Wednesday, July 31, 2019

J/Newsletter- July 31st, 2019

J/Sailing News

The Sun Never Sets on J's Sailing Worldwide

Perhaps the biggest news in the offshore racing community last week was the triumph of a new J/121 with an Irish owner in the annual RORC Channel Race. The event is emblematic of the final practice race/ training mission prior to the biennial 605.0nm Rolex Fastnet Race. Meanwhile, the German J/70 Nationals took place in conjunction with Travemunde Race Week in Travemunde, Germany for thirty-one teams.

In the USA, there was widespread offshore racing and “race weekend” activities from deep “Downeast” Maine to the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest.  In the nether-regions of Downeast Maine, ten J/46 owners got together in their annual J/46 Rendezvous in Camden Harbor, Maine for three days of fun family activity and enjoying the splendor of sailing in some of the most picturesque waters in the world on Penobscot Bay.  South of them, enjoying their round-the-cans racing at the Helly Hansen Marblehead NOOD Regatta were one-design fleets of J/24s, J/70s, and J/105s hosted by the amazing trio of clubs- Eastern YC, Boston YC, and Corinthian YC. Down southeast off Cape Cod, the Edgartown Yacht Club held their annual Edgartown Race Week for a J/70 fleet as well as PHRF boats sailing Round the Sound and Round the Island Races. Not far away in Rhode Island Sound, the Newport YC hosted their annual New England Solo-Twin Race for a fleet of mostly doublehanders- due to light airs the course was shortened to just 72.0nm. Out in the Great Lakes, the Little Traverse YC held their annual “finale” for the twin Mac Race fleets, sailing were one-design classes of J/70 and J/105s and also a fleet of J/PHRF racers. Out West, it was a sad, but joyous ending, to the final Whidbey Island Race Week ever. Dozens of J/sailors in one-design classes of J/80s, J/105s, and J/PHRF sailors enjoyed a spectacular three days of sailing. Finally, the Santa Barbara YC and King Harbor YC hosted their annual 81.0nm Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race, leaving the craggy, tall Anacapa Island to port as their only mark of the race course; J/crews collected an enormous haul of silver for their trophy rooms!

J/121 Darkwood- winner RORC Channel Race winners 
J/121 DARKWOOD Triumphs in RORC Channel Race
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Seventy-seven boats competed in the 2019 Royal Ocean Racing Club Channel Race. The international fleet experienced a variety of conditions and wind angles, testing boat handling and tactical skills.

Perhaps the surprise overall winner, from a fleet including many professional racing teams, was the J/121 DARKWOOD owned by Irishman Michael O'Donnell. O'Donnell last competed in the Channel Race in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, as a 15-year old nipper. His J/121 DARKWOOD was only launched this year, and four of the crew including Michael, race in the classic Solent-based XOD Class. DARKWOOD is very much a team of friends and family and will be competing in next month's Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I was basically a rope-puller on big boats such as Mike Slade's LEOPARD, but I have learnt a huge amount in the XOD Class, especially from Steve Lawrence and Alistair Shaw who are part of the DARKWOOD team,” commented O'Donnell. “We are pretty good at getting off the start line, but I have not done any offshore racing since 2013. I am glad that the RORC make us do the qualifying races before the Fastnet; you learn so much about the boat and how to sail together as a team. We made a lot of sail-changes especially during the night, which was hard work with just five on board. Rosie (O'Donnell’s wife) did a great job in the pit, and Jamie (Holmes) impressed on the bow. We are thrilled to have won the race, but we have a long way to go, I am sure that the wily teams in the Fastnet are not quaking in their boots just yet!”

More good news for J/Aficionados!  The win in IRC Two went to Yves Grosjean's French J/133 JIVARO! “This result is very encouraging, as it has been an effort to get JIVARO back to the Solent to compete for the Fastnet,” commented Grosjean. “After the Channel Race, the team is in the right mood, we have great anticipation for the big race to come. At the start of the Channel Race, we were the only boat in our start to go inshore at the Squadron Line. It paid off as we led our class out of the Solent. Inshore after the Needles Fairway Buoy avoiding the worst of the tide worked well, and we had a good lead at the virtual mark. After that it was all about fighting to maintain our lead, but the big wind shift towards the end of the race was a nerve-racking moment, as we saw the JPK 11.80 Sunrise catch up, but we held on to win!”

Notably in IRC Two, sailing well was Andy Middleton & Alex Fisher’s J/120 SUNSET, taking 6th in class and David Richards’ J/122 JOLLY JELLYFISH finishing in 8th.

The next race of the RORC Season's Points Championship will be the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race. The race village on Cowes Parade will be open from 1100 BST on Thursday 1st August. The 48th edition of the epic offshore race, the Rolex Fastnet Race, will start on Saturday 3rd August from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes.  For more RORC Channel Race sailing information

J/24 winners- Seabags Women's Sailing Team 
Dramatic Finales @ Marblehead NOOD Regatta
(Marblehead, MA)- The 2019 Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta at Marblehead Race Week took place this past week in Marblehead, MA, July 25 to 28. Boston Yacht Club hosted more than 150 teams across 14 fleets. J/One-Design classes included J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, and J/105s. Here are the daily reports on what took place amongst the J/crews.

Day One
Light winds and shifting currents had teams battling for top honors and a chance to earn a trip to the British Virgin Islands in late October for the NOOD Caribbean Championship sponsored by Sunsail.

Erica Beck Spencer helmed her boat SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM to a pair of bullets to lead the J/24 fleet after the first day of racing. “Jess Harris and I put the team together after the 2014 Worlds in Newport, RI, where we were frustrated to only see two all-female teams competing,” says Beck Spencer (Portland, ME). “It’s been such a great journey for us, and being sponsored by Seabags makes it all possible.”

Four crew members aboard the SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM are from Maine. They are in their fifth season sailing together and aim to peak at the J/24 World Championships in Miami later this year.

“There was a moment today when we realized how much we’ve learned,” says tactician Hilary Noble (Newport, RI). “We take something away from each race, which is why we love the sport and love sailing with each other.”

Bill Zartler (Houston, TX) and his crew lead the J/105 fleet with a pair of wins of their own. With a veteran team, it’s easy to come out swinging on the first day of an important event. “Our team has been sailing together on and off for 15 years in a bunch of different boats,” says Zartler. “We’re all good friends who’ve been sailing together for a long time.”

Zartler and crew are preparing for the J/105 North Americans in Marblehead in September. Sailing in the NOOD will prepare them for the unique winds and challenging current this sailing area is known for.

“Today we had light air, but it was pretty steady,” Zartler says. “There was current, but it wasn’t as bad as Annapolis [Maryland], where you get it in a bunch of different directions. The wind went right all day, but it still paid to be on the left side of the competition, so we were kind of scratching our heads about that one.”

Zartler has been sailing in the NOOD Regatta series since the early 1990s, and competed in the Annapolis NOOD in early May. “It’s great competition out here,” says Zartler. “The first three boats are just a couple of points apart so it’s going to be tight racing. Hopefully we get a little more breeze out there tomorrow.”
J/24 women's team
Day Two
Three additional fleets joined the racing to bring the total number of fleets competing to 13. With stronger winds and a rolling sea-state, competitors had to work harder to earn top finishes.

Joel Ronning (Excelsior, MN) leads the J/70 fleet on CATAPULT. This particular J/70 fleet includes three past world champions, including Peter Duncan, Jud Smith, and Ronning. “There’s a lot of good sailors out here,” says Ronning. “It isn’t the biggest fleet, but the quality of racing is outstanding. These boats are so dynamic, and our team is getting to the point where things happen automatically.”

Ronning is supported by a veteran crew that continues to strive for excellence. The CATAPULT team is using this weekend’s NOOD Regatta to train for the J/70 World Championship in Torquay, UK, in late August. “We’ve boiled down our communication onboard to the point where everyone knows what the guy next to them is thinking,” says Ronning. “Since we’ve been sailing with each other for so long, the vibe onboard is great. There’s a lot of good banter, that’s for sure.”

In today’s more challenging conditions, Ronning kept his sails powered up to get through the steep chop. Once he got his boat moving fast, he was able to focus on positioning his boat on the crowded racecourse. “Whenever we were in doubt,” says Ronning, “we put the bow down and just went faster.”

In the J/80 fleet, Sam Cushing (Newport, RI) leads Brian Gibbs (Rowley, MA) by 2 points. “This is our second year sailing together,” says Cushing. “Our whole crew sailed at the University of Rhode Island together, and after graduation we decided to partner on a boat.”

Cushing and crew have since undertaken a full restoration of their hull, which was the third boat built when production began in 1992. “It’s been quite the process putting the boat together, but we just completed most of the major repairs and now we have new sails, which has helped a lot.”

Day Three
The final day reached a dramatic conclusion across multiple fleets. With lighter winds and a strong cross-course current, the opportunity for both gains and losses presented trying circumstances for hundreds of one-design sailboat racers.

The J/70 fleet saw a stacked leaderboard, with three past world-champions in contention on the final day. After three final races, Peter Duncan emerged victorious with his team on RELATIVE OBSCURITY. “There were four or five boats that could have won this event,” says Duncan, “so we were really happy to come out on top.”

After suffering a bad result early in the regatta, Duncan and team put together an outstanding score sheet for the final two days of the event, never finishing out of the top three. “It’s awesome coming here to Marblehead,” Duncan says. “Having the NOOD as part of Marblehead Race Week is a great thing. The hospitality here is always superb, and the racing is top-notch, especially when there’s wind.”

Duncan has been sailing with crew Willem Van Waay for the last couple of seasons, but this year, he added heavy-hitters, Will Felder and Bill Hardesty to the lineup. “This was a really important regatta for us leading to the J/70 Worlds in September,” says Duncan. “There isn’t much on the J/70 schedule in August, so our goal was to get out and compete against some stiff competition. With the talent in this fleet, we were obviously able to achieve that.”

Rounding out the podium was Ronning’s CATAPULT in second and John & Molly Baxter’s VINEYARD VINES in third.

One of the most dramatic storylines of the day came out of the J/105 fleet, where Bruce Stone (San Francisco, CA) and Bill Zartler (Houston, TX) were tied going into the final race. Stone and his wife, Nicole Breault, are both match-racing veterans. However, they opted to start clean and sail fast in order to beat their competition, a strategy that ultimately paid off. Zartler ended up in foul trouble with another boat, resulting in him being disqualified from the day’s second race.

Stone’s win at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week is part of a larger rivalry between the two boats. Stone edged out Zartler at the J/105 North Americans in Harbor Springs, MI, last year, so Zartler will be looking for revenge at the North Americans in September in Marblehead. “The boys from Texas always sail well,” says Stone. “We were happy to come away with the championship this time, but we know we haven’t seen the last of those guys.”

Behind Stone’s GOOD TRADE in first, was Ken Horne’s FINAL FINAL, sneaking into the silver after Zartler’s DEJA VOODOO crew had to count a 16th in the last race.

In the J/24s, Beck Spencer’s SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM took the win for the all-women’s team. Second was Martin Gallagher’s SHIFTY took the silver, while John Wells’ SHELDON J took the bronze.

Things changed around a bit in the J/80 class. Winning was Sam Cushing’s THE PARTY TREE, followed by Brian Gibbs’ BLIND FITH just one point back. Rounding out the podium in the bronze position was Jason Viseltear’s UPSETTER.  For more Helly Hansen Marblehead NOOD Regatta sailing information

J/46 sailing off Camden, Maine 
Ten J/46s Celebrate Rendezvous In Maine
(Camden, Maine)- Ten J/46s enjoyed a fabulous rendezvous July 25 to 27 as part of the Camden Classics Cup in the absolutely stunningly beautiful harbor of Camden, Maine.

Instead of enduring the high density, five deep raft up at Lyman Morse Wayfarer for the Classics Regatta, all of the visiting J/46s took over the nearby Town of Camden dock and slips for their own private J/Community. 

The secret sauce for this event was for any J/46 to cruise into Camden and be able to race competitively without going into “race mode”. No spinnakers, Max 100% jib, dodgers up, anchor and chain on the bow. Most boats had their bimini up, a grill on the rail and here and there, an outboard to round out the cruise attitude. Whisker poles, electric winches, auto pilots, canine crew were all permitted and encouraged.  Deep keel boats owed shoal keel boats 9 seconds a mile.
J/46s at Camden Marina, Maine
While the prospect of 120 tons of J/46s converging at the start sounds daunting, everyone behaved nicely and on the water, where the action was close and very exciting (think ten 46 foot Lasers). Friendships were still strong at the end of each day.

Friday’s race was in a sparkling 15 to 20 knot sea breeze. On the weather leg, the local knowledge went left and the smart money went right, and the smart money was in the lead with Scott Miller’s RESOLUTE leading the way.  At the finish, it was RESOLUTE (deep keel) first by 14 seconds over Bernie Coyne’s MYSTIC ROSE (shoal) with Jay Nolan’s AKAI (deep) third.
J/46 sailing fast cruising mode in Camden, Maine
Saturday was another cracking good sea breeze day and more very close racing, on a course that saw a tight fleet maneuvering through the beautiful islands of Penobscot Bay.  RESOLUTE, AKAI and Jeremy Fletcher’s THISTLE (shoal) led a tightly bunched fleet around the weather mark. At the end of a ten-mile run leaving 700 Acre Island to port and Dark Harbor to starboard, it was THISTLE and Tom Babbitt’s BRAVO (shoal) nearly overlapped for the lead with AKAI. RESOLUTE and the rest of the fleet were just boat lengths behind. At the finish, it was THISTLE (shoal), AJKAI (deep) and BRAVO (shoal) edging RESOLUTE off the podium by 13 seconds.

Overall, RESOLUTE took the honors on a tie breaker over AKAI with MYSTIC ROSE third.

How much fun was the sailing?  Well five of the J/46s have committed to race singlehanded on August 25th in Camden! Mark your calendar for next year’s event July 23 - 25 2020!  Learn more about the versatile J/46 offshore cruiser here.

J/109s sailing Whidbey Island Race Week 
Glorious Whidbey Island Race Week
(Oak Harbor, WA)- After nearly four decades, Whidbey Island Race Week delivered one of the nicest three days of sailing the Pacific Northwest has seen for awhile- three straight days of sun and breeze. This year’s event has attracted a fleet of sixty-one boats; twenty-eight of them are J/Crews- 46% of the regatta! There were one-design classes for J/80s and J/105s, with the rest sailing in various PHRF handicap classes. Here are the reports from those three glorious days of sailing.
Whidbey Island seals relaxing
Day One
Just two days before “the Whidbey” started, the weather did not look so promising. However, the first day of the 37th edition off Oak Harbor made for many happy memories before the fleet moves over to Point Roberts for the 2020 race week edition.

After an opening evening of renewing cross-border friendships, while dancing to live music on the lawn of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, and a night of crispy winds and an unexpected rainfall, Charley Rathkopf’s Race Committee led the fleet of 61 US and Canadian boats south into what most sailors were hoping was the last day of an unusually cool and cloudy July.

The two one-design classes of J/105s and J/80s and J/PHRF sailors enjoyed the day’s courses that tested the crews’ fortitude and patience thanks to dying breezes and a 10-foot tidal exchange. Wednesday’s uncertain waters and wind caused skippers to greet the week with conservative starts and no “over-earlies”. The J/109 Lodos reveled in Wednesday’s southerly breeze though rued the calm waters that ensued as the wind slowly achingly and shifted to the west before finally evaporating for the day.
J/105s sailing Whidbey Island Race Week
Day Two
What better way to stave off Saturday’s inevitable tears with a fun-filled blast from the past. Thursday’s 1980’s Reggae theme brought out a colorful cacophony of garb, from retro polo’s to tie-dye tees, plus boom boxes and wigs galore, including mullets, fro’s and dreadlocks. Even the weather seemed to join in and add to the light-hearted mood of the day.

Under intensely blue and cloudless skies, the cool morning soon grew into a warm afternoon. And right on schedule, Penn Cove’s forecasted westerly filled in by the “noon o’clock” first gun.

With a waning flood, most of the day’s first of three starts had at least one OCS. But, that minor inconvenience didn’t seem to deter some of those who were a bit too hasty to take a bite out of the on-course side.

Stuart Burnell’s J/109 TANTIVY, for example, turned their OCS, and a subsequent foul plus 360, into a tactical advantage and maneuvered to a third place finish, showing that a solid background of hard-earned experience can turn a negative into a positive.

Others weren’t as fortunate. For example, Buckey’s J/105 INSUBORDINATION managed to make contact with the committee boat’s fenders at the start. After that, and a series of other unfortunate events, they retired from the day’s third and final race, skulking back to the Oak Harbor marina with their tail between their legs and a whopping 12 points added to their score card.

Regardless, if Charley and his committee can pull out more multiple-race days like Thursday’s, INSUBORDINATION may be able to throw out that last-place finish. It’s not inconceivable that they’ll make a comeback, as they have several race week veterans, and winners, aboard, including Pat Denny (owner) and Gary Harr (skipper) of that infamous black boat- the J/29 HERE & NOW.

Mike Kalahar’s Port Angeles-based LITONYA darted around the course on Thursday to earn another bullet in the wily J/80 class.

No strangers to race week, John Aitcheson and his veteran crew aboard the J/105 MOOSE UNKNOWN took home first place honors for Thursday’s three races with two bullets and a second. With just 5 points going into Friday’s racing, they are poised to take home the overall trophy. It’s just the halfway point of the regatta. However, the J/105 fleet is one of the most hotly contested one-design classes on the Salish Sea, so they’ll have to fight hard to keep their lead.
J/90 sailing Whidbey Island Race Week- Mount Baker in background
Day Three
The bovine aroma off Blowers Bluff signaled the arrival of a solid westerly breeze (a bit like Mackinac Island’s famous aroma of fudge and horse manure wafting across the Straits!). On such a day, the air becomes very clear with no haze on the horizon. One crew excitedly announced, “the mountain is out!” While passing through the channel from Oak Harbor into Saratoga Passage, she was exclaiming that Mt. Baker had emerged over the eastern horizon.

Knowing with confidence that if that marine layer burns off over the Straits beyond Penn Cove’s west head, the breeze will indeed fill in nicely. As a result, that meant the smart money would try port tacking the fleet to hitch the elevator ride up the cove to finish line at North Beach. For that final leg, sailors were salivating, anticipating getting to Coupeville’s Red Barn, the garlic shrimp, and ice cream at Kapaw’s. Others, of course, were wishing there was more time for beer and fish’n’ chips at Toby’s.

Jerry Diercks’ crew on DELIRIUM was maybe a bit delirious in the beginning of the regatta, starting off quite slowly with a 3-4-8 tally in the eleven-boat J/105 class. However, in the next six races they came on strong like a locomotive gathering steam downhill, smoking the closely-fought class with three 1sts, two 2nds and a 3rd to win with 17 net pts after a single discard.  Second was Chris Phoenix’s JADED with 20 pts. Then, just two points back doing the “reverse fade” of the DELIRIUM tally was John Aitchison’s MOOSE UNKNOWN, a fun-loving Canadian crew. While the “Mooser’s” opened up with a stunning three bullets in a row, they slowly faded to black, closing the regatta with a 5-3-5-8 in their last four races to drop down to the bronze medal. The balance of the top five included Erik Kristen’s MORE JUBILEE in 4th and Buckey’s INSUBORDINATION in 5th place.
J/80s sailing Whidbey Island Race Week
Never looking back after day one in the seven-boat J/80 class was David Schutte’s TAJ MAHAL. After leading day one, Schutte’s crew keep up the pressure on the fleet and won with just 12 pts net, counting only podium finishes in their scoreline that included five 1sts! Second was Bryan Rhodes’ CRAZY IVAN and third place was earned by Mike Kalahar’s LITONYA.

The six-boat PHRF 1 Class saw Bruce Chan’s J/111 65 RED ROSES II take the silver, missing the gold by a mere point.  Then, in PHRF 2 class, David & Vernice Cohen’s J/90 EYE EYE took the bronze. Rounding out the top five were Stu Burnell’s J/109 TANTIVY in 4th an Brian White’s J/35 GRACE E in 5th position. Two other J/109s finished behind them, with Tolga Cezik’s LODOS in 6th and Mike Campbell’s LAPA in 7th. In PHRF 3 class, it was Stephanie Arnold’s J/33 DASH that took 4th place. Finally, in PHRF 5 class, Christine Nelson’s J/29 SLICK took the silver.  For more Whidbey Island Race Week sailing information

J/109 sailing offshoreChallenging Light Air Test @ Edgartown
(Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard)— Light air became a challenge for racers and organizers at this year’s Edgartown Race Weekend hosted by Edgartown Yacht Club, but the show went on for all to enjoy on Martha’s Vineyard.

The event’s most illustrious of three events– the 56-mile ’Round-the-Island (RTI) race that has been a New England racing tradition for 81 years now– started Saturday, July 27 in “triple-naught” to “whispers” of breeze.  Without making much progress in the first few hours, the EYC Race Committee wisely elected to shorten course on the south side of the island for two-thirds of the fleet. Those boats completed a 25-mile course, while another nine boats sailed for 45 miles to finish near West Chop.
J/105 sailing Edgartown Race Week
For this year’s ’RTI race, there were 42 boats in eight classes, two of which were non-spinnaker. Twelve boats opted for the ’Round-the-Sound (’RTS) race, the third component of Edgartown Race Weekend and an option for those wanting a shorter course. While last year this fleet’s course was 18 miles, this year it was 11.

“We had three courses from which to choose, and that worked out well that we could opt for a shorter one based on the wind conditions,” said Race Chairman Bob Hurst. “The ’Round-the-Sound sailors started 15 minutes after the last start of the ’Round-the-Island race on Saturday, and the first boats finished the course in a little over three hours.”

Edgartown Race Weekend’s ’RTI/’RTS and ’RTB races are scored separately, with top-three prizes awarded in each class. Sailors enjoyed a Mount Gay-sponsored “Jump-Up” party on Friday night (July 26) and awards for the ’RTB on Friday afternoon and the ’RTI and ’RTS on Sunday morning (July 28).
J/122 Moxiee sailing Edgartown
Sailing in the Round the Buoys Races, winning PHRF B Division was Dan Heun’s J/122 MOXIEE.  In PHRF C Division, the two J/105s- Matt Schmitt’s HARDTACK & the trio of Joyce/ Reservitz/ Wagner on DARK’N’STORMY- finished second and third, respectively.

For the Round the Island race, leading a clean sweep of the podium and winning PHRF 2 Division was Doug Curtiss’ J/111 WICKED 2.0 (below) with a corrected time of 8:15:26! Wow, that was a long race!  Second was Stephen Besse’s J/120 APRES and taking third place was Jonathan Burt’s J/130 LOLA! Finishing in 5th position was Eliot Shanabrook’s J/109  HAFA ADAI.
J/111 Wicked 2.0 winning Edgartown Round Island Race
Winning PHRF C Division in the RTI race was Steve Dahill’s J/35C RIVA with Phillip Stathos’s J/110 AIRBENDER taking third place.

In the PHRF “white sails” division, Alan Fougere’s J/160 AVATAR took the bronze, while Kent Nicholas’ J/42 PANASEA placed 5th.

Finally, in the Round the Sound Races, winning the J/70 class was Veronica Lundgren’s GHOST. Second was Anthony Giordano’s TONIC and third went to JP Bretl’s SEAHAWK. In the PHRF 2 Division, winning was Daniel Heun’s J/122 MOXIEE.  Sailing photo credits- Stephen Cloutier/ BlockIslandSteve. For more Edgartown Race Week sailing information

J/125 Warrior sailing Santa Barbara to King Harbor RaceJ/Teams Win Silver in Santa Barbara-King Harbor Race!
(Santa Barbara, CA)- According to the winning skipper of the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race, “it was a great race, good breeze in the high teens, low 20’s, nice little waves to jump on, finishing the 81 mile race in a tad over 9 hours… we stayed slightly outside to King Harbor, stayed in pressure the entire 50 mile leg, got headed in perfectly and suddenly found ourselves atop the podium overall by a mere 22 seconds! Wow, what a thrilling finish!”

The Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race is a distance race spanning 81.0nm and has been a tradition for Santa Barbara and King Harbor sailors for 47 years. Seventy boats sailed the 2019 edition, of which 23% (16) are J/Teams.

The SB-KH is a deceptively simple race, since the tactics are pretty well understood by most teams. From the start line, sailing in a building northwesterly seabreeze, it is a straight shot on starboard tack to the bottom of the Channel Islands, with either Code Zeros or reaching spinnakers. The one and only turning mark is Anacapa Island, left to port.  The principal issue is getting around the wind shadow of Anacapa before gybing and dashing off on port tack under spinnakers towards the infamous Point Dume (a.k.a. sometimes Pt Doom!) in the glittery, fashionable village of Malibu, CA. The reason why that strategy works is that late afternoon winds from the NW are significantly accelerated around that point due to the fact the seabreeze is getting sucked into the entire Los Angeles Basin (all pavement, black roofs, and desert mountains off to the east! Upon reaching Point Dume, most boats gybe back onto starboard tack and head for the finish line at the opening to King Harbor in Redondo Beach, just north of the gorgeous Palos Verdes peninsula.

As described above by the winning skipper overall, it was a “textbook” race. The most significant  question was- “when do we gybe under Anacapa Island to avoid the wind cone and make the dash for Point Dume?” The gamblers that are willing to throw the dice and “go for it” gybe early and try to take an inside line underneath the island. But, there can be enormous holes that develop where boats have parked for hours and disappeared behind the fleet. The more conservative approach is to continue offshore on starboard until well clear of the dreaded “wind cone”, then gybe onto port and head for the vicinity of Point Dume and the stronger, greatly accelerated winds curving around the giant bluff.

In the end, it was Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s J/125 WARRIOR that nearly pulled off a perfect race on a perfect day of sailing. With breeze-on at the starting line, the smaller, faster, planing boats have a distinct advantage, as it’s a spinnaker reach to the 4.0nm gap between Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island. The big boats have to chase them down and hope the smaller boats don’t navigate the Anacapa “gap/ cone” scenario well! Dr Laura’s veteran crew on WARRIOR sailed fast, completing the 81.0nm course in 8:13:48. That was good enough for first in ULDB B Class, but 22 seconds shy of PHRF Overall honors!

It was ULDB C Class that “cleaned” up overall. Three J/111s finished 3rd to 5th in class, with Kenny Kieding & John Vincent’s ARGO 3 leading the way, followed by Bernie Girod’s ROCK & ROLL just one minute behind and Doug & Jack Jorgensen’s PICOSA just 30 seconds behind them! That was a very tight three-way battle between very well-sailed J/111s.

PHRF A Class saw two J/crews on the podium.  Second was Scott Torrance’s J/124 FORGIVENESS, followed in third by Tom & Terri Manok’s J/120 POLE DANCER.

Similarly, in PHRF B Class, Jack Mayer’s J/109 ZEPHYR took the silver.  The J/105s occupied most of the top spots in PHRF C Class. Second was Dan Murphy’s CUCHULAINN, followed in third by Tom Bollay’s ARMIDA, fourth was Chuck Spear’s TWELVE BAR BLUES. Then, rounding out the top five as Tom Hinkle’s J/40 WHITE LIGHT.

A total of seven awards were handed out to happy J/Owners in the fleet of 69 keelboats in 9 PHRF racing classes- that’s one-quarter of all podium silverware!  For more Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race sailing information

Ugotta Regata pancake breakfast 
Fabulous Fun @ Ugotta Regatta
(Harbor Springs, MI)- The Little Traverse Yacht Club hosted its 59th Annual “Ugotta Regatta” this past weekend. The event went from Friday, July 26th and ran through Sunday, July 28th. Start times were at 12:00 pm daily. Most one-design fleets enjoyed three days of windward-leeward racing, while the rest of the Divisions sailed the traditional “Tour of the Bay” races Saturday and Sunday.

The one-design fleets on Friday included J/70s and J/105s. The largest Fleet with nineteen-boats competing was the J/70 Fleet. Nine of the 19 J/70’s registered were local boats hailing from Little Traverse YC. Many J/70’s used the Regatta as a tune-up race as they will be back competing in the J/70 Corinthian National Championships hosted by LTYC from August 8th to 11th. Currently there are 43 J/70’s signed up for this major amateur championship event.

J/70s sailing Ugotta RegattaThe J/70’s continued with one-design, windward-leeward racing Saturday and Sunday. The J/105’s joined the rest of the divisions and raced the traditional and ever popular “Tour of the Bay” race format on Saturday and Sunday. This was a combination of windward-leeward legs, and reaching legs using the fixed racing buoys located around Little Traverse Bay.

After three days of racing in the J/70 class, winning was Ryan McKillen’s SURGE with an amazing scoreline of all podium finishes- five 1sts and a 2-3 in seven races counted- to win with 10 pts. Despite their dominating performance, it was a three-way battle between three Corinthians teams for the balance of the podium. Winning the Corinthians and taking the silver on a tie-breaker at 33 pts each was Scott Seller’s TRES BURRITOS. Losing the countback and taking the bronze was Jake Christy’s PALE HORSE. Fourth just four points back was Bob Willis’ RIP RULLAH and fifth place went to John Evans’ AIRPLANE.

In the PHRF A Class, sweeping the top two spots were J/111s.  Winning was Brad Faber’s UTAH, followed by Carl Hanssen’s VARIANCE.

Finally, in PHRF B Class, Mark Symonds’ J/105 PTERODACTYL achieved the “impossible dream”- to podium in all three major offshore events of the “Mac Race Trifecta” (Chicago, Bayview, Harbor Springs). PTERODACTYL won their first race, but took 5th in the second “bay tour” to take the bronze, just 2 pts off first place. An amazing achievement and “congratulations” to his weary crew!

“In all there were 81 boats competing, making it exciting to watch from on the water or around the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay. This Regatta featured boats from 23 to 70 feet in length, all competing for line honors and bragging rights” said Tom Trautman, Vice Commodore and Chairman of the 59th Annual LTYC Regatta. “It was once again a fabulous three days of sailing for the sailors. Mother Nature didn’t disappoint and we had varying wind conditions all three days to challenge the sailors and keep them on their toes” said Trautman. “There were 8 classes competing on 2 circles and a lot of close sailing. There were a few classes where it came down to the final race on the final day to decide the winner”.
J/Flag as band back drop
The Regatta brings to Harbor Springs hundreds of crew members, their families, and friends from across the Midwest and beyond. The town was bustling and the shops and restaurants were busy entertaining our guests. With a noon starting time each day, it gave everyone time in the morning to explore the town of Harbor Springs and get their boats prepped for the afternoon. It also gave everyone time to enjoy the Little Traverse Sailors Famous Pancake Breakfast! On both Saturday and Sunday morning from 8:00 to 11:00 am, the Yacht Club hosted the LTS Pancake Breakfast. This was an important fundraiser for the LTS program and was open to the racers and the public alike. LTS reported a record year in pancake sales and wanted to thank everyone who came out to enjoy the pancakes and support their program.

There were many shore-side activities scheduled around the Regatta. Friday night kicked off with a Ugotta Regatta Party for the competitors, volunteers and sponsors at Irish Boat Shop. After racing on Saturday, the Club hosted a party for the competitors featuring the Petoskey Steel Drum Band. The race weekend ended on Sunday evening as the Club hosted a final Regatta Party and awards presentation.

“It took incredible teamwork and a village to run a Regatta of this size and we couldn’t have done it without our 100+ volunteers,” said Trautman. “We express our deepest appreciation to all who helped support this event. The Ugotta Regatta rules state no coats, no ties, no socks - no problem! Just great racing on the pristine waters of Little Traverse Bay, a chance for some relaxation in beautiful Harbor Springs, and a guaranteed good time”.  For more Ugotta Regatta sailing information

J/121 sailing New England Solo-Twin Race 
Slow New England Solo-Twin Race
(Newport, RI)- Newport Yacht Club held their annual New England Solo-Twin Race, on Friday, July 26th.  The Newport YC PRO wisely shortened course quite dramatically for the fleet, as the prognostication for breeze was depressing, at best! SE swinging SW 3-8 kts max offshore.  Course C (77.2nm long) was picked in the hopes most of the fleet would finish within 24 hours! Even then, the fastest boats covered the course in just over 13 hours, fighting the notorious currents swirling around Block Island and Rhode Island Sound- that’s a 6.0 kts average for the fastest boat!
J/121 sailing New England Solo-Twin Race
The fleet started off in absolutely idyllic weather conditions- ESE breeze of 6-10 kts, sunny, cloudless sky.  The sailors were treated to music wafting across the harbor from the Newport Folk Festival that was "live" at the end of Fort Adams.  Several J/Crews participated in the doublehanded divisions.  In PHRF 1 Spin class, David Southwell’s J/121 ALCHEMY won the First-to-Finish Award and on handicap took 2nd in class. The J/121 was the fastest elapsed time at 12:58:25.

In the PHRF 2 Spinnaker class, Paul Grimes’ J/35 BREAKAWAY took the silver while Bill Kneller’s J/109 VENTO SOLARE won the bronze.  Taking fourth was Kevin Dakan’s J/110 MEMORY.  The J/35 was 2nd overall and the J/109 4th overall.  For more New England Solo-Twin Race sailing information

German J/70s sailing offshorePAINT IT BLACK Crowned German J/70 National Champion
(Travemunde, Germany)- During last week’s Travemunde Race Week in Travemunde, Germany, the German J/70 Class hosted their National Championship for a fleet of thirty-one teams from across Germany.  The regatta PRO managed to run eleven races over the course of four days.

Winning the regatta in a very close battle for the top of the podium was Michel Grau’s PAINT IT BLACK team from Norddeutscher Regatta Verein that consisted of Florian Thoelen, Malte Pasler, David Chapman, and Juliane Adelssen. Taking the silver just two points back was Sergei Dobrovolskii’s AMAIZ.COM Sailing Team from Cyprus Sailing Club. Third was Bjorn Beilken’s PROCEDES DIVA from SDWB sailing club in Bremen, Germany.  For more German J/70 National Championship sailing information

Regatta & Show Schedules:
Aug 2-4- Buzzards Bay Race Week- New Bedford, MA
Aug 3- Rolex Fastnet Race- Cowes, England
Aug 8-11- J/Fest New England- Newport, RI
Aug 9-11- J/105 East Coast Championship- Newport, RI
Aug 9-11- Verve Offshore Cup- Chicago, IL
Aug 10-17- Cowes Race Week- Cowes, England
Aug 10-18- Nantucket Race Week- Nantucket, MA
Aug 14-16- Surfin’ Safari Regatta- Corpus Christi, TX
Aug 15-18- SAILING Champions League- St. Moritz, Switzerland
Aug 17-24- AUDI Hamilton Race Week- Hamilton Island, Australia
Aug 17- Ida Lewis Distance Race- Newport, RI
Aug 20-24- J/109 North American Championship- South Dartmouth, MA
Aug 20-23- J/111 World Championship- Chicago, IL
Aug 21-25- J/24 USA Nationals- Rochester, NY
Aug 23-25- Irish J/24 Nationals- Lough Erne, Ireland
Aug 23-25- Ted Hood Regatta- Marblehead, MA
Aug 23-25- Verve Inshore Cup- Chicago, IL
Aug 24-26- J/80 U.K. Nationals- Lymington, England
Aug 30- Sep 6- J/70 World Championship- Torquay, Devon, England
Aug 30- The Vineyard Race- Stamford, CT
Sep 4-8- J/105 North American Championship- Marblehead, MA
Sep 12-15- Rolex Big Boat Series- San Francisco, CA

For additional J/Regatta and Event dates in your region, please refer to the on-line J/Sailing Calendar.

Rolex Fastnet Race start 
Rolex Fastnet Race Preview
(Cowes, England)- For the previous four editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the elation of overall victory has been enjoyed by a team racing a yacht in the 35 to 42 foot range. In the 2013 and 2015 editions of the 605.0nm offshore race, the top three boats overall came from IRC Three and Four. This year, currently 340 teams will race under IRC for the overall win and over half of them will be competing in IRC Three and Four. The vast majority of the 3,000-strong competitors in the 400-boat fleet are passionate amateurs, racing on a huge variety of boats, with 88 different designs found in these two classes. A majority of the J/Teams participating in the race are in the IRC Two, Three, and Four classes.

For all of those J/Crews, the big decision everyone has been strategizing for the past week is weather routing decisions up and down the track.

Whether to go inshore or offshore, how long will it take, will it be a ‘big boat or small boat’ race, how to handle the powerful tides and will I need an anchor and an umbrella?

The answers for this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race are profoundly different according to whether you are on an monster 130 ft trimaran or one of the vast armada of J/109s.

In essence, the forecast for this year’s race is starting Saturday at the beginning of the ebb tide in an unusual southeasterly breeze (rather than upwind in the normal prevailing southwesterly).
Fastnet Race weather routing
According to Rolex Fastnet Race meteorologist Libby Greenhalgh, overnight for the leaders, or well into Sunday for the tail-enders, the crews will have to negotiate a “transition zone” that will see the wind drop before filling in from the southwest, a scenario that may benefit being north (in search of thermal breeze close to the coast) or offshore and south (to get to the new gradient pressure first), as always, also dependent on the state of the tide.

“Faster boats will tend to dig further south towards the Casquets TSS (Transportation Separation Scheme- a ‘no-go’ zone) and will be the most southerly,” continues Greenhalgh. “For everyone else it will be of more rhumb line or just south of the rhumb line route.”

In a “typical” Fastnet Race, the choice between going west or east of the TSS off Land’s End is significant. However, earlier in the week the only way to go was west, maintained Greenhalgh. However, this has since changed with the easterly route opening up for the slower boats.

The good news is that after this the scenario becomes more straightforward with a reach across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock and back to the Scilly Isles, in southwesterly or WSWerly winds and in pressure that will vary between 15-25 knots according to the timing. At present, it seems very unclear if the overall prize will go to the smallest boat in the race, which will get held up least in the transition zone or one of the bigger boats.

One IRC Doublehanded navigator, Henry Bomby, had some thoughtful perspectives on race strategy. “I did quite a bit of pre-race analysis and whenever an IRC Three or Four boat does well it is because they just make it through the tidal gate at Portland Bill,” says Bomby. “Normally you are upwind through there, but we’ll be straight line sailing. There appears to be more wind in the south where the transition is also shorter, but then you end up more upwind anyway. So, our route will take us quite close to the Casquets and we’ll be offshore for the transition, then tacking and getting lifted.

After the transition, we’ll be fully upwind, pointing at Penzance, but then eventually getting lifted. That will be quite a tricky thing– when you start getting the new breeze filling in. The more west you get, the quicker you’ll get through it, but the chance of sailing extra miles because you overlay is quite high. That will be a critical part of the race. For boats in this size range the crossing of the Celtic Sea will still be a reach but in a more moderate 12-14 knots, routing suggests a time of 3 days 12 hours.”
J/121 sailing offshore with triple-slots
IRC One Division
The massive 64-boat IRC One fleet has boats that range from the high-rating boats of custom Ker 46 to low-raters of a First 40- a pretty extreme range. As the lower-rating boats, the trio of J/121s will certainly enjoy the challenges associated with the current weather forecasts as outlined above with winds forcing sailing a variety of sailing angles. Those three 121s include the recent Class and Overall Winner of the recent RORC Channel Race- Mike O’Donnell’s Irish team on DARKWOOD. Joining them to press their class hard will be Nick Angel’s ROCK LOBSTER and Andrew & Sam Hall’s JACKHAMMER.

J/122E AJETO sailing Fastnet RaceIRC Two Division
The 60-boat IRC Two class has a number of highly competitive J/Crews, all proven offshore champions in recent years.  For starters, there is the J/122E AJETO that is also qualified to sail in the IRC Doublehander class, she will be sailed by joint owner-skippers- Robin Verhoef and John van der Starre- from the Netherlands. The engineer and dentist from The Hague have been Dutch IRC champions four times, and were European J/111 champions in 2015 with a previous boat, Xcentric Ripper, with which they won class in the 2015 Fastnet. It's the fourth Fastnet for another the J/122 JUNIQUE RAYMARINE Sailing Team, especially adapted for shorthanded sailing and a proven performer in the hands of Chris Revelman and Pascal Bakker who took 3rd in class at the 2018 Round Britain and Ireland race.

J/133 PINTIA sailing Fastnet RaceUp to the challenge will most certainly be the two J/133s from France- JIVARO and PINTIA.  Gilles Fournier & Corinne Migraine have sailed PINTIA to the RORC Overall Seasons Points Championship last year and are a contender again in 2019.  Plus, PINTIA has won and podiumed on a number of RORC season races criss-crossing southern England and the Channel over to France.  Yves Grosjean’s JIVARO has also podiumed in a number of French events like the SPI OUEST France Regatta in La Trinite sur Mer, France and winning IRC 1 Class in the Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race.

Four other J/122s are joining this incredibly talented group. Moving fast up the “tune-up/ training” program on the Solent and a few RORC offshore races have been Chris Daniel’s JUNO, Clive Miles’ JANGLE, Alain & Marie Catherineau’s LORELEI, and David Richards’ Russian team on JOLLY JELLYFISH.

Joining the battle are two J/111s- Sebastien de Liedekerke’s DJINN from Belgium and Simon Grier-Jones’ SNOW LEOPARD. Additionally, Andy Middleton & Alex Fisher’s J/120 SUNSET from the USA will be well-sailed by a veteran offshore team.

J/109s sailing Rolex Fastnet RaceIRC Three Division
A massive number of boats are sailing IRC Three class- eighty-five yachts on the starting line! 46 from Great Britain, 18 from France and also Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the USA.

Sailing their hearts out off the start to gain early advantage will be Philippe Baetz’s J/112E MUSIX from France, Philippe Girardin’s J/120 HEY JUDE from France, and a veritable armada of J/109s.

Sixteen J/109s will be competing in IRC Three and IRC Four. The 35ft bowsprit design has its own prize, the J/109 RORC Trophy!! The leading J/109 for the RORC season is David McGough's JUST SO, overall winner of the 2019 Morgan Cup with 85 teams racing under IRC. JUST SO won the J/109 RORC Trophy in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race.

The British Armed Forces have a long history in the race and this year, four teams from Her Majesty's Armed Forces will be racing in the J/109 fleet. The RAF with RED ARROW, the Royal Naval with JOLLY JACK TAR, the Royal Engineers with TROJAN, and the Royal Armoured Corps with AJAX.

JOLLY JACK TAR’s skipper- Lt Tom Thicknesse RN- started yacht racing with the Royal Navy; this will be his second race, and first as skipper. "Whatever the weather, we are expecting a mentally and physically draining race that demands everything from the crew. We have our sights set on the Inter-Regimental Trophy for the best service yacht and aim to be in the top five J/109s overall," says Thicknesse. "Offshore sailing has been a key element of Royal Navy sport and adventurous training for many years as the mental and physical challenge gives the opportunity to develop the endurance, leadership, teamwork and courage of our crew. The race epitomizes this challenge," continued Thicknesse.

IRC Four Division
This giant 87-boat class not only has the aforementioned J/109s, it also has Jerry Freeman’s J/105 JUILETTE and Chris Miles & Mike Sellers’ J/97 HIGH JINKS.

IRC Doublehanded Division
Over the last few editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the IRC Doublehanded class has shown steady growth from 45 entries in 2013, to 53 in 2015, and 57 in in the last race. At the time of writing, 63 doublehanded competitors were entered this year.

Back again are the other podium placers from the IRC Doublehanded class in the last race, including Dutch aces Robin Verhoef and John van der Starre once again on AJETO. “We have more experience with the boat and her performance since the last Fastnet and we are really looking forward to another tough and good competition, especially after becoming Dutch Two-Handed champions for a fifth time in a row,” says van der Starre. “The RORC North Sea Race went very well for us, beating the famous Frenchman Gery Trentesaux with his new, IRC-optimized JPK 11.80 in IRC 2. We won both IRC and ORC Doublehanded Divisions!”

For Christopher Preston, sailing with Austrian yacht design student Felix Trattner on the J/109 JUBILEE, this will be his tenth Rolex Fastnet Race, but his first double-handed. “I did the Round Britain and Ireland non-stop in 2000 doublehanded and absolutely loved it,” he says. “It was a challenging and interesting race. I loved the combination of helming and tactics and organization.” Having sailed Jubilee fully crewed with his old Clipper crew in 2017, racing it doublehanded is something of a bucket list affair. Over the winter he and Trattner has been optimizing the J/109 for double-handing in terms of the sail set-up and internal ballasting.

The biggest competitors to these two top teams will be Revelman & Bakker’s J/122 JUNIQUE RAYMARINE Sailing Team, Kees Mijs’ J/109 ARETHUSA, Joppe Schepers & Jasper Heike’s J/109 JOMALIJA, Alistair Doughty’s J/109 JELENKO, David & William McGough’s J/109 JUST SO, Jerry Freeman’s J/105 JULIETTE, and the Miles/ Sellers duo on the J/97 HIGH JINKS. Not surprisingly, given the state-of-the-art in technology and boat-handling equipment in offshore double-handed racing, do NOT be surprised if a number of these experienced J/Duets produce good results!  For more Rolex Fastnet Race sailing information

J/80s sailing Buzzards Bay Race WeekBuzzards Bay Race Week Preview
(New Bedford, MA)- The 47th annual Buzzards Bay Regatta will be held both at the New Bedford Yacht Club and at Beverly Yacht Club and will be the largest BBR ever. It will feature fourteen handicap and one-design classes racing on seven circles. The sailing on Buzzards Bay features the most reliable summertime breeze anywhere on the East Coast, and this combined with warm water, warm air and warm shoreside hospitality make BBR a not to be missed event.

Loving those sailing conditions for years are entire generations of J/Boat sailors from across the range of sailing experience. Buzzards Bay can be very deceptive. Wake up to morning fog, calm, but a gently building breeze on a sunny day by 11am. By the time the races start late morning, the breeze from the WSW can easily be in the 8-12 kts range.  And, if there is an ebb tide in the building 15-25 kts WSW breezes, it can make for some of the most difficult “washing machine” chop/waves to sail in the world- a bit like the infamous Solent off Cowes, England- but it is an entire Bay that looks like that. Scary movies. Upwind sailing sucks for skippers since it seems you are only steering into constant vertical 4 ft walls of water.  However, downwind is a scream since the disorderly massive chop permits skilled drivers to simply dive from trough-to-trough-to-trough on an all-out plane for miles!

Loving those conditions is the local J/80 class. Top local crews include Peter D’Anjou’s LE TRIGRE, Greg Packard’s PLAN B, Dan Cooney’s AMERICAN PRAYER, Jason Viseltear’s UPSETTER, Bill Snyder’s THE PARTY TREE, and Jack Gierhart’s AEGIR.

In the PHRF 1 Racing class are two J/122s (Jamey Shachoy’s AUGUST WEST & Jim Maseiro’s URSUS MARITIMUS), two J/120s (Mark Nannini’s SALACIA & Mark Verville’s ISURUS), and Corey Eaves’ J/109 FREEDOM.

Three J/105s are sailing in PHRF 2 Racing class, including Mary Schmitt’s HARDTACK, Mass Maritime’s BOUNTY, and Ed Lobo’s WATERWOLF. Joining them is Ira Perry’s J/29 SEEFEST- a previous winner of the division. For more Buzzards Bay Regatta sailing information

What friends, alumni, and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
* Falmouth Team Takes on Solent Rockstars and Win it all?  Incredibly, that was the case at the 2019 U.K. IRC National Championship when Stuart Sawyer’s J/122 BLACK DOG was crowned the 2019 U.K. IRC National Champions!
J/122 Black Dog sailing Solent
The IRC National Championship in Cowes, UK, attracted over 100 boats and twenty-two boats in IRC2, the most competitive  and hottest fleet in the regatta. Stuart Sawyer’s J/122 BLACK DOG scored four bullets in eight races to secure the IRC Performance 40 division win and the Overall IRC title by 15 points. Stuart has been racing with the same team for the better part of nine years, but this was their first time competing in the IRC Nationals. It was an idea that came to him after the Dartmouth Royal Regatta race last year, when Jeremy Smart was onboard calling tactics; “we may have a chance to do well if we keep this up,” Stuart realized.

“It was encouraging racing with Jeremy,” he told us a few days after the IRC Nationals victory. “That planted the seed—maybe this year, we should go a bit further and push ourselves. Jeremy was pleased with how the boat was running, and that was very encouraging. Believing in our boat, and our sails, was all the positivity we needed.”

Stuart was “over the moon” with his crew’s hard work over the course of the weekend, which required every bit of the team’s attention. He grew up racing dinghies with his brother Andrew and windsurfed professionally for many years. In 2007, after a hiatus, he came back to racing sailboats. “I’m a surfer at heart,” says Stuart. “So I like asymmetrical sailing, the A2 is great, you can play all the waves and soak better, it just suits my style of sailing.”
J/122 Black Dog- UK IRC National Champions
Stuart had a J/97 for three years, and after winning the Nationals, he upgraded to a J/111—where he also won the Vice Admirals Cup and National Championships in his third year. He says the J/122 is a “significantly stiffer boat,” with more displacement, and goes upwind very well. “It doesn’t plane like the J/111, but for a 40-footer it sure can surf and is responsive downwind. The best part about racing J boats is that the layout is mostly the same. The loads are greater as we increased our waterline, but we were able to quickly adapt and connect with the boat as a team.”

Stuart claimed the 2019 title with his long-time team of friends: Mainsail trimmer Garth Weaver, also known as “company secretary” as he handles all the logistics, Roger Ford in the pit, aka the Terrier for pushing everyone to hike harder and never let up; jib trimmer Josh Redgrave, who joined the team when he was 16 years old and now runs the boat; kite trimmer Jonathan ‘JB’ Barnicoat; Tom Redgrave (Josh’s brother), pit #2 for the Nationals and also covered navigation as normal navigator Simon Boote didn’t race; bow was run by Sandy Proctor, who has been sailing with Stuart for 11 years; mast Hans Wehmeyer; and mid-bow/grinder Jack Elsby. Two new crew also joined for the regatta: floater Ruby Dent [daughter of J/111 World Champion Martin Dent]; and tactician and North expert Shane Hughes.

“There is something special about sailing with friends,” says Stuart. “I think that’s why we’ve come so far and done so well over the years. The crew work was spot-on, and we know each other very well. When we get into the moments where we felt slow we are happy to change gears, if we have a bad start or there is an issue we are able to shout ‘reset!’, and everyone knew to work harder to improve boat speed.”

“One of our best moments last weekend was race 2 on the Saturday: we didn’t get off the line well, and we were buried at the start. We were outside the top 15 around the windward mark but we kept working at it, making huge gains on the downwind leg. Shane focused on keeping our air clear and the crew worked the boat really hard to keep fast and deep. We were able to get ourselves ahead of a pack and into a place where our tactician Shane had some freedom to make decisions, and we had a great second beat, a pulled out a 4th in that race. Being able to fight back helped us win overall.”

“It took a lot of time to get the rig right on our 11-year old boat, he adds. We put new rigging on the boat in 2017 when it was refurbished, but we weren’t happy with the set up. Dave Lenz then analyzed some photos and we went about a re-set before Dartmouth last year. I feel our settings now are good and we have found a sweet spot for performance”.
J/122 Black Dog sailing Solent
Shane Hughes says it was a pleasure to join this team. “The event went very well for us—better than expected in many ways. We had a lot to figure out, in a very short period. Stuart and the guys were great, very welcoming, and open to taking on a few new ideas and suggestions. The team (other than me) has been together for 9+ years, which makes them quite a cohesive unit. They sail the boat well and know how to get the most out of the boat. So it was easy to step in and add a little extra value to that.”

The effort that the team put in was impressive, Shane continues. “They wanted to get a good result at the event. The whole atmosphere on and off the water helped their performance. I have been lucky enough to sail with some great Cornish sailors in the past, and there is always plenty of banter flying around, which helps create a relaxed and inclusive team culture. There is a good mix of experienced, very keen, and talented younger guys too. It was a fun process and a successful regatta.”

After the regatta, the boat went home to Falmouth, where it will do some local sailing before competing in the Dartmouth Regatta later this summer. No Rolex Fastnet Race for this team! It’s summertime in “the West”, time to relax and chill!   Sailing photo credits- Paul Wyeth  Thanks for this contribution from North Sails U.K.

J/125 Hamachi winner Transpac Race
* Transpac 2019: How the race was won on the J/125 HAMACHI
Frederic Laffitte, President of marine supplier PYI Inc in the Pacific Northwest, shares how his team topped a fleet of 90 starters to win the 50th edition of the 2225 nm race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Here is his commentary with a lot of “lessons learned” for any offshore racer:

“Being the strategist on the overall winner, a 20 year boat with speed to burn, was a treat but involved a lot of prep work that at the end was all worth it.

We did not start this biennial race with the ambition to win it all but to at least beat the three other J/125s entered. Even if we did not have new sails (the youngest one was 4 years old), we did our homework and prepared the boat as well as could be.

Boat prep:
  • We went over all the mechanical and electronic systems.
  • Had brand new halyards and sheets made, taking special care regarding spin halyard chafe guards.
  • Went through any possible water ingress areas, plugged every holes, taped every seam in order to have a proper water management. The J/125 is a low freeboard, fast boat which results in a very wet ride at any wind over 15 knots, including downwind.
  • Tested all the sails and documented all the leads so there was no fumbling around after a sail change.
  • Found a location in the boat for every single item, in order to keep the mess to a minimum.
  • Serviced the rudder bearings.
Weather and routing prep:
  • Followed the weather evolution from two weeks prior the start.
  • Watched and studied Stan Honey’s briefing (see video).
  • During the race we conferred and discussed weather and routing endlessly.
Morning of the race:
  • After watching the latest weather we chose our sail selection for the race. This is always a tough one as we had to weigh the potential of a given sail versus its weight across the length of the race. We got lucky this trip and had on hand all the sails we needed, yet we did not carry any extra.
  • Worked out where we wanted to be on the race course for the first 300 miles or so.
The race:
  • We started in clean air and were lucky enough to almost clear the West End of Catalina Island in one shot. Our start (second of the three staggered starts) was lucky in that we had decent breeze right away unlike the earlier or later starters.
  • Our first goal was to get to the real breeze (synoptic wind) as soon as possible, regardless of bearing or angle before dark.
  • Once in the wind we decided to stay north of most of our fleet, sailing under J1 and Staysail and only on day 2 did we decide to fly the code zero and accelerate south.
  • We had to stay south for the first 2 or 3 days as the remnants of a very South high pressure threatened a Northern route.
  • Late on day 2 we had the spinnaker up and started sailing the boat to its maximum speed potential, even if that meant sailing high. A few degrees up on the J /125 made the difference between sailing 12 knots in 18 knots of breeze or sailing 16 knots in the same breeze. Looking back that late second day and all the third day is where we made most of our gains in our fleet. It seemed that for a time we had another gear.
  • Day three is when we learned that we were leading race overall, on board we realized that not only we could beat the other 125s but we could win it all. We became very aware of our speed and made a 24/7 effort to sail the boat to its maximum potential….. for the next 5 days. We gave it our all.
  • Days 4, 5, 6, and 7 were days of back and forth with the three J/125 on our tail and the very well sailed Rogers 46 Bretwalda in front. We were in a tough position as we tried to take a middle track between these two threats.
  • One item that I want to emphasize is the fact that in order to keep the boat at 100% the helmsman must be 100%, and the particularity of our crew this race is that no one had to tell the helmsman that he was not performing; it was simply “guys I am not on it…. someone else steer.” Everyone owned it without hesitation.
Last 36 hours:
  • The J/125 Velvet Hammer was nipping at our stern; they were sailing as good or better than us at this time and were able to gain a Northern leverage which threatened our position ( we owed them 1 ½ hour corrected). At the same time in front, Bretwalda was stretching their lead sailing very fast and to the South of us (they owed us 14 hours or us corrected).
  • We jibed on every shifts, sometime less than 15 minutes in order to cover our position on the Hammer, but each time on starboard tack we would quickly lose time on them and Bretwalda so it became a matter of how much are we willing to lose in order to minimize the threat of the Hammer’s leverage. The wind was also lighter to make this agonizing sailing.
  • The wind eventually filled in, somehow we picked the shifts correctly and we finished with enough time on both boats to win overall. Sailing the Molokai channel at 20 knots of boat speed, knowing we were winning the race was an amazing feeling, and we all took turns at the wheel with a grin on our faces.
As stated before, we did not start this race with the dream to win it, yet when it mattered, we were able to put it all together. The party thrown by our hosts Shawn and Marla O’Kelly at the Waikiki Yacht Club was fantastic (even if we finished at 2 AM) and for Hamachi’s owners, Shawn Daugherty and Jason Andrews, it was a memorable first Transpac that they are not about to forget.”

Team Hamachi – Seattle, WA
  • Jason Andrews – Co-Owner – Group 1
  • Shawn Dougherty – Co-Owner – Group 1
  • Frederic Laffitte – Strategist- Group 1
  • Lucas Laffitte – Bow- Group 1
  • Matt Pistay – Cooler Jockey – Group 3
  • David Rogers – Navigator- Group 1

J/125 Hamachi sailing / race strategy- Transpac Race
* J/125 HAMACHI Strategy Review with SEAHORSE editor/contributor Dobbs Davis and HAMACHI’s navigation/ strategy team.  Again, many great “lesson’s learned” for offshore racers in any event.  This segue’s to the pre-race review with Stan Honey below- fascinating stuff for any offshore racing strategists and navigators.  Watch this!

Stan Honey Transpac Race tactics and strategy
* Transpac Race: Tactics and Strategy as described by multiple Transpac Race winning navigator- Stan Honey.  

Stan was the Maxi 100 footer COMANCHE navigator in this year’s edition of the race. Before the race started, Stan offered tips to help the record 100-boat fleet in the 50th edition. Bookmark these links in your “pre-race strategy” briefings for future Transpac’s! Incredibly helpful and informative for any offshore racing.

J/34 IOR Knee Deep sailing Mac Race
* Watch this fun and entertaining Bayview-Mackinac video from Brett & Katie Langolf’s J/34 IOR KNEE DEEP that sailed the Shore Course- 3rd in Class N.

J/34 IOR Knee Deep Mac Race video highlights
The boys of KNEE DEEP went offshore for the annual race. Friends, family & rivals always make for a great week of racing, socializing and storytelling. This year’s KNEE DEEP sailing team included- Brett Langolf, Katie Langolf, Jim Herald, Ryan Lashaway, Evan Wilkins, Mark Teborak, Jason Huffman, Tom Patterson and Ryan Kyle. Add to Flipboard Magazine.