Tuesday, January 31, 2017

St Petersburg NOOD Regatta Update

J/70 sailing off St Petersburg (St Petersburg, FL)- The largest national sailboat racing circuit in the United States, the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta series, returns to St. Petersburg, Fla., for its first stop of the season February 17-19, 2017. The event is organized by Sailing World, hosted by St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and sponsored by HELLY HANSEN.

Hundreds of local and visiting sailors in eleven classes of sailboats will compete for individual trophies and the top prize, an invitation to race in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship Regatta, presented by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands in October.

J/88 sailing St PetersburgThe annual three-day event features one-design racing (J/70, J/24, J/88), where teams compete in races against identical boats. Points are accumulated based on finishing position in each race, and the team with the fewest total points at the conclusion of the regatta wins its class. For competitors in the regatta’s one handicap class (PHRF), time allowances are used to score boats of varying sizes and designs.

Regatta organizers then calculate an overall winner based on the strongest individual finish in the most competitive class. The overall winner earns a berth in the championship regatta, held October 22-29, 2017 in the British Virgin Islands. In addition to winners from each of the five NOOD events this year, interested sailors can charter and compete against the overall winners at the championship.

The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta is a spectator-friendly event; races can be seen from private yachts on Tampa Bay. Start times are dependent on wind and weather, but racing is scheduled to begin at 10 AM each day.  For more St Petersburg NOOD sailing information.

Duarte Crowned J/70 South American Champion!

J/70 sailing off Punta del Este, Uruguay (Punta del Este, Uruguay)- With the advent of a new J/70 builder in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the momentum for the class continues to grow across South America.  Building on that enthusiasm, the YC Punta del Este in Uruguay hosted the inaugural J/70 South American Championship in the spectacular waters off the famous resort- known as the “Riviera” of Latin America.

J/70s sailing off Punta del Este, UruguayTen boats from Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay participated in the five race series. It was clear the Brazilian team BRA 757, led by Rodrigo Duarte, was comfortable in the local wind and sea conditions, posting an unassailable record of 4 1sts and a 3rd for a commanding win.  Not far off their pace was the top Uruguayan team URU 780, skippered by Aldo Centanaro, posting a very consistent 2-3-4-1-3 for 13 pts to easily take the silver.

However, who was going to fill out the final bronze position on the podium was another story altogether! Remarkably enough, six teams were in contention going into the last race separated by just 4 pts!!  After the furious thrash around the race track, the winner of that battle was URU 75 sailed by Sebastian Rana on a tie-breaker over URU 759 skippered by Matias Garcia on 28 pts each.  And, only one point back, the balance of the top five was also settled by a tie-breaker; with URU 779 skippered by Philippe Umpierre taking the 5th spot over URU 777 helmed by Felix Leborgne at 29 pts each!  For more Uruguay J/70 fleet sailing information

Monday, January 30, 2017

Game On For J/111 Worlds @ San Francisco!

J/111's sailing San Francisco for Worlds (San Francisco, CA)- Registration is open for the 2017 J/111 Worlds hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, CA.  The J/111 World Championship is scheduled for August 22–27, 2017, including two days of measurement.

The West Coast already has a highly competitive J/111 Fleet and the World Championship will expand on that with entries from the Midwest, East Coast, Australia and Europe, making this a truly world-class event on one of J/Boats’ most exhilarating rides.

If you are thinking of sending your J/111 to San Francisco to race in the Worlds, consider sticking around for multiple weeks of great racing at the St. Francis Yacht Club. The Aldo Alessio and Phylis Kleinman Swiftsure Regattas take place on the Bay August 18–20, and can serve as an excellent warm-up to Worlds. Following, the 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series is September 14–17 and has proven year after year to be the crown jewel of West Coast regattas.  Sailing photo credits- ROLEX/ Daniel Forster. For more 2017 J/111 World Championship registration and sailing information

Epic Quantum Key West Race Week!

J/70 sailing Key West J/Sailors Revel in Spectacular Sailing Conditions
(Key West, FL)- The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week will go down in history as one of the most beautiful weeks of sailing in recent memory.  For once, the weather forecasters staring into their crystal ball were nearly correct.  It was an epic week of sailing, with postcard sailing conditions for all five days- sunny, good breezes from the east, and gorgeous moon-lit evenings ashore.

The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week saw the seven racing classes complete 10 or 12 races, all as scheduled. The Performance Cruising Class also completed five races, as scheduled. The week started with a windy and wavy northeasterly that faded over the course of four days before swinging J/88 sailing Key Westaround to a light southeasterly for Friday’s conclusion. Many sailors felt the conditions were “typical of Key West Race Week” and they complemented the race committee’s judgment.

“The race committee work this week was very good,” said Peter Colby (North Kingstown, RI), the North American Service Manager for North Sails and mainsail trimmer on the J/111 Velocity. “Yesterday we had the harbor delay and as a racer you get it in your head that racing’s going to be blown off. Then, when they took us out there I wasn’t sure it’d be good racing, but it was. We had two good races yesterday that were part of a great week of sailing. The race committee got it right this week.”

J/70 Tim Healy Key WestTim Healy’s (Jamestown, RI) NEW ENGLAND ROPES won the J/70 Class, the largest class at race week. New England Ropes finished 11 points ahead of Marty Kullman’s (St. Petersburg, FL) second-placed NEW WAVE, which won a tiebreaker for second over Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK from Italy. CALVI NETWORK, the series leader through 10 races in the stronger breezes, stumbled in the final two light air races, placing 22-12.  The rest of the top five included Brian Keane’s SAVASANA in 4th place and Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT in 5th (the reigning 2016 World Champion).

The Corinthian Boat of the Week was awarded to Rob Britts’ (Tierra Verde, FL) HOT MESS, which finished 15th in the J/70 Class.  Behind them in Corinthians was Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD in second place and in third was Andrew & Melissa Fisher’s BUTTON FLY.

J/70 time lapse sailing videoWatch this cool J/70 time-lapse YouTube sailing video!

Phil Haegler’s CLOUD NINE of Brazil, the winner of the final race in the J/70 Class, won the Quantum Sails Boat of the Day trophy on Friday.  The Sailing World Youth Trophy, for the crew with the youngest average age, was presented to Gannon Troutman’s (Gloucester, VA) PIED PIPER, which placed 12th in the J/70 Class (Troutman is current 2016 Mexican National Champion).

Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) SKELETON KEY won the J/111 Class for a second consecutive year with the low score of 25 points. SKELETON KEY won Friday’s race to score a 6-point victory over Rob Ruhlman’s (Cleveland, OH) SPACEMAN SPIFF. The rest of the podium was filled out by Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY from Annapolis, MD.  Fourth place was a new team sailing at Key West, Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK and fifth position was taken by Brad Faber’s UTAH.

Marine Partners’ Day (Thursday) was won by Peter Wagner’s J/111 SKELETON KEY. After posting finishes of 2-1, SKELETON KEY was named Boat of the Day and they also took over the lead in the J/111 Class with the low score of 24 points.

J/111 Skeleton Key at Key WestSkeleton Key won the class last year but got its defense off to a slow start with an 8th in Race 1. Since then, the crew from Northern California steadily climbed the leaderboard while the early series leader, Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, continued to slowly fall back. In races 6-7-8-9, SKELETON KEY finished 1-3-2-1 while SPACEMAN SPIFF finished 3-9-3-5.

“Today was all about being flexible. It was a very challenging day,” said Wagner, a two-time All-American sailor in the late 1980’s. “We’re always very confident in our boatspeed, the trick is to put ourselves in position to use it. We didn’t see a bias on the racecourse to one side or the other, so we tried to maintain tactical flexibility. That allowed us to benefit from boatspeed.  I have a lot of respect for the Spaceman Spiff guys. They sail their boat very well.  The conditions were so challenging today that it was easy to come out on the wrong side of events. We were fortunate to be able to improve our position today and that’s all that we could hope for.”

J/88 Hijinks sailing Key WestThe J/88’s saw tight fleet racing over the course of ten races and, in fact, each boat’s performance changed depending on the weather.  How close??  5 of 7 boats won races in the 10 race series!  In the first two days, it was breezy out of the northeast at 14-20 kts.  The third day the breeze backed off to 9-15 kts from the east.  Then, Thursday/Friday the wind shifted into a “classic” southeast direction and considerably lighter- 5-9 kts, full of streaks and holes.  Weyler’s HIJINKS posted 5 bullets in 6 races in the first 3 days, then dropped off that pace in the lighter breezes.  Other race winners included Rob Butler’s TOUCH 2 PLAY, Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS, and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION.

In the end, Laura Weyler’s (Williamsville, NY) HIJINKS won the J/88 class and also earned a coveted “Boat of the Day” on Lewmar Day (Tuesday).  After that win on Tuesday, Kris Werner, tactician for HIJINKS, commented that “It was another challenging, windy day, but these are the conditions you expect down here. We’ve had two perfect days of sailing and couldn’t ask for more. It’s been great.”  HIJINKS is Weyler’s first boat. She has never competed at race week before and Tuesday was a day that will live in her memory forever. “This is very exciting,” said Weyler. “I have an outstanding crew.”

Mike Bruno’s WINGS team from American YC in New York, started the regatta off slowly and steadily improved as the week unfolded to take the silver.  Sailing a solid series all week was Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, taking the bronze to close out the podium.  Rounding out the top five were Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS from San Francisco, CA and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION from Long Island Sound, finishing 4th and 5th, respectively.

J/122 sailing Key WestIn the ORC Class, J.D. Hill’s (Houston, TX) J/122 SECOND STAR took the class victory. Earlier in the week, it was Chris & Karen Lewis’ J/44 KENAI that was leading the class after the first two days with a 2-1-1-3 tally, with Hill’s SECOND STAR in second place.  However, KENAI faltered a bit in the final races while Hill’s SECOND STAR collected two more firsts along the way to winning class by 2 pts.  Ultimately, KENAI finished tied for third and settling for 4th on the tie-breaker. Having fun all week long was Jon Weglarz’s J/105 THE ASYLUM from Chicago, Illinois.

Race week was more than just the action on the water. All shoreside activities were held at the Waterfront Brewery, which was a gracious host. The nightly debriefs and panel discussions covered a host of topics pertinent to the sport. Morning weather briefings with Ed Adams (presented by Quantum Sails and Gowrie Group) got everyone ready for the day’s racing. The daily prize-giving ceremonies gave all winners a chance to celebrate their day on the water.

The next major event for the Storm Trysail Club is Block Island Race Week, scheduled June 18-23 off the coast of Rhode Island. For more information, visit the event website.

Sailing photo credits- Max Ranchi, Sarah Proctor, Sharon Green/UltimateSailing.com, Alan Clark/ Photoboat.com   For more Quantum Key West Race Week sailing information

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Ullman Sails Celebrates 50th Anniversary!

J/70 Ullman Sails(Newport Beach, CA)- Ullman Sails, founded in Southern California by sailing great David Ullman, will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017. Beginning in 1967, the sailmaking business has since expanded to include over 75 locations in 29 countries world-wide.

“In the beginning it was unimaginable that Ullman Sails would achieve what it has,” said Ullman Sails President and Founder David Ullman. “I am extremely proud of what the team at Ullman Sails has accomplished. We have an exciting network of technical experts, designers, sailmakers, and top-level sailors who are all working together to offer sailors the best sailing experience possible. The quality and cohesiveness of our network has really been a key part of the success of our business.”

With a strong start in dinghies and many of J/Boats’ One-Design classes (J/22, J/24, J/70, J/80, J/105), Ullman Sails has gone on to design and build winning race sails for the Olympics, Admiral’s Cup, Transpacific Yacht Race, Sydney Hobart, countless One Design World Championships, and more. The group has since expanded its cruising product series as well and now delivers the most comprehensive cruising inventory options available – from coastal cruising all the way through to the recently released Expedition Series; the only true high-latitude sail solution.

“Sailmaking today is nothing like it was 50 years ago,” said Ullman. “The whole process, from measurement and design, through to finishing have been refined and specialized for every sail we build. As we’ve evolved and brought in more expertise and experience to our team, we’ve been able to build a broader range of products that are engineered using the latest technology but still fundamentally meet the needs of our customers and their respective passions, be it boat speed off the start line at a World Championships or easy handling with the family on a weekend cruise.”

The J/24 “Crew You Regatta” on San Francisco Bay is a blast!

J/24 sailing San Francisco(San Francisco, CA)-  Here’s a great story from Martha Blanchfield- profiling cool stuff for yacht racing, sailing, cruising and water sports at RenegadeSailing.com.  This one is about J/24s on the famous San Francisco Bay!

After a long season of racing on San Francisco Bay it can be fun to just goof off a bit, which is exactly what happened at the fourth annual OPBYC Crew You Regatta for J/24 and small boats held back in December. Hallmarks of the day: no wind, lots of whiskey, several pranks and concern over seagulls befriending rubber ducky marks. This competition, traditionally scheduled in late fall, differentiates itself from by focusing on multiple short-course races run back-to-back on a single day.

Volunteers Flock to a Fun Regatta  
Jasper Van Vliet is a San Francisco area sail instructor, owner of J/24 “Evil Octopus” and race director of the Crew You Regatta. Instrumental in launching a local sailing group which he calls OPBYC, he shares, “That name initially represented what we called ourselves when we were all crewing on J/24s and other boats. We figured we were the smart ones: sail for free any time on almost any boat, you just don't get to drive much.”

In 2009 Van Vliet got it into his head to create a company that would sell sailing gloves—a product he found to be drastically overpriced. He decided to name the company OPBYC, and soon thereafter stylized a ducky logo and Web site. “The gloves thing didn't really take off, but the ducky was a hit and we stayed with it,” he smiles. “In 2013 we organized a regatta based on the concept that OPBYCers are better drivers than boat owners. Ok turns out not to be true, but the concept of a single day competition whereby the crew drives (unless the owner deems it unsafe) was definitely a winner.  Crew You racers honor a no-genoa rule if the wind hits 12 knots or higher, and the race committee will shorten or halt a race if conditions get too dicey.”

Crew You Regatta volunteers started flocking round. One fleet racer stitched a ducky around an inner tube, and one skipper began collecting inflatable palm trees and duckies that he glued onto bigger floating objects. A salvage yard was raided in order to locate weighty objects that could double as anchors and marks ballast. And key to course-setting success, a local sailor offered to zip about in his Bertram 30 slinging tropical and fowl rubber marks on the course.

J24 winnersRecounts Van Vliet, “Year one was a proof of concept and it was a blast. We did not exclude any boats, but since we know mostly J/24 sailors that's what we got.” The second year he put more muscle into marketing. “The result: same number of boats showed up. We still had a hoot. The third year I did no marketing whatsoever and the same amount of boats showed up again.” He smiles, thinking about race conditions in 2015. “We did not have balmy fall weather. In fact it was downright windy. There were some MOBs, and even a mild collision, but thankfully nobody got hurt—and as a result, I got to practice my fiber glassing skills.”

Ducking Around on the Water  
Marks boat driver Bill Helvestine has supported the fun from the get-go. He recalls the December action: “It was an exciting start at 35 seconds away from the line on race one. In half knot winds “Downtown Uproar” took up “Evil Octopus,” which resulted in a little pushing off. Just behind was boat three, “Shut up and Drive,” a bit late to the line but with excellent s-p-e-e-d. We’re not sure what happened on the course to entrants four and five, but one of the boats did show at the post-race awards ceremony.” Uncharacteristically, the winds were not present on Frisco Bay that afternoon so after a first (and additional) retirement call-in, organizers deemed that just one race on a shortened course was ample for the day.

duck duck buoyThird place accolades went to “Downtown Uproar” with Robin Van Vliet at the tiller.” Boat owner Darren Cumming joked, “It’s really all me. These guys were just riding with me.” In second place was “Evil Octopus” with Jessica Ludy controlling boat direction. According to regatta PRO Hans Opsahl, the crew earned this achievement via “creative interpretation of no rule 42.” Rule 42 relates to propulsion, and how a boat shall compete by using only wind and water to increase, maintain or decrease speed. Taking line honors on an (extremely) shortened course was Valentin Lulevitch’s “Shut Up and Drive.” Either superior boat handling, or the lean all-male crew of only three, had propelled the crew to victory. Bestowed as first prize was a mildly tarnished silver ice bucket--quickly deemed “the perpetual pee bucket” by an envious competitor.

According to Van Vliet, an event like this works in San Francisco because the J/24 fleet is so interwoven. “We have all sailed on each other’s boat. We have often travelled together to race venues (Mexico, Argentina, Seattle, for example). The San Francisco Bay sailing community is a tight, but open, bunch of people. We cross-pollinate onto other boats also.”

The OPBYC Crew Your Regatta is meant to be fun. Protests are non-existent, courses are not square and sometimes there are prizes. If this appeals to you, and you find yourself in the San Francisco area next November 4, 2017, be sure to look up OPBYC. There’s always room for one more, just check the schedule here on Facebook.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Seattle Boat Show- Displaying J/70 & J/97E!

J/97E sport cruiser/ racer(Seattle, WA)- Seattle Boat Show Indoors and Afloat starts this Friday January 27 and runs through Saturday February 4.  Sail Northwest will have a J/70 on display at the indoor portion of the show and a J/97E on display at the floating in the water portion of the show.

The wildly popular J/70 continues to expand across America, Europe, and the rest of the world.  In just 3 1/2 years, the class is pushing past 1,300 boat owners and is attracting sailors from all across the spectrum of sailing experience- beginners to Olympic Medallists, women’s teams, kid’s teams and crew from 8 to 80 yrs old!  Learn more about this exciting one-design class from the knowledgeable sailors at Sail Northwest.  For more J/70 information.

The gorgeous new J/97E may be the perfect “pocket rocket cruiser/racer” for the Pacific Northwest.  Fast enough to go upwind or offwind with many modern 40 footers, plus she has the expansive room and comfort inside for a couple to be “gunk-holing” in some of the most sought after anchorages in the San Juan Islands.  For more J/97E informationFor more show information, please contact Bob Ross @ Sail Northwest- mobile- 206-979-3291/ Bob@sailnorthwest.com  For more Seattle Boat Show information

Friday, January 27, 2017

Block Island Race Week Announcement

J/109s sailing Block Island (Block Island, RI)- Storm Trysail Club, the regatta organizer for Key West Race Week, is announcing that entries are now open for the 2017 edition of the famous Block Island Race Week.  The event runs from June 18th to 23rd, 2017.

It is the only five-day race week in New England that features great racing and six parties in the Storm Trysail Tent at the infamous “The Oar Restaurant” - all framed by Block Island’s special ambiance.

Major championships will be decided: IRC, J/44, and J/109 North Americans, PHRF and J/88 East Coasts and the J/105 New England Championship!

Racing is also offered in Performance Cruising classes, both spinnaker and non-spinnaker (PHRF), and double handed (PHRF).

Enter Now! $2 per foot LOA early pay discount, if entry fee paid on or before March 1, 2017!!  For more details, NOR, and entry for sailing Block Island Race Week.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Charleston Race Week Announcement

J/111s sailing at Charleston Race Week (Charleston, SC)- Here’s the formula: take three days of intense action on the water. Mix in four evenings of rollicking beachside parties. Then add top-flight race management and one of the best venues in the sport and you’ve got an event worth attending. That’s Sperry Charleston Race Week that is running from April 20th to 23rd.

“Serious racing. Serious fun.” That’s the new tagline for this mega-regatta. And anyone who’s raced here in the last decade will tell you the competition is tough to beat, the race courses are challenging and the shoreside festivities are unmatched. We call it Southern hospitality at its best.

J/88s sailing Charleston Race WeekCharleston Race Week has become mecca for trailerable one-designs 19 feet or larger. (Over 65 J/70s in 2016, not to mention a 17-strong J/24 class.) But we also attract a healthy contingent of offshore racers competing under PHRF and ORC formats, like J/88s, J/111s, and J/122s! And, we offer a unique Pursuit Class for those who prefer a more extended course format.

To keep things interesting, we throw in an engaging mix of pre- and post-race debriefs by some of the top experts in the sport. So competitors don’t just enjoy top-notch racing, but also great opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills, too.

To top it all off, Charleston Race Week takes place in the No. 1 destination city in the world (according to the readers of Travel & Leisure magazine). When you’re not on the water getting your adrenaline fix or on the beach reveling, there’s so much to do in Charleston. So come join us for 2017 (April 20-23) and help make this the best year yet. (And remember, the early registration discount ends January 31.)  Learn more about Charleston Race Week and sailing information here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

J/121 Hull "Final Cut"

J/121 hull plug CNC- Symmetrix (Bristol, RI)- Progress continues on the creation of the latest 40-foot speedster from the J/Boats design team.  The amazing 5-axis CNC machine at Symmetrix in Bristol, RI  literally “cuts” the shape of the hull plug to an extraordinary accuracy of just 0.1mm!  It guarantees a perfectly symmetric hull shape as envisioned by the designers. The next step is having the hull hand-sanded with 800# sandpaper and then hand-polished to a mirror finish before it is coated with gelcoat and glass to create the hull mold.  Watch this 45-second time-lapse video of the “final cut” of the J/121 hull plug.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Toronto Boat Show Time!

Toronto Boatshow(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)- While it may be quite frigid in many parts of Canada, the action will be hot and heavy inside the ginormous EnerCare Centre Exhibition Place in Toronto, the site of the 2017 Toronto International Boat Show that is running from January 20th to 29th.

Head on down to the “SailFest” exhibition area where the famous J/70 is on display at booth# B10.  The J/70 class continues to grow fleets on Lake Ontario and many Canadian sailors are gearing up for the J/70 North American Championship that is taking place just south of them in Rye, New York at American Yacht Club from October 10th to 15th.

Be sure to contact J/Canadian dealer Pat Sturgeon at Pat Sturgeon Yachts in Toronto- office- 905-278-5100, mobile- 416-347-1328, email- pats@patsturgeonyachts.com, website here.  For more Toronto Boat Show information

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monaco J/70 Winter Series- Act III Report

J/70s sailing YC Monaco (Monte Carlo, Monaco)- Last weekend, the YC Monaco held their third Act of their fabulous J/70 Winter Sportsboat Series on Hercules Bay off Monte Carlo.  From January 13th to 15th, forty J/70s from 11 countries relished the steady northerly breezes and the slight chop on the warm Mediterranean Sea.

For many of Europe’s top sailors, Monaco’s winter circuit, with monthly regattas from October to March, is not to be missed as preparation for the big summer-time J/70 events, including this year’s Europeans and World Championship in Sardinia, Italy.

Monegasque teams from YC Monaco clinched the top two spots.  Ludovico Fassitelli’s JUNDA-BANCA DEL SEMPIONE won the event, taking to the top of the podium a 2-8-4-3 record for 17 pts.  Fellow YCM member, the current European Vice-Champion Stefano Roberti, managed to win two races but had to count a 7-12 for a total score of 21 pts to take the silver.  Finishing in third was the Swiss crew ENJOY, skippered by Alain Stettler.  Rounding out the top five was the German crew SANNA R in 4th, skippered by Gerd Knospe and in fifth place was Petr Nosov, a Russian sailor skippering the Italian entry JESSIE TANTA.  Continuing to lead the series overall is Valeriya Kovalenko’s ARTTUBE crew from Moscow, Russia, winning a race in this series.  Here is a nice sailing video of the event off Monaco   For more YC Monaco Sportsboat J/70 Winter Series sailing information

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Key West Race Week Update

J/70 sailing Key West(Key West, FL)- The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week has been epic, with postcard sailing conditions for the past three days- sunny, good breezes from the east, and gorgeous moon-lit evenings ashore.  On the third day, the breeze softened into the 6 to 10 kts range, producing several shakeups on the scoreboard for several classes.

The Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day was awarded to J.D. Hill’s (Houston, TX) J/122 SECOND STAR. Competing in his first Quantum Key West Race Week, Hill’s crew won the first two races and finished tied for 2nd in the third. SECOND STAR leads the ORC Class with 13.5 points.

J/122 sailing Key West“Winning an award like this makes you teary,” said Hill. “I was telling my wife Susan that 30 years from now, if we’re lucky to still be around, sitting on a porch with our teeth on a table beside us and sipping on a mint julep, these are the days you want to think back to. These are the memories that will last a lifetime. To be here with your friends—we have tons of friends on other boats who’ve been mentors to us—to be able to look back on a day like today with terrific competitors and good friends, those are the memories that will last a lifetime.”

“This event is something that every sailor should do at least once. If you don’t you miss out on something that can’t be replicated anywhere else,” said Hill.

In the J/70 Class it looked as if Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK from Italy was charting a course to a third consecutive class victory and then the crew finished 13th in Race 9 while Tim Healy’s (Jamestown, RI) NEW ENGLAND ROPES finished 2nd. That allowed Healy to close a 12-point deficit down to 1 point with three races remaining.  Not too far behind in third place is Marty Kullman’s NEW WAVE.

J/70s sailing Key West“Thankfully we had a consistent day,” said Healy, the J/70 Class and Boat of the Week winner in 2014. “Calvi was having a good day but had a higher score in the last race and that allowed us to gain some points.”

Healy said that one side wasn’t favored over the other and added that it was important to stay in the puffs. “Both sides of the course were working,” Healy said. “It was important to stay in the puff and in phase, and John (Mollicone, tactician, Providence, RI) did nice job for us. When you were in pressure then you could tack. You couldn’t tack if you weren’t in a puff because you wouldn’t accelerate out of the tack. Every windward leg we probably cycled through 10 puffs and lulls.

“I don’t know what happened to Calvi, but I think they missed out on some pressure on the first beat of the last race,” Healy said. “They didn’t have a bad start but fell behind on the first leg and then it was hard to get back into the lead group.”

In the J/111 Class, Rob Ruhlman’s (Cleveland, OH) SPACEMAN SPIFF went 1-3 in the first two races and looked to be well in control of the class. But then SPACEMAN SPIFF finished 9th in the third race and now finds itself 1 point ahead of Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) SKELETON KEY, the reigning class champion. Observers on the J/111 course noted that SPACEMAN SPIFF got stuck in both the left and right corners in the last race.  Also in the hunt in a virtual three-way tie for first place on 20 pts is Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK.

In the J/88 Class, Laura Weyler’s (Williamsville, NY) HIJINKS won the first two races to extended its winning streak to four races, but then finished 6th in Race 7. Still, HIJINKS leads the class with 13 points and is 10 points ahead of Ryan Ruhlman’s (Bratenahl, OH) SPACEMAN SPIFF. Sitting in third place is Mike Bruno’s WINGS from American YC in Rye, New York.

In the handicap world, JD Hill’s J/122 SECOND STAR continues to lead their class, while Chris and Karen Lewis’ J/44 KENAI is sitting in 4th place, just 3 points out of third.  Sailing photo credits- Max Ranchi, Sharon Green, Sarah Proctor   For more Quantum Key West Race Week sailing information

Key West to Cuba Preview

Key West Havana Race (Key West, FL)- The old Conch Republic Cup has been revitalized after years of not taking place.  Last year the teams that participated had a wonderful time sailing from Key West to Havana, Cuba to relax in the nicely appointed Marina Hemingway along the waterfront. The event, also known as Key West Cuba Race Week, starts Sunday, January 22nd (after Key West Race Week) and continues through Friday, February 3rd.

The 2017 event is to be the second Conch Republic Cup since U.S. tensions began easing with Cuba. The historic race began in 1997 with a Key West race to Varadero and expanded to include Havana in 1999. This will be its ninth edition.

Hosted by Key West Community Sailing Center and Cuba’s Hemingway International Yacht Club, the race is a triangle: a 100-mile adventure from Key West to Varadero, a 90-mile race from Varadero to Havana and a 90-mile leg from Havana to Key West.

J/120s sailing to Havana“The Conch Republic Cup is the only race with more than one stop that runs along the coast of Cuba,” said Conch Republic Cup Executive Director Karen Angle. “It is not just a race to Cuba. It is a series of races that includes a return race to Key West.”

The Cup had a 13-year hiatus after U.S. authorities enforced a Cuban embargo in 2003. Although federal officials indicted organizers Peter Goldsmith and late partner Michelle Geslin that year for “trading with the enemy,” a Miami federal judge later tabled the case.

“We want to introduce as many sailors in the U.S. community to Cuba and revitalize racing between Key West and Cuba. We truly are a cultural exchange through sport,” said Peter Goldsmith, Conch Republic Cup president. “We’re an all-volunteer organization that donates to youth sailing programs in both countries.”

On non-race days, tours in Cuba include venues frequented by writer Ernest Hemingway. Throughout the 1930s, Hemingway lived in Key West, where he penned “To Have and Have Not” as his only novel set in the United States.

“Balancing race days with lay days gives participants time to enjoy sights and adventures Key West and Cuba have to offer,” Angle said. “Sailors who follow the racing calendar can continue on to the Caribbean racing circuit.”

Havana race taxiThe event’s Race Village and registration is to open at Dante’s Key West at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Race days are Tuesday, Jan. 24, with a 5 p.m. start from Key West to Varadero. On Thursday, Jan. 26, sailors race from Varadero along the Cuban coastline to Havana and Hemingway Marina. On Sunday, Jan. 29, a Havana Harbor buoy race at Morro Castle and a yacht parade along the Malecon are scheduled. Sailors race from Havana to Key West on Thursday, Feb. 2 and an awards celebration is scheduled Friday, Feb. 3 at Dante’s.

Currently, 25 boats in three classes (PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF Non-Spinnaker, Multihull) and six support vessels – with more than 200 sailors to represent more than 13 states – are competing in this year’s edition of the Conch Republic Cup / Key West Cuba Race Week.  Included in this year’s fleet is JD Hill’s J/122 SECOND STAR from Lakewood YC and Dallas, Texas.  For more Conch Republic Cup sailing information

How to Build A Great Crew Sailing a J/109!

J/109 Sweet Caroline(Long Island Sound, NY)- Here is some sound advice for building a Long Island Sound racing crew!  Martha Blanchfield (RenegadeSailing.com) profiled a unique team sailing their J/109 on Long Island Sound.  Here is their story.

“Chris Ercole and his wife purchased Sweet Caroline in February 2013. The 35-foot J/109, with beam 11.5 feet, carbon fiber retractable bowsprit, asymmetric spinnaker system and 7-foot keel, can easily move the boat during relaxed journeys with just four crew; six or seven are required for racing round the buoys.

When it came time to staff up for the first season of racing, Chris made a determination that he would rather train and develop a more novice set of individuals--as opposed to lure away experienced talent. Sweet Caroline talent depth and breadth would be recruited outside the usual sailing channels: via referrals and invitations.

A Good Crew is Developed
He feels that a good crew is not found; it is developed. “I can teach skills, but I cannot teach a person to be cool. Personality fit is a must,” notes Chris, who examined the disposition of each candidate before inviting aboard. The crew’s average age is 35, and each person holds down a full time job. Professional diversity reigns: supply chain engineers, a podiatrist and a recent university graduate to name a few.

Recruiting outside of routine sailing circles has given him a more reliable program, and a higher psychic pay-off.

“I know that taking someone under your wing may be risky, but I am willing to invest. I’ve been able to attract some great crew members. Recruiting outside of routine sailing circles has given me a more reliable program, and a higher psychic pay-off.”

J/109 Sweet Caroline crewOne referral was a young man who had not before been on a boat. “In just a single season Brian has developed to become our go-to spinnaker trimmer. Another rising star is Minna, who grew up sailing Laser boats. While there’s a difference between sailing a Laser and a larger keel boat, I don’t think her previous big boat crew was maximizing her talents. I gave her latitude on Sweet Caroline and this paid off. She now serves as our mainsail trimmer and tactician.”

Another crew member is Ayme Sinclair, who has 2.5 years sail cred under her belt plus an ASA certificate. Prior to Sweet Caroline, her sailing expertise came from time onboard Sonars. “Sailing on a Sonar is a very analog experience, and because of that I was starting to get a little discouraged. When a coworker offered an invitation to join during one of his crew’s evening races, I jumped.” Turns out Sweet Caroline was on the water that night, so a fortuitous post-race introduction to skipper Chris was all it took for Ayme to step up to larger boat racing.

The Sweet Training and Development Life
Having gathered together an ambitious crew, developing as a team unit was next. “During year one I opted to run practice sessions on Wednesday nights—instead of competing in local races.” Working with this somewhat novice group proved a positive, yet sometimes, challenging practice. As the most sail-educated person onboard, Chris realized that it was not easy to steer the boat and observe/train. The solution: enlist a peer to helm.

Whereas some skippers opt to rotate individuals through all roles on a boat, Chris finds it beneficial to build depth by keeping individuals in place for the time being.

One of Chris’s development strategies has been to keep a person in one spot for a while. Says Ayme, “At the start I had a single simple role. I focused on that, but soon began to understand that more time on a boat would help me bring an A-game to race nights. Heeding Chris’s suggestion, I started sailing additional nights--racing with another crew on a smaller boat at different club. This helped me improve my understanding for how to operate the sails so as to speed up a boat based on wind direction. This other skipper used a video camera to capture our time on the water, so watching the footage definitely helped me correct some of my mistakes.”

What Ayme likes about Chris is his decisiveness plus ability to share the game plan. “He asks for feedback post-race, and takes everything very seriously. He listens to the crew and, when needed, makes necessary adjustments for future times on the water. We can’t move the boat if the seven of us aren’t in sync; it takes an incredible amount of communication and camaraderie to keep winning races. I’m very impressed with how clear he is in his calls and directions.”

For 2016, Chris registered to compete on Wednesday nights—letting the course serve as playgrounds for practice. “Each race offered a chance to tune, learn and seek ways to improve. We’d also head out early and run some drills to dial-in (both weekends and evenings). And one of the most fruitful training tasks was to invite a local sail maker onboard to observe and offer critique,” adds Chris, asserting that post-race discussions were a must too.

Additional training and development carried over to knot a lot--especially the bowline. Says Ayme, “Early on I was given a 10 knot test, and I still know how to pretty much do all of them—a learned survival skills that may save a life if ever get in a pinch.” 

Going Dinghy Off Season
With winter in full force on the LI Sound at the moment (January), boats are on the hard and wrapped up tight. Chris uses this time for personal training. “Dinghy racing offers an unbelievable way to sharpen skills. There is no better way to improve upon boat handling, and increase knowledge of sail dynamics, than manning a small boat solo or aside just one other person.”

Continuing, “The J/109 is an easy boat to sail fast, and it performs well in this area under the PHRF handicap. However, the local one-design fleet is very competitive and the crew is still getting up to speed. We are always training and looking to improve, and I am always tweaking the rig for improvements. I normally adjust the rig before every race, pending conditions. Two seasons ago I started keeping a journal with different rig tunes and how the boat performed.”

For Long Island Sound (NY) sailors, the season runs late April to early October. That equates to local Wednesday night beer can and Friday evening action within Glen Cove harbor for Sweet sailors. In spring 2017, the crew will kick off with the opener hosted by the American Yacht Club in Rye, New York. Up for consideration re: weekend regattas are the 143 NM Vineyard Race (in 2015 the crew sailed the Seaflower Reef course and took a first), the Block Island Race Week, J/109 Nationals, plus various regional one-design match-ups where 10 to 15 J/Boats are usually on the line.

He’s Sweet on Caroline
It’s true that the boat sees ample race action, but Chris is quick to remind that Sweet Caroline also underpins much of the family’s summer social life. “She’s a great racer as well as coastal cruiser--fast with an easy motion in the short steep chop that we can encounter on the Sound.”

For that end, Chris has added a dodger, pressure hot water and 12-volt refrigeration. The boat can carry 70 gallons of fresh water, which makes for comfortable two-week cruises. Eight opening ports and two opening hatches allow plenty of ventilation. He calls attention to an LP oven and stove top on a gimbal, plus the large head with shower. There is also a shower on the swim platform.

Adds Chris, “Some of the things that make her a great racer also help with cruising.  The cockpit is easy to maneuver in but also allows for bracing yourself when the weather picks up. I also like that the Yanmar diesel is quiet and smooth. Sweet will easily cruise at 7 knots.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Breault Trumps J/22 California Dreamin’ Series I

J/22s sailing off San Diego CA (San Francisco, CA)- San Diego YC hosted the first stop of the 2017 California Dreamin' Series on January 7-8 in light and shifty conditions on the city-front course.  On Saturday, they managed to complete 5 flights out of the 7 scheduled for the first round-robin.  Nicole Breault of St. Francis YC and her Vela Racing Team of Molly Carapiet, Karen Loutzenheiser, and Hannah Burroughs went undefeated, persevering with patience and emphasizing on keeping the boat moving through the light stuff.  On Sunday, the winds never produced enough to race and therefore Breault won the regatta.

The California Dreamin’ Series consists of three match racing events: the San Diego Yacht Club Stop on January 7-8, 2017 in J/22s, the Long Beach Yacht Club Stop on February 25-26, 2017 in Catalina 37s, and the St. Francis Yacht Club Stop on March 11-12, 2017 in J/22s.

The winner of the series will receive an invitation to the 2017 Grade 2 Ficker Cup to be held March 24-26 in Long Beach, CA. The winning skipper and the second place skipper of the Ficker Cup shall receive invitations to the 2017 Grade WC WMRT Congressional Cup.  For more J/22 California Dreamin Series sailing information

Friday, January 20, 2017

Kirkjian Crowned Australian J/24 Champion

J/24 Australia sailing off Sydney (Sydney, Australia)- Sean Kirkjian’s Pacific Sailing School team admirably aided by the inimitable ‘AJ’ Tony Reynolds and the school graduates in ‘Sailpac’ have taken out the 2017 nationals with a solid and consistent result over Shane Guanaria, helming class stalwart Arthur Crother’s ‘Kaotic’ by 4 points. Brendan Lee sailing ‘By the Lee’ from Melbourne was third by another 7 points.

A recent record fleet of 25 boats competed in the nationals hosted by the Cronulla Sailing Club, located in Port Hacking on the southern edge of Sydney. Many competitors were visiting Cronulla for the first time and have come away with great memories and glowing opinions of the regatta. Cronulla Sailing Club ironed out all the bugs identified in the NSW States held in early November and ran a faultless regatta. From the brilliant sailing waters on the ocean side to the picturesque Gunnamatta Bay where the club is located (5 min walk to the surf beach on the other side of the small Cronulla peninsula) and the friendly, helpful and happy club volunteers serving us dinner every night off the BBQ, I didn’t hear one grumble about the running and management of the regatta. I am confident in saying there are many looking forward to another in the future – even those from the harbour loved it!

Out on the racetrack the competition was fierce, with black flags and consequent DSQs happening after each general recall, PRO Dave McLachlan ran a near faultless series, a couple of major wind changes right on the starting signal being the only difficulty encountered. The usual gladiators took out the top end of the results with the exception of Brendan Lee who is a rising star from the Sandringham fleet in Melbourne. Brendan has been putting in a major effort in both club and regatta racing and his 3rd place reflects this. Stephen Girdis sailing ‘Convicts’ took out 4th with Dave West’s ‘Ace’ being sailed by SA blow in crew Doug ‘El Fideldo’ Watson due to Dave’s wife’s medical emergency. Another great performance at the last minute by Doug.

‘Mr J24′ Hugo Ottaway, sailing Bruschetta IV, and NSW Class president John Crawford, took the next two from Steve O’Rourke, Simon Grain and Janette Syme rounding out the top ten.

Australian J/24s off Cronulla Sailing Club, SydneyRacing was generally light to medium in SE to NE breezes with most boats never pulling out jibs for the whole regatta. An 18 – 20 knot NE breeze tested some of the boats on the last day but not really causing any real trouble. Generally going left paid but not always and sometimes it was possible to find a wind bend on the right hand corner that gave you a few places. Racing was tight around the corners and the otherwise well behaved fleet experienced very little shouting!

Handicap results went much the same way as the OD results although with a reversal in order at the top. Winning with 51 points was Brendan Lee from Sean Kirkjian on 52 and Stephen Girdis on 53, so a close finish there. Fourth was Shane Guanaria on 66 from Simon Grain on 67.

Seven boats made the trip up from Melbourne and two (Robyn and Jim Townsend plus son Andrew) from South Australia (a substantial trip by any measure) – ten Cronulla boats and the rest from the harbour. All in all, a good spread from around the country.

The Cronulla Club and its volunteers did a fantastic job in making us feel very welcome and efficiently ran the on-shore and on-water parts of the regatta. The success of the regatta is in no small way a result of work done over a long period of time by the enthusiastic Mick Reynolds (sadly being away during the regatta) and others in helping to build the Cronulla fleet. Running up to and during the regatta, Fiona Campbell, Bronwyn Elford, Rhonda Wodzinski and the team of volunteers serving up the BBQ dinner everyday, looking after launching and retrieving on the hardstand, the teams out on the water all did a fantastic job and on behalf of all the competitors and associations involved, we thank you for your magnificent efforts. A big thank you to Quantum Sails and our other sponsors- Spot-A-Yacht.com (Brian Williams), Afloat Magazine, Wet Tech, Aussea, SAILOR SUNSCREEN, CBON, and Explore Sailing.

Onward and upward – you might like to plan for the annual Cronulla SC Queens Birthday Short Course regatta in June this year. The SA States are mid March and the Vic States are mid April. The NSW States are around the first weekend in November (likely to be back in the harbour) and of course the next Nationals are to be at the CYCSA in Adelaide in early Jan 2018 – see the regatta page in the near future for more details and dates.  Thanks to Simon Grain for this contribution.  For more Australian J/24 Class sailing information