Monday, May 2, 2016

J/Teams Crush Epic, Record-breaking Ensenada Race

J/120 Pole Dancer sailing Newport Ensenada Race (Newport Beach, CA)- For decades, one of southern California’s most popular offshore races has been the annual 125nm blast down the SoCal/ Mexico coastline from Newport Beach to Ensenada.  It is a marquee event in SoCal offshore circles for many reasons:  the downhill sleighride more often than not is loads of fun flying spinnakers most of the way; and the pre-race “send-off” party and the post-race awards party have gone into notorious folklore status for many boats and crews, good, bad, or otherwise!  It is truly a classic event for those who’ve experienced the traditions of SoCal offshore sailing.  Organized and hosted by the Newport Ocean Racing Association, the beloved N2E is an eclectic mix of serious sailors campaigning multi-million dollar yachts racing alongside recreational cruisers.

This year, the weather forecasters promised a somewhat benign event, a light start with a building breeze from the north to northwest in the overnight hours.  What no one anticipated was that a bizarre El Nino-influenced setup for weather systems would accelerate the strength of the breeze on a clear evening into the low 20 kts all night long!  The consequence was that records for this 125nm sprint were simply eviscerated!  The multihull record set by a MOD 70 was blown away, and the monohull record that stood for 20+ years was also obliterated.  What this meant for most of the fleet was an epic sleighride downhill into Ensenada of near Biblical proportions guided by the stars and the moon into the finish line!  It was an experience to be memorialized for the scrapbooks!

For starters, read these two stories below, one from the J/88 BLUE FLASH and the other from the well-known J/125 TIMESHAVER to get a flavor of how much fun this record-breaking race was for the crews.

J/88 Blue Flash sailing Newport Ensenada RaceJ/88 BLUE FLASH Report
Sailing the J/88 BLUE FLASH was Scott Grealish from Portland, OR from the Pacific Northwest. Scott bought the gorgeous flag blue, impeccably prepared boat from the famous radio talk-show host, Dr. Laura from Santa Barbara, CA.  His goal was to have fun sailing in warm waters with his son and friends.  To say that he is well on his way to reaping the rewards of that choice would be nothing short of an understatement.  Who knew that a bunch of guys in INTEL-land could race boats even faster than they blast down the famous nuking 20-30 kts Gorge River, which is mostly flat water but blows “dogs off chains” every day!  They are no strangers to pushing boats to their absolute limits.  Here is Scott’s commentary:

“I won’t remember the 2016 Newport Ensenada for the record setting pace, the perfect breeze that veered and built, letting us nearly sail the rhumbline and never set a jib, or the sunny warm day turning into a crystal clear full moon night with that same “just right” wind in the low 20’s at just the right angle to gybe and finish before shutting down on the boats behind solidifying our class win and 4th place overall in a solid 200+ boat fleet.

My memories will be all about coming together as a team and sailing to our potential after a “disappointing” Islands Race the month before where an epic wipeout during a 30 knot gust with the big kite up left us with our new boat speed record of 18.5 knots- - plus, a shredded kite and staysail.  We still had a six mile lead, but in trying to play it “safe”, we throttled back too far and ended up second in division.  As a skipper, I did some serious reflection afterwards and as a crew, we rallied around our strategy for the next race:  Be safe, be totally prepared, keep everyone focused on their roles, but keep pushing the boat!!

Summary of N2E 2016?  It was awesome, and everything the Islands should have been for us.  The main difference?  Great boat preparation and bow work from Andrew Coates at SD Boatworks, great navigation and weather calls from fellow Portlander Andrew Haliburton, and fast driving in the waves split between myself, my long time friend Kerry Poe from North Sails Oregon and my 17 year old son Sean.  We all know the boat well, and driving at speed in waves was uneventful this time.  No wipeouts, no drama, just hours of surfing between 10-16 knots boat speed.   We found the class kite to be quick and actually easier to drive than our bigger kite.  With a full moon, it was possible to keep pushing all night, and just when we saw a burst of 17.5 knots on a big wave and thought about “backing off”, the breeze eased just enough keep us comfortable with boat speeds in the low teens.

Overall, the whole race had perfect conditions for the boat, with the big zero up at the start, then the breeze built and veered as expected so we went to the A4, then finally the A2 all the way to the end, while we stayed pretty much on the rhumbline throughout.  But, as the breeze got above 18 kts, rather than follow an exact “route”, we mostly drove to catch waves like sailing a Laser in our home waters of the Gorge.  The boat really comes into it's own with either zero conditions or surfing conditions, and we were lucky to have both!

At the finish, we had no idea where we had placed in the absence of trackers, but when we docked in with some 50 foot boats and saw all the open slips in the marina reserved for race boats, we had a feeling we had placed well!  But more importantly, we knew we had sailed well as a team, and that was an even better feeling.  But, what was the best feeling?  Well, we have a little string of blue LED lights inside the boat that give a cool effect at night.  They have always brought us luck, but for the Islands Race they didn’t work.  Bad juju.  I’m not superstitious, but I tested them the night before N2E just to be sure...and, at the finish, we celebrated in the blue glow of the cabin!  The “Flash” was back!

J/125 Timeshaver sailing Newport Ensenada RaceJ/125 TIMESHAVER Report
The J/125 TIMESHAVER is pretty well-known in the SoCal offshore circuit.  Owner Viggo Torbensen has campaigned her for years and, more often than not, they “finish in the chocolates”!  No strangers at collecting their fair share of silverware, Viggo often has some of the leading edge sailors in his neighborhood sailing with them. One of them happens to be Eric Shampain from Newport Beach. He’s done the race multiple times and won class and overall twice on the Santa Cruz 50 Horizon.  Said Eric about this year’s event, “it was an amazing race! Maybe my personal fastest finish at just a hair over 12 hours elapsed on the mighty J/125 TIMESHAVER. So fun, so fast. Not a bad streak as well! Insanely, we got 3rd class, 3rd overall PHRF monohull! In other words, our class crushed it! The crew consisted of owner Viggo Torbensen, Tom O'Keefe, Jack Maranto, Blake Hamilton, and my dad Jon Shampain!”

Erik continues to explain; “It had been a while since I sailed a J/125 so I was looking for my fix. The 2015 Transpac doublehanded on Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE was my last J/125 sail to be precise. When Viggo from Dana Point asked if I would do the Ensenada Race along with the following series of races that comprise the California Offshore Race Week, I had to say yes! I figured that the light air battle that is generally the Ensenada Race would be well forgotten by the time we got the boat in its element offshore down the central California Coast!

Our intel had it being a good race. It ended up being a great race. While it never got extremely windy, it did blow a solid 19-22 kts for an extended period of time making the overall race time quick. With the changing wind speeds and directions, I believe we did 6 or 7 spinnaker peels, each better then the last.  The driving was great fun as we hit 16-17 knots consistently. One of the highlights was late in the evening as we gybed into the moonlight on port. The seas lined up and the boat was humming with figure tip control.

We finished just past 12:12am for an elapsed time of just over 12 hours on the 125nm course. The next morning, we awoke and went to the host hotel to find out that we were 3rd in class and 3rd overall PHRF! Not too shabby for having a fleet of around 142 PHRF entrants. 212 counting all the multihulls and various cruising classes.

After that blast, I am really looking forward to the California Offshore Race Week, which is comprised of three legs starting in San Francisco, and stopping in Monterey, and Santa Barbara, before finishing in San Diego.”

The epilogue?  TIMESHAVER was fastest boat down the track on elapsed time in the winningest division- Class C, crushing Shampain’s former SC50 Horizon ride by nearly 45 minutes!  The winner corrected at 12:32:26.  TIMESHAVER corrected at 12:35:24, e.g a delta of just 2 minutes after 125nm!

While the J/88 and the J/125 had amazing runs down the track, a number of other J/Teams also faired incredibly well.

J/120 sailing Newport Ensenada RacePeter Bretschger claimed two trophies for his J/120 ADIOS, for Best Corrected PHRF-D and Best Corrected J/120. “I couldn’t be more elated for my crew,” said Bretschger. One of which is only 14 years-old. “It was our fastest race ever. 15 hours!” he said. In 17 years racing N2E, he’d only placed second one other time.  Rudolph Hasl’s J/120 HASL FREE from San Diego YC took third in class.  In fifth place was the J/122 TKO, sailed by John Raymont from Balboa YC.

Then, the J/120 POLE DANCER skipper Terri Manok, took home the Caroline Starr trophy back to Oceanside Yacht Club. Many of her all-women crew dedicated the race to veteran sailor Sue Senescu, who died unexpectedly last year. “I learned a lot from her,” Manok said and called her crew, “my dream team, the best I could have ever hoped for. The team agreed they were in great company while reviewing all the names of groundbreaking women sailors etched onto the side of the trophy!”

J/145 Radio Flyer sailing Newport Ensenada RaceIn the big boat world in PHRF A, John Lyon’s J/160 INNOCENT MERRIMENT from San Diego YC dueled with classmate Carolyn Parks’ J/145 RADIO FLYER from Santa Barbara YC the entire race.  On elapsed time, the two big J’s were just over 7 minutes apart and docked at virtually the same time in Ensenada!  However, on handicapped time, Lyon’s INNOCENT MERRIMENT took third in class while Parks’ RADIO FLYER took fifth.

The lone J/105 on the race track was Juan Lois’ ROCINANTE from Santa Barbara, taking 4th in PHRF H Class.  Another team from Santa Barbara took fourth in PHRF J Class, Stephen Mcdonough’s J/30 EGGEMOGGIN and Scott McKenney’s cute J/32 cruiser BETTY sailed with determination to grab fifth in class, much to the surprise of her classmates!   Sailing photo credits- Tom Walker   Sailing Photo credits- Leslie Richter.  Sailing photo credits- Ultimate Sailing/ Sharon Green.  For more Newport to Ensenada Race sailing information

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Antigua Sailing Week Update

J/122 sailing Antigua Sailing Week (English Harbour, Antigua)- There were near perfect conditions for the two stand-alone long distance races prior to Antigua Sailing Week. Following the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race, a record fleet of 42 yachts took part in the Round Antigua Race and it turned out to be a race that one young up-and-coming Antiguan sailor will never forget.

15-20 knots from the southeast produced a fast race, threatening the monohull race record that has stood for six years. The fantastic weather is forecast to remain for the entire regatta, providing thrilling racing for teams from all over the world. With warm trade winds, deep blue ocean and a festival atmosphere ashore, Antigua Sailing Week is the place to be.

J/11S sailing Antigua Sailing WeekThe 52 nautical-mile, Round Antigua Race was held on Saturday 23rd April and attracted 42 yachts; nearly twice as many as the 2015 race. Race Officer Stuart Childerley, officiating at his first race for Antigua Sailing Week, got the fleet off to a flying start from Fort Charlotte outside English Harbour. “We had beautiful conditions for the race with 14 knots, just south of east and every start was very competitive. The breeze built up throughout the day and there were reports of up to 20 knots of wind later during the race,” commented Childerley.

In CSA 2, Chris Body’s J/122 EL OCASO team comprised of an all United Kingdom team was second over Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 LIQUID crew that was an all-Antiguan race team!

The Round Antigua Race Prize Giving was preceded by a cultural parade starting from Antigua Yacht Club to Nelson’s Dockyard including Iron-Band percussion, stilt walkers and local drummers to get the party started. It was followed by the Antigua Sailing Week Welcome Party with the Hon. Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy of Antigua and Barbuda and the former Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas.

Historic Nelson’s Dockyard was buzzing and crews were ready to be entertained by “DJ Nez” and live music from sensational Antiguan cover band “1761.” Racing at Antigua Sailing Week started Sunday 24th April with as many as nine races scheduled for the Week and concludes on Friday 29th April.  Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth/ PWPictures.com.  For more Antigua Sailing Week information

J Class Sailing On Pacific Puddle Jump

J/46 crew of Bolero sailing Pacific! (Los Angeles, CA)- Speaking of J/46s and long-distance sailing!  The J/46 BOLERO with crew of Tom Perry, Eric McClure and Jorge Morales (owner) left Dana Point, CA on Wednesday, April 20 to participate in the Pacific Puddle Jump.

According to Eric, “we are participating in the Pacific Puddle Jump which is supported and sponsored by Latitude 38.com.  Jorge is a member of Dana Point YC, he is a four-time Transpac veteran and has many ocean races to his credit.  Eric has owned a J/24, a J/29 and currently has a J/35 and has done five Transpac’s and many offshore races, too.  Eric is member of Alamitos Bay YC.  Tom is rock star crew with many years of racing to his credit.  The boat has been impeccably prepared to do this voyage. We plan to sail to the Marquesas Islands and cruise those islands and then sail to Tahiti!

J/46 sailing south PacificBy the way, after leaving on the 20th, our voltage regulator to the stove wasn't working properly so we stopped in to San Diego to fix it. As you can see from the stern of the boat, we have all the comforts of home!  So far, the boat speed is pretty amazing, in 19 knots of breeze, were reaching along doing 9.5 knots all day!

Also, we are leaving about the same time from San Jose del Cabo in Mexico is the J/130 ITAJIME from San Francisco, CA with owner Alan Robin and friends.”

And, here’s a timely note we just received from Alan Robin, the proud owner and skipper of the J/130 ITAJIME, hull #29, also sailing the Pacific Puddle Jump! 

J/130 Itajime sailing south PacificAlan said, “I am the third owner of #29 and am preparing to leave from San Jose del Cabo to cross to  French Polynesia. I thought that you would be interested in knowing that although this is my first Pacific Crossing, it is Itajime's third. #29 was first purchased by John Moore and commissioned as Breakin' Wind in the San Francisco Bay and sailed through the South Pacific to New Zealand. Robert and Kim Milligan purchased #29 in New Zealand, renamed her RAM and sailed and raced it throughout Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific sailing back to the SF Bay in 2012.

I purchased her in January, 2014 renamed her ITAJIME and have been actively sailing her up and down the Pacific Coast and am now preparing to cross again in the next day or two.

I love ITAJIME and continue to be blown away by her performance, stability, and comfort. Unlike many cruisers, she is a joy to sail and very comfortable. I love passing other sailors with my sails up while they are motoring muttering about the lack of wind. She is truly a sailor's cruising boat. You can follow us on our blog at itaji.me  Thank you for designing and building such a lovely, durable and fun boat!”

Please be sure to follow along with BOLERO and ITAJIME on their great adventure across the South Pacific- more information here!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Yachting Cup Preview

J/105s sailing Yachting Cup (San Diego, CA)- San Diego Yacht Club’s signature spring regatta, the Yachting Cup, will be sailed for the 44th time April 29- May 1 and many prominent sailors are eagerly awaiting and training for the event. There are eighty-eight boats participating, with thirty-three J/Teams (38% of the fleet) competing in offshore PHRF handicap and four one-design classes (J/70, J/80, J/105 and J/120).

Many of those registered for the 2016 Yachting Cup have a history with the event, including Curt Johnson from California Yacht Club, skipper of the J/80 AVET.  “This is probably our tenth or twelfth Yachting Cup we’ve competed in. The spring conditions in San Diego, in addition to the stellar competition and race management, make it a ‘must do’ event for us. SDYC often adds a new element to keep the regatta fresh and interesting, whether it’s a new format for Friday racing or a new social activity. This all adds up to a terrific experience that keeps us coming back year after year.”

The event will feature three days of racing. One design and handicap racing fleets compete on courses in the ocean or in San Diego Bay, usually in ideal sailing conditions normal for this time of year. After racing, crews gather at race parties at SDYC’s beautiful Club facilities for socializing and planning the next day’s strategies.

Many previous winners of Yachting Cup have their goals set high, especially the regatta’s 2013 winner, Tim Fuller on the J/125 RESOLUTE. "The Yachting Cup is the premier fleet racing event in San Diego, and the Resolute crew will do all they can to fly the winners flag."

J/120 CC Rider sailing Yachting CupSDYC Staff Commodore John Laun, winner of the 2012 Yachting Cup and owner of the J/120 CAPER, is also registered for this year’s race. “The level of competition is typically been very high, in fact, J/120 class winners have been named the overall winners of the Yachting Cup for all classes competing 3 times since 2006. As a SDYC signature regatta, it’s always one we aim for on CAPER every year, and this year will be especially fun and focused since it is essential that we win to be in the hunt for the overall series championship. We always look forward to the close competition and excellent camaraderie in the J/120 fleet.”

Another SDYC Staff Commodore and past winners, Chuck Nichols’ CC RIDER, will be chasing CAPER around the track along with John Snook’s JIM, Ernie Pennell’s MAD MEN and Rudolph Hasl’s HASL FREE.  Missing is the Manok’s POLE DANCER since they just completed the Ensenada Race.

J/105 SANITY sailing Yachting CupThe J/105s have nine boats on the starting line and they will be missing some of their friends from the Los Angeles area.  Nevertheless, in the last event, the San Diego NOOD Regatta, it was a duel to the finish in the final race for Rick Goebel’s SANITY and Dennis Case’s WINGS.  Watch for them to get all tangled up again this weekend.  Meanwhile, other fast teams can slip through the fireworks and score some good races, like Steve Howell’s BLINK or the Hurlburt/ Driscoll duo on the bright safety orange-colored JUICE!

Like the J/105s, there could be some “wash, rinse, repeat” scenarios in the J/70 class after the SD NOODs. With several more new teams showing up on the starting line, veteran teams like Dave Vieregg’s SOGGY DOLLAR, Bruce Cooper/ Shawn Bennett’s USA 32, Jeff Janov’s MINOR THREAT and Eric Kownacki/ Tom Jenkins’ DFZ are hoping to stay in contention for a podium finish.

J/70 sailing Yachting CupFinally, as outlined above, the J/80s will no doubt have a tough time with Curt Johnson’s super-fast AVET, but Suzuki Yusuke on SAVAGE and Wayne Zittell’s J/WORLD I are looking forward to their three-way cage fight for first!

In the offshore PHRF categories, the dueling J/125s, Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE and Mark Surber’s DERIVATIVE, will spar with one another for handicap honors along with the J/46 ANONA sailed by Fred Hawes in the big boat class.  In the mid-sized PHRF class, two 35-footers will be at it hammer and tong, the classic J/35 RIVAL (David Boatner) vs. the J/109 GERONIMO (Gene Pitkin).

The awards ceremony will be held at San Diego Yacht Club after the completion of races on Sunday, May 1 where prizes will be awarded by class.

The Yachting Cup would like to thank its sponsors: Pirates Lair, Ballast Point, SunBum, Helly Hansen, North Sails, North Sails Graphics, SD Boatworks, Tesla Motors, Anchor Gloves and Lemon & Lime.   For more SDYC Yachting Cup sailing information

Annapolis NOOD Regatta Preview

J/70s sailing Annapolis 
(Annapolis, MD)- The end of April has traditionally marked the start of the long racing season on Chesapeake Bay and the principal event that sailors look forward to after a long winter is the Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD regatta, hosted by the trio of clubs around Annapolis- Annapolis YC, Eastport YC and Severn Sailing Association.  As has been the case for years, a veritable J/Navy invades for the weekend to enjoy the warm southern hospitality on offer from the local denizens in downtown Annapolis as well as at the various clubs.

Not surprisingly, the popular event attracts teams from far and wide, Chicago to Maine and upstate New York to Florida.  194 boats will be taking to the water, 146 of them (75% of the total fleet!) spread throughout JBoats’ eight classes (a record number of classes ever in one event!)- J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/30s, J/35s, J/105s, J/111s and PHRF teams (J/109s, J/42, J/110, J/29).

A rather benign weather forecast indicates the sailors may enjoy the rum squalls under the tents more than what happens on the water.  The Wunderground.com weather service indicates a light, rainy east/southeast breeze on Friday; a partly cloudy day on Saturday with a strong northerly in the morning, quickly dying and shifting east; and then a nice sunny day on Sunday with a light southeast wind- temps in the high 50s to mid 60s all weekend.  Not bad, but let’s hope those ivory tower weather gurus are wrong!
Annapolis weather
A new feature for this year’s Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD Regatta is the advent of the Helly Hansen Junior Crew team.  Sailing is a pastime that doesn’t discriminate based on age. It’s a competitive outlet where young sail with, against, and alongside elders, as well their peers. And, whereas many youth sports segregate kids to the field of play and adults to the sidelines, sailboat racing does not. Sailing is the ultimate lifetime sport. Ask the outstanding youth sailors selected to be members of Helly Hansen’s Junior Crew, which will compete at the 2016 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Annapolis in May.

“There’s small hole in the pipeline of our sport where kids can fall out after junior sailing,” says Dave Reed, Editor of Sailing World, which owns the 26-year NOOD Regatta series. “They come back eventually, but miss out on great years of keelboat team sailing. This initiative will prove the value of having young sailors on the team. They bring infectious curiosity and energy to every race.”

J/105 youth sailors at Annapolis NOODThese five sailors, aged 14 to 17 will compete in the J/105 class, against national champions and highly experienced teams, putting their dingy skills to use in the big keelboat:

Annabelle Hutchinson, Age 17
Born and raised in Annapolis, Annabelle Hutchinson comes from a big sailing family. She has raced competitively on the St. Mary's High School sailing team since freshman year, and while she loves dinghy sailing, she is very excited to get more experience on keelboats.

Andrew Hiller, Age 14
Andrew Hiller has been sailing as long as he can remember, mostly in Optis and a local J/70 fleet on Wednesday nights. He also plays Water Polo for Navy.

Kate Riley, Age 16
Kate Riley has been sailing dinghies (420s and Optis) since she was about six years old and has been racing on her high school's sailing team since 8th grade. She has had some experience with sailing keelboats, but she hopes to have more opportunities to do so as her sailing career advances.

Ben Podlich, Age 15
Ben Podlich has been sailing since he was a little kid, and has been racing at the high school level for the past couple years. He loves sailing in dinghies, but gladly takes any opportunity he can get to sail keelboats, as they are the future in terms of sailing as an adult.

Liam Kennedy, Age 17
Liam Kennedy has been sailing since Optis in 2008 at Eastern YC, has competed in two previous NOOD regattas on J/70s, the AYC Sunday frostbite series on J/88, and sailed J/22s and J/24s on and J/70s in various local fleets. He is excited to sail in the 2016 NOODs here in Annapolis.

They’re not old enough, yet, however, to be given the keys to the Cadillac. Rather, Annapolis YC’s Sailing Director Jane Millman, will oversee the campaign. She will be on board to ensure the safe return of Dr. Alexander’s J/105 MORE COWBELLS!

“I chose sailors who I feel represent what the sport of sailing is about, a Corinthian spirit and willingness to learn in any situation,” says Millman. “By bringing different ages and skill levels together, we will have success in continuing to instill and foster a passion for keelboat sailing at a young age.”

The Helly Hansen Junior Crew is an initiative of the NOOD’s partner, Helly Hansen, which has been making gear for sports and work on the ocean and in the mountains since 1887. They dress world-class sailors, skiers and adventurers with full-protection gear, with the understanding that if you’re not comfortable, you’re not performing at your best. This is especially true on raceboats, so to be sure the Junior Crew are focused on sailing fast and competitive, they will be outfitted with proper Helly Hansen gear.

J/105s sailing AnnapolisWho will the kids be up against in the hot, nineteen-boat J/105 class on the Chesapeake Bay??  A rogue’s gallery of past NOOD regatta winners and podium finishers, that’s all!  Familiar names will be dueling for class honors, including Mark & Jolene Masur’s TWO FEATHERS from Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas, Jack Biddle’s familiar RUM PUPPY from Annapolis YC, Jim Konigsberg’s INIGO, Don Santa’s SANTAS REIGN DEAR, Carl & Scott Gitchell’s TENACIOUS and Andrew Kennedy’s BAT IV.

One of the J/105 skippers from Bermuda offered his perspective on the regatta. “We have learned to enjoy subjecting ourselves to the vagaries of the Chesapeake Bay,” says Bermuda-based skipper James Macdonald. “It’s always a challenge to sail well.”

Macdonald, skipper of the aptly-named, Bermuda-flagged J/105 DISTANT PASSION admits that the class isn’t as active as it once was, but maintains that there are still hotspots for regattas, including Annapolis. In Bermuda, says Macdonald, he generally races between six and eight other boats in their weeknight and weekend racing series. “In Annapolis, we see nearly twenty boats,” he says. “Those twenty are of high caliber as well. When it blows here, the racing gets interesting. When it’s lighter, the J/105 can be underpowered, but that’s when the tweaking and tactics come into play.”

After sailing his first J/105 from Bermuda to Key West Race Week and not enjoying the long haul, Macdonald purchased a second J/105 in 2009, DISTANT PASSION, exclusively for sailing events in North America, like the Annapolis NOOD. When not competing in Annapolis, Block Island, or even Ontario, DISTANT PASSION sits on a trailer in Annapolis, what Macdonald calls a good “jumping off point” for northeast regattas. Conveniently, then, the boat is already in place for this weekend’s competition.

The NOOD is a perfect event for he and his crew, says Macdonald, because the three-day event structure gives them enough time to make the trip worthwhile. Macdonald’s tactician, Jon Corless, also runs his own J/105 program in Bermuda, but the two combine forces for faraway regattas. They bring a variety of crew every year, another option made available by the characteristics of the J/105. “It’s easy to sail in some ways,” says Macdonald. “There are still enough controls for great variation among the fleet, but overall it’s a great way to get new keelboat sailors comfortable with the bigger boats.”

J/70 Wild Child sailing AnnapolisWith forty-three boats on the line, the J/70s will again be the largest fleet sailing in the regatta.  The top foreign team will be none other than 4x J/24 World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sailing BRUSCHETTA.  He will be facing a formidable array of local talent as well as visitors from around the eastern seaboard.  Top teams like J/22 World Champion Al Terhune will be racing DAZZLER, along with other Chesapeake Bay area talents like Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY, Jim Allsopp’s MOXIE, Geoff Becker’s PAPA WHEELIE, Dan & Gannon Troutman’s PIED PIPER, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND, Peter McChesney’s TROUBLE, and Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD.  Noteworthy out-of-town crews include Brian Keane’s MOJITO/SAVASANA (Buzzards Bay), Heather Gregg & Joe Bardenheier’s MUSE (Boston), Marty Mckenna’s RARITY (Youngstown), John Brim’s RIMETTE (Fisher’s Island), Will Welles (Maine/ Newport), Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE (Forth Worth) and Nick & Bodo von der Wense (Wayne, PA).

J/22 sailing Annapolis NOODAlways a popular local fleet is the twenty-six boat J/22 class.  Having been on a winning streak lately, Mike Marshall’s BAD NEWS hopes to keep their podium finishes rolling.  Chasing them hard all weekend in the shifty stuff where their circle is located will be Jenn Gaffney’s COMMITTED/ PIRATE PRINCESS RACING TEAM, Julie  Mon’s HOT TICKET, Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY, past J/22 World Champion Terry Flynn (Houston), Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 41 (Youngstown), and Brad Julian’s USA 677.

With seven boats, the once super hot J/24 class has dwindled in numbers but they still enjoy fun racing on the Bay.  Virtually all are local teams from Severn Sailing Association or Eastport YC, such as Peter Rich’s BUXTON, Bill Davenport’s JABB, Pat Fitzgerald’s RUSH HOUR or Pete Kassal’s SPACEMAN SPIFF.

Showing a resurgence in class activity in recent years has been a loyal group of local J/30 owners. Many of the boats have been spruced up quite nicely and look virtually good as news with fresh paint jobs, refinished interiors and new sails.  The refrigerators will be filled with cold “cervezas”, but the gloves will be off as the fleet goes to battle over the three days.  Several crews have had a go at each other over the years, including George Watson’s AVITA, Bob Rutsch & Mike Costello’s BEPOP, Pam Morris’ BUMP, Ron Anderson’s INSATIABLE and Tristan & Sheila Keen’s INFECTIOUS SMILE.

J/35 sailing Annapolis NOOD Another old classic that has seen a revival at previous Annapolis NOODs are the J/35s, with a nice half-dozen boat fleet led by a perennial class leader- Jim Sagerholm & Jerry Christofel’s AUNT JEAN.  Who will knock them off the top of the podium this year??  Certainly giving it a try will be Chuck Kohlerman’s MEDICINE MAN, Bruce Artman’s T-BONE and Masci/McGonigle’s WINDEPENDENT.

A strong showing of twenty-two J/80s will produce tight racing and tough mark roundings for this popular Bay class.  Participating will be a top five crew from the 2014 J/80 Worlds- Will & Marie Crump sailing R80 from Annapolis.  They will be chased by other Worlds Top 20 teams, like David Andril’s VAYU, John White’s USA 1162, Ken Mangano’s MANGO, Bert Carp’s ELEVEN, Chris & Liz Chadwick’s CHURCH KEY, Les Beckwith’s FKA and Bill Blank’s BLIND SQUIRREL.

J/111 Velocity sailing Annapolis NOODAfter braving wild conditions off Charleston Harbor for the Charleston Race Week Regatta, seven J/111s are looking forward to the “billiard-table-flat” waters of the Bay (at least compared to Gulf Stream-type breaking 10 footers offshore!).  The top three boats could very well include local champion Martie Roesch’s VELOCITY, Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE crew from San Diego, CA, and Doug Curtiss’ WICKED 2.0 team from Buzzards Bay.  However, some stalking horses that could upset that apple cart may be David McCreight’s DARK HORSE or Jim Connelly’s SLUSH FUND.

The world of PHRF offshore racing includes the PHRF 50-75 fleet that looks more like the ninth J one-design class since it has four J/109s in a five-boat class!  So, without further ado, the J/109s are all fast boats, including Bob Schwartz’s NORDLYS from Long Island Sound, Francis Albert’s RESOLUTE from Manassas, VA, Rick Hanson’s ROSALITA from Avondale, PA and multiple class champion Bill Sweetser on the famous RUSH!

The North Sails Rally Race take place on Saturday only and they will be praying for breeze!  Hopefully, the big norther hangs around for a while.  Since it’s a pursuit race, the earlier starts may enjoy a bit of an advantage.  Nevertheless, all will certainly have fun on their “Bay Tour”.  Looking forward to that adventure are Paul & Sue Mikulski’s J/42 FULL CIRCLE, Bob Dymond’s J/29 GABRIELLE and Joe Laun’s J/110 LADY GREY.  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ Outside ImagesSailing photo Spinsheet.com credits- Dan Phelps.  For more Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD Regatta sailing information

J/46's cruising all over the Caribbean!

J/46 Bravo sailing Caribbean (Tortola, British Virgin Islands)- According to Tom Babbit, the happy owner of BRAVO (J/46 #24), “after a raucous offshore leg to the Caribbean, we have encountered no fewer than six J/46s that are down here for the "season”!  Holy Smokes!  What fun!  Great folks and great celebrations everywhere we go, one of the major benefits of being part of the J family!  We look forward to reconnecting with at least some of these folks this summer in Camden!  Please contact me at- bravoj42@gmail.com”

According to Tom, those enjoying the steady sun and breezes include:
  • Rob and Melanie Shaw on #14 Jazolo (UK)
  • Glenn and Elsa Gustafson on #25 Windara (Michigan)
  • Herni Van Miele on #40 Jent (Dutch)
  • John and Anne Burnett #43 Folie a Deux (San Francisco)
  • In Nanny Cay, #23 (USVI)
  • Tom & Jane Babbit, Bravo, #24 hailing from Camden, Maine

J/111s Loving Benelux Series!

J/111 sailing Van Uden Reco regatta- Netherlands (Stellendam, The Netherlands)- Last weekend saw the start of J/111 One-Design Racing in the Benelux region at the Van Uden Reco Regatta in Stellendam.  And, what a great start it was!!

The conditions on Saturday were very tricky, to say at the least. The conditions saw very tight, close racing, demanding everything from everybody on the boats; resulting in some very exhausted crews at the end of the day.

But, what great racing! Three races, three different winners with the top three boats (Zwijnenburg’s SWEENY, Sigg’s LALLEKONIG and Vroom’s RED HERRING) all in a three-way tie on equal points!  As a result, that meant the racing on Sunday was going to be anyone’s game to play for. Both de Liedekerke’s DJINN and Burkert’s TOP JOB were playing “catch-up”, learning a lot every turn around the course and getting closer and closer to the top 3.

J/111 fleet sailing Benelux seriesOn Sunday, the wind kicked in like a hammer, beating the boats with brutal force all day long. This ended up with TOP JOB (broken Jib#3.5) and LALLEKONIG (injured person on board) needing to retire before the racing actually began. Thankfully, they are both in good shape and will be ready to resume racing at the next J/111-event in two week’s time.

The two races sailed that day had two different winners: Zwijnenburg’s SWEENY and Vroom’s RED HERRING.  The outcome again left both boats on equal points, tied for the lead.  However, as ISAF-rules apply (best result in the last race is decisive), this made Vroom’s RED HERRING the winner of the first event. De Liedekerke’s DJINN showed great progress that day by catching up on the two leaders to take third overall.

All owners and crews were very enthusiastic and looking forward to the next J/111 Benelux One Design event- the North Sea Regatta in Scheveningen from May 13th to 16th.  Then, all participating boats in the races in the Benelux countries will also participate in the J/111 World Championship in Cowes (UK) in early August!  Thanks for the report from Paul Gladdines!   For more J/111 Benelux Van Uden Reco sailing information

Friday, April 29, 2016

German J/70 Sailing League Act I Preview

J/70s sailing German sailing league (Starnberg, Germany)- On a beautiful lake in Bavaria, 25 kilometers southwest of Munich, will begin the 2016 season for the Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga (DSBL).  The fifth largest lake in Germany, it is most notorious for the scandalous drowning death of King Ludwig II in 1886.  While this bit of trivia may be lost on the sailors, there is no question the 36 teams and nearly 200 sailors participating in DSBL’s inaugural 2016 event will try to avoid tragic performances themselves as they all seek the coveted silver plate, emblematic of the Overall DSBL Championship.

The long weekend starts with a qualification series from April 27th to 28th for six teams on the DSBL’s matched fleet of International One-Design J/70 class sailboats.  The pressure is immense since it is the only time these teams can hope to participate in the “premiere” division of the DSBL- League I.

J/70s sailing German Sailing LeagueThe Düsseldorf Yacht Club (13th), the Segelkameradschaft (14th place) and the Yacht Club Berlin-Grünau (15th place) want to confirm their status in the Bundesliga I. Their competitors from the Bundesliga II division want to replace them!  That includes the Hamburger Segel-Club (No. 4), the club at Rupenhorn (No. 5) and the Blankeneser Sailing Club (6th place).  Every point will count and no one will give a millimeter as the teams fight to either stay in, or climb into, League I.

The Hamburger Segel-Club (HSC) is a “repeat offender” for the start of the season.  For the second year in a row, the club from Alster Lake is in the qualification round and has to fight for the rite to be in League I. The second time, they hope, things should finally work out:

J/70 German sailing league start"We have trained hard on the Alster Lake and, yet, we are completely relaxed. I think we have a good chance in light winds. Since we have two league newcomers to the Starnberg qualifiers, we will still need for better coordination in our crew, but we are getting better. This past weekend, we practiced one last time our maneuvers.  Now, it’s time to get serious. We know that the other clubs have also trained and at the end, little things will decide how we place. It is an intense competition, a fight to the end that will be exciting and something we look forward to,” said HSC skipper- Silke Basedow.

The qualification races start on Wednesday, 27 April at 1100 hrs in front of Munich YC in on Starnberg Lake. Twelve races are planned. The minimum number of five races must be completed to ensure the qualification to be officially valid. If there is no official rating, the table from last season remains.  Thursday, April 28 is scheduled as a make-up day, just in case.

Then, from Friday through Sunday, the League I teams will be sailing as many races as weather permits!  Truly, the “horses will be on the track” working hard and hoping to establish an early pecking order amongst the top sailing clubs throughout Germany.

The Sailing Instructions, the schedule and, most importantly, LIVE SAP SAILING Analytics Tracking can be found here.   For more Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga sailing information

JBoats Founders Honored at Mystic Seaport Museum!

Bob Johnstone (Mystic Seaport, CT)- Bob and Rod Johnstone to be honored by the Mystic Seaport Museum this October 22nd!  Mystic Seaport will present its 2016 America and the Sea Award to Bob and Rod Johnstone – J/Boats. Given annually by the Museum, the prestigious award recognizes individuals or organizations whose contribution to the history, arts, business, or sciences of the sea best exemplify the American character.

The Johnstone’s will receive the award Saturday, October 22, at a gala dinner held in their honor at Mystic Seaport. The gala will be the first and only dinner held in the Collins Family Gallery of the new Thompson Exhibition Building prior to its ongoing use to display exhibits. The Rod JohnstoneAmerica and the Sea Award Gala is the single largest fundraising event for the Museum. Proceeds from the event benefit the mission of the Museum to inspire an enduring connection to America’s maritime heritage.

“Over the past 39 years, the Johnstone family and their company have influenced American yachting and sport of sailing in incomparable ways. They have established a record of accomplishment that few will ever challenge, and they have instilled in countless Americans a passion for enjoying time on the water with family and good friends aboard good boats,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “For these reasons and many more, Mystic Seaport is proud to bestow its America and the Sea Award to Bob and Rod Johnstone – J/Boats.”

To purchase tickets or a table, or to inquire about corporate sponsorship or dockage for the event, please contact- advancement@mysticseaport.org or call 860.572.5365.  More information on Mystic Museum website here.

J/Sailors Cruise Les Voiles de St Barth

J/111 JBoss at Voiles de St Barth (Gustavia Harbour, St Barths)- From the 11th to 16th April, the beautiful French island of St Barths played host for the 7th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth.  This year’s event was notable for what it lacked, namely plenty of wind!  Unusual conditions prevailed for the sailors as much lighter winds than forecast jinxed the fleet, making for an exasperating week of sailing for most boats.  One day was even canceled due to no wind!  While the beach parties raged, other prayed for breeze to round out the week, but it never happened.

J/105 sailing Voiles de St BarthIn CSA 3, Eddy Chalono’s J/111 J-BOSS from Martinique managed to post a strong comeback after taking an 8th place in their first race, sailing fast & furious to post two deuces and take the bronze in class.  Similarly, the J/120 JAGUAR sailed by Vladimir Kulichenko from Moscow, Russia also had a slow start in race 1 with a 9th, but came back with a 3-5 to finish a respectable 6th overall on a tie-breaker over Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 LIQUID team from Antigua.

Like their classmates in CSA 3, the J/109 POCKET ROCKET skippered by David Cullen from St Barths/ Ireland took 4th in CSA 4 class with a scoreline that showed improvement every race.  Peter Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER from Barbados sailed consistently to take 6th in class.   For more Les Voiles St Barth Regatta sailing information