Friday, July 11, 2014

J/111 Eclipses Bohusracet Double-Handed!

J/111 Blur sailing double-handed racing (Bohuslan, Sweden)- Fresh from the class win in the Norwegian Færder Race, the J/111 BLUR immediately transformed into double-handed mode.  The Pantaenius Bohusracet is a 170nm dash through the wonderful archipelago of Bohuslän on the Swedish West coat. It attracts almost 200 boats and has quickly become one of the world’s largest double-handed races.  Moreover, it’s not hard to understand why!  Here’s the report from Peter Gustafsson, BLUR’s skipper:

“Intense racing for 24-30 hours with lot’s of navigation, close battles with other boats and some delicate navigation to find the shortest route among thousands of islands and rocks— that’s the Bohusracet. This takes place in the light of the midsummer night, making it one of the best sailing experiences anywhere.

J/111 Blur skipper- Peter Gustafsson from SwedenActually, when I bought the J/111 I had this race in mind. Lot’s of light winds and many maneuvers that favor a nimble boat that is easy-to-handle with just two on board. But, with the occasional breezy downwind run where a boat that could plane off-wind would breakaway from the fleet. Beefing up the sail inventory with a Code 0 and an oversized A2 ”whomper” should make the J/111 into the perfect ”archipelago racer” (skerry cruiser meets sport boat).

Friday afternoon, the smaller boats started first. Almost no wind and very fluky conditions promised a challenging first leg inside the big island of Orust. At 4PM we at last got away in the fastest class. We lined up against everything from some Farr 30s, the always well sailed Xp 38s and the Arcona 410 who came second to us in Færder Race. Fighting for line honors was an X-50 and some X-46s. Lot’s of talent and well prepared boats.

The first 6 hours became an upwind challenge in 0-14 knots, with major 30-degree shifts. But since it’s a narrow strait, the fleet stayed together and tacked every 5 to 10 minutes trying to get the most of every puff. The Farr 30 got away before the X-50 and the Arcona. Then we managed to hang in there and stay in touch.

Around 10PM the shift towards east came and we rolled out the Code 0- what a weapon to have in the arsenal! Doing 6-7 knots in just 6 knots of wind as the sun sets is a fantastic feeling, and now we started to reel in the boats ahead. After midnight, we rounded outside of Marstrand and with the big A2 we were screaming along, passing both the Farr and the Arcona.

Wonderful sailing where the helmsman drove to the spinnaker as the other guy got an hour of sleep. We know that would pay off during day 2.

As the sun came up we headed north through all the small islands in the archipelago, checking off the famous fishing villages and small towns; Smögen, Fjällbacka, Grebbestad, Strömstad.  What usually lasts for a 5 week cruise is done in 24 hours.

J/111 Blur sailing Bohusracet off SwedenWe alternated between A2 and Code 0 and worked our way to the Northern mark- Trestenerne in Norway. For every checkpoint, we advanced a little and when we turned south we were just 15 minutes behind the leading boat. We knew that we had the proper boat and sails to get the most out of the final 50 miles, but it would require some serious work.

We went from jib to A5, to Code 0, to A5 and to Code 0 again. We kept on working hard to get 100% out of the boat. At the next checkpoint, we were just 3 minutes behind the Arcona on corrected. And then 5 minutes ahead! Wow! This was awesome!

We finished second on the water, just an hour after the well sailed X-50 after 25 hours of sailing, and won the class before a HP1030 and the Arcona 410.

When we got the J/111, we knew that it would take time and hard work to get up to speed. It’s a demanding, but rewarding, boat. There have been times where I wished I’d stayed with the J/109. But after winning both Færder Race and Bohusracet, I can clearly see the pattern: it took us three years to master the 109, and now we are getting there with the 111. It’s a great feeling when all that hard work pays off!!”  Congratulations from the J/Team to Peter Gustafsson and crew!   For more J/111 BLUR sailing information