Monday, April 24, 2017

J/112E Tops Class @ SPI Ouest France!

J/122E JLance 12 sailing SPI Ouest (La Trinite sur Mer, France)- The 38th edition of the SPI Ouest-France- Destination Morbihan regatta is one of the most important sailing events in Europe and it is the first major regatta of the year after a long, cold winter.  How major is it??  Well, just 409 boats, with more than 2,500 sailors, that were all looking forward to shaking-out the cobwebs, dial-up the adrenalin, and figure out “who’s on first” after a winter of repairs, preparation, new bottom paint, new sails, new electronics and, often, new crew!  A lot is at stake as well for many of the leading builders in Europe as it is the first time they get to test out their newest (or revamped) models against many of the best sailors in France, if not Europe.

Twelve nations were represented in this year’s event along with over a dozen classes that included big fleets of J/70s, J/80s, and handicap classes for both IRC and OSH rules. As usual, the Societe Nautique de La Trinite sur Mer did a fabulous job hosting the event off their gorgeous, quaint little seaport along the Bay of Quiberon.  They were lucky to be blessed with reasonably good winds and weather over the four-day weekend regatta.  The fleet was treated to westerlies on Friday of 10-15 kts; then on Saturday it was a somewhat grey day with breezes of 10-15 kts from the N-NW and quite shifty; Easter Sunday saw the Easter Bunny deliver a suitably sunny day for Easter Egg hunts for the children while the sailors enjoyed a rather light N-NW shifty wind with big holes; and, finally, on Monday the regatta was blessed with more N-NW winds in the 10-15 kts range.

J/112E JLance 12 winning SPI OuestIn the end, the most notable and impressive victory was the spectacular IRC 2 Class win by Didier Le Moal’s J/112E J-LANCE 12 from Societe Regate Rochelaises. Their record of 3-1-1-2-1-15-5 for 13 pts net was a decisive 10+ point victory over Dream Pearls- a JPK 10.80 factory team. Ironically, J-LANCE 12’s win may have been even greater had they not missed the penultimate race and score a DNC (their discard race)- somehow their navigator missed the flags at the rear of the RC finish boat indicating there would be one more race on Sunday!

According to Le Moal, “The J/112E has shown impressive upwind capability (being able to overtake higher rated boats in the class above them in real-time). Downwind, the asymmetric spinnaker has confirmed its benefits in a mix of coastal and around-the-cans races.”

There were several other good performances by J/crews in IRC classes. In IRC 1 Class, 5th was J/133 GICQUEL ASSOCIATES with E Gicquel skippering, just two points from fourth place. Then, in IRC 3 (with 31 boats), 5th place was J/97 MISPICKEL VI skippered by Benoit Fagart from Societe Regate Rochelaises, notably beating Rolex Fastnet Race winner FOGGY DEW, the JPK 10.10 sailed by Noel Racine.

J/11S shorthanded custom sailing SPI OuestFinally, there was an impressive performance by a newly launched, un-tuned, un-optimized J/11S in the massive IRC Double Class of 35 boats- the largest offshore keelboat section in the entire regatta!  Taking 3rd was the J/11S JATAKA with the team of Nicholas Troussel & E Kerscaven from CVF with an 11-4-2-2 record!  They were up against a rogue’s gallery of the top French offshore short-handed teams, many of them “factory teams” on JPK 10.10s (5), JPK 10.80s (3), Sun Fast 3200s (7), and A35s (3).  According to D Le Moal, “she finished in IRC Doublehanded class with a not yet optimized rating and just a few days of training for the crew. The overall performance was fantastic, she showed the ability to overtook all the fleet as soon as the wind was over 5 knots!”

In the French version of PHRF in America, the OSH 1 Class of 25 boats saw a solid performance by J/crews, with 6 boats finishing in the top 15 places!   Second was the J/111 J4F sailed by P Vidon from SR Douarnenez; 5th was the J/120 HEY JUDE skippered by P Girardin from CN Pornic; 7th was the J/92 LUXIOR ASSURANCES ET IMMOBILIER with M Le Formal from SR Brest; 11th was the J/120 LADY JANE with P Tostivint from CN Pornic; 14th was the J/122 JOLLY JOKER with L Marchais from SN Trinite sur Mer; and 15th was the J/105 J-SQUARED skippered by V Jomier from SN Trinite sur Mer!  Congratulations to all!

J/80s sailing SPI OuestAs has been the case for over the past dozen years at SPI Ouest, the 67 J/80s had great sailing, great competition, and a surprising outcome!  “The Spanish are back!”  And, in a big way.  Taking the top two spots were two of Spain’s top sailors and past J/80 World Champions.  Winning with just 57 pts net was Ignacio Jauregui’s GOLD SAILING, counting just top 8 finishes in this incredibly competitive fleet. Fellow countryman, Jose Maria van der Ploeg (also an Olympic Medallist for Spain), sailed VSA COMUNICACION fast enough to take the silver just 2 pts back, counting an astonishing SIX 4th places (plus, never winning a race) in his 11 races counted scoreline!

Rounding out the bronze medal position on the podium for the J/80 class was top French sailor Eric Brezellec on COURRIER JUNIOR with 62 pts net. The balance of the top five included Simon Moriceau’s ARMEN HABITAT in 4th place and Luc Nadal’s familiar GAN’JA in 5th place. Top woman skipper for the event was Ms C Vitel sailing with her crackerjack crew on VITEL SAILING TEAM- she was 7th overall- a fabulous performance for her! It is clear the Spanish and the French are “dialing up” their activities and focused on the J/80 World Championship that will soon be taking place at Royal Southampton YC on the Solent in the United Kingdom.

J/70 Easter bunny at SPI OuestThe J/70s had their largest fleet so far at this year’s SPI Ouest.  With twenty-one boats on the line, there is no question the class is beginning to gain momentum in France.  Many top J/80, J/22, J/24 sailors, plus refugees from Surprise and 5.70 Classes in France are recognizing the J/70 is a fun, easy-to-sail class that can be easily trailered anywhere due to its simple ramp-launch-ability!  To say that French sailors are a quick study of the class is an understatement- after all, they have some of the most extreme offshore boats imaginable in the entire world- pioneering stuff no one else even dares to try (like globe-girdling IMOCA 60 and Mini 6.50 foilers).  The J/70 has become the “world’s proving ground” for many of those top French sailors training for their other offshore programs- Vendee, Volvo, Mini-TransAt, and so forth- the J/70 forces extreme attention to detail on the simplest boat, focusing on a sailor’s ability to read wind, waves, and their competitors for optimum performance.  As a reflection of that effort to learn from the world’s best sailors, winning the SPI Ouest J/70 class was Luc Sambron’s HEMON-CAMUS team.  They sailed a very consistent series, winning just 2 races but placing in the top 6 in every race to win by a scant one-point margin!  Just one point back was top UK J/70 team SOAK RACING, skippered by Ian Williams.  Although they won 4 races, they could not match the consistency of Sambron’s team.  Third was Oscar Lundqvist’s Swedish crew on TBA with 50 pts net, winning two of the last three races to race up the leaderboard.  Fourth was Herve Leduc’s French crew on JIBE SET with 54 pts net, demonstrating their fast learning curve by winning the first race and never finishing out of the top 8!  Finally, 5th place was evidence the Spanish are beginning to focus their efforts on the world of J/70s- G Alfredo’s LANZAROTE EUROPEAN SPORTS DESTINAT crew from the infamous Canary Islands (home of many great heavy air sailors) demonstrated flashes of brilliance and speed- taking 2nd in the first race and winning two races!   Sailing photo credits- Thomas Brégardis and Marc Ollivier.   For more SPI OUEST-France sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Netherlands J/22 Warming Up Report

J/22s sailing Netherlands (Brassermermeer, The Netherlands)- The J/22 class in the Netherlands are all “warming up” for the J/22 World Championship that is starting on May 30th and goes until June 4th in Scheveningen.

As part of that program, they host their annual “Spring Warming Up” Regatta series. Over the weekend, in the Dutch Roelofarendveen, the traditional Warming Up took place.  The Brassermermeer showed its most beautiful side with beautiful sunshine, a blue sky, and 3-5 bft breeze from the northeast.

J/22 warming up security detailTwenty boats participated, with most of the crews from The Netherlands, plus there were four top crews from Germany’s J/22 class and two top French teams. Everyone was highly motivated to prepare their boats, get their crews working like a well-oiled machine, and tune their rigs and sails for optimum performance.  After all, the World Championships are less than two months away, and the security detail (pictured here at right) are ready to hug, snuggle, and lick you to death! :)

After a total of nine exciting races, it was quickly clear who would be at the forefront of the World Championship!  Nic Bol (NL), the 2010 J/22 World Champion, won the Warming Up with 37 points lead, counting four 1sts and two 2nds in his scoreline. Nic’s crew consisted of Chris Bol, Niels de Vries, and Tim de Weerdt.

J/22 warming up winnersWhile Bol and crew were simply sailing in a league and class higher than anyone else, the fight for the last two positions on the podium was a rough and tumble one!  Those protagonists were a Dutch and French crew- Lisanne Nidjam’s NED 1365 and Reiner Brockerhoff’s FRA 1444.  Both teams started off their first five races quite slowly, in fact neither one was in the top five after five races counted.  However, both went into much higher gears, sailed faster, smarter and made less crew work mistakes and got better starts.  That combination enabled both of them to race up the standings.  Nijdam’s crew closed with a 3-2-4-2 while Brockerhoff’s team closed with a 4-ocs-3-1.  In the end, it was Nijdam’s crew (Tomas te Velde, Derk Hillege, Iris van Gerrevink) that finished with 56 pts to take the silver.  Three points in arrears was Brockerhoff’s crew (Christophe Deckecp & Charles Mic), settling for the bronze with 59 pts.  The balance of the top five included Jean-Michel Lautier’s NED 1273 with 65 pts in fourth place and 5th was Hylke Kooistra’s NED 1455.

Next event for additional World’s “training” will be the VanUdenReco Regatta in Stellendam at the end of April.  For more Netherlands J/22 class sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Cowtown Stampede Preview

J/105 sailing Texas (Fort Worth, TX)- The Fort Worth Boat Club is looking forward to hosting their Annual Regatta & Cowtown Stampede to be held on Eagle Mountain Lake, with racing taking place on Saturday and Sunday, April 22nd & 23rd. Make plans to attend “THE PARTY” on Saturday night- e.g. the namesake for the event- the “Cowtown Stampede”!

The club is hosting several one-design classes for their event on the picturesque Eagle Mountain Lake, including J/105s, J/22s, and J/24s.  Looking after the cowboys out on the water are PRO Bob Gough for Course 1 (J/22 & J/24s) and PRO Chet Klyn on Course 2 (J/105s).

The J/105 class has some stiff competition shaping up for the weekend, including Rick Shaeffer’s DOUBLE DARE, Dwight Horton’s BEAUTY, Bill Chambers and Martin Peacey’s EB2.0 METAMORPHOSIS, Matt Arno and Tiffany O’Kelley’s BLUE FLASH, and Jason Dyer and Mark Smith’s EAU LA LA!

The J/22 fleet is showing up in style, with seven boats registered from across the south- Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; and San Antonio, TX.  Watch out for these teams on the leaderboard- Stu Lindow’s SOUTHERN BELLE; Kevin Orff, Eric Simonson, & Aaron Brittain’s TRES LOCOS; Alberto Simoncini’s BON GRIEF; and Keith Zars’ VOODOO BABY.

As part of their season-long Texas Circuit (that started over 35 years ago!), the J/24s have several strong contenders in their midst.  Teams are from Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Austin fleets.  Known “stampeders” are Tim Johnson’s GRAY WOLF, Jim Freedman’s MISS CONDUCT, Natalie Harden’s GIGGLES, Stu Juengst’s VANG GO, Chris Holmes on BAD MOON, and Andrew Theismann sailing YOUNG’UNS.  For more Cowtown Stampede sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Charleston Race Week Preview

J/70s at Charleston(Charleston, SC)- Spring maybe finally be arriving for the much anticipated Sperry Charleston Race Week that is taking place from April 20th to 23rd in Charleston, SC. Between the historical downtown of Charleston and the casual atmosphere of Mt Pleasant across the harbor, the sailors will be spoiled for choice for charming restaurants, quaint southern-style inns, and plenty of sites to see, including the famous World War II aircraft carrier- the USS Yorktown.

The incredibly popular regatta is the first large-scale spring event to take place on the East Coast, with 217 boats entered, with just about all boats based at the amazingly accommodating Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina on Patriots Point.  The event has become a mecca for J/sailors in the spring-time, a great chance to dust off the old yacht, toss it on a trailer, and drag it down to Charleston to have some fun-in-the-sun and enjoy good’ole southern hospitality.

The sailing is quite challenging for both Charleston Harbor veterans and rookies learning the vagaries of winds and the notorious currents. While the winds can be tricky and shiftier than most harbors, it is the massive amounts of current produced by the confluence of three rivers (Ashley, Cooper & Wando) that converge at the northwestern part of the harbor that drives both the RC/ PRO’s crazy and the sailors simply cuckoo.  It is not unusual to see upwards of 3 kts of current across the four race courses inside the harbor and enormous current shears and eddies when the tide changes; especially inside of Fort Sumter (the place that is infamous in US history for being bombarded by the Confederate Army on April 12-14, 1861, starting the American Civil War).  Plus, toss in some constantly shifting sand bars and mud banks known simply as “Middle Ground” and you get the picture- it’s a challenge.

J/24s sailing CharlestonThe weekend forecast may actually exacerbate the tactics and strategies employed by the teams, both on the inshore courses and the offshore courses.  In general, it looks to be light to medium breezes for all four days.  Starting Thursday, a light northerly is supposed to die with potential for a 5-8 kts south/southeast seabreeze in the afternoon.  There should be some improvement on Friday, sunny in the high 70s with a SW flow moving SSW in the 8-15 kts range.  Saturday and Sunday look promising, with forecasts indicating SSW winds of 12-18 kts and sunny.

For the 127-strong field of J’s across PHRF handicap and one-design classes of J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, and J/88s, it means they will represent by far the biggest brand participating in the event- nearly 60% of the entire fleet!  In short, Charleston Race Week has become another “de facto” J/Fest regatta for the passionate tribe of J/sailors in the eastern half of America.

Leading the charge by far is the largest fleet in the regatta- the 76-boat J/70 fleet.  It has the feeling of a “Woodstock-type” of gathering, sailors are coming from near and far to get a chance to re-unite after a long cold winter and for those who’ve been fortunate enough to have been traveling the Florida and Caribbean winter regatta trail.  Canadians, Nova Scotians, Chileans, Mexicans, Cayman’ers, Italians, Quebecois, and the sort are all looking forward to diving into the muddy, tricky currents of the famous harbor and, later, trading a few bruising war stories in the sands of the tent party about how they missed “the big one”.

The J/70s are loaded with both strong Corinthians teams as well as Open crews from across the world.  Top visitors include World Champion Italian sailor from YC Monaco and of America’s Cup & MOBY Lines fame, Vincenzo Onorato, steering one of his famous MASCALZONE LATINO’s.  He will be challenged by other visiting teams like Felipe Robles from Cofradia Nautico del Pacifico in Santiago, Chile; Peter Cunningham’s Cayman Islands crew on POWERPLAY RACING from Cayman Islands Sailing Club; Fabian Gomez-Ibarra’s VAGAZO from Guadalajara, Mexico; Hadrian Corning’s EMILEE from Pointe Claire YC in Westmount, Quebec; and Matthew Monts crew from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

J/70s sailing CharlestonOn the flip-side of that contingent is a thundering herd of fast crews hoping to maintain some composure in the tricky conditions despite their platinum credentials.  Such teams include current J/70 World Champion Joel Ronning’s crew on CATAPULT from Wayzata, MN; Jack Franco’s 3 BALL JT from Kemah, TX; Doug Strebel’s BLACK RIVER RACING; the formidable Snow/Brigden duo on COOL STORY BRO from San Francisco, CA; Allan Terhune on DAZZLER from Annapolis, MD (a J/22 World Champion); Martie Kullman’s NEW WAVE from St Petersburg YC; Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE from San Diego YC; Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND from Annapolis YC; John Brim’s RIMETTE from Fishers Island YC; Pamela Rose’s ROSEBUD from Coral Reef YC; Peter Vessella’s RUNNING WILD from St Francis YC; Brian Keane’s SAVASANA from Buzzards Bay; Will Welles’ SCAMP from Newport, RI; Hannah Swett’s SPARKLE from New York YC; Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE from Fort Worth Boat Club, TX (the 2017 Quantum Winter Series winners); and John & Molly Baxter’s TEAM VINEYARD VINES from Riverside YC in CT (the 2016 Quantum Winter Series winners).  Yes, it’s a star-studded, highly competitive event that will see “flights” of 38 boats race each other in a continuous round-robin to determine the winner.

The top Corinthians J/70 crews will certainly include Andrew & Melissa Fisher’s BUTTON FLY from American YC; Frank McNamara’s CHINOOK from Eastern YC; Tracy Usher’s CHRISTINE ROBIN from St Francis YC; Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY from Annapolis YC; and Alex Meleny’s TRUCKIN’ from Vineyard Haven YC.

Next up is the most excellent showing of the J/24 class, with twenty teams showing up for a “battery bash” across that waterfront all weekend long.  A number of cataclysmic confrontations of the megaton kind will most certainly take place in this legendary class.  Pulling out every weapon in their arsenal will be past J/24 champions like Mike Ingham’s USA 5443 from Rochester Canoe Club; Robby Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM for Davis Island YC; Tony Parker’s famously-named BANGOR PACKET from Annapolis YC; Ron Medlin’s BASH from Waccamaw SC; Mike Palazzo’s JO MAMMA from Charleston YC; Aidan Glackin’s MENTAL FLOSS from Lloyd Harbor YC; and Mike Marshall’s USA 5028 from Jamestown, RI.

Celebrating their first Midwinter Championship in some time are the J/80s.  A good fleet of eight teams will be on the starting line, representing seven states!  Familiar crews include Ken Mangano’s MANGO from Eastport YC in Annapolis, MD; John Storck’s J/80 North Americans winning team on RUMOR from Huntington, NY; and the top couple team on-board SHENANIGANS- Bill & Shannon Lockwood from Keyport YC in Holmdel, NJ.

J/88s sailing CharlestonThe five-boat fleet of J/88s promises to be a donnybrook amongst the leading crews.  Featured are two past Key West and East Coast winners, Mike Bruno’s WINGS team from American YC in Rye, NY and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION crew from Huguenot YC in New Rochelle, NY.  Chasing them hard will be another woman skipper- Laura Weyler’s HIJINKS from Youngstown YC and Williamsville, NY; Brian O’Malley’s BLUE from Peninsula YC in Charlotte, NC and Ryan Ruhlman’s fast SPACEMAN SPIFF team from Lakeside YC in Cleveland, OH.

The J/105 class is making a bit of a comeback in this regatta, with 5 boats on the starting line.  With all local boats, the betting form is a bit suspect since none of the teams have competed on a national level.  Nevertheless, it could be a JOYRIDE (Robert Scribner) as they become the crew that becomes the SKIMMER (Martschink/Hagood) that goes past the RUCKUS (Seif/Smith/Jacques) formed on the RUMFRONT (Martschink/McKenzie), or else they will all be DEAD ON ARRIVAL (Highsmith)!! :0

The J/22s are sailing with four boats, but it must be noted that it includes the WARRIOR SAILING TEAM, a program designed to provide opportunities for America’s war veterans to experience the sea and team-building with friends. Also, the fleet includes two women’s skippers- Allyson Plessner on College of Charleston #9 and Kate O’Donnell on LEVEL PELICAN.

In the world of offshore sailing, there are a number premiere teams hoping to gather some silverware in both ORC handicap as well as PHRF Pursuit events.  In ORC A with 6 boats, we find multiple Key West Race Week champion, the J/122 TEAMWORK, again being led by owner/skipper Robin Team from Lexington, NC.  In ORC B with 6 boats, there is a quartet of crews that includes the J/120 MOOSE DOWN with Richard Moore from Carolina YC and John Keenan’s ILLYRIA from Mt Pleasant, SC; the J/35 ARROW with Willy Schwenzfeier from Charleston, SC; and the J/36 SOUL with Charles Coyer from College of Charleston YC.

The random-leg PHRF Pursuit Spinnaker fleet includes the J/111 KINETIC with Robert Stein from Charleston YC; the J/120 EMOCEAN with Bill Hanckel from Charleston YC; and the J/130 SCEPTRE with Bob Musor from Mt Pleasant, SC.  Their colleagues in PHRF Pursuit Non-Spin include the J/30 LAS BRISAS with Mark Swatta from Mt Pleasant, SC.  For more SPERRY Charleston Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sailing Friends Become Rivals in Biennial Classic!

(Annapolis, MD)- Annapolis Yacht Club members Richard Born and Jimmy Praley grew up sailing on big boats with their fathers.  Both began by racing on the Chesapeake Bay during elementary school and then graduated to offshore racing as teenagers.

After a lot of dinghy racing in high school and college, Born and Praley eagerly returned to big boat racing and became indispensable crew members for their fathers.

Now, things have come full circle as Born and Praley will each skipper entries in the 2017 Annapolis to Newport Race starting June 2 and 3. The two longtime friends will become competitors in the same class as both will be leading J/120 racing programs.

“My father wants to take a backseat on this one,” Praley said. “He’s not sure how many offshore races he has left and wants me to gain a better understanding about all the logistics in terms of organizing the crew and prepping the boat.”

This will be the sixth Annapolis to Newport Race for Praley, who debuted in 2007 as crew aboard the Santa Cruz 70 Donnybrook. He has served as a watch captain for his father aboard the J/120 Shinnecock for the past four editions of the 475-nautical-mile passage.

“Annapolis to Newport has always been one of my favorite races,” Praley said. “It’s a very challenging, very tactical course. It’s like three races rolled into one because you have the Chesapeake Bay portion, the Atlantic Ocean portion and the Block Island-to-Newport portion.”

Born will never forget his first Annapolis to Newport Race, which came in 1997 aboard the family’s J/35 Grayling. He was 15 years old and was thrilled by his first experience going into the Atlantic.

“Obviously, I really liked it because I’ve been doing offshore racing ever since,” said Born, who completed his first Newport to Bermuda Race in 1998. “Ocean racing isn’t something you can read a book (about). You have to go out there and gain experience.”

Born’s father and namesake bought a J/120 in 2003 and ever since they have been entering A2N in odd years and Newport to Bermuda in even years.

“The old man is backing off a bit,” said Born, who was skipper of Windborn in the 2015 A2N race. “He doesn’t want to be responsible for prepping the boat for going offshore anymore.”

Born and Praley fully understand the importance of proper preparation in advance of an offshore passage. Each is diligently working through the checklist in terms of safety gear and electronics equipment.

“We’re all set in terms of safety features,” Praley said. “We go above and beyond what is actually required. We make sure the majority of the crew has attended the Safety-at-Sea seminar and we have a personal AIS transponder for everyone.”

Praley has already met with his sailmaker to select Shinnecock’s inventory for A2N and has been researching housing in Newport for the crew. His father taught the importance of choosing the crew.

“I think the most important element is making sure you have a group of sailors aboard that get along,” Jimmy Praley said. “You have seven or eight people crammed into tight quarters for three or four days so it’s critical to have good chemistry and a cohesive group.”

Praley, a Key School graduate and four-year varsity letterman with the Tufts University sailing team, admits to feeling the weight of responsibility that comes with holding the title of skipper.

“Ultimately, you’re responsible for safety and well-being of the entire crew so it’s definitely an eye-opener,” he said. “I’m fortunate that my father has been a great teacher over the years. Up until this point, he has been the final decision-maker. Now that job falls to me. Like my father, I’ll always seek out and value the input of others.”

Born, 35, and Praley, 32, are shining examples of the evolution that serves as lifeblood for a respected institution such as Annapolis Yacht Club, graduating from junior members to active adult members. They each have represented AYC in team racing events all over the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Born and Praley were fortunate their fathers encouraged them to pursue ocean racing. Organizers of A2N established the Youth Challenge Trophy to encourage the next generation of offshore competitors. Skippers interested in vying for the trophy must race with a crew that includes a minimum of three sailors under 25 years old at the race’s start. Service academy entries are not eligible for this challenge.

Testing Life, a Tartan 46 skippered by Brian Mulhall of Ocean City, N.J., was presented the inaugural Youth Challenge Trophy following the 2015 Annapolis to Newport Race.

“That was our most important trophy,” said Mulhall, who had his 19-year-old son Cameron and a pair of St. Mary’s College students aboard. “We run a program with Ten Commandments, and right at the top is that we are always looking to introduce young people to the sport of sailboat racing.”  Thanks for contribution from Jake Linger at Annapolis YC. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Handing Over the Keys to the Future.

(Annapolis, MD)- The first annual J/70 U.S. Youth Championship will take place August 11-13 in Newport, RI. The event is open to 11 teams that had advanced from one of the 11 regional qualifiers, with the goal of the event to promote youth keelboat sailing across America.

Porter Kavle, Will Comerford, Jake Vickers, and Leo Boucher of Annapolis, MD hope to compete in the championship and will be participating in the next qualifier - Charleston Race Week on April 21-23 - thanks to Kristen and Brian Robinson who are loaning them their boat.

“They have helped us out tremendously by introducing us to supporters for the regatta as it is a big undertaking for a bunch of teenagers,” Kavle said.

With Ullman Sails donating the sails to the effort, Kristen Robinson likes their chances. “They’re going to race competitively. I think they are excellent sailors. They could be the team to beat.”

Robinson, now the vice president of USA J/70 Class Association, called Kavle in October 2016 to gauge his interest in competing in the J/70 Corinthian Nationals that was held in Annapolis. With the loan of Ed Furry's boat, Kavle, Comerford and three other juniors placed 12th in a crowded field of 45 entries.

“It was a huge learning experience,” Kavle said. “Lots of big breeze and a large fleet.”

A chance meeting with Robinson in December sparked Kavle’s venture to Charleston. Kavle agreed that he should assemble a team for CRW, with the only issue being he had no boat to sail at the regatta.

“She said that wasn’t a worry as she would loan us her boat for the regatta,” Kavle said. “I thanked her profusely and we got the ball rolling in January to put together a crew.”

If the foursome advances from Charleston, success at the J/70 Youth Champs would provide payback, as the winning team will get usage of a fully equipped J/70, free of charge, for their club - Annapolis Yacht Club - and its membership for twelve months.

“The boat can be used for practice and to train other sailors who are looking to be more competitive in big boat racing,” Kavle said. “We are really excited.”

While loaning their boat to the team for Charleston may seem risky, Robinson is not worried. "I don’t care about the boat — it can be fixed,” she said. “It’s more important to help our sport and foster these kids.” Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Italian J/24 Fleet Spring Report

J/24 sailing on Lake Como (Rome, Italy)- The Italian J/24 fleets have been running various championship series over the past few weeks.  In Marina di Carrara, they completed their spring series and in Valmadrera, located on the southeastern “fork” of Lago di Como, one of the beautiful mountain lakes in the Italian Alps, they completed their winter series.  Here are their latest reports.

Marina di Carrara
With the last six races taking place on Saturday and Sunday, the final weekend of races for the Marina di Carrara Spring Championship saw ten teams competing for class honors on the “Gulf of Poets”.

This time, ITA 215 owned by Vincenzo Mercuri and skippered by James Del Nero won four races, that allowed them to close with event with the overall win with just 16 pts in 12 races.

In second place was ITA 212 JAMAICA skippered by Pietro Diamanti with 21 pts. Following in third place, was ENG 202 TALLY HO owned by Roberta Banfo and skippered by Luca Macchiarini with 30 pts total.  Fourth overall was ITA 449 RAZORBILL sailed by Giuseppe Simonelli and fifth was ITA 173 VIOLENTE

J/24 sailing Lake ComoValmadrera- Lago di Como
At the end of the first five races held between Saturday and Sunday, the provisional standings saw ITA 503 KONG GRIFONE, skippered by Marco Stefanoni leading the event with three bullets and just 5 pts in 5 races!  Sitting in second place is ITA 469 BRUSCHETTA skippered by Sergio Agostoni just two points back.  And, 5 pts further in arrears in third place is Mauro del Lario Benfatto on his ITA 352 PILGRIM with 10 pts.

"I want to thank the sponsor, the Circolo Vela Tivano and all owners for the two wonderful days of sailing on Lago di Como,” commented del Lario Benfatto. “We are looking forward to a great series with seven more weekends of sailing this summer!”  For more Italian J/24 Class sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hazy Lazy Day @ Spring Series

J/111s sailing Warsash Spring series (Warsash, England)- Another day of varied racing conditions on the fifth weekend of the Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series saw a light and hazy day for crews, but certainly not lazy.

A sunny spring day, 10 knots of SE breeze, swinging right to SW and increasing a couple of knots was the forecast, and as the committee boats arrived on station SE with up to 10 knots of breeze was what they found.

On the inshore White Group line IRC4 was sent away cleanly to their first windward mark, however the J/70 start was a much more eager affair and with the fleet firmly over the line on the gun, a general recall ensued.  To persuade the fleet there were other places to start rather than the inshore less-tide pin, race officer Peter Knight put more bias into the line and got the fleets away for an hour of close racing, with the numerous J/70 fleet in particular enjoying exciting times through the leeward gate.

During the second race, however the wind hesitated, so due to the dying wind, the decision was taken to shorten the course and the fleets were shortened to 2 or 1.5 laps, but still got a finish.  When the breeze did fill in again it had moved to a SW sea breeze of 12-15 knots, the committee boat moved inshore to start race 3.

J/70s sailing downwindAgain, the J/70s were over eager and had to be recalled, but the use of the black flag installed discipline, and they restarted ok, other classes got away with individual recalls and enjoyed three short sharp laps with a steady sea breeze.  In the White group, Betty (J/80 Jon Powell) led the J/80 fleet.  Meanwhile, Offbeat (J/70 David McLeman) led the J/70 fleet.

As a result, the White Championship J/70 fleet has Simon Ling’s TEAM RAF SPITFIRE in 1st with 8 pts; Marshall King & Ian Wilson’s SOAK RACING in 2nd with 12 pts; and Jonathan Calascione’s CALYPSO in 3rd with 17 pts.

For the White Group J/70 fleet spring series, after twelve races, it’s David Mcleman’s OFFBEAT leading with 73 pts; Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC sits 2nd with 76 pts; and third is Marshall King & Ian Wilson’s SOAK RACING with 88 pts.

The White Championship J/80 fleet has Jon Powell’s BETTY leading with six 1sts!  Second is Nick Haigh’s SLIGHTLY STEAMY with four 2nds and third is Mike Lewis’ JESTER with 15 pts.

For the White Group spring series, after twelve races, Powell’s BETTY is leading with 13 pts, followed by Mike Lewis’ JESTER in second with 26 pts, and Terry O’Neill’s AQUA-J in third with 32 pts.

The Black Group started near Hillhead with a South Easterly breeze that started at 5-6 kts, building at times to 10 kts. For the various classes a 5 to 8nm race was set with a final beat to QXI international and a fetch to the finish at Deloitte Sailing Club buoy. For the majority of the fleets this worked well, but as the wind died, some boats in IRC1 and IRC2 and the J/88 fleet, didn't get around QXI against the tide and couldn't make the time limit.

J/109 sailing SolentThe J/109s and IRC3 fleet were stranded between East Knoll and QXI international and some boats gained places (or didn't lose them!) by kedging - not a skill you often see practiced in a Spring Series race. A few boats ventured south of the Bramble bank, either looking for breeze or carried down there by the tide, and eventually breaths of wind started easing in from the South West.

The two fleets together with some J/88s, then parked up in a long line abreast wafting towards the mark, then drifting back in the hot sunshine, until the new South Westerly breeze got tired of this game and suddenly just filled in - this left the fleets all trying to round the mark almost simultaneously, but due to courtesy and common sense there appeared to be no collisions, and after a short beat to the finish the committee boat had the task of recording every finisher in a two minute window.

During a day's racing like this, some boats have good days and some are bound to have bad days, but our sympathy goes out to the J/88 with the lime green spinnaker who used it to lasso the windward mark!!

With the breeze now filled in, the Black Group committee boat moved to a new position near Jonathan Janssen buoy, and in the limited space and time available set a short windward leeward course as the breeze freshened to around 12 knots, and all classes enjoyed a short but sparkling final race.

The J/88s had TIGRIS (Gavin Howe) win the first race with J-DREAM (David and Kirsty Apthorp) 2nd and SABRIEL JR (Dirk and Dianne van Beek) third.  In the second race J-DREAM got to the front with SABRIEL JR second and EAT SLEEP J REPEAT (Paul Ward) in third. Overall J-DREAM leads from TIGRIS and SABRIEL JR.

J/88 sailing Solent- Warsash Spring seriesThe J/109s had their ranks swelled this week with boats coming out for the championship weekend, giving good competitive racing. In race 5, JIRAFFE (Simon Perry) won from JUKEBOX (John Smart) and JYBE TALKIN (Christopher Burleigh). In race 6, JUKEBOX posted a well-sailed first from JIRAFFE second and JUMPING JELLYFISH (David Richards) 3rd. Overall JIRAFFE leads from JYNNAN TONNYX (Owain Franks) and JAGO (Mike and Susie Yates) in equal second place.

In IRC 1 class, Simon Bamford’s J/111 KESTREL had her first win of the series, after a string of thirds, with Paul Griffiths’ J/109 JAGERBOMB second.  As a result, KESTREL is biting at the heels of the leader and lie in a close second.

In IRC 3 class, 1st is Rachel & Robert Hunt’s J/97E JUMBLESAIL2 with 5-1-2-4-1 for 13 pts and 2nd is Andy Howe’s J/97 BLACKJACK II with a 2-2-1-5-7 for 17 pts.

For the highly competitive J/109 class, 1st is John Smart’s JUKEBOX with a 4-1-1-2-1 for 9 pts; 2nd is David Richard’s JUMPING JELLYFISH with a 3-3-5-4-3 for 18 pts; and 3rd is Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE with a 5-9-2-1–2 for 19 pts.

J/111 sailing on SolentNot to be outdone by their one-design compatriots, the J/88 class is seeing a bit of stratification amongst the fleet.  As a result, the leader is David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM with all five 1sts!  Taking 2nd is Paul Ward’s EAT SLEEP J REPEAT with all 2nds!  And, in 3rd is Tim Tolcher’s RAGING BULL with all 3rds!

Consequently, in IRC 3 Class, third is David Greenhalgh’s J/92 J’RONIMO with a 25-1-7-1-3-6 for 18 pts and in 4th place is Rachel & Robert Hunt’s J/97E JUMBLESAIL 2 with a 4-3-6-3-5-3 for 18 pts.

For the J/109 spring series championship, the leadership is beginning to be well-defined.  First is Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE with a 4-3-2-1-1-2 for 9 pts.  Second is Owain Franks’ JYNNAN TONNYX with a 1-1-1-8-4-8 for 15 pts.  Third is Mike & Susie Yates with a 2-2-3-2-6-6 for 15 pts.

For the J/88s series, there is no question that David & Kirsty Apthorp’s J-DREAM with a 4-3-1-1-2-1 for 8 pts has a good lead.  In second place is Gavin Howe’s TIGRIS with a 5-1-2-6-1-4 for 13 pts, and in 3rd Dirk & Dianne Van Beek’s SABRIEL JR with 3-4-3-2-3-2 for 13 pts.

Nothing is set in stone in rest of the classes as we head into the last two Sundays of the Spring Series, and see the start of the Crewsaver Warsash Spring Championship on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April continuing after Easter on 22nd and 23rd April.   Sailing Photo credits- Close Hauled Photography  For more HELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bertheau Untouchable @ J/70 European Match Race

J/70s sailing match race off Monaco(Monte Carlo, Monaco)- The Yacht Club de Monaco delighted sailing enthusiasts as it hosted two unusual regattas in the Principality to set the pace for the summer. With eight J/70 teams competing in a stage of their European Match Race Tour, a total of some 50 sailors from seven nationalities were on Quai Louis II.

This year marks the return of the America’s Cup that puts the spotlight on the match race format, nail-biting one-on-one duels that rewards strategy by seasoned sailors. It’s a discipline that was popular with the YCM which is renewing ties to its past by hosting this stage of the Grade 3 European Circuit during which 24 races were run. The event was held aboard J/70s made available by members of the Yacht Club de Monaco, which has a total of 17 boats grouped under the J/70 Monaco Class Association presided by Michel Boussard.

With six wins under his belt, Simon Bertheau, French Youth Match Race Vice-Champion won the first day, having kept his adversaries in his sights and having total mastery of his boat.

J/70 Monaco Match race winnersAlongside Pierrik Devic and Max Bulley, who finished 6th, the Philippe Buchard-François Brenac (two-time champion on the French circuit) pair also from Monaco, snatched 2nd place after some tight tactical battles.

A regular at international meetings, the young Rocco Attili showed his hand on the second day to move up into 3rd, a spot he held onto on the final day.

The four-time Austrian Match Race winner, Max Trippolt, ranked 25th in the prestigious World Sailing ranking, failed to bounce back after a loss of form mid-regatta and finished 5th.

As a result, the final ranking of the European Match Race Tour Act I has Simon Bertheau from France in 1st, Philippe Buchard from YC Monaco in 2nd, and Rocco Attili from Italy in 3rd.  For more YC Monaco J/70 European Match Race Tour sailing information. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

J/105 SOLSTICE Leads Class @ Les Voiles de St Barth

J/88 sailing St Barth regatta (Gustavia, St Barthelemy) – Perfect Caribbean conditions offered the backdrop for the stacked competition that took to the starting line for day one of racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth.  The 65 boats, split into nine classes, were sent on coastal courses, ranging from 24 to 31 nautical miles, tracing the western and northern coast of the island, all starting and finishing in the port of Gustavia in St. Barth.

Event newcomers, Jordan and Shannon Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE, with Bruce Stone skippering, shook up the competition in CSA 4, taking the lead after day one from last year’s class winners Credit Mutuel.

“We felt pretty good about our general speed and performance,” said Nicole Breault, a USA Women’s Match Race Champion, who calls the tactics onboard SOLSTIE. “This is my first time here and it’s spectacular, warm and really beautiful. I’m not that familiar with sailing on handicap, so we’re trying to sail like there are no other boats out there and just keep the boat going.”

J/88 sailing St Barth RegattaFor the second day of racing, it was not just a different day, but also a very different story from a weather perspective. Shiftier breeze and a change in the direction and design of the race course, in comparison to the day before, forced many competitors to shift gears and that dynamic yielded a mixed bag of results for the event’s nine classes. The fleet of 65 boats battled while navigating the rocky coast and its strong currents on courses, between 26 and 32 nautical miles, around the eastern side of the island.

“It was tough today because the wind was very erratic, initially blowing between 15 and 17 knots and then dropping off to around eight and ten knots,” said Hervé Hejoaka who helms Crédit Mutuel, which dropped from second to third place in CSA 4 after today. An event veteran, the team won its class here last year. “From there it became difficult to advance the boat because of the state of the sea and especially the large surf on the east side of the island. We fought like crazy and during the descent toward the Grenadines, we chose to stay close to the coast because it was smoother. This allowed us to climb back up a bit.”

Their top competitors, the J/105 SOLSTICE, stole a march on them by placing 2nd on the day to lead the class by one point over PASCO’s JAGUAR, a Salona 38.

In CSA Racing 3 Class, the two J/122s are having quite a battle.  After the second day of racing, Pamala Baldwin’s LIQUID is sitting in 2nd place with a 4-2 record for 6 pts and tied with them is sistership BETTER THAN/ EL OCASO with a 3-3 record.  These two boats are having quite a battle and everything will be up for grabs over the next two days.  For more Les Voiles de St Barths sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.