Saturday, May 19, 2018

J/70 RIMETTE Awarded Annapolis NOOD Regatta Overall Champion

J/70 Rimette- John Brim wins overall (Annapolis, MD)- Warm weather, sunny skies and moderate breeze set the stage for a solid day of racing on the Chesapeake Bay for the first day of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta in Annapolis on Friday. All classes on three race courses completed five races to kick off the three-day event.  Then, Saturday dawned with a light northerly breeze fiasco with only a few fleets completing one race.  Sunday dawned with little more promise, giving most fleets a chance for two more races in yet more light northerly winds.

In the end, it was John Brim of Palm Beach, Florida, and his crew on the J/70 RIMETTE that not only scored their first-ever major regatta win in the J/70 class, but also earned the coveted title of Overall Winner at the event.  Here is how it all went down for the three-day event.

J/111s sailing in formation at Annapolis NOODFriday- Gorgeous Southerly and Sun!
With 32 boats registered each, the J/22 and the J/70 fleets were tied for largest of the weekend. The J/22s had an especially competitive roster this year as competitors prepare for their J/22 World Championship in Annapolis in September. The day’s J/22 class leader, Pete Levesque, of Tiverton, Rhode Island, said it’s still anyone’s game.

“The top five are all going fast and, even behind them, there are a bunch of people who are capable of winning races,” he said. “It’s a pretty deep fleet.”

Levesque and his crew on Dusty took a conservative approach to the day, establishing a one-point lead over Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY, of Annapolis, after five races. Facing an “uphill current and an aggressive fleet,” Levesque wanted to get off the starting line cleanly and avoid taking risks.

“It is my first time back at it in Annapolis in a while and first time sailing in a fleet this size in a while, so I just wanted to tip-toe into it,” he said. “We’ll probably have to take more risks as the weekend goes on.”

J/70 Savasana sailing Annapolis NOODJ/70 class leader John Brim, of Palm Beach, Florida, found success was on the western edge of the course, where, in one race, he and his crew aboard RIMETTE found tide relief and breeze in a pivotal moment on a downwind leg, which resulted in a five-boat recovery that he said was a big factor in his team’s overall lead.

But, the strategy didn’t work in their favor on the last race of the day, when team RIMETTE— already several places deep in the fleet— made its move to the west and watched as the boats sailing straight down the middle of the course gained speed. They held a strong lead most of the day, but that 10th-place finish left them narrowly ahead of class veteran Brian Keane on SAVASANA.

The RIMETTE skipper also found the variable conditions challenging, with shifty winds and a “fair amount of chop” thrown into the mix. He said his crew found it was best to keep sailing through the chop than try to sail around the unavoidable waves. He also credited a brand-new mainsail and “fantastic” trim and tactical work by his crew for team RIMETTE’s first-place standing at the end of day one.

The J/80 fleet’s opening day leader on COURAGEOUS, skipper Gary Panariello, of Sausalito, California, echoed Brim’s analysis of the conditions out on the racecourse.

“Every single race was different,” he said. “All the things we thought would work didn’t, so we just had to pay attention to what was going on during each race. The pressure was better on the west side of the course for most of the day, but by the end of the day, the right side worked just as well as the left. Which is really interesting in Annapolis, because it’s usually a much more one-sided [advantaged] racecourse.”

J/70s sailing off Annapolis NOOD regattaSunday- Light Airs Finale
After the virtual glass-out on Saturday where only the Yellow course managed to complete one race, the rest of the day’s racing for all fleets on all courses was canceled.

Sunday dawned with some promise, with the northerly winds showing a somewhat steady 6-8 kts of breeze.  However, the forecast was for it to die slowly and shift east.  What transpired was nothing like the forecast, with the breeze dying fast and oscillating back and forth from 350 deg to 60 deg across the race course and with huge, spotty wind streaks dropping down to 1-3 kts at times.  To say it was rough and challenging on tacticians and sail trimmers would be an understatement.

Victory didn’t come easily for the J/70 team on RIMETTE. In fact, it all came down to the eighth and final race of the weekend. Heading into it in second place, the crew had difficulty getting off the starting line and then committed a port-starboard foul, for which they had to perform a penalty turn in light air. Fortunately, Rimette’s tactician Taylor Canfield soon made a call that put them on the path to redemption.

“We were mid-fleet after the penalty turn, but our tactician was brilliant,” Brim said. “He saw a breeze and we went hard left. I focused my eyes on the jib and the waves, and the next thing I knew we were lifted to port-tack with fresher breeze. We rounded the mark in second, amazingly.”

From there, third-place NINE sailed by Oivind Lorentzen worked its way between RIMETTE and SAVASANA, which was holding the top spot at the time. Brim’s team finished that race in second, gaining the necessary two points to tie with Brian Keane’s Savasana. The tiebreaker— based on which team has the most first-place race finishes— worked in Brim’s favor, as team RIMETTE had three to SAVASANA’s two.

“Frankly, we were surprised at the whole thing, and delighted,” Brim said, whose crew also included Scott Ewing and Collin Leon. “I’ve sailed in Annapolis many times and it’s always a challenging place, but this weekend was one of the nicest Annapolis regattas I remember.”

J/70 Selkie sailing CorinthiansAs the Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD’s overall winner, Brim earns a berth in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship Regatta, presented by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands in October.

Behind the two leaders, it was Lorentzen’s NINE that secured third place, followed by Doug Clark’s POLAR from the US Coast Guard Academy in fourth and Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE from Fort Worth, TX in fifth.

Winning the J/70 Corinthians division was Jennifer & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY from Annapolis, MD.  Second was Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD, third Tod Sackett’s FM, fourth Jack & Vivien Wallace’s SELKIE, and fifth Mark Hilman’s USA 6.

Like Brim, this was the first Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD win for Gary Panariello, whose COURAGEOUS team took the top spot in the competitive J/80 fleet, where only two points separate the first and third finishers in the final standings.

J/80 Courage winners- Gary Panariello“This is very typical of J/80 racing,” Panariello said. “It’s usually this tight. All of the people at the top of the fleet are very good. We had a sizable lead going into the day and our goal was just to be in first place when we finished. We weren’t very aggressive about what we did, and we were just able to hang on.”

After a “tough” first race, where Panariello finished well behind the second-place boat in the standings, team COURAGEOUS had one goal in the last race.

“We just needed to stay near Thomas Kopp’s KOPP-OUT no matter where they went on the racecourse,” he said. “And that’s what we did. We followed them around and made sure we didn’t get disconnected from them or let any boats between us.”

Behind the two leaders were John White’s USA 1162 in third, Les Beckwith’s FKA fourth, and Mike Hobson’s MELTEMI in fifth.

J/22s sailing Annapolis NOOD regattaSimilarly, local J/22 class winner Zeke Horowitz and the UNCLE FLUFFY had to face their own challenges today despite starting the day with a strong lead. A bad start during race one landed them in the back of the 32-boat fleet.

“We had a really good comeback in the first race,” Horowitz said. “There was definitely luck involved in that one, no doubt about it. On the final beat, we were out right hard and a big shift with pressure filled in. We probably passed 20 boats or more the last two minutes into the finish. It was one of those moments where you cross the line and you’re like, ‘How did that just happen?’”

The team then had to recover from another bad start in the second race, where they were able to claw their way to first place after rounding the first mark in eleventh. Horowitz said he knew all they needed was to complete the race in the top 10 to maintain their overall position, which made the eventual win even more sweet.

“It was really fun to be able to win the last race in a regatta like this,” he said. “These crews sailed great and really fast, and they’re extremely hard to beat. We’re really fortunate to be in the spot that we are.”

Rounding out the top five places were Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY in second, Pete Levesque’s DUSTY in third, JR Maxwell’s SCOOBY in fourth and Aden King’s RHYTHMIC PUMPING in fifth place.

J/80 Helly Hansen youth teamFor the six-boat J/24 class, it was yet another class that determined the winner based on a tie-breaker.  Pat Fitzgerald’s RUSH HOUR and Pete Kassal’s SPACEMAN SPIFF each finished with 16 pts each, with countback going to Fitzgerald’s team based on number of 1sts.  Third place wen to Peter Rich’s BUXTON with 20 pts total.

The ten-boat J/30 class saw a repeat winner from last year.  Bob Rutsch’s BEBOP won two races and took three 2nds to comfortably win their class.  They were followed by Doug & Amy Stryker’s TOTALED MAYHEM in second and Ron Anderson’s INSATIABLE in third position.

With a half-dozen boats, the betting was how many races were Jim Sagerholm & Jerry Christofel’s fabled AUNT JEAN were going to win??  In the end, just five in seven races for an easy win with 12 pts total.  The real battle was for the next two spots on the podium.  Trading 2nds and 3rds all weekend, it was ultimately the ABIENTOT crew with skipper Roger Lant that took the silver by one point over Chuck Kohlerman’s team on MEDICINE MAN.

J/105 Bat IV team- Kennedy and crew- 2ndAs the biggest big boat fleet on the Bay, the eighteen-boat J/105 class is always a challenging fleet to race in due to the many class veterans that continue to sharpen the tools of the trade each year.  This time, it was a near (and surprising) “white washing” of the fleet by Cedric Lewis & Fred Salvesen’s MIRAGE, winning five of seven races for a mere total of 16 pts!  Second was the tenacious crew on-board Andrew Kennedy’s BAT IV.  However, speaking of “tenacious”, it was Carl & Scott Gitchell’s TENACIOUS that finished only one point back to take the bronze.

As anticipated, the eight-boat J/111 class was going to be a “shoot-out @ the OK Corral”.  Indeed it was.  With a multitude of champions in the class in attendance, it was not going to be a battle for the faint of J/111 Velocity- Martie Roesch crew- winnersheart.  Multiple gladiators squared off and, in the end, it was local hotshot Martie Roesch’s crew on VELOCITY that avoided the major pitfalls to take the title with a final race win.  Going into the final race, Peter Wagner’s J/111 World Champion SKELETON KEY team had the lead by two points.  So long as Wagner’s crew maintained contact with VELOCITY, with even one boat in between, they won the regatta.  Somehow, it wasn’t so.  Just six points back was Rob Ruhlman’s Cleveland, OH team on their famous SPACEMAN SPIFF. Perhaps the highlight for the J/111 crews was the “huuuuge” fiesta for the “Derby de Mayo” party at Roesch’s house on Saturday evening; after all, racing was canceled at 1:30pm, so the crews had plenty of time to don sombreros, feathered boa hats, and drink whatever moved them- mint juleps or massive pitchers of margaritas!  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ Outside Images  For more Helly Hansen Annapolis MOOD Regatta sailing information a data-flip-widget="flipit" href="">Add to Flipboard Magazine.