Friday, June 9, 2017

NYYC Annual Regatta Preview

J/44 offshore cruising sailboat (Newport, RI)- This year’s New York YC Annual Regatta has ninety offshore keelboats registered to sail in IRC, ORC, PHRF and J/44 classes.  In that fleet are twenty J/Boats registered (near 25% of the total) to do battle on the offshore waters of Rhode Island Sound or on the beautiful Narragansett Bay surrounded by a gorgeous coastline.

Going for broke in IRC 2 Class will be Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK from Lexington, NC, two J/111s (Sedgwick Ward’s BRAVO and Abhijeet Lele’s VARUNA), Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH from Annapolis, MD, and Tom Sutton’s J/35 LEADING EDGE from Houston, TX.

In the PHRF 1 class are two J/109s (Brian Kiley’s GAMBIT and John Greifzu’s GROWTH SPURT) and the J/120 SAYKADOO sailed by Steve McManus & Brad Boston from Annapolis, MD.

The PHRF 2 class is comprised mostly of J/teams (7 of 10)!  It includes two J/105s (Don Santa’s SANTAS REIGN-DEAR from Edgewater, MD and Fred Darlington’s TONTO from McKinney, TX), two J/88s (Dave Malkin’s MI2 from Annapolis, MD and Doug Newhouse’s YONDER from Newport, RI), Jack McGuire’s J/29 DIRTY HARRY from Annapolis, MD, EC Helme’s J/92S SPIRIT from Newport, RI, and John Krediet’s J/97E PARTICIPANT II from Stamford, CT.

There are six J/44s sailing in their one-design class configuration; including the US Coast Guard Academy’s GLORY, Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE, Bill Mooney’s KATANA, Willets Meyer’s BEAGLE, Jim Bishop’s GOLD DIGGER, and Chris Lewis’ KENAI.

When New York Yacht Club Vice Commodore Bill Ketcham purchased his J/44 MAXINE in 1996, the popular offshore racing design had been out of production for three years. Normally, this is prime indicator that one-design racing in that particular class is on the wane. More than 20 years later, however, the J/44 is still providing great one-design racing. Six will be sailing off Newport, R.I., this coming weekend at the 163rd New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and eight will contest the class's North American Championship as part of the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week later this month.

"We still have 10 to 12 boats that are pretty active in the one-design program, where we use class-owned sails that are rotated between boats every regatta," says Ketcham, of Greenwich, Conn. "We have some new owners in the fleet, and they are sailing in this event. There aren't many boats racing one-design that feel pretty lively, and also have the kind of cruising accommodations that a J/44 has. It's a great dual-purpose boat. And we are usually all overlapped at the first weather mark!”

In terms of it's sail plan, the J/44 is a bit of a throwback, using overlapping jibs, a spinnaker pole and symmetric downwind sails. Throw in the running backstays and getting the boat around the buoys takes a practiced crew. But that, says Ketcham, is part of the fun.

"Our team has been sailing together for so long that we don't think much about it," he says. "But there's nothing more satisfying than a perfect, dip-pole jibe in 25 to 30 knots of breeze. The boat is surprisingly stable and responsive, as long as the helmsman keeps it under the kite,” he says with a grin.

And, of course, even after two decades of racing MAXINE, she is still imparting lessons to the Vice Commodore and his team, which usually includes a few members of his immediate family. "Rig tune is always a challenge, and we have been experimenting with it lately," he says. "We're not quite where we want to be, yet."  For more NYYC Annual Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.