Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Windy J/Fest St Petersburg

J/88s sailing off St Petersburg, FLJ/88 WING Soars, J/111 SPACEMAN SPIFF Zooms to Class Wins
(St Petersburg, FL)- The third weekend of January saw the annual J/Fest St Petersburg Regatta, hosted by the St Petersburg YC in Florida, take place from January 25th to 27th.  It was the Midwinter Championship for both the J/88s and J/111s racing on Tampa Bay. The fleet was blessed with two great days of sailing on Friday and Saturday, with consistent winds of 8-15 kts ranging from N-NE; the StPYC PRO and RC team managed to run four races each day for a total of eight races for both classes. Sunday’s racing was canceled due to a massive frontal system rolling off the Gulf of Mexico with low visibility, incessant rain, big breeze, and quite cold (by Florida standards) temperatures- 48-51 F all day.

The northerly winds in St. Petersburg are essentially offshore near the city front, making for very shifty, streaky breezes that challenged the tacticians.  It was not unusual for teams to round the weather mark in first, and then drop a few places by the leeward gate.  Conversely, sometime 1-2 boats would hit opposite corners on the second windward leg and leap from last at the gate to being leaders at the final top mark! As close-winded as the 88’s and 111’s can be in flat water, tacking through 76 to 80 degrees, a 5-degree shift and 1-2 kts in velocity would translate into big gains (or losses) with boats around you.

J/88 WINGS sailing J/Fest St PetersburgJ/88 Midwinters
Six J/88s escaped the Polar Vortex to compete in the J/88 Midwinter Championship, a part of J/Fest hosted by St. Petersburg Yacht Club in Florida. Mike Bruno’s WINGS from Armonk, NY tallied 9 net points in 8 races after counting only firsts and seconds (dropping a fifth in race four) to take the 88 Midwinters by a very comfortable margin. With team Mike Booker, Stu Johnstone, Chris Morgan, Tim Randall and Stephen Yip, WINGS secured five bullets and relished the breezy conditions on Friday and Saturday, when four races per day were completed. Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION took second place with 19 points, including two first-place finishes on day one. William Purdy’s WHIRLWIND tied DEVIATION on points, but lost the tie-breaker and had to settle for the bronze position.

Rounding out the top five were Dave Tufts’ GAUCHO in fourth place and Andy Graff’s EXILE from Chicago, IL in fifth position.

J/111 Midwinters J/Fest St PetersburgJ/111 Midwinters
After eight races, only two points separated the four boats competing for the J/111 Midwinter Championship! By way of a bullet in Saturday’s last (and ultimately final) battle, Rob Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF eked out the title with crew Dustin Graef, Jeff Haase, Marty Kullman, Doug Moose, Abigail Ruhlman, Ryan Ruhlman and Jim Sminchak.

Ending with 15 net points, SPACEMAN SPIFF flipped positions throughout the Championship with Ian Hill’s SITELLA (who placed second with 16 points) to take the 2019 Midwinters title. Then, Andrew & Sedgwick Ward’s team on BRAVO tied with SITELLA on 16 pts, but lost the tie-breaker to take third. The “hard luck” award likely goes to Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK, going into the last race winning, leading a good part of the last race, then watching SPIFF and BRAVO catch a shift to sweep past them to take 1st and 2nd in the last race to jumble the standings yet again! Racing was so tight, that, literally, all four boats were leading the regatta at some point, and all four boats won races (SITELLA- three 1sts, SPIFF/ SHAMROCK- two 1sts each, and BRAVO- one 1st).  For more J/FEST St Petersburg Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.