Monday, August 31, 2015

J/111 BLUR- Perspectives Sailing the Fastnet Race as Rookies!

J/111 BLUR sailing team- from Sweden (Stockholm, Sweden)- Sweden’s Peter Gustafsson has been sailing in Scandinavia ever since he was a little kid.  As his passion for sailing developed, he has been fortunate to have the ability to sail a number of different boats and has chronicled his adventures on the social media blog site- BLUR.SE (  For years he successfully raced a J/109 named BLUR and then three years ago, Peter decided to jump into a similar-sized but much faster boat- the J/111.  After nearly a year of preparation, Peter and his all Scandinavian crew took on the Fastnet Race with their J/111 BLUR.  Here is their story as told by Peter:

“Let’s start with answering the obvious question, 'how was it'?  It was fantastic!  And different.

Compared to most other offshore races I’ve done there was another dimension, that I can’t really put my finger on. It might be the fantastic nature and animal life with whales and hundreds of dolphins. It might be the intense competition with some of the world’s best offshore racers. It might be the mix of legendary landmarks and teams that inspired me to go offshore when I was young. It might be the welcoming atmosphere both in Cowes and Plymouth that made us fit right in.

It doesn’t really matter what it was.  All I know is that I was on an emotional high for 96 hours straight and that the team worked harder than ever.  This is a race we should have done a long time ago.

I’ll write a separate article (in Swedish) on preparations, as I know of several Scandinavian crews who want to do Fastnet in 2017. This year there were eight Swedish boats, and all did very well. And I’d expect even more to come along in two years.

We decided to do the race in December 2014. The alternative was the J/111 Worlds in Newport, but none of us had done Fastnet (we all had it on our bucket list) so that would be the bigger challenge and demand more from the team.

It’s so much easier to focus on one major event, so all spring training, qualification races and even transport were designed as a build up. And looking back I wouldn’t want to do anything different.

Start (-4 days)
We arrived in Cowes a week before the race, and hade the boat ready-to-race when the crew arrived Wednesday. We spent two days sailing on the Solent from the start (at the correct time to match the current on Sunday) to the Needles to get a feel for the tide, and got to ask questions not even the locals had answers to. My take is that good homework beats local knowledge every time, and this would prove true in this case as well.

J/111 BLUR after Rolex Fastnet Race startWe also worked together with Aksel Magdahl on weather scenarios. We wanted to race as a team without any pros or local guys on board, but three of us worked together with Aksel to analyze the weather situation.

As Squid Sailing decided to give all their high-res models away for free to Fastnet competitors, we knew that everyone had good data. The big thing was to determine the impact of a low pressure and associated fronts over Ireland, and to manage a number of transitions; one at Plymouth on the way out and one at Scilly Isles.

Starting Line – Needles
Naturally, there’s a lot of drama in the morning. Check-in with the orange sails up, watching Spindrift and Comanche swosh by, cheering on other boats, and having old and new friends wishing loch from everything that floats. Chaos. But a friendly chaos…

We watched the IRC3 and IRC2 starts and it was obvious that the tide took it’s toll with many OCS in both classes. Good boats like Refanut and Courrier du Leon spent a long time under spinnaker trying to get back to restart.

J/111 BLUR crossing tacks with Volvo 65 Team SCAWe had decided to be conservative, and we were in good company. With 4 minutes to the gun most of the fleet was sailing eastward, away from the line to avoid being early. With 25 boat-lengths to the line we got going.

We were about a third up along the line from the squadron and lost out to the boats that were closer, but soon hit the favorable current along the southern shore. We traded tracks with Ker 40 Keronimo and some other seriously fast boats and managed to hang on to them for quite a while.

We worked the south side down towards with our navigator monitoring currents closely. As soon as we lost just 0.2 knots we tried to get back in maximum current again. Here our work earlier in the week paid of and we managed to find a good balance between currant and wind pressure.

J/111 BLUR- Rolex Fastnet Race start- The NeedlesBefore the start, we decided on a number of boats we would monitor on AIS. This would help us keep our pace up but also serve as indicators of wind and current. Naturally, the J/111s were perfect, as all of them were in IRC2 that started 20 minutes before us. And as most of them went right we could see that they were considerably slower than us due to less current.

For a while we struggled, but decided to make one more tack in under a dark cloud in Newtown bay before changing sides to make the most out of the passage at Yarmouth and Hurst Castle.

After Hurst, we found that the strongest current was further south than expected and worked hard to stay with it. Most local boats, following ”common knowledge”, went hard right towards the Shingles and lost out. Super effort by our navigator, Patrik Måneskiöld, who nailed it.

The pay-off came at the Needles, where we were leading in IRC1. Absolutely amazing!!

This was one of the stages I worried about before the race, but in the past, we’ve proved we can win the trickiest stages in Denmark and the Stockholm archipelago without any local knowledge. But by doing our homework.

J/111 at dawn-- Rolex Fastnet RaceNeedles – Start Point
As the wind lightened throughout the evening, our routing had us going south along with most of the fleet. But we wanted to be on the right side to be able to make the most of the northerly that was supposed to fill in during the night. A short port tack put us in a position with 20% of the boats to windward, which felt very good.

Looking back, we might as well continued south, but before the race we decided to be very conservative. We should stay with the fleet and not take any chances. We knew we had speed and trusted our ability to hang in there, even if we didn’t get 100% out of every opportunity.

And we got the proof early on when we passed the other J/111s. As they started 20 minutes before in IRC2 and we caught them in less than 3 hours of sailing. That was a boost for everyone on board. Afterwards we got good grades from the crew on British Soldier: ”You guys are really quick”.

During the night, the wind went further and further west, and the current took the fleet south.

We made progress towards west, but away from the expected northerly wind, so we decided to tack north again to meet the shift. One alternative would be to anchor, like First 40 La Reponse, to be in a good position, but we valued a position further west and kept sailing.

Looking at the track, it’s very similar to Courier du Leon, and it’s hard to see that we could have done it very different? At 19.00 we were within sight of each other. The screenshot shows us at 0200 just after the transition, and at 0600 in the morning we had extended our lead to 14nm.

After the northerly filled in we went to Code 0 and charged westwards. Here the fleet divided into a northerly group aiming to take advantage of the sea breeze in the morning and one southerly offshore group. Together with very experienced Grand Soleil 43 Quokka and La Reponse we lead a bunch of boats committing to the inshore route. We felt confident that those two boats and our routing all agreed on the same thing.

J/111 Blur- whales and dolphinsStart Point – Lizard
In the morning Quokka slowed down, then we and La Reponse. We though our positioning was ok, in front and to the right, but as others caught up they went even further north to avoid stopping. The process repeated itself as more and more boats came along, leaving us in a tough spot.

We managed to keep some speed, but still lost out to the group that went by on the inside. All the 14nm we had on Courier du Leon were gone.

When we finally got going, we went right, to be on the right side of the pack when the northerly wind came back.

When we got Internet access, the tracker showed us as 26th in IRC 1. Not fun after being in the lead, but still something to work with. Spirits were high and we sailed very aggressively up the coast towards Lizard Point.

And we timed the northerly wind perfectly, went to Code 0 and then A3 ten minutes later. We found a good line slightly east of the majority of boats that included both Alphalink and Xcentric Ripper. We had slightly more current against, but better pressure. So, we were able to catch the boats ahead, one by one. British Soldier opted for an offshore route that didn’t pay.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2015- light airsLizard – Scilly
At Lizard Point, we went back to Code 0 and hit the corner and current (that now was with us) perfectly. Passed a bunch of boats and had great pace towards the TSS east of Scilly.

We knew we were hitting another transition with light winds, and we didn’t want to be caught on our own. We gave up some westerly distance to position ourselves ahead in a more conservative spot. Better safe than sorry…

It was a fantastic night. When I came on watch at midnight it was warm and we had hundreds of navigation lights astern. The lighthouse swept over a black sky filled with stars. We were the fastest boat in sight but didn’t make a sound as we left a long trail of glowing sea sparkles together with dolphins and schooling fish.

A magical show that gave way to a beautiful sunrise at the Scilly Isles.

J/111 BLUR clearing keelScilly – Fastnet
Looking at the results we were again in the lead. Apparently, we managed to crawl back from 26th to a 9th south of Fowey and then 6th at Lizard Point.

And now we could see both A13 Teasing Machine (committed to the south after Scilly) and Swan 45 K-Force (committing to the north).

Here’s the situation at 10.04 Tuesday morning. We wanted to be left of the pack to get the SW breeze first, but not invest too heavily as each port tack was wasted distance when the wind hit. Again, the strategy and positioning was very similar to Courrier du Leon:

At one point just after lunch we couldn’t hit our targets. We found kelp around the rudder, and after some investigation with the GoPro, around the keel as well.

We stopped the boat, and Simon Kindt did a wonderful dive to clear he keel. Pretty absurd thing to do in the middle of the Celtic Sea. And yes, it’s on film.

In the afternoon, the wind increased at forecasted. We went from Code 0 to J2 to one reef when the wind topped 20 knots during the night. We struggled with performance, and had a hard time pushing the boat. Here it was obvious we hadn’t trained in pitch black, fog and short waves. Also, some of the crew got seasick and we became somewhat passive for a few hours.

J/111 Blur sailing to Fastnet RockFastnet – Scilly
When the morning broke, we could see Fastnet Rock through the fog. The rough conditions were exactly how we imagined the rounding, and it felt great to be able to tick the box.

This was a moment to remember for all of us.  And a great achievement to be able to be here as 9th boat in a super competitive class.

I downloaded the latest weather that indicated that the low over Ireland would stay there and we would sail into less and less wind on the way to the finish. We decided to make the most of it and set out big ”whomper” A2 and went low in the stronger winds. We would have the opportunity to come back up in the lighter winds.

J/111 BLUR- sailing past Fastnet RockFast and fun sailing when we passed boat after boat. We tried to do the most out of the conditions and peeled between A2, A3 and A5 to maximize our speed towards the TSS west of Scilly.

Unfortunately, we didn’t really do our homework on the TSS at Scilly Isles. We were so focused on hitting the SW corner that we didn’t really evaluate the option of going on the inside. It would have been faster to stay low and head up with the current close to the islands, but 80% of the boats stayed south so that might still have been the conservative choice?

We’ll put this aside as a beginners mistake. As this was our first race, it was hard to change perspectives. Going from the big picture, with many options, to managing each leg, and then back up again to re-evaluate is hard when everything is new. When the competition have done 10-15 races, they’ve seen (or even tried) most alternatives.

J/111 Blur enjoying fast sleigh ride homeScilly – Finish
Not very dramatic, but we still worked hard. Changed back and forth between A2 and A3 in the pitch-black night to make the most out of every change in conditions. At Lizard Point, we tried to find maximum current, but obviously the pay-off was much smaller this time.

In general, in 8-12 knots downwind we don’t really have an edge over other boats, but we stayed in contact with Farr 45 Nature and some other fast boats.  After short gybe behind the breakwater in Plymouth we passed the finish line at 12:31:58.

J/111 BLUR sailing fast to Fastnet Race finish at Plymouth, EnglandWrap-up
Our goal was to finish Fastnet Race in the best way we could and get the most out of both the boat and the team. We were all new to the race, but wanted to do it without local knowledge or other expertise on board, as this would be more demanding (and maybe rewarding).

We had no expectations in regards to results, so to finish 6th in IRC1 which included over fifty of the best pro teams in Europe is absolutely marvelous. And to beat legends as Antix. Erivale and Hooligan really make our result something out of the ordinary.

Personally, I had three moments that defined our accomplishment:
  1. Leading IRC 1 at the Needles, after a tricky start we trusted our speed and homework and beat the rock-stars at their own game.
  2. Coming back from 26th place to lead again at the Scilly Isles. No negative vibes. Just focus, hard work and confidence in the team.
  3. Rounding the rock :-)
J/111 BLUR finishing at Plymouth, England- ROLEX Fastnet RaceThe Team
I’m especially proud of our team effort. Everyone worked harder than I’ve ever seen before and also helped each other reach a higher level. I’ve done more and more short-handed racing in the last few years, but when a crew perform at it’s full potential it’s magical.

Our watch schedule with two hours on, two hours stand-by and two hours off (three watches) let us push the boat hard and when fresh guys came up every two hours it really felt like a well oiled machinery.

Blur Sailing Team (top photo left to right): Peter Gustafsson (helm + skipper), Pelle Pedersen (helm), Mattias Bodlund (trim + mast), Andreas Turesson (trim + bow), Patrik Måneskiöld (navigator + trim), Mats Björk (keyboard), Simon Kindt (bow) and Magnus Hansson (helm).

J/111 BLUR- the team!The team also include David Johansson (bow). We usually race with nine, but IRC limited our crew to 8. David still did the race with SunFast 3600 La Primera, and has a big part in getting both them and us to Cowes and around the rock.

A big thank you to our partners. Without you we wouldn’t be able to perform: GVA, Henri Lloyd, North Sails, Liros, Spinlock, 24Hour Meal and Happy Yachting.

I’d also like to thank RORC and all local sailors that welcomed us with open arms, helped us in every way and hosted some great parties.”  Sailing photo credits- ROLEX/ Kurt ArrigoRounding Fastnet Rock YouTube sailing video.    For more J/111 BLUR sailing experiences please click here.   For more Rolex Fastnet Race sailing information

J/Teams Excel Sailing Difficult ROLEX Fastnet Race

Fastnet Race start- NeedlesJ/105 Wins Doublehanded, J/111 Takes IRC 2A
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The Rolex Fastnet Race, the event that caused the formation of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, celebrated its 90th birthday in 2015.  The founding fathers of the club and its flagship event would have been in awe of their creation with 300 boats signing up within just 24 minutes of the entry list opening in January, a record-sized fleet of 356 boats starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line making the Rolex Fastnet Race by far the largest of the world’s classic 600 mile offshore races, in terms of participation.  The race attracts top teams from around the world with boats ranging from SPINDRIFT 2 and COMANCHE, the world’s fastest offshore racing multihull and monohull respectively, down to the J/97 cruiser-racer with every conceivable flavor of offshore racing yachts in between.

The upper echelons in the fleet are packed with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winners plus Olympic and World champions, while the bulk of entries are Corinthian with sailing school and family crews for whom the biennial race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland represents the pinnacle of their sailing season, if not their careers.

Fastner Rock lighthouseThe prognosis for this year’s 90th Rolex Fastnet Race was less than overwhelming. The forecast for this year’s race was extremely light. In fact, the nine fastest boats made it around in reasonable order before high pressure over the Celtic Sea saw the wind disappear from the racetrack for 36 hours. This caused multiple park-ups, huge compression in the fleet and several attempts at deep water kedging. These conditions affected all but the smallest in the giant fleet, and continued until Wednesday when the more usual frontal systems resumed rolling through, providing a fast finish especially for the mid-fleet. In fact, it was so alarmingly, frustratingly slow that by the time some boats drifted to the Lizard Point off Land’s End, boats were beginning to retire and head home due to family and/or business commitments.

Maxi's becalmed in Fastnet RaceIt was not what anyone in the record-sized fleet initially expected and planned for as they set off the starting line on Sunday.  COMANCHE skipper Ken Read (6x J/24 World Champion) shared his take on the race: “It was honestly one of the most bizarre races I’ve ever been in in my life – starts and stops and people being left behind for dead and then all of a sudden they are sailing around you. It was phenomenal.”  Just after reaching Fastnet Rock, Ken reported: “We sat there for exactly four hours not moving - I know that because it was almost to a minute the duration of my watch! We had a little westerly-going current early on and some easterly current for the last hour and a half and we zigzagged back and forth with the current waiting for the breeze to fill in.”  Imagine that.  A 100-foot all carbon and foam epoxy $15 million offshore racing machine parked.  Yes, parked. Going “triple naught” for four hours.  Yup, afternoon tea on the poop deck would’ve rivaled anything on the green at Hyde Park, imagine the views?  Too bad Jim doesn’t allow the crew to post “selfies” on Facebook!

Fastnet race courseFastnet Races can be epic affairs, at least that’s the impression one gets reading the Rolex Fastnet brochure and propaganda.  Nevertheless, most years it’s basically a coastal race headed west then east along the southern shoreline of Great Britain.  That means tidal gates along at least two major “points” (Start Pt off Dartmouth and the Lizard Point at Land’s End) and working with ever-changing fronts rolling through at a reasonable pace.  Then, the round-trip across the Celtic (Irish) Sea from the Scilly Isles to Fastnet Rock (Ireland) and back (about 150nm each way) can be tricky, but is often just a slog beating under white sails into 4-8 ft high choppy confused seas or a wild reach (in the same seas) but burying the bow and hoping no one gets washed overboard.

As they often say in such unusual scenarios, “never seen anything like this before”!  Forty-year veterans of “the race” have, in fact, never experienced such a slow race before.  Think about this, the 130 ft record-breaking trimaran SPINDRIFT II sailed by her owner/skipper Donna Bertarelli took two DAYS 11 HOURS to sail 605nm??  This same boat can do 45 kts practically on “cruise control” and do 605nm in 24 hours no problem.  Yet, they only beat Lloyd Thornburg’s electric green/silver MOD 70 trimaran called PHAEDO by just two hours.  Do the math.  To everyone’s surprise, ultimately, SPINDRIFT II finished at 22:57:41 BST on Tuesday night, more than a day outside of her own record at the average, tortoise-like speed of 10.25 kts!  The big canting-keelers, COMANCHE and RAMBLER 88, weren’t far behind.

Stu Childerley and Kelvin Rawlings- J/105 Jester wins Fastnet Race Doublehanded classThe big news for British sailors (and the J/Tribe) was the fact that a couple of old hands absolutely slammed home one of the most amazing performances ever in the IRC Two-Handed Division.  Stuart Childerley and Kelvin Rawlings took victory in the usually French-dominated Two-Handed class aboard their J/105 JESTER.  Remarkably, they beat the Overall 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race winning father and son team (Pascal and Alexis Loison) on their JPK 10.10 Night And Day by a mere 14 seconds!! Childerley and Rawlings’ performance was such that the J/105 JESTER also ended up top British boat, finishing fourth overall under IRC!  An absolutely extraordinary performance in the 20+-year-old first-ever sprit-designed keelboat in the world.  Here’s one for Nautical Trivial Pursuit- the Loison’s of France were also former J/105 owners for years (perhaps now regretting their decision to change horses)!

Generally, the top spots overall in IRC were filled by boats from IRC 3 and 4, suggesting that the best vessel to suit this year’s weather was a well-sailed, fast, IRC-friendly small boat.  Tactically the most significant parts of the race for these boats was being able to shave the north side of the Casquets TSS on the first night and then hugging the Devonshire-Cornish coasts between Start Point and the Lizard. Importantly, boats in these classes generally managed to avoid the high pressure between the Scilly Isles and the Fastnet Rock and the resultant park-ups that affected the bigger, faster boats.

J/105 Jester sailing Rolex Fastnet RaceRoyal Ocean Racing Club CEO Eddie Warden Owen (J/24 UK and European Champion) observed of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race: “I think it has been an incredibly challenging race - one of the best for a while. The teams that won had to work really hard. They had all conditions: Drifting, light winds up to strong winds – very challenging.

The Two-Handed class impressed me: 68 boats, including the IMOCA’s and the Figaro’s, shows that to be an area of sailing that is on the rise and it is an interesting discipline. The winners of the Two-Handed class under IRC were two very good sailors – Stuart Childerley and Kelvin Rawlings - and to beat the 2013 overall winners is a big achievement. You can believe that those two guys would have been grabbing every inch of performance out of their boat.”

Given the magnitude of their achievement, the J/teams in the Two-Handed class faired quite well.  The extremely competitive team of John van der Starre and Robin Verhoef sailing their J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER finished 7th overall in 2H and also ended up winning IRC 2A class against fully-crewed teams!  Then Neil McGrigor’s J/109 BOO, placed 10th in IRC 2H and one of the RORC Season series leaders, Nick Martin’s J/105 DIABLO-J was 13th in class. Yvonne Beusker & Edith Voskamp’s J/105 PANTHER finished 38th in class and were, in fact, TOP WOMEN’s team in the entire race!!  That is very cool.

IRC 1 Class was an interesting mix of boats, all with the hotter than hot IRC latest designs like Ker 40s, Carkeek 40 MK 2s, GP42s, etc. etc.  The two highest rated J’s in the event included Peter Gustafsson’s J/111 BLUR and David Ballantyne’s J/133 JINGS. Extraordinarily, they practically finished within sight of each other after four days of sailing and rating near identically under IRC, 1.110 and 1.109, respectively.  Peter’s BLUR crew finished 6th and David’s team placed 8th, just one hour apart!

J/122 LORELEI- Fastnet Race Top Women's skipper awardIf one were betting on ultimate outcomes sailing the Fastnet Race, most would place their money on the mid-fleet boats that sail in IRC 2 Class.  More often that not, they’re fast enough boats to hang on to tactical/ strategic “windows” that larger boats cannot get away from, but they are fast enough to eclipse the 34-38 footers.  In the end, the “rubber-banding” effect on the fleet as they crossed holes, tidal gates, and so forth meant it was going to be a tough race for all.  In the IRC 2 Class, it was the J/111 XCENTRIC RIPPER that took 4th overall in class and 1st in IRC 2A division.  Just behind them was the J/122 LORELEI sailed by the husband/wife team of Alain and Marie Catherineau, taking 7th in class and 3rd in IRC 2A division.  In addition to their extraordinary achievements, as LORELEI’s skipper, Marie Catherineau, won the Maite de Arambalza Trophy for the best yacht with a female skipper.  Taking 9th in class and 4th in IRC 2A was Gilles Fournier’s J/133 PINTIA (at one point, they were leading the entire race on handicap, such are the changing winds of fame and fortune!).

No question, IRC 3 Class was pretty hyper-competitive.  It produced the overall winner (all Figaro champions) and it also produced the top J/Team- Stu and Kelvin’s J/105 JESTER.  Winning 2H for them was the crown jewel, but finishing 3rd in class and winning IRC 3B didn’t suck either— just more silverware and more “brag flags” for this motley duo!  A tough competitor proved to be David McGough’s J/109 JUST SO, taking 5th in class and 3rd in IRC 3B.  In 7th place IRC 3 and 4th in IRC 3A was Jean Jacques Godet’s J/120 RHAPSODIE V.

Finally, in IRC 4B, in her first Fastnet Race ever, Helen Hofmann’s J/97 JASLAN managed a 10th in class- an epic performance in her 30 footer!!  Kudos to her and crew for their perseverance against all odds in what was the most difficult Fastnet Race ever.  Yes, Fastnet 1979 was physically demanding, but Fastnet 2015 was psychologically and mentally exhausting for most crews. Sailing photo credits- ROLEX/ Kurt Arrigo and Daniel Forster.  For more Rolex Fastnet Race sailing information

For more Rolex Fastnet Race YouTube sailing video coverage:
IRC 1 Class Start    IRC 2 Class Start    IRC 3 Class Start    IRC 4 Class Start
Overall Rolex Fastnet Race Summary

Sunday, August 30, 2015

J/Dreaming Some Days- Ken Read, Jim Spithill, Ben Ainslie, Sam Davies Have, too!

Sailors- Ken Read, Jim Spithill, Ben Ainslie, Samantha Davies- left to right(Hamilton, Bermuda)-  So, what is the common denominator between these four world-renowned sailors-- Ken Read, Jimmie Spithill, Ben Ainslie, Samantha Davies (L-to-R)??  Sailing J/Boats, of course.  Specifically, J/24s, J/80s, J/105s, J/109s— at match-racing, team-racing, fleet racing on national, continental and World Championship levels.  The four sailors were assembled together thanks to the Royal Yacht Squadron's Bicentenary Regatta held on the Solent.

As many of you know, Ken won six J/24 World Championship titles, amongst many others.  Ben has raced Ken in J/24 modders down at Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands- in that “Ben & Ken Show” a few decades ago, Ben won (I think). Nevertheless, after winning a few Olympic Gold Medals in Finns, Ben has also been on the Solent sailing J/80s and J/109s of various ilk with friends as well as supporting sponsors.

Then, when Ken was winning J/24 Worlds, little Jimmie Spithill was in diapers growing up in Australia sailing circles and rumor has it that he also had some J/24 sailing under his belt with some of the locals (changing diapers, too!).  But, perhaps more importantly, now that Jimmie is grown up (according to friends), married and living in San Diego with his wife and kid(s), he bought Dennis Conner’s J/105 #3 (Lowell North’s old J/105 before D.C. got it), renamed it lucky number “17”, and keeps it at San Diego YC (he’s now a newbie member there)!  “17” was also sailing as part of the J/105 Masters Championship and may be there again this year!

Finally, “Sam” Davies is certainly no shrinking violet, even amongst this talented crowd.  She, too, has had quite a bit of experience sailing J/80s, J/109s and what not on the Solent as part of her experiences growing up racing in the United Kingdom.

Just goes to show that Ben, Ken, Jim, Sam got someplace with some determination.  So, you can start somewhere, someplace and someday become something somewhere else!?!  Play your cards right, kids, and you, too, can be somebody, somewhere, famous, sailing or otherwise!!

J/24 Worlds Preview

German J/24 sailing Kiel(Boltenhagen, Germany)- Next week, the German J/24 teams, their families and friends are looking forward to sailing and partying with all J/24 sailors in Boltenhagen on the Baltic coast, one of the top sailing areas in Germany! Boltenhagen’s attractive location in Mecklenburg-Vorpommerania allows spectator-friendly inshore racing, with stable winds and free from commercial shipping lanes.

From 28th August to 4th September, the fifty-five boats from 14 countries (Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, USA) will be based in the purpose-built Boltenhagen Marina located within the exclusive ‘Weiße Wiek’ holiday village which offers a modern yet relaxed atmosphere. Racing will be organized by the Norddeutscher Regattaverein, one of Germany’s oldest yacht clubs, that has many years of experience in staging international events such as Kiel week and countless One-Design Championships. The town of Boltenhagen is close to the venue and grew from a fishing village into a picturesque seaside resort in the early 19th century.

J/24 German women's sailing teamThe fleet has great representation across the board from the major J/24 fleets in Europe as well as teams coming from South America, North America and Far East Asia.  The host country is fielding the largest contingent of boats, with 23 on the starting line.  Most of their top teams are present, including Peer Kock on UK SAILMAKERS GISCHTH & GLUT, Lars Gibbe’s HANSA PROJEKT, Jan Kahler’s UNITED 5, John Huhn’s HUNGRIGER WOLF, Frank Schonfeldt’s HENK, Tobias Feuerherdt’s TEAM ROTOMAN, Manfred Konig’s VITESSE, and Frithjof Schade’s JJONE.

The next largest contingent are their friends from across The Channel, the seven boats participating from Great Britain.  Leading that contingent is likely to be Ian Southworth’s IL RICCIO, a past J/24 European Champion.  They will be joined by Jim Anderson’s BOOMERANG, Andrew Taylor’s hot crew on HITCH-HIKER, Roger Morris’ JOLLY ROGER, David Cooper’s JAWBREAKER and Quinton Hall’s JUJU.

Not surprisingly, the very active J/24 fleet in Italy is sending five boats that include top contenders like Pietro Diamanti’s JAMAICA and Marc Arata’s Italian Navy crew on a “hash tagged” boat called #WEAREINPUGLIA!  Amazingly, the Japanese contingent are showing up with four teams that includes Fumiya Kato on LULL & HACHI, Kazuki Kumagai on DABOHAZE, Hiraoki Matsuyama on GYOSYU and Tokuma Takesue on GEKKO.

For the other countries sending between 1 to 3 teams, notably absent is the current J/24 World Champion- Will Welles from Newport, RI.  In his place will be two very fast, highly competitive teams- Mike Ingham’s NAUTALYTICS from Rochester, New York and Travis Odenbach’s DR FEELGOOD from North Carolina.  Other top contenders should be Sweden’s Per-Hakan Persson on FRONT RUNNER, Peru’s Javier Arribas Harten skippering JJ-ONE, The Netherland’s Dirk Olyslagers on JOOL, the top Hungarian teams- Mike Schmolling on EL NINO and Mate Kakas on ZULU, the top Greek crew- Dimitris Altsiadis on EVNIKI, France’s Francois de Herce on MAJIC, 5-time World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil skippering BRUSCHETTA, and Rodrigo Benedetto’s Argentinean crew on THOMSON REUTERS.

J/24 UK women's team sailingTop women’s teams vying for the Top Women Skipper include Germany’s Stephanie Kopcke on VEGA RAGAZZA and Corina Thiermann’s AVALANCHA; Sophie Pearson’s British crew on JELI from Parkstone YC; and Liselotte Sjoberg’s Swedish team on FOR FUN BLUE.

For you armchair sailors and tacticians, you can follow the fleet with TracTrac. Every boat will sail the races with a GPS-tracker on board so spectators worldwide can follow the racing live as soon as the starting gun fires! Also, the competitors will be able to analyze afterwards where they made gains or losses.  All features like replay, position lists at mark roundings and boat-to-boat comparisons will be online. See the live-tracking here.   For more J/24 World Championship sailing information

Ullman Sails Names Skip Novak As Sailing Ambassador!

Skip Novak- Chicago sailor extraordinaire! (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina)- Recently, a good friend from back in our Midwest days (e.g. as kids growing up sailing off Chicago and Wisconsin’s various lakes), was named to be the Ullman Sails “Sailing Ambassador”- his name is Skip Novak.  For starters, kudos to Skip and to Dave Ullman and friends at Ullman Sails for bringing Skip on board to help promote the experience of sailing worldwide and educate people on the importance of eco-friendly life-styles and environmentally-friendly programs.

Skip has sailed just about everywhere, starting with dinghies in Chicago, then a Chicago-Mac Race, then a Whitbread Race on the Swan 65 KINGS LEGEND (with a beloved, now long lost, friend- Greg Tuxworth), then some J/24 stuff here and there with friends, a few Cowes Race Weeks, now adventuring in a 70 foot schooner/ketch called PELAGIC II (funded by mostly Chicago sailing friends) and based out of Tierra del Fuego doing charters/ eco-adventures!  Read on! Skip is a great person and the ultimate sailing ambassador for anyone; plus he was recently honored with the prestigious Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America for his many years of cruising and exploring the Antarctic.  Read more about Skip’s interview and background hereThanks for contribution from Ullman Sails/ Newport Beach.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Good Old Fashioned LYRA Regatta

J88 sailing off New York(Youngstown, NY)- “For those unfamiliar, the Lake Yacht Racing Association (LYRA) has been around since the 1880s.  Over that span, they have hosted annual regattas at various clubs throughout the LYRA area, which encompasses Lake Ontario, eastern Lake Erie and surrounding waters.  One of the beauties of the LYRA Annual Regatta is that it moves every year to a different host club.  This means the flavor of the event changes with the venue, adding interest and variety.  The makeup of the fleets varies also, as the location impacts those attendees beyond the regulars who go every year regardless of venue.  This year the Sodus Bay Yacht Club in Sodus Bay, NY hosted and it was one of the most enjoyable LYRAs we have yet been to.

I was telling my son Tim that there are two types of regattas these days, it was his first LYRA so he was not sure what I meant until he experienced it for himself.  Mostly we have been doing the major events where the racing is the most important thing, and frankly sometimes, the shoreside activity can be pretty lame.  On the other hand, you have regattas such as the LYRA, where the racing is maybe half of the reason people attend.  It becomes an old home week where you see all of your friends, visit places where you sailed as a kid, and generally have a good time.  The shoreside activity is not lame; it sure wasn’t in Sodus Point this year.  There tend to be many more stories created at LYRAs than at your typical championship regatta.

SBYC did a fine job this year, mostly because of their hospitality and welcoming attitude.  A smile and willingness to assist can cover up for the inevitable shortcomings that come with any event; the bigger clubs would do well to keep that in mind.  The location in a small summer resort town just added to the fun as you could easily walk to the various establishments within a few blocks of the clubs for meals, supplies, nightlife, etc.  It appeared that maybe the bars in town were a little too convenient judging by the look on the faces of some of the sailors each morning.

Next year LYRA moves the regatta to Whitby YC on the north shore of Lake Ontario, and then the following year to Rochester, where RYC and GYC will jointly host.  If you have not been to an LYRA before you are missing good racing and good fun.  Your crew will thank you for it.”  Thanks for this contribution from Don Finkle.

My First LYRA- by Tim Finkle
“I’m not sure why I never did a LYRA in the past.  Possibly, because the Level Regatta was always the week before or maybe I just wasn’t invited?  I’d always heard stories about it (mostly the parties) and hoped that I’d have a chance to attend at some point.  When Jim Egloff mentioned that he might want to take the J/88 down to Sodus, I thought that it would be a good opportunity.  I’d done a lot of J/70 big fleet one-design regattas over the past two years, so a “big” boat PHRF regatta sounded different and fun.  It was also an opportunity to crew instead of drive and really get a better sense of what the J/88 can do on the race course.

Before registering for the regatta, we needed to get an updated PHRF certificate and see what rating we’d be given.  The original PHRF number when the boat came out was 87, however we sailed at 81 last season on Lake Ontario due to the 6 second “protect the fleet” penalty.  Now, one year later, we expected the number might stay the same or even go up a bit given we had some data to work with.  I was a bit surprised to find out that we actually dropped down to an 80 PHRF number…ouch.  I won’t get into all of that now, but it just meant that we would need to sail well to compete at that number.

We were placed in PHRF 1 with all the fastest PHRF boats including a J/124, C&C 115, two Beneteau 36.7’s, and two J/35’s.  This meant that we would be the smallest and technically the slowest in the fleet and although the boats owed us time, it also meant that we would have some challenges to deal with.  In a one-design regatta, you know if you are going fast or not because the boats should be equal.  That is not the case in PHRF.  Also, tactics change from one design to PHRF and at times it can be frustrating because your plan often gets foiled when a bigger faster boat sails right past you or from under you or over top of you.  In other words, you get dictated more than you might care for.  We knew that upwind we would have some issues holding lanes, sailing as high or fast as some of the bigger boats with their genoas.  We knew that some conditions would favor us and some would favor them.  It was about staying patient, especially upwind, and staying close enough at the windward mark in order to catch them downwind.  We were also the only asymmetrical spinnaker out there which meant our downwind angles would be quite different.

Luckily, we had a good crew with Jim Egloff driving, Kris Werner calling tactics, Justin Hays trimming (both from Quantum Sails Rochester), Nick Egloff on bow and myself trimming main.  We felt that our boat handling would be above average, our boat and sails were new, and we had done our preparations to be ready to race.  My Dad told me before the regatta that in PHRF “every dog has its day” and it’s a long regatta so just make sure you do well when the conditions favor your boat and when they don’t, try to minimize the damage.

Day 1 was extremely tricky as the light breeze hit pretty much every degree on the compass and the courses weren’t always square.  In both races, we battled back from tough spots and ended up winning both of them, one boat for boat and the other finishing second over the line but correcting to first over Wind Chill, the B36.7.  We saw that our downwind speed was excellent in the light air and we passed a bunch of boats on those legs.  We held our own upwind but with the small jib compared to genoas on other boats but our weapon was the big asym kite downwind.

Day two called for big breeze and we were licking our chops to see what the boat could do.  A WNW wind brought big waves and wind speed in the upper teens to 20 knots.  We debated for a bit on the boat whether to use the big or small kite, but in the end Kris made the call to go with the smaller one knowing that we only had 5 people aboard, it would be a long day, and we could maneuver better.  As it turned out, the breeze filled in even stronger and we’d have been tripping over ourselves with the A2 spinnaker.  We got three really solid races in and got better as the day went on finishing the day with a 2-1-1.  The last race sticks out because we lead wire to wire and had some amazing surfing/planing rides down the waves.  Jim did an excellent job driving through the waves and we saw our speed increase upwind as the day went on.  Downwind, we sailed the boat like a big J/70 and worked the waves and breeze to speeds in the 12-14 knot range.  It was a fun day to say the least.

The last day was light and very shifty.  We knew we had a close battle going with “Wind Chill” and with only a 5 point lead going into the day anything could happen.  They sailed an excellent final day winning both races.  We had a throw out after 6 races, so we knew that we needed just one solid race to secure the win.  We had a second in the first race and dropped a 4th in the last race to hold on.

Overall, the J/88 performed well and held its own against much bigger boats.  We ended up winning our PHRF 1 fleet and finishing 3rd overall after combining all PHRF fleets.  It is a testament to the design that it can be a great one design boat, a PHRF boat, or simply a day sailing boat.  In fact, our delivery crew raved about how well the boat sailed when they delivered it from Youngstown to Sodus.

So, in the end, LYRA was a success on the water and ashore as Dad’s article points out.  Sodus Bay YC did a fine job hosting and we will be back the next time LYRA rolls through town.  Thanks to the organizers and race committees who worked hard to put on a great regatta!  Also, congrats to all the other division winners who take home those really cool classic perpetual trophies.  We rarely see those kinds of trophies at regatta anymore, just one more neat thing about LYRA.  My favorite part was looking at all the name plates from years and years ago and recognizing names and boats from when I was a kid.”  Sailing photo credits- Don Finkle/ RCR Yachts.  For more LYRA at Sodus Bay YC sailing information.

Marblehead ONE Regatta Preview

J/70s sailing off Marblehead (Marblehead, MA)- As a relatively new regatta on the summer sailing calendar in Marblehead, the Mass Bay Sailing association in cooperation with the three principal yacht clubs in the harbor (Eastern, Boston, Corinthian), created the Marblehead ONE Championship- the Corinthian Yacht Club is the shore-side host this year and will provide an unparalleled post-race experience.

The regatta continues to grow strongly, with 88 participants in 11 classes looking forward to sail over the August 28th to 30th weekend! It features a diversity of boats and fleets, something for everyone and anything that floats and has a pulse!  The largest fleets are the two J/classes- the ten J/70s and sixteen J/105s.  The PHRF Racing fleets number six in total, plus two PHRF Cruz classes and the new addition this year, the PHRF Doublehanded class.

Within the J/70s, the usual suspects and cast of characters have made sure they cleared their end-of-summer calendars for their final round of competition in August.  Included in that fraternity are the RASCAL’s (Henry Brauer and Stew Neff), Ted Johnson’s VITAMIN J, Holly Fabyan’s ASTERIA, Marc Poirier’s HALF FULL and the Smith Family aboard AFRICA.

J/105s sailing MarbleheadWatch out for a rematch of what happened in the earlier HELLY HANSEN Marblehead NOOD Regatta for the J/105 class.  All the contenders are back for another shoot-out at the O.K. Marblehead Corral— e.g. Mass Bay!  Amongst those top boats are Dave Nelson’s GOT QI, John Ready’s VMAX, Mark & Jolene Masur’s TWO FEATHERS, Fred de Napoli’s ALLEGRO SIMPLICITA, Jon Samel’s BLOWN AWAY, Charlie Garrard’s MERLIN and Ken Bowden’s KNOTLESS.

Over in PHRF handicap world, many J/Teams present should factor into their class podiums at the end of the regatta.  PHRF 2 will feature scorching hot competition between the three J/111s and a J/122.  Ed Kaye’s PRAVDA 2, Mike Williamson’s BRIGADOON and Gary Weisberg’s HEATWAVE will lead the J/111s while holding up the J/122 honors will be Tom Mager’s GIGI.  PHRF 3 Class features the brand new J/88 FREYJA skippered by Tomas Bergstrand.  The J/109 WILDTHANG skippered by Dan Boyd & Mitch Wiest will be tackling the PHRF 4 class.  A seriously quick J/33 skippered by Ward Blodgett is taking on the PHRF 5 fleet along with the J/29 IL CATTIVO helmed by Pat Cerundolo, they are up against “Sparkle Pony”- a boat of dubious vintage.  Rounding out PHRF Racing is PHRF 6 class with a trio J/24s gunning class annihilation- Erica Beck Spencer’s SEA BAGS WOMENS SAILING TEAM, John Denman’s AIRODOODLE, and John Wells’ SHELDON-J.  The lone wolf in PHRF Doublehanded class is Jeff Kent’s J/35 BLACK SEAL.
For more ONE Championship regatta sailing information

Friday, August 28, 2015

How Sailing Can Save the World!

(San Francisco, CA)- John Arndt, the Editor of Latitude 38 in California and founder of “Summer Sailstice”, often has some thought-provoking perspectives on sailing.  Here’s his latest on why sailing matters and how we can save our “Liferaft Earth”:

“I am always puzzled when I encounter concern about the cost of sailing. As the world becomes increasingly urbanized and technical, I get more concerned about the cost of not sailing.

You can ‘follow’ the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup, and you can ‘watch’ the virtual wind and ‘see’ the ocean currents, but is that the same as having your hand on the tiller as you try to get around a ledge with an adverse current and fading breeze? No, the only way to understand sailing, and gain an appreciation and respect for our waters, is to actually be on them, and cost needn’t be a hurdle.

Three years ago, my brother bought a Hobie 16 with sails and a trailer for $500 (what’s your cell and cable costs/month?). When my brother and I were sailing it last summer, it started sinking after we flipped it. We hopped a tow from a passing lobster boat, got the boat to shore so we could drain it, and then sailed it back to where we could goop up the holes. Great stories followed!

This year it was my nephew’s turn who sunk the boat when a new leak occurred. But he got the boat back, and later dug out the long crack in the hull deck joint, mixed up some epoxy and relaunched. For those in New England this week, Tuesday was a rainy, nasty day, and he and a friend launched again in big breeze to rip around the bay. What a riot!

Finding a leak, mixing epoxy, launching and rigging a Hobie and sailing in a rain storm … all character and confidence building stuff.

In an era where people are cultivated to lust after image-defining stuff like cars and homes, sailing can look positively cheap. Then, when you account for the stories, experiences, and thrills generated by sailing, its value becomes priceless. And who knows, if our fitness and sanity improved by time on the water, we might even reduce the cost of health care.

With Craigslist filled with affordable boats like the Hobie, the cost of sailing is a good investment. I know my nephew and friend will be lusting for a new Hobie long before a new kitchen appliance, making for an important trend to strengthen the marine industry.

Maybe sailing can save the world. Bringing families together, overcoming obstacles with solutions, and connecting with our environment… all the time giggling and memory-making. Can a body-idling iPad do that?”  Thanks for contribution from Craig Leweck/ Scuttlebutt Newsletter.

J/111 ODYSSEY Two-Peats Ida Lewis Race

J/111 sailing Ida Lewis RaceJ/111 EAGLES DARE Wins Double-handed Class
(Newport, RI)– The Ida Lewis Distance Race, a popular sailing overnighter hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I., wrapped up its 11th edition this weekend with the entire 36-boat fleet finishing within the time limit – a stark contrast to last year when many entries had to retire due to inclement weather.

The race started Friday (August 14) at 12:30 p.m. off Fort Adams, near the mouth of Newport Harbor, with a steady breeze and calm seas that remained consistent on two courses: the 153-nautical mile Block Island Course for the IRC Class and the 121-nautical mile Point Judith Course for PHRF and Doublehanded Classes.

Although the fleet was divided on two courses, all boats had to incorporate an approximately 37nm upwind leg from Buzzards Bay to Montauk Point off the eastern end of Long Island, New York. The “tricky beat” called for teams to decide whether to head right or left around Block Island; most boats chose the left because of the wind angles.

The Youth Challenge saw a repeat victory with Fred Van Liew’s (Middletown, R.I.) J/111 team aboard ODYSSEY winning the Arent H. Kits van Heyningen Trophy for the second year in a row. When asked about how her experience on ODYSSEY differed this year compared to last, 18-year-old Kate Nota (Newport, R.I.) said, “We definitely approached racing with a different mindset. Last year, the wind was pretty crazy. With calmer conditions this year, we were able to focus on all the little details and make every second count. It’s good to have different conditions to test us as sailors and build up our experience.”

The Youth Challenge was developed by the race organizers nine years ago as a stepping stone for junior sailors interested in transitioning into offshore racing. This year, the Youth Challenge hosted five teams. (To qualify, more than 40% of the crew had to have reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to August 15, 2015.)

Nota added that the ODYSSEY team consisted of seven junior sailors and two adults: Van Liew and David Brodsky. “We had a few junior sailors on our team that were new to the event and one who had never sailed in an overnight race before, so it was fun to go through the experience with them and see how excited they were.”

In the PHRF A Division, the J/109s URSA (Brooke Mastrorio) and VENTO SOLARE (Bill Kneller) took 3rd and 4th place, respectively.  Just behind them, Paul Grimes’ J/35 BREAKAWAY placed fifth and was the 2nd Youth Challenge team overall.  Then, in 7th place was Doug Mckeige’s J/88 JAZZ with a Youth Challenge team that took the 3rd spot in that group.

The PHRF B division had six J/Teams, basically 60% of the class.  Taking 2nd was Jack Gregg’s J/122 TARAHUMARA, followed by Greg Leonard’s J/120 HERON in third position.  Yet another J/120, Bob Manchester’s VAMOOSE took 6th, followed by Dan Heun’s J/122 MOXIEE in 7th.

Finally, in the PHRF Doublehanded division, the J/111 EAGLES DARE skippered by Jonathan Green from Wakefield, MA took class honors.

Starting Line Sponsors for the 2015 Ida Lewis Distance Race include Bluewater Technologies, the City of Newport, Helly Hansen, New England Boatworks and Newport Shipyard; Contributing Sponsors are DYT Yacht Transport, Flint Audio & Video, Gosling’s Rum, Mac Designs, Toni Mills Graphic Design, Triton Insurance, North Sails, Rig Pro Southern Spars and Stella Artois.  Sailing photo credits- Megan Sepe/ Newport.   For more Ida Lewis Distance Race sailing information

Thursday, August 27, 2015

PERSEVERANCE Tops Summer Keelboat

J/105 Perseverance team CHANCE Trumps J/120 Class
(San Francisco, CA)- The San Francisco YC on the northern part of San Francisco Bay hosted their annual Summer Keelboat Regatta for one-design classes.  Featured again this year were the J/105s and J/120s.  For some perspective on how it all went down, here’s the commentary from a J/105 team that has never won a regatta before- Steve Kent and his merry bandits on-board PERSEVERANCE.

“After moving to SF a little over a year ago and buying PERSEVERANCE to race in Fleet 1, we won our first regatta at the SFYC Summer Keelboat event this past weekend. Without a doubt this is one of the most competitive fleets I've had a chance to sail in.

As we expected, over the last year we struggled to learn the boat, assemble a team, figure out the rig, etc. We tore up some gear making the transition from SoCal relatively light air sailing to the breeze on The Bay.  What a great experience!!!  Guys from the top of the fleet like MOJO, DONKEY JACK, and ARBITRAGE were generous with advice and a new jib and main from Quantum have all helped us improve.

A couple things made all the difference this weekend. We forgot about 'winning' the start and instead focused on being at full speed with a hole to leeward anywhere on the line. We also worked hard at a 'quiet boat', not something easy for me, but Alex Steele was a great coach on this aspect.

In the end, it was a close regatta with Bruce Stone’s ARBITRAGE team just two points back (after two bullets on Sun) and Ryan Simmons’ BLACKHAWK team challenging at every mark in third.

Looking forward to the J/105 North Americans at StFYC Rolex Big Boat Series next month and a full 4 days of racing against the best!  A photo of the happy team here!”

Filling out the top five was Shannon Ryan & Rolf Kaiser’s DONKEY JACK in 4th, just beating out Phil & Ken Laby’s GODOT by 3 pts, who took fifth place.

Amongst the J/120s, Barry Lewis’ CHANCE crew from St Francis YC rattled off three straight bullets to easily win their division- an amazing “lights out” performance.  Taking second overall and fighting for their life to do it was Dave Halliwill’s PEREGRINE crew. Only one point back in third was Timo Bruck’s TWIST Team.  For more San Francisco YC Summer Keelboat sailing information

Conch Republic Cup Announcement!

Conch Republic Cup- Key West to Havana, Cuba (Havana, Cuba)- What is the “Conch Republic Cup”?  Well, it’s none other than the 8th Edition of Key West-Cuba Race Week!  For the first time in history, American sailors can now have a blast sailing 90nm from Key West to Cuba and enjoy several days of sailing in just the most stupendously beautiful, unspoiled, Caribbean waters you will ever see.  Plus, for those sailors “in the know”, namely Europeans, South Americans, and some Americans, the Cuban sailors sure know how to host and throw a party!  The Commodore of Club Nautico de Havana, Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, is extending a warm welcome to all that can make it to Marina Hemingway this year!

Conch Republic to Havana sailboat startThe event is scheduled right after Quantum Key West Race Week finishes in the end of January.  So, boats that are planning to continue their Florida winter getaway can add this one to their “bucket list” of fabulous regatta itineraries.  And, for those boats contemplating heading further east into the Caribbean for the sextet of famous winter regattas (RORC 600, St Maarten, St Thomas, BVI, St Barths, Antigua); this week would be a natural one to start the winter-long celebration of fun-in-the-sun!  Here is the current schedule of five (5) races total:
  • Jan 27- Wednesday- Captains Meeting and party at Key West
  • Jan 28- Thursday- Key West to Veradero, Cuba Race
  • Jan 29- Friday- Veradero Awards and party
  • Jan 30- Saturday- free day
  • Jan 31- Sunday- Veradero Offshore buoy race- Awards/ party after
  • Feb 1- Monday- Veradero to Havana Race- Marina Hemingway
  • Feb 2- Tuesday- free day
  • Feb 3- Wednesday- Havana’s El Malecon Parade Race- awards/party @ Marina Hemingway
  • Feb 4- Thursday- free day
  • Feb 5- Friday- Havana to Key West Race
  • Feb 6- Saturday- Key West awards/ party
Please contact Peter Goldsmith at cell# (305)-304-4582 or email- Jeff@MainsailNews.TV to express interest and get on the direct contact list for updates.  Here is the Conch Republic Cup Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yachts & Yachting Interview- World Champion Stevie Morrison

J/111 Journeymaker II sailing Cowes Race Week (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Steve Morrison, who was sailing on the J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II at Cowes Race Week, talks  about his sailing experience at Cowes with Y&Y correspondent Mark Jardine.  Stevie is the current skipper of the Oman Air Extreme 40 catamaran, an Olympic 49er sailor at both Qingdao 2008 & London 2012 and former World Champion in both Fireball & 49er classes.

Mark Jardine: So Stevie, you're over here for Cowes Week, what are you sailing on and how are things going?

Extreme J/111 Journeymaker II sailing teamStevie Morrison: I'm here for a couple of days with some people who support me in the 49er, a company called BTG, and they've got a J/111 called JOURNEYMAKER II. They are very keen sailors from Hamble. We've got some of the guys from the company coming to experience it, and hopefully helping Louise [Dame Louise Makin] and Chris who sail the boat move on to the J/111 Worlds here next year. They've got a good programme going forward to that. It's great for me, usually sailing dinghies, I get a chance to experience this side of sailing. It's all far too serious - I love it for what it is - but this [Cowes Week] is the essence of sailing. When you look in London, or anywhere, you find people who see sailing as Cowes Week. To me it's about getting people excited about sailing, and obviously Cowes Week does that. It lets the normal guy, who's maybe trying sailing, come and race against some of the best guys in the world. Terry Hutchinson's here somewhere and other guys like that are kicking around Cowes, and they are some of the very best sailors in the world. For me Stevie- UK Olympic teamit's great to see them, and hopefully for other guys it's even better to see them. It is a unique experience and I'm glad to be here.

Mark Jardine: As well as life on the water, how are you enjoying the social side of Cowes Week?

Stevie Morrison: It's fantastic. We've come along to the beer tent after sailing with some of the staff of BTG who have sailed for just two days. I think we were first J/111 today and these guys are four out of eight crew on the boat, so they had big roles to play. So, they are very excited about the fact we were first in our class. Then I bumped into some of the guys from the British Sailing Team, bumped into you, bumped into Ben Vines. I love it, it's an environment which encapsulates sailing under one roof. There's a lot of people here and it's really nice for me to bump into old friends. Sailing photo credits- Rick Tomlinson & Paul Wyeth/   Read more of Stevie’s AAM Cowes Race Week J/111 experience here.

J/70 SAILING Champions League Qualifiers

J/70 one-design sailboat (Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy)- The concept for “sailing leagues” has continued to grow dramatically across Europe.  From the initial idea first proposed by two-times World Tornado Champion Oliver Schwall and J/Boats’ Germany representative, Mittelmans Werft GMBH, the Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga has mushroomed into the SAILING Champions League across many countries on the continent.

YC Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, ItalyFor 2015, the first 16 clubs from eight countries have been nominated for the 2nd annual SAILING Champions League event in September in Porto Cervo- the regatta will be hosted by YC Costa Smeralda from Sept 17-20th in their brand new fleet of eight matched International J/70s. Three clubs from Germany, two from Italy, two from Switzerland, two from Russia, two from Poland, two from Norway and one from the Netherlands are eligible to participate in the regatta on Sardinia. Furthermore, two wild cards have been allocated to the hosting YC Costa Smeralda from Porto Cervo and to the 2014 Champions- the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The clubs that have been invited include:
  • Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria- Palermo, Italy- 1st Italian Sailing League 2015
  • Deutscher Touring Yacht-Club-    Tutzing, Germany- 2nd German Sailing League 2014
  • Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub- Copenhagen, Denmark- Overall Champion 2014
  • Kongelig Norsk Seilforening- Oslo, Norway- 1st Norwegian Sailing League
  • NAVIGATOR Sailing Team- Moscow, Russia- 1st Act 2 Russian Sailing League 2015
  • Norddeutscher Regatta Verein-    Hamburg, Germany- 1st German Sailing League 2014
  • Pirogovo Yacht Club- Moscow, Russia- 1st Act 1 Russian Sailing League 2015
  • Regattaclub Oberhofen- Oberhofen/Thun, Switzerland- 1st Swiss Sailing League 2015
  • Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano- Trieste, Italy- 2nd Italian Sailing League 2015
  • Société Nautique de Genève- Geneve, Switzerland- 2nd Swiss Sailing League 2015
  • Stavanger Seilforening- Stavanger, Norway- 2nd Norwegian Sailing League
  • Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee- Berlin, Germany- 3rd German Sailing League 2014
  • WaterSportVereniging Almere Haven- Amsterdam, Netherlands- 1st Dutch Sailing League
  • Yacht Club Costa Smeralda- Porto Cervo, Sardinia– Hosting Club
  • Yacht Club Sopot- Sopot, Poland- 1st Polish Sailing League 2015
  • Yacht Klub Polski Szczecin- Szczecin, Poland- 2nd Polish Sailing League 2015
One might ask, “what is the cost of participation for my sailing club”?  Virtually nothing.  Participation is the primary consideration.  The European J/70 sailing leagues have taken off because it encourages “club membership” participation with a minimal entry fee of less than 750 EUR per regatta sailing on supplied one-design J/70s. Sponsors and partners help underwrite the entire program.  In Europe, SAP Software AG, Chairman/ CEO Hasso Plattner’s database/ analytics software company, has been a huge participant and supporter of sailing leagues (Hasso is a J/100 and J/105 owner and actively supports the 505 and J/70 classes in Europe). Learn more here about the program and how you can promote it in your country! Sailing photo credits- MittelmansWerft/ Sven Jurgensen.  For more SAILING Champions League regatta information.