J/111 BLUR.SE Wins Bohusracet: World’s Largest Double-handed Race
Peter Gustafsson’s J/111 BLUR.SE sailed through the 8,000 island Bohus Archipelago in Sweden, taking on the best sailors in Scandinavia, to win the Bohusracet—reputed to be the world’s largest offshore double-handed race. Here is Peter’s report: "There are some sailing venues that are more magical than others, and some races that you really want to come back and do again and again. And even compared to some exotic places and iconic races, I think that Bohusracet tops my list. Why? The recipe is easy:
1/3 Bohuslän. With over 8,000 islands, CNN Travel ranks this archipelago the seventh most beautiful natural wilderness area in the world. It’s easy to spend five weeks of vacation (or a lifetime) and never visit the same spot twice. And a race course that takes you through most of it in 24 hours is bound to have both beautiful scenery and navigational challenges.
1/3 Midsummer nights. When the sun sets at 10.30PM and rises at 04:00AM, it's never really dark. And as the wind often drops, you tend to get close racing with other boats hunting for wind at 02:00AM. Unreal seeing the silhouettes of the crews whispering on the other boats.
1/3 Intense racing (or just an adventure). With over 150 boats, a 170 nm course and seven checkpoints, it tends to be an intense fight for the serious racers. And with just two on board, there’s not much time for food or sleep. Others do the race to test their limits and to share the experience with a significant other or one of the youngsters in the family.
We hadn’t been able to do the race for a few years. Last year, we did the ÅF Offshore Race (Around Gotland double handed), and the year before that we focused on the Fastnet Race. So now we were eager to get another chance. In the past, we’ve won our class several times and finished second overall twice. But this year we might get lucky in the weather lottery, with six hours separating the small boats starting Friday morning and us, in the fastest class, starting at 3PM. The forecasts were unanimous: a big low over southeast Sweden would render a fast race with a puffy 20-30 knots from NE pushing all the boats out from the start in Uddevalla to Marstrand and the rounding to go north Friday evening. The big talk before the start was to use downwind sails or not, but that proved to be a non-issue at the starting area as it was blowing a solid 30 knots gusting 50. Mmmm... We went with a full main and our shorthanded jib (a J3.5 with more shape and a reef) for the first short downwind leg, with plans for a deep reef after the first rounding. But we managed to keep it together by heading of in the gusts, easily doing 12-15 knots, and heading up in the lulls. This worked out nicely except for one occasions when we were supposed to go upwind for 500 meters to fetch a "sprint prize" (not ideal in 52 knots of wind), but miraculously everything stayed in one piece. Others weren’t so lucky, and masts and sails were coming down all around. So a great "shakeout" with 150 nm to go. It couldn’t get worse? And it didn’t. We extended the lead in our class, and after a few hours we managed to get the A5 up. Then managed to work through the downwind inventory before rounding the Hätteberget lighthouse with a healthy 15-minute lead on corrected before our main competitor—Norwegian "short-handed rock star" Elling Rishoff in a fine-tuned First 40 Godevenner. Close hauled, continuously changing between jib and J0 (big jib/small code set on a furler on the sprit), we sailed north into the sunset. As forecasted, we were headed just north of Smögen, and the long beat toward Norway began. We were catching up with many of the smaller boats, and it was pretty magical passing just meters away in a serene archipelago. We managed pretty OK, but we lost a few minutes here and there to First 40 Godevenner that had passed us just north of Smögen. On corrected time, we were ok, but they seemed to have a slight advantage. In the morning, the conditions became trickier. Several weather systems were fighting, and a NW breeze was filling in from the west. We got caught in the transition just before Strömstad and lost even more. Now we were 20 minutes behind on corrected, and couldn’t wait to get to the Tresteinerne lighthouse in Norway to get the chute up and go south again. We rounded in a light northerly, but we stayed west and the new breeze filled in nicely. We tried to as hard as possible and hunted pressure when possible. We slowly caught up with Godevenner, keeping track of them both on AIS and on the rounding reports. At some point, we thought it was impossible to catch them, but at the last mark it became clear; we were just 1.5 minutes behind on corrected with 35 minutes to go... We went for it and took every shortcut we could find, and kept the big A2 up as long as humanly possible (did the best takedown of the season at the exactly the right moment). And we managed to beat them by 30 seconds. After 23 hours and 40 minutes, that was a huge relief. The smaller boats had managed to get around the course without any upwind work, and were favored by more wind during the day Friday. So they dominated the overall list. I guess we'll have to come back and try again..." For more J/111 BLUR.SE information, visit http://www.blur.se/2017/07/04/pantaenius-bohusracet-2017/.
The Chicago Mackinac Race
This year’s 109th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac will go down in the history books as one of the toughest races ever. Just 200 of the 297 starters completed the 289.4 nm course. A frontal passage hit the fleet at midnight on Saturday, just hours into the race, producing a rare "dry front" that looked menacing as it came over the water but had no rain over Lake Michigan. As the front passed over the fleet, a blast front of 35-50 knot winds flew across the water. Shortly thereafter, the front passed by, pulling behind it a far stronger northerly breeze than forecast, so the fleet settled into a 20+ hour beat to windward in 15-30 knot winds from the NNE and punching into a classic 6-10 ft Lake Michigan chop. The winds rapidly shut down between the Manitou Island Straits and the open waters headed to Grey’s Reef. There were 19 teams in J/111 one-design fleet. Here is the report from J/111 class winner, Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY: "This was an interesting race because the navigation and strategy seemed like they were more obvious than in the past two Mac races I've done. We were looking at SE winds at the start that were forecast to slowly build and clock to the SW before a gusty front would come through with NW winds and possible storms, followed by strong northerly winds with big waves on Sunday, then light shifty winds under a passing high pressure system on Monday. So the plan was to stay left of rhumb until the front came in and then get across the lake, then inside at the Manitous and then see what we had to do to get across the finish on Monday. We had a great start, winning the boat end of the line and quickly transitioning into our Code 0. We peeled to A1.5 and then A2 as the winds slowly clocked as per the forecast. The sailing was absolutely fantastic on the first day as we picked our way through the larger fleet and kept an eye on the competition. We spent a fair amount of time scratching our heads as No Surprise pulled in front of us a couple hundred yards up the course (where did those guys come from?) and kept an eye on Utah and Kashmir while we kept the boat speed up and waited for the front. When the sun went down, we could see a big display of lightning to the northwest that was slowly approaching and putting on a huge cloud-to-cloud light show that was beautiful to watch. When the NW winds finally hit it, was a very quick transition, and we worked to get our A2 down and our short hoist J4 up. We saw wind speeds build quickly into the 30s despite not feeling it on the water, and in short order we saw high 30s and low 40s and then it landed. The top wind speed we saw was 46 knots, and we hit 15 knots of boat speed blast reaching under the J4 in the crazy winds and rapidly building sea state. There was a lull for a bit after the front came through, and we put the Code 0 back up, but that proved to be the wrong sail after a few minutes so we switched to the A3 and I got back on the wheel. Due to the clouds, it was pitch black on the water and very hard to see the waves so the first 10 minutes or so were very disorienting and hard to drive in. Luckily, a bright star popped out under the cloud deck, and I was able to use that as a steering reference and get things smoothed out. We were bashing through big waves at 15-17 knots boatspeed for a couple of hours as we headed northeast and across the lake to get to the Michigan side. Once the jib went up, I went down for the night. When I woke a couple hours later, we were in pounding conditions close-hauled and heading up the coast of Michigan between Big and Little Sable Points. We could see a few other J/111s around us, and we spent pretty much all day on Monday dealing with mild seasickness among several crew members, trying to stay upright in 20-25 knot northerly winds and 6-10 foot waves, and chasing boats. We spent a lot of time crossing and being crossed by Utah on Monday, which was alternately good and bad for morale. These were some of the roughest conditions that I've sailed in for the amount of time we were in them, and it was very challenging for the whole team. We did a great job staying in contact with the leading contingent of 111s and staying in the game that day. If I were to pick a point where we made a call that put us into a position to achieve our ultimate victory, I'd say it was very early in the morning on Monday. We were south of Beaver Island, and we knew the winds were forecast to clock NE to SE, and we also knew that we were on the outside of the pinwheel of the leader group and that that was not going to be a great place to be. We made the call to gybe away to an angle that took our VMG to almost zero and spent a half hour sailing to the inside of the pack and much closer to the rhumb line. Shortly after we gybed back to course, the winds did exactly what was predicted and the move paid off big. As the sun came up on Monday, we saw Kashmir about 2 miles in front of us, Utah and No Surprise over near Beaver Island and not moving very quickly, and Rowdy to the north of us with a group of boats from other classes. The conditions that morning were 0-4 knots of wind and very glassy. As the sun came up, we could see patches of breeze on the water so we played the ‘connect the dots’ game we play so frequently in Annapolis to get ahead of Kashmir and pull up even with Rowdy, slowly pulling past both them and No Surprise. Once we got to Greys Reef, we were in a position to consolidate and defend against Rowdy and No Surprise, and we spent six hours sailing the last 25 miles and staying out front through the whole afternoon. Once we got to the bridge, we felt like we had a very comfortable lead and the breeze was moving Velocity along very nicely at 6-7 knots with the lighthouse in sight. That's when the bottom almost fell out. A mile or so past the bridge, the winds started to go light on us again, and it looked like the other two boats had connected with some breeze on the south side of the Straights of Mackinac so we decided to cover. As we came out of our covering gybe, I looked over my shoulder and saw No Surprise maybe 6-8 boat lengths back! After 282nm and just 7nm left to go, we were within seconds of each other, and we still had a lot of battling to do. With me on the wheel and Chris Teixeira trimming the kite, Derrick Reig and James Allsop managing the tactical picture, we got back to work and managed to extend on both them and Rowdy, finally gybing away for the finish after about an hour of dueling in the last three miles. As we approached the finish line, there was one last challenge—the wind completely shut down! With "triple naught" (0.00 knots of boatspeed) on the B&G displays, we found that we had about 0.8 knots of current pushing us towards the finish line. As I looked around in a bit of a panic, I saw that everyone else was being shut down as they approached the line as well. It took us 30 minutes of getting tossed around by ferry wakes and doing everything we could to get the boat moving to cross the finish line! The conditions on this race ran the full gamut from 0-45 knot winds, flat water to 10 foot breaking rollers, cold to hot temperatures. The crew of Velocity did a great job of overcoming it all, staying in the game and capitalizing where we could to win the prize in what was one of the toughest races I've ever sailed!" For complete event information, visit http://www.cycracetomackinac.com/.
Queen’s Cup Race
Today, the Queen's Cup is the coveted overall trophy for the race from Milwaukee, WI to South Haven, MI (approximately 117° and 76.3nm long). For the most part, PHRF 3 was the J/111 Division. The duo of Mark & Colin Caliban sailed NO QUARTER to first by a mere nine seconds over Dick Hobbs’ HOBGOBLIN. Third place, just 100 seconds back, was Class newcomer Art Mitchel’s SNOW GOOSE. Then, fourth was Brad Faber’s UTAH another 80 seconds behind, and in fifth was Jeff Schaefer’s SHMOKIN JOE yet another 80 seconds back. For more Queens Cup Race information, visit http://www.ssyc.org/queens-cup/queens-cup-home.
2018 J/111 North American Championship Announced
The Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Macatawa, Michigan invites you to the 2018 J/111 North American Championship from September 17-21, 2018. Check out the yacht club website at http://mbyc.com/, and look for more details with an event website soon.
Block Island Race Week
After five days of hard racing at Block Island Race Week, on Friday, June 23, there were 16 ecstatic winners and an equal number of disappointed runners-up. Partnership, a J/111 campaigned by David and Maryellen Tortorello, won a good battle with Sea Biscuit in PHRF 1. Only two points separated the two boats going into Friday’s action, but a disqualification in Race 7 doomed the Farr 30 skippered by Kevin McNeil of Annapolis, Maryland. "We have done Block Island Race Week five times, and this is the first time we’ve won our class so this is phenomenal," David Tortorello said. "We had very, very good competition, and I think the key was consistency. We put up a lot of top three finishes. Our crew work was fabulous." In the J/111 Sub Class, second place for the week was Douglass Curtiss, Wicked 2.0; first place for the week David & Maryellen Tortorello, PARTNERSHIP. For complete event information, visit www.blockislandraceweek.com.
J/111 DJINN Wins RORC East Coast Race
Here is the report from Sébastien de Liedekerke, owner of the J/111 DJINNN about their recent experience sailing the RORC East Coast Race: The RORC East Coast Race 2017 was the third offshore race of the season for DJINN and her crew, starting from Burnham-on-Crouch near Harwich (Thames Estuary) and finishing in Oostende (Belgium), for a good 130 nautical miles of zig-zagging between the wind farms of the Southern North Sea. DJINN had a good downwind start, crossing the line ahead of the IRC 1-2 fleet. The first three hours of racing, extracting ourselves progressively from River Crouch in very fluky winds and strong currents, were especially challenging and, as we missed a few gusts, two of our IRC 2 competitors managed to build a nice half-mile lead on us. As wind conditions stabilized, we started catching up on them, and by midnight we were in the lead again. With light Westerlies of 5-13kt, flat water and a 100% reaching and broad-reaching course, the conditions were ideal for DJINN and her crew to build progressively a significant gap with key competitors and to finish largely ahead of the pack in Oostende after 20 hours and 26 minutes of racing and despite dying winds again... This was supposed to be "just" another Fastnet qualifier for our crew, with no one expecting anything special from it in terms of results, and yet we ended up coming back home with some silverware—a lot of silverware actually!
• Ailish Salver trophy for first yacht home (line honours)
• Blackwater Cup for first yacht in IRC 1-2 class
• Bob Stewart Trophy for first yacht in IRC overall
Congratulations to the DJINN crew (Sebastien de Liedekerke, Sylvain Duprey, Andy Hoefig, Bertrand Lefebvre and Florence Hubert)!