Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Triumphant J/Crews Love Queen’s Cup Race

J/145 enjoying Queens Cup Race (Milwaukee, WI)- If you just witnessed the extraordinary Emirates Team New Zealand crew win that famous silver trophy, known as the America’s Cup (e.g. the 100 Guineas Cup), here’s another equally fascinating story.

The Queen's Cup is one of the oldest trophies in the world of yachting that is still offered for competition every year. Its history dates back to an age when British Victorian silverware was the most sought after by Europe’s business tycoons (e.g. the equivalent of modern day billionaires).  On August 22nd 1851, the yacht AMERICA won the Round Isle of Wight Race (taking place this weekend) for the 100 Guineas Cup, trouncing all competitors boat-for-boat, quite unexpectedly for those in the Queen’s peerage.  Later, in 1853, another American yacht participated in another 100 Guineas Cup event, although they did not win, the Queen of England saw to it they deserved a “50 Guineas Cup” trophy— what is now today’s “Queens Cup”, forever raced for on America’s Lake Michigan!

TQueens Cup Race courseoday, it is the coveted overall trophy for the race from Milwaukee, WI to South Haven, MI (approx. 117° and 76.3nm long).  Simple, really!  Start, and send it across Lake Michigan.  For those not familiar with Great Lakes/ Midwest weather, nothing could be more complicated!  Go high of rhumb, go low of rhumb, or a combo of the two!  Each strategy can spell success, or ultimate disaster! In the most classic case, a front rolls in from the west, setting up a southwest breeze and its just “white sails” across the lake, or if the front builds fast enough and begins to back to the west, most boats pop chutes and fly towards the craziest finish line ever off the harbor entrance to South Haven, Michigan.  Some years, it has been nearly impossible to get into the harbor due to the huge waves that pile up on the shoreline from the powerful westerlies!

This year’s event, thank goodness, was somewhat well-behaved from a weather standpoint, at least by Midwest standards that are accustomed to water spouts, tornados, rolling cloud squalls of 80 kts, hail beyond golf-ball sizes and so forth!!

In PHRF 1 class, it was Bill Schanen’s beautiful blood-red J/145 MAIN STREET that took third in her class of mainly wildly modified TP52s, Farr 40s and other oddities.

For PHRF 2 class, half of the top eleven boats were J/crews!  Leading the pack was Bob McManus’ J/130 EDGE, winning class easily on corrected time.  Third was Doug Petter’s J/130 WILLIE J, just six minutes back on corrected handicap tie.  Then , just 40 seconds handicap time behind was Mitch Padnos’ J/122 SUFFICIENT REASON (notably, they won ORR B class overall).  Jim Richter’s soon-to-become-famous J/44 CHEEP & DEEP II took 8th place and Bob Klairmont’s J/133 SIROCCO 3 placed 11th.

For the most part, the PHRF 3 was a.k.a. “the J/111 Division”, much to the chagrin of anything else floating on the starting line with them.  The J/111 class has developed a reputation over the years on the Great Lakes as “offshore mercenaries”, the “Jack Sparrow’s” of offshore sailing, sparing no one and everyone. Cross them, you’re dead. Period.  The J/111s in modern times have no peer racing offshore on the wildly varying conditions on the Great Lakes- upwind, reaching, power beating, running like hell in 35+ kts on A5 kites. Ask any competitor, NONE of them want to be in a J/111 class!

What happens after 76.3nm of racing in the J/111 class?? Well, in a one-design class, things can get quite close, like yelling at your buddies at the finish because they are, quite literally, next to you!  The J/111s on the Great Lakes are proving just that; only 5 minutes separating the top five after 9 1/2 hours of racing!! WOW!!

The duo of Mark & Colin Caliban sailed NO QUARTER to first by a mere 9 seconds over Dick Hobbs’ HOBGOBLIN!  Third place just 100 seconds back was class newcomer, Art Mitchel’s SNOW GOOSE.  Then, fourth was Brad Faber’s UTAH another 80 seconds behind and in fifth was Jeff Schaefer’s SHMOKIN JOE yet another 80 seconds back. So, it was a drama-filled overnight race that surely saw teams pressing harder and harder as dawn arose in this fast race! No quarter, indeed, between the leading crews in this fun-filled, close fleet!

In PHRF 6 Class, we find that Doug Evans’ J/109 TIME OUT was 4th place.  And, in PHRF 7 Class, taking 2nd was Andy Graff’s J/88 EXILE, third was Tod Patton’s J/88 BLONDIE 2, and 4th was Ben Wilson’s J/88 RAMBLER.  Sixth was Mike Ludtke’s J/105 SMOKIN J and 8th was Don Brackey’s J/105 BIENFAIT.  For more Queens Cup Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.