo credits- Remmelt Staal (http://www.remmeltstaal.com) and Jasper van Staveren (http://www.sailshoot.com)   For more Netherlands J/70 Sailing League information

“Sail a J Day” Was a Big Hit!

Gorgeous J/122E at Sail a J Day (Newport, RI)- The first New England based “Sail a J Day” took place Saturday, May 21st in Newport, RI.  Over 50 J/enthusiasts kicked off the sailing season with some fun sailing aboard the J/70, J/88, J/97E, J/109, J/111 and J/112E. Sailors traveled from as far away as Canada and the Carolinas to enjoy the mid 60’s temps and 10-15 knot J/88 at Sail a J Day Newportwinds.  Several opted to try different boats to see what fit their sailing the best.

“This was a unique opportunity to hop from boat-to-boat and actually experience the differences,” said Jeff Johnstone.  “One can learn more about a boat in 45 minutes of sailing it, than years of going to boat shows or reading brochures. From the initial feedback from the participants, we can see doing many more of these hands-on events in the future!”

J/111s @ Vice Admiral’s Cup- Fast Is Fun!

J/111 Black Dog (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The prestigious 2016 Vice Admiral's Cup produced some fantastic racing across all six classes but none more so than the J/111 Class. Five J/111s made the podium during the eight race series with four teams winning races.

In five races, the top three J/111s were less than 30 seconds apart and the winner of the J/111 Class was decided on countback, with a tie for first place, and the battle for third was won by a single point.

Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog was the winner of the Vice Admiral's Cup J/111 Class. The class only allows one professional sailor but Black Dog is an all-Corinthian team of friends from Cornwall.

“The last race was a good example of how close the racing was, six boats arrived at the mark within twenty seconds of each other, you are fighting all the way around the track for just half a boat length to get an overlap” commented Black Dog's Stuart Sawyer. “ I haven't had that closer racing since we sailed Mirrors, 30 years ago. However at times, you are doing that at 15 knots! In one race, we hit 16.7 knots. So it is not only tight racing, it is also in a thoroughly rewarding boat. With an asymmetric set up, the J/111 is relatively easy to sail, you spend your time not fighting the boat, and you are just letting it go.

J/111 Black Dog winner- Stu SawyerThe fleet is great, there are a number of very good sailors including one professional per team, which brings in a level of experience but we prefer to sail as Corinthians because we want to sail as a group of mates and keep it as fun as possible. When we sit down in the morning, we have a briefing, which finishes with the number one objective for the day and it is always to have fun. We were taking it all a bit too seriously last year and we have found that if you have fun, the communication gets much better, we manage our expectations and enjoy the boat.”

Black Dog tied on points with Cornell Riklin's J/111 Jitterbug but won the class by virtue of their number of race wins. Jitterbug won two races and only missed the podium of two occasions. To come second with such a consistent set of results is indicative of how close the racing is in the J/111 Class is.

“It was very close racing throughout and probably the best race series so far in the J/111s.” commented Jitterbug's Cornell Riklin. “ Leads were changing all the time, to come second after eight races by such a narrow margin was how it is in on design racing. We could have easily won the first two races or come third or fourth, but we ended up with two seconds. In Race 6, we were third coming into the penultimate mark and we spotted a wind shift, set our spinnaker and went for it. We held it as long as we could and then just let it go and our momentum took us through the line into first place by one second. It was very exciting racing, and the UK Class is very friendly with some great competitors. It will be very interesting to see how the UK J/111s fair in the J/111 Worlds against boats from overseas, as I think the UK fleet has made some very good progress.”

J/111 JELVIS youth crewThere was a terrific battle for third place, with Tony Mack's proven J/111 winner McFly, missing third place by a single point to Martin Dent's J/111 JElvis. Martin Dent joined the J/111 Class in July 2014 and often sails with his wife, Gloria and their two children. For the Vice Admiral's Cup there were a number of teenagers amongst the crew including Olly Maltby, who is just 13 years old and Martin Dent's daughter, Sammy who is 12 years old. Both of the youngsters were part of the crew for the 2015 J/111 Worlds in Newport USA, where JElvis was seventh and top British boat.

“I try to make sure that JElvis is as family orientated as possible,” commented Martin Dent. “I enjoy it when we come up against good crews in the J/111 Class and beat them. For the Vice Admiral's Cup, we had a number of young crew, including my 18-year-old daughter on the bow and we often sail with all the family, including my wife. The Class allows one professional so I can bring on one person who really knows what they are doing. For the Vice Admiral's Cup, we had Hannah Diamond, who is sailing the Nacra 17 for the RYA British Sailing Team, but she is only 25. The professional takes charge on board, so I don't need to say a word. If Dad goes sailing with his family and starts ordering them around, I don't think that is going to work! When you have a third party who is in charge, including myself, then there is no family issue. The J/111 is a great boat for a family to sail.

J/111 sailing Solent off Cowes, EnglandIt may be the hottest yacht in the J-Boat range but when you have youngsters on board planing downwind at high speed, they get excited by it. Actually, the loads on are more manageable than other boats. I am not saying you can put a 12 year old on a winch in big breeze, but there are jobs to do, from keeping and eye on the competition, to setting the gear and packing the spinnaker for the next leg. For them planing downwind and really getting involved makes it more exciting. You can bring dinghy sailors onto a J/111 and they really enjoy it.”

The next event for the J/111 Class will be the J-CUP from 9-11 June, which will incorporate the J/111 National Championship, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble, England. The J/111 European Championship will also be hosted at the Royal Southern YC, July 16-17 and the J/111 World Championship will also be held in the Solent from August 1-4, hosted by the Island Sailing Club in Cowes.  Thanks for contribution from Louay Habib/ RORC.   For more J/111 One-Design class sailing information   For more J/111 sailboat information

J/24 40th Anniversary Celebration!

J/24 40th anniversary party

(Stonington, CT)- The J/24 celebrated its 40th anniversary on May 15th in Stonington, CT- a notable milestone for a boat that has seen 5,500 copies launched around the world in that time frame and, as a result, became the world’s most popular recreational offshore keelboat ever.

J/24 Ragtime launching- Stonington, CTA wonderful reception was hosted for family and friends by Dodson’s Boat Yard in one of their boat storage sheds.  On hand to commemorate the 40th anniversary were Rodney Johnstone and his three “helpers”, Jeff, Phil and Alan Johnstone who were instrumental in helping scavenge parts, wood, nails, glue and other stuff to help build the original J/24 RAGTIME in their garage back in 1975 to 1976, a nearly two year building project.  In fact, all the Harken blocks aboard the original RAGTIME came from the Soling called BESS, originally owned by the famous Olympic sailing gold medalist from Denmark, Paul Elvstrom.

Lucia Johnstone christening first J/24 RAGTIME in 1976A great time was had by all and Rodney had the opportunity to re-tell the story of how the boat was created and how it became the foundation for the founding of J/Boats Inc back in the fall of 1976 with his brother- Bob Johnstone, and how they formed the partnership with another family to build the production boat- Everett Pearson of TPI Industries, in Warren, RI.  Over 30 people were on hand, many of whom were part of the beer and spaghetti party that saw 20 people hoist the original onto the keel bolts!

After the festivities, a number of the sailors walked over to the famous Dog Watch Cafe on Stonington Harbor to continue the celebrations- the Dog Watch was founded by cousin Clay Burkhalter and cousin Wendy Burkhalter Eck, in partnership with her husband Dave Eck (see http://www.dogwatchcafe.com).  Some of the crew recollected that RAGTIME won 15 of 17 races that summer in the ECYRA (Eastern CT YRA) offshore circuit- the picture here is of the family team (Rod with sons Jeff, Phil and Al) winning one of those races by a country mile.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Feuerherdt Tops Whit Cup In Germany

J/24 women's team- sailing Germany regatta (Flensburg, Germany)- The Flensburger Segel-Club (FSC) hosted their annual Whit Cup on their beautiful lake over the weekend for one-design classes of J/24s, Dragons, Stars and M24s.  The weather was light to start with on Saturday morning, then strengthened dramatically for the next two days.  The FSC’s PRO, Claus Otto Hansen, managed to run four races on Saturday and two more on Sunday, much to the delight of all classes.

In the J/24 class, the winning team was SIEGERTREPP-CHEN from the Blankeneser-Segel-Club, skippered by Tobias Feuerherdt.  Second place went to Daniel Frost from Joersfelder-Segel-Club (Berlin) and third was Stefan Karsunke.

The top women’s team was Laura Hatje from the Segler-Vereinigung Altona Oevelgonne.  Thanks for the contribution from the Flensburger Tageblatt newspaper in Flensburg.

Italy J/24 Nationals Preview

J/24 sailing off Italy (Marina di Carrara, Italy)- There will be over thirty crews sailing from the 25th to 29th of May in the XXXVI J/24 Nationals in Italy! Hosting the event is the Club Nautico Marina di Carrara in cooperation with the Italian J/24 Class and the Italian Sailing Federation (FIV).

Amongst the participating teams is three-time defending champion LA SUPERBA, sailed by Ignazio Bonanno and crew of Giuseppe Incatasciato, Francesco Picaro, Alfredo Branciforte and Vincenzo.  More determined than ever to win the title are the following teams JUMPIN JACK FLASH, sailed by Frederick Miccio and Alessio Cervellin; NORTH EAST CONSTRUCTION skippered by Antonio Chessa; JOC helmed by Fabio Apollonio from Lake Garda; JUDITH skippered by Riccardo Oleanders; and CAPTAIN NEMO steered by Chief of the Rome J/24 Fleet- Guido Guadagni.

Two German crews will also be participating, ROTOMAN owned by the President of the German J/24 Class Jan-Marc Ulrich, and skippered by Tobias Fernherdt (third last year in the Open Division) and TINTO with Till Pomasius skippering.

Defending the honor of CN Marina di Carrara will be TALLY HO (owned and skippered by Roberta Banfo); JAMAICA (owned and skippered by the President of the Italian J/24 Class- Pietro Diamanti- fourth in the Italian Nationals last year); and the 2014 National Champion- MOLLICONA (owned by Massimiliano Biagini and skippered by James Black).

Racing starts on Thursday and finish on Sunday, a total of twelve races are scheduled, weather permitting.  For more Italy J/24 Nationals sailing information

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Swiftsure Race Preview

Swiftsure Cup Session Ale (Victoria, BC, Canada)- It’s a testament to an event, the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, and a sport, sailboat racing, that has been changing in ways that have allowed more people to become involved in recent years and stay interested.  Swiftsure began in 1930. Since then, it has been halted only by major world calamities, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War. So, this year will be the 73rd running of Swiftsure.

Its most prestigious event, the Swiftsure Lightship Classic, is 138.2nm (256 km) from Clover Point out to the Swiftsure Banks near the entrance of Juan de Fuca Strait. It’s named for the former lightship, a floating lighthouse, the US Coast Guard once anchored at the entrance of the strait as a navigation aid.  The Swiftsure Lightship Classic offers some of the best, worst and trickiest conditions all in one race in one fairly wide stretch of ocean, all to be undertaken in two full days.

The Juan de Fuca Strait is bordered by the Olympic Mountains to the south and Vancouver Island to the north. And these land formations create a geographic funnel to channel wind and squeeze the air mass into a tighter space. So, the wind coming in from the Pacific will speed up as it moves farther into the strait.  This speeding wind makes for an especially tricky turn, often in the dark, as returning boats swing past a narrow neck near Race Rocks, off Metchosin, BC to head north into the finish in Victoria Harbour.

But, the Swiftsure event also offers racers choices of other starts and courses. There’s the 101.9nm Cape Flattery Race, the Juan de Fuca Race at 78.7nm, and added last year was the Hein Bank Race, 118.1nm.  There is even the Swiftsure Inshore Classic, a short trip designed to get sailors into Cadboro Bay in time for supper.

Charlotte Gann, Swiftsure spokeswoman, sailor and member of a family that has had an entrant in Swiftsure every year since it began, agreed. Gann said sailors vary in their competitive levels, their skills and their boats. To make sure everybody can have a good race, it’s important to offer courses to suit. It also helps keep the event fresh, giving entrants a chance to switch from year to year.  She said the race had a high point for entrants in 1981 when it reached 441 boats, but steadily declined afterwards. A low point was reached in 2011 when 152 boats entered.

J/120 Time Bandit sailing Swiftsure CupHowever, those numbers are rebounding, with 199 last year, and Gann said registration is on track to top 200 this year.  She also credits what she calls a modern “culture of safety” bred by Swiftsure chairman Vern Burkhardt since he took over in 2012.  People now feel confident when they enter. They can push hard on themselves and their craft, but the best safety and rescue measures are built in.  “A cornerstone of Swiftsure is our safety culture,” Gann said. “It’s very high.”  Agencies including the Canadian Coast Guard, the US Coast Guard, US Homeland Security, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy will be standing by for the race.

HMCS Whitehorse will fire the starting guns for the various races. It will then motor off to take a position on Swiftsure Bank standing in for the original lightship (thanks for contribution from Richard Watts- Times Colonist in Victoria, BC)

How & Where to Watch Swiftsure Race starts?
Go to Clover Point on Dallas Road about 8 AM. The race starts at 0900 hrs, Saturday, May 28. There's a pancake breakfast, blessing of the fleet by Songhees & Esquimalt elders, live commentary and RCAF Search & Rescue demonstration.  Then, follow the fleet in real-time on the Swiftsure Race Tracker.

Swiftsure Yacht Race Announces Own Brand of Beer!
The Swiftsure Race is thrilled to announce our own brand of beer! That's right! “Spinnakers SWIFTSURE Session Ale” has been custom brewed for the Swiftsure Race by our uber cool sponsor, Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. We're not sure, but we think we may be the only race in the history of yacht racing to have a beer named after them. Now, how cool is that!? Look for the label in the Swiftsure Tent and check the website here.

J/105 sailing Swiftsure Cup RaceDozens of J/Teams Participating!
There are 34 J/Teams entered (17% of the fleet) in this year’s Swiftsure events, by far the largest sailboat brand participating (and, maybe the largest numbers of J entries ever!).  The only team sailing the original race- the Swiftsure Lightship Classic- is Reed Bernhard’s J/109 MOUNTAIN from Sloop Tavern YC.  Sailing in the Hein Bank Race under ORC handicap rule are the two big J’s- John McPhail’s J/160 JAM and Tom Huseby’s J/145 DOUBLE TAKE.

The largest contingent of J’s are sailing the Cape Flattery Race, with 20 boats participating in three classes.  In Class L1, the biggest, fastest rides are Tom Kelly’s J/122 ANAM CARA, fresh off their fight up the coast in the Oregon Offshore Race (report below), John Murkowski’s pretty new J/122E JOY RIDE, Greg Slyngstad’s lightning-quick J/125 HAMACHI and Ron Holbrook’s J/133 CONSTELLATION.  Class L2 is loaded with good boats that include J120s, J/109s and J/35s (in fact, there are seven J/35s across three races!).  Bob Brunius’ J/120 TIME BANDIT will look to repeat their good performance in the Oregon Offshore and will have to contend with two J/120 colleagues- Kirk Palmer’s LIGHT SCOUT and Mike Picco’s WILD BLUE.  The two J/109s are Mark Hansen’s MOJO and Tom Sitar’s SERENDIPITY.  The four J/35s are Jim Prentice’s DIVA, Don Leighton’s TAHLEQUAH, Jaso Vannice’s ALTAIR, and John Vassallo’s MOONLIGHT MILE.  Several leading J/105s are packed into the L3 Class, including recent Oregon Offshore winners, FREE BOWL OF SOUP skippered by Doug Schenk.  Doing battle with them will be Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO, Chuck Stephen’s PANIC, Doug Pihlaja’s ABSTRACT, and Ed Wilder’s AVALANCHE.  Don’t be surprised if two well-prepared J/30s give them a run-for-the-money, like Scott Shaw-Mac’s NATURAL HIGH or Ulf Georg Gwildis’ IMPULSIVE.

Nine J/crews are participating in the Juan de Fuca Race across three divisions.  The cruising J’s are in H1 class, John Simpkin’s J/32 BLUE JAY and John Tulip’s J/35c IRENE II.  At the top of L1 Class is Peter McComb’s J/109 TIPPY.  They will chased hard by a number of good crews, including Walt Meagher’s J/35 SUNSHINE GIRL, two J/33s- Adrian King-Harris’ “J” and MC Marciniak’s PRESTO, Alan Ip’s J/29 GODZILLA and two J/30s- Geoff Wolf’s CONRAD J and Theo Singellis’ TAKU.

Finally, happy to just spend a weekend sailing are those sailing in the Inshore Flying Sails division, two J/35s- Ed Pinkham’s JEOPARDY and Bob McClinton’s INTREPID and Tom Kerr’s famously fast J/33 CORVO!    Follow the Swiftsure Race social activities here on Facebook   For more Swiftsure Race sailing information

Happy 40th Birthday- J/24 RAGTIME!

J/24 Ragtime 1976 launching (Stonington, CT)- This weekend, the 40th birthday party celebration of the first launching of the J/24 RAGTIME will be taking place in Stonington, CT at Dodson’s Boatyard.  Drop on by and say “Hi” or simply visit the Dogwatch Cafe and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and absorb some J/Boats history along the way!

Down in Algarrobo, Chile, the Navegantes TV program did a special on the history of J/Boats in South America.  They interviewed J/Chile dealer Juan Eduardo Reid from Windmade Spa.  It’s all in Spanish, but jump to 29.0 minutes on the timeline and you can hear how it all happened!  Watch on YouTube here!

Spinnaker Cup Race Preview

J-teams sailing Spinnaker Cup (Tiburon, CA)- Coming up this holiday weekend is one of classic offshore races that sends boats surfing down the “Cali” coastline in huge swells and NW breezes- the famous Spinnaker Cup Race from San Francisco Bay to Monterey, CA.  The race starts Friday, May 27 and the mad dash down the coastline often takes less than 24 hours.

San Francisco Yacht Club, in partnership with the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club has hosted the annual Spinnaker Cup regatta since 1998. In its 19th year, the Spinnaker Cup holds a long tradition in offshore racing with a 100nm one-way trip from the San Francisco Bay’s Knox racing area to Monterey‘s Municipal Wharf.

Sailing this year’s event are a number of offshore enthusiasts from the J/tribe.  Sailing with twelve boats in Class E are Howard Turner’s J/111 SYMMETRY from Santa Cruz YC, Ludovic Millin’s J/120 SAETTA from Singlehanded Sailing Society, and Trig Liljestrand’s J/90 RAGTIME from San Francisco YC.

The largest fleet is Class F with eighteen boats and it is rife with hot J/crews!  With a number of big offshore wins under their belts already, Scott Grealish’s J/88 BLUE FLASH is hoping to duplicate those efforts again.  Chasing them hard will be Jim Goldberg’s J/109 JUNKYARD DOG and two J/105s- Bob Goosey’s JAVELIN and Brent Vaughan’s JABBERWOCKY.   For more Spinnaker Cup Race sailing information

Friday, May 27, 2016

J/Teams Lovin’ Vashon Island Race

J/105s sailing off Seattle (Seattle, WA)- The Seattle YC hosts a very popular offshore racing series in late spring called the Tri-Island Series.  The racing takes place bi-weekly and the teams sail races that can easily be completed by midnight given the right conditions.  The trio of events are the Smith Island, Vashon Island and the Blake Island Races.  This past weekend, the Seattle offshore fleet raced the Vashon Island on May 14th.

In Class 1, Tom Huseby’s J/145 DOUBLE TAKE is now standing 5th in the Tri-Island series after taking a 4th in class in the 46.54nm long course, covering the race in 9:51:30.

J/109 sailing off SeattleIn Class 2, Ron Holbrook’s J/133 CONSTELLATION is sitting on 3rd in the series after taking a 7th in the Vashon Race to complement their 1st place in the Smith Race earlier in the season.  John Murkowski’s brand new J/122E JOY RIDE is now sitting in 5th place for the series after their 3rd in the Vashon Island Race. Both boats are just two points from second place, so the Blake Race finale will be an important factor in the overall standings— anything can happen in that race, too!

Class 3 has a pair of J/120s that are doing well in the series. Mark Liffring & Chris Johnson’s J/120 WITH GRACE is leading the class after winning the Vashon Race with Jim Hinz’s J/120 HINZITE sitting in third for the series after getting a 2nd in the Vashon race.

The J/105s are enjoying great one-design racing in Class 6. Currently, Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO is leading after winning both the Smith and Vashon Island Races.  Sitting is second overall is Lance Rummel’s INCONCEIVABLE with a 3-2 scoreline in the two races.  Third is Jerry Diercks’ DELIRIUM.

Although sitting in sixth overall at the moment, Leo Morales’ J/27 WIZARD has a very good mathematical chance of finishing in the top three in Class 7, even with their current record of a 4-7.  Here’s why, the fleet has been way up and down the standings in the first two races and third place currently has 8 pts.  So, a wizard-like performance in the Blake Islands Race could easily land them in the top three.

After sailing the Cruiser/Racer course for the past two races, Bill Boyeson’s J/42 JIMINY is counting a 3-3 to hold on to third in Class 8.  For more Tri-Island Series and Vashon Island sailing information

YC Furesøen Triumphs in Danish J/70 Sailing League Debut

J/70 Denmark winning sailing league team (Lundeberg, Denmark)- This past Saturday marked the Danish J/70 Sailing League's third season kick-off in Lundeberg; the Oure schools in Lundeberg hosted this year's first double event.

The second division began with races on Saturday and Sunday (May 14 to 15).  Then, next weekend (May 20 to 22) the first division starts, where Skovshoved Sejlklub hopes to embark on their title defense.

The Danish Sailing League offers two significant innovations this year. Both were put in to sharpen the drama and intensity - while strengthening the league as a spectator sport.

The latter is about the finish line consistently brought as close as possible to the quay, regardless of the wind direction. This gives the crowd lots of melodrama served a few meters away, which hopefully inspires even more people to be engaged in boating.

"In the final at Langelinie last year, we had a day with the finish line very close to the quay. It created a special experience with the audience; their loud cheering gave the sailors the extra incentive to work hard in the final meters of the race. That is the effect we want to have featured in our Sailing League this year," explains project manager for the league, Peter Wolsing.

The other significant feature in 2016 is the introduction of the "Final 6” for the League I teams.  It is a final format inspired by the Olympic classes Medal Race. In the league, all racing will be completed by Sunday at 1400 hrs after the latest full flight. Then the boats in the top six continue on to race as the “Final 6”, with three more races to determine the ultimate winner.

"We want to see the best against the best for last.  So, podium will be settled in direct duels on the water. It puts extra fire into a melodramatic finish for everyone, and it puts pressure on the sailors to perform when it counts. The biggest beneficiaries will be the spectators, the high voltage finale should get them pretty amplified and charge up," explains Wolsing.

Media-wise, all teams will be tracked in all races- it can be followed on SAP Live Center. Furthermore, there will be live video coverage of the Final 6 races on 22 May.

J/70 sailing league- DenmarkYacht Club Furesøen Win League II
Meanwhile, youngest crew ever to win a league event took place this past weekend in the second division tournament in Lundeberg.

Three young skiff boys and an experienced woman match race sailor joined together as a team for YC Furesoen- the team consisted of Daniel Nyborg, Jacob Emil Pjetursson, Lærke Ilsøe Nørgaard and Kasper Bech as skipper.

YC Furesøen (YF) got to an excellent start with their victory in Lundeberg, winning a three-way tie-breaker for first place, with each team sitting on 46 pts each!  As a result of the tie-break, YCF end up with just 18 points and a provisional first place in Sailing League's second division. The event confirmed clearly the old sports cliché that it pays to fight for every meter. Both Silkeborg Sejlklub and Gilleleje Sejlklub could have won the tournament by simply having snatched a single point more along the way.

Behind the YCF team, Gilleleje SK took second and Silkeborg SK completed the podium in third.  The tie-break was based on number of firsts, with YCF winning six races, GSK five and SSK four.  It simply could not have been any closer, talk about anxiety and drama!

"It has been fun. We've had some wild tight races with Kasper’s heart in his throat," says Lark Ilsøe Nørgaard. "We have focused on making good maneuvers- in good time- and to communicate, so it was only the necessary things that had to be said for us to succeed," she says about the background of their successful league debut.

The plan was that the second league would have tried the new Final 6 format where the six best clubs sailing against each other at the end of a finale flight over three races. Unfortunately, Saturday's wind conditions were insufficient to permit all eight flights to finish by the Sunday deadline.  For more Danish J/70 Sailing League information

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Win The SHOE Regatta? Get New Flip-Flops!

JBoats Shoe Regatta (Seabrook, TX)- Lakewood Yacht Club’s Race Committee Chairman Larry Rogers was looking forward to hosting the 34th Annual Shoe Regatta.  The regatta was held over the weekend of May 14-15th.  Bay Access, a not-for-profit organization that supports amateur racing, is the organizing authority of the races.

The Shoe Regatta, which is open to the public and raced on Galveston Bay, is a favorite among local racers because, in the past, each crew member of the winning boat in each class was awarded a certificate for a pair of Sperry deck shoes; hence, the name of the event- “the SHOE Regatta!”  This year, every crew member of the winning boat of every class received a pair of premium Musto Sailing Shoes with exceptional grip for the serious sailor! That’s why Mr Rogers was so excited; he was hoping to get his own pair of Musto’s!

The Shoe Regatta is for one-design, handicapped offshore sailboats.  The one-design classes sail as many races as conditions permit, the J/22s and J/70s both sailed seven races while the J/105s & J/109s sailed six races.  The PHRF Spinnaker buoy racing class also managed to sail six races.

On Saturday, the racing was postponed on shore because of no breeze.  However, the fleet went out by noon to a light breeze that built quickly to 15 kts- much more than predicted.  Lots of good racing, the J/22s and J/70s both got off four races in quick succession.

The largest class in the regatta was the up and coming class in Texas- the J/70s.  What may have supported the fourteen boat turnout was the fact a fair number of out-of-town teams were likely practicing for the upcoming J/70 North Americans to be held at the same club and in the same waters in Galveston Bay.  Winning class was Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE from San Diego YC, taking class by just two points.  Winning the tie-breaker at 29 pts each was Matt Romberg’s USA 175 over Lakewood YC’s own Doug Strebel on BLACK RIVER RACING.  Fourth on two more pts back was another LYC team, Chris Lewis’ GB and in fifth was Glenn Darden’s HOSS from Fort Worth Boat Club (the current J/70 Midwinter Champion in St Petersburg, FL).

The next biggest class was the J/22s, with eleven boats in the fleet. The fleet has “re-exploded” on Galveston Bay, with 34 race-ready boats!  Stuart Lindow’s SOUTHERN BELLE took class honors will all top four scores- winning class with 19 pts.  Taking the silver was Mike McGagh’s USA 388 with Vincent Ruder’s USA 365 in third.  The balance of the top five was Robert Allen’s CLASSY WITH K in 4th and Larry Blankenhagen’s PARROT TALES LIGHT in 5th.

Winning five races on their way to a class win was JB Bednar’s J/105 STINGER.  No one else came close to that performance.  John Barnett’s VICI took second followed by Uzi Ozeri’s INFINITY in third place.

The J/109s saw a nip and tuck battle taking place between the top two boats all weekend long.  However, it was the last race that determined the final standings, with Albrecht Goethe’s HAMBURG winning the race and the J/109 title.  Second was Tom Sutton’s LEADING EDGE and third was David Christensen’s AIRBORNE.  LEADING EDGE could not overcome blowing a jib on race 1, earning a DNF or they may have stunned the J/109 Galveston Bay World with a win over Hamburg!

JD and Susan Hill’s gorgeous J/122 SECOND STAR dominated PHRF with 5 straight bullets after a first race 3rd place to take the big trophy with 8 points.  For more Musto SHOE Regatta sailing information

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tactical J/Stop Regatta Debut

J/105 sailing San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- The St Francis YC hosted the inaugural J/Stop Regatta this past weekend for one-design fleets of J/105s, J/111s and J/120s.  The format was short courses between either the club start line or off the western face of Alcatraz Island with weather marks up near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Twenty-one J/105's competed in the inaugural J/Stop.  The sailors really enjoyed the innovative format featuring more racing with shorter courses so there could be more action for skippers and crews.  An added bonus was a lower entry fee due to just enjoying a keg on the dock instead of a catered event inside the Club.

"We tried this out a few years ago at the Wickford YC in Rhode Island, with 9 races, and it was a major success.  Most of the J/105 owners reported it was the best weekend of racing they had ever had,” reported regatta organizer Bruce Stone, Past President of the J/105 Class and owner of Arbitrage #116.

Stone continued to describe the weekend’s action for the 105s, ”While we usually have 5 races on the weekend, the St. Francis and PRO John Callahan agreed to try out 8 races.  John set us up with the same long beat as the four J/111s and five J/120s so we could get some separation going into the windward mark, and a separate set of leeward gates so the downwind leg and the second upwind beat were shorter.

J/105 sailing San FranciscoWe were rarely mixing it up with the other fleets...though, of course, being J/105s there was a lot of action among ourselves at the windward and leeward marks.  With the stronger ebb in the middle of SF Bay, the RC favored the shoreside pin end of the line by a little over 10 degrees to attract some customers, and in a few races the winning move was to start at the pin, flop immediately to port and cross the fleet, well-executed by Phil Laby's team on Godot, #44, who won three races and finished second.

Arbitrage won two races by starting at the other end, at the committee boat, and tacking to port to foot out to the strong mid-bay ebb.  Ryan Simmons' Blackhawk, #40, took fewer risks, was almost always on the starting line with speed, and won the regatta without actually winning a single race.

Tom Kennelly's Wonder, #266, turned in a strong last day with a bullet on the final race to move up to third, edging out Arbitrage.

Back at the docks, teams intermingled, blenders appeared on several boats, and competitors reported how wonderful it was to actually get a chance to match up faces with boats.  With a low entry fee of just $80, or $10 per race, our expectation is that this less formal format will be tried again."

J/120s sailing San FranciscoIn the J/120 class, it was clear that Barry Lewis’ crew on CHANCE were not going to take a chance and blow their early three bullet lead on the first day of racing.  The second day saw them sail a bit more conservative and post a 2-3-2 to win class with 10 pts total.  Behind them it was a battle royale between two long-time protagonists in the 120 world- David Halliwill’s PEREGRINE and Stevie Madeira’s MR MAGOO.  After the first day of racing, the MAGOO monsters posted a 3-2-2 to have a solid hold on second place.  Meanwhile, the PEREGRINE flyers started well, but slid down the roller coaster with a 2-3-4 tally for 9 pts.  However, either the entire crew went to church Sunday morning and prayed for a more IQ points, or they found a huge can of “whupass” and drank all of it!  Indeed, their turn-around in the first two races Sunday was epic- two bullets, and easy ones at that!  They closed with a third in the last race to win their tie-breaker on 14 pts each with the MAGOO crew.  Fourth was Tom Grennan’s KOOKABURRA and fifth was Timo Bruck’s TWIST.

Peter Wagner’s crew has been on a bit of a tear lately in the J/111 class.  Having won Key West Race Week and Charleston Race Week, they now add to their collection of silverware the J/Stop J/111 class win.  Like their winning J/120 counterparts, Wagner’s TOPSY TURVY crew triple bulleted their first three races on Saturday.  They followed up with a conservative 3-1-4 on Sunday to win with 11 pts.  Richard Swanson’s BAD DOG won two races and took two 2nds on their way to securing second overall for the weekend.  Third was Gorkem Ozcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT with 17 pts overall.   Results for all three fleets can be found here   For more J/Stop Regatta sailing information

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

RORC De Guingand Bowl Race Report

J/35 sailing North Sea races J/105 Jumps Into RORC Season Points Lead!
(Cowes, IOW, England)- The Royal Ocean Racing Club's offshore racing season continued this past weekend with the 4th race of the RORC Season's Points Championship. Designed to last 24-36 hours, the De Guingand Bowl Race starts and finishes in the Solent and is a flexi-course allowing the Royal Ocean Racing Club to design a bespoke course.

"Without the constraint of finishing the race in a totally different location, we concentrate on the weather and tidal conditions to decide the course," explains RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "We try to get all of the fleet to finish the first leg in the same tidal vector, so as to avoid a tidal gate early in the race and that is often why we start the slower yachts first. After that, wherever possible, we try to set turning marks that give tactical options to yachts during the race, although trying to predict exact wind speed and direction can be difficult. The race should last over 24 hours but the breeze looks to be changing over the weekend and that will be a factor in what is possible with the course."

This year’s DGB Race was held in the Solent and South Coast of England in highly changeable conditions. During the course of the race, the wind direction swung to every point on the compass and the wind strength varied from zephyrs to 16 knots. Keeping your head out of the boat for the changes and pre-empting and correctly adapting to them was the key to success. RORC racing manager, Nick Elliott, chose a longer course of 123nm for the faster yachts and a shorter course of 105nm for the smaller and slower boats, with the overall result being decided on average speed.

In IRC 2 Class, the Army Sailing Association's J/111 BRITISH SOLDIER took third place. In IRC 3 class, James Chalmers' Weymouth team racing the J/35 BENGAL TIGER was third in class and fifth overall in fleet!  Proof that you cannot keep a good’ole fast classic off the podium for very long!

In IRC 4, Robert Nelson's J/105 BIGFOOT was fourth in IRC 4 and fourth in IRC Two-handed division, which was enough to put the Two-handed team in first place overall for the RORC Season's Points Championship!  Just behind them was Nick Martin’s J/105 DIABLO-J in 5th place.

The Royal Ocean Club's Season's Points Championship continues on Saturday 28th May, over the May Bank Holiday with the Myth of Malham Race. The 256 nautical mile Cowes - Round Eddystone - Cowes course is weighted 1.2 for the championship and a highly competitive fleet is expected to be racing.  For more RORC De Guingand Bowl Race sailing information