After two days of racing on Tampa Bay from February 16-17, light weather persisted Sunday to close the 2018 Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta in St. Petersburg, FL with a day ashore. In the five-boat J/111 one-design fleet, Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key won three of five races to take the victory with 8 points. Jim Connelly’s Slush Fund earned second place with 11 points, and Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff placed third with 14 points. For complete results, visit https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=4471.

The J/111s in Northern Europe have a full program of events for 2018. The showcase event will be the J/111 World Championship, to be held at WV Breskens, Netherlands from 22-26 August. "A fleet of J/111s planing across the Solent at 20 knots is an awesome sight and one that we saw frequently at the 2016 World Championship from Cowes. We are looking forward to the same excitement for our 2018 season with the Worlds back in Europe again. Whilst it is spectacular for our spectators, it is much more fun when you are on board and you do tend to see J/111 crews smiling a lot," commented J/111 Class Association President Chris Jones. The early part of the 2018 season will see the J/111s racing as part of the new Performance 40 Class, mixing it up with yachts of similar size and speed racing under IRC. J/111s will be out in force racing at the RORC Easter Challenge, Warsash Spring Series and the Royal Southern YC May Regatta. The Van Uden Reco Stellendam Regatta Netherlands will also feature J/111s in action. In May, the J/111s will be at the RORC Vice Admiral's Cup followed by the J/111 UK National Championship, as part of the J-Cup, hosted by the Island SC and then the Royal Southern YC's June and July regattas. In August, Lendy Cowes Week will host the inaugural J/111 Euro Cup, followed by the J/111 Pre-Worlds, and the sixth edition of the J/111 World Championship, staged in Breskens, Netherlands. Find information for the 2018 Worlds at http://www.j111worlds.nl/.

It is always on everyone’s calendars in eastern Australia to enjoy the "Festival of Sails" off Geelong, an event hosted by the Royal Geelong YC. This was the 175th annual celebration of sailing on the long holiday weekend known as Australia Day. Participating in this year’s regatta was the J/111 one-design class. After a seven-race series, there was no question who was the dominant team—Phil Simpfendorfer’s VELOCE with a 4-2-2-1-1-2-1 tally for 9 points net (after toss race). Keeping pace most of the time was Rob Date’s SCARLET RUNNER 11 with their tally of 1-3-3-2-2-1-2 for 11 points net. Then, rounding out the top three in class was Rod Warren’s team on JOUST with a 3-1-1-3-3-4-3 record for 14 points net. While the J/111s were competing for one-design honors, they were also competing for handicap honors in their "Super 11s" handicap class. The J/111s swept the podium as well. Same cast of characters 1-2-3 in handicap class as well, with Simpfendorfer’s crew on VELOCE collecting all the silverware. For more Festival of Sails information, visit http://festivalofsails.com.au/.

The inaugural J/Fest St. Pete Regatta took place January 19-21 on Tampa Bay. Host St. Petersburg Yacht Club and its Race Committee, PRO and volunteers made a valiant effort to get in as many races as they could considering the cards they had been dealt—essentially no, or very little, wind for all three days. It warm up quickly all three days of sailing, so the sunshine and warm 70 degree days were a welcome reprieve for many teams who had come south to Florida. The largest fleet in the regatta were the J/111s at their Midwinter Championship. Winning was a relative Class newcomer, Jeff Davis and his team on SHAMROCK from the Midwest rode a 1-2-2 record to win handily. Another Midwest crew accustomed to light air racing took second place, Rob Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF from Cleveland, OH. They had the most consistent record of any boat in the regatta—a 3-3-3 for 9 points total. The bronze was secured by Peter Wagner’s World Championship crew on SKELETON KEY. While they had a 1-2 in their scoreline, they missed the time limit in the second race and had to score a TLE/DNF. For more event information, visit https://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4451.

For the 2017 edition of the annual fall tradition on the Chesapeake Bay, a large turn-out participated in the Annapolis Yacht Club Fall Series. A variety of weather conditions greeted the crews. In six windward/leeward races and one long distance coastal race, the Annapolis YC Fall Series "Big Boat" division in ORC 1 Class was won by Jim Connelly’s J/111 SLUSH FUND. Conditions were varied enough to use all three levels of ORC Triple Number Scoring – Low, Medium and High – and both the Windward/Leeward and Long Distance scoring models. In the end, Connelly’s SLUSH FUND posted five firsts and 4-2 to win with just 11 points, well clear of the next boat. Fourth in class was Marty Roesch’s J/111 VELOCITY. In the PHRF ToT Division, the same boats above were scored using PHRF handicap ratings. Connelly’s crew on SLUSH FUND still won, but Roesch’s VELOCITY crew jumped into third place. For more Annapolis YC Fall Series information and results, visit https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=3033.

The 36th edition of the Hamble Winter Series kicked off on September 30 and included the inaugural IRC Spinlock Autumn Championship organized by the Hamble River Sailing Club. Five races were held for all classes competing in the IRC Spinlock Autumn Championship, and for those competing in the Hamble Winter Series, two races were completed on October 1. A wide variety of yachts racing under IRC and in one-designs enjoyed a perfect southerly wind of 15 knots on Saturday with a 16-18 knot southwesterly intensifying condition on Sunday. For the Spinlock IRC Autumn Championship, in IRC 1 Class, Tony Mack’s J/111 McFLY is lying in second for the series with a 4-1-3-8-1 for 17 points total. Louise Makin’s J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II is currently fifth with a 5-7-6-2 tally for 25 points and Cornel Riklin’s J/111 JITTERBUG is sixth with a 2-6-4-6.5 record for 25.5 points. For more Spinlock Hamble Winter Series information, visit http://www.hamblewinterseries.com/.

The 18th Atlantic Telegramme Regatta took place in Lorient, France, organized and hosted by the Center Nautique de Lorient. It was a three-day regatta that had 121 sailboats across a wide variety of classes for 800+ sailors. The sailing on day one was not optimal with low winds and huge oscillations across the race course area. The next day was almost perfect, with 10-15 knot winds from the southeast. On the closing day, a less than idyllic weather scenario played out as a Low swept across the Bay of Biscay, bringing with it rain, fog and good breezes from the southwest. In the Osiris 2 class, it was Patrice Vidon’s J/111 J4F that handily won their class. For more Atlantic Telegramme Regatta information, visit https://www.cnlorient.org/.

The Bi-State and the Tri-State is a multi-leg offshore race held over Labor Day Weekend on the southern parts of Lake Michigan. Chicago to St. Joseph, MI is the first leg of the race. More than 100 boats departed Friday evening for a fast sprint of 50.5 NM across the lake, most boats finishing early Saturday morning. For most, Saturday was a day of rest in St. Joseph with the Annual Beach Volleyball Tournament and live entertainment at the St. Joseph River YC. Then, on Sunday morning, racers chose whether to continue to Michigan City, IN as part of the traditional Tri-State or head back to Chicago for the Bi-State leg of the race. Most chose the latter based on the forecasted light winds down the Michigan shoreline. With 18 boats, the PHRF 2 class was the largest in the event. Winning easily was the J/111 PURA VIDA (John Kalanik) with a 1-2 for 3 points. Third in class was the J/111 WARLOCK (Tom Dickson) with a 6-1 for 7 points. Find all the YachtScoring information here:

Chicago to St Joe: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4306
St Joe to Michigan City: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4333
St Joe to Chicago: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4332
Michigan City to Chicago: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4334

Labor Day weekend's Vineyard Race is a 238-mile course stretching from Shippan Point through the currents of The Race, 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. This year, a massive offshore Low was spinning away, producing strong Northerly winds that ultimately swung East as the fleet rounded Buzzards Bay Tower. The race has expanded its format to include three races being run simultaneously. The "classic" is the "round Buzzards Bay Tower" and back. The two additions are the Cornfield Point Course (the shortest) and the Seaflower Reef Course (middle distance). Winning PHRF 10 class was MaryEllen Tortorello’s J/111 PARTNERSHIP, followed by John Donovan’s J/111 LIBERTAS in third place and Abhijeet Lele’s J/111 VARUNA in fourth. For more Vineyard Race information, visit http://www.stamfordyc.com/Sailing/Vineyard_Race_(1).

The forecast for this year’s Breskens Sailing Weekend in The Netherlands was not far off the mark. The three days were characterized by generally light winds in the 5-8 knot range, with two of the days starting off postponed, waiting for the wind to build into a race-able breeze for the fleets sailing on the two courses. On the final day, Course A PRO Walther de Block was forced to shorten the first race, saying, "I hoisted the S-flag. It took more than an hour before the sailors arrived at the first buoy and that is too long. The second race was better, and we managed to run the maximum number of seven races. A great achievement given the tough circumstances!" Course B sailors were also able to get in seven races over the weekend. In the one-design fleet of J/111s, winning was Hans Zwijnenburg’s SWEENY, fresh off their win in the J/CUP. They are on a roll, having won most of the races. Taking second was Jorg Sigg’s LALLEKONING, and in third position was Sebastien de Liedekerke’s DJINN. For more Breskens Sailing Weekend information, visit http://www.breskenssailing.nl/.

After nine races spread over four grueling days, Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key (USA 115) is the 2017 J/111 World Champion. Going into day four, this regatta was still anyone’s game, and all eyes were on the top three contenders who had tussled for pole position throughout the regatta. Bright sunshine and 10 knots of air greeted the eight J/111 crews that assembled on San Francisco Bay Sunday morning for the final day of racing at the J/111 World Championship hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California. Racing had been consistently competitive throughout four days of competition, with regular leader changes and a good mix of boats winning top-three finishes. Better still, the weather cooperated perfectly, giving sailors a hearty dose of what they came for: San Francisco’s legendary summer breeze. Going into the final day, Jim Connolly’s Slush Fund (USA 019) topped the leaderboard, tied for total points (18) with Rod Warren’s Joust (AUS 1110). However, Slush Fund had a net score of 12 points (due to discarded races), while Warren and company carried 13 net points; Skeleton Key was in third place with 17 total points and 13 net points. "Coming into (Sunday), we had already enjoyed three days of racing," said Jenn Lancaster, St. Francis Yacht Club’s Race Director. "After a challenging distance race (Saturday), it was great to round-out this championship with racing on the Berkeley Circle." This return to the Circle wasn’t without its management headaches for StFYC’s capable Race Committee and their visiting Principal Race Officer, Jeff Johnson. "The concern was to figure out how to complete a great series on the Berkeley Circle in the midst of other Classes and clubs," said Johnson. "We had to contend with the Moore 24 Nationals to the east of us and the Optimist Pacific Coast Championships to the northeast, but we still had to fit in a 1.7 nautical-mile course without spilling into the shipping traffic." A moderate breeze worked in tandem with the current and tide to create lumpy seas that would only increase in height, steepness and frequency. The Race Committee signaled Course 14 (windward-leeward, twice around), and teams jostled for a favored spot on the starting line. Come the starting signal, Skeleton Key, Martin Roesch’s Velocity (USA 008) and Joust were the quickest off the lime, with five of the eight boats opting for the stronger pressure on the course’s left-hand side. A strong North Bay push threatened to set boats to the southeast that didn’t properly account for this influence, and—at the first windward mark—Slush Fund rounded and hoisted their kite first, followed by Skeleton Key and Doug and Jack Jorgensen’s Picosa (USA 120). Slush Fund successfully held their lead through the gate, followed by Skeleton Key and Joust, but fortunes changed come the second weather mark as Skeleton Key rounded first, followed by Picosa and Slush Fund. Numerous gybes and more leader changes ensued before Skeleton Key’s bow pierced the finishing line to take the win, followed by Picosa and Slush Fund. The RC promptly signaled the day’s last race, which was a windward-leeward-twice-around affair, fortified by an extra windward leg for an uphill finish. The starting signal sounded, with Skeleton Key again enjoying a fine start, followed by Velocity and Reuben Rocci’s Swift Ness (USA 101). By the first windward mark, Joust had claimed the pole position, followed by Skeleton Key and Slush Fund. Kites were hoisted and the bow spray instantly started flying. Positions held at the leeward gate all the way to the finishing line, where a loud chorus of cheers could be heard coming from the lone boat flying an overseas sail number. But while Joust sailed a phenomenal last race, this wasn’t enough to earn them the regatta’s highest honor, which went to Skeleton Key, a team that consistently proved their mettle. "Congratulations to Skeleton Key and Slush Fund," said a tired-but-happy looking Warren, reflecting on his third-place overall finish. "I thought four bullets would have done it, but not quite." After nine races, Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key crew are the new J/111 World Champions, and their victory on their home waters is made all the sweeter by the fact that they came in second at last year’s J/111 Worlds in Cowes, UK. "It took a lot of patience," said an elated Wagner. "There was a lot of depth at the top of the fleet. Slush Fund had the best speed; Joust was consistent and fast; we had our moments; and several others such as Picosa and Velocity sailed well. We took nothing for granted out there. It was a long regatta that wasn’t decided until the final beat. It took a lot of concentration, but I’m glad we held it together." When asked about the origins of his boat’s moniker, Wagner cracked a small smile. "A skeleton key is an Australian term for a surfboard that performs well in a variety of conditions, and we like to think that we sail well in all conditions." Based on all evidence seen this week, the entire sailing world would agree. Please visit stfyc.com/j111worlds2017 for the final finishing positions of all teams, as well as images and news from this world-class event.