Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Short & Sweet J/Fest San Francisco

J/111s sailing JFest San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)- On April 16 and 17, the St. Francis Yacht Club welcomed hundreds of sailors to San Francisco Bay for J/Fest, an annual regatta that featured J/24s, J/70s, J/105s, J/111s and J/120s. After a two-hour postponement on Saturday, the breeze filled in and competitors enjoyed two fantastic races. “We had Chamber-of-Commerce conditions,” said regatta chairman Norman Davant. “I have never seen water that clear come into the Bay. You could see the bottom from the Yacht Club.” With the tide flooding, boats stayed in the favored current along the Cityfront, making for great viewing from shore. All five fleets got in two races in 12-15 knots.

Sunday also began with no wind and flat calm water. The Sailing Instructions dictated that no races were to start after 1530, so when the breeze had still not filled in by 1330, the Executive Race Committee called the regatta. At the Awards Ceremony, there was still only a hint of a northerly.

J/70s sailing JFest San FranciscoThus, it was a short regatta, but it was a sweet regatta. “The Js came out en masse,” said Davant. The J/70 fleet was particularly active, and also hosted a clinic on Friday afternoon. “These guys are revving up for J/70 Worlds, which will be hosted by StFYC this September, so we’re starting to see some out-of-towners come in to get a feel for the Bay,” said Davant.

Peter Cameron swept the J/70 fleet with two bullets on PRIME NUMBER while second place was shared by Frank Slootman on LITTLE HAND (2-5) and Justin Kromelow on LOOSE LUCY (3-4).  Rounding out the top five Tracy & Christy Usher’s CHRISTINE ROBIN in fourth, just one point from a three-way tie for second place and in fifth was Chris Kostanecki’s JENNIFER.

The J/24s enjoyed close racing as well.  The big EVIL OCTOPUS sailed by Jasper Van Vliet from Richmond YC took the top spot with a 2-1 followed by Darren Cumming’s DOWNTOWN UPROAR with a 1-3.  Third was Val Lulevich’s SHUT UP & DRIVE, fourth Randall Rasicot’s FLIGHT and fifth Paul van Ravenswaay’s FERAL ROOSTER.

It was the mighty big BAD DOG in the J/111s that won class with double bullets, led by their fearless leader Richard Swanson.  With deux deuces, it was Nesrin Basoz’s SWIFT NESS in second, followed by Gorkem Ozcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT in third place.

J/120s sailing JFest San FranciscoThere were some rapid ascents and descents in the J/120 class.  Surviving their game of chutes & ladders was David Halliwill’s PEREGRINE to take a 2-1 and the win.  Barry Lewis’ CHANCE nabbed a 1-3 to seal the deal for the silver while Stevie Madeira’s magnificently green (like Maine forest colors) MR MAGOO settled for the bronze.

While most fleets saw some boats predominate, that was not the case for the extremely competitive J/105 class.  Here’s Phil Laby’s J/105 class report (with contributions by Toné Chin and Pat Benedict).

“We had a strong fleet showing of twenty-five J/105's, the best this year and especially good for a mid-season event.  With strong midday ebb transitioning into early flood later in the day, and with light breezes predicted, a premium could be expected on good starts, working the currents, and finding lanes for breeze.

Saturday’s start was postponed several hours and the fleet watched from the St. Francis Yacht Club (largely in summer attire) as the Lightship Race drifted through their starts, struggled to avoid obstructions, and made due with a light easterly wind or otherwise were induced by the strong ebb out the gate.  At about noon a westerly finally appeared building to around 10-15 knots for the rest of the day.

J/105s sailing JFest San FranciscoIn the first race, stronger ebb out in the bay favored several boats starting at the committee boat and who tacked immediately to port.  Arbitrage nailed the start at the committee and tacked out first, followed by Advantage3, then Jabberwocky, Godot, and Wonder with the rest of the fleet following suit.  The ebb made for a fast beat and Godot's strategy called for an earlier tack shy of the lay line to avoid the possibility of over-standing.  However, those that continued farther (Arbitrage and Advantage3) gained additional lengths by the weather mark.  The fleet tightened while heading downwind along the beach for tide relief.  Godot sailed below a group on starboard and jibed shy of the beach, finding more wind off shore and moved into 4th. After one more loop, featuring a jibing dual between leaders Arbitrage and Advantage3, the latter got its bow out at the finish line to earn the bullet. Wonder found the boat side favored to finish just ahead of Godot for the 3rd spot.

Simon Bell, tactician aboard Advantage3, had this to say of the exciting finish in race one: "Being overlapped with Arbitrage at the finish line… with both spinnakers pulling, the crew really pumped up, and winning less than 2 seconds ahead will be unforgettable!"

J/105s starting at JFest San FranciscoFor the second race, the starting line was set significantly port side or pin favored to attract some starters from just ganging up at the race committee and heading out into the remaining ebb.  Godot decided to set up a third back from the pin end for a position to quickly tack after the start.  A header occurred during the final moments allowing for an easy execution of this tack at the gun.  Recounted Toné Chin on the bow of Godot, “With my keen eyes, I waved the skipper to go full speed… this allowed us to take fully take advantage of the skewed line.  At the gun, we flopped over to port and managed to clear the whole fleet.”  A drag race ensued with 007, the pin boat off the line that also crossed on port, to the right corner of the course.  Towards the top of the course 007 crossed close ahead of Godot several times.  The early flood had already begun at the mark and Godot managed to arrive first, closely followed by 007, both several lengths ahead of the next boat.  Godot led the rest of the way, playing the shifting current and wind at the top of the next beat that offered the fleet enabling passing opportunities.  At the finish line, Godot was followed by Roxanne, Jam Session, Advantage3, and Blackhawk.

J/105 spinnakers at JFest San FranciscoSunday’s racing was canceled with the absence of breeze. In the end, Godot scored the win followed by Advantage3 in a tie breaker, both with 5 points.  The next three spots were filled by Roxanne, Arbitrage, and Blackhawk, respectively, in a three-way tie breaker with 12 points each.

The skipper of Advantage 3, Pat Benedict, acknowledged outstanding crew work as integral to his success. At one leeward gate rounding, he was amazed that his team was “able to jibe, pull out the jib, do a leeward take down, and round the mark within 4 boat lengths of the starboard buoy.”

The skipper of Godot, Phil Laby, reflected, ‘There was some amazing work done by the foredeck team of Patrick Haywood (pit), Matt Skafel (mast), and Toné (bowman extraordinaire).  The trimmers of Drew Cannon (spinnaker) and Will Lowe (main) also did well.  This crew have been racing together for only five days, so we're happy with the results so far.’”

What the regatta may have lacked in breeze, it made up for in entertainment. The Saturday night regatta party was great fun and included dinner, a live band, free-flowing Mount Gay and a massive raffle for sailing swag.  Sailing photo credits-  Chris Ray Photo  and  Erik Simonson   For more J/Fest San Francisco sailing information