J/News Key West Race Week Day 5

J/News Key West Race Week Day 4
January 21, 2011
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January 26, 2011

J/News Key West Race Week Day 5

J/111 ultimate one-design sailing boat at Key WestKey West Day Five
A Classic Fith Day? J/111 KONTIKI V Wins!
(Key West, FL)- Yes, it is possible for the Caribbean trade winds to serve up a fifth (or ninth if you include practice days) straight day of nearly postcard, chamber of commerce conditions.  Competitors certainly wished there may be more breeze, but one can hardly argue with a benign 6-11 knots of breeze from the SSW getting fed by an impending cold front from the NW coming across the Gulf of Mexico.

fog Key WestWith an early harbor start (8:15am!!), the fleet headed out to their respective three race courses to find a nice, gentle southwest breeze awaiting them with not a cloud in the sky and the sun beating down on everyone for over a week.  SPF 99.999??  Don’t know if there’s anything near as strong as anyone wanted for sun protection, but anything other than clay or  white paste may not have been enough for some fair-skinned sailors.  In fact, we observed several Canadian sailors/ photographers who were a bit “red”, nearly lobster-like cooked but clearly having a great time (we’re betting that pain-killers worked great for them)!  Fog early did not help, of course.

The sailing Friday was not unlike any of the other days the past week.  While the wind was persistently shifting right and oscillating, hitting the right or left corners was not going to work–e.g. not a good “play”.  Large streaks worked their way down the course, middle left or middle right and if you hooked into them you’d experience significant gains on anyone off into a corner. Classic day, classic sailing and even more fun as the breeze started to feed a front that was starting to come in from the NW.  

For Division 1 course, IRC 1 Class saw Jim Bishop’s WHITE GOLD finish fifth after getting an uncharacteristic score of 5-8 on the last day.  Peter Cunningham finished strong with a 2-4 with his Cayman Islands team aboard the J/122 GAMBLER/ POWERPLAY to end up just behind Jim’s WHITE GOLD for a sixth overall.

J/105 Savasana winning J/105sFor the J/105s, it was pretty clear that Brian Keane’s team on SAVASANA were not only dialed up for speed but were dialed into the wind as well.  Sailing to double bullets on Friday simply sealed the deal for Brian’s team to win by 15 points over Damian Emery’s ECLIPSE, perhaps one of the largest margins anyone has ever won a Key West J/105 class win. Third was WASABI sailed by Adam Rosen and Jeff Marks with 55 points.  Fourth was Tom Coates on MASQUERADE just one point back and fifth was Gerrit Schulze on MAX POWER with 58 points!!  Close finish and great regatta for the top five boats overall.

J/80 one-design sailboat at windward markWho would ever guess that another baby-boomer (like Brian above) would seriously kick some big booty in a one-design keelboat class and do so in the most gracious, yachtsman-like manner possible.  No question that Glenn Darden and his team from Texas were in a class by themselves, winning 2 of the last three races and taking home the bacon without a challenge from any of the other teams, winning the J/80 class by 11 points.  Second was a real donnybrook and Jeff Brown’s team from San Diego’s J/WORLD SAN DIEGO TEAM showed their tail-feathers to the rest of the J/80 fleet, getting two seconds in the last two races. Sailing one of their best regattas in awhile was Mike Sudofsky on BOB DYLAN third, fourth was Chris Bulger on GOOSE from Buzzards Bay and fifth was Nigel Brownett and Ron Buzil on VAYU 2.

J111 SAIL BAB Cleveland Team led by Jim SminchakThe PHRF A Class was an extremely competitive regatta, easily the closest “delta” for the any of the fleets sailing off Key West.  At the end of the last race it was still anyone’s guess who would win overall.  After a very even start, the fleet took off and seemingly everyone “shadowed” each other around the race track.  In the first windward leg of the last race (when it all counts, of course) the great yacht KONTIKI V, the J/111 sailed by Jim Sminchak’s team from Cleveland, OH, somehow managed to find a “crab pot”, catch it, stop, go head to wind, tack, go backwards, yet still round the first windward mark just in front of their nemesis, the J/109 RUSH sailed by Bill Sweetser.  It was a crazy day.  It was a goofy day, perhaps for many.  Nevertheless, the 111 managed to sail cleanly for the  balance of the race, stretched out in front of their competitors and win the regatta with a 2-3 on the last day. Bill’s team on the J/109 RUSH sailed a great regatta to get second, fourth was Doug Curtiss’s beautiful J/124 WICKED sailed by Rodney and Alan Johnstone on the team.

The J/95s in PHRF 2 had a fun series.  At the end, Ed Palm and his Detroit (Day’twah, as they say) team on STILL CRAZY won with Terry McKenna on FINN in second and Trudie Ficks on SEVENTH HEAVEN in third.

The J/24s RULE!! 35 years and going strong. What a great time they had.  Small fleet?  Sure.  Nevertheless they had a ball cruising around the race track and had a lot of good races with eachother.  BLAH BLAH BLAH sailed by Mark Milnes won to be the top J/24 followed by Evalena Worthington on FREYA and third was Matt Mullan on FLYING WASP.

Photo credits- Tim Wilkes- www.timwilkes.com and Billy Blackwww.billyblack.com and Sharon GreenUltimateSailing.com

Michael James
Michael James
Michael James has been with Murray Yacht Sales since 1995 and is in the the New Orleans office.

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