Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick, Jack Jumped Over the 70 Stick!

J/70s sailing MidwintersFranco Crowned 5th J/70 Midwinter Champion!
(Miami, FL)- The first Midwinter Championship for the J/70 class to take place outside of Key West was hosted by the enormously capable Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami (Coconut Grove), FL.  As was anticipated, the CRYC members, PRO, and volunteers rolled out the red carpet for the J/70 sailors and welcomed them with warmth and graciousness.  In addition, the weather Godz were in cahoots, offering up a steady diet of easterly breezes in the 8-18 kts range over the three days that would satisfy any sailor.  Postcard perfect conditions?  Yes.  Great race committee work to get in nine races?  Yes.  It would be hard to script it much better.

In the end, winning the regatta was a veteran of the college sailing and team racing wars from the 1980s- Jack Franco and his incredibly talented crew on FLOJITO 3 BALL JT.  Growing up in Newport Beach, California, this talented sailor ended up in Texas because of business and family commitments.  He got into the J/70 class due to friends like Chris Raab (from Newport Beach) and others.  After getting his feet wet, Jack jumped in with both feet and pulled together a winning crew- Bill Hardesty (main trimmer), Rob Lindley (bow) and Allan Terhune (headsail trimmer).  Yes, on the surface that might be perceived as an “odd-coupling” of people and talent, but it proved to work on the final day when it counted most.  Here is how it all went down.

J70s sailing Miami MidwintersDay 1- Postcard Perfect Start
Among the 61 teams at the J/70 Midwinter Championship were multiple J/70 World Champions and those from other classes. One of those Champions was Joel Ronning on CATAPULT, who leapt to the first day’s advantage.

It was a gorgeous day on Biscayne Bay, with breeze in the mid to upper teens, sunshine and temperatures in the 80s. 2016 J/70 World Champion Ronning, sailing with John Kostecki, Christopher Stocke, and Patrick Wilson, opened with a bullet and added a pair of thirds for 7 points in three races. Bruce Golison’s MIDLIFE CRISIS started with a 4-5, then won the last contest to hold second overall with 10 points. Jack Franco’s 3 Ball JT was third with 13.

Jim Cunningham’s LIFTED team of Dave Hochart, Tyler Sinks, and Jon Ziskind led the 24-boat Corinthian division.

Ronning’s Catapult earned the initial victory of the event, with Franco and James Prendergast comprising the top trio. Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE got the race two win, shadowed by Prendergast and Ronning. Golison ended Friday on a positive note, along with Pasquinelli and Ronning, as 1,2,3.

J/70s sailing Midwinters off MiamiDay 2- More Picture-perfect Conditions
It was yet another amazing day on Biscayne Bay.  However, it was clouded for several of the teams who bore Black Flag penalties. Golison’s MIDLIFE CRISIS survived to take over the top spot after six races.

By way of a 3-1-5, the California-based skipper and his team of Steve Hunt, Jeff Reynolds, and Erik Shampain tallied all top-five finishes and therefore able to drop a 5 for just 14 net points.  Ronning’s CATAPULT, the day one leader, dropped to second overall after adding a 15-9-2. Tossing the 15 leaves CATAPULT with 18 net points.

Also in the mix heading into the final race day tomorrow was US Sailing’s 2017 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year- Peter Duncan- and his RELATIVE OBSCURITY team that moved up to third with 22 net points. Andrew & Melissa Fisher’s BUTTON FLY led the 23-boat Corinthian division.

With sunny skies and warm temperatures, the winds were again in the mid-teens for the Championship hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club. Black Flag penalties were scattered through the fleet in each of today’s races.

The BFDs didn’t hamper Duncan who kicked off his solid day with a victory in the opening battle, trailed by John & Molly Baxter’s TEAM VINEYARD VINES. It was Golison earning his second bullet of the event in the next race, ahead of Brian Keane’s SAVASANA and Duncan. Jud Smith’s AFRICA took a turn in the lead position in race 6, as Ronning and Jack Franco’s FLOJITO 3 BALL JT completed the top three.

J/70 Midwinters winnersDay 3- Cliff-hanger Finale
The regatta saw a different leader on each day. But, Jack Franco’s FLOJITO 3 BALL JT was on top when it counted. Going into the day in fourth place, they secured a 5-2-4 to leap over a couple of J/70 World Champions for the victory.

Although Ronning’s CATAPULT won race 8, an 11th in the final contest left him in the silver position overall with 41 points. Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY also had a bullet, but followed with a 29-7 to land in third overall with 42 points.

“We just tried to be consistent with solid starts and minimal mistakes,” summarized Franco. “We won the regatta without winning a race. At the last weather rounding of the last race, we were fourth and wanted to be defensive. We are not speedy off the wind since we’re a little heavy.” FLOJITO 3 BALL JT held their fourth position, which was enough to secure the Championship. Franco credited Hardesty, who he has known since Hardesty was eight years old. “He is the king of tacticians!”

Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY (with crew of Nikki Medley, Fletcher Sims, and Brady Stagg) bested the 23-boat Corinthian division, with Jim Cunningham’s LIFTED and Nancy Glover’s WINTERWIND rounding out the top three.  Sailing photo credits- Marco Oquendo/ imagesbymarco.com and Chris Howell   For more J/70 Midwinters V sailing information

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