Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sea Bags Women's J/24 Sailing Team Kicks Off Season

J/24 women's Seabags sailing team(Portland, ME)- Erica Beck Spencer created the SEA BAGS WOMEN'S SAILING TEAM several years ago to give women a greater chance to experience top-level competition in the J/24 class.  Based out of Portland, Maine, she has traveled thousands of miles and had several dozen women from all over America sail on her team. Here is here latest update after she sailed the J/24 Midwinters in Miami, Florida:

“The Sea Bags Women’s Sailing Team Kicks Off Their Fourth season at the J/24 2018 Midwinter Championship in Miami!!

It is astonishing how much there is to learn in the sport of sailboat racing. Before, throughout, and following an event there are new things to consider, things to tweak, and other people to watch and learn from. We analyze video and photos following the event to see how we should better trim our sails the next time we see those same conditions. We capitalize on every opportunity to improve our practice: be it talking to each other about what we could do better, getting to know the pros in the fleet, and asking them as many questions as they’ll allow, learning from our fellow Corinthian sailors who are better than us and getting advice from them, and we attend every dock talk with notebook in hand, questions at the ready.

As the skipper for an all-women’s team I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in just over three years. In fact, the recent 2018 J/24 Midwinter Championship in Miami marked the beginning of our fourth season together.

Exactly four midwinters ago we picked up Jess Harris’s new boat in Annapolis, towed her to Davis Island, named her “Wait For It…”, rigged her, tuned her, and got her in the water. So much was new to us, or at least new to us being the ones in charge of the finer points of putting all this together. It’s easy to not really learn something when someone else is in charge. Just getting on the water was an accomplishment to be proud of.

But, finally in the very first race, with all the excitement and anticipation, we started aggressively and slowly one by one, boats passed us and we came in dead last. I was not expecting to do well, but last?! I was not expecting that either.

J/24 women's teamThe next day I got to the club early and got some help from Will Welles.  Hands down he is one of the greatest J/24 sailors of this era.  He helped tuning the boat, and that day we improved, dramatically! In one race, we rounded the windward mark right behind Will. It was one leg, but it filled us with some hope of the promise to come. We had a fast boat, and some skill on our team, we just needed lots of time to figure out how to get it all together. At this first event, we finished 24th out of 27th if memory serves me correctly. Not last!

I believe some of the reasons we’ve been able to improve as much as we have includes the fact that I am never ashamed to ask for help with tuning. I’ve improved tremendously in this essential task, but only because I’ve asked for help over and over again. Some guy friends have teased me about this fact, but I think more guys who have skill levels equal or less than mine, should ask for help. When a male friend from Portland, our home, got a new-to-him J/24, I was able to give back by sharing some tuning advice with him.

Is this a difference between men and women- that women are more willing to ask for help? I don’t know, but I think all newbies should ask for help. Why the hell not!? I am honored when someone asks me questions. Maybe it is unique to the J/24 fleet, but everyone is very helpful.

One friend we’ve made along the team’s journey is Alain Vranderick from Canada, a Star sailor.  We fondly call him “coach”.  He said to me somewhere in the beginning of our campaign, “first you put together a good leg, then a good race, then a good day on the water, and finally you put together a good event.”

Our progress feels slow because we all want to be doing better- but, what we’re doing is no easy task. We’re bringing a team of six women together, all of whom have day jobs, and some have families- none are professional sailors. Many of us are sailing in relatively new positions on a J/24.  Plus, I am relatively new to skippering keelboats. Our tactician is new to being in this role. We’re competing against teams who have been doing this a lot longer and the great teams typically have sailed together for over six years.

Every event we go to we’re learning and growing as a team. At midwinters this year, we struggled, and I was disappointed with our results- but a lot of learning happened.

women J/24 sailors downwindGeoff Becker (World J/24 and Lightning Champion), another person who I’ve asked approximately a zillion questions to, was able to watch us come down wind (we won’t say why he was able to do this…) and took some photos of our team.

He found me post racing and talked about our speed downwind. He pulled up this photo on his phone (IMG 3294) and talked about how the shoulders of our spinnaker were too high and compared them to the other boats around us.

He said, “We’re all taught that the clews should be matched, because that is a nice way to teach kids, but you actually want the leading edge to be a little tighter than the back edge. The pole end will be slightly lower than the clew. This will keep the front edge more stable and keep the boat from bouncing around as much.”

He added, “The wind flows from luff to leach of spinnaker so you want the back edge more open than the front edge. Certainly, the spinnaker end should never be higher than the other side.” He also shared these rules:
  •  Keep pole flat (play around with upper and lower ring to find that level spot)
  • Clew never past the head stay
Finally, he challenged us that in roll gybes you can actually hook the clew on the forestay and have that anchor the spinnaker as you roll, until you get the pole back on, but I’m not sure I totally get how to do that. We may need to have Geoff on board for some coaching to see how that one works!

For more information about improving spinnaker trim check out this great article, Spinnaker Trim for Speed Sailing by Mike Toppa and Gary Jobson.

As part of our commitment to give back to the sailing community, especially to those who want to go from being good racers (most of us) to better ones, we write about what we’re learning along the way on our From Good to Great  blog.

We’d love you to follow along at website or on the Seabags Sailing Team Facebook page.

So, we didn’t finish as well as we’d like in Miami, 19th out of 35. There is so much more to learn and yet we had fun. How could we not? It was 85 degrees, some of us swam, we sailed near dolphins, the location was stunning, and we shook off the winter months of not racing together. Looking forward to a great season with much learning and growth. We hope you’ll follow along on the journey.”  Sailing photo credits- Connie Bischoff/ Geoff Becker/ Chris Howell Add to Flipboard Magazine. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, March 30, 2018

40th SPI OUEST France Regatta Preview

J/112E sport cruiser racing boat
(La Trinite sur Mer, France)- The largest offshore keelboat regatta in Europe- SPI OUEST France- is the first major event in the spring for French sailors. It is always looked forward to with great anticipation for J/sailors, as it is a celebration of sailing and family over the Easter Holiday weekend.  Even more importantly for this year, it is a celebration of the 40th edition of SPI OUEST!  The regatta is hosted by Societe Nautique La Trinite sur Mer, located in the quaint seaside village of La Trinite sur Mer.  The sailing will take place from Thursday, March 29th to Monday, April 2nd on the Baie de Quiberon, one of the most famous places to sail in all of France.

Participating in this year’s event are over 100 J/Boats, ranging from J/70s, J/80s up to J/97s, J/109s, J/112E’s, J/120s, and J/122s.  The fifteen-boat IRC 2 class will have four J/Crews vying for class supremacy.  Last year’s winner, Didier Le Moal’s J-LANCE 12 from Societe Regate Rochelaises, will be working hard to maintain their momentum from last season.  Another new J/112E will hope to capitalize on lessons learned from J-LANCE 12’s success; MUSIX will be helmed by P. Baetz from the home club SNT S/Mer.  Two J/120s from Club Nautique Pornic will be up against those formidable 112E’s, one is P. Girardin’s HEY JUDE and the other is P. Tostivint’s LADY JANE.

In the twenty-one boat IRC 3 class are two J/97’s.  From SR Rochelaises is B. Fagart’s MISPICKEL V and from Societe Nautique Baie St Malo is JP Briand’s J L’AMOROSSO. These two crews will be battling an octet of JPK 10.10s and a trio of SF 3200s.  Another slightly lower-rated J/97 will be racing in the twenty-two boat IRC 4 Class, P. Mabo’s HALIOTIS from Club Nautique Piriac sur Mer.

In the OSH handicap class of fifty-four boats is a range of classic J’s.  The smallest and oldest is S. Gras’ J/24 JIBUS from YC Crouesty-Arzon.  Three J/92’s are sailing, including T. Bidon’s DR JEKYL from Club Nautique Lorient, M. Morvan’s J3M from CVF, and C. Roux’s LED ZEP from Societe Regate Turballe.  Joining them are four J/105s, including P. Allain’s BO GOSS from CN Pirieac S/Mer, three crews from the host club from SN Trinite S/Mer; JP. Peche’s J’RTOURN, P. Jomier’s J-SQUARED from SNT S/Mer, and F. Guillemot’s MISS J from SNT S/Mer.  In addition, the two “big boats” in class are S. Blevin’s J/109 JOKE from SNT S/Mer and P. Vidon’s J/111 J4F from SN Baie St Malo.

In the world of one-design, J’s continue to dominate the French scene, with strong turnouts for J/70s and J/80s.  In the sixteen-boat J/70 fleet several of the top J/80 teams from the past are most likely focused on the upcoming J/70 World Championship to be sailed in Poole, England in 2019.  Familiar names are racing, like Luc Sambron’s HEMON-CAMUS from APCC Voile Sportive, Herve Leduc’s PIERRE OCEANE from SR Rochelaises and Eric Vallliant’s TRISKELL from CN Narbonne.  A top Russian/ Spanish crew will be also participating, NEW TERRITORIES RUS 667 sailed by S. Alexei and Hugo Roche, sailing under the flag of YC St Petersburg in Russia.

Again setting the record for at least a dozen years as THE largest one-design class at SPI Ouest will be the fleet of seventy-one J/80s.  Such is the strength of the J/80 class in France that virtually ALL top yacht clubs/ sailing clubs have them as “club boats”; so juniors and women train on them all the time.  That continues to feed the used-boat marketplace for J/80s.  There are many fresh faces in this year’s fleet, as well as some of the grizzled veterans from European and World Championships.  Look for some of these teams to be at the top of the leaderboard; Ludovic Gilet’s NUMERO J fron CN Pornic, Andrew Hurst’s British crew aboard SEAHORSE MAGAZINE from Keyhaven YC, Simon Moriceau’s ARMEN HABITAT from APPC Voile Sportive, Madame Rousseaux’s CN ST CAST GRAND OUEST ETIQUETTE from CN St Cast, Luc Nadal’s GANJA from NDCV Angers,  and Simon Pellisier’s INTUITIVE SAILS from NDCV Angers.

Perhaps what is most notable for the J/80 fleet is the increasing number of women helms as well as a significant increase in the numbers of university sailing teams- at least ten! Sailing photo credits- Jean-Marie Liot. For more SPI OUEST France Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Edgartown Race Weekend Adds 'Round-Sound Race

J/109 sailing Block Island (Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard)- Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend, a Martha’s Vineyard tradition anchored by its ’Round-the-Island Race (’RTI) of eight decades, is adding a new ’Round-the-Sound Race (‘RTS) option for teams wanting to sail a shorter course of approximately 20.0nm around government marks on Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. The ’RTS adds yet another dimension to Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend and is an attractive alternative for those wanting to go a bit easier on Saturday or just even try short-distance racing for the first time.

The ’RTS will start at 0900 on Saturday, July 21, soon after the final start for all classes entered in the 56.0nm ’RTI, which never ceases to challenge even the best of sailors while simultaneously wowing them with “The Vineyard’s” scenic splendor.

The Saturday of short-distance racing follows two days of popular ’Round-the-Buoy Races (’RTB) in Edgartown’s Outer Harbor. The ’RTB Races were added several years ago to add diversity to its format and extend the fun of Race Weekend on its front end.

Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend traditionally attracts entrants from the Eastern Seaboard and beyond, delivering superb racing action for boats 28 feet and longer in classes for IRC, ORC, ORR, PHRF (spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions), Double-Handed, and Classic yachts. Professional teams as well as amateurs enter, and the mix is what keeps the atmosphere upbeat and adventurous.

The deadline for signing up for the ’Round-the-Island or ’Round-the Sound is Wednesday, July 18, 2018. The registration fee for ’RTS is $125 before July 6 and $175 after that date. The registration fee for the ’RTI has been decreased to $250.00 before July 6 and $325 thereafter.

The ’Round-the-Buoy Races registration fee for all classes will be $50 each day. The deadline for each of the two days that those races are held is Tuesday, July 17, 2018. The distance races for each day of ‘RTB are scored separately. Prizes will be awarded for all qualifying classes, including one-design, for those boats that participate in both Thursday and Friday races.

A Mount Gay-sponsored “Jump-Up” party on Friday night (July 20); and prize givings on both Friday and Sunday (July 22) round out the social on/shore schedule for competitors entered in one or more of the racing sessions.  Follow Edgartown Yacht Club Racing on Facebook  For more Edgartown YC Race Weekend sailing information or email contact- Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

ARBITRAGE Wins J/105 Spring One-Design Regatta

J/105s sailing San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- The San Francisco J/105 Fleet is alive and growing with 25 teams on the starting line for each mid-winter race and 25 boats competing this past weekend in the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Spring One Design, its opening fleet racing regatta of the 2018 season.

It was an uncharacteristically light wind regatta due to little gradient, as the Central Valley has not yet heated up. Despite the resultant light winds and strong, building tides, the race committee managed to pull off three races on Saturday and one on Sunday.

J105 winners- ArbitrageThe fleet welcomed returning owners Tim Russell and Ian Charles, both highly experienced skippers who had sold their J/105s a few years ago while attending to growing families.  In the past few months each of them bought a well-prepared used J/105, shipped them to San Francisco, and jumped right into the front row for each race.  Nevertheless, Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault on ARBITRAGE #116 turned in a consistent score line of 4-2-3-3 to win convincingly with a total of 12 points.  They were followed by Tim on NE*NE #3 (Lowell North’s and Dennis Conner’s old “superboat”) with 20 points and Ian on MAVERICK #385 with 22 points, with Shannon Ryan and Rolf Kaiser on DONKEY JACK #26 in fourth with 26 points.  Completing the top five was Adam Spiegel’s JAM SESSION with 27 pts.   Sailing photo credits- Chris Ray
For more J/105 Spring One Design Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/80 North Americans Announcement

J/80s sailing off start (Marion, MA)- For all ‘ye J/80 sailors across America, Mexico, and Canada, be sure to mark your dance calendar now and get organized for the 2018 edition of the J/80 North American Championship.  The regatta is being held from September 7th to 9th, 2018 and it is being hosted by the Beverly YC in Marion, MA. Sailing will take place on the famous Buzzards Bay, notorious for lots of current, enormous choppy waves and 15-25 kts of west to southwest sea breezes every day!  A perfect venue for the fast, easy, robust J/80 to have a romp around the buoys!  Register NOW - click here!  For more J/80 North American Championship sailing information.

J/80s sailing downwind1st annual J/80 West Coast Championship
The J/80 class continues to steadily grow in the Pacific Northwest region.  In fact, the class is now large enough to warrant creating the first ever 2018 West Coast Championship.  The regatta will take place from April 21st to 22nd, 2018 and the host will be the friendly members of Corinthian YC Seattle in Seattle, WA.  Racing will take place on the always-challenging Puget Sound where you can expect just about any weather condition imaginable in late spring!  Register NOW and get more J/80 West Coast Championship sailing information here.

If you have any questions whatsoever about either event in terms of possible charter boats, accommodation, traveling information, local contacts, then do not hesitate to contact the J/80 North American Class President Ramzi Bannura- email- Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

El NOTICIA Repeats in Vigo J/70 Winter Series

J/70s sailing off Vigo, Spain (Vigo, Spain)- After seven weekends of racing from October 2017 to March 2018, hosted by Real Club Nautico Vigo, the Vigo J/70 Winter Series saw a repeat winner in the form of El NOTICIA, sailed the Cantabrian Pichu Torcida (past J/80 World Champion) and Luis Martín Cabiedes from Madrid. They started off by winning the first weekend and never looked back, dominating the series from beginning to end and winning four of the J/70 Noticia winnersseven acts.  As a result, they were declared winners of the Linde Sogacsa Trophy.

"We are very satisfied with the result in the Linde-Sogacsa Trophy winter series, especially since this season has been very windy; a weather condition where we were weakest last year.

Thanks to the changes we have made, we have improved a lot in the big breeze! We want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate our sponsor and RCN Vigo and all those who have worked hard to organize this event of such high level,” commented Pichu Torcida.  “We hope to see you all again soon for the Spring Series and, even, the J/70 Europeans in June!”

J/70 sailing off SpainSecond place overall went to Luís Bugallo’s MARNATURA, skippered by José Luís Freire.  They were one of the few boats that could give “los amigos” on NOTICIA a run-for-the-money during the entire series.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the series was the performance by ABRIL VERDE sailed by Luis Pérez Canal from the host Real Club Náutico de Vigo.  They sailed all seven events and were clearly the top Corinthian team as well.  They are looking forward to the Europeans being sailed in the same waters in June.

Rounding out the top five were Juan Deben’s LAGUARDA & MOREIRA (skippered by Gonzalo Araújo’s) in fourth place and Manuel Bermudez De Castro’s SOLVENTIS taking fifth place.

J/70 rounding weather markAfter the Linde Sogacsa Trophy Winter Series, the Vigo fleet will begin their "Spring Series" in two weeks.  That event will be great training leading up to the 2018 J/70 European Championship being held from June 9th to 16th. If you have not yet done so, please be sure to REGISTER here for the J/70 Europeans- 62 boats from 15 countries are already registered!

Follow the Spanish Vigo J/70 Fleet here on Facebook  For more RCN Vigo J/70 Fleet sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Women’s J/70 Sailing League Announcement

J70 Women's sailing league (Hamburg, Germany)- After the last general assembly of ISLA (International Sailing League Association) in December 2017, the date and the location of the first event of Women’s SAILING Champions League are now set. Kiel Week will host the first Women’s SAILING Champions League from June 16 to 18 in Kiel, Germany.

The first battle of all-women teams takes the stage at the world’s biggest sailing regatta in Kiel, Germany (1,600+ boats!). Up to 24 teams from more than 17 nations will compete in the kick-off event of Women’s SAILING Champions League.

Each of the 17 European National Sailing Leagues gets the chance to send up to two club teams to the event. The organizing authorities, ISLA and SAILING Champions League GmbH, leave the decision which clubs to nominate for the event to the national leagues. Additional spots will be granted as wild cards by ISLA and SCL.

J/70 Women's sailing leagueEach club sends a team of four or five women sailors to Kiel. The familiar format with six to eight J/70 one-design boats, a pairing list and short, spectator and media-friendly races will be used. The races will be broadcast live with SAP Tracking and SAP Sailing Analytics as part of KielerWoche.TV.

Peter Wolsing, President of ISLA says, “We are very excited that the league sailing format is growing so fast. We are happy and honored that our best women’s teams will compete during Kiel Week in June and our best youth teams during Travemünde Week in July.”

Hosting clubs are the four organizing clubs of Kiel Week: Kieler Yacht-Club, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Hamburger Segel-Club and Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee. The latter club from Berlin will be responsible for the race management.   Sailing Photo Credit- Lars Wehrmann  For more Kiel Week sailing information  For more Women’s SAILING Champions League regatta information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Barcelona J/70 & J/80 Winter Series Finale

J/70s sailing off Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)- This past weekend marked the fifth and final act of the Barcelona J/70 & J/80 Winter Sportboat Series in Barcelona, Spain.  In the end, the Real Çlub Nautico de Barcelona managed to run twenty-nine races, much to the delight of the sailors that looked forward to their monthly races.

In the J/70 fleet, it was Javier Scherk on GUNTER that won the final weekend, setting a blistering pace with a 1-1-2-6-1 tally to win by a large margin.  Finishing second for the weekend and winning the overall series was Luis Albert Solana skippering PATAKIN from Club de Mar Palma Mallorca.  Second for the winter series was Massimo Rama’s JENIALE EUROSYSTEM, an Italian skipper and crew that had been Italy’s J/80 National Champion.  Then, rounding out the podium overall was David Marco’s REBUFF from RCN Barcelona.

Barcelona Winter series winners in J/80 and J/70The clear, runaway winner of the finale and the overall J/80 Winter Series was Gonzalo Morales’ BRIBON MOVISTAR with top skipper Marc de Antonio; they managed seventeen 1sts and seven 2nds out of 29 races!  Finishing a comfortable second overall was top Spanish woman skipper Silvia Ravetllat on AKEWELE from Club Nautico de Balis.  Taking the bronze was another leading woman skipper, Rosa Artigas, sailing Luis Corbella-Jordi’s MIKAKU from RCN Barcelona.  For more Barcelona J/70 & J/80 Winter Series sailing information
Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Gorgeous, Sunny, San Diego NOOD Regatta

J/70 sailing San DiegoClose Racing for J/70s, J/105s, and J/120s!
(San Diego, CA)- The 2018 edition of the Helly Hansen San Diego NOOD Regatta took place from March 16th to 18th, hosted by the famous San Diego Yacht Club on Point Loma.  The promising weather forecasts for the weekend were fulfilled, providing the racers great sailing, both offshore south of Point Loma and also in the flat waters of South Bay in the eastern part of San Diego Harbor beyond Coronado Bridge.

Winning the J/70s on the final day was Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE.  Stew Cannon’s J-OK nearly swept the J/105 class.  And, John Laun’s J/120 CAPER kept it consistent to top their class. Here is how it all went down over the three-day weekend.

J/120s sailing San DiegoFriday- Postcard Perfect!
Optimal conditions on San Diego Bay made for a solid first day of racing. This was the second of five stops in the nation's largest and longest-running sailboat racing circuit, now in its 30th season.

Nearly half of the regatta’s entrants participated on the first day of racing and the rest join them for races Saturday and Sunday. In the J/70 fleet, the largest of the weekend, local sailmaker and professional sailor Chris Snow and the crew aboard COOL STORY BRO lead the fleet with 11 points after three races.

Snow credits a conservative approach and good boatspeed to his team's early success in a traditionally competitive fleet.

"The rule of thumb is you can't win the regatta on the first day, but you can lose it," Snow said. "Sailboat racing is a game of risk versus rewards, and the best strategy is to not take a big risk at the start [of each race] and let your boat speed do the work for you. So our strategy was to have a good solid day and not make any mistakes."

Despite shifty conditions for the first race of the day, team COOL STORY BRO placed first. The wind strengthened for the following two races. Snow said the favorable conditions made it easier for his team to “to get out in front, which takes a little bit of the stress out."

With seventh- and third-place finishes in the following races, Snow led the class by a single point. The J/70s are laden with top sailors and, according to Snow, it's still anyone's game.

"This fleet is very competitive, and that makes it fun for everybody. If you finish in the top 10, it's an accomplishment."  Tied for 2nd were Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE with a 9-2-1 and Chris Raab’s SUGOI with a 6-1-5.

The Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) Youth Team, a crew of high school-aged sailors participating in the regatta, shared Snow’s perspective. The youth team is currently placed ninth in a class full of veterans and pros. Echoing Snow's strategic insight, SBYC's tactician Payne Donaldson, 16, said his team's game plan is to "go fast, sail conservatively and start well."

J/70 Santa Barbara YC Youth TeamAfter an impressive second-place finish during the first race, Donaldson’s teammates faced a few "communication and boat set-up" issues in the day’s second race. "But we came back with sixth place during the third race, so it was a good day. We sorted out the problems we needed to."

As one of three youth teams in the J/70 fleet, the young sailors were sailing to qualify for the US J/70 Youth Championship this fall, defending the club's 2017 title.

"We picked this event because it's one of the closest qualifying events and one of the first," said crew member Caden Schivlauer, 16. "The team was here last year and we know this venue pretty well, so it just felt natural to come back."

Photo L to R: Payne Donaldson (captain, tactician), Paul Harteck (Skipper), Chris Kayda, Caden Scheiblauer, Kyla Murphy. Note- Payne and Chris were part of the Santa Barbara YC 2017 championship team at the first U.S. J/70 Youth Championship in Newport, RI.

J/70s sailing San Diego South BaySaturday- Shifty, Rough Day Offshore
Saturday was a challenging day on the water for the hundreds of sailors competing in the eleven classes. Sailors faced shifty winds and rough seas on two race courses set on the ocean off Coronado Island.

San Diego-native John Laun, the 2015 Helly Hansen NOOD San Diego Overall Winner, found the conditions demanding, but he and his crew aboard CAPER established a comfortable lead in the J/120 class, which saw four different boats win each of four races.

“It was a great day,” Laun said. “The sea state was very confused for the first couple of races in particular. There were big wind shifts and big changes in wind direction, so it was very challenging.”

Those big shifts resulted in an abandoned race. But, the wind eventually shifted westerly and held steady with more reasonable oscillations,

Behind Laun’s CAPER with a 2-1-2-2 tally for 7 pts, it was Chuck Nichols’ CC RIDER in second with a 5-2-1-4 scoreline for 12 pts and sitting in third was Rudolph Hasl’s HASL FREE with a 3-3-4-5 score for 15 pts.

The ten-boat J/105 fleet got rolling on Saturday as well.  It has been tight racing, as illustrated by the roller-coaster scorelines of the top three boats.  Leading was Stew Cannon’s J-OK with a 1-5-2 for 8 pts, followed by Rick Bergmann’s ZUNI BEAR in second with a 4-3-4 tally for 11 pts.  After an awful first race, Tom Hurlburt & Chuck Driscoll’s crew on JUICED re-grouped and, ultimately, posted a 10-2-1 for 13 pts to sit in third for the day.

Meanwhile, the large J/70 class produced a few more winners and a few luckless outcomes, too.  Leapfrogging into first place was Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE, adding a 1-8-3-2 to their record to close with 26 pts total.  Dropping down to second was Snow’s COOL STORY BRO after posting a 4-5-12-1 for the day for 33 pts total.  Then, top woman helm- Pamela Rose from Chicago, IL- guided her ROSEBUD team to a 5-4-8-3 tally for 35 pts total.  Dropping off the face of the Earth was Raab’s SUGOI team scoring a dubious 3-13-13-13 on the day to drop them out of second and, in fact, out of the top five- rough day for the Newport Beach crowd!

J/120s sailing offshore San DiegoDay 3- Sunny, Gentle Breezes for Finale
Continuing to maintain their composure on the last day was Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE.  They maintained their lead with a 12-2-4 to win the J/70 class with 44 pts total.

“The J/70s are always tough,” Greenwald said, touting that the fleet this weekend boasted several world champions. “South Bay is really fun because it’s flat water but the shifts come quick. It was a very exciting weekend. It feels good to win, but just being here is a privilege.”

The Snow/Brigden duo on COOL STORY BRO closed with an 8-5-7 to finish with 53 pts.  Just one point back in the bronze position on the podium was Jeff Janov’s MINOR THREAT; it was quite a comeback to hop on the podium for Janov’s team, closing fast with a 1-4-1 for 54 pts in total!  Climbing like a Phoenix arising from the ashes of defeat and destruction the previous day was Raab’s SUGOI, clearly going for redemption and blitzing the fleet with a smokin’ hot 2-1-2 tally the final day for a total of 59 pts- good enough for 4th place!  Rounding out the top five was Fabian Gomez-Ibarra’s VAGAZO from Mexico with a total of 66 pts.

In the J/70 Corinthians Division, it was Gomez-Ibarra’s VAGAZO team that won the title; followed by Craig Tallman’s JAYA in second, and taking third was the incredibly well-sailed Santa Barbara YC Youth Team, skippered by Paul Harteck.

In a somewhat unusual scenario, after scoring just the three Youth teams participating in the regatta, it was the King Harbor YC FLY Team skippered by Kyle Collins that scored as top Youth team for the event by just one point over the Santa Barbara YC Youth Team.  Third was the Newport Youth Team skippered by Max Mayol from Newport Beach, CA.  As a result, the King Harbor YC youth team qualifies to go to the U.S. J/70 Youth Championship to be held in November 2018 at St Petersburg YC in Florida.

In the J/105 class, the standings for the three lead boats from the previous day did not change.  Stew Cannon’s crew on J-OK kept up the pressure on the fleet and closed with a 1-2 to take the J/105 title.  Also, closing with a 2-1 was the Hurlburt/ Driscoll duo on JUICED to take the silver.  Finally, Bergmann’s ZUNI BEAR had a good regatta to close with a 5-6 and secure the bronze.

Laun’s team on CAPER ran away with the J/120 class, sailing very consistently to close with a 2-3-2 to win with just 12 pts.  Nichol’s CC RIDER team also hung in there with a 4-4-1 to hold on to their second place.  However, third place was up for grabs all day long, with a new team looking ready to grab the bronze.  Nevertheless, those efforts proved elusive for most boats, with Ernie Pennell’s MAD MEN sailing like “mad men”, taking a 3-1-4 tally straight to the podium to seize the bronze for the regatta.  Coincidentally, it was anyone’s guess who would get that final medal as only 2 pts separated the three boats from 3rd to 5th. Tim Hogan’s SHAMROCK took 4th and Hasl’s HASL FREE must have fallen from grace with the sea, dropping down to 5th place.  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ and JOY Sailing/ Bronny Daniels.   For more Helly Hansen San Diego NOOD Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, March 26, 2018

New J/121 Offshore Speedster Update

J/121 Apollo sailing off St MaartenAPOLLO Crushes Heineken St Maarten Long Distance Race
(Simpson Bay, St Maarten)- During the Heineken St Maarten Regatta, a newly launched J/121 named APOLLO created quite a stir amongst the offshore cognoscenti that were present in the 100-boat fleet.

The occasion was the traditional opening day race- the Round the Island Race.  Normally a 30.0nm picturesque circumnavigation of St Maarten, the course was changed for CHS Offshore classes due to lighter than normal winds in the 8-13 kts range from the East-Southeast.  The shortened course was approximately 23.6nm, starting in Simpson Bay heading west for 4.5nm under spinnaker to Point Basse Terre leaving it to starboard, a short reach north for 1.3nm around Point Plum, then a long 6.5nm beat up the Anguilla Channel to a turning mark off Bell Point leaving it to port, then a spinnaker run of 6.5nm back to Point Plum to port, around Pt Basse Terre for 1.3nm, then a 4.5nm beat to the infamous “Heineken Gate” and finish line in Simpson Bay.

It was a race course where no one could “hide”, you simply sailed it fast, clean, make smart sail choices, and have good boathandling.  Not much to pick for windshifts upwind or downwind, just sail fast and have fun.

That is precisely what Don Nicholson’s crew did aboard his J/121 APOLLO. They sailed away from their CHS 3 fleet that had the fastest, winningest J/122 in the Caribbean- EL OCASO- and the proven, winning offshore speedster- the J/111 SPIKE from the British Virgin Islands.  In other words, in a gold-plater division full of the best crews in the Caribbean, the J/121 sped away like a horse running for the roses and the barn door!

J/121 Apollo sailing fast off St MaartenLeading at the first mark by well over 2 minutes, APOLLO powered away upwind to open up a substantial lead.  At the top turning mark, they gybe set their large A2 asymmetric spinnaker, and flew downwind.  By the time she crossed the finish line in 2 hrs 50 min 28 secs elapsed time (an 8.34 kts course average), they beat the 2nd place J/122 EL OCASO by 16 min 23 secs across the water and 9 min 11 secs on corrected time.  Needless to say, Nicholson and his crew were overjoyed to have proven in a simple point-to-point race that the J/121 lived up to its billing as an easy-to-sail, fast, shorthanded boat for six crew.

Nicholson commented on their performance with his new J/121 APOLLO after the regatta:

“I’m extremely pleased with our first regatta in APOLLO (J/121 hull #2).  We placed 3rd in CSA 3 Class of both the Gill Commodore's Cup and the Heineken Regatta in diverse and challenging conditions against a fleet of extremely well-sailed boats.

Being scratch boat in the class and crossing the line first in most races was a thrill.  The J/121 handles extremely well, with dinghy-like responsiveness and quick acceleration.  She pointed higher to weather than I expected and we routinely found ourselves both higher and faster than the other boats in the fleet, giving us many tactical opportunities, especially in close quarters at the start.

Downwind she was delightfully fast and competently handled all the sail area we put up.

My crew was awesome and the J/121 provided them a great opportunity to experiment with trim, weight distribution and boat handling so that we got up the learning curve quickly.

Our next regatta will be the St Thomas International Regatta in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the adjacent British Virgin Islands Spring Regatta, where we hope to hone our skills and push the boat to its full potential.

After that, Apollo will return to her homeport of Newport, RI in preparation for the Newport-Bermuda race.  I’m a big fan of the J/121 already and it’s great to be able to reduce our crew numbers and simplify the logistics of the Apollo program.”  Sailing photo credits- Laurens Morel. For more J/121 Offshore Speedster sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Welles J/24 Midwinters Winning Tips

J/24 sailing Midwinters(Miami, FL)- Will Welles shares how they won the 2018 J/24 Midwinters on BOGUS on Biscayne Bay @ Miami.

35 teams met at Shake-a-leg Miami for the 2018 Midwinter Championship where sunny skies and beautiful breeze greeted sailors with ideal racing conditions for the three-day event. Each day brought building breeze from the NNW that slowly clocked NNE by the end of each day, keeping sailors on their toes with oscillating shifts that were as high as 30 degrees. As the breeze increased, teams concentrated on maintaining boat speed in the developing chop, which made for some great opportunities to gain both upwind and downwind if you could catch the right shift and make smart decisions.

At the end of day one, Will Welles’ team Bogus was hot as ever, ending the day with snake eyes giving them 4 points total. This would be a precursor to the remaining race days, as Will’s team never scored worse than a 5th place, allowing them to win the race to the dock as the last race would be their victory lap. Consistency paid off the remainder of the weekend, driving Welles to win the overall championship by 18 points, with one discard. In second place was Tony Parker’s North-powered Bangor Packet. Mark Laura’s Baba Louie was unstoppable, stepping up the level of competition in the Corinthian division. Congratulations to our clients on a successful weekend. A great start to the 2018 spring sailing season.

The truth about Bogus, 2018 J/24 Midwinter Champs
We caught up with skipper Will Welles who was driven to success in Miami for the J/24 Midwinter Championship with his team Bogus. Hear the truth, first-hand from Will, on how his team sailed to win the regatta.

What were some of the things you focused on during some of the practice days leading up to the first day of racing?

We had a lot to do in a little time because we borrowed a boat that was already down there, we picked a boat that we knew had good pedigree, but we knew we’d have to spend a day or so changing a couple things to make it the way we wanted it (Thank you Nick Turney!). Once the boat was set and the full team had arrived we were able to head out sailing spending a few hours on Wednesday and then a few more hours on Thursday.

Our main focus was to make sure the boat was up to speed, that it had the straight line speed that we are use to with our own boat. We just set the boat up to our dock tune and then went out and lined up with a few boats and pretty quickly found our speed, straight from the tuning guide!

J/24 sailing Midwinters downwindWhen you get out on the race course, what are some things that your team focuses on? Of course you probably sail upwind a little bit, make sure your rig feels right, your boat speed is good, get the trimmer warmed up- but what else are you doing to get ready for the first race?

The big thing is, we don’t want to rush, so we get out there at least an hour early and spend at least an hour on the race course before the first warning signal.

In Miami, we actually got out there about an hour and a half early each day, and without rushing, your heart rate isn’t too high and you can just focus on getting your homework done. The homework is sailing the course and seeing what the wind is doing. Logging in some compass numbers upwind and checking the rig setting. We like to meet at least another boat out there to sail upwind together to make sure we’re going alright and that our rig set is where we want it to be. We get some numbers and then go back to the line and check in. Note: As far as rig settings go, we were always making sure we weren’t ever caught too tight on the rig, we’re always gearing towards maximum power. There were some big holes (lighter air patches) on the course, and they lasted a long time, so max power was key.

Sometimes we’ll do a split tack where both boats start at the committee boat, one on starboard and one on port and we sail for five or maybe six minutes then tack and see where we are when we come back together. Sometimes this is helpful, but it’s not always helpful. You just have to take it as more data.

You can’t always think that if a boat that sailed the right side crushed the left side, that’s how it’s going to be by the time you get the first race started.

So, we do the split tack and then we go back to the line and take a little water break, maybe eat a granola bar and then start doing our starting line homework. We ping the line at both ends, then log some head to wind compass readings that helps us get an idea of what the shifts are doing. Then the big focus is getting off the line on the favored side of the starting line and getting to the side you want to sail the first beat. We usually discuss all this stuff as a group, and then try to execute our plan.

J/24 class start at MidwintersSo, after the start, you guys are heading up the first beat. Is there a lot of communication between you and the trimmer? And if so, what kind of information is discussed?

Rich and I have sailed together for a bunch of years, so the talking is minimal, but that’s just because we know what to expect with one another and we know what we’re looking for. There’s not a lot of conversation. Depending on sea state, the bigger the waves he might be playing a little bit more sheet than he would if it was flatter water. In conditions like Miami, it wasn’t that wavy, there was some small chop. We’d get out of the tack, he’d get the genoa inside the lifeline then to the rail, I’d put the winch handle in and when the boat was up to speed I’d grind it the rest of the way in.

We pretty much leave it in unless I was flogging the main more than I wanted to in a puff, he listens to that and I might tell him for some waves, burp the genoa (sheet) a little bit. Or if the breeze drops down a little bit, I might tell him to burp the sheet or if I adjust the backstay I’d let him know that too. So there’s little chatter. We’re always talking about the sheet. I do the final winch handle fine trimming, in and he’s doing the easing out of the sheet up wind.

As you approach the downwind leg, rounding the top mark, you crack off and start the pre-feed. Who makes the calls from there?

We have a discussion, soon as we round the top mark, I’m asking the tactician (PJ Schaffer in this case) are we extending or looking to jibe? We’ll have that discussion and I know before we get to the offset what the plan is. It’s my job to get the boat setup so that we can either jibe or continue and extend. I’m watching the boats around close behind us, or close in front to make sure we are clear to make a move if we decide that is the plan. The breezier it is, the less weight you want off the rail from the weather mark to the offset. So we try to keep weight on the rail and trim the sails to the angle we’re sailing to the offset so we can get maximum speed. Making sure the main is trimmed just right, the vang, and the genoa, we go for the pole and pre-feed the guy and be ready to set the kite at the offset when I call for it.

Then once the spinnaker is set we’re always talking about angle and pressure. I’ll ask Rich if he likes the angle out of a jibe if we do execute. I’ve got a good feel from the rudder and the wind on my neck, and he’s got probably the best feel with the pressure in the kite from the sheet. I’m always looking to hear what he’s feeling in the sheet and that kind of helps me plan whether I want to start putting the bow up or start pushing the bow down.

We usually have someone on the boat giving us a heads up on what’s coming big picture pressure wise, whether it’s a long lull or a big puff or just medium pressure. That’s also good information for me to decide where I need to put the boat. It’s just good communication so everyone is on the same page.

The key is that we don’t talk constantly, we talk as needed. I think sometimes people can talk too much, so when you’re communicating less words are usually better than trying to sprinkle lots of extra words in there. Just getting right to the meat of what we’re trying to talk about whether it’s a puff or a lull or good pressure works the best.

What would you say are three things that contributed to your team’s success at the Regatta?

Everyone on the team brought a lot of skills to the team, and so it was almost easy. We all just fit together really well and everyone knew their jobs and did their jobs and it just worked. Having a good boat and a good team is so crucial and it’s a key to success. Once you have that stuff, it’s getting good start, picking some shifts correctly, and having fast sails of course.

Give us three tips that would help a J/24 class sailor get faster on the race course?

The boats have been around for a long time, and the tuning information that we have is pretty solid. You can get a boat, set the rig up right to the tuning guide and have speed straight away, which is really good. That takes one huge thing off the plate. Boat speed is a crucial part; thankfully, the tuning guide and our sail designs offer boat speed to all the teams that use our product. Boat preparation is also key. Making sure you have a good keel, rudder, bottom, mast and rigging, and make sure they won’t fail you on the race course or hold you back. That’s all relatively easy stuff to get sorted. Once you get those things figured out, get sails and needed boat speed then the real difference becomes the crew.

Sailing all you can together in all the conditions and approaching it as a team and all growing as a team is so important.”

Knowing ahead of time you’re going to be doing an event or even back to back events, is there any mental preparation involved to get your mind right?

The key is the people you surround yourself with. It’s a lot of work to get a sailboat to a starting line and if all that work is on one person’s shoulders then that can create some stress, so having a good team with good teammates that all know their strengths and weaknesses and bring what they can to the table to help scratch things off the to do list is kind of what it’s all about.

It’s who you surround yourself with and the teammates you go to battle with.

If you don’t have good teammates, then you get on your heels with the boat work and boat preparation and that creates stress and makes it hard to succeed. Making sure you leave enough time to do everything you need to, be prepared, eating good food, getting good rest, and having good teammates that are helping with the workload is very important in mental preparation not just for the skipper, but for the entire crew."  Thanks for contribution from North Sails One-Design. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

St Maarten Heinken Regatta Rebuilds Island!

J/121 at mark- St Maarten Heineken Regatta(Simpson Bay, St Maarten)- As the Caribbean Rebuilds, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Helps Re-open Tourism Caribbean winters are famous for their regattas. Sailors from all over the world come to soak up the sun, feel the trade winds in their sails and, admittedly, do a bit of partying. It has been like this for fifty years. One of the biggest on the Caribbean calendar is the Heineken Regatta, hosted on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. Last week was the 38th gathering, and the first one after Irma, a mammoth epochal hurricane, with 200 mile-an-hour winds, erased or damaged most of the island’s buildings, making this year’s regatta a profoundly different experience, and causing the community to refocus the event.

The airport is the first clue something is wrong…there is no airport. The terminal is a gutted shell, replaced by a makeshift tent. Immigration and customs are “al fresco.”

J/122 sailing St Maarten Heineken RegattaBut continuing to hold the Regatta this year was, according to St. Maarten’s director of tourism Rolando Brison, “absolutely crucial.” The tourism dollars it brought were essential, but also, he knew it served as an important announcement to the world. “From an image perspective, not holding the regatta would have solidified the belief that St. Maarten is fatally damaged.”

Paul Miller, who organized the event, wasn’t about to let that happen. “The day after the hurricane, calls came from all over the world asking what they could do.” He told them: “Come sail the regatta with us. Make it happen as it always has.”

With 100 boats and sailors from 25 countries, it looks like Paul’s request was followed. This, despite the destruction of 80 percent of the bareboat fleet by Irma.

J/105 sailing St Maarten Heineken regattaThe first day of sailing was the Gill Commodore’s Cup, a non-scored event. The round-the-buoys race starts just off Simpson Bay sailing east to Point Blanche. The warm winds were in the 10-13kt range, the water deep blue, and the sky as well. St. Maarten sparkled. When such considerable challenges had been presented for this regatta—but with the payoff firmly in sight—the sense of excitement was palpable as these boats kicked off the event.

Day 2 marked the official start of the regatta with a round-the-island race. The forecast was for light winds (12kts) decreasing as the day went on. Fortunately, the breeze refused to die. The fleet was sent clockwise. The first leg to Pt. Canonier was downwind so up went the kites. From the deck of the J/105 Solstice, looking astern were scores of multi-colored spinnakers. The sailors had delivered a counterpunch to Irma.

Days 3 and 4 returned to round-the-buoys races. Friday’s winds were unusually light for the Caribbean, but the PRO got the races in. The final day there was a strong, but unusual, west wind. The fleet sailed the races they wanted in this brisk breeze.

The Heineken saw the debut of the hottest one-design racing boat in America, the brand spanking new J/121 APOLLO sailed by Don Nicholson. They took third in the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) Division 3 contest. Look for more and more wins from this innovative design from J/Boats.

Reggae superstars at St Maarten Heineken regattaPartying is an important part of every regatta, but this year the organizer’s made sure to keep it all in perspective. Sailors and locals danced to some of the Caribbean’s top acts— Orange Grove, Destra, Onion and the Emmy-award winning "Shaggy"— all musicians donated their time and fees to charitable organizations helping those without homes or work.

The realities of hurricane Irma’s impact have been devastating. Homes are gone and businesses have been destroyed. The wreckage is still keenly visible. Estimates of a total recovery put it anywhere from a few years to a decade away. That, and another upcoming hurricane season, is one everyone’s minds.

But, recovery means rebuilding the social fabric alongside the physical infrastructure. Sailing is part of both. New boats and dockages are being purchased and upgraded. Islanders depend on The Heineken Regatta for income, jobs and future connections.

Professional Race Organizer Paul Miller, who lives on the island, said it best. “With the support of the sailing community the recovery will be faster. Come sail with us.” Sailing photo credits- Laurens Morel.   Thanks for contribution from Jonathan Russo at The Observer. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

BAMA Doublehanded Farallones Race Preview

Farallones islands/ rocks (San Francisco, CA)- Fifty boats are entered for the 2018 edition of the infamous Doublehanded Farallones Race, hosted by the Bay Area Multihull Association (BAMA).  It can be a thrilling 58.0nm race, a “pea soup” foggy drifter, a challenging marathon, or a benign cruise.

The course could not be simpler, start in San Francisco Bay in front of Alcatraz Island, go west out underneath the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, around the Farallones Rocks to port (teaming with monstrous great white sharks, thousands of seals, a few zillion birds creating too much guano), then back into SF Bay to the finish line just off the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory along the waterfront.  What can go wrong with this picture? Well, in a matter of words, plenty.

J/120 sailing doublehanded Farallones raceMost times, the race takes on multiple personalities, going from sunny & gorgeous, to 20-30 kts offshore with terrifying breaking waves, back to an cold wet blanket of pea soup fog with 50 ft visibility, then finishing with a flourish in nuking 20-30 kts wind conditions inside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Because it is such a challenge, it marks the beginning of the season for many sailors on SF Bay.  It is certainly a very popular event for the short-handed sailing crowd after racing their cherished, insane, Three Bridge Fiasco earlier in the year.

Going for it are five J/crews from various Bay area sailing clubs.  Hoping to lead the entire fleet home will be Rich Pipkin’s J/125 CAN’T TOUCH THIS with a mind-numbing -18 PHRF rating.  Chasing him hard will be Reuben Rocci’s J/111 SWIFT NESS.  Then, a trio of J/120s with a number of class wins in this event will be tough to beat, including Timo Bruck’s TWIST, Ludovic Millin’s SAETTA, and Sean Mulvihill’s JAMANI.   For more BAMA Doublehanded Farallones Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

What do the J/111, the Military, and Statisticians Share?

J/111 sailing Australia(Sydney, Australia)- The answer would be- a fascination with “clusters”. Now our point of interest would be J/Boats sailing teams, and specifically, the collection of five J/111s that are racing pretty competitively in Port Phillip today. In and of itself, five is a good nest, but when it is five from the seven in the country, and also of the 120 around the globe, it is even more important to investigate.

So, yes, it is a very interesting little cluster for many a reason, not the least of which are the varied paths that the owner's took to get into the armada, but also their varied pedigrees, when it comes to sailing.

One common theme amongst the owners is the appreciation of One-Design, and the removal of the handicap arms race. Another very clear component for them all was that they did not want to take all the furniture around with them, nor grade the oceans flat in a full displacement craft!

All of which are terribly pertinent facts on their own, yet possibly, even more over-archingly they all described their 36-foot boats passionately, saying almost in unison, '...they are fun, affordable, and you don't have to run the navy to crew them'. The latter is also a critical comment, for the Alan Johnstone penned boats are being raced successfully around the globe; both short handed and fully crewed, for passage racing, and also around the cans.

J/111 fleet at Geelong Festival of Sails- AustraliaWe were fortunate enough to get to speak at length with three of the Melbourne Armada, and get a complete picture of why their J/111s are held in such high regard. Rod Warren owns JOUST. The J/111 is Rod's first performance keelboat, for he was originally a Laser sailor. His crew have competed at three J/111 Worlds already – Rhode Island, Cowes and then San Francisco last year. Importantly, they were only two points off the money and landed third place in San Francisco, collecting four bullets from nine races in the process!

Note, the 2018 J/111 World Championship is in Holland. It is to be held from WV Breskens, near Utrecht, Netherlands from 22-26 August. Rod and the crew cannot get to that one, but are looking very seriously at Chicago in 2019, as indeed are one of the other Melbourne crews.

Rod quickly comments that appearing at the World Championships has been a 'baptism of fire', but he along with some of his fellow ex-Laser sailor mates who moved up to the J/111, they're also clear that this has improved their overall performance significantly. "There is a learning process with the keelboat over the dinghy. The extra competition has served us well as the local fleet has expanded. The new guys here have experience and good crew work, so we had to up the anti to match them. Our standard has improved in each year, no doubt in due partly to making the trips overseas."

Australian J/111 sailing San Francisco Bay"San Francisco had breeze and lumps, so we were used to that from Port Phillip. Hopefully the J/111 becomes THE OD fleet, taking over from Sydney 38, as the Farr 40 is too localized, and thus far, the Fast40 has not taken hold. The J/111 is not too expensive, and I think this is why it is working out well."

"I had never been on a keelboat since about five years ago. We had a go at Safety Beach on the Mornington Peninsula, and had an absolute ball. It seemed a great thing, so here we are. It is a nice combination of a solid boat, with a little bit of speed. She will plane in over 20 knots of breeze. We sailed in Cowes with over 30 knots and had no problems." You can see the video of Big Tuesday below where it was blowing 30-35 and the boats were planing under full main and the A2l!!! It was a CVD for sure, with six kites blown that day.

"The J/111 is good in the light and good in heavy weather too. It is relatively easy to sail, and we do it mostly with eight POB. Our best so far is 22 knots of boat speed off the lumps of Port Phillip in a 30-knot Sou'wester. It might be all gung ho out on the water, but it is not an arms race. There is only one pro sailor per crew allowed, and this keeps it realistic, lowers costs too, which in turns means you sail with friends and enjoy the company of the others", said Warren.

"Sharing is caring and our esprit d corps is alive a well. You only get better if you push yourself. We are an open group and aware that we do not have sheep stations on the table. Stuart Lyon was the first with, Jake. The Adelaide boat is presently for sale, and there is one more J/111 in Queensland. Getting three or four more into Melbourne would work out well. The Farr 40s could stay in Sydney and the J/111s here in Melbourne, and we'd save on the trucking."

"So yes, 10 in the fleet would be good and very enjoyable. Momentum gets the next, and the one after that, and in doing so the critical mass is achieved", Warren said in closing.

J/111 sailing off Melbourne, AustraliaRob Date is up to his tenth iteration of, Scarlet Runner, so don't be fooled by it being called Scarlet Runner 11, he simply wanted to keep his Sm11 sail number. His is definitely the newest, having only hit the water mid-November, 2017. He was keen for there were already three at Sandringham when he ordered his, and he knew of another that was already on its way as well.

Whilst very much for taking his RP52 around the globe to compete in many of the great races, like the Cape2Rio, Date has also had Corsairs, S80s and a Sydney 38, so he knows both the arms race and OD quite well. "The last boat was an Adams 10 that was a wreck and we tricked it up. My daughter and her partner got into sailing on that, so we decided to step it up a little, hence the J/111."

"They are a great boat, that is nicely built and goes uphill well. They are quirky with car positions and also the in-haulers, but this makes it all good fun. Having the six J/111s here over Christmas was certainly a good and enjoyable thing, too."

"I'm not entirely ruling out offshore, seeing as I just bought a panel main (Cat 3) for the trip to Hamilton Island Race Week this year, and then also Lincoln Week next year. She'll go by truck to both of those locales, by the way, and in the meantime we will have some OD races at Geelong and Blairgowrie to keep having fun with these craft."

J/111 Scarlet Runner sailing off Australia"Interestingly, they will do the same speed and depth as Sydney 38, First 40 when it is lighter, but then get up and boogie downhill at 20+. My original intention was a 40-foot race boat, but with the J/111, we discovered that we could enjoy sailing, and that they were not too much money, unlike a Fast 40. The J/111 is a robust piece of equipment, and after all we have done over the years having fun is the key! We are all family or friends and having a blast. We have three female sailors on board and the loads are all inside their strength level. We also pick up a few kilos for crew weight, and we can sail with eight and still be inside the 650kg limit."

"In terms of polars, we are doing 165 to 168 degrees at 14+ TWS, which is similar to all the 36-40 footers. We'll hot it up to 150AWA doing 12 knots from 20, and in 25 knots TWS you'll easily get 16-18 knots of boat speed. We have not broken a thing so far, but yes, we have gone fishing for a krill a few times with the kite, but it is all good!"

"Uphill we'll make 7.1 to 7.3 in the flat at 38 to 40 AWA, and it drops to about 6.7 to 6.9 knots in the bumps of Port Phillip. It is a good boat, and I ordered the barest possible version, except for the carbon fiber wheel. I ticked no other boxes, so there is no extra aft quarter bunk, or a stove. I went for boat speed, TWA, TWS and a plotter to help with fixed marks, and of course, all the bricks around Hamilton Island."

The irrepressible character that is Rob Date went on to say, "Look I might get serious about a Worlds! We'll see about next year in Chicago. It does get me enthused, as I have not been on the water there. My Daughter, Bridgette, is off to do the J/24 World Championship soon, and she did not even sail a few years ago. Right now, however, it is more about some training days for Hammo (Hamilton Island), where a few old school mates are going to do the Passage Division, or Cruising with Spinnakers. The boat really lends itself to that with the lighter loads and it is very easy to handle."

J/111 sailing off Australia- downwind chutesOur final J/111 under review here is Playlist. It is important to pause (yes, pun fully intended) on the name for a second, because it reveals so much. Matt Powell, together with Glenn Chesser and John Cox own the boat, and Matt drives. Powell tells the story of the name; "We had a night out at Whitehaven Beach for the Hamilton Island Race Week lay day. Sitting on our charter cruising boat, drinking beer and having turns playing our iTunes playlists, we decided that when we finally get our own yacht together we would call her Playlist."

Ah yes. Never underestimate the power of a plan, for that is exactly what happened to the crew affectionately dubbed, 'The Rookies'. They saw an article in 2013 article on the J/111, and had eyes on it from then, buying in April of 2017. They previously had a cruising boat that they only used for racing, so the step up to the J/111 was significant, but also very much welcomed. The quorum is also motorcycle enthusiasts and has known each other for at least 12 years.

Now whilst John and Glenn are fairly new to it all, Matt actually has a history at Safety Beach dating back to cats and Fireballs, so that will give some idea as to the timeframe involved. He had a break to raise a family and so forth, but has been back into it for a little over five years now.

Playlist and her crew very much enjoyed being part of the six boat fleet of J/111s that attended the Australian Yachting Championship and then Festival of Sails at Geelong, where the crew nearly got up on the podium in the Super 11s Division.

Australian J/111 ownersMatt drives for the Windward/Leewards, John does the twilights, and Glenn does the trimming. They sail mostly eight up, which is a good number in a blow, but can do six, or four and even just two. "It is one of the reasons we chose the boat. It is fantastic boat to sail, for it feels more like a dinghy, rather than a barge. It is nippy, responsive on the helm, and you can feel the boat take off in a puff, planing in 18 to 20 knots, doing 16 knots from 23 @140 degrees. Even in the light you can still feel it." "We are still learning about the sweet spot, but enjoying flat water and 10-12 knots. In one of the inter-club races, Scarlet Runner and Playlist were right beside each other, with an Adams 10 just behind us. The breeze then sprung up and both of us put half a leg on her."

"It is a comfortable boat uphill in 10-15, and downhill in 20-25, without being a wet boat as such. We all love planing and taking the wave in front, so if we are taking a bit of water, the boys and girls (we have one permanent female crew and others sometimes) are happy, because we are going fast! We can get well deep at 172 degrees."

"I could not speak highly enough of this boat. It is fantastic, and having the seasoned campaigners like Rob Date and Phil Simpfendorfer as part of the fleet speaks for itself. They do handle the Port Phillip chop really well. We do like the one-design element, which is pretty significant from a crew that cannot beat the crowd above us all the time (yet)", said Powell. Playlist could well be another to pop up for South Australia's famous Lincoln Week, so wait and see on that one."  By John Curnow, and as originally published in (with the hyperlink) Add to Flipboard Magazine.