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.
Leaders Emerge at the J/111 Garmin World Championship on Day Three
With the wind speed in the 20 knot zone, it took Bob Milner's Island Sailing Club Race Committee three attempts, and a Black Flag, to get the fleet away for the first race. Peter Wagner's Skeleton Key unlocked the door to first place with a win in Race 6. In the second race, the wind speed was well into the red zone. A southwesterly buster put the J/111s back in the 30 knot wipe out arena. The last race of the day was a three-hour coastal, and despite the strong winds and vicious short chop, less than 3% separated runner up from tenth. After seven out of the scheduled nine races, Martin Dent's JElvis rocks the house with a comeback in Race 7 to take the win and the Championship lead from Skeleton Key. Tony Mack's McFly took a second on the last race to finish the day in a solid third for the regatta, and there was a podium finish for the Chicago trio of Brummel, Henderson and Mayer racing Kashmir. Stuart Johnstone and his wife Julia are part of the J/Boats sailing family and racing at the J/111 Garmin World Championship with Australian J/111 owner, Rod Warren, on board Kestrel. "Myself and Julia met Rod at the J/111 Worlds last year in Newport, and they asked us to come on board for this year's event, who knew a little bit about the Solent. This is by far the windiest event that the team has raced in, especially with the current pushing upwind, which has a dramatic effect on the pressure on the rig and puts a premium on boat handling. Like everybody else, we have had our issues and we have tried to keep the boat under the rig. I think in one spinnaker set, we had a record number of broaches in under two minutes but we have a lot of fun. For the most part, we have managed to be in the hunt for most of the races, which has been nice. We have good speed, and the real irony is that we have good speed downwind. You sail a J/111 like a J/70 downwind, and the set up should be the same; trim and crew placement and that has definitely worked for us. To have seven different countries competing is wonderful, and what is really interesting is that over the course of time, we have seen the Class develop. A lot of these teams have been sailing offshore. Paul van Driel's Dutch team racing Sweeny have been very impressive, and they are such a nice bunch of guys as well. The Island Sailing Club is so welcoming, as are so many of the yacht clubs in Cowes. They are fabulous hosts, taking care of all of the sailors. The Race Committee have been doing a fantastic job, and the sailing here is easily one of the most challenging places to sail in the world. We have been seriously blessed with strong shifty wind and strong tides." Race fans can follow the J/111 Garmin World Championship 2016 on social media via facebook https://www.facebook.com/J111Worlds2016/. Results, pictures and more can be found on the dedicated J/111 Garmin World Championship website at https://sites.google.com/site/j111worlds2016.
J/111 Garmin World Championship at the Island Sailing Club Day 2
Full on conditions made for some exciting racing on the second day of the J/111 Garmin World Championship. Gusts of wind topping out at close to 30 knots, and a building sea state, created highly challenging conditions. The Eastern Solent was frothing up all morning, and by race-time a full on foam up created thrilling downwind action for the World Championship fleet. There were broaches a plenty as the teams pushed themselves to the limits. The Race Committee fired off two windward leeward races in survival conditions. Without question, the best J/111 of the day was Paul van Driel's Dutch team racing Sweeny, who won both races, and were enjoying a pint of Dutch beer in the Pier View in Cowes. "We are so happy today. The big reason for our success was our downwind speed," commented Paul van Driel. "We carried the A2 and really kept in good control, even at 17 knots, so that was the big difference and big fun as well. Upwind, the main sheet trim was first class, we had good height and speed and the crew really hiked well, especially through the gusts. We have sailed in conditions like this before, which obviously helps. The J/111 Worlds is the big deal for us, and we have been training all year. There are some fantastic teams here, but nobody beat us today! There is still a long way to go, but we are enjoying the regatta." Prior to the start, overnight leader Martin Dent's JElvis blew out a spinnaker and having consulted the Jury returned to shore for a replacement, missing the first race. Paul Griffith's Jagerbomb suffered a similar breakage during the first race of the day, which put them out for both races. Peter Wagner's team from San Francisco, racing Skeleton Key, put in a consistent performance to lead the World Championship. Tony Mack's McFly scored a 2-4 to move up to second place, and JElvis dropped to third. "Today we had fun but challenging conditions. We definitely wanted to enjoy the weather while avoiding a disaster, and thankfully we managed to do that," commented Skeleton Key's Peter Wagner. "Once in a while, we get that sort of weather in San Francisco but today was the very high end of the range, probably the most wind that we have ever sailed the boat in. It gets choppy back at home, but this was steeper and tighter than we are used to. It was another competitive day with great racing. A lot of boats put on some good performances. Our boat handling was not the best today, but hopefully we can get that together. We are half way through the regatta, and we are still in the hunt with two more days to race. We want to put our best foot forward and see if we can finish it well. It is tight racing, and that is what you want to see at a World Championship. There are a number of boats that have won races. Sweeny had a great day, and they are not the only team that are sailing very well." Apart from a proper soaking and a few bumps and bruises, all crew returned to shore safe and sound. You know it's windy when the lifeboat tows in the committee boat after the engine was submerged for some time. Praise must go to the Island Sailing Club Race Team for laying on two superb races in atrocious conditions. Windy conditions are expected to continue for tomorrow's race programme which includes a coastal race. Race fans can follow the J/111 Garmin World Championship 2016 on social media via Facebook at www.facebook.com/J111Worlds2016. Results, pictures and more can be found on the dedicated J/111 Garmin World Championship website at sites.google.com/site/j111worlds2016.
Three Winners on Day One of J/111 Garmin World Championship 2016
Seven nations have entered the J/111 Garmin World Championship for close one design racing, and the first day did not disappoint, with three different winners, with all races decided by less than 30 seconds. The J/111 Garmin World Championship started with three windward leeward races in the Eastern Solent. The weather was more like the 1st of April than the 1st August, with a cold front arriving in the afternoon, bringing persistent rain and squally conditions. For the first two races, 8-10 knots of wind with a easterly going tide gave a smooth sea state, but the breeze was tending to shift south in the gusts, favouring the left hand side of the track. However by the third race, the tide had turned and the right hand side came into play and a short Solent chop changed the mix. Principle Race Officer Bob Milner elected to alter the course, and his team did an excellent job of squaring the course after the shift. Martin Dent's British team racing Jelvis finished the day with a 1-2-2 to lead the J/111 Garmin World Championship, two points clear of Peter Wagner's American team racing Skeleton Key. Tony Mack's McFly won the last race race of the day to finish in third. "It was a tricky day today: a cross tide, plenty of shifts and pressure changes. The JElvis team has put in a lot of training over the last month and so I am pleased with today's results, especially as all the boat handling went well: tacks, gybes, sail changes and a gybe set, etc. There were multiple lead changes today, and it was yet another day of close, tight one design racing at its best." Tony Mack's McFly had a great 2015 but 2016 has not been the best year for the team based in Hamble. However, after winning the last race of the day, the highly experienced skipper had a twinkle in his eye. "We have not had a good season so far, a bit of a Mclroy," commented Tony Mack, referring to the out of form golfer. "However today, we just seemed to get things right and especially the last race. We rounded the first top mark third and decided to gybe away, which really worked but we still had to work hard, especially with the two course changes. There are a lot of very good sailors in this fleet, and we haven't seen all of them perform yet, so I expect there to be a lot of position changes during this regatta. We are pretty happy with our performance today, and we hope we can build on that." Three more windward leeward races are scheduled for day two of the J/111 Garmin World Championship. Jelvis has the upper hand for the moment, but there are three more days of racing ahead. Tomorrow's forecast for the Eastern Solent is for a stiff southwesterly with the potential for gusts in the region of 25 knots. Race fans can follow the J/111 Garmin World Championship 2016 on social media via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/J111Worlds2016/. Results, pictures and more can be found on the dedicated J/111 Garmin World Championship website at: https://sites.google.com/site/j111worlds2016.
Chicago Mackinac Race
The 108th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac had 121 boats race the Mackinac Cup Division and 121 boats race the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Divisions in their annual 289nm race from the Chicago waterfront north to Mackinac Island. The race was incredibly wet, wild, blustery and squally, with thousands of lightning bolts flickering across the sky. The 15-boat J/111 one-design section saw a battle between the top six boats going well into Sunday afternoon. Leading for quite some time at dawn was Kevin Saedi & Raman Yousefi’s MOMENTUS. They were battling with Dave Irish’s NO SURPRISE from Pt Betsie onward. About two-thirds the way up the Manitou Straits to Grey’s Reef, NO SURPRISE gybed away on a shift to then gybe back and grab the lead with less than 5nm to go to Grey’s Reef Lighthouse. From there into the finish off Mackinac Island, NO SURPRISE stretched a 300-yard lead at Grey’s Reef into a one hour, twenty minute elapsed time win. As a result, they not only took the class win but also finished seventh overall. Mounting a bid to chase down the leaders was the trio of George Miz, Peter Dreher & Mark Hatfield on IMPULSE. Sitting about 10nm behind at dawn on Sunday, they managed to break free from a battle with Brad Faber’s UTAH, John Kalanik’s PURA VIDA and Rich Witzel’s ROWDY to take a 6nm chunk out of the top two boats between Pt Betsie and Grey’s Reef. In the end, it was not enough to overhaul them, but IMPULSE did close the distance dramatically with the MOMENTUS crew, crossing the line just 3 minutes behind, to finish second and third, respectively. Rounding out the top five was Faber’s UTAH in fourth and Kalanik’s PURA VIDA in fifth place. For more Chicago to Mackinac Race sailing information, visit http://www.cycracetomackinac.com/.
Seven Countries Vie for J/111 World Title
The J/111 Garmin World Championship on August 1-5 will see 14 teams from seven different countries competing in Cowes, UK. Forming a truly international fleet, the teams come from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. Racing on tight Solent courses, the fleet will enjoy a five-day racing programme and a lively social schedule, organised at the Island Sailing Club in the heart of Cowes. "This is going to be a great championship with a strong international fleet," commented Jelvis’ Scottish skipper, Martin Dent. "Besides the top European teams such as Sweeny and Red Herring that came over earlier this year and have done well, we have an Aussie team, and then there are the two teams from the US. Last year we were amongst four UK teams (including the defending 2014 World Champion) that went to Newport for the 2015 Worlds. It was noticeable that the top US teams were a notch up on us all. This year, Kashmir and Skeleton Key are the clear two form J/111s in the US, which is awesome. Kashmir has just won the 2016 North American Championship, and it’s hard to find anything other than a bullet amongst Skeleton Key’s race results. As for JElvis, as usual, we have a young team, barely old enough to drink coffee, three teenagers on board and with everyone besides myself and the mainsheet trimmer being 21 or under. We were delayed getting our J/111 programme started this year, since six of the eight crew were still in school/university until July, but now it’s the summer holidays so we have been able to practise, and hopefully if we get some athletic conditions that favour youthful exuberance, we can be competitive." Rod Warren campaigns his J/111 Joust in Melbourne Australia, and has chartered Kestrel from Simon Bamford for the championship. "The crew is an eclectic bunch." explained Warren. "Aaron Cole is head of North Sails Melbourne and has experienced 13 Sydney Hobarts. Stephen Daniel is a tree surgeon, perfect for the foredeck. Aaron Linton is a sugar cane farmer from far North Queensland, who is our wind whisperer. Stuart Johnstone and his wife Julia are from the USA and part of the J/Boat family sailing legend. Simon Bamford and his son Oscar are the owners of Kestrel, based in Hamble and brave enough to let us loose on their boat, and I am a Cardiologist at the Royal Melbourne hospital. I began sailing keel boats a couple of years ago and quickly wanted to chase speed, hence the J/111. We love one design racing, and we did the Worlds in Newport last year and loved it. We are really looking forward to this year’s competition, especially to sail in such a great venue as The Solent. Coming from Australia our goal is obvious!" "We are very excited to come to the Worlds," commented Kashmir’s American skipper Mike Mayer from Chicago. "A big driver of our decision to come to Cowes was coming close at the Worlds in Newport last year. We had a blast at that regatta and have enjoyed travelling as a team, so here we come. Our team is the same as the Worlds in 2015, except that my partner Karl had to miss last year’s race because his wife had a baby during the event, and he will be back on board for this event (as he was for our recent North American Championship win). We are all from around Lake Michigan, except our bow man Fireball, who is a college kid from Florida. Most of us have never sailed in the Solent and are looking forward to absorbing the sights and sailing history there. Conditions in Chicago tend to be light, and there are no meaningful tides and currents. That will be a major difference and challenge for us. The logistics of racing across the pond are daunting, and we want to thank J/Boats and J/Composites for working with us to make our attendance possible. We look forward to seeing the UK friends we made at last year’s Worlds again, and making new ones at this Worlds." Follow the action from the Worlds at https://sites.google.com/site/j111worlds2016/.