J/111 North American Championship in Chicago: Fabulous Friday
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.
Day One Advantage Goes to William Smith’s Wooton at J/111 North American Championship
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.
KASHMIR Takes J/111 Class at Goose Island Colors Regatta
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.
J/111 North American Championship Kicks Off Thursday, June 16 from Chicago
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.
Vice Admiral’s Cup
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.