Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beautiful Key West Race Week

J/80 one-design sailboats- leaders sailing downwind with spinnakers- Darden and Johnstone

SAVASANA Wins J/105s, LE TIGRE Triumphs in J/80s

(Key West, FL- Jan. 18-22)-  This year's Key West Race Week was sponsored by Nautica Watches along with popular supporter Mt. Gay Rum.  It was a great cocktail and recipe for success, making for many happy winners celebrating with drinks plus a new watch!  Check out the photos of all the J's racing on the J/Boats Facebook page! (email us if you want high-resolution photos- contact us at J/Boats).

J/120 EL OCASO sailing to windwardThe weather was nearly postcard perfect, hard to go wrong sailing on aquamarine seas, sunny, with gentle breezes and 70 degree temperatures during the day.  The fleet was treated to a typical cold front scenario where the incoming front pulls in SSW breezes and over the course of several days veers from NNW to SE.  The fleet of 134 boats saw J/Boats having the largest total fleet of boats at the event- over one-third were J's ranging in size from the "classic" J/24 upwards through the range including J/29, J/80, J/105, J/109, J/122, J/125 and J/44.  The races generally got off without a hitch due to the seasoned expert PROs like Ken Legler and others who stayed on top of the shifty, streaky breezes.  Races started on time at 10:30 am and most fleets generally completed two races and were heading home by 2:00 pm.

J/122s sailing past leeward gateOn the Division 1 course, David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed well in IRC-B Class. At one point they had a solid lead but a few slow starts, missed windshifts and streaks rapidly jumbled the standings over the last two days.  Nevertheless, David and crew managed to hang in there to get a podium finish- 3rd overall for the week.  Their good fortune was counter-weighted by the roller coast rides seemingly experienced by Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK and Jim Bishop's beautifully repainted J/44 GOLD DIGGER.  Both sailed well in a couple of races but had difficulty maintaining any consistency due to the very shifty, streaky wind conditions on Division 1 course-  large black holes materialized frequently, swallowing up any unsuspecting boats and never let them go. 

J/105 one-design sailboat- sailing at windard markThe Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s had incredibly competitive racing.  For the J/105s, it's Brian Keane's SAVASANA that took home the gold, finishing in first by a significant margin of sixteen points....almost not having to sail the last day because their lead was so large.  However, the next three places from second to fourth was wide open until the last day.  Essentially, a three-way tie exists between Ken Colburn's GHOST, Scooter Simmons BLACKHAWK and Damian Emery's ECLIPSE.  In the end, it was Ken Colburn on GHOST that prevailed, finishing second for the week followed by Scooter Simmons sailing BLACKHAWK to third place and Damian Emery slowing down a bit onboard ECLIPSE  on the last day to finish fourth.

J/80 one-design sailboat- Darden's El TigreThe J/80 Midwinters lived up to its promise to be an indicator for the J/80 Worlds of how tough it would be to win in this closely fought class.  The top five was truly a horse race with anyone still having a mathematical chance of winning with just two days (four races) to go.  Each day brought a new leader to the top of the pack.  The last day created a lot of anxiety for the leaders. However, Glen Darden on LE TIGRE managed to overcome an early race deficit, with Rod & Jeff Johnstone sailing LITTLE FEAT in the lead, to just catch one more boat by the finish to finish fifth and win the regatta.  Rod & Jeff sailed extremely well on a challenging day to get two firsts to rapidly close the gap with LE TIGRE at the start of the day.  Those efforts, however, were not enough to overcome a slow start with two 7's on the first day, LITTLE FEAT finished second by a point.  Early regatta leader Will Welles on board RASCAL experienced some minor (but expensive) mistakes mid-week to fall off their consistent early showings, garnering a third overall.  Conversely, Al Minella sailing RELENTLESS have a "barbell" shaped results table, with great results midweek but a few mid-pack races at the beginning and end of the week.  Past J/80 World and NA Champion Kerry Klingler racing LIFTED had 1-2-3s in his record, but couldn't maintain any consistency to crack the top three, finishing fifth for the week.

LE TIGRE, co-owned by Glenn Darden and Reese Hilliard of Forth Worth, TX, Darden has competed in eight Key West race weeks, but has never taken a top win. Until now.  An experienced racing sailor and collegiate champion at Tulane, Glen is a past J/105 North American Champion and has won the J/80 Worlds. This week, the team placed third or better in seven of 10 starts in capturing the J/80 Mid-Winter Championship, which was contested as part of Key West 2010.   "We had a great battle with Jeff and were just able to hold on", said Darden, who had Ullman pro Max Skelley aboard as tactician.

Another Texan, Jay Lutz calling tactics on SWE 803 said, "The depth of the competition was much better than ever before".  Magnus Tyremans entry (SWE 803) placed sixth in fleet, not bad for the tough, 19-boat class battle. Blake Billman was on the bow and Cal Herman worked the middle. Winning race 2, and finishing in the top ten consistently, the SWE 803 team followed the suspense of the final races between Le Tigre and Little Feat. "The lead boat LE TIGRE almost lost it", Herman said. One extra point and that would've been the case. 

You can read more about what happened on the J/80 race course by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog at

J/125 racing sailboat- Jim Madden Stark Raving MadThe Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats saw two fantastic performances by two enthusiastic J Owners.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's  very fast J/125 STARK RAVING MAD and his fun-loving, happy-go-lucky crew from the San Diego/ LA area (including Gary Weisman and Benny Mitchell), had another great time in Key West and sailed away with PHRF A with eight bullets!  

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH led for most of the week but Thursday's windy day generated an uncharacteristic 4-3 for the day to drop him down to second overall by just one point. Their five firsts in ten races are an average of just over second place, it was testimony to their consistency and how well they sailed their J/109 RUSH.  Perennial Key West participant, Steve Thurston's MIGHTY PUFFIN, got in some good sailing and good times during the regatta, sailing to a sixth overall.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s stayed remarkably close to one another all week long.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH "won" the J/24 Class award, finishing second in the overall standings.  Just behind was Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third.

For Key West Race Week regatta information and sailing results.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Key West Race Week on a Budget

Key West on a Budget-  J/80 owner Jeremy Reynolds was skeptical when it was suggested he enter Key West 2010, presented by Nautica. The Maryland resident started doing a mental checklist of the costs associated with doing a regatta off the southernmost point of Florida and just shook his head. “I saw the dollar signs going cha-ching, cha-ching in my head,” Reynolds said. That was before J/80 class president Kristen Robinson showed Reynolds a detailed spreadsheet of how to attend the annual race week in Key West on a reasonable budget of less than $8,000.

Perhaps the most notable cost-cutting method involves working a package deal for most of the J/80s to launch and berth at Old Island Marina. Robinson negotiated a discount on the splash fee and storage rate with the Stock Island facility. Robinson also helped the J/80 teams contain their housing costs by calling around to numerous Key West realtors and comparing rates.

Robinson, who posted a “How to do Key West on a Budget” article on the J/80 website, was asked why she puts so much effort into assisting other J/80 owners with their Key West plans and plotting out a budget for the regatta. “Because if I’m going to make the effort to come down here I don’t want to race in PHRF. I come to Key West for good one-design competition so the more boats the better,” said Robinson, who believes other class presidents or representatives should put forth the same effort for a regatta the caliber of Key West.

Premiere Racing president Peter Craig is extremely impressed by the ability of J/80 owners to put together a Key West campaign on an affordable budget. “The J/80 class increasing to 19 boats in this economy is one of the great success stories of this event and should be listened to carefully by the owners in other classes,” Craig said. “The J/80 folks have figured out how to do Key West without breaking the bank by working collectively. They have clearly shown that it can be done.”  Learn more about sailing Key West on a budget at the J/80 Class  

Friday, January 22, 2010

Key West Race Week- Day 5- Gorgeous Finale

SAVASANA Wins J/105s, LE TIGRE gets J/80s, STARK RAVING MAD Dominates PHRF A
(Key West, FL- Jan. 22)- This year's Key West Race Week was certainly one of the nicest sailing weeks in recent memory.  After the tropical downpours on Sunday, Monday dawned with gorgeous weather, nice winds that would prevail for the week.  Despite a gloomy Tuesday, the wind, sun and conditions provided competitors with a variety of shifty, streaky winds that would make it challenging for any sailor to get around the race track without making significant mistakes. 

On the Division 1 course,  David Murphy's J/122 PUGWASH sailed well in IRC2 to finish third. The light air and large wind streaks wreaked havoc on the fleet on the last day.  If you got caught out on some of them upwind or downwind, the speed differences were simply too enormous to overcome any lost distance.  As a result, Robin Team's J/122 TEAMWORK and Jim Bishop's J/44 GOLD DIGGER had unusually variable performances to finish out of the running.

The Division 2 course with J/105s and J/80s had competitive racing for the entire week.   However,  for the J/105s, it was Brian Keane's SAVASANA that simply sailed off with the series lead after Tuesday.  However, the next three places from second to fourth were completely wide open going into the last two races on Friday.  Essentially, a three-way tie existed between Ken Colburn's GHOST, Scooter Simmons BLACKHAWK and Damian Emery's ECLIPSE.  Whoever prevailed on Friday's light air would determine the pecking order.  Ultimately, Ken Colburn on GHOST finished second and Scooter Simmons finished third. 

The J/80 Midwinters concluded with Glen Darden on LE TIGRE barely hanging on to win by one point over Rod and Jeff Johnstone on board LITTLE FEAT.  In fact, going up the last windward and downwind leg, the Johnstones were winning the regatta (they got two firsts on Friday) because Glen and team were lying in sixth place.  However, LE TIGRE passed just one more boat to eliminate the losing tie-breaker scenario and won the regatta.  Third place went to Will Welles RASCAL with much improved Al Minella's team on RELENTLESS finishing fourth and current NA/ past World Champion Kerry Klingler sailing LIFTED finishing fifth. You can read more about what's happened during the J/80 Midwinters by reading Chuck Allen's Sailing World blog at

The Stock Island located Division 3 course for PHRF boats saw great performances from the J/125 and J/109.  In PHRF 1, Jim Madden's J/125 STARK RAVING MAD sailed away with PRHF A with eight bullets, winning class with a seventeen point lead!   

In PHRF 2, Bill Sweetser's J/109 RUSH sailed extremely well but two fourths earlier in the series hurt their chances to win class overall, losing by just one point with a 2-1 finish on Friday.

In PHRF 3,  the three J/24s had a fun week.  Mark Milne's BLAH BLAH BLAH finished second and just behind was Naroski/LeBlanc's NOJOE in third.  For regatta information and sailing results, please go to:   

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

J/80 ECC Viviendas Trophy Series

J/80 sailing in Santander, Spain- one-design sailboat

(Santander, Spain)-  The J/80 class in Santander put an end to the 2009 season, with the conclusion of the last two races of the ECC Viviendas Trophy sailed in great northwest breezes, sunny skies and steep waves.  It was a fitting end to the season considering how many times racing had to be postponed/ canceled.  The big waves were a delight for all the sailors as it made for fun, long, fast surfs downwind under the big asymmetric spinnakers.

At the end of the racing, it was YATES & THINGS sailed by A Piris that managed to stay ahead and put up the rest of the away to win the race with great ease. SPACIO 10 raced by Paul Santurde soared to second and in third finished  Javier López-Vázquez in BANCAJA.  The 2010 season will begin on January 9th with the so-called MAFIA TROPHY-- gee, we wonder what the implication is for the winners?  Photo Credit- Jesus Renedo.  For more sailing and regatta information.