Wednesday, August 31, 2016

J/120 USA Nationals Got “Hammered”!

J/120s sailing Nationals- Detroit, MI (Detroit, MI)- The mighty SLEDGEHAMMER, based out of the Buffalo Yacht Club, won the J/120 National Championship August 19-21 with a first place finish in last race of regatta held on Lake St. Clair outside of Detroit. Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit hosted the event. The SLEDGEHAMMER team beat fourteen boats from Detroit, Toronto, Buffalo and Hudson, OH in the regatta billed as "the heavyweight fight on the lake".

J/120 Sledgehammer- winning USA NationalsIn three days of racing on Lake St. Clair, owner and helmsman Tom Lewin led his son Tommy and Mark Christensen of Santa Cruz CA, Doug Bienko, Pat and Mike Augello, Larry Militello, Peter Johnson, Anthony Alexander (all from the Buffalo area) to the hard fought victory.  The regatta featured very close racing in high winds for most of the 11 races. The winning team had five 1st place finishes and 31 total points to beat NIGHT MOVES skippered by Henry Mistel of Bayview Yacht Club, that ended with 46 points in the low point, no throw out, scoring system.

In third place was JAYHAWKER, who battled her way up in the standings on Sunday. One of the co-skippers, Doug Scheibner of Bayview and Crescent Yacht Club, was a previous winner in the year 2000 Nationals. Notably, SLEDGEHAMMER also won the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac race in 2013.

J/120 JHawker at USA Nationals in Detroit, MIThis is the first time since 2003 the Nationals have been held on the Great Lakes and there was an overwhelming enthusiasm from owners and crews. The sailing conditions were from 14 knots on Friday to 25 knots on Sunday. Amazingly there were zero protests although there were some penalty turns.  Eleven J/120s are now based in the Detroit area, that makes a very strong offshore one-design fleet in big 40 footers!

Special thanks go out to Race Chairman Charlie Hess for all time in putting together a successful event. When the event goes back out to the west coast, it will be a very tough order to top this regatta!  Many other huge “Thanks” go out to:
  • Paul Halsey, Assistant Race Chairman- three days is a huge time commitment that is really tough with two kids at home. Being on the water to help with the mark-set boat and observe the racing is where stepping up to be Race Chairman was completely exceeded in the call of duty.
  • Dick Neville, PRO, his willingness to travel to Detroit and stay at local housing is appreciated as well. It is a big commitment of time and energy for certain.
  • Eric Peterson for the thankless job of measuring all those sails.
  • Luiz Kahl, his mentorship was valuable and because of it, we avoided so many mistakes that could have dulled the quality of this event.
  • Lance Smotherman, chief judge, encouraged Corinthian conduct by racers at every opportunity. This is a high-value leadership quality that allows an event like ours turn out to be a success. Being the avid racer that he is, we also appreciate the time commitment he made to assemble a judge panel, coordinate their travel, and support this event. Four days is a big contribution of time and energy.
  • Greg McCliment, CujoGraphyx contributed the numbers, set up the website and delivered a lot of shirts to our teams.
  • Kelly Olligschlager, instrumental with the social side of our event. The steel drum band was a terrific hit, and with her help, we pulled together a complete social agenda.
  • Nick Vincent is the 'quiet champion' for our facility. Providing berthing for our visitors and making them feel welcome through his attentiveness gave them an extremely positive impression of BYC. After setting up the tent and finding it a mess, Nick and his team went the extra mile to make it look as good as new. Everyone enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere 'under the tent', so it was well worth the effort.
  • Jarvis Hales and his team were fantastic with both the quality of the food and the service. There was never much food left, nor were the kegs or punch bowls left with any reserves. This team is responsive to the needs of guests and strives to please. We are very grateful for the job they did all weekend, as are all of the guests that attended.
  • Aaron Wagner, club manager, he has great energy and ideas and has the priorities right. He collaborated with the chef and myself to successfully meet the requirements you and the board have set for him with food and beverage, while meeting my somewhat demanding pricing requests. I really enjoyed the planning and collaboration with Aaron that could have otherwise have been a stressful or contentious process. Most importantly, Aaron stayed 'present' with the details and flow of the weekend.
Finally, special “kudos” go out to the owners and crews of SLEDGEHAMMER, VIVA LA VIDA, and STORM WARNING for traveling to Detroit from Lake Erie, and especially THE CAT CAME BACK who had to travel from Lake Ontario to get here!  For more J/120 USA National Championship sailing information