Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meet Vestas 11th Hour Racing- Charlie Enright

Charlie Enright- Team Vestas(Newport, RI)- Team VESTAS includes as its leader a J/24 World Champion Charlie Enright. Furthermore, he is joined by friend Mark Towill, both avid sailors and racers since they were little kids growing up on Narragansett Bay, sailing out of the Bristol YC on Sunfishes, J/24s, J/35s, J/105s and even the new J/121 recently.

Young guns Charlie Enright and Mark Towill are back in the Volvo Ocean Race, and they've teamed up with Danish wind energy company Vestas and marine conservation program 11th Hour Racing hoping to make a lasting impact on and off the water in 2017-18.

American duo Enright and Towill return to lead the blue boat, and want to make an impact on and off the water. Enright and Towill got their first taste of Volvo Ocean Race action in the 2014-15 edition as with Team Alvimedica, and in doing so realized a long-awaited dream to test their mettles offshore in the ultimate round-the-world race.

Two In-Port Race wins and victory in the final ocean leg from Lorient to Gothenburg left the talented Americans wanting more, and now they're back with a star-studded crew, an even bigger hunger for success and an important message about the health of our oceans to promote.

The team's partnership with 11th Hour Racing will see them engage with communities around the world to increase understanding of marine environments and how best to respect them.

Joining Towill and Enright in the team's high command is Simon 'SiFi' Fisher, who helped orchestrate Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's win in 2014-15 from the navigation station, and returns for a fourth consecutive Volvo Ocean Race.

Around them are some of the most talented ocean racers on the planet. The likes of Damian Foxall, Tony Mutter, SCA's Stacey Jackson and Phil Harmer, all with Volvo Ocean Race victories on their CVs, will guarantee Vestas 11th Hour Racing are top contenders. Indeed, Harmer is hunting a hat-trick of consecutive wins after lifting the trophy with Groupama and Abu Dhabi in 2011-12 and 2014-15, respectively.

Nick Dana (Newport, RI) returns for a second race as a full crew member, then there are the team's under-30 crew members, bursting with enthusiasm and talent. Brit Hannah Diamond and Denmark's Jena Mai Hansen join the team from Olympic dinghy racing backgrounds, Diamond from the Nacra 17 multihull and Jensen from winning bronze in the 49er FX at Rio 2016. Young Aussie Tom Johnson joins the crew after racing with Vestas in the 2014-15 edition, then with Oracle Team USA for the most recent America's Cup.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing finished fifth in Leg Zero, the four-stage qualifying series before, then headed straight for Lisbon where they've been working hard to get up to speed, two-boat testing alongside team AkzoNobel as the countdown to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race continues.

Follow these guys as the go around the world on the Volvo Ocean Race website (great tracker, too!).

Terry Hutchinson- America's Cup Perspective

Terry Hutchinson- J/24 World Champion (Newport, RI)- Terry Hutchinson has accrued a track record of being a winner. He gets involved in big-time keelboat racing programs and makes them better. However, the basis for what he does today is deeply rooted in extremely tough one-design racing at a world-class level.

After sailing FJ’s and 420’s in college and became a College Sailor of the Year, Terry competed in J/24s for a long time, ultimately winning the J/24 World Championship.  Like other J/24 World Champions, such as his colleague Ken Read at North Sails (now its President), Terry also capitalized on his know-how on what it takes to win and proceeded to help Quantum Sails Racing program, first in one-designs, then later in big boats.

It is now through his work as tactician for Hap Fauth’s Maxi72 Bella Mente and Doug DeVos’s TP52 Quantum Racing that Terry has brought these two successful owners together, alongside New York Yacht Club, to challenge for the 36th America’s Cup. Here Terry discusses this new campaign.

CL: Let’s start with some background.
TH: It’s an incredible opportunity in front of us. I’m incredibly mindful of the history and the tradition that the New York Yacht Club has for the event, and so from the team side, it’s an honor to be a part of New York’s effort in this 36th America’s Cup.

This campaign probably started five years ago with Doug, and three years ago with Hap, as our sailing relationships have evolved over that period of time. When it became obvious that Team New Zealand was going to win, and after having discussions with them and their Challenger of Record where they indicated what they were going to do with the boat, it seemed like an opportunity to at least sit down and discuss if this was a challenge we wanted to take on.

The more myself, and Doug, and Hap talked about it, the more it became apparent how our goals were aligned in what we wanted to do, what we wanted the team to look like, and if we’re fortunate enough to be successful partnering with New York, to make the next match another step towards what we feel is represented in the sport. To get to this point has been about six month’s worth of work and it’s just on the front side of a lot more.

But I think when I look at our team and where we’re at, we have a lot of great sailing infrastructure already in place, and that component of the program has been operating at a reasonably high level for just over the better part of five years.

So under Hap’s and Doug’s leadership, they’re helping us get the business infrastructure in place and I think Hap summed it up best when he said, “Being successful in the America’s Cup is as much of a sailing venture, as it is a business venture,” and so it’s going to take an absolute team effort from all of us to be successful.

CL: Any particular vision for the team?
TH: For starters, we have two great principals. We have Doug and Hap. Then we have a third partner with the New York Yacht Club. But we are going to need to continue to find commercial and private funding to help support this challenge. Additionally, an important point to make is how this is going to be a US team. It’s a US flag team.

When you travel and you race the 52s or the 72s, you realize there is a massive gap in sailors from my generation, or slightly behind, to people in their early twenties. So as a team, we want to return the America’s Cup back to the base of our sport and garner support in that manner. In all of our minds, we want to represent the United States in the manner we feel is appropriate and do it through hard work and good results on the race course.

Is the team going to be 100% American? Probably not, but again, it’s going to be born and bred here. The way the Protocol is written right now, the sailing team must be comprised of 20% nationals and 80% have to be residents. I’m expecting the residency clause to be a pretty difficult to achieve by bringing in outsiders, so our goal is to have a team that is US based and using and developing sailors in our country.

When you talk about winning and then defending in the grand scheme of things, if we’re successful enough on the water this is time around, the goal would be to have developed a team of younger sailors that can then defend it. If you think about it in the big picture world, if it’s a nine-year cycle, I will have probably aged out of it by then. And that’s why we have to do a good enough job developing the younger generation.

That’ll likely be a combination of American sailors and international sailors, but as the skipper of the team and as an American, my feelings and thoughts are in this is going to be an American team. Is every single person going to be an American citizen? Probably not, but we’re going to definitely wave the flag proudly.

CL: Any details at this time about team members?
TH: It’s a bit too soon for specifics but I will say that my role is team skipper and not helm…. though in the America’s Cup you never say never. If you break down the timeline, and start working backwards from when the actual match, there’s not a lot of sailing time in the boat itself. But there’s some great young American sailors right now pursuing various avenues, so there’s a lot of talent that we have to go and cultivate and see who is going to be the right fit for this campaign.

It’s pretty simple when the underlying agenda is winning, which it is, and then doing it in a manner that’s going to make us all proud. When you work backwards from there then the cream will rise to the top. We just have to make sure that we then have a structure in place that allows us to pick the best sailors and execute on the day.

Terry Hutchinson sailing J/70sCL: What do we know about the boat?
TH: In all the discussions that we’ve had with the defender, we have a sense of the direction but it’s premature to know the full scope as there are a lot of variables that need to get addressed. The challenge for the organizers is how they want to make sure they have a great event that has participation and that brings people to New Zealand, and that brings the event back to where the base of the sport feels like it should be. Within all that the America’s Cup needs to maintain its position as the pinnacle of the sport.

So this is a tricky challenge. They want participants, they need to control the costs so it doesn’t become a ridiculous arm’s race, yet it needs to be the pinnacle of our sport. Having been in the loop of the conversations and email exchanges with Grant Dalton, I see clearly how he’s in a tough spot. While he’s in a great spot because he just won the thing, but he has got a great responsibility as well. I know they’re not taking any of it lightly.

CL: What have been some of the lessons you’ve learned in the past that are now directing you out of the blocks?
TH: With regard to the game itself, you can make extremely complicated, so lesson number one is to seek simplicity and focus on the priorities which is to design a fast boat and race it well with good people. If you keep those principles you can make it an easier game.

Significant to keeping it simple is getting the right people for the job. As I’ve evolved in my sailing, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be tactician for some really great teams, and what you learn in those experiences in how vital it is to have the right people for the jobs ashore and on the water. So we will be focused on bringing together those people.

One of the strengths for Bella Mente and Quantum Racing programs is to have great teams from bow to stern, where everybody works hard and respects the process that’s in place. We have a great system sailing where we evaluate our performance each day and we critique it and we go back out and we do the same thing the next day. We look forward to continuing this approach with this new campaign.

When the club announced this challenge, Hap made mention to how the event would now embody “a more traditional style of yacht and the windward-leeward courses with which the vast majority of racing sailors are intimately familiar…” Does this infer the America’s Cup got off track with the previous few additions?

I wouldn’t say it went off track. In fact, I’d say there was some great things as a show. The last America’s Cup, as a visual spectator, was pretty darn impressive. The organization did a really good job of producing a broadcast product that was pretty exciting to watch.

However, I’m not sure it’s the vision I would’ve followed but that’s not really my position to say because we weren’t in their situation. They followed what they thought was a correct vision to take sailing to a different part of the sport. And that’s what they did. Team New Zealand has won it now and as competitors we follow their vision.

Four years from now, if we’re fortunate enough to be the defender, our vision will likely be a variation of several of the recent America’s Cup. But without question, the vision going forward is to do what we can to broaden our sport.”  Thanks to Scuttlebutt Sailing Newsletter for this contribution.

Monday, October 23, 2017

J/121 Boat Show & Offshore Test Update

J/121 sailing under spinnaker
(Annapolis to Newport)- The debut of the new J/121 Offshore Speedster in the Newport and Annapolis Sailboat Shows was welcomed by enthusiastic J/sailors from across the spectrum of experience.  Long-distance offshore cruisers, one-design offshore racers, and a number of performance-oriented couples that enjoy coastal cruising without having to turn on the “iron genny”, were all quite passionate about what the J/121 had to offer to them.

J/121 offshore speedster- Annapolis docksWhile the overall response to the 1-2-1 at the shows was fantastically positive, what we had yet to learn about the boat in all sea-trials to date was how would she perform offshore in the conditions she was designed for.  On the first delivery from Newport to Annapolis, the remnants of a hurricane delayed the departure date, and created difficult conditions for delivering a brand new boat.  As a result, it was mostly motoring under the J4 jib or motoring period.  However, after a fantastic reception at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, it was clear that after the three days of media reviews, testing, and demos, the weather window might permit an excellent chance to determine how the 1-2-1 behaved in reaching conditions offshore.  Here is Clay Burkhalter’s report delivering the J/121 from Annapolis to Newport:

“On Saturday October 14th, Andy Williams, Arturo Pilar and I moved the new J/121, INCOGNITO, from Annapolis to Newport. I have been delivering boats for 38 years, and despite being a partner in two restaurants, I still manage to do 5 or 6 offshore trips each year. To the extent that I still do any racing, it is almost exclusively offshore… the Mini Transat 10 years ago, numerous Newport to Bermuda races and the occasional Bermuda 1-2, including the 2017 race in which I competed on a J/133. So it was with great anticipation that we’d be testing out the J/121 in the 20-25 knot southwest breeze predicted offshore between Cape May and Montauk, starting on Sunday morning.

J/121 offshore speedsterAfter motoring north up the Chesapeake in no wind, we passed through the C&D canal that connects the Chesapeake Bay with Delaware Bay, across the top of the state of Delaware.  We continued to motor south in Delaware Bay and rounded Cape May about 0600 on Sunday, heading northeast, still motoring in no wind.  At 1100, the breeze started to fill in and within 30 minutes, it was blowing 15 knots. By sunset, the winds would build to 25 knots with seas of four to six feet.

Typically, on deliveries, I am cautious about sail choice, often reefing early and rarely using spinnakers. The risk of damage to sails, rigging, and steering increases dramatically when pushing a boat with too much sail up. It’s one thing to have a problem on your own boat, but entirely different when you have to explain to an owner that the sails are now ready to donate to the folks who make fashion bags from sail material.

However, I knew the J/121 had yet to be sailed in the offshore conditions it was designed for, and since Al and Jeff Johnstone are my cousins, I figured they might be more understanding if we dialed the boat up a bit and see what she could do… so after a lame attempt at sailing deep with the main and the jib (Montauk was almost dead downwind, 200 miles away), we hoisted the A4 heavy weather spinnaker, and bang, we were off and running. It was an exciting moment for us as the boat instantly accelerated to double-digit speeds.

J/121 offshore speedster- going fastThere was a leftover east-southeast swell combining with a new southwest wind wave; which made for challenging steering at the outset.  We then filled the starboard water-ballast tank to about 65%; and instantly the motion on-board smoothed out and INCOGNITO began to slide through the waves like she was on rails. Speeds became more consistent and steering was effortless.  We also soon realized, that despite the occasional roll at the bottom of a wave, combined with a puff, and perhaps a momentary lapse in steering concentration, if the boat got to 100 degrees APA (apparent wind angle) and wanted to keep going, it was easy to steer her back to our course average of 120 degrees AWA . . . no blowing the vang, easing the main sheet or releasing the spinnaker sheet. After the first hour, we sailed with those controls cleated and simply steered to the kite, it was that easy to steer. With three crew, one could rest below, while the other two maintained watch.

The ease at which the boat accelerated and sustained its speed was incredible. In 18 kts TWS (true wind speed) we were averaging 10.5 and surfing at 13 to 14 kts. In 22 kts TWS, we were doing a steady 12-13 kts and surfing for sustained periods at 14-16 kts, running up and over waves ahead.  And in 24-25 kts TWS, we were doing 13.5 to 14 kts consistently and surfing at 16 to 18.5 kts quite easily.  Needless to say, for all those who steered her in these conditions, it left everyone with a big grin on their face!

I often reach a point on a boat where I say to myself, I don’t want to go this fast. . it could be the keel and rudder vibrating excessively, the bow submarining in waves, steering on the edge of control, and so forth.  Not once did we have a panicked feeling on board the 1-2-1, and not once in seven hours did someone have to lunge for a sail control to put the brakes on an incredible ride!!  Ease-of-handling is great no matter how many crew are on-board, but it’s especially critical when you’re out there way offshore, short-handed, tired, and steering for hours-on-end, or when the autopilot is running the show. The easier the boat steers in demanding conditions, the less fatigue and also the less drain on your batteries when you’re on autopilot!!

J/121 sailing at sunsetAt sunset, the delivery side of my persona kicked in. knowing that the chances for problems ramp up significantly after dark, so we snuffed the spinnaker and put it below decks.

We then sailed with mainsail-only Sunday evening and Monday morning at 160 degrees AWA, heading for Block Island, averaging 9.5 knots in 25 knots of wind.

As we slid by Block Island, we considered continuing on, over the horizon. . thinking maybe we could send a note to Jeff to let him know that the son of a deceased Nigerian King would be wiring money to the J/Boats account. . he would just need to send along his bank account details.”  For more J/121 Offshore Speedster sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

J/24 East Coasts & J/22 Mid-Atlantics Update

J24 sailing East Coast regatta (Annapolis, MD)- Join us for the 39th J/24 East Coast Championship October 27th to 29th and the J/22 Mid-Atlantic Championship October 28th & 29th at Severn Sailing Association! Late October in Annapolis boasts great fall sailing conditions and a regatta you don't want to miss!!

Best Fall Sailing Around!
- Twenty-three J/24s & thirteen J/22s already registered- Tip-Top Competition!
- 2018 Qualifier for J/24 World Championship!
- Free Housing & Boat Storage Available
- The Rigging Co. will put up your rig - first come, first served!
- Dock Talks & Weather Briefs with your favorite pros

On-Shore Fun - All Included With Entry!
- Beers & Snacks After Racing Friday
- Saturday Night Regatta Party with Live Band- “The Shatners”. Dinner for 5 & Dancing Under the Tent!
- Post-Race Burgers 'n' Brats Sunday afternoon

Please contact Pat FitzGerald at or Kelly Brice FitzGerald at 443-600-1182.  For more J/24 East Coast and J/22 Mid-Atlantic Coast Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

ROLEX Middle Sea Race Preview

J/133 sailing Rolex Middle Sea Race (Gzira, Malta)- Starting and finishing in Malta, an island often referred to as the ‘Crossroads of the Mediterranean’, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is an international competition of distinction and an offshore race par excellence. The proof lies in the numbers. Registrations for this year’s 38th edition come from yachts representing 30 different countries. The expected number of race starters from Valletta’s Grand Harbour on Saturday 21 October is on course to challenge the record of 122 yachts set in 2014.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race, organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC), bears all of the hallmarks and qualities of a Rolex-partnered offshore race. Its 608nm course, principally a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Sicily, is tactically and navigationally challenging. Frequent corners lead into different geographical segments and expose the fleet to changing weather patterns. With most crews expected to spend at least five nights at sea, it is an exacting test of resources, requiring mental fortitude, excellent preparation and shrewd anticipation, as well as an ability to make precise decisions in a pressured environment. Teamwork and seamanship are vital to succeed.

Rolex Middle Sea Race courseThe Rolex Middle Sea Race course is 608 nautical miles long and is sailed counter-clockwise. Starting from the Grand Harbour, Valletta, beneath Fort St Angelo and the Saluting Battery in Valletta, the fleet head north along the eastern coasts of Sicily up towards the Straits of Messina. Mt Etna is usually visible on the fleets’ port side, billowing ashes and lava throughout the night. Once through the Straits, the course leads north to the Aeolian Islands and the active volcano of Stromboli where the yachts turn west to the Egadi Islands.

Passing between Marettimo and Favignana, the crews head south towards the island of Lampedusa leaving Pantelleria to port.

Once past Lampedusa the fleet turns northeast on the final leg towards the South Comino Channel and the finish at Marsamxett Harbour. En route the crews take in an amazing diversity of landscape and sea conditions, all of which combine to create the attraction and challenge of the race.

There is no doubt that Maltese skippers are competitive and have a long and proud participation in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Malta has produced overall race winners on seven occasions, most recently in 2014. Crews regularly feature on the Class podiums.

This year the Maltese flag will be flown by several boats, including the J/122 OTRA VEZ, a boat with a strong association with the race. This year there is a twist, with the J/122 entrusted to Sean Arrigo and Brian Flahive who will be flying the Maltese flag in the IRC Doublehanded Class.

J/122 Otra Vez sailing Middle Sea RaceSean Arrigo is looking forward to another adventure, “having decided to go doublehanded for this year’s race brought some anxiety, but most of all, excitement, and the urge to do well. Preparations are well-advanced, with some final touches and tweaks to lines and hardware. We also feel that we’re well-prepared mentally and physically, thanks to dedicated training, something quite new to us, but very effective! Finally and above all, we want to enjoy ourselves.”

In addition to OTRA VEZ, a Russian team on yet another J/122 will be joining them in the IRC Double-handed Class.  Calling themselves STELLAR RACING TEAM, the Russian crew of Dmitry Kondratyev & Alexander Grudnin have become students of the race, are fast learners, very tough, and don’t be surprised if they are contending at the end for class honors.

Then, in the fully-crewed IRC handicap divisions there are also a number of very-well sailed J/crews; totaling three J/133s and, remarkably, FOUR more J/122s!  That’s a total of SIX J/122s vying for the overall prize.

In the IRC 4 Division are the two J/133s.  The Canadian team on BLUE JAY III consists of Matthew Stokes and crew of Todd Rutter, Andrew Childs, Allan MacDonald, Peter Sargeant, Hugh Goodday, Crosby Johnson, and John Simpkin- the boat is from Edmonton, Alberta and calls Bras d’Or YC home.  They will have a tough fight on their hand with a British crew on board JINGS!, one of the top U.K. J/133s, having won a number of RORC offshores in the past.  Owner David Ballantyne has a full crew that includes Nicola Ballantyne, Nicky Vella, Lydia Coffey, Bernard Hilli, Jonathan & Chris Mckay, Albrecht Seer, James Alviles, Kelly Alviles, Charlotte Vella, and Marianna Kozlova.

J/133 Jings sailing Rolex Middle Sea RaceArguably, one of the toughest, and largest, fleet in the race is IRC 5 Division; the class has routinely produced the overall race winner and often several boats in the top ten.  The lone J/133 in the class from France is famous in French offshore circles. JIVARO will be sailed by Yves GROSJEAN and crew of Goulven Royer, Jean-Paul Mallet, Séverin Richter, Jean-Michel Diemer, Patrick Paris, Julien Orus, Marie Chabanel, Julien Herve, and Zasika Musdi.  Arrayed against them are a formidable group of J/122s.  From Chile is the brand new J/122E ANITA- with owner/ skipper Nicolás Ibáñez Scott and crew of Juan Pablo Dominguez, Jordi Rabasa, Jorge Mendez, Didac Costa, and Rueben Castells.  A Russian team is sailing the J/122 JOLOU- Sergey Senchenko is sailing with a crew consisting of Serguei Chevtsov, Alexander Agafonov, Dmitry Piskovatskov, Natalia Agafonova, Elena Strelina, Nikolay Sbitnev, Pavel Popov, Roman Medvedev, and Igor Skalin.  Then, there are two Italian teams both sailing J/122s- DAMACLE RC BROKER (Roy Caramagno and crew of Domenico Campo, Moreno Boldini, Giuseppe Fazio, Francesco Merluzzo, Giuseppe Boscarello, Remon Sant Hill, Daniel Bartolo, Enrico Civello) and JOY (giuseppe Cascino and crew of Carlo Brenco,  Duccio Colombi, Carlo Bellanca, Vittorio Ruffolo, Giuseppe Sferruzza, Tom Alessi, Conrad Muscat, and Fabio Galea.  For more Rolex Middle Sea Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

J/80 North Americans & J/70 Fall Brawl Preview

J/80s sailing in sunlight(Annapolis, MD)- This coming weekend, there is no question the Eastport YC will have their hands full hosting two of the more aggressive one-design classes in the world- the J/70s and J/80s.  For the J/80s, they are hosting their 2017 North American Championship, while the J/70s are sailing their annual Fall Brawl.

J/80 North American Championship
The J/80 class on the Chesapeake Bay, New Hampshire, Toronto, and Buzzards Bay continue to have excellent one-design class racing.  For this year’s North Americans, a talented fleet of twenty-one crews have come from nearly all four corners of the continental USA to participate, with twenty-one teams representing five states.  In the mix are several leading contenders, including past N.A. Champions like Kerry Klinger on LIFTED from Cedar Point YC and Will and Marie Crump on R80 from New York YC. They will be challenged hard by teams that have also won Key West Race Week in the past, like Bill & Shannon Lockwood on SHENANIGANS from the local club as well as Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS from Sausalito, California.  Plus, there are top crews like Mike Hobson’s MELTEMI and Ken Mangano’s MANGO that have proven they can dish out top five results.  Most interestingly, the entire top three from the previous weekend’s AYC Fall Series will be raring to go to battle against these top crews that had not shown up for that event; those crews include John White’s ANOTHER ON THE TAB, Alex Kraus’ COOL J, and David Andril’s VAYU.

J/70 sailing offwindJ/70 Fall Brawl
The 2017 edition of the Fall Brawl should be an interesting mix of teams that have just come off sailing the highly competitive and challenging J/70 North American Championship sailed at American YC in Rye, New York.  A top five finisher overall was Marty Mckenna, though sailing a different boat called RARITY this weekend.  Then, you have the Corinthians Division winner, Jenn & Ray Wulff sailing JOINT CUSTODY.  Joining them in the hunt to be Chief Brawler are fast teams like Mark Hillman’s SIX, Tim Finkle’s JUNIOR from Youngstown YC in New York, Todd Hiller’s LEADING EDGE, Peter Bowe’s TEA DANCE SNAKE, and Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD.  Should be fun racing for this group!  Sailing photo credits- Tim Wilkes Media.  For more J/80 North Americans & J/70 Fall Brawl sailing information & results Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/70 World Champions Racing Tips- Willem & Victor

Perspectives on sailing the J/70 Worlds- by Willem van Waay and Victor Diaz De Leon- team members that sailed on Peter Duncan’s winning boat- RELATIVE OBSCURITY.  Thanks to Jud Smith and Doyle Sailmakers for the stories.

J/70 WorldsWillem’s report:
“I recently had breakfast with my good friend, Fabian.  He owns a J70 at Coronado Yacht Club and is very excited about his boat, racing one design, and improving his skills on the race course.  The weekend before we had a local San Diego J70 Regatta called J Fest.  Fabian was a little frustrated with his results in the 13-boat fleet.  He only sailed Saturday and the conditions were quite challenging- shifty, light, and a little sea swell- plus he was sailing one man short.  As a big, beautiful plate of Huevos Rancheros landed in front of me Fabian asked, "How do you do it?  How have you been top 2 at all 4 J70 Worlds?  How do I get better?  What does it take? How do I get a steady team?  What should I do?  Help me please."

I said, "Fabian: you tell me what your budget is, what your goals are, and what kind of time you can dedicate to this. I'll do my very best to get you where you want to be."  Fabian is by no means alone in his quest to improve his results, take down some of his friends in the class, have a team with great chemistry, enjoy himself, etc.  One thing I like about Fabian is that he’s never shy about asking questions about how he can improve.  It’s ok to ask questions, and when you want the best answer go the person you think is the most qualified to answer it.  It's often like in middle school where the prettiest, most popular girls don't have a date to the dance.  It's not because they don't want one, but more because all the boys were afraid to ask.  The worst thing that can happen is they could say no.  One of the biggest lessons in life that I've learned is that it never hurts to ask.

I hope that what I share here will help Fabian and others like him have a better idea of what it really takes to be at the top.  Unfortunately, there is no quick answer, no magic pill, no trick rig set up.   Yacht racing is a very unique sport in that the list of variables is limitless.  We don't just strap on some shoes and run the 100 yard dash.  I used to race road bikes competitively and that's a sport with a lot of important elements for success: fitness, endurance, diet, weight, body type, lung capacity, managing lactic acid and pain, lack of fear, bike handling, tactics, terrain covered, length of race, drafting, and of course the bicycle.  Yacht Racing has ten times the factors involved (fortunately, all the physical fitness aspects are relatively less important in our sport!)  In order to be the very best, we need to think less about the big picture and focus almost obsessively on all the little things, understanding that each of them is important for success.  If we focus on the top 10 most important things, we can maybe win our Club Championships, top 20 things we might be able to win Bacardi, top 30 variables we might be able to take down Charleston, North Americans, or the Europeans.  If we check everything off of the list and have a little luck on our side we might have a chance going into the final race to win the World Championships with 160 + boats, 8,000 miles from home.  It’s all the little things that add up to a successful campaign.

When I won the Worlds in 2015 with Flojito, it was because we put in the most time, did the most regattas, and simply worked really hard.  In 2016 the pure determination and dedication of Joel Ronning and team Catapult crowned them champions.  Better coaching, more time in the boat at the venue, and more extensive sail testing gave them the edge.  This year our team, on Relative Obscurity, followed suit and did the hard work to put all the little pieces in place.

Victor and I showed up a couple extra days prior to practice to make the boat and rig as close to perfect as possible.  The boat was marked beautifully throughout, all settings perfectly symmetrical, we’d gone over the rigging meticulously, any possible breakdown or malfunction had been considered, windage was scrutinized and discussed while any piece of hardware or line was rigged, no extra gear was allowed on board (Vic was so obsessed with weight he was getting a little on my nerves.   "Victor- when you were like 5 I was trying to win a Farr 40 Worlds here and we were loading every tool in the trailer onto the boat for extra weight.. get to the top mark first in chop and 20 kts and we would figure it out from there.")  Anyhow, my point is, from the bottom of the keel to the top of the mast, drag, weight, windage, strength, and reliability was discussed.  We changed out some of the hardware at the base of the mast that we had seen break in the past- through-bolted on a heavier spin cleat and block…”We are in Italy and we don't have any of the right tools, this a massive pain and probably wouldn’t break but we are going to spend an extra 5 hrs to know we can trust it to hold up.”  We figured out how to best clean the bottom of the boat during the regatta (it wasn't legal to dive the boat or tip it over using halyards or hanging on shrouds once it was splashed but Victor and I had a 45 min technique that was pretty exhausting and ridiculous, but we didn't care, we just wanted to go faster).  We had a velocitek for each side of the starting line, installed Erik Shampain's wider hatch cover with stronger Velcro to keep the boat super dry down below, put together a break down kit, etc.  The boat would only have the parts and tools we absolutely needed.  This boat was ready for anything.   In 2014, I thought we had Catapult perfect, in 2015-2016 I thought Flojito was tricked out even better, Relative Obscurity was top level/no excuses.  What's next?

Fortunately, Jud had the exact same attitude with his sails.  His attention to the details is impressive.  He has done his homework over the last few decades; he's worked with some of the best guys in the business, and undoubtedly taught them some tricks of his own.  Any class (Etchells, Star, J70, etc) that he has ever become passionate about has some beautiful Doyle sails that can only improve her results.  Vic and Jud sailed together in the San Fran Worlds and they made some pretty big positive changes to the main for the breeze.  Jud is a fantastic team player and always willing to share his ideas.  A couple times, we shared coaches with other good teams in regattas leading up to the Worlds (2nd place Savasana with Stu McNay and no slouch Bruce Golison with Steve Hunt).  Jud would just happily discuss with Steve and Stu how to better tune the rig, inhaul more efficiently, or best balance twist between the jib and main.  Sometimes the rest of his team, sitting on the other side of the table, would just stare at each other thinking ‘WTF:)’.  I'm sure I was just as guilty when explaining the wing on wing, or weight movement downwind when the coach asked me a question.

Boat speed makes everything easier out there; as the conditions become more challenging so does the possibility of an increased speed edge.  Fortunately for us, Porto Cervo was very choppy with plenty of breeze.  It was tough stuff.  That being said we were also very prepared for the flat water and light breezes that we experience in Porto Cervo the other half of the time.  Boat preparation, efficient sail testing, and time together as a team are the main keys to superior boat speed.  Time, money, and the team's dedication to the cause are the limiting factors that simply determine how extensively we can work on getting that speed edge.

The best way to measure speed is with a very good paddle wheel and a good eye on the rail. We went with the B&G system- it has an excellent compass and it updates the speed more frequently.  As the trimmer, I'm sitting in the very best spot to see the machine and the competition to weather.  You need to be brutally honest about speed and height with those boats that the driver and trimmer can't see.  After sailing with Bill Hardesty for three years, we developed a system that worked very well.  We had a target number on each tack that was the responsibility of the driver and main trimmer to stay near.  That being said, I could personally adjust that target to improve our tactical situation.  Fortunately, if we were ever slower than another boat or even lacked height the solution was usually pretty simple.  I would raise the target number- example 6.3 was our target but in this particular piece of water I would raise the number to 6.5.  Victor and Peter would focus on going faster (usually putting the bow down and freeing up the main a touch). This new speed would turn into more lift and our almost dangerous situation would quickly improve.  The more we can forecast shifts, puffs, and lulls from the rail the better the driver/main trimmer can anticipate their next move.  Sometimes you’re going to be wrong with your call but you'll probably be right 80+% of the time.  Never give up and force yourself to perform the same regardless of your position in the race.

Coach, training partners, and team dynamics are probably the most critical parts of the whole puzzle.

Our coach at the worlds was Tony Rey and he did a fantastic job.  He was attentive, focused, great with the weather, took photos of other top boats, etc.  He didn't try to change our set up or boat handling techniques but if he thought someone did something better we had a video of it.  Our training partners were Peter Cunningham with teammates Lucas, John, and Ben- a team that Tony Rey and I had assembled.  Young, hungry, strong guys determined to bring Peter to a new level and help us with our project.  They trained with us 5 days prior to the event, also had Doyle sails, and seemed to be the closest to our equal in upwind straight line boat speed.  Sometimes even faster- when we had a question- Lucas and team shared immediately.  They even won a race in gold but unfortunately snapped their rudder prior to the first race on the final day.  Our other training partner Glen Darden with Jonathon McKee did the same- add check pintles and gudgeons to that quickly growing list.

Our team- Relative Obscurity: Peter Duncan, Victor Diaz de Leon, Jud Smith, and myself.

We worked hard on our team dynamics; it's never super easy.  Sometimes too much talent is a bad thing. It's a shame when that happens, but it's pretty common in all team sports.  We were all very committed and focused, but every once in awhile we would have a little hiccup/blow up that would be distracting and detrimental to our results.  We all wanted to win and constantly make gains on the race course; being all very experienced we often had our own ideas about how to best do that.   Victor would often display his Latin passion and young confidence.  His effort was never lacking, he wanted this as much or more than any of us, but there were times when the young stud just needed to listen to us old and older farts.  In my often-shaking head during these situations, "Flojito y Cooperando"(relaxxxxx and cooperate in Spanish) was my mantra.  Becoming a cohesive unit takes time, it doesn’t just fall into place on day 1.  Just like a Navy Seal Team on a night mission we needed to stay focused, trust each other, have each other’s back, and only talk about what’s most important.  Countless hours training together enable the Seals to perform this way: we needed our time together and training too.  Instead of ever pushing a teammate down we needed to make the mission to pull him up.  Now that’s the goal of course but typically after most regattas I’m apologizing to teammates for being such a hard ass; we can only do our best.

I would say that there were four regattas that were major steps to our success at worlds… this was our rehab institute, we all needed work.  At each event we had breakthroughs that heavily influenced us and helped us grow into our final product at Porto Cervo.  Bacardi, New England Champs, the Italian Nationals, and the Ted Hood Regatta in Marblehead.

Bacardi Miami:
Moose joined us here instead of Jud and it was my very first event ever with Peter Duncan.  Moose had been the trimmer for Peter in the past but here he would move to bow and let me slide into his old spot. With more J24 worlds championship wins than Tom Brady has Super Bowl rings, Moose acted as an absolute true professional.  Winning was our goal and no egos between us ever caused any friction.  His wind calls were spot on great to have an awesome trimmer in the bow spot giving me the exact input I needed to make the boat go faster downwind.  We came back on the final day to win the event.  In the last race we got unlucky off the line, but after rounding the weather mark deep in the high 20s, we just powered through the fleet with good speed and great tactics in the building breeze to finish 7th or so and win Peter his biggest event ever in the J70.  Peter gained confidence in his campaign and I gained a ton of confidence in Jud's sail package and Peter’s driving.  To be at the top in Italy we needed to start winning- great to check that off my list.

New England Champs in Newport:
Victor had previous commitments so he couldn’t race with us this time.  In a big fleet with a fair amount of talent, I would do the main sheet, tactics with Jud's help, and trim the kite downwind.  Dirk Johnson, a young sailor from The College of Charleston and a Newport local, would be tossed into our hot fire.  He tacked the jib, helped Jud where he could, and hung on tight.  He listened, left any FJ and laser ego at the door and just did his very best to be a team player and improve himself on the boat.  A great 5 day crash course on how to race a J70 with 3 pretty seasoned teachers.  We trained a few days before the event with Glen Darden, Jonathon McKee, and team Hoss.  We focused a great deal on the wing on wing- I knew the wind strength would be mostly 8-14 and I wanted to have that part of my play book with the boys pretty dialed in.  I've worked hard over the years on this part of the J70 game and wanted to share it with Peter and Jud without Victor jumping around with different ideas.  I knew that better mastering this element would not only greatly improve our chances here but also at the Worlds.  Not just using it to gain right away, round a leeward mark easier, cut off some distance at the finish line or stay in a leeward puff longer.  I wanted to experiment more with it- actually feel the shift and jibe the appropriate sail to take advantage of that shift.  Nice to have a team with me that can handle the boat handling tasks I wanted to execute.  We lead the event from race 2 and never looked back.  On day two we sailed a couple entire runs in wing from top to bottom, making insane gains.  On one run I remember the pressure being entirely 6-8 knots.  Our position was pretty established in that race so I opted to race the entire leg in Wing.  Not easy for 100 feet to a finish line in that breeze; we went for 1+ miles and never lost an inch.  We won both races on the final breezy day and learned some upwind techniques in 20+ knots and chop.  Lessons learned- better understanding of the wing on wing and Victor gained more confidence in his team.  We were not a one-man band.  We're not going to be Weird Al Yankovick... let's be Talking Heads or The Cure.  Let's continue to improve as a team and have some time near the top cranking out hits.

The Italian Nationals:
With a stacked fleet of 50+ boats we sat in 6th or so after day 1.  This wasn't working.  These guys were better than us, we were all heads down and frustrated during the sail in.  5 hrs or so after racing that day we all took a couple big deep breaths and regrouped ourselves.  We chatted with one another about how to better distribute roles and responsibilities because our current style wasn't going to cut it.  This style would not win here and probably not get top 10 at worlds.   Peter would have to trust Victor on the starting line and tight situations.  Vic's instincts in those tight situations are excellent, and his communication of those instincts is pretty damn spot on.  Victor has had some great results with relatively inexperienced drivers - here we had an awesome driver but the mojo wasn’t quite right yet.  Peter’s main focus now would be to keep the boat at target speeds and simply do what he does best: drive the boat.  Victor would trust Jud and me more with big picture tactics/strategy (Jud and I would agree on a game plan and try to speak always as one voice tactically.  We shared wind and wave calls from the rail while doing our best- within the rules- to hike the boat flat).  Victor could then spend more energy on trimming the main right and keeping the boat fast with Peter.  Now we were finding a new gear.  This new trust, and next level appreciation for one another on the boat, enabled us to finish off the regatta with a 1,1,4,1,1 and an unexpected win.  A few of those firsts came by passing Claudia and Petite on the final runs usually in some type of wing battle.  “We can do this.  We will be a contender at the Worlds in 2 months!  If we put our heads down, be willing to grind for every point, work together through thick and thin, and push each other to our limits we are going to be hard to beat.”

Ted Hood Regatta:
A small but stacked fleet, the perfect wake up call.  We decided to train with Savasana and Midlife Crisis for two days.  Both of these teams are excellent, very polished with changing gears, boat handling, and tactics.  We were the heaviest team and it was mostly 4-7 kts but still we managed to lead by a point or two after two days of racing.   Saturday night there was the big fight between Mayweather and McGregor.  Peter's good friend had ordered the fight and wanted us all to join.  Being on the east coast that meant being up well past 2am and drinking a few more cocktails than needed.  Hung over, we lost the regatta in the final day, argued half the time, felt like s$&@ and ended up third, losing to both our training partners.   Probably just what we needed- a good slap in the face.  We can only win when we are at our very best.  “Winning isn't easy, let's not get cocky!  Let's not screw this up!”

The Worlds:
The stage had been set and we were as ready as possible.  Boat, sails, and team were all prepped and looking forward to being tested.  Looked like it was going to be nasty- big wind with unrelenting chop.  After days of training in that stuff our confidence rose.  We needed to use our speed to our advantage, properly control the risk, enjoy ourselves, and try to stay loose.  Most importantly, we needed to avoid drama, stay out of trouble on the start line, and just do what we do best.  Bill Hardesty had a comment years ago that has always stuck with me: "Let's just keep it boring boys.”  Another boring 4- that'll do... Oh a 5 that's ok… low risk 2nd- we'll keep it.

We ate in at the house a lot, quick and easy.  We avoided alcohol and Claudia's Bday party at the YC, we got lots of sleep.  We stuck to the same program and did the same boring thing day in and day out.   Racing in one of the most epic places on the planet and I'm home with my team by 6 and just chilling- pretty lame but winning isn't.  I wore the same clothes every day and washed them every night.  I'm a superstitious guy and I wasn't going to race with some unlucky or untested undies.  We stayed pretty loose, enjoyed our view of the water, dined on home cooked pasta with the freshest anchovies and Parmesan cheese we could find.  We kept as much of our lives during those 5 days simple and clean, the basics done very well.  We facetimed with our families, and when people got excited about our results we simply said, "It's far from over, 3 more races, anything can happen", etc.  This was our job for the week, nothing else mattered.  "Let's just get through another day."

The event was like a dream.  We averaged less than 2 points per race including our drop.  In all my years of racing, I've never been able to put a score line like that together; I’ve never even seen it.  Not in a fleet of that caliber and size. This was our time-we peaked at the perfect moment- nothing was going to stop us.  We had a few challenging moments but it seemed as though, just before we got into serious trouble (sitting in the mid 20s and approaching a lay line), the world would adjust for us.  The winds would head us, force us to tack, and then lift us so that we could cross the fleet and lay the mark.  Our team was silent on the rail thinking, ‘Holy crap!!  What is going on out here?!?!’  A few days earlier my daughter Vela (“sail” in Italian) was learning to meditate with her amazing mother Stephanie.  At 2 1/2 years old, in a lotus position on a little round cushion she said something like, "winds will push daddy right."  Did this have something to do with our good fortune?

It was awesome sailing with this team.  We came a long way and it was a fantastic voyage.  Thanks Peter and team for involving me.  It was great to make new friends and to accomplish a lofty goal that the four of us had set together just 6 months earlier.  We believed in ourselves and never gave up.  No one can ever take this away from us.  Biggest one design, keelboat world championship attendance in history.  This was our year!  Our time!  Champions!!

Winning the Worlds is one thing.  But, the main point is that if you ask the right questions, if you enjoy what you’re doing, involve people you trust, and invest the time and energy, any team can quickly move up towards the top of the fleet.  My objective here is not to overwhelm people with all that is involved to win a World Championship, but instead to encourage others that with desire anything is possible.  Since the Worlds, I was asked by J/Boats and Jeff Brown to coach the entire fleet at the event Fabian was asking me about (J Fest in San Diego).  Through the course of the weekend I watched teams quickly improve simply by having their questions answered and by making little changes to gain speed; sometimes that gain was 40+ boat lengths a race.  It was fun to be involved and to watch the light bulbs flicking on!  It’s not always just about having the most expensive program, it’s about being efficient with your time and your money.  Sometimes a quick question, a little change, or a few hours working with the right coach can make all the difference.  Spending money on something does not necessarily mean your project will be done right; find the best person for the task at hand and wait for him if he’s busy.   He’s probably busy for a reason.  Good luck friends, hope this helps.”

Victor’s report:
“The first time I sailed a J70 was at the 2013 Key West Race Week. I had recently met Willem Van Waay and he had asked me to join his team. He thought I was the right weight to complete his crew trimming main legs in. Once there, I quickly volunteered to dive the boat, bail between races, and do other chores. It seemed to me that those had my name all over it, since I was the youngest and most inexperienced by a long stretch! Going forward from that regatta, Willem took me under his wing and took me along with most of the programs he was involved with. I guess he saw my passion and enthusiasm for the sport. He introduced me to pro-sailing, always having my back and looking after me. He still does.

Willem and I sailed with Catapult for two years. We had so many great tacticians sail with us including: Jeremy Wilmot, Vasco Vascotto, Chris Rast, and Bill Hardesty for the longest stretch. I picked up tricks from all of them and observed what aspects of racing each guy valued. I learned the importance of boat speed from Billy. We spent most of our time speed testing with various set ups and techniques. Sailing with all these guys was like getting a college degree in sailing.

I decided to find my own team to try calling the shots and being in charge. I started sailing with Gannon Troutman and his dad on Piper. Gannon was very young and therefore a great listener and fast learner. Some of our highlights were placing second at Charleston Race Week with over eighty boats competing for two years in a row. The first we lost on a tie breaker to Catapult, which Willem and Hardesty were sailing on. I was hoping to kick their ass, but it was still rewarding to battle with the old mentors!

This was the first time I had sailed with a high clew jib in the J70 with the possibility of unlimited in-hauling. It was also the first high clew jib on the market. Jud and I sailed together in the J70 for the first time in the San Diego NA's. We decided to team up in order to have a chance at winning the event. We showed up about four days before the start of the regatta with the rest of our team: Will Felder and Marc Gauthier. We had plenty of work to do as we had never sailed together, the boat needed work, and we had different sail combinations to try.

I knew this was a great opportunity. I was sailing with Jud Smith as his tactician.  This was my chance to learn from one of the best sail makers in the industry. We tried different sail set-ups before the regatta started. All built by him. To me, it was fascinating. We finally decided to sail with the M1 and the new, at the time, J6 jib. This was the first time I had sailed with a high clew jib in the J70 with the possibility of unlimited in-hauling. It was also the first high clew jib on the market. Boy did it work well! We thought we had a speed edge with this combo and we eventually proved to be right. It was a very good light air set up.
Double Bracket: Peter is one of those owners that are hard to come by. He is a very talented driver, comparable to a 'pro-driver,” and has the time and desire to put the hard hours in.  During the event, Jud and I clicked and developed an enjoyable friendship, as well as a deep trust of each other's sailing. Well, I already trusted and admired the guy: but I was surprised that despite my young age, he fully trusted my tactics. He asked for my opinion in sail combos and rig tune. I guess for Jud, it was an opportunity he didn't yet have since he started sailing the J70s. To sail with a younger guy who pushed him to think outside the box and was deeply invested in getting the program to the top.  We went on to win the event. It was my first big win as a tactician and what a great feeling it was!

After Winning the NA's, Jud and I decided to sail the San Francisco Worlds together, holding the same key positions of him driving and me on tactics. In the meantime, Jud hooked me up with his long-time client, Peter Duncan, to be his tactician. Peter is one of those owners that are hard to come by. He is a very talented driver, comparable to a "pro driver,” and has the time and desire to put the hard hours in. We did a few events and had Jud's team as tuning partners. We did a week plus of two boat testing in Key West 2016. We kept refining shroud tuning ratios, jib lead positions, in-hauler amounts throughout the wind range, etc. We finished in second place behind Calvi Network and beat some of the top guys like Tim Healy, and the reigning world champion at the time, Julian Hernandez.

Jud and I made our way to San Francisco to get ready for the Worlds. We showed up a few days before big boat series, which was the tune up event. We again had a new team and hadn't done a lot of practice. Alec Anderson trimmed and Fin legend, Ed Wright, did the bow. We were off the pace compared to the top teams. It took a week of long days to get the heavy air set up dialed in. We added rake, tweaked main luff curve, completely changed shroud ratios, etc. We finally found another gear and led the first and second day of Worlds. Having Jud trim the main sheet upwind gave me the freedom to keep the jib in-hauler in my hands and off the cleat. I experimented with it and discovered how powerful this tool is. I played it constantly, depending on sea state and wind changes. Off: during puffs or in chop. On: in flat water and lighter air. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards for us to take that Worlds home. I called a gybe set in a race and lost a lot of boats. I still remember the moment: it was too high risk and cost us the chance of winning the event. It was a bitter sweet regatta for having a chance and losing it. But, it was very rewarding to sail amongst the best and be a contender. It gave me confidence in our approach and philosophy. I felt that if we put more time and a greater effort, we could take Porto Cervo home.

After Worlds, Peter Duncan and I teamed up again and did many regattas together. We even did Melges 24 Worlds and Nationals. Willem Van Waay joined our team in Bacardi cup. We passed boats every downwind. Willem’s downwind expertise helped us improve our technique and we became one of the fastest boats downwind. We won the event.

Jud joined our J70 team for The Europeans in Cowes. He was so cool to come in and do the bow. It was trial by fire, since it blew 25 plus in every race. It was the windiest event I have yet sailed. Jud's experience in sail design and sail making was so helpful in our campaign. We kept refining the heavy air technique in Cowes. We sailed most of the regatta using the winch to allow us to play the jib upwind. It proved to be very effective in terms of speed, but made tacking and sailing in close quarters very difficult.

Next up on the events were the Scarlino Italian Nationals and the New England's in Newport. We won both using the same set up used in Porto Cervo: The M2 mainsail and J6 jib.

Jud built the J7: a jib of the same radial design as the J6, but slightly fuller in certain areas of the sail. We tested it in Porto Cervo and it proved to be very fast throughout the range. For our final tune up event before Worlds, we did the Ted Hood regatta. We experimented with an older Main design version that I thought might be better in light air. But I was wrong. We were reminded that the M2 is so far the best main in all conditions that we have used. We took a third place. It was a good wake-up call that there are other strong teams and that we needed to keep working towards Worlds. What we did take away was that maybe a fuller jib would be better for light air. Jud built the J7: a jib of the same radial design as the J6, but slightly fuller in certain areas of the sail. We tested it in Porto Cervo and it proved to be very fast throughout the range. We decided to go with the J6 because of a windy forecast, and a flatter sail would probably be better.

In Porto Cervo, we had a great tuning session with our training partner Peter Cunningham, which was the fastest boat we lined up with in Porto Cervo. They won a day in gold fleet, but unfortunately had a break down the last day, which kept them out of two races. We were able to test some ideas I had of rake combinations with different tack shackle heights. We also developed a jib trim that was as fast as using the winch for heavy air.  It is nice to have Jud around to monitor my ideas and experiments. He is very open-minded, but also has so much knowledge and experience. I have many ideas but little experience so it’s a good balance! He says one out of every ten ideas I have work out.

By the end of the tuning session, we never lost a line up against any team, including the former World Champs on Catapult. I knew then we had superior gear.  By the end of the tuning session, we never lost a line up against any team, including the former World Champs on Catapult. I knew then we had superior gear. All the hard work we put into tweaking the sails, the set up, and technique paid off. This gave me confidence that if we had good low-density starts, we would probably win the event. So we focused on low risk starts and races, so our speed could take care of business. We sailed away from the fleet. What a great feeling, we won the Worlds!

I loved sailing with Peter, Willem, and Jud. They are all badass sailors and I learned from all of them. It is so special when you win something so big with your friends. After all, we are all buddies and enjoy hanging out with each other. Four buddies conquered the world for a week.

I am thankful that Willem, Jud, and Peter have taken me under their wing. Willem showed me work ethic and taught me how to sail keelboats. Jud taught me about sail trim and sail design. Peter showed me that I can do it. He trusted me to lead the best team one could ask for.”

J/Fest Southwest Preview

J/105 sailing Galveston BayCelebrating the 40th Anniversary of J/Boats!
(Seabrook, TX)- This coming weekend, the waters of Clear Lake and Galveston Bay will come alive again with dozens of J/sailors competing for honors in the 8th annual J/Fest Southwest Regatta, hosted by the always gracious Lakewood YC members.  The event features one-design racing for J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/105s (who are also using it as a tune-up/ training regatta for the upcoming J/105 North Americans), J/109s, and two classes of J/PHRF boats ranging from J/27s up to a J/122!

As part of celebrating J/Boats’ 40th Anniversary, the kick-off event for the regatta will be the “spectator-friendly” LEGENDS RACE sailed on Friday afternoon on Clear Lake, literally right in front of Lakewood YC!  The event can be viewed from Barge 295 (formerly, The Turtle Club).  The participating “Legends” are:  Scott Young, Farley Fontenot, Jay Lutz, and Jeff Johnstone (President of J/Boats).  The sailors will be racing borrowed J/24s from the Houston J/24 Fleet.  And, spectators can follow the “live” video broadcast on Barge 295’s Facebook page for a live feed of the event.

Seventy boats have signed up which will make the event truly EPIC! No one will believe a hurricane had just ravaged the Houston/ Galveston Bay coastline; such is the amazing turnout of volunteers and support from friends across the nation.  The 330+ sailors will be looking forward to the amazing LYC shoreside entertainment, it starts with pool-side talent when the racers return from the course on Saturday, followed by a great dinner and then more live music in the evening! Pretend like you’re 35 again, stick around, and have fun!

The biggest class at the regatta is the J/105s, most of whom are also participating in the J/105 North Americans the following week, also hosted by Lakewood YC.  Many strong local crews have upped the ante and have great crews; such as Mark Masur’s TWO FEATHERS from Fort Worth Boat Club, Bill Zartler’s DEJA VOODOO from LYC, Uzi Ozeri’s INFINITY from LYC, JB Bednar’s STINGER from LYC, Bill Lackenmacher’s RADIANCE from LYC.    Visiting crews include some of the top crews in the J/105 class, such as J/105 NA Champion Bruce Stone’s GOOD TRADE from St. Francis YC and Rick Goebel’s SANITY crew from San Diego YC- a winner of the San Diego NOOD Regatta.

The J/70s are bringing their best local heroes to the event, and at fifteen boats the next largest fleet in the regatta. Perhaps top seed goes to past J/80 World Champion Glenn Darden and crew on HOSS from Fort Worth Boat Club, on-board as tactician is Olympic Gold Medallist Jonathan McKee as tactician.  Giving them a serious run-for-the-roses will be other top traveling teams like Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE, also from Ft Worth BC, Jack Franco’s 3 BALL JT, and Jay Lutz’s ZOUNDS HEARING.

At a round dozen boats and fielding the third largest fleet of sailors in the event are the J/24 teams!  Featured are top local crews like Natalie Harden’s GIGGLES from Austin YC, one of the top women skippers in the class; Chris Holmes’ BADMOON from Dallas Corinthian YC; Stu Juengst’s VANG GO from Austin YC; and Tonja Holmes-Moon’s SIREN 2.0 from Dallas Corinthian YC.

Fielding a fleet of fifteen boats and fourth largest fleet (in terms of number of sailors) are the J/22s.  Hard to handicap this group, nevertheless several teams have done well in regional events in the past, like Chris Moran’s TILT, Danny Pletsch’s SKETCHY, Stu Lindow’s SOUTHERN BELLE, Dov Kivlovitz’s USA 951, and Anne Lee’s HELMS A LEE.

Sailing as a four-boat class will be the largest big-boat one-design- the J/109s.  The frightful thing about this class is they are all about dead even.  In short, it’s whom they bring to the table in their crews that may make the difference between “lights-out” over the horizon, or shrimping the spinnaker at the leeward mark.  While no one ever expects the latter, most are banking on the horizon job scenario; teams like Albrecht Goethe’s HAMBUG (a past winner), David Christensen’s AIRBORNE (another winner); Andy Wescoat’s HARM’S WAY (another winner) and Tom Sutton’s LEADING EDGE (yet, another winner).  So, will be interesting to see how the cards are played in this quartet!

Finally, in the J/PHRF world, the big boat class in PHRF A (Asym chutes), led by JD & Susan Hill’s gorgeous J/122 SECOND STAR.  They will be chased hard on handicap by Scott Spurlin’s J/88 FIORNA-J, Dan Sullivan’s J/92S LITTLE JOE, and Dan Kelsey’s J/80 HARMATTAN (who hails from Dillon YC in Colorado and Puerto Vallarta YC in Mexico).   PHRF B class (Sym chutes), will be led by Beverly Caldwell’s J/40 SHAKEN NOT STIRRED, with two J/29s in hot pursuit (John McCuthen’s SUPERGIRL and Glenn Stromme’s PRESS TO MECO), and Gary Trinklein’s J/27 TOCCATA hoping to be in the same zip code when the bigger boats finish (as a result, he’s win!).  For more J/Fest Southwest Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, October 20, 2017

MANGO Mashes 30th J-Jamboree

J/80 new hampshire (Gilford, NH)- The annual J-Jamboree celebrated its 30th Anniversary this fall, the event also served as the J/80 East Coast Championship.  The Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association, the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club, J/80 Fleet 1, and Fay's Boat Yard held the on Lake Winnipesaukee, with sailing taking place out of Sanders Bay.

A highly talented fleet of fourteen teams participated in this year’s regatta.  In the end, it was the Annapolis crew on MANGO, led by their fearless leader Ken Mangano, that won the regatta and earned the title of J/80 East Coast Champion!

Taking second was Guy Nickerson’s PRESSURE, just one point back.  Rounding out the podium was Peter D’Anjou’s LE TIGRE.  The balance of the top five included the Hayes/ Kirchhoff duo on MORE GOSTOSA and Les Beckwith’s FKA, fourth and fifth, respectively.  For more J-Jamboree and J/80 East Coasts sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/105 International Masters Regatta Preview

J/105 Masters regatta(San Diego, CA)- Returning to the San Diego Bay on October 20-22, 2017 is the International Masters Regatta, hosted by San Diego Yacht Club for the sixth consecutive year. Twelve teams from all around the world will compete in this year’s regatta, which will be sailed in a round robin format.

Historically, the International Masters Regatta was first established in 1975 and took place in the San Francisco Bay until 2012 when SDYC began hosting the distinguished event. The name of the event originates from the rule that invited skippers must be over the age of 60 and crew members must be over the age of 45.

Competitors will race the three day regatta in equalized J/105 sailboats and teams will rotate boats after each race. Local J/105 owners generously lend their boats for both the Masters Regatta and the Challenge for the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup Regatta held October 27-29, 2017. To keep racing fair among the teams, the J/105 boats are rigged to a one-design standard. SDYC appreciates the generosity of these owners.

The 2017 event will feature some of the most accomplished skippers in the sport of sailing. Included below are just some of their many highlights over the years.
  • Bill Campbell (SDYC): World Champion in the 420 Class in 1971, E-Scow National Champion in 1981, three time America’s Cup sailor in 1983, 1992, and 1995
  • Bill Menninger (NHYC): Defending Champion- 2016 Masters Regatta winner and crew for 2016 Lipton Cup winning team, former Governor's Cup Winner from the mid-1970s, US Team Racing Championship Team Winner
  • Jon Andron (St. Francis YC): has completed 15 Transpac races, is a former 505 North American Champion, sailed on Intrepid in the 1970 America’s Cup.
  • Richard du Moulin (Larchmont YC): past winner of Block Island Race Week, the Vineyard and Block Island Races, lifetime goal is to sail 30 Bermuda races.
  • David Irish (Little Traverse YC): three time past President of US Sailing, former Vice President of ISAF (now World Sailing), in 2013 was awarded the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing.
  • Tad Lacey (SFYC): winner of the San Francisco Cup in 2013, class winner at the Rolex Big Boat Series (has raced the Rolex Big Boat Series for almost 40 years), SFYC Commodore in 2013.
  • Jimmie Lowe (Nassau YC): 2016 Snipe Worlds Grandmaster Class Winner, currently the Director of Sailing at the Bahamas Sailing Association.
  • Ted Moore (NYYC): won the 2017 NYYC Grandmaster’s Team Race, tied for first at the Nantucket Pro Am in IODS for the past two years.
  • Dave Perry (Pequot YC): 1975 Intercollegiate Dinghy National Champion (Yale) and 2-time All-American in college, the 1983 & 1984 Congressional Cup winner, the 1978 Tasar North American Champion, the 1994, 1999 and 2003 Ideal 18 North American Champion.
  • Doug Rastello (NHYC): participated in three America’s Cups, 1989 Prince of Wales trophy winner at the US Match Racing Championship, two-time winner of the Big Boat Series as crew.
  • Dr. Laura Schlessinger (SBYC): has raced the Corona del Mar to Cabo Race (Class D winner and second boat to finish), Transpac, and Puerto Vallarta Races, only female skipper in the 2017 International Masters Regatta.
  • Tom Webster (YC of Hilton Head): South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association Penguin and Y-Flyer Champion and a National Junior Champion, chairman in past NA Finn, NA Europe Class Regattas, and the 1998 MUMM 30 World Championship.
Defending Champion Bill Menninger won the International Masters Regatta for the first time in 2016, which was also the regatta’s first win from a Newport Harbor Yacht Club skipper. Never a dull moment on the San Diego Bay, Menninger won last year’s regatta after breaking a three-way tie for first place going into the last race. Jon Andron and Richard du Moulin who were involved in that three-way tie will be back this year for the opportunity to claim the 2017 title.

To kick-off the 2017 Masters Regatta, SDYC will once again host the popular Taste of Point Loma on Thursday, October 19 on the Sail Wash Lawn. Regatta competitors, guests, and SDYC members are invited to attend and sample dishes and beverages from over 30 restaurants in the Point Loma community.

The intended race area will consist of typical windward-leeward courses set on South San Diego Bay. Competitors are invited to practice on Thursday, October 19.

Following the practice day, the International Masters Regatta will consist of three days of competitive sailing with a dockside social on Friday night and a Saturday night banquet for competitors and guests upon the conclusion of racing. The awards ceremony will take place on Sunday after racing on the front deck.

Event Co-Chair Alli Bell extends a warm welcome to the 2017 competitors. “SDYC is excited to once again host the International Masters Regatta and we look forward to competitive racing and great fun on and off the water. This year, we are sailing in the South Bay, which is a new venue for this event, and we are eager to see how this raises the caliber of racing.”

The International Masters Regatta would like to thank its event sponsors: Helly Hansen and Cutwater Spirits.  For more J/105 Masters Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.