The 40th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, was a tale of two races. After the calm conditions for the first half of the course, increasingly rough weather in the second half posed challenges for the fleet, with winds gusting to over 30 knots and steep seas. Weathering the extreme conditions were a crew from Sweden—Peter Gustafsson’s crew on the J/111 BLUR.SE. It was their first time sailing the Rolex Middle Sea Race, but they were both well-prepared and well-trained. Their perseverance paid off, winning ORC 5 Class and taking third ORC Overall. On the IRC handicap side, they scored third in IRC 5 Class and 10th IRC Overall. For more Rolex Middle Sea Race information, visit https://www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/.

McFly was crowned J/111 Solent Series Champion 2019, and the new Paul Heys trophy was presented to Sally and Tony Mack. Congratulations to Journeymaker II (second) and Red Herring (third).


McFly Paul Heys Trophy 2019

Hosted by the Indian Harbor Yacht Club, 2019 marked the 64th edition of this classic 46.0nm race. Run annually the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, competitors typically race to Stratford Shoal and back. The nickname "Gearbuster" attests to the usually boisterous weather sailors enjoy in October on Western Long Island Sound. The racing includes fully crewed and double-handed divisions, plus a shorter 19.0nm course for non-spinnaker divisions. The Stratford Shoal Race PHRF 2 Class of 11 boats was won by Bill & Jackie Baxter’s J/111 FIREBALL. For more race information, visit https://www.indianharboryc.com/Default.aspx?p=dynamicmodule&pageid=401871&ssid=328512&vnf=1.

The 2019 edition of the Vineyard Race in Stamford, CT was a relatively fast race. The 238.0nm course stretches from Shippan Point through the currents of Plum Gut past Block Island, and on to the light tower at the entrance to Buzzard's Bay. Once reached, sailors return by leaving Block Island to starboard en route to the finish in Stamford Harbor. The shorter Seaflower Reef Race is run entirely within Long Island Sound. In the Vineyard Race, J/111s swept the top two spots in PHRF 12 Class. Winning was Bill & Jackie Baxter’s FIREBALL, with John Donovan’s LIBERTAS taking the silver. For more Vineyard Race information, visit https://www.stamfordyc.com/Sailing/Vineyard_Race_(1).

Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff took control of their own destiny on Friday, nailing both race wins to earn the title of 2019 J/111 World Champion. Coming into the final day, the Cleveland, OH-based team was in third overall, but Ruhlman and his crew of Marty Kullman (tactician), Doug Moose (mast), Abby Ruhlman (pit), Ryan Ruhlman (spinnaker trimmer), Maegan Ruhlman Cross (main trimmer), Jim Sminchak (headsail trimmer) and Mark Wiss (bow) ended with 25 net points in the eight-race series. Five points behind in second place was day-three leader Martin Roesch’s Velocity. Former World Champion Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key came in third with 34 points. It was another wild day on Lake Michigan. PRO Becky Ashburn, summarized, "Winds were around 15 knots. Waves were three to four feet with a sideways swell, which made it really choppy." Under a champagne shower in the harbor, Ruhlman smiled, "I’m not sure this has sunk in yet! We have a great team, a great family. The competition was outstanding. I’m thrilled to be a part of this Class."

Top five:

  1. Spaceman Spiff, Rob Ruhlman - 1 -[14] -1 -10 -4 -7 -1 -1 ; 25
  2. Velocity, Martin Roesch - 8 -[12] -2 -1 -3 -6 -6 -4 ; 30
  3. Skeleton Key, Peter Wagner - 6 -[8] -4 -5 -7 -2 -4 -6 ; 34
  4. Kashmir, Michael Mayer / Steve Henderson - 13 -5 -7 -6 -1 -[16] -2 -2 ; 36
  5. Rowdy, Richard Witzel - 3 -[20] -9 -4 -2 -4 -10 -5 ; 37
    Twenty-three J/111s competed from August 20-23 at Chicago Yacht Club, including teams from Australia and Switzerland. Photos are available on the J/111 Class Facebook page, and complete results are posted at https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=6143.

 

The seas on Lake Michigan were rocking and rolling on Thursday, as was the leaderboard at the J/111 World Championship, hosted by Chicago Yacht Club. Martin Roesch’s Velocity shot up to the chief position, posting a 1,4,6 on the day. The 23 J/111s have now completed six races, and the Championship will conclude Friday, including the discard taking effect after the seventh race. Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key maintained consistent scores in the top 10, inching him up to second place with 34 points, only one behind Roesch. Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff dropped to third but is still in the hunt with 38 points. Day one leader Andrew and Sedgwick Ward’s Bravo suffered a 13th in the day’s final contest, leaving them in fourth place, one tick behind Ruhlman. Waves reached five feet and higher, and breeze was 12 knots plus. Roesch began the day victoriously, ahead of local boat Momentus led by Kevin Saedi & Raman Yousefi and the Wards on Bravo. Chicago Yacht Club’s Michael Mayer & Steve Henderson guided Kashmir to success in the middle match, with Jorg Sigg’s Varuna and Richard Witzel’s Rowdy next. Rod Warren’s Joust prevailed in the final round, shadowed by Wagner’s Skeleton Key and Sigg. Photos are available on the J/111 Class Facebook page, and complete results are available at https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=6143.

Following storms that rolled through Chicago on Tuesday, 23 J/111s had to wait a bit longer still on Wednesday to launch the 2019 J/111 World Championship, hosted by Chicago Yacht Club. Race one was abandoned due to lack of breeze and a severe shift, however winds eventually amped up to 12-14 knots, allowing three races for the hungry teams. Despite a pair of bullets by Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff, it’s Andrew and Sedgwick Ward’s Bravo who ended the day at the front of the pack. The Bravo crew from Shelter Island, NY only placed in the top three once, but their scoreline of 7,3,5 for 15 points puts them one ahead of Spaceman Spiff who added a 14 for 16 total. Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key snuck into third place with tallies of 6,8,4 and 18 points. Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff earned the first victory of the Championship in the day’s opening, and lightest, affair. Jeffrey Davis’ Shamrock and Richard Witzel’s Rowdy followed. Swiss sailor Jorg Sigg’s Varuna outdid the fleet in the middle race, with Douglas Curtiss’ Wicked 2.0 and Ward’s Bravo close behind. The Ruhlman family closed Wednesday the same way it started, trailed by Martin Roesch’s Velocity and Rod Warren’s Joust. Racing continues through Friday. Photos are available on the J/111 Class Facebook page, and complete results are available at https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=6143.

As one of the largest offshore regattas in the Great Lakes, the Chicago Yacht Club’s Verve Cup Offshore has developed into a world-class regatta attracting many national and international competitors. From August 9-11, CYC hosted the 28th annual Verve Cup Offshore Regatta in an array of weather conditions over the three-day event. On Friday, a post-frontal, shifty breeze from the northwest started at 15 knots, then quickly diminished and swung to the north-northeast by late afternoon in the 5-8 knots range. Saturday saw a light east-southeast wind slowly build after a one-hour onshore postponement into the 4-8 knots range, with 40-degree swings. Sunday dawned with the possibility of another frontal system with thunderstorms. Fortunately, the front moved south. Out on the lake, the wind started in the SSE quadrant in the 4-7 knots range, then swung SSW to 240 degrees and increased in pressure to 8-12 knots, before oscillating from 230 back to 190 for the last two races of the regatta. For the competitive 17-boat J/111 Pre-Worlds, the oscillating breezes produced a roller-coaster scoreline for the entire fleet, with not even the top three boats scoring all top five finishes. Starting fast on Friday was Rob Ruhlman’s family team on SPACEMAN SPIFF, leading after the first day with a 4-1-1-2 tally and a 10-point lead over Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK that had a 3-5-9-1 scorecard for 18 points. Sitting in third was Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY with a 1-8-5-6 for 20 points. The second day for the J/111s saw a few shifts in the scores, but little change for the top three. SHAMROCK posted a 3-3 (tied for the best record of the day with KASHMIR’s 1-5) to close the gap significantly with SPACEMAN SPIFF that posted an 8-4. The spread was now only 4 points. In the seventh and penultimate race on Sunday, SKELETON KEY nailed down a second, SPACEMAN SPIFF a fourth, and SHAMROCK sixth. Ruhlman got their lead back up to a six-point advantage. The final race was set for a 230 deg wind, but just before the start, it swung left to 190 deg. Nailing the start was SHAMROCK, rounding the weather mark first with SKELETON KEY in fourth and SPACEMAN SPIFF back in ninth. At that moment, SHAMROCK was winning both the race and the regatta. However, on that first run, the wind swung back slowly to 220 deg, and the tail-enders that had either sailed low or gybed made big gains, namely SPACEMAN SPIFF and SKELETON KEY. The ensuing windward leg saw even more lead changes. While the lead group of SHAMROCK, SKELETON KEY and KASHMIR stayed left, a breakaway pack behind them of four boats took off from the leeward gate on port, hitting the right corner hard. That move paid off huge, as the wind swung further right to the 230+ range with more breeze, and that group took 1-2-3 (UTAH, VELOCITY & ROWDY). Meanwhile, SHAMROCK dropped back to sixth, SPACEMAN SPIFF jumped up to seventh and SKELETON KEY secured a fourth. As a result, Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF team won the J/111 Pre-Worlds and also the overall trophy for the regatta: The Verve Offshore Cup Trophy. Second was SKELETON KEY and third SHAMROCK. For more Verve Cup Offshore information, visit https://www.vervecup.com/offshore.

Light air became a challenge for racers and organizers at this year’s Edgartown Race Weekend hosted by Edgartown Yacht Club. The event’s most renowned of three events– the 56-mile Round-the-Island (RTI) race–started Saturday, July 27 in light breeze. Without making much progress in the first few hours, the EYC Race Committee elected to shorten course on the south side of the island for two-thirds of the fleet. Those boats completed a 25-mile course, while another nine boats sailed for 45 miles to finish near West Chop. For this year’s RTI race, there were 42 boats in eight classes, two of which were non-spinnaker. For the Round the Island race, leading a sweep of the podium and winning PHRF 2 Division was Doug Curtiss’ J/111 WICKED 2.0 with a corrected time of 8:15:26. For more Edgartown Race Week information, visit https://www.edgartownyc.org/club/scripts/section/section.asp?NS=RTI.

Little Traverse Yacht Club in Harbor Springs, MI hosted its annual Ugotta Regatta from July 26-28. Two J/111s topped the PHRF A division, led by Bradley Faber's Utah who won both races. Carl Hanssen's Variance followed in second place after notching a 2,3 for 5 points. Complete results are available at https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=6163.

Since 1993, the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge has been a Chesapeake Bay three-day regatta held every July. Hosting the event was the Southern Maryland Sailing Association. The regatta started on July 22, but it was too hot and too sunny for the wind to develop much anywhere on the Bay. As a result, the PRO postponed the start and waited for the wind to develop before sending everyone off for a few races. Marty Roesch’s J/111 VELOCITY won PHRF A Division by just a single point over Ian Hill’s J/111 SITELLA that took the silver. Another J/111, Jim Connelly’s SLUSH FUND, took fourth. For more Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge information, visit http://screwpile.net/.