Thursday, October 29, 2020

Awesome J/Fest Southwest Regatta

 J/105s rounding mark

(Houston, Texas)- According to Scott Spurlin, J/Dealer in Texas, "the J/Sailors in Texas needed this event!  The enthusiasm to get out on the water was over the top!  On Friday, the rain was coming down and the gusts were in the 40’s and people still trailered their boats in!  We delayed the start on Saturday to give them time to set up and launch. Then we had a full weekend of racing.  I will always think of this J/Fest as fondly as I remember the very first one!"

J/24 crew sailing J/Fest Houstonq
The J/Fest Southwest Regatta celebrated its 11th Anniversary and proved yet again it was a popular tradition among the J/Boat owners throughout the region with over 70 J/Boats. This 11th edition was a bit more challenging with the current Pandemic conditions. But Lakewood Yacht Club's team rolled out their traditional (and amazing!) red carpet treatment for the 250-plus sailors and made sure the event was fun, while complying with both State of Texas and US Sailing COVID-19 guidelines.

J/70 sailing J/Fest Houston Texas
The two-day, six-race regatta had amazing attendance in every class, including seven J/70s, nine J/105s, five J/ORC boats, twenty-one J/22s, and fifteen J/24s! Many familiar happy faces were seen aboard the boats, overjoyed with being to get together safely and fulfill their wishes to finally sail their first regatta since the advent of the pandemic lockdowns back in March.  

J/70 sailing off Houston, Texas
Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the regatta was the win by Scott Spurlin's team on the J/70 YOLO. Despite the fact it was just a half-dozen boats, the fleet was riddled with National, North American, World Champions and Olympic Medallists! Apparently, it helps to have some "secret sauce" on board in the form of mainsheet trimmer and tactician Reed Baldrige (a National and World Champion sailor).  Scott's team had a remarkably consistent performance, rattling off a 2-2-1-2-3-2 record for a mere 12 pts! Just behind them it was truly a "shoot out at the OK Corral" for the balance of the top five. Taking the silver was Jay Lutz's MOJITO, after compiling an ever-improving performance with finishes of 4-4-2-3-4-1 for 18 pts. The bronze was determined by a tie-breaker at 19 pts each between two World Champion teams. Bruno Pasquinelli's STAMPEDE won the countback over Glenn Darden's HOSS. Taking fifth position was Dov Kivlovitz’s TURBO DUCK. 

J/105 sailing off Houston, Texas
The J/105 class also saw a few duels taking place at the top of the leaderboard.  Winning the regatta by just one point was Ken Horne's FINAL FINAL over Bill Zartler's DEJA VOODOO. Like the J/70s, the bronze medal battle went to the final race and ended up in a tiebreaker at 24 pts each. After the countback, the bronze was awarded to John Bell's KINDERSPIEL 2 over Bill Lackenmacher's RADIANCE. Taking fifth place was Uzi Ozeri's BONBON.

J/22 sailing upwind off Houston, TexasThe huge J/22 fleet was extremely competitive and the battle at the top of the leaderboard raged all weekend-long. How tight was the fleet? Well, the top five were only separated by an anxiety-inducing six points! Like their brothers and sisters in the J/105 and J/70 classes, the showdown for the podium was not determined until the final leg of the final race! Starting off with a blistering 1-2, Larry Wise's crew on LET THE WOOKIE WIN faltered in the next four races, chalking up a 12-6-3-6 for a 30 pts total. Nevertheless, after surviving the onslaught from several National and World Champions crew in the J/22 class, Wise's team held their composure to win with 30 pts- a 5th average, the highest winning average of the regatta! Casey Lambert's crew on BLACKBURN MARINE RACING took the silver with a roller-coaster scoreline of 4-5-3-7-4-9 for 32 pts. Rounding out the podium in a hard-earned bronze medal was Mark Foster's PRESSURE DROP, posting a 10-3-1-4-5-10 for 33 pts (how did you bracket your record with two 10's??). The balance of the top five included Jim Freedman's MISS CONDUCT and Tom Meeh's MEEHEM in fourth and fifth, respectively. 

The only class to see what could only be defined as a "runaway shopping trolley" collecting all podium finishes was Chris Holmes crew on the J/24 BAD MOON. Holmes' team cruised to a 2-3-2-3-2-2 record for 14 pts. A distant second was taken by Gerald Rademaker's YIKES team, followed by Greg Newsome's SIXTY NINE (the sail number of his very old TPI-built J/24!). The rest of the top five saw Rod Favela's PHANTASM in fourth and Graham Gardner's SURPRISE in fifth position. 

J/121 sailing offshore
Finally, the big offshore boats all sailed in the J/ORC class. Winning was Forbes Durdin's J/121 BEAR, closing the last four races with all bullets! Mark Funk's J/27 USA 23 was second and Bill Sutton’s fire-engine red J/35 LEADING EDGE. The rest of the top five included Dave Christenson's J/109 AIRBORNE in 4th and Albrecht Goethe's J/46 HAMBURG II (a beautiful "upgrade" from his former J/109 by the same name!). 

Enjoy the sailing highlights video on YouTube produced by Stuart Lindow/ Pelican Productions   Enjoy the sailing photos on Flickr   For more J/Fest Southwest sailing information