Wednesday, April 1, 2020

J/Newsletter- April 1st, 2020

sunset in Chile While we weather the storm of an invisible enemy yet another week, and most of the world's leading economies are at a near standstill, we hope that our community of "J" sailors, cruisers, and racers around the world are practicing safe behavior regards the dreaded Covid-19 coronavirus.

With most of us cooped-up inside our homes, there are few activities that sailors can participate in to alleviate their passion and desire for sailing; especially with Spring in the northern hemisphere just around the corner and gorgeous fall sailing tantalizing our friends Down Under.

There are a number of choices. Last week, we featured an extensive list of sailing, boating, and water-related movies to while-away the days; escaping into fantasy worlds of the good, the wild, the romantic, and the extraordinary on waters around the world.

Besides the growing interest in watching sailing/ boating related movies (like last week's extensive list), there has been much greater participation in "virtual regattas". Check out below what our sailing colleagues are doing in Portugal racing virtual J/70's online.

On a related theme is the growing interest in model yachting; where it should be possible to enjoy the outdoors, maintain recommended guidelines for social "distancing", and still enjoy a degree of social interaction while participating in a passion for the sport and past-time of sailing. A great way to keep your mind occupied as you try to divine which way the winds and cat's paws flow across the pond.

There are other outlets for the passion for the outdoors, breathing the salty sea spray, the wind in your hair, the sun gently warming your skin, a gentle hug from a loved one....

Perhaps.... in this time of emotional and psychic duress, you can enjoy and dream of far-away places with John Masefield's famous poem- "Sea Fever":

     "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
     And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
     And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
     And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

     I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
     Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
     And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
     And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

     I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
     To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
     And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
     And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over."

'Sea Fever' is one of the famous poems known for wanderlust and love for nature. It was first published in 1902 in "Salt-Water Ballads". The poem speaks about a person who talks about his never-ending love for the sea. It also illustrates how he thinks of the sea as a female and urges to spend quality time with her. A wonderful thought in these difficult, unsettling times.

Sea Fever- John Masefield
Listen to an actual audio recording of Masefield's Sea Fever from the author himself here.

Extreme clipper ship- Flying Cloud
Was the Famous Extreme Clipper Ship FLYING CLOUD the Inspiration for Sea Fever?
(Boston, MA)- Perhaps. In the early days of the California Gold Rush, it took more than 200 days for a ship to travel from New York to San Francisco. Remember those were the days before the Panama Canal. It was a long hard voyage of more than 16,000 miles.

It was a treacherous voyage that included going around Cape Horn, and subsequently some of the most dangerous waters known to mankind. Yet, in 1851, a clipper called the Flying Cloud made the same journey in only 89 days. It was a headline-grabbing world record which the Flying Cloud itself beat three years later.

The Flying Cloud, America's most famous clipper ship, was the masterpiece of Donald McKay, the foremost marine architect and shipbuilder of his time.

Clipper ship Flying Cloud under full sail
Clipper ships were born in the shipyards of Baltimore around 1820 and represented the zenith of the age of sail. They had completely new and original naval design characteristics, still emulated today by marine designers.

Flying Cloud- Donald Mackay designer
These included a long and narrow hull, a narrow cutting bow, low freeboard, a streamlined stern, and a deep draft. They were especially renowned for carrying large amounts of sail relative to their displacement and were capable of remarkable speed. The Flying Cloud could be seen racing into port before the wind, her acres of sail flashing in the sun.

An ordinary sailing ship would lift her bows and plunge with the seas. But not this one, as her sleek, jet-black hull sliced through the swells, the only visible motion was the white curl at her bow and an occasional toss of spray. She seemed to skim the waves like a gigantic black and white bird.

The Flying Cloud was built in East Boston, Massachusetts, and intended for Enoch Train of Boston, who paid $50,000 for her construction. She was launched in East Boston in 1851, just at the time of the California "Gold Rush", when travel and transport between East Coast ports and California was best undertaken by ship.

famous painting of Flying Cloud- extreme clipper ship
The Flying Cloud acquired a reputation for sailing faster than any other ship of her time. Within six weeks of launch, the Flying Cloud sailed from New York and made San Francisco 'round Cape Horn in 89 days, 21 hours under the command of Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy. Then, in 1853, she beat her own record by 13 hours.

All the more remarkable of her amazing exploits was one oft-forgotten fact....her record setting performance was all the more unusual because her navigator was a woman, Eleanor Creesy, who had been studying oceanic currents, weather phenomena, and astronomy since her girlhood in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She was one of the first navigators to exploit the insights of Matthew Fontaine Maury, most notably the course recommended in his Sailing Directions. With her husband, ship captain Josiah Perkins Cressy, she logged many thousands of miles on the ocean, traveling around the world carrying passengers and goods

Read the entire story here, written by Tom Correa, famous for his blog- The American Cowboy Chronicles.

J/Gear SpecialJ/Gear April 17% OFF Special!
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The perfect mate for a performance race crew or just cruising the bay. Comes with the J/Class logo of your choice and can be customized with your boat name and sail number. Comes in colors of Black, Carbon, and Navy and sizes from S to XXL.  Check it out here on the J/Gear website

Regatta & Show Schedules:

May 27-31- J/24 North American Championship- Blue Point, NY
Jun 11-14- Helga Cup Ladies J/70 Regatta- Hamburg, Germany
Jun 12-14- Chicago NOOD Regatta- Chicago, IL
Jun 20-21- J/70 East Coast Championship- Cape May, NJ
Jul 26-Aug 1- J/70 World Championship- Marina del Rey, CA

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

What friends, alumni, and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
Virtual Sailing J/70s in a World Locked Down
(Lisbon, Portugal)- Here is a fun idea to do with friends, not just in your local sailing community, but with friends around the world in your social online communities. Try the Virtual Regatta, sailing the online version of the J/70 (replete with actual VPP polars from actual J/70 sailing)!

Our friends at J/Boats Portugal have not only done that, they have organized regattas! Frans Wijnveld had this to say about their initiative:

"Due to the coronavirus, all sailing in Portugal is forbidden. So, my business partner- Luis Verissimo- came up with a great idea to start virtual regattas organized by J/Boats Portugal sailing in J/70's.

The idea was so successful, it is now adapted by the Portuguese Sailing Federation! In fact, we now have a number of sponsors for the winners and the last place boat, donated spontaneously! Amazing!

Last weekend, Luis ran the regattas with help of five people and 232 people joined in the regattas, with 20 boats racing at a time!

J/Boats Portugal
Our virtual regattas drew a lot of attention in these times of misery when all sports have come to a standstill! Amazingly, here in Portugal we got a LOT of spontaneous media coverage in major newspapers and TV; both online Internet and traditional print/ TV outlets!

People view this as a very sympathetic initiative of J/Boats Portugal! And one thing is for sure, the whole country of Portugal knows that J/Boats has arrived!"

If you want to learn more about hosting and running a Virtual Regatta using J/70s, please do not hesitate to contact Frans or Luis via email:
  • Frans Wijnveld-
  • Luis Verissimo-
J/70s sailing Virtual Regatta

Watch a video of how Virtual Regattas work here

J/70s sailing Virtual Regatta
Learn more about Virtual Regatta and J/70s here:

Model yachting/ sailing on a pond
Grow Sailing in a Socially Responsible Way?
(Charleston, SC)- Why not? Try model sailboat racing! National Sailing Hall of Fame inductee Bob Johnstone is transitioning again. From Sunfish to 470 to J/24 to J/44 to MJM Yachts and now to one-design, radio-controlled sailboat racing. Here, Bob provides some good news from James Island in Charleston, SC and an interesting viewport to consider:

"Located on the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community campus is the Bishop Gadsden Yacht Club, which may be one of few yacht clubs still conducting races in America. Radio-controlled sailing just happens to be the perfect option in these trying times, particularly if you are in a gated residential community with a pond (yes, we do have security).

Following current Covid-19 coronavirus guidelines, skippers can keep their social 6 ft. distance seated in “soccer-mom” chairs. There’s no bumping one another aboard, since there is no crew. And, there’s a ready group of lifetime boaters and sailboat racers among those emerging 77 million aging Baby Boomers. BGYC could be setting a national trend.

Our 11-boat turnout last weekend was the local pond record, and there will be three more to come next week. NOTE- please do not be alarmed, we are living in a gated community with a security guard!! Excitement is building as our fleet of Dragon Flite 95s are blossoming in all colors like a spring Charleston garden!

DF-95 sailing modelAlong with my wife Mary, our BG cottage dining room table is the DF-95 kit assembly area. We’re up to a fleet of 10 of these mini Volvo 70 look-a-likes to compete with several Lasers and Nirvanas. Speak about a one-design program!

With $425, a race-ready DF-95 kit and tuning guide ( arrives by FedEx within the week. Just add 8-AA batteries, controller neck strap, and sail numbers. Takes a day to assemble.

Radio-controlled sailboats could dramatically grow the sport of sailing… anywhere there’s a pond or pool. Not just in nice large harbors or lakes. A superb teaching tool for young kids, without having to invest significant funds to buy and maintain fleets of junior boats.

Think of an elementary school that supports the S.T.E.A.M. curriculum! Skills of assembling the DF-95 or smaller DF-65 kits, tying knots, learning the physics of sailing, the complexity of electronic controls, learning how to sail without having instructors on the boat, or yelling with megaphones, and learning a lifetime sport of yacht racing.

With the smaller DF-65, it’s been done in swimming pools with big fans at one end. It is a natural outlet to motivate video game fanatics (e.g. see Virtual Regatta above). And, it’s a sport that can involve parents participating with their kids in the same events. You know there’s nothing more motivating to a kid than beating the old folks on the race course!

Sailing on these small ponds with winds coming from every direction really teaches racing tactics. It must be how Buddy Melges got so good, being on Lake Zenda with winds going everywhere.

And, in terms of helping a kid deal with life: racing sailboats teaches decisiveness/ judgement; taking action without knowing all the facts; training the mind to assign probabilities to a number of possible outcomes; like the Harvard Business School Decision Tree.

DF-95- Reverend Mary JohnstoneBishop Gadsden is one of two radio-controlled sailing fleets still conducting regattas in the Charleston area. Gordon MacDonald, past-Commodore of the Noroton Yacht Club, captains a fleet of 10 radio-control Lasers out of Wild Dunes. Lynn Comfort just picked one up. They race on a pond at Sewee Preserve, east of Charleston.

A major center of radio-controlled model yacht racing has been Grove Pond at James Island’s County Park; which is currently shutdown (understandably). The Charleston Model Yacht Club has about 40 members. Their active schedule included Monday and Wednesday mornings and Sunday afternoon with three RC classes: DF-95s, Soling 1Ms, and larger EC-12s (a model 12 meter).

At our Bishop Gadsden pond (protected from the outside world), we are racing twice per week 5 to 6 races per day; it is all very relaxed and informal. Better than sitting in front of the TV set listening to the sobering news about how us seniors may be the most afflicted in a pandemic. Serious port-starboard collisions usually involve a gentlemanly solution of a voluntary 360 turn, but minor bumping and mark rounding pile-ups cause more laughter than screams of “protest”. It’s a race by race event. All fun. Everyone has his or her day. No cumulative scoring. No serious betting (yet) among spectators, like Aussie 18 skiffs on Sydney Harbor.

It takes being immersed in each new phase of sailing to fully understand what its potential might be for the sport.  And, amazingly, I am seeing the massive possibility here. But for now, it is just good to have good news to counterbalance the coronavirus onslaught elsewhere in our sport and on radio/ TV. Sail on!"
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