Wednesday, December 18, 2013

J/70s Flying Off Santa Barbara

J/70 blasting through waves off Santa Barbara, CA (Santa Barbara, CA)- The annual Santa Barbara YC Holiday Regatta has been known over the course of time to experience the extremes in weather.  While the event has seen people get dressed in various Christmas and Holiday “plummage”, the occasion of this year’s regatta basically ensured all were dressed in their offshore gear to face the prospects of a near gale from the WNW blowing 20-30kts plus!  It did help that it was a sunny day!

Because of the epic weather conditions, fewer than normal of the generally large holiday fleet ventured forth into the teeth of the strong winds curling in offshore from Point Conception.  For the few intrepid sailors that did sally forth, the long uphill bouncy ride was more than rewarded with screaming planes downwind under all the canvas you’d dare launch!

As many have learned over time, J’s are well-suited to such conditions as they’re not only “proper upwind yachts”, but can certainly turn-on the speed downwind in the right conditions.  While the local J/105 class have experienced such rides time and again over the last decade or so, it was the local J/70 class in Santa Barbara that were having the time of their lives.

Having started less than a year ago, the Santa Barbara J/70 fleet is now over a dozen boats strong with more arriving in the not too distant future— it’s the fastest growing one-design fleet ever in the greater Santa Barbara/ Ventura/ Lompoc region.  The J/70s have captured the excitement of the local “Santa Barbarians” for all the reasons its gained such wild popularity elsewhere— chicks dig it since it’s easy-to-sail, the boat’s a delight to sail in any conditions the SB Channel can throw at them, and it instills confidence, not fear-induced anxieties and heart attacks, while planing along comfortably in a 15-25 kts breeze.  Evidently, young and old alike are having a blast sailing their 70s off Santa Barbara.

The forecast for the weekend was exciting for those who enjoy full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal downwind planing conditions.  With morning winds of 10-20 kts NW increasing to 20-30 kts in the afternoon and gusts to 35 kts with 6-10 ft seas, the fleet was going to be in for wild ride on Saturday!  As you can see from the photo, the J/70s were lovin’ it and regularly hitting over 15-18 kts downwind off the ginormous swell peeling around the point.

Taking J/70 fleet honors by a whisker was Chris Gabriel on DIVERSION, posting a 1-1-2-4-3 for 11 pts, clearly relishing the big breeze on Saturday and taking somewhat of a breather on the lighter conditions Sunday.  Second on the tie-breaker was Shawn Hughes and Andrew Nunn sailing the menacingly black-colored ECLIPSE, taking a 3-3-1-3-1 for 11 pts.  Just one point back was Ken Kieding’s SMOKE & MIRRORS with a 2-2-3-1-4 scoreline for 12 pts— close racing indeed for the top three.  Learning the J/70 ropes amazingly quickly was Scott Deardorff and crew on CAKE, electing not to sail in the big blow on Saturday in literally a brand-new boat just-launched, but posting a 4-2-2 on Sunday!

The J/105s saw Mark Noble’s ESCAPADE take the win followed by Larry Harteck’s REPEAT OFFENDER in second and Tom Bollay’s ARMIDA in third.

In the PHRF B handicap racing world, the well-sailed J/22 BLUES CREWS sailed by Dave Baxter didn’t even sail the first race in the blow, but rattled off a 2-1-1 on the last day to take second overall.  For more Santa Barbara YC Holiday Regatta sailing information