Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hokey Smokes! Crazy 88s Win Chicago-Waukegan!

J/88 sailing upwind(Chicago, IL)- “For the first time this year, both Chicago J/88's made it to the starting line together,” commented Rich Stearns, the J/Boats dealer in Chicago. He goes on to say, “With their 87 PHRF rating that put them in Section 4. 72 boats entered the 26.2 mile sprint up the lake. Unfortunately, dense fog would cover the fleet for nearly the entire race.

The start was downwind and light from the Southeast. The course was 345 degrees. The two 88's and a Farr 38 started at the pin, the inshore end. While the rest of the section fought for the boat end and then battled each other sailing out into the lake. It seemed the lighter the wind got the faster the 88 was compared to the fleet. When the wind was 8 to 10 kts we just sailed even with the Farr 38 but when the wind went to 4 kts WOW the 2 88's just took off.

Thirty minutes into the race a big shift to the Southwest came through with more fog. The two 88's jibe to the favored jibe.  The last we saw of the fleet they were sailing offshore some sailing 90 degrees from the finish. Fog will disorient people.

For the next 4 hours we sailed all alone in dense fog. The J/88 just flying under its big Asymmetric spinnaker. We don't have instruments but it looked like about 4 to 8 kts of wind and the boat just sailed the run at 6 kts no problem. It was easy to get her going 6.5 kts but that was too hot. We sighted land off Wilmette, Illinois and as fate would have it we got a nice shift to jibe in.

We were within two miles of the finish when a crew member reported seeing another boat! "Boy it looks kind of big!”  "No, really it looks kind of big".  No one could really make it out in the fog but it was coming pretty fast, that was for sure.  "I think it is the TP52". But, we figured they had passed us hours ago. "No, it is the TP52!”  Sure enough, they started 30 minutes after us and rating -81 PHRF no one thought we would see them.  "Wait"! there is another boat!"  "It looks really, really big!”   “Holy smokes, it’s the Andrews 77, she rates -138 PHRF!”

Well, the bad news is both the big boats beat us across the line.  The good news is "Hokey Smoke" J/88 #21 won overall. Then, out of the fog came another little boat. Amazing!  It was the other J/88, Ben Wilson's "Rambler”, that came across the line to finish second overall. Ben is having a great year; placing high in the two other events he entered his boat and assistant coaching the Loyola Ramblers to the NCAA National Championship in NCAA Men's Volleyball!

The fog wouldn't let up so we tied up at the dock.  Soon, in came Scott Simms' J/109 "Slap Shot" followed by Pete Prieda's J/109 "Full Tilt" to place third and fourth overall. Sorry no pictures- fog will do that! A sweep for J/Boats!!”  Thanks for the story and colorful commentary from Rich Stearns.