Monday, March 4, 2019

Duncan Dominates J/70 Midwinters VII

J/70 Relative Obscurity win Midwinters (Coconut Grove, FL)- Fifty J/70s enjoyed postcard-perfect Biscayne Bay conditions for three days, with breeze on from the southeast to south in the 8 to 17 kts range and sunny most of the time! The regatta was hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, FL, and was a qualifier for the 2020 World Championship to be hosted by California Yacht Club (2 Open berths and 1 Corinthian berth).

One team enjoyed the conditions much more than anyone else in the fleet; winning by an amazing 16 pts over the star-studded fleet was J/70 World Champion Peter Duncan and his incredibly talented crew on RELATIVE OBSCURITY; sailing with Peter were two-time J/70 World Champion crew Bill Hardesty and Willem Van Waay from San Diego, CA, along with ace bowman Will Felder.  This quartet of rock stars started off winning the first two races and never looked back, counting five 1sts in their eight-race scoreline for a total of just 18 net points!

In the Corinthians Division, it was the Argentinean team on JUICY that won by just 3.8 pts in a closely fought battle with two other boats- DONKEY McFLY and RIP RULLAH.  JUICY was skippered by Francisco Van Avermaete, with crew of Carlos Lacchini, Galvan Geronimo, and Rafael De Martis.  Here is how it all went down over the three gorgeous days of sailing.

J/70 Midwinters start off MiamiDay 1- Sunny and breezy
The anxious fleet of J/70s reveled in gorgeous Biscayne Bay conditions on Friday as the J/70 Midwinter Championship got underway with three races.  Miami delivered its renowned weather with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 80s and winds between 8-14 knots.

Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY laid its claim to the top spot by knocking out two straight bullets and adding a fourth for only 6 points so far. Following Duncan, Bruce Golison’ MIDLIFE CRISIS and Brian Keane’s SAVASANA were locked in a tie for second and third places at 15 points each. Scott Sellers’ DONKEY McFLY started off atop the Corinthian division with an enormous lead.

The day’s overall top three were the same group leading the way in the Championship’s opening battle: Duncan, Keane and Golison. Trailing Duncan in race two were Kevin Downey’s Mr. PITIFUL and John Heaton’s EMPEIRIA. Golison earned the victory in the final contest, ahead of Heaton and Paul Ward’s EAT SLEEP J REPEAT.

J70s sailing downwind off MiamiDay 2- More Sun, More Breeze!
A fresh breeze in the mid-teens on Biscayne Bay made for an exciting day for fleet, with plenty of planing rides all over the race track. Three more races were completed, bringing the total to six, five of which were won by Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY.

Now able to drop a fourth, the Rye, NY-based skipper counted five bullets for a mere 5 net points. Keane’s SAVASANA moved solidly into second place with 19 points, following consecutive second-place finishes today and discarding an eight. Three points back was Heaton’s EMPEIRIA that earned redress points in the opening race and followed with a 7-3 to sit in third.

Sellers’ DONKEY McFLY continued to hold the top spot in the Corinthian division and was in 20th overall in the Open Division.

Duncan’s team appeared untouchable after two days of racing, hanging on to a comfortable 14-point lead. Looking ahead at them in the day’s first race were Ryan McKillen’s SURGE and Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT. The trailing teams in the middle duel were Keane’s SAVASANA and Michael Goldfarb’s WAR CANOE. And completing the top three to end the day were SAVASANA and EMPEIRIA.

J/70 sailing fast off Miami, FLDay 3- Wash, Rinse, Repeat! More windy fun in the sun!
After posting a 2-7 on the final day, Duncan’s crew on RELATIVE OBSCURITY sealed the deal to win the seventh J/70 Midwinters and simply sailed for home, while the rest of the 49-boat fleet sailed one beautiful final race.  Meanwhile, Golison’s MIDLIFE CRISIS finally got their “mojo” going. His crew (Steve Hunt, Erik Shampain, and Jeff Reynolds) crushed the final day with three bullets, hurdling them up the leaderboard into second place overall with 34 points. Keane’s SAVASANA team (Tom Barrows, Chuck Swanson, and Mack Bryant) placed third with 46 points. Rounding top five were Joel Ronning’s crew on CATAPULT (Victor Diaz de Leon, Patrick Wilson and Chris Stocke) and Heaton’s EMPEIRIA team (Zach Mason, Joe Morris, and Ian Barrows), fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It’s really all the practice and all the little things that make the big difference,” Duncan summarized regards their team effort on RELATIVE OBSCURITY. “You have to do those very repetitively, and it becomes second nature. So, when you have to make big decisions, it’s easy.”

Duncan explained the team’s conservative approach, saying, “we came off the middle of the line, went straight as far as we could go. If we could hold our lane, it was very positive.” While 2017 J/70 World Champion Duncan excels in a variety of conditions, they do like more breeze. “These boats are great to sail, and when there’s 50 boats or more, it’s very exciting!”

Winning the Corinthians Division was Van Avermaete’s JUICY team from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Second was Seller’s DONKEY McFLY crew (Polk Wagner, Harrison Turner, and Owen Beckley) and third went to Willis’ RIP RULLAH team (Mike Whitford, Matt Clark, and Pat Hitchins).

Since the event was a US qualifier for the 2020 World Championship to be hosted by California YC, the two Open berths were awarded to Bruce Golison and John Heaton, and the one Corinthian berth went to Scott Sellers.  For more J/70 Midwinters VII sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.