Saturday, August 8, 2020

Off Watch: Covid Blues

J/99 sailing offshoreHerb McCormick, Cruising World's Executive Editor, and active J/24 Thursday night Fleet #50 racer in Newport, RI, had covered this year's St. Maarten Heineken Regatta back in March. J/News Editor Stu Johnstone spoke with Herb a few times at the famous evening concerts; Stu was sailing with friends on the J/105 SOLSTICE, owned/ skippered by Jordan Mindich from Long Island, NY. Here is Herb's retrospective view following our "lockdown life" in Newport, RI since March:

"Looking back, a visit to St. Maarten to cover the Heineken Regatta in early March now seems like a surreal experience in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are several things I have in common with our distinguished regular columnist, one Capt. Gary M. “Fatty” Goodlander. We’re both lifelong nautical scribes; have published thousands of magazine articles, and several marine books; and have a deep, abiding love for sailing. But, for the purposes of this little essay, I’ll point to one other experience Fatty and I have shared: We’ve both served as the press officer of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

There are a lot of fantastic perks to a career in sailing journalism— I’d venture to say that Fatty’s and my collective passport entries over the years are far more extensive and unusual than the average bear’s. But getting rich, alas, is most certainly not one of them. Which is why side gigs— such as books, freelance work, or working for regattas— are very welcome tasks indeed. And, that brings me to my most recent visit to St. Maarten, late this past winter, for the 40th edition of that crazy, wonderful event (it was actually my second swing to the island in recent months.)

Looking back, I think it’s safe to say that the Heineken Regatta— which drew sailors from Europe, Russia, the US, Australia, South Africa and many Caribbean islands, competing on nearly 150 yachts, and which took place from March 5th to 8th— was likely the last international sailing event to take place before the planet basically closed for business later that month due to the onset of the novel coronavirus. It’s hard to believe, just that short time ago, that few of us had any clue that before long we’d all be donning Jesse James-type bandannas for the ever-infrequent dashes to the supermarket.

Was it a surreal experience? In retrospect, indeed. But at the time, there was no real sense that we were all clueless spring breakers, or that we were pushing some irresponsible envelope to have a bit of fun at the world’s expense before it all went sideways. Who knew that all our lives would soon be governed by some bizarre concept known as “social distancing?” Life on the island, in the bars and restaurants— and yes, out on the racecourses— carried forth very much as usual. On the day that the regatta started, the first positive case of COVID-19 on the island was still nearly two weeks away. Of course, once that happened, St. Maarten quickly went on lockdown, and before the month was over, the international airport was basically closed to passengers. The wagons had been circled.

Meanwhile, in harbors and marinas the world over, the basic premise that governs the joy of owning and sailing a cruising boat— pure, unfettered freedom to go whenever and wherever we wish— had also come to a screeching halt. Plans were put on hold. With no real endgame in sight, there was no timetable to even plan when we could make a plan.

Full. Stop.

I wrapped up my duties on the last night of the regatta and was on a plane hours later, with a stop in Newark before my second flight back to New England. The usually busy airport was a ghost town. I washed my hands, had a beer, and washed my hands again. Then I flew home, suddenly aware of how things had already changed.

About a week later, I felt terrible. I’m generally a pretty healthy dude (touch wood), but I went down hard. There was no testing available in Rhode Island at that point, and I might never know for sure if I had the virus. After a long week, I got better, but at the time, I sure as hell knew I wasn’t in St. Maarten anymore, figuratively or literally.

I was sitting in my kitchen at some point during my illness, whatever the hell it was, listening to WMVY radio from Martha’s Vineyard, usually a bastion of good-time James Taylor tunes and the like. Over the years, the sunny station had provided the soundtrack on my boat for many a pleasant summer cruise. But, for the second or third time over the course of a few hours, they were spinning R.E.M.‘s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” And, I thought about who I’d hung out with in St. Maarten; and the bar I’d leaned on in Newark; and my poor daughter down the hall (whose highly anticipated senior year of college had just been zapped), who I might be infecting with my stuff.

And, I did not feel fine.

Of course, we’ve all got our stories about this mess...that’s mine. But I’ll conclude this little lament with a sunnier thought. Smooth sailing lies ahead. Stay safe, mates."  Thanks for this contribution from Cruising World- Herb McCormick

J/99 JAZZ Flies Offshore- Bermuda to Stonington

J/99 sailing doublehanded offshore
* Experience and understand what it's like to sail offshore.  The J/99 JAZZ was sailed by Rodney Johnstone and Clay Burkhalter from Stonington, CT to Bermuda (635.0nm as the 'crow flies') to help "rescue" a friends 65 ft sailboat. After 48 hours, they sailed the return voyage back to Stonington in slightly breezier, rougher conditions.  Clay narrates the 10-minute video accompanied by the classic Grateful Dead "Franklin's Tower" song (Las Vegas 1992) playing as the background soundtrack.  Enjoy!

J/99 JAZZ sailing off Bermuda
Click photo or link here to watch video:

Friday, August 7, 2020

What is the appeal of the J/80 Class?

J/80 sailing offshore
* A Perspective on one-design appeal in the J/80 Class from a U.S. Sailing dialogue with the USA J/80 Class President Ramzi Bannura. 

US Sailing: What is the appeal of the J-80 class?

Ramzi Bannura: The allure is that the J/80 is a competitive one design class that has pockets of established fleets and boats across the US and Canada, such as Annapolis, Toronto, Seattle, Austin and New Hampshire . The class has closed class rules so that means that anything that is not expressly permitted is prohibited.  One of the most attractive features of the class is that sailors are open and engaging, meaning sailors teach each other how to sail/race better and optimally tune their boats. It is not unusual to see open and honest discussion happening on the dock about set ups, or chatter about spinnaker take down techniques, or why one side of the course or the other was better in a post race debrief.  The J/80 class is  a like-minded community of sailors that seeks camaraderie through healthy competition.

Though mainly sailed by middle-aged men in the 40+ age range, it is common to see teenagers and women skippering a competitive J/80, and it is worth noting that the J/80 is commonly used for family cruising and PHRF sailing in all venues.

J/80 sailing offshore
US Sailing: How is the J/80 class growing?

Ramzi Bannura: In the past two years, based on class membership numbers, the J/80 class has seen a 20% growth. Since there is a shortage of boats, although new ones can be built to order today, class members are looking to locate boats that are not currently being sailed so that new owners can get involved competing in the class. The boats hold value well – 25 to 30 year old boats are still very competitive and hold championship trophies. The boats perform well in light air but the real performance starts when the breeze gets up to 15 knots and the boats start planning downwind at times approaching 20 knots. Fear is not a large factor as the breeze goes up since the J/80 demonstrates the art of solid handling and even graceful broaching as opposed to traditionally scary knockdowns. The J/80 is very easy to rig, tow and launch which makes opportunities for traveling an inviting adventure.

When all is said and done, the J/80 is ridiculously competitive and the class rules and one design specification consistency over the years makes the skipper and crew the primary difference in the performance of the boat, not all the extra high-tech gear common today!

US Sailing: What best practices does the J/80 class have to share for participation and retention of sailors?

Ramzi Bannura: The J/80 class has a member-only section of the website ( where members have exclusive access to the J/80 “knowledge base” and other tools which is particularly helpful to new J/80 owners, as well as access to the North American member directory. Hints and tips along with tuning information on how to make the boat go faster are also readily available.

The J/80 North American class is not a “Pro” dominant class since the owner/driver rule tends to limit the number of pro drivers unless they are boat owners. Pro sailors are otherwise active in the class as crew and trusted advisers for boat owners/programs on a regular basis.  If a sailor wants to sail the class events, they will be required to be a boat owner. The class welcomes the participation of pros as they continue to share their knowledge and expertise in the spirit of camaraderie through competition.

US Sailing: How has the J/80 class been able to help contain the costs of participation?

Ramzi Bannura: Boat owners are only allowed to buy one suit of sails per year; this restriction tends to temper an arms race. Many teams save those “championship” sails for the big events, and regularly use other used sails in their regular club and evening races. New sails definitely make a difference, but the biggest differentiator is the skill of the sailors.

The other way that many sailors are able to manage costs of traveling outside of their local area is through the invitation and generosity of other J/80 sailors across the country.  If there is an event, many local fleet sailors offer to host/house out of town sailors to make travel to events more affordable. Hospitality encourages participation and friendships are born through that participation. This is an amazing and notable element of the J/80 class that has led to well attended events and good friendships.

US Sailing: Any final thoughts and additional information you would like to share?

Ramzi Bannura: There are more than 1,000 boats that have been built world-wide, with 250+ boats here in the US and Canada. The average price ranges between $25-35,000 all up, and as previously mentioned, the J/80 tends to hold its value since older boats are build solid and are competitive with newer boats.  Not only is the J/80 being used for racing (with max crew weight of 770 lbs/350 kg) but its versatility is shown in its regular use by clubs and sailing organizations for learn to sail and instructional programs, for boat rentals within programs, and for family time sailing.

It is important to note that the J/80 is as global as any worldwide one design class.  In addition to North America, there is a strong presence in Asia and Europe.  North American sailors can participate in international events and our champions hold their own against anyone from anywhere.  And the One Design Insurance policies from the Gowrie Group can be a huge benefit to one design sailors when they are sailing/competing at home or abroad, giving boat owners that additional peace of mind.  J/80 World Championship is currently planned for 2022 in North America.

Any and all are welcome to sail the J/80 and join the class – it is a fun, fast and fair class to be part of!

For more stories and resources for one design sailors, visit US Sailing’s One Design Central!   Learn more about the J/80 class here

Impeccable race-winning horse for offshore campaigning!

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J/122 brokerage- for sale in Spain
A J/122 is a superlative boat, a true race-winning horse that also allows you to cruise as a family. Carbon mast, carbon boom and a huge inventory of NORTH SAILS sails in very good condition. Version 3 with double cabins and a bathroom. Consult us the complete list of equipment. Nautamarine- we are the exclusive distributors for Spain of the J/Boats.  Learn more about this J/122 here.

A Winning J/35's Perspective on the Bayview-Mac

J/35 sailing Bayview to Mackinac Island race
(Mackinac Island, MI)- Call it what you may, but sailing offshore brings great camaraderie to small crews and big crews. In this year's version of a pandemic-driven reduction to family and smaller crews, it only brought people even closer together.

We got a wonderful report from our friends in Cleveland, Ohio- Brett Langolf who generally races his lovingly restored J/34 IOR classic Half-Ton racer on Lake Erie. This year, he had the privilege of sailing with a bunch of local friends on a J/35 called MAJOR DETAIL. Here is Brett's report:

"Why this year's Bayview-Mac?

Because you never stop racing.
Even if it’s less than 3 miles to go.
Even after almost 240 miles upwind, the lead J/35 is still extending.
Even if we've thrown everything at them, you can and have exhausted all options.
Even when sending the entire crew to sleep on the rail over the last 12 hours didn’t work.
Even if the Class President already sent an email congratulating the other boat on winning the Port Huron to Mackinac Race (watching the tracker live on-line).

So, you pause and decide to all have a beer as the sun rose and the finish line was in sight, “because good things happen when we drink beer!!”

You all raise Canadian beers, even though you had to stay out of Canadian waters, the whole race for fear of deportation. You all "cheers" for what you are about to achieve.

Cheers to second place in the Port Huron to Mackinac.
Cheers you didn’t break anything.
Cheers to old friends and new on the crew.
Cheers that all tested negative for COVID-19.
Cheers to our weekend boat escape.
Cheers for the families we are about to see.
You cheers to an amazing skipper that created this opportunity.

Cheers because….wait! What?? This dog fight of a J/35 battle just gave itself an insanely bizarre turn-of-events. The lead boat has tucked themselves into shore, to leeward of Mackinac Island, and potentially impacted by an on-the-nose current.

Check Yellow Brick Race Tracker. They are going 1.1 kts and we are going 7.1 kts! We can only see them through binoculars and all of a sudden, we like what we see.

“Mortimer, we are back in business!”

“Legs Out. Traveler Up. Keep us in the breeze. Grab me a water. Don’t screw this up,” we all said at once.

One last thing to throw at us. Over the line first? Maybe.

We pulled it off, the mano-a-mano J/35 battle was over. We pulled it off against an amazing crew!

Wait, this is an ORR Race. How much time do we owe them? Crap, almost 6 minutes? OK we got it.

Well, cheers to us, we pulled it off.

J/35 Bayview Mackinac Race winners- Major Detail
First in Class E, First in the J/35 Fleet and Yacht Club Challenge Winner. MAJOR DETAIL was on the virtual podium, the real awards happen once America figures out this COVID mess.

J/Boat sweep- J/35, J/35, J/109....but we need to update one minor detail, it was MAJOR DETAIL in 1st!

Grab your wallet and your masks boys, "Pink Pony" here we come." Editors note- the Pink Pony Cafe & Restaurant is the de facto race HQ for all sailors after completing any Mackinac Race.   Thanks for contribution from Brett Langolf. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

J/111 Stars in Espionage Thriller!

J/111 stars in book
(Boston, MA)- It’s exceedingly rare for a self-published book by a new author to break into the top 20 on the Amazon “Most Sold” list. Christopher Rosow’s first book, "False Assurances", not only ascended to #6 on that list for the week ending May 17, it simultaneously hit #1 with a bullet on Apple Books…an occurrence only slightly more likely than seeing a mermaid. Today, it's #1 Amazon Kindle Best Seller, #1 Apple Books Best Seller, #1 Wall Street Journal Fiction Best Seller, #6 Amazon Combined Print/ E-Book Best Seller-- an amazing achievement.

Chris Rosow book- False AssurancesIn July 2017, a J/111 competing in the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race is boarded by terrorists intent on smuggling weapons into the U.S. After escaping from his captors, the owner is rescued and subsequently calls the FBI Boston field office to report that his boat’s been hijacked. The call appears to be a hoax, and the local agents have already been assigned to a visit by the President that evening. Because Bureau procedures require a response to all threats, the task of investigating the call is given to an unlikely hero, FBI Information Management Specialist Ben Porter. With no training in field work, will Ben be able to uncover the deadly plot and prevent it from being carried out?

Christopher Rosow conceived this story while standing watch (perhaps not entirely diligently) on a J/111 during the 2017 Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race. According to Chris, "I was supposed to be on-watch, making the boat go fast, but instead I was goofing around with the boat’s AIS system in the navigation station, thinking, “what if…?”! LOL!

After the manuscript was rejected by a succession of publishers, he made the decision to self-publish and also write a sequel to False Assurances called Threat Bias. In just over a fortnight, 40,000 copies of the first two books in the Ben Porter Series were purchased and both have garnered 5-star ratings on Amazon.

Lauded as “thoroughly riveting” by best-selling author James Patterson (a man who knows a bit about “couldn’t-put-it-down” novels), False Assurances and Threat Bias are available in e-book or print format on Amazon, in e-book format on Apple Books, or in print format from your favorite independent bookseller via Ingram. This reviewer is predicting that these will be the best thrillers you’ll read this summer…and that heads will roll at more than a few publishing houses when the film rights to the Ben Porter Series are purchased by a Hollywood studio.

A life-long sailor known to his many friends as "Treef", Chris Rosow currently chairs the junior sailing program at Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, CT. He and his wife Meghan and children Connor, Keilan and Maggie live in Southport with a chocolate Lab and a Havanese (“The Odd Couple of dogs,” he jokes) and what he describes as “way too many boats.” Chris' brother David owns and sails the extremely successful J/109 LOKI and, along with their Dad (David Sr), they have been long-time active sailing members of New York Yacht Club.

JAMES PATTERSON applauds "a thoroughly riveting two-novel debut that introduces a compelling new hero.”

In CONNECTICUT MAGAZINE, Sean Chaffin writes, “What sets the novels apart from other suspense thrillers? Protagonist Ben Porter, who works for the FBI, is the anti-James Bond. A bit overweight and short, he’s more George Costanza than Jack Ryan.”

Editor-in-chief of WINDCHECK magazine Chris Szepessy predicts “that these will be the best thrillers you’ll read this summer.”  Buy on Amazon here.   Buy on Apple Books here.   Thanks to Chris for this contribution. Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

J/27 For Sale- J/Net Brokerage Special!

J/Net Brokerage Specials! Check out our exciting new site for lovingly-owned J/Boats from around the world.

J/27 sailboat
The J/27 is a classic 27-footer for sale that is an extremely fast light-air sailboat for its size.  A great daysailing boat for a couple or small family. Plus, she's fun to go weekend cruising and stretch out in her 8-foot long cockpit.  For more information on this classic J/27 Add to Flipboard Magazine.

J/111 North Americans Moved to Spring 2021

J/111 sailing offshore
(Annapolis, MD)– The J/111 Class Association and Annapolis Yacht Club have determined, because of the varying levels of infection and disruption across the world, that this year’s J/111 North American Championship scheduled for October 29 - November 1 will be raced as part of the Annapolis NOOD from April 30 - May 2, 2021. The Class will instead hold its East Coast Championship in Annapolis during the previously scheduled Halloween weekend 2020. The Organizing Authority has been closely monitoring the worldwide developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. They understand the commitment of time and money required to participate in a Continental Championship, as well as the enormous resources that our hosts dedicate to such events.

Allan Terhune, Event Chair, said, “Last week, we had a great meeting with several J/111 owners. While Annapolis YC was ready and committed to hosting the event, the owners were in agreement that with the uncertainty of events, moving to the spring of 2021 will ensure that the J/111 Class and AYC will have an event that is worthy of being a North American Championship. I am very excited for the decision and look forward to the great sailing on schedule this fall and also in 2021 on the Chesapeake Bay.”

In the meantime, the Class wishes all J/111 sailors and their families the best in these difficult times. We look forward to resuming sailing as soon as we can.  Sailing photo credit- Lorens Morel

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

J/70 Class Report from Chile

J/70 Chile class sunset(Algarrobo, Chile)- We received a report from Juan Eduardo Reid- J/70 sailor and J/Boats Chile dealer- regards their scenario in Chile.

Juan commented, "there has been no sailing activity since March 2020.  We are still sailing just in Virtual Regatta since April.  Santander and Doyle Sails are hosting a VR circuit with the J/70 owners and crews every Tuesday. Is called "The Master League".  There are weekly and monthly regattas.  2 fleets of 20 boats each week with final 40 participants results. 

J/70 Virtual Regatta Chile
This, together with a WhatsApp for internal communication, has become a very important factor of keeping the class together and "active".

Chile J/70 women's team
Patagonia Yacht Charter and Doyle Sails hoisted the Chilean qualifiers for the South American Virtual Regatta championship. In the local qualifiers, 90 boats took place.

The class took the opportunity to ask for a voluntary donation for purchasing boxes of food for some employees at our home yacht club: Cofradía Nautica del Pacifico in Algarrobo.

We got very good support from the 90 participants, and collect $1,400 USD. And, the J/70 class did the same and supported the campaign with the same amount. So, with the $2,800 USD in funds, the J/70 Class in Chile and the Cofradía Náutica del Pacífico members support (they also complement each box with extra food), they  have been delivering 18 boxes of food every month since May. Three months of 18 boxes each were delivered and we expect to support with 2 more months. 

food for covid-19 coronavirus workers
Independent marine workers are having a hard time since March 2020 and actually there were having very low marine activities since November 2019, after the violence and social strikes we faced in Chile since October 18th, 2019. So, this help is very important for them and the J/70 Chilean Class is happy to somehow contribute. 

This is all that I can comment from this side of the world. I hope we can sail again during September or October.  We still have 2,000 new coronavirus cases and 100 dead every day here in Chile. It is getting better, but still not enough to get to normal life." Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Royal Torbay Regatta Announcement

Sailing offshore of England
(Torbay, England)- After an unexpected start to this year’s sailing season and many discussions on how best to proceed with Torbay Royal Regatta 2020, we are pleased to announce that the event will still be taking place over the weekend August 22nd – 23rd, albeit with a number of necessary changes brought about by COVID-19 restrictions and associated guidance.

The Torbay Royal Regatta will proceed on its intended dates of August 22nd & 23rd, hosting races for IRC, Cruisers and Sports boats only. Although the event will not incorporate the IRC South West Championship as originally planned, sailors can expect two days of top-class racing on the renowned sailing waters of Torbay. Entries are open and a revised Notice of Race has been published, both can be found on the event website detailed below.

The running of two separate events will enable the club to provide competitive sailing opportunities for all classes whilst keeping the competitors and volunteers health and safety as a top priority. All racing and race management will be conducted following HM Government and RYA Guidance relating to the COVID-19 pandemic that are applicable at the time of each event.  For more Royal Torbay regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.