Friday, October 8, 2010

Pichu Torcida Wins 2nd J/80 Worlds

J/80 World Champions- Pichu Torcida from SpainEpic, Wild, Wet, Sunny Finale
(Newport, RI- October 8th)- The final races for the J/80 Worlds in Newport were truly epic. No one could've predicted what was in store for the fleet and the top five leaders. The NOAA weather forecasters got one thing right, it was going to be a sunny day. And, to emphasize the fact that we were all sailing a World Championship, the PRO Tom Duggan and his brain trust that included Brad Read from SailNewport, felt that it was going to be important to ensure that everyone had a fair and level playing field on which to determine a true World Champion. The decision was to go offshore on what seemed to be a gorgeous day, somewhat benign in its initial stages with a nice 10-15 knot wind blowing from the West. The course was set just 2 nm SE of Beavertail Point at the end of Jamestown and about 2.5 nm ESE of Whale Rock in Rhode Island Sound.

J/80 screaming downwind under spinnaker at J/80 WorldsGoing into to the first race of the day, it was truly anybody's guess as to who would end up crowned as the 2010 J/80 World Champion. The top three all had a strong chance of winning and, as you'll discover, all three in fact were winning at one point or another over the three races sailed on Friday. At one point, PERALEJA GOLF's Carlos Martinez had it in the bag and was ready to celebrate. After race ten, Scott Young's and Terry Flynn's team on QUANTUM RACING were ready to break out the champagne, as Pichu Torcida's crew on ECC VIVIENDAS had experienced a massive gybe broach (keel-waving anyone?) and had lost several boats in the process to get their worst race of the series- an 18th. After race eleven, it was anyone's guess how the standings finished as there were enough black flags, DSQs and Z flag penalties that it was next to impossible to compute 3-5 point differences in the standings for the top 25 finishers, forgetting the fact that the top five were racing for the title separated by only several points going into the first race of the day.

J/80 Little Feat sailed by Jeff Johnstone at J/80 Worlds NewportThe first race of the day started off in a beautiful 10-18 knots Westerly swinging 10-15 degrees in the 270-290 range. After the four-legged 1.7 nm per leg windward-leeward course, it was clear that playing left of middle in the first 2/3 of the windward leg upwind was fast and top right 1/3 was good for right-handers just off the shore. The winners were a pretty happy bunch. Imagine Tom Klok, Will and Marie Crump and the invincible Vince Brun onboard GULDFAXE all wearing huge, cheshire cat grins on their face and you can only begin to appreciate the joy it meant to win a race in a World Championship against some very tough hombres in super-evenly matched one-design J/80s. Second in the race was Jeff Johnstone on LITTLE FEAT who's tactician Chuck Allen also had about as big (or bigger) grin on his face. Why? Because they'd beaten fair and square ECC VIVIENDAS' team sailed by Pichu Torcida who got a third in the race. Just behind them were Scott Young/ Terry Flynn's QUANTUM RACING in fourth and Alan Terhune with tactician Moose McClintock sailing US 221 in fifth. Carlos Martinez's PERALEJA GOLF, who was the regatta leader at the time, was now fighting for survival to stay in the top three after their worst race of the event, a 24th.

J/80 World Championships- off Newport, RI sailing in 30 knot windsWith the standings now jumbled a bit after the first race, it was still unclear if the PRO Tom Duggan and his SailNewport RC Team and the fleet themselves were capable of sailing just one more or two more races. Nevertheless, the SailNewport RC team managed to reset the course for the wind that had started to shift further SW and increase dramatically in velocity-- pushing 25 knots by the time of the second start. At this point, no one knew how crazy the world was going to get in the next 20 minutes. The wind started to increase more during the starting sequence and go even further left. Incredibly, on a black flag start, the wind shifted enough where half the fleet near the port end couldn't make the line and had to tack (or gybe) onto port to simply get across in the last 20 seconds. In turned into one of the most incredible races for anyone racing a J/80 in recent memory. 20-30 knot winds from 250-260 degrees, spectacularly sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, and increasingly bigger waves. The top American teams had figured out how to get around the course in the challenging conditions to get three of the top five, with Glenn Darden's LE TIGRE team leading the charge to get first, followed by Kerry Klingler on LIFTED, fifth was the fast-recovering Bruno Pasquinelli steering TIAMO (Bruno suffered a few stitches on Day three after having an argument with his boom). Not surprisingly, the top Spanish teams Rayco Tabares on HOTEL PRINCESSA CANARIAS finished third and fourth was countryman Carlos Martinez on PERALEJA GOLF. Barring any scoring issues like DSQs, Black Flags, DNSs or Z flag penalties, the QUANTUM RACING team with Scott Young skippering were winning the Worlds simply because Pichu Torcida's ECC VIVIENDAS had their worst race of the series, an 18th.

J/80 Peraleja Golf- Carloz Martinez Setting the stage for the last race was the fact that it was still anyone's ball-game to go win. The top three were now the top five-- any finish up or down the top ten in the last race would determine who would win between Young's QUANTUM RACING, Torcida's ECC VIVIENDAS, Martinez' PERALEJA GOLF, Johnstone's LITTLE FEAT (who BTW had the best scores for the last two days, each day!) and Darden's LE TIGRE. By now, it was clear that the SailNewport RC team was marshaled together to get yet one more unbelievably epic race off in the spectacular conditions the fleet had enjoyed in race ten. Without hesitation at around 1:35 the signals were raised and the fleet sent off into the teeth of a "baby gale"- blowing a steady 25-30 knots, shifting 10-15 degrees, with large waves. It was apparent Carlos Martinez had enough "practice" in the first two races to simply show the rest of the world his transom by winning the last race in convincing fashion- planing across the finish line going 17+ knots, enshrouded in huge sheets of salt spray. Second was Javier Blanco from Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (Spain) sailing CROCS in his best race of the series. Third was Jeff Johnstone on LITTLE FEAT, despite sailing 80% of the last run wing-on-wing with main and jib after shrimping and shredding their spinnaker on the set at the last windward mark. Fourth was Glenn Darden on LE TIGRE and fifth Pichu Torcida on ECC VIVIENDAS.

J/80 World Champion- Pichu Torcida on ECC VIVIENDASAfter the dust and salt-spray settled, Pichu's ECC VIVIENDAS team from Real Club Nautico Santander (Spain) were crowned the 2010 J/80 World Champions, winning by two points over Scott Young/ Terry Flynn's team from Austin Yacht Club on QUANTUM RACING that had 50 points. Third was Carlos Martinez's team from Santiago, Spain on PERALEJA GOLF, only four points back with 54 points. Fourth was Jeff Johnstone's team on LITTLE FEAT from Ida Lewis YC with 58 points, just one point ahead of Glenn Darden's LE TIGRE team from Fort Worth Boat Club with 59 points.

Congratulations to Sail Newport, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Newport Yachting Center and the worlds committee headed up by Jeff Johnstone and Kendra Muenter for conducting what had to be one of the best regattas ever in most sailor's recent memories. How can anyone beat the fact that for at least five straight days (six including practices on Sunday) that J/80s sailed in 15-30 knot winds nearly every day and over the course of the regatta were presented with some of the most challenging conditions anyone could ever imagine? From giant tropical depression induced waves from the East in a strong 15-30 Northeaster on Tuesday; to a 15-25 knot WNW in big chop offshore on Wednesday; to 10-30 knots WNW inside the Bay with flat water on Thursday; to yet another epic day offshore in 15-30 knot WSW breezes offshore in 4-6 foot waves for the Friday finale. Awesome. Cool. Incredible. All adjectives heard from sailors on the docks and at the Awards Dinner Friday.
Finally, many thanks to the sponsors who supported the J/80 Worlds 2010. In particular "Thanks" to the Gold Sponsors- West Marine, North Sails, Waterline Systems and V-Sport; the Silver Sponsors- New England Ropes, Harken, Henri Lloyd and Forte; and the Supporting Companies- Gowrie Group, Hall Spars, Sail 22, Sparcraft USA, Narragansett Beer, Harbor Town Vineyards,, Z-Blok, Crystal Spring Water, Outside Images, Atlas Boat-Pads, Ronstan, Sailing World Magazine and Regatta Ginger Beer.