Friday, November 15, 2019

J/Newsletter- November 13th, 2019

J/Sailing News

The Sun Never Sets on J's Sailing Worldwide

It was a relatively calm week of sailing activity around the world last week for J/sailors. The most popular event in the Americas was certainly the San Diego Yacht Club's famous "Hot Rum Series", the kick-off of the three-weekend event taking place last weekend for a fleet of 100+ boats! J/Crews faired well overall in this fun "pursuit-style" race and many took silver in their respective classes.

Down in South America, the Argentine J/24 National Championship was sailed at Villa Carlos Paz, Cordoba, Argentina. The regatta for the twenty-boat fleet was organized by the Club Nautica Cordoba.

Over in Europe, German J/aficionados had a fun time sailing in the Vaeterchen Frost Regatta for one-design classes of J/22s, J/24s, and J/70s in Hamburg, Germany. The Hamburger Segel Club hosted the regatta on the beautiful Alster Lake for over 50 boats total and 250 sailors!!

Southeast of them, the annual J/24 Anzio & Nettuno Winter Championship was taking place in Rome/ Anzio-Nettuno, Italy. It was the start of the 45th Winter Championship of Anzio-Nettuno, organized by the Circolo della Vela of Rome, by the Reale Circolo Canottieri Tevere Remo, and by the Italian Naval League of Anzio. The sailing is taking place from the Nettuno Yacht Club for a fleet of twenty J/24s.

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J/105 off San DiegoJ/Sailors Love San Diego YC Hot Rum Series I
(San Diego, CA)- The San Diego Yacht Club's incredibly popular Hot Rum Series started this past weekend for the 133 entries, proving that the event is as popular as ever for southern Californians. Starting and finishing just off the western end of Shelter Island, the fleet heads out en-masse through the Point Loma passage to two buoys offshore and return to the same start line to finish the race. Since it is consistently one of the world's largest PHRF "pursuit races", the little boats know they almost always have no chance of winning overall and simply enjoy the parade of beautiful large sailing yachts gliding past them in all their glory. The smallest, slowest boats (J/22s & J/24s) start well over an hour before the biggest boats- the J/145s and J/160s, for example.

For the first time in a while, several J/Crews cracked the top five overall, an amazing feat for them! Rick Goebel's J/105 SANITY took second place, while Nico Landuer's J/34 MARLEN took fourth (a beautifully refurbished J/34 IOR boat that is all white and seriously fast in the lighter airs).

In the PHRF 1 class, Rudy Hasl's J/145 PALAEMON placed sixth, while Standish Fleming's J/125 TIMESHAVER settled for seventh. Yet another J/145, Robert Pace's ANDIAMO 2 placed ninth. All boats that placed ahead of these J's were all highly customized boats in the 44 to 60-foot range.

Then, in PHRF 4 class, Rick Goebel's J/105 SANITY won class (garnering his second trophy for the day!), with Nico Lindauer’s J/34 MARLEN in third.  Sixth to eleventh was all J/crews, including Steve & Lucy Howell's BLINK! in sixth, Ryan McCrillis' J/80 HAKA in seventh, Tom Garrett's J/70 SLOOP JOHN B in eighth, Chuck Bowers' J/29 RHUMB RUNNER in ninth, Jeff Brown's J/105 SWEET KAREN in tenth, and Dennis Case's J/105 J-OK in eleventh.

Finally, in PHRF 5 class, Tim Lynch's J/30 RUFFIAN took home the bronze for the day. Similarly, in PHRF 6 Cruising class (white sails only), Bill Engle's J/160 LIBRA pulled off the bronze, too. For more San Diego YC Hot Rum Series sailing information

J/24s sailing Cordoba, Argentina 
CARRERA is Argentine J/24 National Champion 7x!
(Villa Carlos Paz, Cordoba, Argentina)- Organized by the Club Nautica Cordoba, Leo Rivas and a seasoned team were in charge of the regatta and run eight races in two amazing days of sailing on the lake called- "Lago San Roque". It is a beautiful place to sail, high in the Andes Mountains, with snow-capped peaks ringing the lake (see here- The twenty J/24 crews from across Argentina sailed their 38th edition of the Argentine J/24 National Championship in simply epic conditions, starting off with 13-18 northeast winds on Saturday, and ending with more northerly winds from 18-22 kts!

Matias Pereira's CARRERA (Club Nautica Olivos) and his team comprised of Andrés Guerra, Hernán Suarez, and Joaquín Delgado, again managed to win the Argentine J/24 Championship! This his seventh consecutive year as Argentine Champion, winning five of eight races, an astonishing record!
J/24s in Argentina
Pereira was accompanied on the podium by Nicolas Cubria's RINA (C.N. Olivos) taking the silver, with crew of Hernan Cubria, Federico Bertrand, and Nico Gorelik Mazur. Then, attaining the bronze medal position was the top local boat, Ezequiel Despontin's U2 (Club Nautico Cordoba) with crew of Pablo Aguirre, Alejandra Zicovich, and Daniel Distefano.

Rounding out the top five was Javier Moyano's GRAN CARAJO in fourth place with crew of Adrian Berelejis, Angeles Mensa, and Francisco Agusti.  Taking fifth was Sebastian Halpern's MORRUCHO with crew of Gaston Jaren, Gabriel Miralles, and Roberto Monetti.

The "Long Distance Award" went to the fun-loving Uruguayan crew sailing MARIA MARIA, skippered by Guillermo Pla with crew of Fernando Castro, Paola Rapela, and Ismael Caballero- all from YC Uruguay in Montevideo (see-

Remember, this event also scores in the "Triple Corona Series 2019-2020". It was the first of 3 events to be completed, the next two are the "West Championship (February 22 to 25)" and the "Central Republic Championship (from April 02 to 05). For more Argentina J/24 Class sailing information

J22 netherlandsAwesome Vaeterchen Frost Regatta for J/22s, J/24s, & J/70s
(Hamburg, Germany)- Over a three-day weekend, the Hamburger Segel Club in Hamburg, Germany hosted their annual fall extravaganza on the famously beautiful and quaint Alster Lake. With flat water, shifty breezes, and streaky puffs, it is a tactical nightmare for some and an amazingly entertaining, fun, challenge for others that revel in the wildly erratic sailing conditions.

The 2019 edition had near record entries for this late fall regatta for one-design fleets of J/22s, J/24s, and J/70s. The racing was hot, fast, and furious and extremely competitive. No one dominated any of the classes, as each winning team had roller-coaster finishes in the light and fickle winds; only four races were sailed over the two days.

Winning the seventeen-boat J/70 fleet was Gordon Nickel's GER 3 team, posting a 4-1-2-1 for 4 pts net.  Carsten Kemmling's GER 928 managed to overcome an OCS in race 2 to finish with net scores of 2-1-4 for 7 pts net. Then, rounding out the podium was top woman skipper from the host HSC club, Christina Schober's GER 978 with a strong tally of 1-2-7-6 for 9 pts net.  The balance of the top five included Ulf Plessmann's GER 966 with 10 pts in fourth and another top woman skipper from Flensburger Segel Club, Tania Tammling on GER 1416 placed fifth with 12 pts.

In the seventeen-boat J/24 class, it was Jan Kaehler's GER 5281 that took a tie-breaker at 7 pts each over Hauke Kruess's GER 5073. Ascending to the third step on the podium after starting out with a devastating Black Flag in race one was Fabian Damm's GER 5316 with 9 pts, winning two of the races!  The rest of the top five included top woman skipper Lynn Wolgast (Muehlenberger Segel Club) on GER 5266 in fourth place with 13 pts. Then, fifth position went to Stefan Karsunke's (Bayerischer Segel Club) GER 5381 with 17 pts.

The winner of the J/22 class was also determined by a tie-breaker at 7 pts each. Taking the countback win was Andreas Dillmann's GER 1141 with a 1-OCS-1-5 scoreline for 7 pts net. Second was Dagmar Hilcken's GER 1445 that sailed to a 6-3-3-1 score, also for 7 pts. The bronze was also determined by a tie-breaker! That countback went to Tom Loesch's GER 1640 that had a 5-1-6-2 for 8 pts; having to settle for fourth was Tom Lau's GER 1541 with a 3-2-4-3 tally.  Fifth place was taken by Christian Greving's GER 1343 with a 4-6-2-7 scoreline for 12 pts. For more Vaeterchen Frost Regatta sailing information

J/24 women sailor 
ENJOY 2 Leads J/24 Anzio & Nettuno Winter Championship
(Rome/ Anzio-Nettuno, Italy)- The 45th Winter Championship of Anzio-Nettuno, organized by the Circolo della Vela of Rome, by the Reale Circolo Canottieri Tevere Remo, and by the Italian Naval League of Anzio. The sailing is taking place from the Nettuno Yacht Club off a prominent cape on the shores of the Mediterranean, southwest of Rome. The event is a series divided into five weekends, one a month (16 and 17 November, 14 and 15 December, 18 and 19 January, 15 and 16 February, 29 February and 1 March).

The second weekend welcomed the Roman J/24 Fleet crews with a nice Sirocco wind around 15 knots with a rolling cross-swell.  Chairman of the NYC RC- Mario de Grenet- was able to run two good long races for the fleet.

The day was dominated by Ita 428 PELLE ROSSA skippered by Gianni Riccobono. Their two bullets enabled them to climb up to third place in the series standings.

Second in both races was Luca Silvestri's Ita 458 ENJOY 2.  As a result, they now lead the overall ranking after four races.

After starting strong in the first weekend with two bullets, Paolo Cecamore’s ITA 447 PELLE NERA bombed out their second weekend with a 7-5 to drop into second place overall.

Currently sitting in fourth position is Ita 399 MOLLA skippered by Massimo d'Eramo. They are followed by Ita 487 AMERICAN PASSAGE SAILED by Rome J/24 Fleet Captain Paolo Rinaldi.

The day ended with the usual favorite- the wine and pasta party on the terrace of the Circolo della Vela of Rome!! For more Circolo della Vela of Rome club information   For more Italian J/24 Winter Championship sailing information

Regatta & Show Schedules:

Oct 5- Dec 1- Hamble Winter Series- Hamble, England
Nov 9- Hot Rum Series I- San Diego, CA
Nov 9-10- J/22 Vaterchen Frost Regatta- Hamburg, Germany
Nov 16- Around Hong Kong Island Race- Hong Kong, China
Nov 23- Hot Rum Series II- San Diego, CA
Nov 30- Dec 1- J/80 Mundialito Regatta- Santander, Spain
Dec 6-8- J/22 Jammin’ Jamaica Regatta- Montego Bay, Jamaica
Dec 7- Hot Rum Series III- San Diego, CA

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

Hong Kong Round Island startHong Kong Round Island Race Preview
(Hong Kong, China)- The annual Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Around the Island Race is one of the biggest inshore events in Hong Kong. It is a 26.0nm race around Hong Kong Island involving Big Boats, One-Design Classes, Dinghies and even Beach cats!  It is a complete free-for-all as the start takes place off the RHKYC starting line in front of the magnificent, skyscraper laced, Hong Kong city waterfront. The average entry list is 200+ boat entries, with more than 1,500 participants.

Around Island Race courseThe race is popular amongst J/Teams in southeast Asia and amongst the local Hong Kong offshore community.  In the Big Boat Class there is a good turnout of J/Aficionados. At the top of that group is the J/122E JINN skippered by owner Nicolas Cohen-Addad. He is joined by the J/111 JUGGERKNOT (Kanev Pavel), the famous race-winning J/109 WHISKEY JACK (Nick Southward), the J/35 NO ONE ELSE (Wing Hung Ng), and the J/105 LEGENDE (Pascal Martin).

There is a large J/80 one-design class going out for their circumnavigation of Hong Kong, fourteen-boats to be exact. Some of the leading boats could be Henry Wong's FOOTLOOSE, Ben Bulmer's JASMINE, Andrew Blank's JAVELIN, Belinda Ng's JENA PABE, Lonny Chen's MAY 13, and Richard Johnston's UNKNOWN PLEASURES. The lone J/70 sailing the race is Andrew Ellis's DAZIBAO. Good luck to all!  For more Royal Hong Kong YC Around the Island Race sailing information

What friends, alumni, and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
J/105 Doublehanded class - Annapolis Doublehanded Offshore Race
The recent Annapolis YC Doublehanded Offshore Race
featured a large seven-boat one-design class for the “Mixed Crew One-Design” division. Randy Smyth & Christina Persson won the J/105 division in MIRAGE. Meanwhile, two classic older designs from the J/Design team both won medals in the ORC Division. Roger Lant & Mike Welin’s J/35 ABIENTOT was the first boat to finish in fleet, but corrected to the silver spot just 15 minutes off the lead in the 23-hour race. Then, John Loe & Matt Schubert’s J/33 HORNET took the bronze. Notably, these 30+ year old designs beat two of the latest “shorthanded” boats from France- the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 and the Beneteau Figaro 3 (both boats are dog slow upwind).

Here is a nice summary of that race, called “Testing the New Olympic Mixed Doublehanded Event,” from the world-famous Gary Jobson from Annapolis, MD. Enjoy watching the video here:

J/24 sailing off Miami
* Winner's debrief- J/24 World Champion Keith Whittemore, skipper/ owner of FLORIO, from Seattle, Washington.

Here is an interesting interview/ debrief with North Sails expert Mike Ingham...there are a few good tips that can help any J/24 teams sail better, faster, smarter... Enjoy...

Mike explained, "I trained with Keith’s team leading up to the Worlds, and we were both pretty quick. So, a few days after his win I called to ask him how they posted such a consistently impressive scoreline over conditions that ranged from go-below light air to sailing with the small jib hiked out hard.

Keith explained three key factors to their success:
  1. team (the right balance of skill and attitude)
  2. preparation (a well prepared boat, and a solid training plan)
  3. speed (he is a fanatic about sails, rig tune, and trim)
Winning Team
Keith spoke highly of his team’s skills and attitude, beginning with tactician Brian Thomas. “Brian and I have been sailing together for 40 years. We get along great, and I totally trust him.”

Trimmer Willem van Waay is a newer addition to the team, and Keith says he brought some big regatta winning experience and a great attitude.

Shelby Milne is on mast. “She has been with the team for two years and is great at her job, reliable, hardworking, and a ton of fun.”

Mark Rodgers mans the bow; “He is damn fun to be with, 100% reliable up there, and salt of the earth.”

J/24 Florio sailing off Miami, FL
Winning Speed
Keith had confidence in his sails, “they were perfect out of the bag—every time.”

Curious why he chose the San Diego genoa instead of the Newport model (DX-7TT), I asked him for his thoughts. He feels there is no speed difference between the two genoas and advises picking one and getting to know it well; “don’t switch between the two.” The San Diego model has won every single Worlds since 2013 when the designs were refined, so his advice seems sound.

Genoa Details
While training with Keith, we spent a lot of time looking at the genoa. As the driving factor on the J/24, getting it set up and trimmed just right is huge. The San Diego Genoa is a little flatter, so you have to be spot-on powering it up. The Newport is a little fuller, so at the top end you have to focus on getting that power out and make sure not to over-trim.

Keith offered a few additional speed tips:
“Unroll a brand new genoa for the first race of the first day of racing. It’s good to break in the main, jib, spin for a day or so, but there is nothing like a nice crisp genny for race one!”

Set Up for the Lulls
“If you tune up with your rig at 24/21 and you are always off on your backstay, wishing you had a bit more power, ease off your rig. Even with a front row start, the wind goes over that picket fence of 80 boats and we start in lighter wind, always—so err on powering up.”

Live Through the Puffs
“In the bigger puffs, or if the wind increases during the race, you need to get good at de-powering the boat. The idea of setting up the rig for the lulls is to excel in the lulls (big gains), But that means you have to learn to hang in there for the puffs with a soft rig. Play backstay, cunningham, boom vang, genoa halyard, and pinch as much as you can (less in waves). Last resort is to ease the genny sheet. No matter what, keep the boat mostly flat and the helm balanced.”

Jib Luff Tension
“To help make the genny work from 1 to 20 knots through flat water and waves, be super aggressive with the halyard and jib cunningham. If it is light, sail with scallops between the hanks. But if you make the halyard too loose, the scallops bunch in the middle- that is not good. As the wind increases, the halyard gets tighter and tighter and eventually at the top end it is stretched. The halyard has to be right for the trends, then fine-tune with the jib cunningham.”

Jib Leads
“In flat water, we set the leads to touch-touch (when over-trimmed, the genoa touches the chain plate and the spreader simultaneously). In the chop, we moved it forward a hole to round out the bottom and power it up. That may not seem like a lot, but since the lead is so close to the clew, it makes a big difference. When the waves were on the side on one tack and on the bow for the other, we would only power up on one tack.”

Team Furio have been sailing the J/24 for a long time, and they plan to keep it up. They have a 25-boat local fleet in Seattle, and they’ve made friends all over the world.

“That is something really special about the J/24 class,” Keith points out. “There’s a sense of community and friendship. Of course we want to do well, but really we do this because we sail with people we like to spend time with. We ran into a lot of friends in Miami from all over the world, it was a blast...winning was just icing on the cake!”

* One of the Australian women that sailed on the Australian TWO DOGS team in the recent J/24 World Championship- Megan Aulich- wrote a great report about her experience with her team, the event, a harrowing experience on the final day, and the fun of sailing their J/24.

Australian J/24 flag bearer
Megan sailed with Jack Fullerton on TWO DOGS and she was the flag-bearer for Australia during the opening ceremonies! Here is her account:

“Sometimes in sailing (and life) everything is easy, and things fall into place. This tends to happen when you get a great start, pick the right side, lead the pack to the top mark and stay there by protecting your position.

For team Two Dogs, unfortunately this was not one of those regattas! LOL! It would be easy to show you the highlight reel from this campaign, but I thought I’d share the challenges, too.

For a summary, check out the highlights below. If you want all the gory details read on.
  • All the training in the world can’t save you from bad luck
  • Lawson played chicken with a car on his bike on Beach Road on the day he was due to fly out. He lost… Lesson 1 - Wrap your crew in bubble wrap a month before the event.
  • Make sure charter agreements includes a clause guaranteeing the boat will pass measurement!!
  • Apply sun screen every 2 hours at a minimum. Miami sun is vicious + humidity means you sweat it off before it soaks in.
  • When acting as flag bearer, be less enthusiastic in flag waving to get some decent photos
  • “Back up” before each race to eliminate weed from the rudder and keel! OMFG, disaster!
  • Our self-governing sport is not always self-governing and sometimes protesting is essential.
  • Remember that reading clouds in the northern hemisphere is backwards!
  • It’s not over until the boat is on the trailer.
  • Check the condition of your keel bolts and NEVER stand under a boat on the crane. Ooops.
  • Build a team of great people, so that when things don’t go to plan, they will help you to rebuild and laugh it off!
Our experience at the J/24 World Championships in Miami was mixed. We had some highs and our fair share of lows. We met so many amazing people! The competition was fierce and the organization of the regatta- both on and off the water- was second to none.

We might need a year off to rest, but we will be back.

In the 6 months leading up to Miami, we trained every weekend at Sandringham Yacht Club through the brisk Melbourne winter with an impressive ability to schedule training during the rain. Character building stuff at 9am on a Sunday morning when you’re drenched from above and below from the waves and the rain. Through these targeted sessions we developed a sense of resilience and pride that we were doing everything we could to build our team for Worlds.

In addition to the sailing training, we also worked with fellow sailor and Exercise Physiologist Madeleine Linton every Thursday. We built our strength through punishing circuit routines at The Osteo Collective Cheltenham. We were stronger than we had ever been, and it was great fun to train as a team on land as well as water with plenty of banter, planks, wall sits, weights and everything in between.

At SYC we are lucky to be able to draw on the knowledge of fellow sailors. We tapped into that resource with sessions from Barney Walker and Dave Suda in the lead up.

We also had a nice new set of Doyle Sails Victoria, lovingly crafted by our very own Lawson Shaw!

Come the start of October we felt we had done everything we could to prepare ourselves for the upcoming challenge. Our team led by Jack Fullerton comprised Ramzey El Hila, Tony Moore, Lawson Shaw and me.

Cue upset number one.
On the morning he was flying to USA, Lawson was on his daily cycle along Beach Road when a car pulled out in front of him resulting in a broken collarbone and shattered plans for Worlds. Our team meeting that night was not a happy one. There was no chance of Lawson competing with us. We would be flying out without our tactician / sailmaker / back up trimmer and friend.

Within hours we had phone calls to friends and friends-of-friends all over the world trying to find someone to fill Lawson’s place. One of the best things about the sailing community is the network of friends and the knowledge that you can draw on these friendships when in need. Luckily for us, Anssi Paatero, a fellow J/24 sailor and competitor in the 2018 J/24 Worlds was able to rearrange his planned Finnish holiday and fly across the Atlantic to complete our team.

We were back to a team of 5 with some serious training and recalibrating of our crew dynamic to come in the following days.

Our two training days in the lead up to the regatta were great. We had 0 to 18 knots and were able to get a taste of Biscayne Bay in a variety of weather conditions. We were still working on the reassignment of tasks on the boat but that was always going to take time.

One of our biggest wins of the regatta has nothing to do with racing. We were incredibly lucky to be welcomed as guests to the Coral Reef Yacht Club. We were able to keep our boat with a handful of others from the club rather than trying to raft up with the other 75 J/24’s at Shake-A-Leg. This yacht club was amazing. They had a big pool, beautiful facilities, rooftop bar, big Opti fleet and incredibly accommodating members, particularly Andres Martinez, Sharon and Gerry Bourke. We look forward to seeing you all at Sandringham Yacht Club in the future!

On Friday 18th October, our boat was in for measurement. “Erika II” was rebranded with the Two Dogs logo and we started the very long measurement process. We had almost made it through and were about to crane the boat into the water when a very prolonged discussion between the boat owner and measurement officials over the weight of bulkhead hatches took place. Short answer is that we did not need to add any lead despite prepping it (with shitty power tools – thanks Ramzey).

Measurement day is by far the biggest hurdle for boat owners and those chartering boats. A number of boats didn’t measure at all, meaning crews missed out on the regatta altogether. I cannot imagine the disappointment of missing out due to technicalities.
Luckily for us it was all smooth sailing for the next few training days prepping for the regatta. We felt that we had good boat speed (thanks Doyle Sails) in training and spent the time focusing on crew maneuvers with the new team.

Australian J/24 teams at J/24 Worlds
Racing commenced on Monday with the Practice Race. The Race Officer very wisely provided us with the opportunity to complete three practice starts prior to commencing this race. This was an invaluable initiative for all boats and gave Jack and the team a very quick lesson in big boat starts. They’re bloody tricky! The practice race was to be the template for most of the races to follow with long 1.6 nautical mile legs plus 5-leg courses. The length of race and the final upwind to the finish proved a big challenge for our team, requiring everyone to focus for that additional leg. Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, this was a big psychological hurdle and I believe it influenced our racing at the beginning of the regatta. Interestingly, most competitors chose not to complete the final leg of the practice race. As a matter of principal, and with respect for race committee and volunteers running the races, we completed the race.

My number 1 learning of the day is that that Miami sun is vicious. The Practice Race was our first day of full sun and despite applying 50+ sun cream three times over 7 hours, my legs were burnt to a crisp. Still not exactly sure why this happened, but I think it has something to do with the high humidity, and not allowing enough time for the sun cream to soak in before racing. Either way, full length pants became a staple for all future races.

On Monday evening the Opening Ceremony was hosted at Shake-A-Leg with all teams cheering as their respective national flags were paraded on the stage. I was incredibly privileged to be nominated as the Australian flag bearer for the event and will remember that moment for a long time to come. The Opening Ceremony was also our first experience of the infamous American “free-pour”. With Bacardi as a sponsor, we quickly learnt that three drinks in America is very different to 3 drinks in Australia. There were a few sore heads the following day to prove it!!

Come Tuesday morning, the real racing was upon us. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas and racing was postponed for 2 hours ashore due to lack of breeze. Racing commenced as predicted at 1300 hrs in around 5 knots of wind. Of all the days of the regatta, race day 1 was the one that nearly cracked team Two Dogs. We were seriously slow, frustrated with the light winds and as we later ascertained, had been trawling a significant amount of Biscayne Bay weed with us through each race. Big lesson in always checking your rudder and backing up before each race. We also discovered that due to the mast being taller than required, we had a rig tension that was well in excess of that required for such light conditions. We were schooled that day and it hurt.

To be fair, the competition was pretty fierce. Anything less than perfect would see you falling back in the fleet. Participants included 5 J/24 World Champion helmsmen, plus countless Continental and National Champions from 21 countries! My God it was a competitive fleet!

On Wednesday, the weather gods gave us another chance to prove that we could sail in light breezes with the right rig settings sans weed. It was another long day with 2 5-lap races in under 8 knots. Thankfully, our results were an improvement on the previous day, which did wonders for morale.

When organizing a regatta, the number one rule is to ensure that all racing is fair. Huey made absolutely sure the regatta was fair with 20+ knots all day on Race Day 3 (Thursday). One of the most interesting things about racing in Biscayne Bay is that the maximum depth is around 3 metres. When the wind picks up instead of big rolling waves that we are so used to in Port Phillip, there was short sharp chop which lacked consistent direction. We thought that we were good at sailing in chop after a winter with lots of westerlies, but this was something entirely different.

We found the clear air and rounded the first mark in 5th position in Race 5. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain that position, but it was a pretty amazing sight seeing the whole fleet rounding behind us. After the first race of the day we had the long downwind trip back to the start line. Regrettably for me, whilst sitting in the cockpit and applying sun cream the boat was too low and being moved around by the chop. We did an accidental gybe which I caught with my head… Cue “boom” + adrenalin and concerned crew members. Following the knock, I was able to regroup for the next race, albeit a little shaky. Tony was in pit for the day and took over tactics for me in the final race. There were clouds around and he was channeling his ocean racing experience in calling the shots with a good result.

Two Dogs finally got our mojo back and registered two solid results of 60 and 58 (out of 79 boats). We also lodged two protests from two separate incidents where other competitors had blatantly infringed on the rules. One was successful in arbitration and the second was drawn out, involved 3 boats, and ultimately thrown out. It made for a long day waiting for the protests to be heard. There were 5 very sleepy pups that evening.

On Friday we were again in the 20+ knot wind range and we were feeling good following the solid results from the day before. We cracked the elusive “top 50” result in the first race of the day, placing 49th and 58th respectively. There were black flags aplenty and lots of boats looking to improve their position following the first two ultra-light race days.

Saturday was the final day of racing with wind in the more comfortable 15-20 knot range. Due to some ongoing injuries obtained the day before, we started with a jib. While this was OK if we had clear air, the minute we were in secondhand breeze we really suffered. There was a speedy jib to genoa change during the first downwind thanks to Ramzey. The “lighter” conditions made for a considerably more pleasant day on the water, particularly downwind with the smaller chop.

Interestingly, as happened in the practice race, a handful of boats did not complete the final race of the regatta, instead opting to retire part way through. The cynic in me thinks they were just trying to get to the crane first to pack up their boats. The volunteer in me was disappointed that boats chose not to complete the course.

As Two Dogs completed the final race, we let out a collective sigh of relief and proudly stated that we were the only Australian boat to complete all the races and return the charter boat in one piece. At the time the statement was true. In a few short hours it was not.

We delivered the boat back to the US Sailing Centre (next to Coral Reef Yacht Club) to strip down our fittings and lines and hand back to the owner. There was a queue of 5 boats waiting to be lifted in front of us, so we were totally de-rigged and ready to put the boat on the trailer and head to presentation by the time it was our turn. Many of the crews before us were nervous with the crane, with little experience operating them. At Sandringham Yacht Club we crane our boats in and out of the water every sailing day, so we were confident and efficient in connecting the boat to the crane for the final hoist out.

I was operating the crane and the rest of the crew were pushing the boat out over the water as the wind was pushing it over the dock slightly. As I was lifting the boat about 3 metres above sea level, there was an almighty crack. The boat seemed to hover mid-air for a moment and then crash down into the water, catching the edge of the dock at the same time. The lifting strop still attached to the crane flung forward and ripped one of the shrouds from its socket.

And there we stared in shock for what felt like forever, failing to register what had just happened. As we too came back to Earth, we rushed forward to secure boat and ascertain the damage. I was the first one there and once someone else held the boat, I jumped downstairs to check the hull. Externally there were two prominent holes where the boat dropped onto the uprights of the hardstand. Inside the boat, there appeared to be no damage to the hull. By some miracle the holes were above the waterline and hadn’t punctured all the way through.

With time, we came to realize that the real miracle is that no one was hurt in this incident. As we walked away from the boat, it dawned on each of us that we had been incredibly lucky that the boat dropped over water rather than on land where it could have injured any or all of us. It was a pretty sobering afternoon. The boat owner was understandably in shock, devastated about the boat but grateful that there were no casualties. It broke our hearts to return the boat in it’s now less-than-perfect condition but at the end of the day the bolts were going to snap, and it was just unlucky it was on our watch.

It wasn’t the end of the regatta that we had hoped for. The biggest takeaway from the whole event is the importance of building a team of people who have your back no matter what.

The biggest thanks from the team goes to our skipper Jack. You did a superb job running the campaign, motivating the team, organizing the trip and racing in your first World Championships. For someone who didn’t know how to sail 6 years ago, that is a very impressive feat." Add to Flipboard Magazine.