Friday, December 6, 2013

Team Elusive Bermuda J/105 Invitational Champions

J/105 Team Elusive- sailing Bermuda winners (Hamilton, Bermuda)- The Bermuda J/105 Class and Royal Bermuda YC hosted the inaugural Bermuda J/105 Invitational Regatta, sponsored by XL Group, from November 21st to 23rd on the gorgeous aquamarine waters of The Great Sound. Eight international teams could not have been treated to better, more idyllic sailing conditions, nor a better venue for excellent one-design racing on Bermuda’s fabled waters.  Sailors from the USA, Canada, UK, and Bermuda competed  for the XL Trophy [Overall Series]; the Bermuda Tourism Trophy [International Series]; and the Goslings Trophy [Bermuda Series].

The regatta featured a unique “team” format- each boat was made up of 3 international sailors and 3 Bermuda sailors who sailed together in each race. Races were be designated as “Bermuda” or “International”; the respective nominated helmsman helmed for that race.  This was the first time the format had been used.

One of the Island’s top Race Officers, Royal Bermuda YC’s Charles Tatem, ran a fabulous regatta all three days, blessed as the fleet was with strong northerlies on Thursday and Friday and a rapidly building southwester on Saturday feeding a massive low pressure system rolling in across the Atlantic.

J/105 team Yabsta- with Neff family sailing- Stew, Mike, TerryThe first day of sailing got underway on Thursday in blustery conditions, with northeast winds of 15-25 knots churning up the Great Sound. The mixed crews from Bermuda and International Yacht Clubs kicked off the day with a practice race to help with the crew work, and then Race 1 got underway. International skippers helm the odd numbered races, and local skippers the even numbered ones.

The opening win went to ELUSIVE (Steve Cucchiaro from Eastern YC) chased by PASSION (Bill Lackenmacher from Lakewood YC) and SADIIQI (Sean McDermott from Royal Nova Scotia YS). Race 2 had a crew overboard at one of the marks – recovered fine, but damp – and Yabsta lost their second spinnaker in the strong breeze.

The opening “locals” race went to ELUSIVE (Chuck Millican from Bermuda’s Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club), chased by PASSION (Jim Macdonald from host RBYC) and YABSTA (Trevor Boyce from Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club). Race 3, in slightly lighter conditions, was taken by PASSION followed by YABSTA (Stewart Neff from Eastern YC) and MAYHEM (Jason Owen from Royal Ocean Racing Club in England). The final race of the day, back in a 20 knot breeze, had ELUSIVE’s third bullet of the day, with PASSION next and SADIIQI in third.

The “Sovereign Jewellers” boat of the day, on seven points, was ELUSIVE, also leading the Overall [XL Trophy] and Bermuda [Goslings Trophy] competitions. PASSION was leading the International competition [The Bermuda Tourism Trophy].

The second day of competition got underway in glorious sailing conditions – medium breeze and clear skies. The crews had recovered from a bruising first day and race 5 of the 10 race series started at 11am in the Great Sound.

The day’s first win went to SADIIQI, chased by PASSION and BACK-IN-BLACK (Greg Turman from Corpus Christi YC). Race 6, in slightly lighter conditions, was taken by ELUSIVE to notch their 4th bullet in the regatta already followed by PASSION and MAYHEM.

J/105s sailing off start at Bermuda InvitationalRace 7 saw the breeze shift to the left and start to drop out – racing then became an exercise in finding pressure and playing the substantial lifts along the Somerset Shore, or out toward Pearl Island. Race 7 was won by PASSION followed by ELUSIVE and BACK-IN-BLACK (Ed Fries from Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club). The final race of the day, was a challenging tactical contest in the light winds. ELUSIVE played the shifts well both upwind and downwind to win by nearly a half-leg!  In a distant second was SADIIQI passing PASSION in the final run to the finish to take 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

The “Tops Limited” boat of the day, on 8 points, was PASSION [2-2-1-3]. After 8 of the 10 races, PASSION was leading the Overall [XL Trophy] with 15 points over ELUSIVE’s 17, followed by SADIIQI and MAYHEM both on 33 points.  With only two races left, the stage was set for a battle royal between the top two boats to determine the overall winner; especially since neither boat could finish “out of the chocolates” with just 8 boats racing!

The final day of sailing got underway shortly after the breeze filled in. With the regatta on the line, the ELUSIVE team match-raced PASSION to gain a slight advantage on the first start and after a brief tacking duel, both boats split tacks with ELUSIVE rounding the first windward mark in 2nd with PASSION in the middle of the pack.  In the end, ELUSIVE held her position, with BACK-IN-BLACK taking first and YABSTA taking third.  At this point, ELUSIVE was leading by a single point over PASSION for the overall title.

Team Passion from Lakewood YC Texas at Bermuda InvitationalWith a strongly increasing breeze in the mid-teens from the southwest, the final duel was set for the top two teams.  To add to the drama, Race 10 started under the “black flag rule” for a triple windward-leeward race— a veritable marathon for the sailors.  Again, ELUSIVE pursued PASSION in the last minute of the start to match-race them down into the pack.  After a brief tacking duel, again, both boats split tacks with ELUSIVE again managing to round several boats ahead.  By the second downwind leg, ELUSIVE sailed fast enough to slide into 2nd place and maintained that position to the finish to take the overall win.

The event concluded with a long distance race back to Hamilton Harbour, taking in the Small Sound and the channel up to The Dockyards in front of the spectacular Commissioner’s House on the northern part of Ireland Island. MAYHEM took line honours and won the “Bermuda Project Managers” prize. The “Tops Limited” boat of the day was BACK—IN-BLACK.

The Overall XL Trophy went to the strong ELUSIVE team, followed by PASSION and MAYHEM.  Fourth was SADIIQI and fifth was BACK-IN-BLACK.  The top International helmsmen taking Bermuda Tourism Trophy was Bill Lackenmacher from Houston, TX, followed by Steve Cucchiaro from Boston, MA, and Greg Turman from Corpus Christi, TX.  The top local helmsmen for the Goslings Trophy was Chuck Millican followed by James Macdonald and Jon Corless.   For more J/105 Bermuda XL Invitational sailing information