Tuesday, June 19, 2018

J/111 KASHMIR- Chicago NOOD Champion Interview

J/111 sailor- Karl Brummel (Chicago, IL)- Steve Henderson, Mike Mayer and Karl Brummel were partners in a J/105 many years ago, but when the J/111 came to the scene, they made the leap immediately and have since continued to be one of the best and most polished teams in the class. Much of the their success has little to do with speed—although they have plenty of it—but rather the chemistry of the squad and their collective focus on efficiency all the way around the racecourse.

“It’s one of those things where we love each other and it’s worked out well for everybody,” says Brummel of the partnership. “When things need to be bought or break, it’s 33 cents on the dollar. Good guys, good sailors and we get more use out of the boat.”

When the races are more casual, the three owners move around the boat into different positions, but for serious regattas like the NOOD, Mayer drives. “In conditions like we had this weekend where it’s light and lumpy, he’s just really fast,” says Brummel.

Henderson trims mainsail or jib while Brummel will either command the bow or the pit. The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago, he admits, was the first time he worked the pit in a major regatta. “It worked out fine,” he says with a laugh, and later admits a few errors lead to mistakes in his department.

Boat prep also falls on Brummel and while Kashmir looks perfect today, there’s still a long list of small improvements on his worklist. “We’ve had it for eight years and are comfortable with where we are,” he says. “The running rigging gets tired and things like that, but there’s nothing major. The boat is in good shape and we just need to sail it better.

“I thought we were fast downwind and our speed upwind was OK on Friday but not great,” says Brummel. “We had some boathandling problems that we were able to fix, so Friday was OK [with a second and third] and then Saturday, in the first race, we just got launched. Fortunately, the other top three or four boats somehow got buried.”

Race after race, the team’s speed improvements were noticeable as they honed the rig tune and trim of their new jibs. Boathandling issues were resolved, particularly with the spinnaker work, and the difference was obvious. “Mike commented on Friday that there was some running around and more urgency, but as things get smoother and the crew moves together there’s less pounding on the deck,” says Brummel. “You can really feel when everyone’s settled in and in the right spot. The boat just goes better. Quiet boats are fast boats.”

Brummel attributed Kashmir’s downwind speed to the coordination of Mayer on the helm and trimmer Zach Hernandez. “He’s a rockstar,” says Brummel. “Mike and Zach work really well together and working the boat as hard as we can. It showed this weekend.”

Come Sunday morning, Kashmir held the overall lead, but barely, over this highly competitive fleet. Their game plan going into the one and final race was to get a clean start and cover the competition, said Brummel. All they had to do was sail their boat well.

“But we failed to execute that plan,” he says. “We got a horrific start. We were second row, we tacked out to port and went right. It turns out there was a nice lane of pressure on the right that wasn’t on the left and we rounded the mark first.”

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, he adds, but what also helped was that the second-place boat was over the starting line early and had to restart. “That took some pressure off of us, but the third-place boat got a good start so we were not thrilled with the first 30 seconds of the race,” says Brummel. “We were flat out lucky.”

That luck earned Kashmir the class win and the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago’s overall title, which nets them a spot at the NOOD Caribbean Championship in October. Before then, they have the big J/111 class championship and a host of other events on Lake Michigan so there’s a lot of sailing yet to come.  Sailing photo credit- Paul Todd/ Outside Images. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Light and Variable NYYC 164th Annual Regatta

New York YC Harbour Court and J/109J/111 Dominates PHRF 2! J/Crews Sweep IRC 5!
(Newport, RI)- The Annual Regatta is North America’s oldest annual sailing event. It was first run in 1845 on the Hudson River and has been sailed out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport, RI, since 1988. The 164th edition offered buoy or navigator-course racing for one-designs and yachts sailing under IRC, ORR, CRF and PHRF handicap over the June 9th and 10th weekend.

The regatta won’t be remembered as one of the more memorable ones over a century and a half.  A large immovable high pressure system offshore kept Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound mostly covered in clouds with hardly an isobar or gradient breeze in sight. Saturday started out with some promise, but the light northerly died in the middle of many races, went to zero for a period of time, then flowed in lightly from the southeast as a thermal with not much punch behind it across all race courses.  Then, Sunday dawned with an even worst forecast, again with a light northerly, that died anyways, followed on by a very light 4-6 kts southeast wind for the inside courses and across-the-board cancellations of most races offshore in Rhode Island Sound.

Nevertheless, despite the conditions, some of the battle-hardened J/Teams proved to be up to the challenge and walked off with a fair amount of silverware.

A winter of one-design racing in St. Petersburg and Annapolis proved to be a great experience for Doug Curtiss' team on the J/111 WICKED 2.0. Matching up against a fleet of World-class J/111s is a great way to learn precisely how to squeeze every drop of the speed out of the 36-footer.

"It tends to hone the skills a little bit," Curtiss says with a laugh. "We learned a lot."

Still Curtiss came into the weekend, where he raced in the PHRF 2 class, with modest expectations.

"We like to be top third and just go out there and have some fun," he says. "If I had to say there's a signature that I hope to leave on the Wicked program, it's that we have great crew chemistry, everybody has fun and we just like to be competitive.“

With a first in Saturday’s single race— a marathon that took teams all of four hours to complete—and a second on the sole race on Sunday, Curtiss exceeded all his goals. WICKED 2.0 won the class  over Phil Lotz, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, who was racing the new NYYC IC37 in its inaugural Annual Regatta.  Taking fourth was another J/111, Abhijeet Lee’s VARUNA.

In the PHRF 3 Navigator class of ten-boats, EC Helme’s J/92S SPIRIT was leading the class by one point going into Sunday’s only race. However, unfortunately snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with a 6th in the last race to drop into second with a 2-2-6 tally for 10 pts.

What may be perhaps one of the most astonishing outcome for this light airs event was the complete sweep of the top five in IRC 5 Class.  The winner was determined on a tie-breaker between Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH and Chris Lewis’ KENAI, each finished with 5 pts total.  The countback saw Sweetser’s 109 RUSH crew take the win based on winning the last race.  Third was Tom Sutton’s renowned Houston, TX crew on their J/109 LEADING EDGE with 6 pts.  Fourth was also determined on a tie-breaker between Albrecht Goethe’s J/109 HAMBURG and Paul Milo’s J/122 ORION at 10 pts apiece, with HAMBURG taking the countback.  For more NYYC Annual Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Kieler Woche Regatta Preview

J/70s sailing Kiel Week, Germany (Kiel, Germany)- The 136th edition of Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) will be taking place from June 16th to the 24th and participating will be 1,500+ sailboats and over 5,000 sailors for the week long event.  Considered one of the world’s largest sailing events, Kiel Week is hosted by several clubs, with Kieler YC as the principal host.

Even in its 136th year, Kieler Woche still plays a virtuoso performance on the keyboard of festivity: Kieler Woche is the largest summer festival in Northern Europe.

During the week, more than three million visitors from all over the world will be diving into the colorful and multi-facetted life of Kieler Woche.  Around 2,000 events in areas of culture, sailing, summer festival, entertainment, science, politics, industry and sport come together to form a maritime symphony. Visitors are promised nine days of high spirits in the far North.

Three J/fleets are participating as one-design sailboat classes, including J/70s, J/80s and J/24s.

J/70s sailing Kiel Week, GermanyThere is a huge turnout for the J/70 class, with 48 boats registered, ready to do battle on the Baltic Sea.  The growing participation in the German J/70 class can be directly attributable to the evolution of the Deutsche J/70 Segel-Bundesliga; it has over fifty-five sailing clubs and thousands of sailors engaged as team/club members sailing the highly popular J/70s on Germany’s vast array of lakes. In this year’s event, three nations are represented (Germany, Denmark, France).  Notable German teams include Bjorn Belken’s PROCEDES DIVA, Gerd Knospe’s SANNA R, Frank Schonfeldt’s DER GERAT, Karsten Witte’s J-WD, Michael Grau’s PAINT IT BLACK, and Tobias Feuerherdt’s ONKEL HANNE.  The Danish crew on Soren Larsen’s CRACKER JACK and the French crew on Christoph Cornelius’ FRA 23 will be hoping to crack the top of the leaderboard.

J/80s sailing Kiel Week, GermanyThe nineteen-boat J/80 class will see a cross-section of German, Dutch, and Danish teams.  Leading the Germans will be past Kieler Woche winner, Martin Menzner on PIKE.  Other top German crews hoping to be on that leaderboard include Andreas Rose’ TRUE GRIT, Hauke Kruss’ TAK FOR TUREN, Max Gebhard’s MARAMA, and Torsten Voss’ FRIDA.

With an array of World and European Champions in the mix, the twenty-nine-boat J/24 class looks to have formidable competition.  Leading that charge from the USA is Mike Ingham’s NAUTALYTICS, a past J/24 World Champion.  The top British crew is Ian Southworth’s IL RICCIO, another World and European J/24 Champion. Then Swedish National Champion, Per-Hakan Persson will be racing FRONT RUNNER.

The leading German crews should include Daniel Frost’s JJONE, Fabian Damm’s HUNGRIGER WOLF, Frank Schonfeldt’s HENK, Manfred Konig’s VITESSE, and Stefan Karsunke’s GER 5381.

In the ORC Offshore Divisions, it will be interesting to follow the progress of Hinnerk Blenckner’s J/105 JALAPENO, Hauke Moje’s J/97 QUIRON, Frank Stahl’s J/97 MORENA, and Christian Tinnemeier’s J/125 NEEDLES & PINS.  For any Kieler Woche results  For more Kieler Woche sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, June 18, 2018

WV Uitdam Tops Dutch J/70 Sailing League- Act II

J/70s sailing Netherlands sailing league (Roermond, The Netherlands)- The first match of the Dutch J/70 Sailing League sailed in Roermond resulted in a number of surprising teams in the top of the ranking. Under difficult conditions with little wind, Watersportvereniging Uitdam performed the most consistently to win the weekend event after sailing just six races for each of the fifteens sailing club teams on Saturday.

Day One
The sailors from WV Uitdam showed their class and immediately took the lead in the rankings on the first day.  Under the guidance of their new and talented skipper, Guido Buwalda, they reached a point total of only 8 points after five flights. Remarkable, because it is only his third time sailing the J/70 and the first time as skipper during an event. Said Buwalda at the end of racing, “this is fun, it is really good racing".

J/70s sailing in Netherlands leagueWietze Zetzema, one of the founders of Team WV Uitdam, adds, ”this is exactly what we stand for as Uitdam, giving a mix of experience and young talent the chance and opportunity to sail in such high level competition. That it works out so well, is only beautiful."

The hosts of the regatta, RR&ZV Maas and Roer were certainly hoping to be in contention for the lead after a strong day of sailing. A penalty in race four meant they did not take the lead after day one. Max Visser, skipper of Maas and Roer, does not hide his enthusiasm for the racing in Roermond, “it is really nice to sail here. The atmosphere is good and it is well organized. It is also nice to put Limburg on the map as a water sport province. There is a lot of nice water in Limburg, but not many people know that. Winning this stage is our goal. We sailed well in Almere, so we be near the top of the league."

WV Almere Centraal, two-time National Champion and winner of the first round at Almere Centraal, had a slightly harder time. After a day of racing they were in fifth place.

J/70s sailing off NetherlandsDay Two
On Saturday, WV Uitdam took the only victory in the only race they sailed. A 1st place in the 6th flight turned out to be the key to win the regatta; little did anyone anticipate that would be the case. After that flight of races, the wind died completely for the rest of the day.

Day Three
An attempt was made to run two races in the early morning breeze of up to 7 kts.  However, it was impossible to complete the full flight before the wind died off completely.  As a result, WV Uitdam was declared victor of Act II.  Second was the RR&ZV Maas & Roer team, followed by the VW De Twee Provincien club in third.

Team WV Uitdam had a completely new team optimized for the light wind conditions.

"On Friday, we chose to attack with our flyweight crew and immediately took the lead. On Saturday, we had to sail against a number of our direct competitors in the first race and therefore opted for more conservative tactics,” said an elated skipper Jan van Wengerden. A tactic that obviously worked out well for Uitdam.

J/70 Netherlands sailing league winners podium"It's nice to surprise everyone again. Sometimes, we are not so good at an event and we do not perform well. But, if we do, we are really good enough to compete for victory. We think we had one of the lightest crews this weekend, every downwind run we would gain a few critical meters for tactical advantage at mark roundings. Honestly, if there were over 15 knots of wind we probably would not have won here."

RR&ZV Maas & Roer New Series Leader
As they had in Almere Centraal, the Maas & Roer team again took second place. Thanks to their consistent results, they now took over the overall series lead with a 2-2 tally. They now lead the reigning national champion WV Almere Centraal that has posted a 1-8. Third overall are Jachtclub Scheveningen with a 3-5.
  Follow the Dutch J/70 Sailing League here on Facebook  For more Dutch J/70 Sailing League information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thrilling Chicago NOOD Regatta

J/109s sailing off Chicago waterfront- Chicago NOOD regatta
J/111 KASHMIR Awarded Overall Regatta Win!
(Chicago, IL)- The highly popular Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD Regatta was hosted by the Chicago YC, with sailing taking place on the fresh waters of Lake Michigan, off the spectacular Chicago city-front as their backdrop.

The Chicago event is one of the biggest on the Helly Hansen Sailing World NOOD Regatta circuit.  This event included one-design classes for J/70s, J/105s, J/109s, J/111s, and J/88s. In addition, there was the North Sails Rally with ORR/PHRF divisions for a J/100, J/105, J/120, J/130, J/133, J/112E, and J/44. Of the 144 keelboats registered, 58 were J/Crews (40% of the fleet).

Karl Brummel- skipper of J/111 KashmirIn the end, it was the trio on the J/111 KASHMIR (Karl Brummel/ Steve Henderson/ Mike Mayer) that were awarded 1st in the J/111 class and also 1st Overall Winner of the regatta, earning a trip to the Caribbean this fall to sail on big, heavy, comfy charter boats for the Overall NOOD Regattas Championship.

Day One- Friday
Despite morning weather delays as lightning passed over Lake Michigan, crews competing in 11 classes completed two races during the first day of the annual Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta in Chicago. Now in its 30th year, the series is the largest and longest-running sailboat racing circuit in the country.

Sailing conditions were difficult for the J/88 fleet, according to local skipper Andy Graff.

“The challenge is that this boat is really tender and picky on rig tuning and sail tuning,” Graff said. “We didn’t know what we were going to get in terms of wind velocity, and it was important to make a last-minute call to get our best chance for the race.”

Graff and his crew aboard Exile closely observed the conditions in the half hour before the first start, noting where the wind extremes and shifts were appearing on the racecourse. They changed sails several times before settling on a middle option, which helped then power through the waves and quickly change gears as needed.  Exile led the fleet heading into day two.

J/111 sailing Chicago NOOD regattaDay Two- Saturday
The 2018 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago’s second day concluded with two teams tied atop the J/70 class. With one final day of racing on the schedule, the pressure is firmly on the leaders.

Andrew Criezis, skipper of the top-ranked boat, Rip Rullah, said he’s been relying on the skill of his crew to manage the fleet’s highly competitive racing and Lake Michigan’s challenging conditions.

“I have an amazing team,” Criezis said. “We’ve worked really hard to push ourselves and go for competitive starts. We’re pushing the line, being aggressive and really going for a good position. The crew is doing a good job with their weight management, which is so critical in the J/70 in light to medium breeze. It’s really paid dividends for us — we had great speed upwind and downwind, smooth transitions and pretty good overall fleet engagement.”

Because winds were light and shifty on Saturday, Criezis said constant sail trim was required to take advantage of small wind shifts throughout the day, and that was the key to Rip Rullah’s two race wins. The crew plans to stay on top of the weather — and hold on to today’s winning formula — to maintain their place atop the fleet.

“It’s going to be about being consistent tomorrow, not making any big mistakes, keeping our eyes on the boat, being smart and really going for top-five finishes,” he said. “Have fun while we’re doing it, and we’ll be in a good position to close out the regatta.”

J/109 Callisto sailing Chicago NOOD regattaLocal skipper Jim Murray and his crew aboard Callisto currently lead the J/109 fleet. Murray and team have been taking great care to calculate how the variable wind, chop and fog will impact their boatspeed before making a decision on how to tune the boat for each race.

“Conditions have been very challenging out there both days,” Murray said. “It hasn’t been physically challenging because we haven’t had big breeze, but it’s been mentally challenging having to adjust everything from rig tune to all of our sail controls every race.”

Despite their comfortable lead, team Callisto isn’t yet counting on victory. The evenly matched, eight-boat fleet offers plenty of competition to keep things interesting on Sunday.

“Anything could change, so consistency is really what it’s all been about for us,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a few moves pay off, but we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re going to be prepared for a range of conditions tomorrow and try to stay conservative.”

J/111s sailing Chicago NOOD regattaDay Three- Sunday Finale
After three days of intense competition and challenging conditions on Lake Michigan, the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta concluded its fourth stop of the season in Chicago on Sunday.

Among the eleven class winners stood one above all: J/111 Kashmir, which earned the event’s overall title. The boat is co-owned by Steve Henderson, Mike Mayer and Karl Brummel.

This was team Kashmir’s first major regatta of season in preparation for the J/111 North Americans later this summer, and the crew saw improvements in boatspeed throughout the weekend as they settled in with new sails.

“I thought we were fast downwind and our speed upwind was OK on Friday, but not great,” Brummel said. “We had some boathandling problems that we were able to fix."

Kashmir’s results on Friday were a second and a third, but in Saturday’s first race, said Brummel, “we just got launched, and fortunately the other top three or four boats somehow got buried. We just kept getting faster and faster; our speed upwind was probably better than anybody’s at the end of the regatta. We were breaking in new jibs, so it was the first time trimming those and getting the rig right.”

The game plan going into the final race was to get a clean start and cover the competition, Brummel said. All they had to do was sail their boat well and sail better than everyone else.

“But we failed to execute that plan,” he said. “We got a horrific start. We were second row, we tacked out to port and went right. It turns out there was a nice lane of pressure on the right that wasn’t on the left and we rounded the mark first.”

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, he added, but what also helped was that the second-place boat was over the starting line early and had to restart.

“That took some pressure off of us, but the third place boat got a good start so we were not thrilled with the first 30 seconds of the race,” Brummel said. “We were flat out lucky.”

As the Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD’s overall winner, team Kashmir earns a berth in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship Regatta, presented by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands this October.

After the KASHMIR trio, the balance of the podium for the 111s was Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK from Cleveland, OH (the J/111 Midwinter Champion in St Petersburg, FL) in second and Rich Witzel’s ROWDY from Chicago taking the bronze.

J/105 winners- Stone/ BreaultBruce Stone and Nicole Breault dominated the J/105 fleet at the Chicago NOOD Regatta. They were the only competitors in the entire regatta to score straight bullets.

Bruce reports, “weather fronts rolled through each night into the morning, causing postponements and making steering difficult in the leftover lumpy conditions, with winds 7-10 knots, versus the 14-22 knots on SF Bay that can power us through the chop. Our mainly StFYC team worked well together and made the needed adjustments to keep the boat moving. Nicole tuned the rig for each race and made the calls to find the best pressure on the course. We managed six bullets in six races, extending our string to 11 straight wins over two regatta weekends with two mostly different crews. We might not get invited back to Chicago!"

San Francisco native Bruce Stone was sailing in Chicago for the first time in nearly 40 years in anticipation of the 2018 J/105 North American Championship in nearby Harbor Springs, MI this July.

Stone and his wife, Nicole Breault, own two J/105s of their own, but are chartering Gryphon from owner Sam Powers, who joined their crew.

J/88s sailing Chicago NOOD regattaBehind Team GRYPHON were Jon Weglarz’s THE ASYLUM in second and Gyt Petkus’ VYTIS in third, both are local Chicago teams.

Skipper Ben Marden on the J/88 BANTER echoed Bruce Stone’s thoughts on what it was like to sail in the tough conditions off the Chicago waterfront, praising his own crew aboard the BANTER for finding a good groove, as they train for the J/88 North Americans in Chicago this August. After a tricky first day, they made a radical decision that ultimately propelled them to four consecutive first-place finishes during the next two race days.

“I was the only person who had the same job on the second day,” Marden said. “Five people changed jobs, and we stuck with the new positions. We loosened everything up and were more aggressive with rig tune and light-air boathandling. This was a great test for the team so we could take notes and come out of it with some new information on things we can improve upon.”

This was Marden’s first Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta as a boat owner, and only his second regatta since buying the boat last winter.  The balance of the J/88 class podium included Chicagoan Andy Graff’s EXILE in second and Tim Wade’s WINDSONG from Bowling Green, OH in third.

J/70 woman skipper- Chicago NOOD regattaLocal J/70 owner John Heaton also celebrated a “first” this weekend with his inaugural win in the J/70 class. For his crew on EMPEIRIA, the keys to the weekend were consistency, boatspeed and communication.

“It was mainly about working really hard on speed all the time,” Heaton said. “That’s a testament to the team I have onboard. They work the boat really well. In the J/70s, it’s important to get free of other boats, put the bow down and go fast. That really helped us, especially today. We were confident in our boatspeed, got free of other boats and kept it rolling.”

While constant discussions on speed and tactics fueled team EMPEIRIA, the winning boat in the regatta’s largest fleet found a different way to focus.  Behind them on the podium was Andrew Criezis’ RIP RULLAH taking the silver (the only other double-race winner), and Jake Christy’s PALE HORSE securing the bronze.

The eight-boat J/109 class saw a seesaw battle take place between Jim Murray’s CALLISTO and Scott Sims’ SLAPSHOT II (a former Chicago Blackhawks player living in Wilmette, IL).  As an illustration of how tight and competitive the sailing was for the 109s, both boats only managed one 1st and two more podium finishes! In the end, it was Murray’s CALLISTO that finished with a 4-1-2-3-5 tally for 15 pts to take the class win.  Sims’ SLAPSHOT posted a 5-3-1-6-3 record for 18 pts to take the silver.  And rounding out the podium for the bronze was Keith Eickenberg’s BLACKFIN with a 1-4-5-4-7 scoreline for 21 pts.

In the world of PHRF offshore handicap racing, the eight-boat PHRF 2 ToT fleet was Dan Leslie’s J/35 NOMATA post a 1-3-3-8 for 15 pts to hold on to the bronze, just barely.  And, in the North Sails Rally ORR 1 Division of twelve-boats, it was Tom Papoutsis’ J/133 RENEGADE that took home the silver. Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ Outside Images.  For more Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Block Island Race Week Preview

Block Island Race Week (Block Island, RI)- The Duck Island Yacht Club in Westbrook, Connecticut and the Block Island Yacht Club have teamed up to co-host Block Island Race Week 2018. The event will feature five days of racing (2 per day) on Block Island Sound June 17th to the 22nd.

In a “Bermuda Race” year, the event has always been much more laid back with a smaller fleet of boats.  Nevertheless, the camaraderie is proportionately greater as everyone seems to know everyone sailing in the regatta.  That quaintness, in fact, serves as its appeal for many sailors that simply want a relaxing “sailing vacation.”

The famous Oar Restaurant and Bar on Block Island, RIA number of J/crews have answered that call of competitive, but laid-back random leg races, not all that windward-leeward, rest, rinse, repeat, again and again in monotonous fashion kind of stuff.  This year’s DIYC and BIYC PRO’s have promised to make it fun, easy, and not too many sets and takedowns each day!  In the PHRF Spinnaker division, a total of eight boats are sailing, half of it J/teams.  Three J/111s are racing; Sedge & Andy Ward’s BRAVO, Greg Slamowitz’s MANITOU, and Kenn Fischburg’s WILD CHILD.  Joining them is a very fast J/29, John Hammel’s appropriately named SLEEPER from Noroton YC. Sailing in the PHRF Non-Spin Class is Peter Hilgendorff’s J/29 MEDDLER. Should be fun!  For more Block Island Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/70 Europeans Update

J/70s sailing Europeans- Vigo, Spain(Vigo, Spain)- Sixty-nine teams from fifteen countries have been sailing the 2018 J/70 Class Open European Championship and 2018 J/70 Corinthian Class European Championship. Organized by the Real Club Náutico de Vigo in conjunction with the International J/70 Class Association, and J/70 Spanish Class Association.

Thirteen races were scheduled over five days, racing in the stunning Ria de Vigo on the Atlantic coast of Northwest Spain. The Real Club Náutico de Vigo has provided a warm welcome to competitors with social occasions throughout the regatta.  So far, the sailing has been stunning.  Here are the up-to-date race reports.

J/70s sailing off Vigo, Spain- EuropeansDay One- Tuesday- Sparkling Start in Vigo
The first day was blessed with sparkling conditions in Ria de Vigo. A brisk northerly breeze piped up to 18 knots with a meter sea state providing thrilling downwind conditions. Highly competitive starts, with solid traffic at mark roundings, made for high octane racing of the highest caliber. Three races were held for the 69-boat fleet, with three different winners. Krzysztof Krempec's EWA (POL), Alberto Rossi's ENFANT TERRIBLE (ITA), and Paolo Tomsic's SOCIETA NAUTICA GRIGNANO (ITA). Luis Bugallo's MARNATURA (ESP), representing the Real Club Náutico de Vigo, was the top Corinthian J/70.

Peter Duncan's RELATIVE OBSCURITY (USA) came back from a bad start in the last race to get up to fourth, which really made the difference, the reigning J/70 World Champion was a happy man after his first taste of action in Vigo.

“It was gorgeous sailing out there today, a beautiful body of water, very exciting with 69 boats on the start line. The race committee did a good job, which is not easy with that many boats. I have always thought that Europeans sail J/70s well, and they showed that today. It was really close, if you made a mistake, you paid for it,” said Peter Duncan.

Alberto Rossi's ENFANT TERRIBLE (ITA) scored a 3-1-11 to finish the day in second place. The former Farr 40 and TP52 World Champion was full of praise for the J/70 Class.

“It was tough racing today, the level continues to increase in the class, with the top 30 boats all capable of winning races. Even with a split start line, a lot of boats tend to go for the favored side, and if you don't get a good start and hold your lane, you can easily end up with a bad result. We did make a few mistakes, but we are happy with our results,” commented Alberto Rossi.

Krzysztof Krempec's EWA (POL) had a great day, winning the first race and scoring top ten results to finish Day One in third position. Krempec's team has only been racing in the class for the last 18 months.

“I am very pleased, we had three good races with excellent wind and it was really good fun. The level in the regatta is very high with a lot of boats together, which means it is not easy; you are constantly fighting with different boats. Our success today was not down to one thing, it was important to sail consistently, even though two of our starts were not good, we concentrated on our position and boat speed, and they were the keys to success,” observed Krzysztof Krempec.

The top Spanish team was Jose María Torcida's NOTICIA (ESP) scoring a 9-2-9 to place fourth after three races. Noticia was runner up for the 2017 European Championships.

“The conditions today have been great and it seems we are going to have more windy days during the week. Racing in a fleet of 69 boats is always tricky, especially at the starts, which will always be really tight. With a clear favourite side of the course, the starts were really complicated,” said Jose María Torcida.

After racing, over 300 competitors enjoyed local delicacies including traditional Galician tapas and refreshments at the Race Village. In the grounds of the Real Club de Vigo live music from Vigo cover band Penny Lane Syndrome created a perfect atmosphere.

J/70s sailing off Vigo, Spain- EuropeansDay Two- Wednesday- Full-On Conditions
Thrilling racing took place on the second day in the Ria de Vigo. The wind speed topped out at over 20 knots for much of the day, providing awesome downwind planing conditions for the fleet.  Three races were held, with a discard kicking in on the last race of the day.

Peter Duncan's RELATIVE OBSCURITY (USA) scored two bullets to lead the fleet after six races. Relative Obscurity's trimmer Willem van Waay commented, “Those are the days that keep you wanting to race these boats, it was gorgeous out there today.”   Audio Interview with Willem van Waay

Alberto Rossi's ENFANT TERRIBLE (ITA) put in another great performance winning Race 4 to keep the pressure on the leader, just two points behind. Paolo Tomsic's Società Nautica Grignano (ITA) had another great day scoring a 5-10-2, putting the Corinthian team from Lake Garda into third place overall and top of the Corinthian Division.

Paolo Tomsic was quick to give praise to his team for their impressive performance. “We are so very happy with this unexpected result, we are very honored to be in Vigo, this is a beautiful location where we feel very comfortable. We hope our performance will be consistent in the next few days. We are used to big winds, being based on Lake Garda , but there you never find waves as big as this! Our team is Giuliano Chiandrussi, Emanuele Noè; Francesca Pagan, and above all our owner, Mauro Brescacin,” said Paolo Tomsic

Umberto de Luca's ENJOY (ITA) is in fourth place after six races. The 26 year-old from Yachting Club Torri on Lake Garda started sailing in the class last year after competing in the Laser and Finn Classes.

“There was strong wind today and very choppy seas with some good waves so it was a lot of fun, especially downwind. The results are coming because we are getting everything together but the most important thing is that we are very fast, especially upwind, which has got us out of some tricky situations, and the tactician is making some really good calls. It is an honor to sail against these big guys in the sailing world, and exciting for us to do so well,” commented Umberto de Luca.

CALYPSO (MLT), co-skippered by Jonathan Calascione & Seb Ripard, started the day well with a second place but lost a batten in the pre-start for Race 5 forcing the team to retire. Calypso was back out for Race 6, scoring a 10th place, keeping the Maltese team in the top five.

Luis Bugallo's MARNATURA (ESP) had a great day, fully pulling the trigger downwind; scoring three top-ten results to finish the day in sixth place overall, and second place in the Corinthian Class.

“Yesterday we decided to be conservatives and not take too much risks. However, today we planned the opposite and it worked. We are happy with our day,” said Luis Bugallo's MARNATURA from Real Club Náutico de Vigo is the top performing Spanish boat after six races.

After racing, competitors enjoyed the facilities of the purpose built Regatta Village at the Real Club de Vigo with live music from Vigo's Diego Pacheco and Tonechi. An official dinner was held at the Noble Hall at the Real Club Náutico de Vigo, honored guests included representatives of each country present at the J/70 European Championships.

J/70s starting- sailing Europeans off Vigo, SpainDay Three- Thursday- Red Hot Sailing!
After two days of fast exhilarating sailing, the pace changed with lighter conditions in the Ria de Vigo, but the intensity of the brilliant sunshine and the competition was still red hot. After two General Recalls in Race 8, the Black Flag was hoisted and 13 teams were disqualified in the restart. Championship leader, Peter Duncan's RELATIVE OBSCURITY (USA) managed to stay out of trouble but only just. The J/70 World Champions scored a win in Race 8, but came 24th in Race 9, after getting caught in traffic upwind. Duncan's team still has a firm grip on the top of the leaderboard, but with four more races scheduled, there is plenty more action to come.

“I have known Willem (van Waay) for a long time, but getting into to high level racing as part of this team has been a lot of fun. It's super entertaining ashore and that holds true on the water. The program is very well run, but it is also very enjoyable, and I am ready to ride with this team as far as it goes” said Max Hutcheson, bowman on Duncan’s team.

26 year-old, Umberto Luca's ENJOY (ITA) is going from strength to strength, after breaking into the top three yesterday, the team from Lake Garda scored a 10-2-12 today to move up to second place. Alberto Rossi's ENFANT TERRIBLE (ITA) was black-flagged in Race 8, slipping to third overall just a point behind Enjoy.

Jose María Torcida's NOTICIA (ESP) had their best day of the regatta scoring 4-9-2 taking the team into fourth place and the best team from the host nation. All-in-all it was a good day for Spanish teams; Gustavo Doreste's FERMAX (ESP) won the last race of the day to move into the top ten. In the Corinthian Division, Luis Bugallo's MARNATURA (ESP) scored a 5-7-14 to take the lead by four points from Paolo Tomsic's SOCIETA NAUTICA GRIGNANO (ITA).

J/70 sailing Europeans- Vigo, Spain“We still have four races to go, we are happy and we aspire to really do well in all of them. Duncan had a bad result already today so he knows he must be conservative. The spirit of our team is really high and this regatta is like a marathon: It is about not having a bad result and today we have sailed well,” commented top Spanish sailor Jose María Torcida.

CALYPSO (MLT) co-skippered by Jonathan Calascione & Seb Ripard, started the day winning Race 7 but the Maltese team was black flagged in Race 8 and scored a 41st in the last race of the day.

“It was really great to win a race in this fleet, and prove that yesterday's second was no fluke. For Race 8, we were probably one second early, and when you hear your sail number called out, and you already have a DNF from the previous day, it would have been easy to let our heads drop. But, we came here to compete and improve and we will be racing as competitively as we can until the last race,” said skipper Seb Ripard.

Some of the world's most accomplished sailors are taking part in the J/70 European Championships. World Champions from every aspect of the sport, Olympic Medallist, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors. However, some are just at the beginning of the journey. Remi Piazza's MISTRAL (MON) is the youngest team at the championships, the four sailors are just 15-18 years of age, and proudly representing the Yacht Club de Monaco. The club started a youth sailing program in 1970, and today it has 350 members, from as young as six years old. 18 year-old Alba Malivindi is driving MISTRAL.

“This is our first international regatta as a team, and we have only been sailing together for less than a year. We are enjoying the event and it is a really good experience for us, because the level is really high,” commented Alba Malivindi.

A J/70 European Championship preview can be viewed here on Facebook  Follow and share the J/70 Europeans here on Facebook   For more J/70 European Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Women’s SAILING Champions League Preview

Women J/70 sailing team at Kiel, Germany (Kiel, Germany)- The Women’s SAILING Champions League is about to begin with the first all-women’s regatta this weekend at the start of Kieler Woche– a.k.a. Kiel Week, the biggest sailing regatta in the world. This event is the latest innovation to be launched out of the successful SAILING Champions League format. Taking place from June 16th to 18th, this innovative regatta presented by Audi has attracted prestigious yacht clubs from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

Danish women's sailing team at Porto Cervo, ItalyIt is fair to say that the Danes from Royal Danish YC (KDY) are fielding one of the strongest and most experienced crews for Kieler Woche.  At the helm is Danish Olympic representative Henriette Koch, crewed by a team that has raced together when they won the 2015 Women’s Match Racing World Championship, including Tina Schmidt Gramkov who also sailed for Denmark in the match-racing event at London 2012.

Less than two weeks ago, at the first semifinal of the SAILING Champions League in Porto Cervo, the only all-women crew among the 22 international entries was winning heats against the men.  In fact, they were leading the entire regatta after the first day! In the end, they finished 5th, an astounding achievement against 21 other top crews from Europe’s best sailing clubs. As a result, KDY has qualified to compete in the final of the SAILING Champions League at St Moritz later this summer.

In Kiel, each team will compete with a four to five-person crew. The event will be sailed in a fleet of matched one-design J/70 sailboats and the racing area will be Kiel Bay in the Baltic Sea.

Laura Fischer, who will be at the helm for German club Deutscher Touring Yacht Club, commented: “We are happy to be part of the first-ever Women’s SAILING Champions League. We have put together a young, but at the same time, very experienced team. We are excited to be competing against the other female crews from other European clubs and we are looking forward to some exciting races in Kiel.”

The first Women’s SAILING Champions League event is organized by SAILING Champions League GmbH and the International Sailing League Association (ISLA). Nynne Desirée Ammundsen, General Secretary from ISLA, said: “From an ISLA point of view, what we see with Women’s SAILING Champions League is all that we could ever wish for. Gathering and developing a strong league concept while developing the dynamics of league sailing is the founding mission of ISLA. In addition, promoting this mission for women- an important target for ISLA- is an extra bonus. It is therefore a true pleasure to provide a platform and experience for women sailors.”

Livestream and results:
To follow all the action online, tune into the livestream for the Saturday and Monday of racing. This will be available on Facebook, YouTube and also on the SAILING Champions League website (http://www.sailing-championsleague.com).

Women's Sailing Champions League- Kiel, GermanySAP Sailing Analytics provides 24/7 additional statistics and data for sailors, fans, spectators and media like GPS tracking, real-time analysis, and live leaderboard combined with 2D visualization. You can find all results on SAPsailing.com (http://wwww.sapsailing.com)!

The clubs competing in Women’s SAILING Champions League from each country are: Denmark (Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub, Copenhagen/ Hellerup Sejlklub, Hellerup), Finland (Nyländska Jaktklubben, Helsinki), Germany (Deutscher Touring Yacht-Club, Tutzing (near Munich)/ Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Hamburg), Lithuania (GVK Team, Vilnius), Netherlands (International Yacht Club Amsterdam, Amsterdam), Sweden (Malmö Segelsällskap, Malmö), Switzerland (Zürcher Segel Club, Zurich).   Watch the J/70 Women’s SAILING Champions League trailer here   For more Women’s SAILING Champions League sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

IRC European Championship Update

J/112E sailing IRC European ChampionshipJ/112E J-LANCE 12 Leading
(Cowes, England)- The Royal Ocean Racing Club has been hosting a stellar fleet of thirty-three offshore IRC racing teams from nine countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, USA) at their Cowes, Isle of Wight station for the 2018 IRC European Championship.  So far, the event has been a great “test” event for many of Europe’s top offshore teams that are planning to sail in the IRC/ ORC World Championship that will be taking place in The Hague, The Netherlands in a few weeks time.

The hot twelve-boat IRC 3 Class includes two J/Crews; Fred Bouvier’s stellar French crew on the J/112E J-LANCE 12 and the local British team on John Smart’s J/109 JUKEBOX.  So far, J-LANCE 12 has proven to be a consistent winner, currently leading their class after five days of racing on the Solent and the classic Round Island Race (the famous 60nm original America’s Cup course around the Isle of Wight).

Day One- Sunday
With such a light forecast, the Royal Ocean Racing Club's on-the-water officials, led by PRO Stuart Childerley, did well to complete one race on the opening day. Unfortunately the 5-7 knot north-northeasterly wind, all but disappeared just prior to the final IRC Two and Three boats finishing. After sending the fleet back to port, the PRO called it a day just before 1500 BST.

The cunning Danes saw off some of the top IRC Three competition when they locked out several boats the wrong side of the committee boat at the start. That included the hot French team on the J/112E J-LANCE 12, skippered by J Composites boss Didier Le Moal. Hansen was one of the first to tack after the start and benefitted from being able to lee-bow the tide, like other boats that ventured right.

They closed on the back end of IRC Two at the leeward gate and then tacked to the right again, where the lee-bow effect was less with the flood tide subsiding. Lady luck continued to smile on J LANCE 12, finishing just before the breeze started properly shutting down - the French J/112E stages a remarkable recovery after their second tier start.

Day Two- Monday
The Azores high pressure system encroaching on the UK is bringing summer to the Solent, but making life awkward for the race officers.

Today's much-anticipated race around the Isle of Wight got away on time at 0930 BST from the Royal Yacht Squadron line. But, just under two hours later the wind died and the race was abandoned, although not before several competitors had kedged.

With the boats returned to Cowes Yacht Haven, patience won out and the gradient breeze from the ENE somehow managed to overcome the thermal. This allowed for two round the cans races to be held in the central Solent, the wind even creeping into the teens towards the end of the second race. The two inshore races were held near the Brambles Bank with reaching and running starts respectively.

In IRC Three, J/112E J-LANCE 12 skippered by France's Didier Le Moal, scored a 2-4.  Skipper Le Moal admitted, “we are not used to downwind starts." Le Moal's crew, which includes reigning Solitaire du Figaro champion and Volvo Ocean Race navigator Nicolas Lunven, has sailed together for many years. And, in fact, Le Moal remembers sailing the first RORC Commodores' Cup back in 1992 with a French team.

J/112E sailing IRC Europeans- Cowes, EnglandDay Three- Tuesday
Light winds and strong tides may have made for a difficult first half of the regatta, but Hampshire Tourist Board conditions graced the Solent. With a southwesterly wind that peaked at around 15 knots countering a powerful ebb tide, PRO Stuart Childerley set a 'classic Cowes Week' course, with around the cans courses set for the westerly breezes in the central and western Solent, with a finish for all three classes off The Green in Cowes.

As a result, there was an ultra-challenging start with two-knot spring tides pushing the boats across the line. As one person described it, “it was the type of start where if you got it wrong you were going home, not something you would ever want to attempt again."

The two horse race in IRC Three was in danger of becoming a three horse one, with the X-37 Hansen having a difficult day, scoring a 12th, despite a worthy effort at a port tack start. This result the Danish team has immediately thrown now that the first discards have come into play. Meanwhile IRC Three had another winner today in the French First 40.7 Pen Koent of Emmanuel Le Men and his crew from Val-André in northern Brittany.

"We had a very good start- the type of start you do once every 10 years," mused Le Men. "We tacked very quickly at the buoy and on the first run we were first and after that we were with J-LANCE 12 and Shaitan, changing places. On the last run, we were still with J-LANCE 12, but she gives us some time with her rating. Our boat is quite old; it is good for windward-leewards in not too much wind. The new boats go quicker in waves and heavy wind."

J-LANCE 12 had managed to edge in front at the Hampstead Ledge weather mark and finished second overall, and continues to lead IRC Three by two points from the X-37 Hansen. Racing on board Le Moal's J/112E is reigning Solitaire du Figaro champion and Volvo Ocean Race navigator Nicolas Lunven.

"Today was a perfectly typical race in the Solent with 12-15 knots, strong tide, wonderful weather, beautiful green waterfront views,” said Lunven. "The wind was against the tide, but the sea state was quite nice I was expecting more choppy waves. It was the first race of the Championship with more than 8 knots of wind! It was a very nice race."

Day Four- Wednesday
A third light, tricky day with strong tides saw a lengthy round-the-cans course in the central Solent just completed before the wind shut down. After a wait, the skies darkened, the temperature plummeted as a southeasterly wind filled in, lasting just long enough for a singleton windward-leeward to be held for the three classes.

A powerful flood tide off Osborne Bay, pushing boats down towards the pin presented some novel problems along the start line of today's first race. In the starts for each of the three classes, boats were called over early.

IRC Three has evolved into a two-horse race between the X-37 Hansen and Le Moal's J/112E J-LANCE 12. Today definitely belonged to the French crew on J-LANCE 12 that won both races. They now lead, one point ahead of the Danes that posted a 3-2 for the day.

J/112E sailing fast under spinnakerDay Five- Thursday - Round Island Race
Despite a scary-looking forecast and prolonged periods punching foul tide, the rescheduled race around the Isle of Wight proved a great success. This replaced the scheduled 24-36 hour long offshore, but all competitors nonetheless returned feeling severely tested to a summery Cowes, very different to the rain, near gale force gusts, four knot foul tide and reduced visibility of the morning's 0936 am start.

In IRC Three Le Moal's J/112E J-LANCE 12 completely dominated. Winning the race left her on 9.5 points to the second placed JPK 1080 Shaitan's 24 pts.

The performance by the IRC Three leader J-LANCE 12 was especially impressive, finishing among the IRC Two frontrunners. It was insanely close too; the Sunfast 3600 Redshift Reloaded was first across the line by mere seconds, but finished fourth under IRC.  The top four boats separated by just three and a half minutes with J-LANCE 12 winning by just 11 seconds on corrected time from Shaitan.

"Going around the island is our bag," admitted Redshift Reloaded owner Ed Fishwick. "The conditions were good for us. We saw 30 knots at times going down the Solent. It was lively - very shifty and gusty, making driving conditions tricky. We even reefed halfway down to the first turning mark at The Needles, which we rarely do. Plus, there was an amazing contrast in the weather, stormy and wet this morning, but champagne sailing from St Catherine's onwards, with winds in the high teens or low 20s."

They rounded the south side of the Isle of Wight glued to the shore to avoid the foul tide, but were in constant contact with their competitors. "It was great fun, very, very tight racing," continued Fishwick. "Ourselves, Shaitan and J-LANCE were within boat lengths of each other for miles and miles. They were pulling match racing-type maneuvers on us..."

A man who has raced around the island more than most is David Bedford, this week calling the shots on Shaitan. "It was a great day out. It always is. We saw 30 knots up the first beat," Bedford mused. Interestingly while Bedford was British National Match Racing champion back in 1989, Redshift Reloaded's Nick Cherry held this same title four times between 2006 and 2011.

Bedford said they stuck to their playbook, heading for mainland shore in the western Solent, then choosing the right time to return to the island side. They had nailed this and crossing a visible tide line put them into favorable tide. Like their competition, they then hugged the south side of the island.

Two more days of sailing!  The French on the J/112E J-LANCE 12 will have to wait patiently to see if their favorite Veuve Clicquot Champagne can start flowing sooner than later!  For more IRC European Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Three Buoys Fiasco Race Preview

Three Buoy Fiasco- Seattle, WA (Seattle, WA)- The notoriously fun-loving Sloop Tavern YC in Seattle, WA is hosting the newly famous “Three Buoys Fiasco” race.  Like the San Francisco Bay brothers down south that pioneered the Three Bridge Fiasco, the masterminds in the Pacific Northwest thought that sounded like a great idea.  So, in an ode to the SF Bay friends, the race is devised in a similar, devious fashion- three marks are determined prior to the day’s race based on wind & weather conditions, then once you start, you can choose to round them anyway you want, so long as you go around all three!

Loving the organized chaos will be seven J/Crews from across the region.  Two J/105s are going for it (Jeremy Boynes’ AVALANCHE & Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO), two J/80s are in the mix (Alan’s’ STELLAR J & Lek Dimarucot’s UNDERDOG), Bill Daniel’s J/100 TOURIST will be there, so will be Ulf Georg Gwildis’ J/30 IMPULSIVE and Leo Morales’ beautifully restored J/27 WIZARD.  For more Three Buoy Fiasco sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cleveland Race Week Preview

J/111 Spaceman Spiff sailing off Cleveland, OH (Cleveland, OH)- The highly-popular Cleveland Race Week starts this coming weekend on the waters of Lake Erie, hosted by the Edgewater Yacht Club for both one-design and offshore yachts.  The event has three components to satisfy the desires of all the passionate sailors in the region.  Starting June 15th to 17th is the One-Design program for twenty-four J/Teams on J/22s, J/70s, and J/105s.  Then, on June 20th- Wednesday- there will be Women’s & Doublehanded racing for one day.  After that is the Offshore Regatta from June 23rd to 24th, with seventeen J’s racing in yet more J/105 One-designs as was as a PHRF fleet that includes J/24s up to J/111s.

The six-boat J/22 class features Mike Meaney’s MEANIAC and Chris Princing’s EVIL DR. PORK CHOP/ AWARD & SPORTS Team.

J/88 sailing off Cleveland, OHThe eleven-boat J/70 fleet has several well-known veteran traveling teams, including Trey Sheehan’s infamous HOOLIGAN: FLAT STANLEY RACING, Tod Sackett’s FM, Lee Sackett & Dave Kerr’s USA 364, and Ted Pinkerton’s LITTLE SIDE HUSTLE.

The seven-boat J/105 class has Ron Carson’s DARK’N’STORMY, Tom & Cindy Einhouse’s OVATION, Ron Hollingsworth’s SLINGSHOT, and the Uhlir Brother’s TRIO.

For the Women’s event, Katie Langolf’s J/34 IOR will be racing against Lucinda Einhouse’s J/105 OVATION for class honors.

The Offshore PHRF Spinnaker class will be gigantic, with twenty-eight boats on the starting line.  Amongst them will be fourteen J/Teams.  Those crews include the J/111’s (Rob Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF & Don Hudak’s CAPERS), Tim Yanda’s J/120 VIVA LA VIDA, Chris Mallets’ J/109 SYNCHRONICITY, Hugh Scott Seaholm’s J/88 PAPA’s TOY, two J/34s (Brett & Katie Langolf’s KNEE DEEP & Dave Krotseng’s BONAFIDE), Mark Saffell’s J/36 PAINKILLER, two J/105s (Uhlir Brothers’ TRIO & Ron Carson’s DARK’N’STORMY), Rich & Dolores Galaska’s BREEZIN, and Mike Vining’s J/24 REALLY BAD GIRLFRIEND.  For more Cleveland Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Newport to Bermuda Race Preview

(Newport, RI)- This year’s Newport Bermuda Race is the 51st running of the biennial offshore race.  The action starts at 1300 hrs EDT Friday, June 15 from Newport, Rhode Island, just beneath the famous Castle Hill Inn & Lighthouse at the port end of the starting line. Beginning in 1906, it is the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race, and one of very few international distance races.

The purpose of the Bermuda Race was stated in 1923 by Cruising Club of America Commodore Herbert L. Stone: “In order to encourage the designing, building, and sailing of small seaworthy yachts, to make popular cruising upon deep water, and to develop in the amateur sailor a love of true seamanship, and to give opportunity to become proficient in the art of navigation”.

This year’s event is expected to be the fourth largest in the race’s history, with approximately 170 boats. The race attracts sailors from across North America and the globe; the fleet is extremely diverse, a total of 23 countries are represented in the crews.

DJ/160 True sailing to Bermudaepending on the weather and the currents in the Gulf Stream, and the boat’s size and speed, the race takes two to six days. The first boat arrives at the finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse on Sunday or Monday, and the smaller boats arrive between then and Wednesday or Thursday.

The race is demanding. The rules say, “The Newport Bermuda Race is not a race for novices!” The course crosses the rough Gulf Stream and is mostly out of the range of rescue helicopters, and Bermuda is guarded by a dangerous reef. The race is nicknamed “the thrash to the Onion Patch” because most Bermuda Races include high winds and big waves (a combination sailors call “a hard thrash”), and because Bermuda is an agricultural island (notably in its old days for onions!).

Bermuda Race rhumb and Gulf Stream meandersThe race demands good seamanship, great care, and a boat that is both well-built and properly equipped. The boats must meet stringent equipment requirements and undergo inspection, and the sailors must also pass a review and undergo training in safety. The bonds formed by these sailors are strong. Numerous sailors have sailed more than 10 races, often with family and friends.

It is no wonder that over the past 30+ years that more and more Bermuda racers have put their faith and trust in high-quality, offshore performance sailboats produced by the J/Design team that are easy to sail in any weather conditions- from sybaritic to stormy as hell.  In virtually every major offshore race around the world, J/Teams have prevailed in some of the nastiest conditions imaginable, and sailed home safely to win class or overall trophies.  And, remarkably, many of them have repeated those winning performances over the course of time on their J/Boats.

In this year’s 51st Bermuda Race, there are 29 J/crews ready to take on the challenges of the Gulf Stream meanders and rocky approaches to Bermuda.  Not for the faint of heart, but the famous reception for all the crews at Royal Bermuda YC is well worth it!

ST DAVIDS LIGHTHOUSE DIVISION- only Class I helmsmen
In by far the largest division of the race, the St David’s Lighthouse Division, there are 109 entries of which 26 are J/Boats- nearly one-quarter of the entire field and easily the largest brand represented by a factor of 2.5!

SDL Class 5 includes two J/42s (Roger Gatewood’s SHAZAAM & Eliot Merrill’s FINESSE), Bill Passano’s J/37 CARINA, and Fred Allardyce’s J/40 MISTY.

The sole J/crew in SDL Class 6 is the brand new J/121 JACKHAMMER sailed by the United Kingdom’s Andrew Hall.  See the “Bermuda Spotlight” on Andrew’s program below.

The fourteen-boat SDL Class 7 might as well have been labeled the Fast 40’s J/Boat Division.  Four J/122s are sailing, including the 2016 Annapolis Newport winner- Paul Milo’s ORION. Other 122s include Dan Heun’s MOXIEE, Chris Stanmore-Major’s SUMMER GRACE, and Dave Cielusniak’s J-CURVE.  In addition, there are five J/120s, including past Bermuda winner- Richard Born’s WINDBORN. Other 120s include John Harvey & Rick Titsworth’s SLEEPING TIGER, Stu McCrea’s DEVIATION, Rick Oricchio’s ROCKET SCIENCE, Bob Manchester’s VAMOOSE and Brian Spears’ MADISON.

SDL Class 8 has Dale & Mike McIvor’s J/133 MATADOR and twin J/44s only this year (Chris Lewis’ KENAI & Len Sitar’s VAMP).

SDL Class 9 has two of the new J/121 offshore speedsters- Joe & Mike Brito’s INCOGNITO and David Southwell’s ALCHEMY.  In addition, there will be Brian Prinz’s offshore machine, the J/125 SPECTRE and Jon Burt’s J/130 LOLA.

J/42 sailing to BermudaFINISTERRE DIVISION- the “cruising division”- only one main, one jib, one spinnaker fixed on centerline permitted and only Class I helmsmen.

Sailing in the Finisterre Class 12 division is Joe Murli’s J/44 SIRENA BELLA and Charles Willauer and family on board their J/46 BREEZING UP. Class 13 division has Howie Hodgson’s lovely J/160 TRUE.

GIBBS HILL DIVISION- water ballast, canting keels permitted, helmsmen either Class I or III.
In the Gibbs Hill Class 14 division is Leonid Vasiliev’s J/120 DESPERADO and another new J/121- Don Nicholson’s APOLLO.

DOUBLEHANDED DIVISION
Finally, sailing in the Doublehanded Class 3 division will be Gardner Grant’s Bermuda Race-winning J/120 ALIBI and Steve Berlack’s J/42 ARROWHEAD (another past Bermuda Race winner).

J/121 sailing to BermudaNewport Bermuda Spotlight
Andrew Hall’s hot new J/121 JACKHAMMER has been preparing the entire spring for the NBR.  Chris Museler, New York Times sailing columnist, had a chance to catch up to him recently.  Here is that interview:

It seems odd that Andrew Hall decided not to install the water-ballast tanks offered in his brand new J/121 JACKHAMMER. This turbo-boost feature will be used by two of the four 121’s competing in this year’s Newport Bermuda Race. They are the latest offshore 40 footers, with furling, carbon reaching sails, plumb bows and a sleek cabin that mimics today’s high performance Superyacht.

JACKHAMMER will join ALCHEMY (also not using water ballast), in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, while the other two J/121s, APOLLO and INCOGNITO, will be racing in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division where water ballast is allowed, along with canting keel boats and no limits on professional crews.

“It’s mainly because we’re penalized under the handicap so much for the water ballast,” explains Hall, who has been training with his mostly British crew throughout April out of his summer home in Jamestown, Rhode Island. “We also couldn’t race in the amateur division with ballast. And without the tanks, it makes the boat more roomy down below, and can sleep more people.”

The sail profiles between all the J/121s are identical, says Hall, who has sailed four Bermuda Races, some on his last boat, the J/133 JACKKNIFE. He races a J/125 in the RORC summer offshore series in the UK and he’s looking forward to testing out the new boat on an ocean course.

“The J/125 goes like a bat out of hell, but has a poor handicap,” says Hall. “Hopefully the 121 will be competitive and a lot more comfortable. The 125 is decidedly not comfortable and decidedly wet.”

J/121 sailing to BermudaThe water-ballasted J/121s rate faster than JACKHAMMER, and though the ballast adds righting moment and power, there are times when it’s not needed. Hall says that he hasn’t lined up against another 121 to discover if, under handicap, one will win over the other. He does say there are benefits to using water ballast besides strict performance.

“They’re [ballast tanks] there for sailing with less people,” says Hall. “That’s quite nice, particularly for sailing doublehanded.”

The J/121 has a sailplan well-suited to close reaching angles, often a Newport Bermuda Race point of sail.

Hall, a Brit, will be sailing with his son and a mixture of Americans and fellow countrymen. The crew was bending on storm sails in the sub-freezing mornings of April, with numb fingers pushing dog bones through the loops of the storm jib’s soft hanks. JACKHAMMER was soon seen ripping across Narragansett Bay in fresh northwesterlies testing sail combinations and tweaking electronics.

Though the Bermuda Race will be a great test of this new, high performance design, Hall and his crew consider it just a stop on a regular calendar of fantastic ocean races.

After Bermuda, JACKHAMMER will be shipped to Italy and then brought down to Malta for the Middle Sea Race. In 2019, it’s the RORC offshore series and, possibly, the Fastnet Race. Then another crack at Bermuda in 2020.

“I look forward to this race,” says Hall. “We will have covered a few miles by the time we get back here in two year’s time.”  Thanks for this contribution from New York Times reporter- Chris Museler.  For more Newport to Bermuda Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.