Wednesday, August 8, 2018

MR BILL’s WILD RIDE Indeed! The J/35 N.A. Champion!

J/35s sailing offshore (Cheboygan, MI)- What a year it has been for Bill Wildner.  After re-uniting with his soul in New Zealand, hiking the mountains and fjords of the spectacular South Island to connect with his inner-consciousness, he returns enlightened, to sunny, quaint Detroit and proceeds to sail “lights out” against his many friends in the J/35 class on the Great Lakes.  Not that he hasn’t done it before, but the complete white-washing of the J/35 North Americans will surely stand out in many people’s memories for years to come in the thirteen-boat fleet that experienced a “master-class” in how to win a regatta.

Starting off with two bullets, Bill Wildner’s crew on MR BILL’s WILD RIDE posted a 4th in their third race and damn near had a cardiac arrest. Fourth? OMG. Heresy. So, duly awakened to their potential mortality, Mr Bill and crew simply smoked the fleet and never looked back, posting six straight bullets to simply dominate the 2018 edition of the J/35 North Americans.  They might as well have been walking on water by the end and declared “peace & love” for all.

The North Star Sail Club in Cheboygan, MI was the host for the event on the beautiful northeast shores of Michigan on the verdant green waters of Lake Huron.  Aside from the Wild Riders, the battle for the balance of the podium went down to the last three races. Sitting in second, based on a discard race, Mike Sabinash’s crew on SABOTAGE just had to avoid another deep race to stay in the silver. However, their first race DNF was going to come back and haunt them.  Bill Vogan’s crew on MAJOR DETAIL knew those numbers and their worst race was a 5th going into the last three races.  As a result, a few well-planted tacks pushed their competitor down the ladder, never to recover from them.  Vogan’s MAJOR DETAIL closed with a 2-2-2 to take the silver over Sabinash’s SABOTAGE that closed with a 4-7-4.  Rounding out the top five were Dave Timmer’s HAT TRICK in 4th, just two points ahead of Cheryl Miller’s DEAN’s LIST in 5th place.

J/35 designer, Rod Johnstone, attended the event this year and had an opportunity to sail with BLACKHAWK.  Here are Rod’s comments,

“I have always had a great time whenever I have gone to Michigan. It is because the people there are so welcoming and so much fun, but, also because my visits there have always had something to do with sailing and sailboat racing.

The North Shore Sail Club hosted the event by moving their home base far North from Lake St. Clair near Detroit to Cheboygan, the juncture between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan- an ideal venue for the event. What a great job the NSSC did hosting about 150 sailors, race committee, and families so far from home and running nine races in three days. Hats off to Event Director Dean Fitzpatrick, the race committee and jury for excellent race management. Also his shoreside team for dinners and all evening gatherings that everyone attended at an F.O.E. Hall next to our motel which seemed to be taken over by J/35 sailors for the weekend. The boats all stayed in the same marina on the Cheboygan River a short walking distance away.  Local Cheboygan residents were genuinely glad to welcome J/35 sailors, and would go out of their way to say so. And many thanks to Fran DiPietro for organizing my ride on his seaplane from Traverse City Airport to Cheboygan and back.

My special thanks go to Amy and Tim Ross for having me aboard their BLACKHAWK for Saturday’s racing.  What a kick that was trimming the main sheet for four races with such a jolly crew consisting of Kara Askew, Mark Esch-Williams, Morgan Frakes, Shawn Hughes, Susan Mort, Jenny Robinson. We were no match for the almost flawless team of Bill Wildner and Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride, and the top six teams who had close finishes in almost every race. But, it was fun to race on a boat where everyone was so positive and functioned well as a team.

The Great Lakes J/35 sailors at this event showed a strong community spirit that bodes well for the J/35 Class in the future. It made me even more glad that I am going soon to Nova Scotia to race, once again, with my old J/35 buddies on J’ai Tu at Chester Race Week in Nova Scotia in August.”   Sailing photo credits- Santa Fabio  For more J/35 North American Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.