Thursday, September 22, 2016

J/111 BLUR.SE Eclipses Tjorn Runt Race

J/111 Blur sailing Tjorn Runt race (Tjorn, Sweden)- The J/111 BLUR.SE has been notorious for having fun, going fast and collecting a remarkable string of silverware over the past three seasons in European offshore circles sailing fully-crewed, singlehanded and doublehanded events.  Here is Peter Gustafsson’s latest adventure in the Tjorn Runt Race (an around the island of Tjorn) in Sweden.

“Tjörn Runt was a good opportunity to gather the gang again, and it was noticeable on the Friday training and in the bar of Kookaburra--- everyone was happy to be seen, and get together to sail again....

Besides, we liked the weather forecast. Light winds with the possibility of some downwind at sea suits us quite well. It is not that we need it, but with a gennaker so it is nice to be able to sail their angles at sea, rather than being forced to sail dead downwind in narrow straits or narrow fjords. It's more fun if everyone can sail their boats to 100%.

It was 3-4 m/s when we cruised out to the course, but when it was time for the start, it was completely dead. Both where we wanted to start, the far east at Stenungsön, but also down to the west side. It was just the boats in the middle with Edin Progressive, like the J/111 DACAPO that ran away from us.

J/111 Blur sailing on reach- Tjorn Runt RaceWhen we finally got some wind, it was just time to start hunting down our leaders. After our start, went under Tjörnbron.  We know we go fast and have good boat handling. To take a chance on something different than all the others would too high a risk so early in the race.

We stretched our legs and went fast to Bratton, where we (and almost everyone else) took a route east to get around the island. Then, we went south on a long port tack board.

We were right in the bottom of the pressure that was on the east side and did not have much to gain from stepping up a notch to the west. Now it was just step hard on the gas and go south fast; our position in the middle along with the leading boats in our class felt quite ok.

We picked an experimental Code 1, which did not appear to work properly, and when we could change to our Code 0, we picked up the second J/111 DACAPO.  But, soon, they pulled out a whopping Code 1 and snatched away the lead from us again!!  We were not happy!

When the wind angles opened a bit again, we went to the A3 and could run on the rhumb line.  At this time, DACAPO sailing with her Code 1 had to go high to maintain good VMG. When we switched to our A2 monster running gennaker, we had an even better angle on DACAPO and the fleet, sailing lower and faster to lengthen our lead on them.

In fact, our distance over our competitors had become quite large and we had really managed to make the most of the transition engines.  It might seem luxurious with a big downwind wardrobe, but you pay the penalties fairly sharply in their SRS handicap numbers- since the rating are based on the fact that you can get 100% of each sail + making changes just in the right position.  In any case, our changing from J0 to C0 to A3 to A2 could not have gone any better.

At Dyrön, we had to make two gybes and managed to leap into third place on elapsed time.  Not bad!  And, we continued to build our distance on the boats behind us like the J/111 DACAPO.

We knew it was a conservative move, but we still thought it felt safe to run the rhumbline with our 105% jib. In retrospect, we could perhaps have gone faster on the flat gennaker- the J0, but that meant making a couple of changes.  But, if we had done it, we could have sailed a bit more aggressively for speed.

Nevertheless, we made it to Kälkerön in good shape relative to our competitors and we could now safely roll out the big Code 0 again and aim for the finish line.  We knew we had sailed well, and had beaten the boats we had an eye on!”

In the end, Gustafsson’s J/111 BLUR.SE won, beating her sistership home by 9 min 43 sec on corrected time.  Significantly, the J/111 sailed the course 2 min faster on elapsed time than the First 40, 5 min faster than the Ker 39, 5 min faster than an XP-44 and 35 min faster than an IMX 40!

According to Peter, “it was awesome fun to nail the big class against all good boats. We nailed the 40-foot class in 2009 with our J/109, and it was fun to nail the class again!” Sailing photo credits- Elisabeth Stensby  For more J/111 BLUR sailing information