Tuesday, September 27, 2016

First Premiere Sailing League Great Success!

J/70 Premiere Sailing League- Detroit (Detroit, MI)– Showcasing the stadium sailing concept that the Premiere Sailing League USA is working to bring to the U.S.A., the league held its first-ever event at Detroit’s Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (GPYC) on September 10 with ten teams of four sailors racing J/70s. In just over four hours the 10 boats rotated through the 18-race exhibition event: each team sailed a total of nine races and watched the action for a total of nine while mingling with spectators.

“This was a good first step in changing how we view sailing,” said Wally Cross, Sailing Director of GPYC. “The format is proof that you can watch our sport and make it entertaining. This was a test, and based on the success of this event we plan to have another major stadium sailing event next summer at GPYC for the Premiere Sailing League USA.”

J/70 Premiere Sailing League- Detroit startCross feels the format is a new direction in sailing – and entertainment. “This is new, fast paced and entertaining,” explained Cross. “In my opinion, our sport takes too much time to do and takes time away from family. With the Premiere Sailing League’s concept, you can sail from noon to 4:00, watch for a couple of hours and have your family come down to be a part of the action. The total time of the regatta is equal to one round of golf. Someone can come and watch the action and talk to the competitors while viewing the races.”

GPYC is the first of over a dozen planned venues with which Premiere Sailing League USA will partner to stage sailing in a stadium-style setting; each regatta will be held close to shore and will utilize the latest social media technologies to engage both live and virtual audiences.   For more detailed information on the Premiere Sailing League, please contact via email or visit http://www.premieresailingleague.com.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The ALCATEL J/70 Worlds Preview

Alcatel J/70 Worlds (San Francisco, CA)- For starters, the expectations for the 2016 ALCATEL J/70 Worlds are truly phenomenal.  In fact, they are off the seismic charts!  The stage is simple- San Francisco Bay- the infamous Berkeley Circle.  The setting could not be more spectacular.  Surrounded by the magnificent city waterfront of San Francisco and its skyscrapers to the south, the engineering marvel known as the Golden Gate Bridge on its western approaches, the gorgeous hilly and fashionable northern suburbs of Sausalito/ Tiburon to the north, the “brainiacs” occupying the University of California- Berkeley campus on the eastern mountainsides, and, of course, the extraordinary vibe of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs vibrating all around you, it is inescapable that you are living a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail amongst the world’s best sailors.

The talent?  Mind-blowing, truly.  World-class talent from across all spectrums of the sport of sailing.  The short list of the fleet’s credentials?  America’s Cup winners, Olympic Gold Medallists (and everything in between), World Champions, European Champions, North American Champions, and any number of National Champions (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Norway, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong- China).  There are more, we know, but we lost track!

For the seventy-nine teams entered, it’s like visiting the Holy Grail of Sailing and living to tell the tales to your friends and children (grand-children in some cases) after the experience.  By default, it may be the world’s biggest reunion of so many top sailors; perhaps one could describe it as the “Woodstock” of sailing since so many rock-stars are participating!

Alcatel J/70 Worlds sailing past markFrom September 27 to October 1, sailors can expect some of the finest annual conditions this world-class venue reliably delivers.  San Francisco Bay enjoys a storied reputation for breeze-on summer sailing.  Late September, however, usually offers Indian Summer conditions, featuring warm days with slightly moderated airs.  Along with breeze, the Bay is notorious for its currents and tides, which have challenged world-class professional sailors racing everything from powerful keelboats to foiling catamarans. Fortunately, the Berkeley Circle racecourse is located on shallow, tide-protected waters, out of the slippery influence of the swiftest-flowing current that rake the Bay’s deeper waters.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  As some have discovered over the “course” of time! It is an “ebb-tide” event, which produces some extraordinary anomalies on the Bay!  Some will figure it out, some will not.

“Expectations are high for this event,” said Lynn Lynch, St. Francis Yacht Club’s Race Director. “Model sailing conditions, world-class talent, top-level race management and unbelievable socials will all come together to result in a World Championship worthy of the fastest-growing fleet in the world of one-design sailing. The anticipation is palpable, and we are expecting people to come ready for some serious competition.”

J/70's sailing Alcatel J/70 World ChampionshipA glance at the 2016 ALCATEL J/70 Worlds entry list reveals star-studded boats from 15 nations, including former J/70 World Champions, Tim Healy (HELLY HANSEN) and Julian Fernandez Neckelmann (FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO); former J/70 North American Champions Jud Smith (AFRICA) and Joe Bardenheier/ Heather Gregg (MUSE); as well as former J/70 European Champions Carlo Alberini (CALVI NETWORK) and Claudia Rossi (PETITE TERRIBLE). Additionally, this impressive list also includes world-class tacticians such as local San Franciscan John Kostecki, the only sailor to have ever won an Olympic medal, the J/24 Worlds, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race!  John is sailing with Joel Ronning’s incredibly talented team on CATAPULT that includes crew like Patrick Wilson from Charleston, SC.  Joining him in on the course are two former US Sailing Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year winners- Bill Hardesty (2011) on board Julian Fernandez’s crew on FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO and Paul Cayard (1998) on Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK; the former having won two Etchells 22 World Championships and the later the Star World Championship and the Volvo Ocean Race!  In other words, these teams have tremendous depth!

“The class’ level is going up very fast, with more talented sailors joining every year,” said 2015 J/70 World Champion and 2016 J/70 North American Champion, Julian Fernandez Neckelmann; a former J/24 Mexican National Champion from Valle de Bravo (west of Mexico City). While this surge in numbers and skill levels could overwhelm some classes and hosting clubs, there’s a reason this hugely popular class chose its hosting partner. “The St. Francis Yacht Club and the J/70 class will certainly provide excellent race management,” continued Neckelmann. “San Francisco is one of my favorite racing scenarios in the world… It would have been hard to choose a better place!  Plus, you cannot beat Mel’s Drive-In for breakfast in the morning- a San Francisco classic!”

Alcatel J/70 Worlds in San Francisco, CAIf that group described doesn't perform, there are any number of “mercenaries” that could displace them quite quickly given an even chance across a broad spectrum of weather conditions.  For example, past US Team Racing and Coronado 15 Champion Jacko Franco on 3BALL JT from Kemah, TX; J/24 North American Champion Pat Toole on 3 BIG DOGS from Santa Barbara, CA; Michele Galli’s B2 from Italy and Moscow, Russia (Francesco D’Angelis as tactician- J/24 Worlds and America’s Cup winner); Per Von Appen’s BLACK SAILS from Chile (National Champion); Mauricio Santa Cruz’s BRUSCHETTA from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (4x J/24 World Champion); Matthieu Salomon’s CHARIOT PLUS- VANNES UTILITAIRES from Elven, France (French J/80 Champion); the Nevin/Chris Snow team on COOL STORY BRO (skipper is USA Collegiate Sailor of the Year); Makoto Uematsu’s ESMERALDA (yes, same guy who started TP52 offshore class from Tokyo, Japan with a number of TP52’s by the same name); Bob Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER from Ada, MI (Farr 40 Great Lakes Champion and Chicago-Mac winner); Martin Dent’s JELVIS VII from London, England (J/111 World & Cowes Week Champion); Jose Maria “Pichu” Torcida’s NOTICIAS from Spain (2x J/80 World Champion and Europeans winner); Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY from New York (Etchells 22 Champion); Peter Vessella’s RUNNING WILD from San Francisco (Star World Champion); Jim Cunningham’s LIFTED (Etchells 22 Midwinters & National Champion); Brian Keane’s famously fast team on SAVASANA from Boston (2x J/105 Midwinters and J/80 World Champion that includes USA 49er Olympian Stu McNay as tactician); Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE from Ft Worth Boat Club in Texas; Chris Raab’s SUGOI from Newport Beach, CA (Lido 14 & Snipe National Champion and USA National Team Race and Master’s Team Race Champion); Simon Ling’s TEAM RAF SPITFIRE from Poole, England (2015 J/70 Worlds Corinthian Champion and JP Morgan Round Island Race winner); and that is just to name a few in the talent pool!

With such an extraordinarily diverse group of sailors from across the planet, it can be safely said that everyone will have a fun, competitive time!  No question, the StFYC bar afterwards will be full of “sea stories” about how they navigated a 79 boat starting line and went the right (wrong) direction!  Time will tell the tale soon enough!  Watch this space next week, starting on Tuesday!   For more information about ALCATEL  For more ALCATEL J/70 World Championship sailing information

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tjorn Singlehanded Race- the BLUR Experience

J/111 Blur in Tjorn Singlehanded Race (Tjorn, Sweden)- Continuing on his adventures of sailing the Tjorn Runt on his J/111 BLUR.SE, Peter Gustafsson made the absolutely inspirational decision to tackle the Tjorn Singlehanded Race at a moment’s notice.  Here is his amusing story:

“Quite often sailing can be spontaneous and simple as it is fun. That tedious journey which suddenly became a race, or that holiday race in which you won a beer at the bar afterwards.

One of those experiences was to sail solo around Tjörn on Sunday after Tjörn Runt!  Now that was a spontaneous idea!  The desire to be free, to get out onto the ocean, that fantastic feeling of freedom with 100% focus on your own sailing.

This year we 27 boats had registered for the race, but only 18 came to start, which is quite ok. It is not surprising that some felt a bit of concern or adversity when the alarm clock rings early in the morning to get you rolling to the start and it's ‘pea soup’ fog outside the harbor entrance. But, for those who adventured forth, it would be better soon ...

The wind direction was SE for the start, just like Saturday's Tjörn Runt. So, it felt safe to come out in the fjord east of Bratton. Here, many boats chose to go "all in" and take the far east.  Meanwhile, myself and three others pushed southwards as soon as we could.

My analysis was that the pressure was standing in the middle of the fjord, and the sooner I could get there the better. The balance was to run near Tjörn to avoid current or position yourself for the wind to fill in from the east (or south).

J/111 Blur sailing upwindI started off with the J0 (e.g. a “Code Blade”) hoisted to the masthead and attached to the middle of the fully extended pole.  It looked a bit odd, but in the light wind, I could get good VMG upwind and it worked fine.  Plus, I can solo faster with this combo, going between this, the Code 0 and the jib in a sensible, easy way.

At Soa and Galten, I got out of phase with several competitors and I could take a long tack into the middle of the fjord for better wind. It was slightly more out there, about 4-5 m/s.  So, I could quickly change over to the jib and stretch south in a wind that slowly turned eastward. Perfect timing for a passage at Gråholmarna!  I passed my chief rival Jonas, who had to tack and follow me in my wake.   With a little drop in the breeze, I could then change over and roll out the Code Blade again and extend my overall fleet lead towards Dyrön.

At Tjörnekalv, I could hoist the big A2 gennaker.  Some boats that I passed must have wondered what they were doing, but I got away without broaching with the big gennaker and I was leading everyone (even early starters) out of the Bredbåden.

A good jibe quite far west placed me on the west side Härön with a good angle. Qixi went into Kyrkesund but was way behind. Cheetah 3-4nm distance behind, but with good angles on Qixi.

I had a safe drop of the gennaker with the snuffer.  Now, it was back to the Code 0 and charge eastwards, further extending my lead.  God I love this J/111!  So easy to sail fast!  My bigger competitors must have been quite frustrated by now.

But at the Horse Cut turning point, I realized that something was not quite right.  I could see across the island archipelago that an Arcona 380 (on the way to Ellos about 3 legs behind me, I assumed) was sailing in a much different wind. East wind? Or, is something else happening?  As I start to think about it more, minute-by-minute the wind quickly subsides to nothing.  A complete calm.  A glass out!  Oh no!  What is going to happen next?

After half an hour, I see Cheetah come rushing up behind me very quickly.  However, soon we are both in ‘the dead zone.’  No wind, or very, very little. Drifting, really.

Then, more and more boats begin to appear behind us, one by one, until the entire fleet of boats is concentrated again.  Crap!  A complete restart 2/3 the way into the race.  So much for my gigantic lead and all that hard work!

We begin to see a black sky forming off to the northwest. Does that mean something?  Squall?  Or, just rain and no wind?  Honestly, I’d prefer a storm by now!

It's quite tricky sailing towards Skåpesund, so I decide to drive safe and sail conservatively. I know I am hopelessly last in the SRS Handicap scoring right now because of the “fleet compression”.  So, I take the spinnaker down in good time, and I go directly to the jib.

It's pitch black all around us behind the bridge, and I look for more breeze on the water in front of me.  Nothing.

J/111 Blur sailing Tjorn Singlehanded race upwindThen, I turn around and look behind me. The whole fleet is coming at me with spinnakers up.  Don’t panic, I remind myself.  Wait.  Something is about to happen.  Looking at the black sky again, I can see the wind is ticking rapidly around the clock and increasing in speed even more rapidly!  White caps form fast.  The wall of wind hits Cheetah, not good.  She goes into a massive broach with the spinnaker up, I can see the skipper with the tiller under his chin in an attempt to bear off.  It’s not working, a big problem when you are single-handing!  The proverbial ‘crap’ has hit the fan!

I turn around for one last time to look at the peaceful, colorful panorama of boats with their spinnakers filling the horizon behind me.  It’s a spectacular painting- color, sun, black clouds advancing, white caps building rapidly behind and around them. Now, I know that it's much too late for those boats to get a nice takedown...  I wish I had a time-lapse video of the carnage behind me- spectacular wipeouts everywhere.  I hope they are OK.

Sometimes it plays to be safe, right!? :-)

The black squall made for a very messy short cross under the bridge.  It was blowing at least 8-12 m/s and gusting even higher to 15 to 18 m/s.  Chaos everywhere.  Torn sails. Broken boats.  Bruised egos.  Oh well, that’s sailing.

I am home safe and sound.  I didn’t win, but in spirit I had won.  I sailed fast, was first boat on elapsed time against much bigger competitors, sailed safe and lived to tell the tale!  I still got 11th overall on corrected time despite the madness going on behind me!"  Follow more of the J/111 BLUR.SE's adventures here.

J/24 World Championship Update

J/24 Worlds- Wakajama, Japan (Wakayama, Japan)- It has been a slow start for the forty-four J/24 teams attending this year’s J/24 World Championship in Wakayama, Japan.  With a tropical storm heading toward the area, it was the calm before the storm on day one of the J/24 World Championship.  The J/24 teams representing Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Peru, Singapore, and the USA kicked off the Championship in winds of 4-6 knots over two races.

Daniel Frost’s JJOne of Germany mastered the conditions with a 1,2 to grab the early advantage in the five-day event. Demichi Kousuke’s Ichimokusan of Japan held a slim lead on second place, just one ahead of Peru’s Javier Arribas on Hawky. The day’s race winners were Frost in race one and Naoto Kitazume’s Maril in race two.

For day two- Tuesday- the slow-moving tropical storm dampened the day’s proceedings.  The entire fleet was kept ashore with the AP flag flying all day as heavy rains and stormy winds blanketed the area.

Day three- Wednesday- dawned with great promise.  Following yesterday’s tropical storm, winds calmed to 5-8 knots over today’s three races. Keiji Kondo’s Fox of Japan won the opening race, trailed by Demichi Kousuke’s Ichimokusan (JPN) and American Will Welles on Cougar. JJOne earned their second bullet of the regatta in the day’s middle battle, trailed by Fox and Mark Laura’s Baba Louie (USA). Einosuke Morita’s Wailea (JPN) won the final duel, with JJOne and Kato Fumiya’s Lull of Japan rounding out the top trio.

With five races now on the books, the German team on JJOne had strengthened their lead over the highly competitive fleet. Daniel Frost’s crew now tallies just 6 net points, able to drop an 11 in race three and keep a skinny tally of 1,2,1,2. Kondo’s Fox moved up to second overall after a solid 1,2,4 for 15 net points. Kousuke’s Ichimokusa rests in third with 22 pts.

Two more days of racing to go and there is no question that JJOne’s fans in Germany are cheering wildly for them to be the first German World Champions ever in the J/24 class!    For more J/24 World Championship sailing information

Saturday, September 24, 2016

J/34 IOR Crushes Green Islands Race

J/34 IOR boat Knee Deep sailing off Cleveland (Cleveland, OH)- The J/34 IOR KNEE DEEP just keeps on ticking, too!  Recently, Brett & Katie Langolf’s KNEE DEEP won the 2016 Green Islands Race hosted by Port Clinton Yacht Club. 

According to Brett, “The race was sailed in very light air- we were very thankful for our YETI cooler keeping the drinks cold!!

Overall, the boat had great boat speed up and down the course to outpace the other PHRF boats.  Thanks to our guest skipper,  Ryan Kyle!”  Sailing photo credit- Shutterglo

SAILING Champions League Preview!

J/70s SAILING Champions League (Porto Cervo, Italy)- Europe´s top sailing clubs will compete in the finale of the SAILING Champions League in Porto Cervo, Sardinia from 23rd to 25th September (prior to the J/70 World Championships for some of the team members!). The aim is to win the sought-after silver trophy by Robbe & Berking and earn the title of Europe´s "Best Sailing Club".

Thirty-two teams representing some of Europe's most respected yacht clubs will meet at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda this weekend for the final showdown. Clubs from twelve nations, including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden will gather in Sardinia to attempt to take the title from defending champions the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club. The teams competing in the grand final in Sardinia are champions that have qualified over the past year via their national leagues as well as the best clubs from the preliminary round held in St. Petersburg, Russia (Act I) in August!

J/70s- SAILING Champions League- YC Costa SmeraldaTop sailors from various Olympic classes will feature amongst the crews on board the J/70 one-designs provided by the YCCS in this international competition for the European title. Short, fast fleet races are scheduled to take place from the 23rd to 25th of September on the renowned regatta course off Porto Cervo.

The 2015 European final was also held on the waters of the Costa Smeralda and the winners, Royal Norwegian Yacht Club, will certainly be one of the teams to beat. The team representing hosts the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda will also be one to watch as will Russia's Yacht Club Navigator Team, their crews placed second and third, respectively, last year.

Technical partners for the event include AUDI MOTORSPORTS, SAP SAILING and QUANTUM SAILS.  For updates on social media- #bestsailingclub #sclportocervo #yccs.  Sailing Photo credits- Francesco Nonnoi   For more SAILING Champions League sailing information

Australian J/70 Fleet Growing!

J/111 JOUST- owner Rod Warren (Melbourne, Australia)- The J/111 owner of JOUST in Melbourne, Australia- Dr Rod Warren- recently sent a nice note to J/HQ Newport this past week.  According to Rod,

“We just ordered a new J/70 for practice!  We can’t wait to get out on her soon!  We are also looking forward to San Francisco next year for the J/111 Worlds!

We also wanted to let you know that we had the pleasure of sailing with two of the Johnstone family at the recent J/111 Worlds in Cowes, England. As the Australian team, we needed to get some local knowledge of the tricky conditions on the Solent. We were surprised and delighted that Stu Johnstone was suggested, until we heard that he had lived there for five years while setting up J/Boats Europe and won many events! But, there was an even better bonus!  We got Stu’s lovely wife Julia to come along, another brilliant sailor, and a huge help on organizing the pointy end of the boat!

From the get go we had a blast, from trying to fit an entire J/111 crew into a Jeep, to sharing a house in Cowes and, of course, the sailing. This was a windy regatta (about 15-25 kts, gusting 30) and we had great downwind speed, thanks to Stu’s planing lessons!

One of the great things about J/Boats has to be the family that makes the boats we love. Stu & Julia’s willingness to join our crew, sight unseen, and contribute so generously, and with such great humour, sets them apart.  Stu’s stories about sailing with his friends Heather and Joe on their J/70 MUSE was inspirational.  So, we just bought a J/70 as a practice boat for our J/111!  We hope we can also help grow the J/70 fleet in Melbourne to sail against some of our Sydney friends, too!”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Exciting J/24 Downeast Regatta Finale!

J/24s sailing Downeast RegattaLITTLE MARTHA Missed Life ON THE BEACH!
(Portland, ME)- The 30-4-30 Anniversary J/24 Downeast Regatta was exceptionally fun for all those hardy and lucky souls who made the trek to Portland, Maine for this early fall classic.  The outcome of the regatta was determined on the final leg of the last race, with Lee Buress’ ON THE BEACH narrowly beating Chis Clancy’s LITTLE MARTHA at the finish for the overall regatta title and bragging rights for another twelve months as “King of the Down’east’ahs”!

After the first two races on Saturday, it was anyone’s guess what the ultimate outcome was going to be for veterans of this Gulf of Maine event.  Buress’ crew had a 3-1, while Clancy had a 4-2, Mark Gardner’s JAM had a 2-4 and Denman/Smith’s AIRODOODLE from Marblehead, MA had a 1-12!  That was the top five after the conclusion of the day’s racing on Saturday.  Meanwhile, the rest of the top crews had scorelines all over to hell and back!

Clearly, some crews may have had too good a time, perhaps much too good a time, on Saturday night.  As Sunday dawned, it was self-evident some crews appeared to be navigating through the “fog” on a clear, sunny day!  That perspective was manifest in their extraordinarily insane scorelines.  Gardner’s JAM got “jammed”, dropping two 12ths to nose-dive down the standings.  Denman/Smith’s roller-coaster ride kept doing just that, posting a 3-20!  Consequently, ON THE BEACH sailed clean and fast to win with LITTLE MARTHA second.  Third went to John O’Rourke’s SPOOKY, fourth going to former high-flyer JAM and fifth going to a steadily improving Tim Corbett’s ESKIMO SISTERS.  For more J/24 Downeast Regatta sailing information

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Breault Two-Peats US Sailing Women’s Match Race Champs

Nicole Breault- sailing J/22 match race (Annapolis, MD)- This past weekend in Annapolis, Nicole Breault (San Francisco, CA) became only the second skipper to win back-to-back U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championships in event history. Breault, the reigning defending champion from last year’s event in Balboa, California, defeated hometown sailor Janel Zarkowsky (Annapolis, Md.), 3-0, in Sunday afternoon’s final series on Chesapeake Bay. The 2016 U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship was hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club, Friday through Sunday, in the J/22 class sailboat.

Breault- winner of J/22 Match Race Women's champsBreault was joined by a talented crew comprised of Molly Carapiet (San Francisco, Calif.), Karen Loutzenheiser (Santa Cruz, Calif.), and Hannah Burroughs (San Francisco, Calif.). Carapiet and Loutzenheiser won with Breault in last year’s championship. Also, for the second straight year, Zarkowsky’s team ran into Breault in the Finals and finished runner-up.

“We won because of teamwork,” stated Breault. “You can’t under estimate that part of the game, especially with all the maneuvering you want to do, you need it delivered, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Breault will be racing at the 2016 World Sailing Women’s Match Racing World Championships in Sheboygan, WI on September 19-25.

“I’ve been looking for a chance to race against Stephanie (Roble) and her whole team, and I’ll see her in Sheboygan,” commented Breault.  Roble is the top ranked U.S. women’s match racer.

J/22 women's match race regattaThe team from the Bay area was dominant throughout the three-day event. In the three Round Robin stages, they were 5-0, 4-1 and 5-0, respectively. They won their semifinal series, 3-0, over Robyn Lesh (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) to advance to the finals. Lesh upended Morgan Wilson, 2-0, in the petite finals to take third place.

The first Round Robin was conducted on Friday and the second and third Round Robins took place Saturday. The knock-out rounds were raced on Sunday.

Breault, who was introduced to match racing in 2008, is ranked #2 in the country for women’s match racing. She also won the Nation’s Cup in 2015.  Previous winners of the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship include an impressive list of the top women sailors in recent U.S. history. Cory Sertl, Betsy Alison, Sally Barkow, Anna Tunnicliffe, Stephanie Roble, Genny Tulloch, Liz Baylis, and Debbie Cappozi have all won this US Sailing National Championship.

Breault offered her perspective on how women can participate in match racing – “Women who want to match race now have two options. The first is to take full advantage of open division events around the country. The open division of match racing is not reserved for men, it is open! The only advantage male sailors might have over female sailors is their higher (on average) strength-to-weight ratio. On smaller boats, this advantage does not mean much, and on larger boats, athletic women on a smart team can still win. Besides, mixed-gender crews can be more fun!”

Next up for Nicole is St Francis YC’s Rolex Big Boat Series starting Thursday as main/tactician, sailing on husband Bruce Stone’s J/105 ARBITRAGE.  Then, a week later her match racing team reassembles to compete in the Women's International Match Racing Championship in Sheboygan, WI.  For more US Sailing Women’s Match Race Championship sailing information

J/111 BLUR.SE Eclipses Tjorn Runt Race

J/111 Blur sailing Tjorn Runt race (Tjorn, Sweden)- The J/111 BLUR.SE has been notorious for having fun, going fast and collecting a remarkable string of silverware over the past three seasons in European offshore circles sailing fully-crewed, singlehanded and doublehanded events.  Here is Peter Gustafsson’s latest adventure in the Tjorn Runt Race (an around the island of Tjorn) in Sweden.

“Tjörn Runt was a good opportunity to gather the gang again, and it was noticeable on the Friday training and in the bar of Kookaburra--- everyone was happy to be seen, and get together to sail again....

Besides, we liked the weather forecast. Light winds with the possibility of some downwind at sea suits us quite well. It is not that we need it, but with a gennaker so it is nice to be able to sail their angles at sea, rather than being forced to sail dead downwind in narrow straits or narrow fjords. It's more fun if everyone can sail their boats to 100%.

It was 3-4 m/s when we cruised out to the course, but when it was time for the start, it was completely dead. Both where we wanted to start, the far east at Stenungsön, but also down to the west side. It was just the boats in the middle with Edin Progressive, like the J/111 DACAPO that ran away from us.

J/111 Blur sailing on reach- Tjorn Runt RaceWhen we finally got some wind, it was just time to start hunting down our leaders. After our start, went under Tjörnbron.  We know we go fast and have good boat handling. To take a chance on something different than all the others would too high a risk so early in the race.

We stretched our legs and went fast to Bratton, where we (and almost everyone else) took a route east to get around the island. Then, we went south on a long port tack board.

We were right in the bottom of the pressure that was on the east side and did not have much to gain from stepping up a notch to the west. Now it was just step hard on the gas and go south fast; our position in the middle along with the leading boats in our class felt quite ok.

We picked an experimental Code 1, which did not appear to work properly, and when we could change to our Code 0, we picked up the second J/111 DACAPO.  But, soon, they pulled out a whopping Code 1 and snatched away the lead from us again!!  We were not happy!

When the wind angles opened a bit again, we went to the A3 and could run on the rhumb line.  At this time, DACAPO sailing with her Code 1 had to go high to maintain good VMG. When we switched to our A2 monster running gennaker, we had an even better angle on DACAPO and the fleet, sailing lower and faster to lengthen our lead on them.

In fact, our distance over our competitors had become quite large and we had really managed to make the most of the transition engines.  It might seem luxurious with a big downwind wardrobe, but you pay the penalties fairly sharply in their SRS handicap numbers- since the rating are based on the fact that you can get 100% of each sail + making changes just in the right position.  In any case, our changing from J0 to C0 to A3 to A2 could not have gone any better.

At Dyrön, we had to make two gybes and managed to leap into third place on elapsed time.  Not bad!  And, we continued to build our distance on the boats behind us like the J/111 DACAPO.

We knew it was a conservative move, but we still thought it felt safe to run the rhumbline with our 105% jib. In retrospect, we could perhaps have gone faster on the flat gennaker- the J0, but that meant making a couple of changes.  But, if we had done it, we could have sailed a bit more aggressively for speed.

Nevertheless, we made it to Kälkerön in good shape relative to our competitors and we could now safely roll out the big Code 0 again and aim for the finish line.  We knew we had sailed well, and had beaten the boats we had an eye on!”

In the end, Gustafsson’s J/111 BLUR.SE won, beating her sistership home by 9 min 43 sec on corrected time.  Significantly, the J/111 sailed the course 2 min faster on elapsed time than the First 40, 5 min faster than the Ker 39, 5 min faster than an XP-44 and 35 min faster than an IMX 40!

According to Peter, “it was awesome fun to nail the big class against all good boats. We nailed the 40-foot class in 2009 with our J/109, and it was fun to nail the class again!” Sailing photo credits- Elisabeth Stensby  For more J/111 BLUR sailing information