Friday, December 13, 2019

All-women's J/92 Team Triumph on Great Lakes!

(Grand Traverse Bay, MI)- This past summer, an all-women's team sailed on the J/92 KNOCKOUT with owner/ skipper Libby Tomlinson from Quantum Sails in Traverse City, MI. They had a very successful season sailing on Grand Traverse Bay.... here is Libby's report on the fun times and the challenges they face...

J/92 women's team
"I’m excited to share that our J/92 KNOCKOUT was named Yacht of the Year at Grand Traverse Yacht Club, in Traverse City, Michigan! The all-women crew of KNOCKOUT came together seven years ago after the husband of a good friend of mine recognized that his wife wanted to get more involved in sailing but felt uncomfortable being the only woman on the boat (typically).  So, we got to talking, and Rob suggested that we go in together on a boat, “for the girls”, and we decided a B-25 would suit the needs and budget nicely.  The name KNOCKOUT came after a long, hilarious, democratic process to name an all-girls boat.

J/92 all women's crew
During the six seasons on the B-25, we enabled over 25 women to get out on the water for Wednesday night racing, a little cruising, and some weekend short-distance events.  At the start of it all, only myself and my foredeck, Petra, knew anything about sailing!  Coaching from the helm, while driving and trimming main, and Petra coaching from the bow, we managed to get everyone up to speed in their positions.  Our first season was also our most successful, being named Yacht of the Year and winning our Intermediate level fleet.

J/92 women's team kids
Being a Knockout crew is something special, and everyone onboard has become part of the team by asking to be there.  We’ve never recruited.  Nonetheless, we’ve grown over the years a bit, in numbers and skill level, and Rob and I both have had children who we wanted to introduce to sailing on a more family-friendly boat.  That led us to wanting a J/92.

I joined the forum and kept watch for boats coming up for sale.  One day last fall, the opportunity came:  Bob Johnston on San Francisco Bay listed his beloved J/92 RAGTIME, hull #18.  I jumped, and about a week later, after a glowing survey, she started the journey across the country from San Francisco to Michigan.  Yes, fall isn’t the best time to buy a boat in Michigan!  She went into heated storage, amongst the area’s most prized auto collectors’ treasures, presiding high.

Come to find out, hull #18 has some special history.  Originally owned by Rod Johnstone himself and named RAGTIME! Yes, the co-founder of J/Boats had sailed her for two summers in the Stonington, CT sailing circles, Off Soundings, Block Island, etc.

Bob Johnston bought RAGTIME in November 2002.  She was in Marion, MA and owned by a former J/24 sailor, Joe Moore.  Joe was/is an engineer and meticulous.  Being in the Northeast, the boat (then called Acrobat) was kept inside for 5 months every year.  Joe sent many photos of every bit of the boat and they had some good conversations, such that Bob bought the boat sight-unseen.

Bob and RAGTIME had many great adventures in their 16 years together, including double-handing to Hawaii once, and single-handing 4 more times!  Besides the Hawaii races, Bob and "Rags" have been the singlehanded season champions in the SSS (200 members), won the local ocean series (most recently singlehanded in 2016 and doublehanded in 2017), and had success in many other races on San Francisco Bay and the coast.

J/92 boat owner- Libby
So, we on the KNOCKOUT crew had a bit of a legacy to live up to!  Our season started out slowly, learning the changes needed to our crew work and positions, adjusting to the bigger loads and honing our teamwork, and getting our rig tuned for our new suit of Quantum sails.  The boat was a delight to sail from the get-go.

We attended every Wednesday night race all summer, finishing the Spring series in second and the Summer series in third.   About mid-season we seemed to hit our stride with a string of bullets in August.  Our biggest competitor, an Express 34 fitted with a bowsprit, had been leading the season and we were quickly coming from behind.  It came down to the final race of the year, winner-take-all, and we managed to take line honors that night!  We also enjoyed a fun race mid-season and dressed up like Rosie The Riveter(s).  And our kids really enjoyed Knockout too!