With a stiff southwesterly breeze and sunshine, the J/111 European Championship went right to the wire with the champion decided on the very last race. The J/111’s enjoyed beautiful weather for their six-race series hosted by the Royal Southern YC on the River Hamble in the United Kingdom. Chris Jones' JOURNEYMAKER II scored two bullets to lead the class after the first day of racing, but three straight bullets from Martin Dent's JELVIS on the second day secured the European Championship for the Scottish skipper’s young team. Third was Paul Griffith’s JAGERBOMB. "This was yet another weekend of very close racing. All the boats were sailing well, every mark rounding we were in company, and if you made a mistake you would let somebody through. Yes it’s competitive, but there is a fantastic spirit in the fleet. There’s healthy rivalry and banter in equal proportion between the teams. We are now looking forward to the Pre-Worlds, Worlds and then straight into Cowes Week—14 days of continuous J/111 sailing! It just doesn’t get any better than that!" Royal Southern Commodore Chris Mansfield officiated at the prize-giving, which was well attended in the Upper Bar at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The Commodore introduced Martin Gammon, Joseph Perrier Champagne UK Director, who presented winners with generous prizes of Joseph Perrier champagne. For more J/111 Europeans sailing information, visit http://www.royal-southern.co.uk/.

The fleet of 1,000+ sailboats all knew they were going to have their hands full round the back (southern side) of the infamous Isle of Wight in England for the Round Island Race. The race track is simple—start around dawn, head west out past the Needles Lighthouse, turn left around St. Catherine’s Point, sail eastward to Bembridge Ledge, left around the Forts and back west up the Solent to the finish (a 60nm race). The morning came and the forecast was true holding steady at 27kts, still windy but it all seemed manageable for most crews. Getting out toward the Bramble Banks in the western approaches to the Solent, things were starting to heat up a bit, wind against tide made for square-walled 5-8 foot waves. After passing Needles Lighthouse, the fleet took off on a fast reach, most under jibs and reefed mains. However, the big tactical consideration was when to pop the kite approaching the first turning point downwind at St. Catherine’s Point. Some did, most did not. Those who did took off, with many crews experiencing some of the most amazing planing rides in their lifetimes. After rounding the Forts/Bembridge Ledge at the eastern end of the Solent, it was a beat against the tide up the beaches off the Ryde Sands in flat water to the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron. The IRC Division 1A saw J/111s sweeping the podium. Winning was JELVIS (Martin Dent), followed by JITTERBUG (Cornell Riklin) and JOURNEYMAKER II (Chris Jones & Louise Makin). JELVIS completed the course in 6:12:26, surely to be a record to stand for a long time for a 36 ft cruiser-racer. For the overall "J/Boats Trophy," one of the top three boats was the J/111 JELVIS. For more JP Morgan Round the Island Race, click here.

The South Shore YC on the southern part of the Milwaukee Harbor breakwaters hosts their Queens Cup Race, a dash straight across Lake Michigan to St. Joseph, MI of exactly 78.4nm at a heading of approximately 131 degrees. The J/111s had a field day in PHRF 4 Division, with Richard Hobbs’ HOBGOBLIN taking first, followed by Tom Roop’s KASHMIR in fourth and Mark Caliban’s NO QUARTER in seventh. For more Queens Cup Race sailing information, visit http://ssyc.org/queens-cup-2016.

Stuart Sawyer's BLACK DOG sealed victory for the J/111 UK National Championship at the Royal Southern Yacht Club in The Hamble with a race to spare, but it was far from easy for the team from Falmouth Cornwall. Marco van Driel's Dutch J/111 SWEENY finished the regatta in second place, with fellow Dutch team RED HERRING, skippered by Sjaak Haakman, finishing third. Last year's UK National Champion, Tony Mack's McFLY, finished in fourth place. During the three-day regatta, six out of the eight teams made the podium, including Cornel Riklin's JITTERBUG and Chris Jones' JOURNEYMAKER II, who both won races. For complete event information, visit http://www.j-cup.co.uk/.

Patience. Plenty of it was required over the four-day Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago as wind conditions varied from fresh to frustrating, and wind shifts swung unpredictably from the lakeshore to offshore. But those who kept their composure during long morning postponements were rewarded with challenging races in the end. Irrespective of the outcome for each of the 163 teams sailing in the regatta, it was a beautiful weekend to be on the cooler Lake Michigan waters, looking westward to the heat factory of downtown Chicago. For the family teams who populated the fleets, it was also an ideal way to spend their Father’s Day doing what they love. J/111 co-owners Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson& Mike Mayer,on Kashmir put a hard fought performance to win the Class’ North American Championship. They won both races on Sunday — the first one easily, and the second one after recovering from a bad start— to secure the title by 7 points over Bennett Greenwald’s Perseverance. After a slow start in the four-day series, in which they posted a 4-6, they kept their finishes to top three, and as is usually the key to such regattas, consistency was what mattered most. For complete results, click here.

Sailboat racing is indeed a game of inches. Ask Wooton’s skipper Bill Smith, who continues to lead the J/111 North American Championship at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago, but now by only 2 points over Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson & Mike Mayer’s Kashmir. It was inches that made the difference in two of Wooton’s races today, and as Smith analyzed what went wrong after racing, he placed the blame squarely upon himself, not that of his hard-working crew. "It was my inexperience in critical moments," he says, describing one downwind finish in which they were overlapped with Kashmir. "There was a moment when we were on starboard and I could have heated it up, pushed them out a bit, taken control and then jibed to cross the favored end of the line. Everyone on the boat knew we needed to do it, but I didn’t. They literally beat us by 3 inches." Conditions were tamer than Thursday’s races for the J/111 fleet, which is now two days into its 15-boat Championship. The flatter water and more consistent breeze, says Smith, made it easier for them but also for other teams who posted good results, including Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff, which finished third in the day’s first race and then went on to win the next two. "We did a better job of getting off the line than we had been doing," says Ruhlman, whose family team from Cleveland, Ohio climbed into third overall, only 5 points out of first. "In the second and third races, we just got away with good starts and sailed our own race." Downwind, he adds, their technique is to sail deeper than others. "We tend to do it a bit more efficiently," he says. "It’s our forte." It was anything but an easy day, however, as Split Decision battled all day with FOG, which engaged them in several tacking and jibing duels. "We started to get into it with them a few times, but we didn’t want to wear out our trimmer, so we broke away as soon as we could," says Norris. "Even downwind at times we’d be a half-length apart with them, and they’d start a jibing duel. But we just jibed away and tried to do our own thing. We do well in tight situations, but when we can be on our own, we’re much, much faster." Ruhlman’s daughter Meaghan, 31, is trimming mainsail, which is critical to the J/111’s upwind performance, and today, says Ruhlman, the two of them were in much better sync. "We worked on things after yesterday, and what we’re doing differently was driving the boat with fewer big adjustments to the main trim. Yesterday, in the really puffy conditions, we’d get out of sync. Today I was concentrating more on trying to maintain target speeds." With Ruhlman’s son Ryan trimming the spinnaker, they worked hard on sailing lower than anyone else on the run, "just one half-step down" he says, and unlike the first day in which they picked up a weather mark penalty, they sought opportunities to avoid high-risk situations. The results were dramatic, and they go into Saturday’s light-air forecast with momentum on their side. Complete results are available by clicking here.

The J/111 North American Championship, hosted by Chicago Yacht Club in Illinois in conjunction with the NOOD, got underway Thursday in winds of 10-15 knots, allowing two races to be completed. Recording a 3,1 for the day, William Smith’s Wooton gained a two-point lead over Bennet Greenwald’s Perseverance, with Richard Witzel’s Rowdy another notch back in third. The 15 J/111 teams got a jump on their fellow Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD entrants, as the North American Championship began a day earlier than the remainder of the fleets. After a postponement, Bradley Faber’s Utah took line honors in the opening contest, with Greenwald and Smith hot on his heels. Smith’s bullet in the next battle gave him the day’s overall edge, as Witzel and Kevin Saedi’s Momentus cracked the top three. Racing continues through Sunday. Photos are available on the J/111 Class Facebook page, and complete results are available by clicking here.

The annual regatta that marks the start of the offshore sailing season in Chicago on Lake Michigan is Columbia YC’s Goose Island Colors Regatta. 
In the J/111 fleet, the trio of Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson and Mike Mayer drove KASHMIR to a convincing victory with four firsts in just five races. Second was Bennet Greenwald and crew from San Diego YC on PERSEVERANCE with all top three finishes for just 11 points total. Tied at 21 points each were Rich Witzel’s ROWDY and Bill Smith’s WOOTON, with the nod going to Witzel’s crew for third overall. Taking fifth was the Kevin Saedi’s MOMENTUS. For more Goose Island Colors Regatta sailing information, visit http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=1617.

Fifteen J/111 teams are gathering for racing at the J/111 North American Championship in Chicago, Illinois. The competition begins Thursday, June 16 and continues through Sunday, June 19. Keep up with all the action from Chicago Yacht Club at the regatta website by clicking here, and look for photos on the J/111 Class Facebook page.

The second leg of the California Offshore Series took place last weekend. 27 boats sailed for the Coastal Cup 200nm race from Monterey to Santa Barbara. Blowing out their competition was the J/111 SYMMETRY, taking first in PHRF D Class and first overall. Congratulations to Howard Turner and his crew of Jay Crum, Joe Crum, Paul Stone, Michael Johnaon and Keith Stahnke from Santa Cruz YC. For more Coastal Cup sailing information, visit http://offshoreraceweek.com/results.

The prestigious 2016 Vice Admiral's Cup produced some fantastic racing across all six classes but none more so than the J/111 Class (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England). Five J/111s made the podium during the eight race series with four teams winning races. In five races, the top three J/111s were less than 30 seconds apart, and the winner of the J/111 Class was decided on countback, with a tie for first place, and the battle for third was won by a single point. Stuart Sawyer's Black Dog was the winner of the Vice Admiral's Cup J/111 Class. The class only allows one professional sailor, but Black Dog is an all-Corinthian team of friends from Cornwall. "The last race was a good example of how close the racing was. Six boats arrived at the mark within 20 seconds of each other. You are fighting all the way around the track for just half a boat length to get an overlap," commented Black Dog's Stuart Sawyer. "I haven't had closer racing since we sailed Mirrors, 30 years ago. However at times, you are doing that at 15 knots! In one race, we hit 16.7 knots. So it is not only tight racing, it is also in a thoroughly rewarding boat. With an asymmetric set up, the J/111 is relatively easy to sail. You spend your time not fighting the boat, and you are just letting it go. The fleet is great. There are a number of very good sailors including one professional per team, which brings in a level of experience but we prefer to sail as Corinthians because we want to sail as a group of mates and keep it as fun as possible. When we sit down in the morning, we have a briefing, which finishes with the number one objective for the day and it is always to have fun. We were taking it all a bit too seriously last year, and we have found that if you have fun, the communication gets much better. We manage our expectations and enjoy the boat." Black Dog tied on points with Cornell Riklin's J/111 Jitterbug but won the class by virtue of their number of race wins. Jitterbug won two races and only missed the podium of two occasions. To come second with such a consistent set of results is indicative of how close the racing is in the J/111 Class is. "It was very close racing throughout, and probably the best race series so far in the J/111s," commented Jitterbug's Cornell Riklin. "Leads were changing all the time. To come second after eight races by such a narrow margin was how it is in one design racing. We could have easily won the first two races or come third or fourth, but we ended up with two seconds. In Race 6, we were third coming into the penultimate mark and we spotted a wind shift, set our spinnaker and went for it. We held it as long as we could and then just let it go and our momentum took us through the line into first place by one second. It was very exciting racing, and the UK Class is very friendly with some great competitors. It will be very interesting to see how the UK J/111s fair in the J/111 Worlds against boats from overseas, as I think the UK fleet has made some very good progress." There was a terrific battle for third place, with Tony Mack's proven J/111 winner McFly missing third place by a single point to Martin Dent's J/111 JElvis. Martin Dent joined the J/111 Class in July 2014 and often sails with his wife Gloria and their two children. For the Vice Admiral's Cup, there were a number of teenagers amongst the crew including Olly Maltby, who is just 13 years old, and Martin Dent's daughter Sammy who is 12 years old. Both of the youngsters were part of the crew for the 2015 J/111 Worlds in Newport, where JElvis was seventh and top British boat. "I try to make sure that JElvis is as family orientated as possible," commented Martin Dent. "I enjoy it when we come up against good crews in the J/111 Class and beat them. For the Vice Admiral's Cup, we had a number of young crew, including my 18-year-old daughter on the bow and we often sail with all the family, including my wife. The Class allows one professional so I can bring on one person who really knows what they are doing. For the Vice Admiral's Cup, we had Hannah Diamond, who is sailing the Nacra 17 for the RYA British Sailing Team, but she is only 25. The professional takes charge on board, so I don't need to say a word. If Dad goes sailing with his family and starts ordering them around, I don't think that is going to work! When you have a third party who is in charge, including myself, then there is no family issue. The J/111 is a great boat for a family to sail. It may be the hottest yacht in the J/Boat range, but when you have youngsters on board planing downwind at high speed, they get excited by it. Actually, the loads on are more manageable than other boats. I am not saying you can put a 12-year-old on a winch in big breeze, but there are jobs to do, from keeping an eye on the competition to setting the gear and packing the spinnaker for the next leg. For them planing downwind and really getting involved makes it more exciting. You can bring dinghy sailors onto a J/111, and they really enjoy it." Thanks for contribution from Louay Habib/ RORC.