Monday, July 31, 2017

LENDY Cowes Week Preview

J/109s sailing Cowes Week (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Cowes Week is one of the United Kingdom's longest running and most successful sporting events and is a key highlight of the British sporting summer. It has been held in early August every year since 1826, except during the two world wars.

Traditionally, Cowes Week takes place after “Glorious Goodwood” (classic car stuff) and before the “Glorious Twelfth” (bird shooting stuff- grouse)- occasionally the traditional dates are changed to ensure optimum racing, most importantly, taking account of the ferocious tides of the Solent.

RAF Red Arrows acrobatic teamAround 8,000 competitors will participate this year, ranging from Olympic and world-class yachtsmen to weekend sailors. The spectacle that the racing provides, together with the vibrant festival atmosphere attracts over 100,000 visitors to Cowes during the event.  The special events that take place all week are particularly noteworthy.  Starting on Tuesday, ELEMIS Ladies Day celebrates the contribution and achievement of women in sailing and recognizes some of the major successes of women in the sport.  Then, the end of week fireworks display on Friday is simply mind-blowing, and of course, the Royal Air Force “Red Arrows” acrobatic team are just awesome!  Every supporting yacht club also hosts big fireworks parties with disco dancing well past midnight (Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal London YC, RORC, Island Sailing Club, & Cowes Corinthian YC)!

For 2017, the Cowes Combined Clubs organization is delighted to welcome LENDY- The Property Platform- onboard as title sponsor of Cowes Week.  As a result, the 2017 regatta is now known as “LENDY Cowes Week”.

As the J/stable of cruisers, racers, and one-designs have expanded over the course of time, J/owners have made Cowes Week a fixture on their summer schedule, with hundreds of J/sailors participating from across the spectrum of age and experience.  There are three one-design classes (J/70s, J/80s, J/109s) and J/crews participating in IRC handicap classes.

J/70 youth team at CowesThe thirty-three J/70s, by far the largest modern keelboat class in the regatta, are sporting several luminaries in their ranks, plus women’s teams and youth teams!  What must be noted is that Royal Yacht Squadron and Royal Thames YC combined have a dozen J/70s, many of which are entered with a variety of Corinthian youth and women’s crews.  At the top of the leaderboard should be well-known crews like Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC, Andrew Barraclough’s JENGA 8, Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY, Tony Hanlon’s RAF SPITFIRE, and Jack Davies’ YETI Under 25 Youth Team.  Notably, there are five women helms in the event- Vilija Velyvte & Sophie Sheldon’s AURORA, Kim Ridge’s NONE, Sarah Allan’s RTYC 743, Ali Hall’s SCEPTRE, and Anna Wilson’s SHIVER.

With ten J/80s, the competition will always be close, particularly when racing up and down The Parade along the fabulous Cowes waterfront.  Leading crews in the class will have just come off a brutally tough J/80 World Championship held just across the Solent at the Royal Southern YC in the Hamble.  Those crews include Terence O’Neill’s AQUA J, Jon Powell’s BETTY, and Chris Body’s MOCKINGJAY.

J/109 sailing CowesThe enormous eighteen boat J/109 class will always have laid-back, but ferocious competition- if there were ever a “Pimms class” amongst the J/cognoscenti, it is the J/109’s on the Solent.  Having fun, fiercely, but kicking back after a long, hard day of racing on the royal waters of the Solent.  In fact, one of the class leaders is appropriately named JYNNAN TONNYX- a family affair sailed by Owain Franks and Jean Lockett.  Always near the top of the scorecard, they will be chased hard by pirate captains- the “Jack Sparrows” of the world- Roger Phillips’ DESIGNSTAR 2, Bob Stiles’ DIAMOND JEM, Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE, William King’s JOLLY JACK TAR, Chris Sharples & Rick Acland’s JUKEBOX, and Dave Richards’ JUMPING JELLYFISH.

The eighteen-boat Sportsboat IRC class will be sporting five J/88s.  They will be up against a smorgasbord of Cork 1720s and Farr 280s, amongst other “sportboat exotica” that can be found in the United Kingdom!  Leading the charge will be David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM, with classmates chasing them hard for class honors, such as Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL, Paul Ward’s notorious EAT SLEEP J REPEAT, Dirk & Dianne van Beek’s SABRIEL JR, and Paul Heys’ JENGA XXX.

J/111 sailing CowesIn the world of handicap racing, the six J/111s are racing in IRC 1 Class along with a brilliantly sailed J/122E.  They are up against an eclectic ensemble of various racer-cruisers.  Past J/111 World Champion Martin Dent and crew on JELVIS are up against Chris Jones & Louise Makin’s JOURNEYMAKER II; the fast, furious, fun, crazy and great partiers on Paul & Marcon van Driel’s Netherlands team on SWEENY; Simon Bamford’s KESTEL; Tony Mack’s McFLY; and the Belgium crew on DJINN. Of note, the DJINN team is born from the ‘Just4sailing' sailing school in Belgium ( The owner (Sebastien de Liedekerke) will participate in the Fastnet Race. However, before that, he lent his boat to a young female skipper- Frederique!

The IRC 2 Class is another eclectic combination of boats.  Essentially, a First 40 class that includes the J/120 PYR SUNSET (Andras Bakody) and the J/122 TEAM WHISKEY JACK, skippered by Nick Southward & John Scott.  Would that not be a shocker to see the J/122 dominate the class?

Similarly, in the twenty-three boat IRC 3 CLASS, it is mostly Figaro 2’s and First 40.7s up against Adam Gosling’s new JPK 1080 YES! and also a new J/112E DAVANTI TYRES sailed by Charles Ivill and the J/11S SLEEPER 111 helmed by Jonty Layfield.  Good Lord, Ladbrokes London would have a helluva time trying to handicap this class of pirates on the high seas!  Good luck to all!

Yet another rough & tumble class are the twenty-three teams in IRC 4 class that includes J/105s, a J/109 and J/35.  In the end, the most interesting crew are “newbies”- the J/105 REDEYE with Annapurna Racing from Wayzata YC, in Wayzata, Minnesota sailing on a charter with Pete Tyler as skipper. They will be up against a past RORC IRC Champion team, the J/35 OUTRAGEOUS sailed by Team Knight Builders from Ireland.  Plus, a top Dutch crew on the J/109 JAI ALAI (a past RORC offshore winner) will be skippered by Alain Bornet and two other J/105s will be in the mix- Prof Roger Williams’ JOS OF HAMBLE and Art Freeman’s JAZZ II.

JBoats sailing at CowesIRC 5 class looks to be a bit stacked towards J/sailors.  Of the 25 entries, 14 are J/Boats! Take your pick. J/97s or J/92s! Well, depends on weather conditions.  Reachy, white sails and shy kites- perhaps J/92’s. Windward/ leeward, J/97s will romp home in a clean sweep.  Then again, if it’s nuking blowing dogs off chains kind’of stuff, all bets are off.  Past “Ladies Day” award winner, Libby Greenhalgh, will be sailing with David on their J/92 J’RONIMO and will be a factor on the leaderboard due to their extremely intricate knowledge of Solent currents and winds.  They will be chased hard by a cadre of 92/97 teams, such as Rob Salter’s J/92 JACKDAW, Rachel Hunt’s J/97 JUMBLESAIL 2, Nick Munday’s J/97 INDULJENCE, and Bob & Jon Baker’s JAYWALKER.  In the “lambs getting tossed to wolves” category are Ed Holton’s J/110 SHADES OF BLUE and Chris Burbidge’s J/32 DOMAINE; nevertheless, in any white sails reachy stuff, watch out! It could be the lambs trampling the wolves!

In truly the “lone wolf” category is Edmund Gatehouse’s J/24 JUPITER in the twenty-four boat IRC 6 Class.  Incredibly, the only J/24 sailing in this year’s 40th anniversary of the J/24 in the world’s longest standing race week?? WOW! We all hope he can crush the onslaught of those Impala 28s!  For more LENDY Cowes Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

HELLY HANSEN Marblehead NOOD Preview

J/105s sailing Marblehead NOOD (Marblehead, MA)- A highlight of the summer sailing season in the New England sailing community has been the annual Marblehead NOOD Regatta, presented by Sailing World and HELLY HANSEN.  The event is hosted by the triumvirate of Marblehead’s leading yacht clubs- Eastern, Boston, and Corinthian YC.  Sailors are treated to a first-class event on the waters of the greater Boston Harbor that emanate from that historic place in American history- e.g. remember the “Tea Party” in 1776!?  Yes, sailors were revolutionaries then, as they are now.

So, clearly Boston is cool.  Especially, for sailing and doing it with friends.  Growing rapidly in the northeast is the J/70 class! It is the largest class in the regatta and it includes several top crews that are practicing for both the Corinthian J/70 North Americans in Buzzards Bay two weekends later as well as the J/70 North Americans at American YC in October.

The thirty-boat J/70 class includes top crews like Oivind Lorentzen’s NINE, Doug Clark’s POLAR from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND, John Brim’s RIMETTE, Brian Keane’s SAVASANA, Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE, and John & Molly Baxter’s TEAM VINEYARD VINES. The top Corinthian crews include Andrew & Melissa Fisher’s BUTTON FLY, Henry Brauer’s RASCAL, Frank McNamara’s CHINOOK, Sam Altreuter’s LEADFOOT, and Ted Johnson’s VITAMIN J.

The thirteen-boat J/105 class will always enjoy incredibly close racing. No one knows which team will be the next team to beat.  Nevertheless, with so many new faces in the crowd, it would be safe to say that top contenders like Fred De Napoli’s ALLEGRO SEMPLICITA (past two-times winner) and Mark Masur’s TWO FEATHERS (a perennial contender from Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas) will be amongst the favorites!  For more Marblehead NOOD sailing regatta information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

CanAm Challenge Preview

sailors street hockey game (Youngstown, NY)- This coming weekend, the Youngstown YC is looking forward to hosting yet another one of their famous CanAm Challenge Regattas for fleets of J/70s, J/22s, and PHRF handicap racing boats.  A primary feature of the event is the annual “street hockey” challenge, too, between hand-picked mercenaries from the USA and Canada to take on each other in a knock-down, drag-em-out street hockey thrash in the Youngstown YC’s parking lot! It is not certain which is more popular for the sailors, the sailing on the water, or the party/ street hockey bash!  For certain, the Canadians are enjoying their current lead over the Americans on the street hockey duel!

Out on the water, a strong contingent of J/70s are participating this year for their Lake Ontario Championship, the fleet of thirteen boats is looking forward to festivities both on and off the water.  For starters, four Canadian teams are joining in on the fun, such as Richard Veale’s EL JEFE, Greg Berti’s LIBERTI, Rich Jones’ MAVERICK, and Scott Weakley’s REX. Crashing the party from Cleveland, OH is Tod Sackett’s FM.  Hoping to keep the title “local” for both the hockey and sailing are teams like Peter Winkelstein’s EOWYN, John Newell’s JUNIOR, Scott Dinse’s MARGARITAVILLE, and Justin Hays & Ben Zahradnik’s REVEILLE.

The ten-boat J/22 class will have a number of refugees from the recent J/22 North Americans, including the winners- Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 4 1!!  Also, lining up for some hot action will be Cory Sertl’s LUCY (a past Women’s Champion), Vic Snyder’s infamous crew on MO’MONEY, and Breck McFarlane’s FLUFFY.

In the PHRF handicap-racing world, the six-boat PHRF 1 Spin class has four J/Teams; the odds are good they will have a clean sweep!  The boats include Ed Berkhout’s J/105 ALI KAT, John Reinhold’s J/124 FUTURES, and two J/35s- Paul-Angus Bark’s CRIME SCENE and Andrew Koolman’s LOYALIST.

In the PHRF 1 Non Spin class is Doug Clarke’s J/35C ROGUE WAVE and in PHRF 2 Spin is Rick Sherk’s J/24 BAD HABITS.  For more CanAm Challenge Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

What exactly is a Blockhead?

J/70 Harken Blockhead challenge (Pewaukee, WI)- Innovators in all forms of boat rigging, the “adults” at Harken want to see kids messing about in boats like they did. Bill Faude, Director of Marketing Strategy/ Creative for Harken, explains how their latest initiative – Harken Blockheads – seeks to heighten the connection between youth sailing and boat preparation.

What’s the genesis of the Blockhead program?
Harken CEO Bill Goggins and myself have young kids getting into sailing (four kids between us between the ages of 6 and 12 with younger Goggins kids to age in soon) and so were logically remembering what kind of great sailing experiences we had growing up.

We remember drilling and pop riveting…moving cam cleats and changing between cam cleats and clam cleats and rigging twings and then going back to guy hooks…moving hiking straps around…flipping boats and wet sanding…really taking care of our boats to make sure they fit us better and in the balance learning to be self-reliant.

In the midst of this, we came to the realization that kids don’t do that now. The boats they sail are MUCH better than a generation ago. They all come well rigged, and not much breaks. Even second-hand Optis and 420s work beautifully.

As Harken employees, we are charged with growing our Brand. So we’ll never disguise the fact the existence of a sailing generation growing up without learning to screw or pop-rivet an eye strap to the deck, looked like a potential business risk. We felt the obligation to expose the next generation to the link between high-performance rigging applied effectively and better results. That link was not well understood.

All told we both wanted and needed to launch a program like this.

And what kind of program have you launched?
We want to help the next generation of sailors love sailing as much as we do. Sounds like BS when I say it, but it’s true. Personally, I like sailing because it lets me go ‘off the grid’ for a few hours. There are no curbs and gutters and lines on the racecourse, so I can call my own shots.

I actually still remember what it felt like when I first took my Laser (13095) off the dock and out of hearing range of my instructors. On my own. We think once kids feel that, they’ll imprint on the sport better.

Emotionally, we want kids to feel the confidence sailing can uniquely bring. Rationally, we want there to be less Helicoptering for parents to do. Sailors should know how to maintain their own boats…the earlier they start this the better.

We’re looking to engage the kids in the media they choose. So Blockheads is an old school fan-club model bolted to a video-infused website with social media opportunities for them to share their experiences and results.

Importantly, we’re really conscious of staying in our lane, so the content we’re trying to create is all about boat care, rigging, go-fast ideas and shared experiences. We’re working hard to curate it so we don’t get into areas where others are already excelling.

So there won’t be tactical discussions or sailing technique lessons. That’s not Harken’s niche. We explain how rigging works and how to upgrade for performance.

Who can join the program?
Anyone can join and it’s free, but we’re writing for a target between the Opti Green Fleet and the end of College Sailing. There’s free SWAG when you become a Blockhead. And we hope the program will grow so we can offer the benefits of becoming a member to more kids. Right now, we’ve budgeted for 1000 new members kits for this year.  Thanks for contribution from HARKEN and Scuttlebutt.
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The J/88 North American Championship Preview

J/88 sailing one-design racing (Youngstown, NY)- Introduced just three years ago, the J/88 continues to gain passionate new owners across the world.  Having just passed the century mark of boats built, those 100 owners are spread across four continents, racing in a combination of one-design events as well as making their mark in prestigious offshore handicap races.  J/88s are winning in Hobart, Tasmania; winning Singlehanded Transpac’s; as well as ORC offshore events at Algarrobo, Chile.  And, they continue to surpass all owner’s expectations racing offshore in the USA and all over Europe under various handicapping systems (ORR, ORC, IRC, & PHRF).  Recently, J/88s won a famous overnight race on Lake Champlain in Vermont and two teams swept the top two spots on the podium in the incredibly challenging Chicago to Mackinac Race (20 hours of beating to windward in 15-32 kts of wind, 15 hours of light winds reaching, and 15 hours of moderate breezes two-sail reaching or under asym spinnaker)!  Talk about versatility!

No matter what the regatta or offshore race, the J/88 has proven time and again that both women owner/skippers and all corinthian teams are capable of sailing against some of the world’s top offshore sailors and win!  For more J/88 family speedster sailing information

Therefore, it is no surprise that fifteen J/88 teams are easily trailering their boats from across the eastern parts of the USA and Canada and participating in the second J/88 North American Championship, hosted by Youngstown YC in Youngstown, New York.  The teams will be participating as part of the YYC’s famous CanAm Challenge, sailing on Lake Ontario.

Registered for this year’s event is a “who’s who” of top J/88 teams from the past three years, including past NA winners, past Key West Midwinters winners, Block Island Race Week winners, and Queens Cup winners.  It will be an eye-opening event for many crews, particularly local teams facing the northeastern contingent that have been doing battle for at least five major events so far in 2017!  The leading east coast crews, based on performances at the recent East Coast Championship in Block Island, should be Doug McKeige’s JAZZ, Mike Bruno’s WINGS, Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION and Doug Newhouse’ YONDER.  From the Chicago area, visiting teams that have won various offshore events include Tod Patton’s BLONDIE 2, Andy Graff’s EXILE and Al Minella’s ALBONDINGAS.  Two Canadian teams from the north side of Lake Ontario are participating, Jim Egloff’s TOUCH2PLAY and Ard Van Leeuwen’s JAUNTY J.

Defending their home turf and hoping to fend off the onslaught of the visiting teams on their home waters of Lake Ontario will be Laura Wyler’s HIJINKS, Richard Lohr’s NIGHT OWL, Tim Finkle’s SEAWEED, and Joe & Jeff Pawlowski’s EASY EIGHTS!  The racing should be close, and fiercely fought over the championship series!  For more J/88 North American Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, July 28, 2017

SN Geneve Leads Swiss J/70 Sailing League

J/70s sailing Swiss sailing league (Lake Geneva, Switzerland)- It was sunny weather and an optimal north wind of force 2 to 4 for the 40 races this past weekend for the Swiss Sailing Super League that was raced on Lake Geneva.  As both host and the home team, the Societe Nautique de Geneve clearly dominated the three days of competition.  The Genevan’s won most of their races and won the fourth stage with just 41 points! The Yachtclub Bielersee narrowly secured second place in front of the St. Gallen team of the Regattaclub Bodensee.

On Friday, the SN Geneva team (Guillaume Rigot, Marc Stern, Nicolas Kaufmann and Mathieu Fischer) set the stage for their victory. After four straight wins, they were already leading the intermediate standings with a solid lead. Four more victories were added to this on Saturday, just like Sunday, thus allowing SN Geneva to win twelve of its twenty races in total. A high-level, very slick performance by the Genevan’s, a level that none of the other competitors could match.

J70 Swiss sailing league winnersOn the other hand, the other spots on the podium were fiercely contested. On Saturday night, after 28 races, six clubs from second to seventh place had just a three-point spread between them! In second place, the winner of last year, the Regattaclub Bodensee, was one point in front of Bordee de Tribord- La Neuveville. Behind them, followed the Yachtclub Bielersee, the Zürcher Yachtclub, the Société Nautique Rolloise and the Regattaclub Oberhofen, the leader of the league's intermediate standings.

On the third day of racing, the presence of perfect conditions in the morning enabled the first race to be launched shortly after 10am and then another 12 races, bringing the total to 40 races for the entire event.

Lorenz Müller, a regular on the circuit, managed to win four races on Sunday with his team from YC Bielersee; they managed to break away from their pursuers and take second place. At the end of the competition, YC Bielersee and RC Bodensee were tied at 48 pts each, the tie-breaker going to YC Bielersee on countback. It was a well-deserved second place for the Bielersee crew, considering that top Swiss skipper Julian Flessati was racing for Regattaclub Bodensee!   Follow the Swiss J/70 Sailing League on Facebook here   For more Swiss J/70 Sailing League information       Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

J’s Lovin’ Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge

J/111 sailing Screwpile Challenge (Solomons Island, MD)- The event is a popular one for J/sailors on Chesapeake Bay.  Organized down the Chesapeake Bay and run out of a local hotel, the event is welcomed as a wonderful summer reprieve to enjoy the Bay in about 100 degree heat each summer.  Many die-hards love this regatta; it is totally laid back, heat-coma induced, and a great time to catch up with friends that cannot escape the summer heat of the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of the summer.

J/70 JRay sailing ScrewpileDespite the often oppressive heat conditions, the sailing can be quite good.  While classically light in the mornings, the land does get much hotter than the 70 F temps of the Bay, so when you get a 30 F temp differential, you actually get local thermals across the famous oyster beds on the Bay!!  If a cool front rolls through from the Midwest, all the better!!

Taking part in PHRF A1 Class were two J/111s; Jim Whited’s BAD CAT (a past regatta winner) and also Jim Connelly’s SLUSH FUND.  At the end, Connelly’s SLUSH FUND won that match race and took third overall in the regatta.

Finally, in PHRF B class, Neal McKinney’s J/80 HOMEGROWN nearly took class honors over a bunch of crooked PHRF-rated boats called Tripp 26s.  Instead, having to settle for third place.  SPINSHEET Magazine is the official media sponsor- visit them here.   Spinsheet Photos here.   For more Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Circolo della Vela Bari Win Italian J/70 League Qualifiers

J/70s sailing Italian league- Trieste, Italy (Trieste, Italy)- Organized by the CV Barcola & Grignano with the collaboration of the YC Porto Piccolo and sponsored by   Banca Aletti, the second qualifier for the Italian J/70 Sailing National Championship took place in the Gulf of Trieste under simply spectacular sailing conditions. Thirty-two races were completed in three days for the sixteen teams participating in the event.  They saw the classic “bora” winds on the first day up to 25 kts, then near perfect 10-15 kt winds for the next two day, perfect for sailing the J/70s in the short-course racing format!

The event was won by the Circolo della Vela Bari, with Simone Ferrarese at the helm.  Their team was at ease in the rampant and challenging weather conditions; never finishing worst than a fifth place.  In fact, the CV Bari team collected five 1sts and six 2nds, closing at 36 points!  Fourteen points behind was the Societe Canottieri Garda Salo team; they were also extremely competitive and gathered three 1sts on their way to a well-deserved silver. Third place went to Circolo Nautico della Vela Argentario.

J/70 Italy sailing league winners"What a fantastic race day," commented Simone Ferrarese, the skipper of CV Bari, "I am excited to have qualified our Club and won the stage! Now, we prepare for the Crotone Finals. These races have challenged us a great deal: the format and wind from the ground made the races very difficult, but extremely enjoyable!  And, thanks to the boats, these beautiful J70s that are a great fit for these conditions and for this kind of racing!"

Also happy with the outcome of the regatta was the President of the Italian Sailing League, Roberto Emanuele de Felice: "Trieste has confirmed once again to be an outstanding sailing venue. There is no ingredient missing: this second seasonal selection has seen strong, thunderstorms, strong winds, the launch of the Legavela Servizi fleet and a unique location like Porto Piccolo. I thank the CV Barcola & Grignano and YC Porto Piccolo for organizing an exceptional event and also the team of the Race Committee, with its President Costanzo Villa, and the Race Officer Joseph D'Amico. They have done outstanding work to complete all 32 races!"

J/70 Italy sailing league women sailors"This regatta,” said Executive Vice President Legavela Alessandro Maria Rinaldi, “has highlighted the high quality of sailing by the Club teams.  Amazingly, thirteen of the sixteen crews actually won a race, showing the high level of competition! Another element of great value for the Legavela development across Italy is that many teams had young crews and women in their mix.  The young sailors bring great promise for the future of the Legavela; in fact in October we are organizing the kick-off event for a Legavela Under 19 regatta!”

In addition to the six qualifiers from the Porto Cervo event, the eight qualifiers from the Trieste event are CV Bari, Societe Canottieri Garda Salo, CN Vela Argentario, Aeronautica Militare, Diporto Nautico Sistiana, CV Bellano, YC Adriatico, and Reale Circolo Canotierri Tevere Remo.   Trieste Italian J/70 Sailing League Highlights video    Day 2- highlights video    Video interview- Simone Ferrarese, skipper of winning team Circolo della Vela Bari    Video interview- President Roberto Emanuele de Felice of the Lega Italiana Vela J/70    Follow the Italian J/70 Sailing League on Facebook here    For more Italian J/70 Sailing League information   Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fast, Record-setting Transpac

J/125 sailing Transpac RaceJ/125's and J/105 Sail Fast to Silver!
(Los Angeles, CA)- The 49th edition of the 2017 biennial offshore classic, the Transpac Race that started on July 3rd, 5th, and 6th from Point Fermin in Los Angeles to the finish at Diamond Head in Honolulu 2,225nm away has finally come to a conclusion. Among the fifty-five teams, the J/crews fought hard the entire way and had their moments of stark terror interspersed with their days and days of sheer joy surfing the giant Pacific swells to Honolulu’s Diamond Head.

No question, the welcoming committee is one of the highlights of the race for the three J/crews entered in the race. After crossing the finish line, all boats are escorted to the narrow (sometimes treacherous) entrance to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, a safe haven from the Pacific swells. Donned in their flowered shirts, the crews stand on deck to be greeted like conquering heroes by the amplified sounds of native drums, slack key guitar music and a loud and resounding “Aaaahhh- looohhh – haaaaah” given by staff commodore Howie Mednick from the second deck of the Hawaii YC.

“We welcome you to Hawaii, and ask only that you do Drink well, Sing well, Eat well, Sleep well… and Drink well some more!”

J/125 finishes Transpac Race at Diamond Head sunsetBoats then proceed to their assigned slips, get boarded and inspected for rules compliance, and then are released to the awaiting leis and hugs of family, friends and well-wishers. Regardless of the time of day or night, every crew is given an Aloha Party of food and drink, some more traditionally Hawaiian than others, with the unshaven and weary crews growing their smiles with each re-told story and re-acquaintance with terra firma.

This is a unique feature of Transpac among the world’s ocean races: nowhere else will you find this intimate and embracing level of hospitality and respect. Finishers of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe will experience their re-entry into life ashore under the glare of TV lights, crowds and microphones, whereas at Transpac it will be under the flickering flames of a tiki torch and the inner glow from a Mai Tai.

The lore of this hospitality reaches far and wide, as evidenced by not only entries who come every two years from around the Pacific Basin, but also those who come from the other side of the world. This year two entries from Europe were here to have the Aloha experience.

In the end, Ed Sanford’s J/105 CREATIVE team from San Diego YC sailed in 2nd place for most of the race in Class 6 and that is exactly where they finished; just four hours corrected time behind a surfing machine known as a turbo’d Hobie 33!  Not bad for a 24 year old family day sailor! Congrats to Ed and his crew for a job well done!

J/125 Resolute sailing Transpac RaceThen, in Class 3 were the two notoriously fast J/125s- RAISIN’ CANE and RESOLUTE.  Both teams had been blogging via Inmarsat satellite service almost every day.  The “Golden Feather Scribe Award” for the race must go to the crew on RESOLUTE- with just about all crew members offering their personal perspectives and updates on the race!  Kudos to Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE for keeping us abreast of the experience!  They nearly won the race, both in class and overall, having been in that position for days going into the last 48 hours!  However, being just a step behind the bigger boats hurt their chances for the ultimate outcome, with much, much lighter winds hitting them just before the finish.  Even then, Fuller’s RESOLUTE took 2nd in class and 4th overall!  Congratulations to Tim and his intrepid crew that included long-time J/sailor Trevor Baylis!

In the early stages of the race, Frank Atkinson’s RAISIN’ CANE from Palm Beach, FL was amongst the race leaders, both in class and overall along with their stablemate RESOLUTE.  However, going a bit too far south slowed them down and hurt their chances for a possible 1-2 for the J/125s!  Nevertheless, it was a great performance and their 5th in class and 17th overall in a fleet of 55 boats is something to be proud of for a bunch of Floridians playing the West Coast offshore game!

To catch you up on the blogs, here were the final installments from the crew on RESOLUTE:

July 11, 2017, 1100- Tuesday
Around 11:30 this morning, it seemed like it was time to gybe (turn) and head toward Honolulu with a wind shift we'd gotten. And then, we got another one and gybed back. My right arm has been getting a workout for the past six days trimming, so I WAS happy to get a little left arm work in. Alas, it was not meant to be. I'll just have to keep having right-handed arm wrestling contests.

For anyone who has not been reading the Facebook page, you probably haven't heard about the savage flying fish attack last night. Matt got hit right in the face. The flying fish have been trying to get us for days, but have been missing (although there have been a couple of close calls). We've found a bunch on the deck and thought we had the upper hand, but I guess they're sending in their best pilots now. We'll see what happens throughout the rest of the race.

Good news: Just as I came down here to write this, the distance to our waypoint (the finish) ticked to under 700 miles! That's a real morale booster -- although things get a little trickier from here on out. Brian says we're doing well, so every decision is an important one and every knot of boatspeed counts.

We're romping happily along out here. But, the boat dreams have started to become really weird (maybe Jimmy Buffett should have written a song about boat dreams instead of boat drinks). I'm going to have to sell my car because of my dream that there was a rattlesnake inside that WOULD not leave (mom and dad, if you could handle that before I get home, that would be great) and Tim had a dream that we were waiting for an uber to finish the race. I checked my app and we're a bit out of the service area here.

I'd like to report that everything is still smelling sweetly, but it's not. It's pretty gamey down below on the boat. Almost like there are five guys living in a confined, closed in space in the tropics. But, it's only four guys... and me... and let me tell you, I'm definitely part of the problem.

Congrats to the boys on Mighty Merloe. Artie, I guess this means you're up 2 to 1 now.  -Alli

July 11, 2017, 1600- Tuesday- Resolute Turns Left... Finally
Well this morning was a great change of pace for all of us. After 5 days and 10 hours on Starboard and slowly turning right I figured Hawaii was somewhere to the left of us. That being said we made the call to gybe in hopes of finding the island. If it looks like we are going the wrong way on the tracker, please let us know. (-;

Daily standings also came out and we moved up to 2nd overall! Unfortunately, the breeze has died slightly which gives a significant advantage to the bigger boats. Needless to say, we are all giving maximum effort and doing what we can to sail as fast as possible. That includes continuing to stack our pipe berths on top of each other to the windward side. If you haven't seen the pipe berth setup on Resolute imagine a coffin 6' long, 4' high, and 2' wide. Very claustrophobic and a total bitch to get in and out of. To make things worse, A) we haven't showered in 6 days and smell fantastic B) we move the leeward pipe berth into the same coffin... Yes, we are literally sleeping on top of each other give or take 6".

Currently we are 742.1 miles to the finish. Averaging 12kn and 9.5 vmg over the last hour. Wind speed is 13-16. Waves are 4-6'.  Until next time, Brian

July 12, 2300- Wednesday- Night Sky/Day Sky
Did you guys know that if the moon is still up and bright around dawn, there is a clear demarcation between what is night sky and what is day sky? I didn't, until last night/this morning. Trevor and I were on watch and the moon was super bright. I looked behind us and dawn was just starting to break and there was a CLEAR line between what sky was still the night and what was the day. It was pretty cool.

Speaking of night, for the first time we really saw some stars last night. And, the day star came out today for the first time since the start. Before night fell yesterday, I was just making the comment that we'd seen a total of about six stars including the sun our whole trip. I wouldn't say we had a LOT of stars last night, but it at least quadrupled our count. The sun has been out most of the day today, so I'm hoping that we'll see the Southern Cross (Traci, counting on you to back me up here) tonight or tomorrow because...

...we're in the final countdown! Right now, we're thinking we probably finish Friday afternoon-ish -- which is SO soon! And that's probably a good thing because things are getting a little loony out here. Or maybe more appropriate to say "terny". This morning after Tim and Matt came up on watch, we heard a loud squawking sound. Turns out, it was Tim shouting at (to?) the terns circling overhead. The bird whisperer.

It's getting hot and stinky down below, but today has been shower day for at least some of us (so far: me and Brian), so that's always a relief. For those of you wondering, showering consists of throwing a bucket with a string overboard off the back of the boat (we're going kinda fast through the water), filling it, dumping it over your head, shampooing and soaping, and doing the bucket thing again to rinse. This far south, the water is warm and it's really a pleasant experience. To the disappointment of all on board, I'm sure, my shower was in a bathing suit rather than my birthday suit.

Everything is going well aboard Resolute, although we could use some more breeze down this final stretch! BTW, I know Brian said we turned left, but... we turned back  -Alli

July 13, 2017, 1100- Thursday
Good evening Resolute fans. Well things are changing out here, and I wish I could report for the better. The weather forecast is calling for decreasing winds tonight and tomorrow. Unfortunately, that makes it more difficult to hang in there with the bigger/faster boats in front of us. Today's position report of 1st in class and 2nd overall is clearly in doubt tomorrow if things don't improve. Tomorrow too will be a scorcher in the heat made 100 times worse if there is no breeze. I've seen this movie before and didn't like it in 2013, but all we can do is push on to the finish and play the cards we are handed. On another note, today was the second time Matt has been punished by a flying fish. The first to the face and the last to the chest. The guy cannot get a break. Anyway more to follow, and thanks for hanging in there with us.  Tim Fuller - Skipper.  Sailing photo credits- Sharon Green/ Ultimate Sailing.   Watch the Transpac sailing highlights Youtube video here    For more Transpac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

J/Cruz Lake Ontario 300

Lake Ontario 300 tracking (Port Credit, ONT, Canada)- The eighty-six boat fleet sailing the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge presented by drive.HG started on Saturday July 15th, 2017 with little expectations to finish the race in record time.  In fact, for the 300nm race, it was quite the opposite scenario that was being entertained by the intrepid adventurers on the flooded body of water known as Lake Ontario.

Despite every possible obstacle thrown at them, like a few fronts, no wind, lots of wind and what not, the J/crews prevailed from east to west on their 300nm transit of Lake Ontario. In the end, it was Bruce Pierce’s J/122 HOOLIGAN II that placed 2nd in IRC 2 Class.  Then, Murray Gainer’s J/109 LIVELY was 2nd in PHRF 1 Class and Sean Matthews’ J/33 WEE BEASTIE III placed 4th in PHRF 3 class!  For more Lake Ontario 300 Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

An Epic Challenge- The Chicago Mackinac Race

J/29 sailing Chicago Mac RaceJ/Teams Win Four Divisions, J/109 Wins Mackinac Cup!
(Mackinac Island, MI) – This year’s 109th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac will go down in the history books as one of the toughest races ever, sharply reminiscent of the wild near gale bashing the fleet experienced decades ago when Ted Turner’s 12 Meter American Eagle won the race and he later on quipped, “that was the roughest and hardest race I’ve ever sailed in my life!”  How tough was it this year? Just 200 of the 297 starters completed the 289.4 nm course (e.g. about one third of the fleet dropped out).

Chicago Mac weatherA frontal passage hit the fleet at midnight on Saturday, just hours into the race, producing a rare “dry front” that looked menacing as it came over the water but had no rain over Lake Michigan, but was pummeling the shoreline with rain, hail, and thousands of lightning bolts racing across the sky, thunder echoing over the water to remind everyone that Nature was King! As the front passed over the fleet, a blast front of 35-50 knot winds flew across the water that no one could see, other than the fact that boats just hundreds of yards away from you would suddenly flip over into a wild broach with spinnakers flailing away and, in many cases, simply blowing up into a thousand pieces of nylon!  Look at the  NOAA Radar Archive.

Shortly thereafter, the front passed by, pulling behind it a far stronger northerly breeze than forecast, so the fleet settled into a 20+ hour beat to windward in 15-30 knot winds from the N/NE and punching into a classic 6-10 ft Lake Michigan “chop”- steep faces, no backs and constant slamming of the bow into the Chicago Mackinac trackingnext wave.  To say it was unpleasant experience would be an understatement.  By the time the fleet reached the famous first turning point at Point Betsie about 163nm up the track, about a third of the fleet had dropped out for various reasons- equipment damage, boat damage, sail damage, or simply human damage (people got sick or hurt and physically could not take it any longer).

Ironically, after the first trial by fire to get around Pt Betsie, the winds rapidly shut down between the Manitou Island Straits and the open waters headed to Grey’s Reef- the next major turning point.  In fact, it was a glass-out for several hours for most boats.  Talk about extremes!  From there on end, many felt they could swim or crawl faster to the Mackinac finish line than drift at “triple naughts” on their speedo’s!

At the end of it all, the major highlight from J/sailor’s perspective was the amazing performance by the J/109 TOA owned and raced by Bruce Danly (Lake Bluff, IL) and Jim Mitchell (Chicago, IL), winning the Mackinac Cup, the overall win for the smaller boats in the fleet!  More importantly, there’s was a “family affair”, with young sailors, husband and wife on board!

The race has always been popular with J/Teams.  The enormous contingent of sixty-nine J’s (23% of the entries), sailed in both one-design classes (J/111, J/109, J/105) as well as ORR handicap classes ranging from J/88s up to a J/145.

J/111 fleet sailing Lake MichiganJ/111 One-Design Fleet
The nineteen teams in the J/111 class knew it was going to be another battle for the entire 289nm, from start to finish.  After running through the storm front, the top five boats quickly emerged, sailing consistently faster than the rest of the fleet and employing strong overall tactics and strategies up the race course.  Once the fleet hit the Michigan shoreline around Little Sable Point, it was a frenetic game of playing shoreline shifts versus offshore streaks, the leaderboard constantly shifting between Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY, Rich Witzel’s ROWDY, the Brummel/ Henderson duo on KASHMIR, Brad Faber’s UTAH and Dave Irish’s NO SURPRISE.  It was like watching a heavyweight boxing match for those boats that were behind them.  In the end, emerging bruised, battered and grinning from ear-to-ear was none other than Marty Roesch and his amazing Annapolis YC team on VELOCITY that consisted of James Allsop, Camden Bowdren, Andrew Eyring, Jarrett Hering, Paul Luisi, Derrick Reig, and Chris Teixeira. Taking second after the long battle was Rich Witzel’s ROWDY crew (Jim Calto, Chris Doubek, Colleen Duncan, Tom Elliott, Keith Love, and Zac Schramm). The final step on the podium went to a familiar Chicago crew, Karl Brummel and Steve Henderson sailing KASHMIR with crew of Ryan Clulo, David Guba, Mark Lyons, Andy Ray, and Tom Roop.

Of note, kudos to Dave McCreight’s J/111 DARK HORSE from Annapolis. It was a scary Saturday night on July 15th, when rough weather rolled in quickly, as it does on the Great Lakes, and a catamaran flipped. McCreight’s DARK HORSE was one of the boats to stand by to assist when the Coast Guard showed up to help the five sailors in the water. Although the crew’s assistance was not needed, we’d like to acknowledge the team for their sportsmanship, safety consideration for fellow sailors, and thoughtful conduct.

J/111 Mac winners- Marty Roesch & Velocity crewHere is the report from J/111 class winner, Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY: “This was an interesting race because the navigation and strategy seemed like they were more obvious than in the past two Mac races I've done.  We were looking at SE winds at the start that were forecast to slowly build and clock to the SW before a gusty front would come through with NW winds and possible storms, followed by strong northerly winds with big waves on Sunday, then light shifty winds under a passing high pressure system on Monday.  So the plan was to stay left of rhumb until the front came in and then get across the lake, then inside at the Manitous and then see what we had to do to get across the finish on Monday.

We had a great start, winning the boat end of the line and quickly transitioning into our Code 0.  We peeled to A1.5 and then A2 as the winds slowly clocked as per the forecast.  The sailing was absolutely fantastic on the first day as we picked our way though the larger fleet and kept an eye on the competition.  We spent a fair amount of time scratching our heads as No Surprise pulled in front of us a couple hundred yards up the course (where did those guys come from??) and kept an eye on Utah and Kashmir while we kept the boat speed up and waited for the front.

When the sun went down we could see a big display of lightning to the northwest that was slowly approaching and putting on a huge cloud-to-cloud light show that was beautiful to watch.  When the NW winds finally hit it, was a very quick transition and we worked to get our A2 down and our short hoist J4 up.  We saw wind speeds build quickly into the 30s despite not feeling it on the water and in short order we saw high 30s and low 40s and then it landed.  The top wind speed we saw was 46 knots and we hit 15 knots of boat speed blast reaching under the J4 in the crazy winds and rapidly building sea state.

The was a lull for a bit after the front came through and we put the Code 0 back up, but that proved to be the wrong sail after a few minutes so we switched to the A3 and I got back on the wheel.  Due to the clouds, it was pitch black on the water and very hard to see the waves so the first 10 minutes or so were very disorienting and hard to drive in.  Luckily, a bright star popped out under the cloud deck and I was able to use that as a steering reference and get things smoothed out.

We were bashing through big waves at 15-17 knots boatspeed for a couple of hours as we headed northeast and across the lake to get to the Michigan side.  Once the jib went up, I went down for the night.

Roesch and crew offshoreWhen I woke a couple hours later, we were in pounding conditions close-hauled and heading up the coast of Michigan between Big and Little Sable Points.  We could see a few other J/111's around us and we spent pretty much all day on Monday dealing with mild seasickness among several crew members, trying to stay upright in 20-25 knot northerly winds and 6-10 foot waves, and chasing boats.  We spent a lot of time crossing and being crossed by Utah on Monday, which was alternately good and bad for morale.  These were some of the roughest conditions that I've sailed in for the amount of time we were in them and it was very challenging for the whole team.  We did a great job staying in contact with the leading contingent of 111's and staying in the game that day.

If I were to pick a point where we made a call that put us into a position to achieve our ultimate victory, I'd say it was very early in the morning on Monday.  We were south of Beaver Island and we knew the winds were forecast to clock NE to SE and we also knew that we were on the outside of the pinwheel of leader group and that that was not going to be a great place to be.  We made the call to gybe away to an angle that took our VMG to almost zero and spent a half hour sailing to the inside of the pack and much closer to the rhumb line.  Shortly after we gybed back to course the winds did exactly what was predicted and the move paid off big.  As the sun came up on Monday we saw Kashmir about 2 miles in front of us, Utah and No Surprise over near Beaver Island and not moving very quickly, and Rowdy to the north of us with a group of boats from other classes.

J/111 sailing Chicago Mac Race- sunrise!The conditions that morning were 0-4 knots of wind and very glassy. As the sun came up we could see patches of breeze on the water so we played the "connect the dots" game we play so frequently in Annapolis to get ahead of Kashmir and pull up even with Rowdy, slowly pulling past both them and No Surprise.  Once we got to Greys Reef, we were in a position to consolidate and defend against Rowdy and No Surprise and we spent 6 hours sailing the last 25 miles and staying out front through the whole afternoon.

Once we got to the bridge we felt like we had a very comfortable lead and the breeze was moving Velocity along very nicely at 6-7 knots with the lighthouse in sight.

That's when the bottom almost fell out.

Skipper Roesch on way to winning J/111 class in Chicago Mackinac RaceA mile or so past the bridge the winds started to go light on us again and it looked like the other two boats had connected with some breeze on the south side of the Straights of Mackinac so we decided to cover. As we came out of our covering gybe, I looked over my shoulder and saw No Surprise maybe 6-8 boat lengths back!  After 282nm and just 7nm left to go, we were within seconds of each other and we still had a lot of battling to do. With me on the wheel and Chris Teixeira trimming the kite, Derrick Reig and James Allsop managing the tactical picture, we got back to work and managed to extend on both them and Rowdy, finally gybing away for the finish after about an hour of dueling in the last 3 miles.

As we approached the finish line there was one last challenge - the wind completely shut down!  With “triple naught” (0.00 knots of boatspeed) on the B&G displays we found that we had about 0.8 knots of current pushing us towards the finish line.  As I looked around in a bit of a panic, I saw that everyone else was being shut down as they approached the line as well.  It took us 30 minutes of getting tossed around by ferry wakes and doing everything we could to get the boat moving to cross the finish line!

The conditions on this race ran the full gamut from 0-45 knot winds, flat water to 10 foot breaking rollers, cold to hot temperatures.  The crew of Velocity did a great job of overcoming it all, staying in the game and capitalizing where we could to win the prize in what was one of the toughest races I've ever sailed!”

J/105 sailing Chicago Mackinac RaceJ/105 One-Design Fleet
Another large, very competitive J/Class were the twenty-one boats sailing J/105s.  Like their colleagues in the 111’s, many of their top contenders in past Mac Races, Chicago NOOD regattas and other offshore events were quite well-prepared to do battle for the entire 40-50 hours on the race course.  In the end, a familiar crew led everyone home to claim class honors- it was Mark Symonds and his crew on PTERODACTYL (Tim Kerr, Michael Morin, Thad Nguyen, John Quinlan, Trey Rose, and Duane Rose).  Taking second after a 15 minutes scoring penalty was Vanessa Gates crew on STRIKING that included Will and Steven Knoop, Richard Martin, Patrick Rice, and Leslie Washburn. Third on the podium was another top Chicago boat, Clark Pellett’s SEALARK crew that consisted of Shane Montgomery, Russ & Steve Radke, John Schussler, Nathaniel Sher, and Craig Warner.

Here is the J/105 class report from the winner, Mark Symonds on PTERODACTYL: “It was one of the most challenging Chicago Mac races I have sailed.  It started out like a typical Mac Race- a pleasant sleigh ride under spinnaker.  By late Saturday, though, we could clearly see the storm system coming down the lake.  Thankfully, the really bad stuff seemed to be tracking over the Wisconsin coastline off to the west of us.  We kept our spinnaker up a little too long and suffered a knockdown in a sudden increase in winds to 40+ knots. It seemed like we were at a 90-degree angle forever, but more likely about 30-40 seconds.  We were able to retrieve our spinnaker (in several pieces) and all the control lines.  From there, the wind turned north for over 24 hours.  North winds on Lake Michigan create big, powerful waves.  We slammed upwind all of Sunday.  We were very grateful and probably lucky that no one was hurt, being tossed around the cabin or deck.  We soldiered on trying to catch Buzz and SeaLark who were launched in front of us.

When we reached the Manitou passage, we had momentary cell coverage and found that we had caught them, but that Striking had also caught up.  Four of us were bobbing for hours or ghosting along at very low speeds for quite some time.  We tried everything to get going - jib and main, spinnaker and main, spinnaker only.  We constantly worked it to try to accelerate out of the doldrums.  Three of us were neck and neck getting to Grays Reef.  This is the reason I love one-design racing - after two plus days of racing, we were in a clump of competitors who all had the same capabilities.  When we finally got past the reef and turned toward the bridge it was a drag race with the wind out of the south.  We were able to barely hang on flying a spinnaker at a tight angle the whole way.

Kudos to the whole J105 fleet.  They are a great bunch of talented and well-prepared competitors.  While many had to drop out, we were very happy there were no serious injuries.  We are looking forward to a challenging fleet this Saturday for the Bayview Mackinac Race, our division is nearly all J/Boats, including J/105s, J/109s and the very fast J/111s!”

Another notable development in the J/105 class was the confidence of women owners to assemble top-notch teams and pursue top-level performance with great teams.  Perhaps inspired by the likes of J/88 owner like Iris Vogel’s champion team on DEVIATION, Vanessa Gates’ STRIKING team is forging new paths for women owner/skippers, as well as Nancy Glover’s TEMPEST crew, the Petzold gals on GREEN FLASH, and Barbara Dael’s Y-NOT!!  Add in four husband/wife teams and there is no question the easy-to-sail J/105 with a nice, easy to manage wheel, is less intimidating and easily managed by women sailors in all extremes of weather conditions!

J109 sailing Chicago Mackinac raceJ/109 One-Design Fleet
With ten teams, the J/109 class will always be tough and competitive and this year was no different! Taking class honors after a long battle through the Manitou Straits to Grey’s Reef was Robert Evans’ GOAT RODEO with his Chicago crew consisting of Lorna Bath, Brian Evans, Christian Goebel, Michael Kearschner, Daniel Rylance, Cameron Rylance, and Keith Stauber.  Taking the silver was a nearly all-family crew- Woody, Max, John & Will Hansmann’s BLOODLINE, adding in Jim & John Lynch as well as Will & Katie Wells from Newport, RI!  The third spot on the podium was taken by Scott Sims’ SLAPSHOT II crew of Melanie Derleth, Matt Gartner, Ashley Hunsader, Preston Scruggs, John Stevenson, Rich Vedder, and Kurt Wittenberg.  What was notable about the J/109 fleet?? All of the top three had women sailors on board as part of their winning teams!  

Level 35 Class Fleet
The Level 35 Class of eight teams included a trio of J/35s, such as Rick Stage’s ALPHA PUPPY, Larry Taunt’s BAD DOG J, and Mitch Weisman’s THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER. Needless to say, they all did well. In the end, bragging rights went to Rick Stage’s J/35 ALPHA PUPPY team of Gene Benedict, Justin Kalb, Kristian Kobernus, Steve Krasowski, Kevin Starr, Aimee Strittmatter, Jon Van Norman, and Andrew Winter.  While it was an “almost sweep” of the podium, the bronze went to Larry Taunt’s J/35 BAD DOG with crew of Bruce Bustin, Denny Dryer, Brad Fisher, Jeff Fuller, Timothy Graham, Dan Nikesch, Philip Wujkowski, Jim Wujkowski.

J/145 sailing Chicago to Mackinac RaceThe class make-up for Section 2 was rather diverse, including a half-dozen Farr 40s plus the J/145 MAIN STREET sailed by Bill and Jean Schanen of SAILING magazine fame from Port Washington YC.  In the end, the Schanen family’s pretty red speedster took 5th in class with a crew that included most of the Schanen family (Bill 3, Bill 4, Bill 5, Erin, Greta, & Jean) plus a cast of characters from “da hood” of Milwaukee to Sheboygan (Dan Branson, Mike Burt, Scott Fruechtl, Nick Hayes (famous writer on all things sailing!), Dale Peters, and Richard Reichelsdorfer).

For the Section 3 division, it was a battle of the J/130s versus the J/133s.  In the end, taking J/crew honors was Tom & Beth-Ann Papoutsis’ RENEGADE in third place; their crew consisted of Paul Bader, Devin Bader, Steve Curtis, William Dooley, David Galen, Larry Kwiat, James Lowe, Joey Papoutsis, and Matthew Pinsky.  Settling into 4th place after a tough thrash was Doug Petter’s WILLIE J, with crew of Brendan Hagman, Todd Labaugh, Andrew Lauten, Doug/ Andrew/ Juli Petter, Dell & Amy Todd, Brian Turuta, and Bert Vanderweele.

Fighting for brand and class honors all by themselves in Section 4 was Randy Kuhn & James Richter’s J/44 CHEAP’N’DEEP, a proven winner based on their performances off the Chicago waterfront this summer.  For a tough Mackinac Race for a completely family crew, there’s was a notable performance to take 5th in class- their undoing was the classic “black hole” known as the Manitous to Greys Reef “depression”.  Otherwise, as contenders to win class going past Point Betsie, it was an awesome performance.  The crew included Alex Bott, Jay Butler, John Conway, Dylan Hahn, JJ Kuhn, Chuck Norris, George Richter, Pete Robinson, and Justin Theodore.

Crushing the Section 5 class was the J/122 GOTTA WANTA skippered by Bob Mampe, from Grand Traverse YC.  To say this was a veteran team of a few dozen Mac Races would be an understatement.  Perhaps Dick & Doug Devos would wish to have this “all-star” team of amateurs and friends on board instead of their payroll of pro’s aboard WINDQUEST.  Needless to say, this crew knew what to do, where to go, and played all the nuances of the Michigan coastline to just crush their class.  The crew included Tom Babel, Andrew Berge, Michael Burns, Mark Clark, Jim Elvart, Eric Geiser, Karen Nemecek, and Scot Zimmerman.

J/109 TOA- Chicago Mackinac Cup winnersThen, crushing the huge Section 7 was a past winner of both the Bayview-Mackinac and the Chicago-Mackinac Races.  Winning the Mackinac Cup overall was the extraordinary crew on the J/109 TOA.  A slightly modified J/109 it was, with masthead massive spinnakers, giant squarehead main with dual running backstays.  They flew up the course in what were arguably perfect J/109 conditions; beating upwind into giant waves, big winds, knife-like bow chopping through the waves.  Not convinced?? Ask anyone in the UK or the Netherlands why the LOVE their J/109s.  Plain and simple, it can go uphill in nasty conditions when nothing else can— except, maybe a J/122 or J/111!! Therefore, to no one’s surprise, that is what Jimmie Mitchell and Bruce Danly did with their J/109 TOA.  Equipped with awesome sails from Rodney “Dangerfield” Keenan at Evolution Sails in New Zealand, they just sent it. They crushed their fleet by hours; beating the next boat by seven hours elapsed time and nearly five hours corrected time- e.g. a “spanking” of the fleet!  The TOA crew included Mike Beasley, Rodney Keenan, Dirk Kruger, and Richie & Lori Stearns. Six hours back on corrected time to take 2nd place was another classic J/Boat, the J/35 BOZO’s CIRUCS sailed by the Metcalf family (Bruce, Chris, Eric, Chris Jr) and Ally Haramia, Eric Larsen, Tim Lathrop, Glenn & Christina McCarthy, and Brendan Walsh.

Richie & Lori Stearns sailing J/109 TOAHere is the first-hand account of why TOA managed to do what they did by two of the crew- Richie & Lori Stearns (the J/Boats dealer in Chicago):

“The 2017 race to Mackinac had just about every condition you could imagine. We were not sailing in the 109 section because “Toa” was sporting a new black square top main which was more than noticeable to everyone sailing around before the start. Co-owner Jim Mitchell started the race with the east-northeast wind a bit heavier than forecasted. We started with a code 0 with a genoa staysail under it. Once we got away from the line we began to slowly pull away from the fleet. Our sailmaker, Rodney Keenan from Evolution sails in Auckland New Zealand, was quick to want to change to our other code 0 for more speed. Yes, we had two code zeros, one sheets to the stern and one sheets about two thirds aft. They are both spinnakers and are tacked to the end of the pole. With the larger code 0 up, we then launched the genoa staysail, which is a very small sail but really fits in the slot nicely. Soon the wind shifted to more of a broad reach and Mike Beasley, Clay Danley and Dirk Kruger put up the A2 spinnaker. The genoa staysail was already up so we decided to add the spinnaker staysail. WOW! Talk about slots for directing wind! I have sailed all my life and had to go below to get my camera… four sails flying perfectly and the boat just kept pulling away from the fleet.

J/109 triple-slotting on Chicago Mac race- Volvo 65 style!!The storms forecasted for later were coming from the northwest so we just sailed north instead of rhumb line. The VMG was faster to track north than to point at Point Betsie over 100 miles away. Also, the wind was forecast to swing to a beat and we wanted to get north as far as we could.

The wind had shifted before the storm and when it hit we just had the A2 up. The wind kept building, but the J/109 was perfectly under control, and we continued to track north. There was some discussion of how to get the sail down and a letterbox takedown won. We were seeing high winds but the boat was still under control, we got ready for the take down and then the spinnaker was “gone”. The front tape and part of the sail jumped forward and wrapped around the head stay and the rest of it was torn/ blown-off somewhere on the other side of the main in 35 knots of breeze. However, we were still going 11.5 knots in a very good direction so even though it took quite a while to get the sail down, just sailing the right direction under main was perfect.

As forecasted, the wind shifted to the north and we set in for 20 hours of heavy beating. The waves built all night and increased to 10 to 12 feet. Before daylight, we were on the Michigan shore and although we were having to short tack up the beach there was much less wave action on the shore. We were with faster boats so it was hard to keep up when we were in waves, but in smoother water we hung in there much better. Rail meat was everything at this point, so anyone trying to get sleep had to change bunks every time we tacked (which was a lot). The upper bunk was hard to get into so it was really better to be on deck.

Keeping with the projected forecast, the wind continued to blow hard from the northeast until Sunday around 4:00 PM when it shifted and moderated. We rounded point Betsie at 5:30 pm Sunday night, and we felt lucky that the wind was still blowing as we got into the Manitou passage, giving us a direct shot though the passage. Early Monday morning the wind dropped under 5 knots. It was a very light, tight reach and really was hard to say where the wind was coming from. We put up the small code 0 and really got the boat going. I had never steered a sail like this on a beat. With no light on the tell tails and using the compass and speedo and feel as a guide, we started to really go fast. As the sun came up, I realized I was sailing better in the dark than when I had things to look at, generating your own wind is an odd edge to sail on. This sail caught us back up to the larger boats that had passed us the day before!  However, true to the forecast, the wind completely died.  Even cigarettes couldn’t find any wind and the boat at one point did a 360. With the help of the wind seeker, which is a fairly large light jib that has full battens, we were able to get going again. Once we got going, it was the A1 Spinnaker in light air, jibing to Greys Reef. Co-owner Bruce Danley did a great job steering through this stretch with Lori Stearns trimming the spinnaker. Looking at the tracker after the race, we noticed this was an area we really extended our lead. After Greys Reef, the A1 was still the sail and it took us under the Mackinac Bridge to about one mile from the finish, where the wind died. Thank goodness for the wind seeker, it kept us going and we crossed the line with no one behind us in sight. The door had shut and now we just had to wait to see if anyone corrected over us.”

J/88 sailing fast on Chicago Mackinac RaceFinally, the Section 8 class of 28-33 footers that often produces huge surprises in the Mac Race nearly delivered, yet again!  Nevertheless, on “digital” based YB Tracker, the J/88s were crushing it up to Saturday midnight’s squall.  Thereafter, it was a long 20+ hour slog upwind in massive, breaking, cliff-sided waves.  While 29 feet with a knife-like bow can go fast most times, it’s a tall order of fries for a J/88 to beat a J/122 or J/111 upwind based on handicap time!  Nevertheless, the tables turned rapidly in the glass-out in the Manitou Island straits going to Grey’s Reef.  The J/88s flew in their conditions and nearly pulled off the mother of all upsets overall…just wishing a few more miles left!!  In the end, winning class was Tim Wade’s J/88 WINDSONG with crew of Todd Anderson, Andy Camarda, Kristin Olson, Tripp Wade, and Andrew Waters.  Leading the J/88 sweep with their colleagues was Ben & Amanda Wilson’s J/88 RAMBLER crew that consisted of Mark Ewing, Peter Fray, Rj Mills, Ed Montano, and Jim Nachtman.  For more Chicago to Mackinac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sportboat Fun- San Francisco!

J/70s sailing San Francisco Bay J/70s & J/111s Thrash City Front Course
(San Francisco Bay, CA)- City Front sailing at its finest! Last weekend the St. Francis Yacht Club hosted the J/70 Pacific Coast Championship and the J/111 Sportboat Regatta. Bennet Greenwald's Team PERSEVERANCE prevailed after three days of racing over the 9 race series with an impressive 6 bullets. Conditions overall were mild, warm, and sunny on the City Front making this San Diegan right at home!  And, feeling right at home on the Bay was St Francis YC member Peter Wagner, guiding his J/111 SKELETON KEY to six straight bullets to win the J/111 class!

Congrats to Team PERSEVERANCE (pictured L-R including crew Dirk Johnson, owner/driver Bennet Greenwald, Ben Mercer and Victor Diaz de Leon) and to all the competitors who came. It was a small but highly competitive J/70 fleet with challenging and rewarding racing.

Second place overall went to David Schumann’s Team Bottle Rocket with crew Cody Shevitz, Terre Layton, Shana Phelan and Willem Van Waay. Sailing with a crew of five paid off for this team, as did their two days of training with Willem Van Waay before the event.

J70 Sportboat winners- Greenwald's PerseveranceFleet 19 was happy to welcome Paul Cayard back to the J/70 fleet almost 10 months after sailing with one of Italy’s top Italian J/70 Teams Calvi Network at the J/70 Worlds in San Francisco last fall. If you may recall, Cayard is a Whitbread Around the World winner, Star World Champion and America’s Cup helmsman sailing on Chris Kostanecki’s JENNIFER. Cayard will continue to sail with Fleet 19s Team JENNIFER in the J/70 Worlds in Sardinia and they found the PCCs to be a great tune up for their newly formed Worlds team. Team JENNIFER came in third overall at the PCCs.

Tom Kassberg’s Team PICKLED HERRING is always a top contender and this weekend was no different. Kassberg came in fourth place overall at the PCCs.

J/70 Corinthians winners- Christine RobinSeveral Corinthian teams sailed the PCCs including Tracy Usher's Team CHRISTINE ROBIN.  Despite some epic and memorable tacking duels up the City Front with the top teams, they managed to land 5th overall just one point out of 4th place and were the first Corinthian team.

It was a family affair for Corinthian Justin Foox’s Team FLOTEK. At the PCCs, in addition to sailing with his wife Shar, which he does regularly, Justin also sailed with his sister and brother-in-law who were visiting from Australia. His sister and brother-in-law hadn’t sailed a J/70 before this weekend and loved the boats, no surprise! Justin and his sister hadn’t sailed together in 40 years so it was an especially fun experience for them all.

J/111s sailing San Francisco BayFurther enhancing the PCCs were daily debriefs from sailing Pro’s Willem Van Waay and Victor Diaz de Leon who ran informative debriefs post racing each day for the J/70s, which one attendee referred to as “liquid gold.”  In addition, Paul Cayard had nothing but praises for the pros and their debriefs.

As always StFYC Race Committee executed flawless race course management.  In addition to the gorgeous overall and Corinthian perpetual trophy, donated last year by Justin Kromelow’s Team LOOSE LUCY, the StFYC provided frames with plaques for the winners with line drawings of the J/70.

Gorgeous images of the racing with the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background say it all... Here is the link to photos from the 2017 PCCs by Leslie Richter.  Here’s another photo link from the 2017 PCCs by Chris Ray.  For more J/70 Pacific Coast Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.