Saturday, October 24, 2015

J/70 Fall Brawl Preview

J/70s sailing off start line (Eastport, MD- If it’s fall, it must be time for da’brawl!  What started out as a fun way to bridge summer sailing with the winter sailing events in Florida, the now annual J/70 Fall Brawl hosted by Eastport YC has become a “must do” regatta as boats and teams slowly head south, escaping the first snow flurries of winter this past weekend in New England!

The Eastporters love hosting the event and regatta participants always seem to rave about how good a time they had in Annapolis, post all the boat show madness.  Come rain or shine, chilly or warm, windy or not (most times there’s a damn good breeze), the regatta has continued to grow and gain its passionate fans.

At last count, over thirty boats have registered to sail over the October 24th to 25th weekend on the sparkling waters of northern Chesapeake Bay, surrounded by masses of trees bursting into a profusion of colors- reds, yellows, oranges- one of the most magical times of year, in fact, to be sailing on the Bay as the leaves reach peak foliage.

Blinded by the scintillating light of nature’s colorful magnificence will be a group of J/70 sailors that span the spectrum of time and experience.  Teams are traveling from as far away as Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and across the Northeast (CT, RI, MA, ME, NJ, NY, PA).  The local talent is hot and they continue to do well at the national level, such as Peter McChesney, Todd Hiller’s LEADING EDGE, Al Terhune’s DAZZLER (a J/22 World Champion), Geoff Becker’s PAPA WHEELIE (current Lightning World Champion), Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD (a general champion of everything), Jon Pollak’s MONKEY BUSINESS, and Taz Coffey’s DANGER MOUSE.

The Annapolis contingent knows their hometown turf is not an easy one to defend.  The vagaries of wind, current and general randomness can often confound even the cleverest hometown heroes.  They’re facing a formidable bunch from all points of the compass.  Foremost amongst them may be Marty McKenna’s RARITY leading the Youngstown YC group that includes Tim Finkle’s JUNIOR.  Then, John Brim’s RIMETTE (the wily fox from Fisher’s Island YC), Alex Meleney’s TRUCKIN from Vineyard Haven YC and Bodo von der Wense’s TURBO DUCK from Chester River YC round out eastern contenders.  From the Midwest is an increasingly formidable team from the M24/ M32 wars of the past- Trey Sheehan’s HOOLIGAN/ FLAT STANLEY RACING from Put-in-Bay YC in Ohio.

A number of women skippers will surely make their presence felt amongst the leaders, such as Jennifer Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY, Holly Graf’s SPICE, Tricia Pletcher’s OCCAM’s RAZOR, Kristen Robinson’s ZOMBIE, and Cat Evans’ MOJITO.  Five women’s teams, nearly 20% of the fleet!  Amongst this group, they’ve already collected silverware as top finishers in both Corinthian and Open divisions at various major J/70 regattas.  The weather forecast looks promising, sunny and warm Saturday with southerlies and more of the same on Sunday AM, save for the prospect of a frontal passage late afternoon.  For more J/70 Fall Brawl sailing information