Rolex Big Boat Series
The record-setting 52nd Rolex Big Boat Series hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club drew to a close September 18 in splendid late-summer sailing conditions. After a slight delay waiting for the breeze to fill, a seabreeze of 15-18 knots arrived and brought with it decidedly warmer temperatures. For the first time in four days, crews shed their foul weather gear and fleeces as they took to the racecourse. This year’s regatta attracted the largest fleet ever: 127 boats in 11 classes. San Francisco’s reliable seabreeze came in every day, starting at a gentle 8-10 knots and then steadily increasing into the 20s, with a peak of 30 knots yesterday. All classes completed their full slate of racing. The coveted prize at all Rolex Yachting events is a specially engraved Rolex timepiece. Class winners were presented a Stainless Steel Submariner Date watch as well as a St. Francis Yacht Club perpetual trophy.
Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) J/111 Topzy Turvy was the top-scoring J/111 in the fleet. For more information, please visit the Rolex Big Boat Series website by clicking here, and for complete results, click here.
On September 2, the 74th Windjammers Race took place, the classic late-summer race from San Francisco past Año Nuevo down to Santa Cruz 90nm to the south; the event is one of the oldest annual regattas on California's Pacific Coast. The Windjammer Regatta was first hosted by The Santa Cruz Yacht Club in the early 1930s but has deep roots going back to the Pacific Yacht Club's Race To Santa Cruz in 1884. Racers can always expect exciting downwind fun as they fly down the coast. Finishes are scored off the Santa Cruz Wharf throughout the day and into the night. The big winner in this year’s race was Howard Turner’s J/111 SYMMETRY from Santa Cruz YC. After sailing to windward from the start line on the face of Alcatraz Island, out under the Golden Gate Bridge in typical westerlies on San Francisco Bay, the J/111 turned left and quickly went through a succession of double-head rig with jib and Code Zero to the A3 offshore reaching kite to the big A2 runner toward the end of the race. Winds were reported to hit 30 kts at times with the J/111 flying down the enormous Pacific swells at 20-22 kts. In the end, Turner’s SYMMETRY corrected out at 10:35:36, good enough for the class win in PHRF 2 and taking second overall on corrected. SYMMETRY’s win marked the second time in a row that J/111s have won their class in this offshore classic. For more Windjammers Race sailing information, visit http://club.scyc.org/.
J/111 Perseverance Wins Verve Cup Trophy
Bennet Greenwald’s J/111 Perseverance won Chicago Yacht Club’s 2016 Verve Cup Trophy. This is the first time a J/111 has won the Verve Cup overall since first joining the regatta as a one-design fleet in 2011. Perseverance was tied at 15 points with Utah at the end of the day, but won the tiebreaker. For complete event information, visit https://www.chicagoyachtclub.org/verveoffshore.
Cowes Race Week
High pressure, brilliant sun and a solid westerly breeze again delivered perfect conditions for the final day of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. The wind dipped briefly in strength to around 10 knots as a belt of thin cloud moved across the Solent around midday, before increasing to 15 knots with stronger gusts when the sun returned 30 minutes later. Six J/111s competed, and the racing was very tight with Tony Mack's Mcfly edging out Martin Dent's Jelvis by just one point. Paul van Driel's Sweeny was a mere two points further back in third. For complete event details, click here.
Every year the Little Traverse YC hosts their Ugotta Regatta after the Mac Races. The J/111 one-design fleet had very close competition amongst the five teams. Local Dave Irish and his crew on NO SURPRISE were the winners. In second, it was Tracy Brand’s SOLUTION that won a tie-breaker over Carl Hanssen’s VARIANCE, both sitting on 15 points each. Fourth was Brad Faber’s UTAH only one point back, and fifth was the trio of George Miz, Peter Dreher and Mark Hatfield.
JElvis wears the Crown at the J/111 Garmin World Championship
Martin Dent's JElvis is the J/111 Garmin World Champions. Racing with a young team including family members, JElvis only joined the J/111 Class last year. After a thrilling final day, British J/111 JElvis held off a strong challenge from Peter Wagner's Skeleton Key to take the world title. The final day of racing delivered two windward leeward races in a southwesterly gradient breeze. Once again enhanced by thermal breeze, the wind speed piped up to 20 knots, giving thrilling conditions to the fleet. In the pre-start to the penultimate race, Skeleton Key engaged JElvis, with the two combatants weaving through the fleet. However, Skeleton Key misjudged the line and arriving early had to bear away. It was a position that the American team found hard to recover from, ending the race in 10th, which was discarded. Race 8 was won by Mike Mayer's Kashmir. The team from Chicago became the fifth team to score a bullet at the J/111 Garmin World Championship. The intensity of the competition saw nine teams out of 14 make the podium. JElvis had a five-point cushion going into the last race, but a poor first beat left JElvis in seventh whilst Skeleton Key took the lead. However, McFly and Kashmir, who were both in front of JElvis, almost simultaneously ripped their spinnakers, allowing JElvis to climb the necessary places on the leaderboard to win the J/111 Garmin World Championship. "I would like to thank our competitors, the locals we race against all the time, and to all the foreign teams that have come from so far away to compete, especially Skeleton Key who pushed us so hard," commented Martin Dent. "It has been great racing against Skeleton Key, who never gave up, right until the end and raced so well. A big thank you to my own team, on the boat and off the boat. You have all put a lot of work in and it has paid off." Tony Mack's McFly was third for the Championship and has been a great supporter of the Class and decided to put up a Corinthian Trophy for a team fielding only amateur sailors. This year, the Cornish team racing Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog were the winners. "We came second in the Worlds in 2014 and to be there, or thereabout, this year has been wonderful. I live miles from the coast, and we can't put as much time in as some of the other teams, but we enjoy it all just as much. I put up the Corinthian prize because we want to encourage people to join the Class that want to sail with friends. Only one professional is allowed, so the J/111 teams are very much amateur but the standard is very high. They are all very good sailors, but the pro-rule stops it from getting too serious." Skeleton Key's Peter Wagner spoke at the end of the prize-giving about next year's J/111 World Championship, "This has been a great regatta. Some of the crew have sailed here once or twice before, but we have all had racing in Cowes on our bucket list. There are only a handful of places like this in the world, and San Francisco Bay is one of them. Put August 24 in your diaries—the next Worlds is in San Francisco Bay hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. On behalf of all of the J/111s in North America, we encourage you to come and join us. This year was great racing, and our thanks to the race committee for that and hopefully we can put on as good an event, where it will be a lot sunnier!" Fourteen teams from seven different countries competed in the J/111 Garmin World Championship. Results, pictures and more can be found on the dedicated J/111 Garmin World Championship website at: https://sites.google.com/site/j111worlds2016.